Thursday, October 17, 2019

I'm Old Fashioned

An antique muffin tin, tea lights and silk autumn leaves adds a homey touch.

One of my favorite apps on our Roku is Crooner Radio.  We have Sirius XM in our car, and when I'm in the car I listen to 40's Junction or Siriusly Sinatra, but at home I have Crooner Radio on almost all day, either that or an old movie!  When it comes to music and movies, I'm pretty old fashioned.

Even my decorating style might be considered antique.  Primitive decorating is popular now, as well as Farmhouse style, but I've been decorating with old things all of my adult life.  Back in the 80's when I first got married and set up my first home it was called, "Country", and it was all things rosy pink and country blue. Now days I lean more towards black and white and earth tones.

Yesterday as I was cleaning house and preparing for company, I heard a song on Crooner that so resonated with me, I immediately stopped and looked up the lyrics.

I am not such a clever one
About the latest fads
I admit I was never one
Adored by local lads
Not that I ever try to be a saint
I'm the type that they classify as quaint
I'm old fashioned
I love the moonlight
I love the old fashioned things
The sound of rain
Upon a window pane
The starry song that April sings
This year's fancies
Are passing fancies
But sighing sighs holding hands
These my heart understands
I know I'm old fashioned
But I don't mind it
That's how I want to be
As long as you agree
To be old fashioned with me.

You can listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing it here.

I have to say, if there was a song that perfectly described me, this would be it. Since I've been .
decorating with old things for so many years, I've acquired quite a collection of treasured pieces.  Nothing of real value or worth, really, but to me, they are priceless, and at this point I don't plan on changing my style anytime soon. I could care less about the current style or trends. Just call me old fashioned!
Old furniture.
Old music.
Old movies.
Old sitcoms.

I'm even on a bit of a 70's earth tones bent right now, as we prepare to gut a van and turn it into an RV, our home on wheels.  We are planning to travel the country for a few years, and that is one of the reasons that I changed the graphics and color scheme. I'm actually going to be writing two blogs, continuing here, and also documenting our journey as we transition from home (apartment) living to van life for a few years (or more), who knows?  Obviously I can't take all of my pretty decorations with me, but thankfully our daughter is going to be living here in the apartment with a few friends, and she will be using most of it herself.  She likes farmhouse style, and many of the pieces I have will fit right in. I'll share  more about van life as things progress, and I'll link our other  blog as soon as I have it all tweaked and ready!

So what's your decorating style?  Are you a country/primitive girl like me from way back? If so, share what your favorite piece is in the comments.  And, if you like old music like I do, Crooner Radio is FREE, just follow the link above.
And if you have Sirius radio, check our 40's Junction (Ch. 73) and Siriusly Sinatra (Ch. 71).                                                                            

We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, 
and this post contains affiliate links. When you click through and make a purchase 
we receive a small commission from Amazon. 
We appreciate your support!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Perfect Day - Morning

I had about thirty minutes to kill waiting for an appointment yesterday, so I stepped into Barnes and Noble to see if they had any enticing new magazines to peruse.  As usual it's never really a matter of if they have "any", but rather, which one I'm going to choose first.

Bella Grace publishes a magazine for younger girls called New Generation.  I bought a few for Kate when they first came out, but she never seemed to take interest in them.  And even though they are written for girls in their late teens and maybe early twenties, I still find much of the content relevant for any age, and the pictures are equally as lovely!  So when I saw they had a new edition, I picked it up and made myself comfortable.

One of the articles prompted you to think through what elements would make for a "Perfect Day", which I thought was a fun exercise, and so I've decided to share my thoughts on that in this post.  But, since I'm certain my thoughts on the subject will be plentiful, I'm going to break it up into segments and I'll begin today with what I believe would make for a perfect morning.

Morning sunrise on a crisp fall morning in Virginia.
For me a perfect morning would start early, probably around 5 or 6 a.m., and for it to be truly perfect, it would be early Autumn when the morning temperatures dip into the 40's or even high 30's, because there is just nothing in the world like a crisp Autumn day!

Most likely I would be wearing my favorite pair of thermals or soft flannel pajamas with a pair of thick comfy socks on my feet.  The windows in the apartment would be open, as one of the things I love best is for the air around me to be cold but for my body to be wrapped in warmth.

The first thing I would do would be to make a cup of my favorite blend of coffee, Starbuck's Fall Blend, which is just scrumptious, and top it off with Pumpkin Spice creamer.  I typically do not eat breakfast right away as it take awhile for my appetite to wake up, but I ALWAYS want my first cup of coffee which is usually full strength. After that I have to switch to decaf as I've developed a bit of sensitivity to caffeine in recent years.

Morning candlelight at the kitchen table.             

While the water in the kettle was heating up, I would light a candle, spicy scents are my favorite, especially ginger and pumpkin.  Then I would find my favorite throw, a few pillows and make up a comfy place on the couch, and with coffee in hand, I would settle in to read for an hour or so, first from the Bible and then from a favorite book.

Once the sun begins to peak through the darkness, depending on the day I do one of two things, I go for a 2 mile walk, or if its an off day, I fix breakfast.  On days that I walk I eat breakfast after I get back and on those days its typically yogurt.  But on my off days I will often scramble up an egg, make some bacon and a piece of toast or hash rounds and have something more substantial. Scrambled eggs with bacon, hash rounds and gravy is my absolute favorite breakfast, so since this is my "perfect day", I would make that. But, I LOVE my morning walks, too, so maybe on a perfect day (with no time constraints), I would do both!

On days that I walk I shower in the morning when I get home, and on off days, I shower in the evening. I prefer to show in the evening because it just feels like it washes all the stress of the day away and then I can crawl into my comfy pajamas and settle in the for the evening. But on days that I walk and get a little sweaty, I shower early so I'll feel fresh. But sometimes, if the temps are low enough and I don't sweat much, and especially if I'm not going out, then showering can wait, and on a perfect day it could!

Afterwards I would tidy up the house a bit, if needed, but on a perfect day, well, it would be perfect, right?, so it wouldn't need tidying and I could just return to my comfy spot on the couch.  But first I would change into my favorite pair of soft grey jeans, my favorite ginger colored t-shirt and my favorite orange and grey flannel with my cozy white socks with the grey and orange stripes.  It's my all time favorite outfit and I wear it at least once a week this time of year, sometimes twice!  Then I would settle in to my spot on the couch, and enjoy a few favorite leisurely activities for the rest of the morning, but for now, we'll stop here and I'll pick up on my Perfect Mid-Morning in another post.

So what about you, what would a 🍂 PERFECT MORNING 🍂 morning look like for you?  What is your favorite season, weather?  Do you have a favorite pair of pajamas, socks, or maybe a cozy robe?  Do you drink coffee, tea or neither?  What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Do you like to hit the ground running, or prefer a quiet, contemplative start to your day?  I love hearing from you, so please share in the comments!  Who knows, we might inspire each other to add in a new ritual to make that will take our perfect morning to a new level!  Perfectly perfect, in every way!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Savoring Autumn Weeks 2-4

I realized when I was writing my post about all the changes, that I needed to follow up with my Savoring Autumn posts, and since this is now week 4, it was due time.

One of the things that we traditionally enjoy every Autumn are mums.  We usually purchase several pots to decorate the porch, or as is the case this season, the balcony.  My favorite color is orange, followed closely by purple and I also like the red variety.  This year we bought five, one large orange and red, and then two small purple and one small orange. 
We've been eating a lot of chili pie, or Frito pie as some call it, which is typically another Autumn tradition. I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to be a seasonal eater and things like chili, stew, even chocolate and caramel, like Milk Duds, are typically flavors that I crave this time of year.  We do have chili pie at other times, but we traditionally usher in the Autumn season by eating it while we watch October Sky.
Something new to me this year is Starbucks Fall Blend coffee.  I'm pretty sure it's been around for a number of years, but this is the first year that we've purchased a bag. We also bought a bag of Pumpkin Spice, but we haven't opened it yet so I'll let you know if we enjoyed it, as well.  But the Fall Blend, especially with pumpkin spice creamer, is divine!

We drove up to the mountains last week.  From the valley the mountains looked as though there might be a little color, but unfortunately that was not the case.  We had a lovely time, none the less, and shared a picnic lunch together of chicken salad with crackers, cheese cubes, grapes, and cashews.

One the way up, we stopped at our favorite little mountain produce store and picked up some cider.  Its made locally, and so good.  They had a lovely display of pumpkins and corn husks out front, pictured above.  Later that evening we walked to a restaurant just a couple of blocks away for dinner.  There is a small liberal arts college just a block away, and we took a short cut through the campus, where I was happy to discover a labyrinth. I'm hoping to make an early morning trip over on my walk soon, and hoping its to do so. I guess campus police will tell me if I'm not welcomed.

While it got off to a late start, it's definitely begun to feel more in season this week with temperatures dipping into the 40's most mornings.  We've been sleeping with the windows opened, which is D-I-V-I-N-E!  Looking at the forecast earlier today I noticed that they are predicting we might even get into the upper 30's before the end of the week.  It makes for a chilly start to my walks in the morning, but if you dress warm you end up shedding layers, I do, anyway.

And speaking of walking, I borrowed a sweet little book from Internet Archives, In Celebration of Autumn by Helen Thompson.  She suggests a number of ways to enjoy the season, including everything from carving a pumpkin to refurbishing a chair.  Another thing she suggests is taking a walk, and I loved what she had to say on the subject;

"The benefits of aimlessness have long gone unappreciated, but an occasional afternoon to being footloose can do more for the soul than just about anything else.  Forget the rigidity of schedules, the pull of pressing obligations, the insistence of deadlines, and take an afternoon off. Window-shopping, wandering through a museum, and browsing in a bookstore are all excellent approaches to aimlessness - but a stroll through a park or forest resplendent with fall foliage is the best." 

She suggest that you collect leaves, acorns, berries and flowers on your walk, and then arrange them, perhaps on a mantel, as a boisterous reminder of fall. What a lovely idea!

We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
and this post contains affiliate links. When you click through and make a purchase
we receive a small commission from Amazon.
We appreciate your support!

Change Is In The Air

Obviously, as you may have noticed, there have been a few changes around here. And while I'll go into more detail soon, for now I will say that as our lives are changing I needed a new feel for this space, as well.  The content will remain largely the same, and it is my **hope** to visit this space a bit more often, but those life changes I mentioned?  They may take precedence at times.  As for the color scheme?  I think I'm bringing back the 70's earth-tones, so don't be surprised if a mushroom pops us here and there. :). I love it, and as the details of our lives unfold I think it will all make sense.  It does in my head anyway, and hopefully that will translate here.  I hope you'll continue to join me, and  let me know what you think of the new look!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

My Favorite Movies - Rebel In The Rye

I was down almost all of last week with a head cold, and truthfully even now I'd say I'm not operating at 100%, but definitely better. I made up a batch of Chicken Tortilla Soup, for health, and even managed to whip up my favorite cake, for comfort. I sent most of that to work with Bill today, because I'm smart enough to know when I've been sufficiently comforted. :)

I also watched a LOT of movies, The Shaggy D.A., which I had never seen and was cute by campy. I also watched That Touch of Mink, twice, because I love Doris Day and since I was running a low grade fever and kept falling asleep, I've seen it so many times that I knew I wouldn't really miss anything.

A movie I hadn't seen was Rebel in the Rye, which is about the life of J. D. Salenger, author of The Catcher in the Rye. I absolutely adored Nicholas Hoult in Tolkien, and he was equally as brilliant again, although I would say that I liked this movie less. BUT, scenes like these, . . .. SWOON!! Typically any movie set in the 30's or 40's wins me over, especially the fashion! And while I'm glad that we don't feel the need to get quite so dressed up just to go to the grocery store, on other occasions I do feel that we've lost a bit of our soul.  So few occasions call for formal dressing these days, and I'm not even talking evening dresses and tuxedos, just a nice suit and dress like you see in these pictures.  We dressed in those days with a since of pride.  We cared how we looked, and I wish we still did!

Anyway, out of ten I would probably give this movie six stars. It was good, but not great.  I found Salenger at first arrogant and then rather dark, though I understood the reasoning behind his darker side. That being said, I would probably watch it again for the setting and costuming alone. And if you like movies the are based on real people, as I do, it's worth the watch.  Good for a day when you might be feeling a little under the weather yourself.  I've included the trailer below!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Savoring Autumn - Week 1

I remember back in January, which felt like it would go on forever, that the year was off to a slow start.  Not that I mind S L O W, you know me, but I did recall how odd it felt the way it just seemed to never end.  I had the flu part of that time, so that could have had something to do with it.  But now here we are in the last week of September with temperatures still topping into the 90's, and I'd welcome a long, cold January day, even a cool October would be enough for me, but alas, Autumn is slow to arrive this year.  In spite of nature's lack of cooperation, I've decided to dedicate one post each week to the season, as a means of slowing and savoring the days.

Autumn decorating and menu plans, however, are in full swing, and I've decided that until the weather decides to cooperate, I'll just lower the thermostat, close the blinds and psyche myself into believing it's really not that hot outside!  I've got a pot of my grandmother's pinto beans on the burner as we speak, and a potato frittata with carmelized onions I've been wanting to try in the making.  I found the recipe online but, but as with most recipes, I tweak it and make it my own!

Today I pulled one of my favorite seasonal books from the shelves and perused it over lunch, for inspiration, and noticed this recipe for Carmelized Onion Sauce. I briefly considered it for my frittata tonight, but without an aged balsamic, which I am certain is key, I decided to stick with the original plan.  Is it just me, or does anyone else wish Susan had written one of these little books for every season?  I have the Summer edition and then this one, my favorite, Autumn.  So hey, Susan, what about Spring and Winter? Because us OCD types, you know, we want it all! :)

I decorated as much as I am going to decorate this year, a few weeks back.  I love decorating with the seasons, but the older I get the less I seem to do.  It was fun when the girls were little, but now that they are older and living their own lives, I find that simple touches suit us. Just enough so that it feels good, but not so much that I will regret it when I take it down. I tell myself to use the same reasoning at Christmas, but the past few years I've still overdone.

These little white pumpkins (below), are one of those small touches that I love!  I remembered a picture that my friend, Emily, posted,  of some beautiful white pumpkins adorned with dried flowers, and while I didn't have any flowers on hand, what we do have are abundance of dried leaves and they added just the touch I was looking for.  I just love the way they turned out, and I'm hoping if I handle them carefully, they'll last through the season.  I am going to try to find some dried flowers between now and Thanksgiving though, to make a centerpiece for the table using a larger white pumpkin.

And now before I close, I thought I'd share a recipe each week, as well.  Some may be tried and true, but for the most part, I thought I'd share something new and then perhaps over the next week I'll make it up myself and then let you know if I/we liked it.  And with that, here is the first one I'd like to try.


1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
1 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
1 large egg or 2 small ones
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup water

In a large bowl, combine both sugars, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.

In another bowl, combine egg, pumpkin puree, oil and water. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Grease one 9×4 (6 cups or 1.4 liters volume) loaf pan and pour the batter into it.

Bake at 350 F (175 C) for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Then take out of the pan and wrap in aluminum foil. Let Moist Pumpkin Bread cool off completely before serving.

In A World Where There Are Octobers

Monday, September 30, 2019

In Dedication To My Grandmother

My mother used to say that it was a good thing my paternal grandmother wasn't born rich, because she wasn't sure she could snub her nose any higher.  Judging from this picture, I suppose you might believe that's true. But's that's not how I remember her, at least, not entirely.  It's true, she was a proud woman, and it is likewise true that it was that very pride that drove a rift between us that remained un-mended until her death. A staunch believer and defender of the doctrine of the Church of Christ, at the tender age of eighteen I had the audacity to fall in love with and marry a Baptist, and in a Baptist church, no less. She refused to come to my wedding, and never spoke to me again. Being young, and a bit haughty and proud myself, I dug in my heels and pretended not to care.  Before it occurred to me that I might regret that decision, it was too late.

In the years that have passed since her death, twenty-eight of them to be exact, I've come to realize more and more how very alike we are, both the good and the bad. In addition to her stubborn pride, I have her looks, her wit and most importantly, her love of home. My grandmother mastered the art of humble beauty. She never had much, but she knew how to set a pretty table, fluff the cushions on the worn couch, and there was always something blooming by the front door to greet you. And though I wish now that I'd learned the art of forgiveness a bit younger in my life, I'm thankful for the memories I do carry.

I've made peace with my pain, and I like to think that she had, too. Last year, my cousin sent me a picture of her that was taken shortly before she died. She was sitting on that same well, worn couch that I remembered from my childhood, and there on the table beside her was a picture of me, in my wedding dress, no less. I guess her pride wouldn't let her say, "I'm sorry", or perhaps I never gave her the chance, but she still kept my picture nearby, and for that, I am thankful.

My grandmother lived her entire life in Keller, Texas, on a small farm as a child, and later in a rickety old white house in town. Judging by the way she and my grandfather are dressed in this picture, and the corsage, I'd say this was either Easter or Mother's Day.  And yes, she is boasting a prideful smile. She is proud of her beautiful corsage (most likely given to her by my father), for her clean and freshly pressed dress, and for her dapper husband in his linen suit.  As I said, she never had much, but she did take pride in the little she had. She cared for it, tended it, made-do and made last, and I'm grateful for the spirit she exemplified.

This blog is dedicated to her,  To white lace curtains blowing in the window on summer days, to gingerbread in the oven on winter evenings, and to all the million humble, little things that bring beauty to our ordinary days.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup

Today I want to share a recipe that has been in our family for a L-O-N-G time and is a family favorite, Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup!  My mom made this recipe for years, though I am not sure where she found it originally.  She had a number of those self published church cook books, and most of the recipes you find in them are top notch!  So perhaps it was in one of those. At any rate, this is my go to chicken soup recipe. Just enough spice to give it flavor, but not so much that it's too spicy for those with a more sensitive palette.  In fact, I usually throw in a splash of cayenne when I make up a batch.

I've been nursing a head cold (allergies), most of the week, and while I love this recipe, it's the perfect remedy if you're under the weather, especially with a cold or the flu.  I like to make up a big batch and then freeze them in individual portions to have on hand in the event that one of us comes down with something, especially this time of year.  In addition to being flavorful, it's also SUPER easy, which is a great thing if you are feeling a little less than your best but still need to put dinner on the table!

So without further delay, here is the recipe!

Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
4 carrots, cut matchstick style
1 medium onion, chopped
3 whole boneless chicken beasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 (4 oz) can Mexican tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
6 c. chicken broth (3 cans)
Tortilla Chips, broken

Put oil, vegetables, except corn, and chicken into a large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until chicken is done; reduce heat to medium-low and add tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add cumin, corn and broth; raise heat. Bring to a boil uncovered; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in juice of one lime just before serving. Serve with broken tortilla chips and lime wedges.

I encourage you to put this one on your rotation this fall and winter!  Once you've tried it, you'll be hooked!

~ Enjoy

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Under All This Eternal Glory Of Heaven - The September Sky

Nothing like being late to the game getting this post up.  I had it in my notes to begin posting about the night sky again in September.  It's made the "to-do" list every day for a month now.  Yep, way back in late August, which seems like last week!  And yet every-single-day I bumped it, because . . . . life.

Then today, as I was revisiting one of my favorite seasonal books, I came across this passage:

"The September moon belongs to lovers even more than the spring moon.  Indeed, if we could fill a silver cup with that moonlight, and drink to the last pearly dregs, we should be young, forever.  For the moon has a pure luminous mystery that makes everything beautiful, everything magic.  The massed colors of early autumn glow in its light, all the little streams run silver, and silver rises the smoke from burning leaves.

There is not yet not want of withering or death in the garden, in the field, in the orchard.  The world is perfect, and the heart is happy.

The sky looks like a blue meadow full of gardenias, but the moon herself is a white rose.  And down below, the old earth turns in her orbit under all this eternal glory of the heaven."

And the pale gold leaves begin to fall from the sugar maple."

- Gladys Taber, Stillmeadow Seasons

And I knew with only about ten days left in this glorious month that I had to get something up,  in spite of the fact that we've been fifteen degrees above normal temperature this year and summer is still hanging on with a vengeance!

**TYPICALLY** the skies are beautiful this time of year. With the summer humidity lessening in strength, the sky on a sunny day is as blue as that sky-blue crayon that was my absolute favorite as a little girl! Thankfully we have had some cooler mornings in the upper 50's, which makes for a delicious setting for my daily walk.

Unseasonal temps aside, there is plenty to see in the SEPTEMBER NIGHT SKY, and these resources will help you navigate your way.  Taking time to note seasonal changes in the constellations, the moon cycle (which I'll write about soon in another post), and the potential for a meteor shower and wishing on falling stars is one way that you can be intentional and that will help to slow the pace of life a little.  In some ways it might seem like it speeds things up a bit because of how quickly things change, but I personally find it very calming. So why not take some time these last few days of September, and get away for a few hours, somewhere far away from the city lights. Pack a picnic dinner and a big comfy blanket, throw in a pair of binoculars and soak in the glory of the heavens!  S-L-O-W the pace, and look to the stars!

Download Your Free September Sky Map (Pictured below), by clicking on the link.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cultiving Quiet

In the summer issue of Bella Grace magazine there is an article on this very subject, and reading it really struck a chord with me, primarily because of all the ways the author mentioned that our world if filled with noise. It should come as no surprise, that there are a million and one things vying for our attention, but I know that for me its easy to forget that just because something is good, doesn't necessarily mean it is best. Social Media, podcasts, TED talks, the latest box office hit, even the conversation of friends meeting for lunch in a crowded cafe, none of these things are bad in and of themselves, but together and when filling the hours, days and weeks of our lives, it can become overwhelming, at least it is for me. Any time that I start to feel that unrest in my soul, I know that it's time for to step away and spend some time alone.

But I was reminded of something when reading this article, and that is that what I do in that time is just as important to re-centering my soul, as taking the time to do it. I spoke this in my previous post, The Pursuit of Pleasure, when we discussed the important of setting aside time for pursuing the things that you love. But I think it is also important to make space for quiet. Being an avid learner, I spend a lot of time reading books, blogs, or listening to podcasts, I thrive on learning more about the things that interest me. But after reading this article, I realized that there are times when I need to mentally rest my mind, and not fill it with more knowledge and information, even if its good.

Here's are a few questions the author asked;

How much do I swipe?
How much do I click?
How much am I looking outward instead of inward?
Though I enjoy my creative time online,
I am aware of potential excess;
I am aware of the potential noise;

"I am aware of the choice I have to get quiet."

She goes on to explain that quiet takes many forms, such as stepping away for awhile, perhaps an hour or a day or more, from social media.  It might mean not listening to the radio and just driving to your destination in complete quiet. It might mean saying no to a friend who invites you to join them at a concert. Again, there is nothing wrong with ANY of these things.  Life is all about balance, but anything we engage in excessively, whether we realize it, or not, is  taking away from other areas of our lives, quiet being one.

The author goes on to say:

"In getting quiet, and saying no to the excess, I say yes to family, friends, hobbies, spirituality, health, and more. I make the choice to tend what lays at my feet and within my heart and, in doing so, I creat opportunities to be intentional . . . and quiet."

Being an introvert, when I need quiet it usually does not involve people, but as I mentioned earlier, it looks different for everyone. The author lists some ideas for cultivating quiet, such as. . . .

- Writing in a journal
Sometimes it helps to quiet the noise and thoughts in our head just by getting it all out and down on paper.

- Getting outside
This is one of the ways that I intentionally seek out quiet in my life.  I feel closer to God in nature than anywhere else. It immediately sets my soul at rest. 

- Limiting screen time
I think this is an area where we all get sucked into the "noise". It is so easy to log into Facebook, "just for a few minutes" and before you know it, its been an hour, or more, and now your mind is filled with a million thoughts and emotions. 

Earlier this year when I realized the effect that social media had on my spirit and internal peace, I made the hard but necessary decision to unfollow close to a hundred people and pages, and I also changed my settings so that the only thing that shows up in my feed is my family, close friends and a few select pages. It has made a huge difference, not only in my spirit, but it has also reduced the amount of time I spend at these sites because I have less vying for my attention. 

At the end of the article there is a place where you can think through what quiet looks like for you and some things you can do to cultivate quiet in your life. She goes on to suggest that you sit down with a calendar and be intentional about setting aside some time.  Another thing you could do is to challenge yourself to set aside fifteen minutes a day for "quiet", and engage in short activities that you enjoy usher quiet and peace.  Each day you do it, you could note what you did in a few words on the calendar, and at the end of the month you'll be able to see how much you were able to dedicate to the pursuit of quiet. The magazine actually provides a calendar to plan your time, or to document what you did, but if you don't have a copy, you can easily use a calendar that you have at home, or you could even make one or print one from the internet, just Google "September Calendar", or whatever month you like, and then start being intentional about filling it up!  By the end of the month you should feel mentally and emotionally rested and centered!

Until then, friends, peace be with you!

Monday, September 9, 2019

In Pursuit of Pleasure - Making Time For The Things That Bring You Joy

Today I have a fun little printable to guide you in thinking through how would you spend an afternoon up to an entire weekend devoted to nothing but the things that bring you pleasure!

But first, I know what you're thinking, "Kim, I simply don't have the time!", and I get that.  I'm no different than you, and there are definitely weeks, even seasons when finding time for pleasure seems to elude me.  But here's what I've discovered.  Finding time for the things that are important to us is not about a lack of time, but about how we manage it.  AND, the more importantly, there is nothing wrong for making time, no matter how small, for ourselves and for the things that bring us joy, regardless of what phase of life you are in.

Self-care is a popular movement right now, and there are just as many popular and not-so-popular opinions regarding it.  Personally, I don't have a problem with it, and in fact, support it, but as with everything in life, it's all about balance.  I am definitely not condoning making self-care your number one priority.

That being said, as with everything in life I look to Jesus as the example, and scripture is clear that even he was intentional about making time for Himself.  In the fourth chapter of Mark we read about Jesus speaking to a large crowd of people, which based upon the number of parables that scripture reveals he shared with them, indicates that He probably spoke for some time.  And then in verse 35 we read these words:

"That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to His disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”"

And while scripture does not reveal what He did next, my guess is, He probably laid back down went to sleep. And then in the next chapter, we read that He delivered a demon possessed man, raised a young girl from the dead, and healed a sick woman  back to the duties and call of life, but only AFTER having made time for rest a priority. No doubt He knew that these people were waiting, vs. 24 says "a large crowd pressed against him".  They sought deliverance, healing and relief, and yet before he attended to their needs, He took time to rest.

With that, would it not make sense that if the Son of God set aside time for rest, that we likewise should do the same?  Maybe for you, like Jesus, that means taking a nap, and while napping is the only indication of "self-care" that Jesus engaged in, it makes sense to me that He engaged in other activities that restored, refreshed and brought rest to His soul, or at the very least, that He would not condemn anyone for doing so. Setting aside time for rest has been a biblical mandate since creation, when God established the practice of setting aside a day of rest. (Genesis 2:2).  After six days of creation, God rested, and likewise, in the midst of teaching and healing the crowds who gathered, Jesus did, likewise, as should we.

But elevating ourselves from the guilt of making time for rest and restoration is just the first step, knowing what to do with that time, is another.  How many times have found yourself, perhaps unexpectedly with a bit of free time, and found yourself asking, "Now what do I do?".  Perhaps your plans were cancelled and now you have the evening free to do as you please, and how many times, unless you are intentional, do you then fill those hours doing things that need to be done instead of things that bring you pleasure and rest?  And don't get me wrong, if you've fallen behind on some things and getting caught up is what sets your soul at rest, then I completely support that!  I've done it myself!  But, I would encourage you not to let that become a habit!  Some things can wait, and they should.

That's why I developed this worksheet, to help you (me), to be set aside some time to think through how we would spend an unexpected pocket of time, or better yet, to become intentional about creating margins of time in our lives to pursue pleasure.  Having the time is the first step, but knowing how to spend that time in a way that leaves us feeling nourished and refreshed, is equally as important! So click on the link below and download a copy for yourself!

Making Time For Things That Bring You Joy

I hope that you will find this tool useful, and if you do download a copy and use it, I'd love to hear how you spent the time you set aside just for you!  Pleasure looks different for all of us, so there's really no wrong way of doing this, so do what works for you!

And now I'm off!  We're leaving to go out of town to visit family for a few days, so I'm practicing what I preach here and taking a few days for pleasure!

Until then, seek joy, my friends!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Slowing The Seasons - Keeping A Phenology Wheel

One of the ways I like to slow the days, is by closely observing the changing of the seasons, and keeping a phenology wheel is one of the best resources I've found for doing so.

I first came across the phenology wheel in an Instagram post, though by now I've actually forgotten who it was that first inspired me.  But, if you want to see some examples for ideas and inspiration, click here!  Some of the examples are similar to the one I use, and some are different, but this is the layout I use.  If you're interested,  and I've provided a blank template that you can download and use,

Click here to download your **FREE** template!

In the picture above, you see the seasonal phenology wheels that I made for myself for the upcoming Autumn months, September, October and November.  I'll be sharing more about observing the seasons in future posts, as well as pictures of my completed phenology wheels, but for now I'll just explain how I use them.

I've included this graphic, above, in attempt to simply my explanation and to give you a visual.

❈ The Date
In the outer rim I write the number in each corresponding space, either 1-30, 31, or in the case of February, 28 or 29 if it is a leap year.  This is also where I color in the temperature shade for each day using a gauge I created. You can find a copy of it by clicking below.  I use colored pencils and shade in the space with the color that corresponds with the high temperature for each day.  For example, the high today was 87, and looking at the temperature gauge I see that light orange is for the color for temps ranging from 80-90, so I simply shade in the same space where I've written today's date with light orange.

For Using With Your Phenology Wheel
Click above to download!

❈ Moon Phase
The next space is where I shadow in the phase of the moon each day, and an easy way to find that out is to download the The Moon app on your phone. There are probably a number of different versions that all do basically the same thing, this is just the one I use.  You can certainly do a little searching and find one that suits your preference..

❈ Weather
In the space you have to get a little artistic, but don't worry, if you can draw a stick figure, you can draw a simple graphic depicting the days weather.  If it's sunny with no clouds, it's simple, just draw a sun.  If it's partly cloudy draw the sun peeking out from behind the clouds.  You can draw a rain cloud if it's rainy, or a snowflake if its snowing.  Not sure what symbols to use, you'll find six simple symbols to use for reference, here.

❈ Sunset
In the next space I record the, time that the sun sets each day.  Aside from the phase of the moon, this is probably the record that amazes me the most because of how quickly things change and the days shorten and lengthen with the season.  I use an app for recording this, as well.  This is the app that I use, but again, with a little searching you can easily find one that works for you.

❈ High Temperature
Next,  I record the high temperature for each day.  I used my local weather app to fill in this information, and you can easily do the same.

❈ Low Temperature
Moving on, in the next space is where I record the low temperature for the day, using my local weather app.

❈ Sunrise
And finally, in the last space is where I record the time that the sun rises each morning, which I find using the same app that I mentioned above for the sunset.

And that's all there is to is, pretty simple, right? But I'm sure some of you are asking?  Isn't that a lot of work for a stay-at-home, almost empty-nester? Why do you need all this information?  So I'll just say, that I don't "need" the information, but as someone who has long been awed and inspired by the changing seasons, I "want" to know. Take for instance, the changing of the seasons that we are currently experiencing as summer wanes into autumn.  Naturally we all notice that the days are growing shorter, the sun rises later and sets earlier, but I guess for me at least, I want to know more, as in, how much later is the sun rising and how much earlier? Today, in fact, the sun is setting nine minutes earlier, at 7:36 p.m., than it did on September 1 when it set at 7:45.  I don't know about you, but I find that type of observation fascinating.  I only wish I had been introduced to them back when I was homeschooling the girls, as it would have made a wonderful addition to our science curriculum.

There is just something about being intentional in observing the cycle of the year that slows time for me, and helps me to keep my focus on the here and now. Today is all I have. I cannot change the past and I do not know what the future holds, but I can live my best today!  Keeping a record and tracking the specific changes of each season simply put, brings me joy, and that is why I keep records like this, and others that I'll be sharing here with you in this space, as well.

Until then my friends, savor the waning, warmer days of summer!  Autumn will soon be here!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Autumn Day Keeper - FREE DOWNLOAD!

I posted about my Autumn Day Keeper on Instagram a few days ago, and since then I've have several people ask if I planned to make it available to purchase? But, I've decided to make it even better, how about **FREE**!!!  Just click on the link above to download your copy!

This has truly been a work of love, but before you go thinking I'm the Seasonal Planning Queen, let me just say that crown rests firmly on the head of my dear friend, Dawn.  Though like Dawn, I've long been a fan of seasonal living, she has truly been an inspiration in my life for several years now.  A few of the forms that you'll find in my planner were inspired by her, though I have tweaked things a little to make it my own.  But, if you like my planner, then I know you'll love Dawn's offerings as well, and did I mention that her resources are FREE as well!  So hop on over and pay her a visit!

This planner is the first of four season keepers, beginning with my favorite season, Autumn!  It is 32 pages long, and to be honest, I wanted to include more and hopefully next year I'll have it exactly the way I want it!  But for now I think there's enough here to inspire you live out this beautiful season with attention and intention!  Here's what you'll find inside . . .

AUTUMN - this lovely page is one that was inspired by Dawn, where I've listed an entire page worth of things that I love about this season.  Some of the things I've listed are traditions that our family has observed for more than twenty years, so while it's personal, I hope you might find a few ideas to include in your seasonal celebrations as well.

 Autumn's Daily Rhythm - It's true that with the changing of the season, return to school, and the shortening of daylight, our routines and rhythms begin to change.  This page is a place to collect your thoughts and think through how you would like for the rhythm of your days and weeks to flow.

 Autumn To-Do List - Like our daily and weekly rhythms, there are things that make our to-do-lists that are unique to each season, such as raking leaves, packing lunches, and fun bucket-list ideas as well.  This is a place to brainstorm all that you **hope** to accomplish this season, and if you're like me, hopefully get around to maybe half of them, which is fine, because that's more than you would accomplish if you didn't take the time to think it through!

 Autumn Ideas and Inspiration - I use this page to move Pinterest to paper, so to speak.  I have so-many-things pinned on my Pinterest board, that often the really neat ideas get lost in the shuffle.  So every now and then I like to sit down and scroll through my boards and jot down a few ideas that I really want to try! Kind of like the to-do list, if I write it down and plan it, it's much more likely to get done!

And then you'll find the monthly pages which covers

S E P T E M B E R  ❈  O C T O B E R    N O V E M B E R

Each month includes 
 Month At A Glance - which is similar to the monthly posts I used to write up every month and post.  It includes some fun, and rather, unconventional holidays that you can celebrate with your family, Talk Like a Pirate Day, or National Pizza Day, which is an easy one to celebrate, just order a pizza!

 Small Things to Love About Each Month
This is a monthly page that was inspired by Dawn, although in keeping with the "Small Things" theme of my blog, this is a place, much like the Autumn page which I've already completed, where you can list all the small, little things you love about each month..

 Special Ways to Celebrate Ordinary Days Each Month
If the Month at a Glance pages are not enough, or if you have other ideas for small celebrations you'd like to incorporate into your days, this is the place to dream!  It's also a good place to include any upcoming family birthdays, anniversaries or other celebrations in your family.

 Tending Home and Hearth
There is a page for each month, where you can write down any ideas you have for preparing your home for the season and the upcoming holidays.

 Gardening and Nature Notes
Much like the Home and Hearth page, this is where you can write down your seasonal gardening ideas, and make note of the seasonal changes in nature.

 In Season and Recipes
- Is where you can keep a list of produce that is peak in this season, as well as any seasonal recipes that inspire you.

 Menu Plans
- And, to help you put those seasonal recipes to work, I've included a calendar for each month where you can jot down your plan. You could also look through the "At A Glance" page for the month and plan a few fun food related celebrations!

And that's it! A framework to help you to slow the season a little, and take in what each lovely month has to offer.  I've dotted the pages here and there with some of my favorite season poems to add a bit of loveliness, as well.

My plan, eventually, is to include an entire section dedicated seasonal folklore, poems, quotes and small passages from my favorit books, as well recipes and craft ideas for each season.  If I am able, and hopefully I'll be able to include that in the Winter Season Keeper which I will have available for download the day after Thanksgiving!  It will cover, December, January and February, so if you liked the Autumn Season Keeper, be sure to watch for it.

If you do decide to download and print a copy for your own use, please drop a comment and let me know, especially if you have suggestions or questions!  I'm always looking to improve things and for ideas and inspiration for living intentionally in each season!

Until then, friends, savor the days!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Nana's Chip Nut Bars

My mom was an exceptional baker. A trait that I, sadly, did not inherit. I do better with the main course.

But her recipe for Chip Nut Bars is one that I can usually get right. This and her chocolate pie are the two things I have managed to be able to replicate, most likely because they were and remain my favorites from childhood. I mixed them up in her mixing bowl this morning. I could almost feel her in the room.

This is, essentially, a chocolate chip cookie bar, but with the added bonus of coffee in the mix. It’s so much easier than scooping out all those cookie balls, and the addition of coffee takes it to an entirely new level of goodness. Mom’s recipe calls for a cup of chopped pecans, and I can’t imagine it without them, but it is an option.

Chip Nut Bars

1 c. shortening
1 3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
> 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
1 c. chopped pecans
1 (6 oz) pkg. chocolate chips

Mix all together and bake 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degress in a shallow 13x9 inch pan, greased, not floured. Cut into bars. Yields approximately 24 bars.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Celebrating Smallness: Trusting God With The Outcomes

I started reading Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman earlier this week, and she brought up an idea in the first chapter that really got me to thinking. She queried her followers on social media and asked them this question.

"What kinds of things, people situations or circumstances make you feel small?"

The more common responses were things such as

- Being misunderstood
- Being ignored
- Being embarrassed
- Criticism
- Women who look like hey have it all together
- When my work and my passions are unrecognized
- When I'm first starting out

All of these responses are the result of humiliation, rejection, or a sense of lack.  We feel "belittled", or, when someone says something that offends us we say, "they made me feel about this big."

"If your influence, dreams or vision is small, you may be accused of being scared or lacking faith."

But there are other ways that small manifests negatively in our lives, as well.  Such as, when we believe that our house, our jeans, or our bank accounts are too small.  We may believe that we are "too small to have an impact, too small to be important, too small to make a difference."

I have struggled with feeling "small" for most of my life.  As a child I was plagued by a lack of self confidence.  In the second grade, I was diagnosed with a "nervous stomach", which today would probably equate to anxiety. To add to the mix, I was also a perfectionist, which overall left me feeling that nothing I did would ever be good enough, and even if it was good enough for others,  it would never be, for me.  Sadly, I've carried most of this into my adult life, as well.

But something that Emily discovered when she posed this question, was that some of her followers had a different take on what it means to feel small.  A few of them even asked, "Do you mean the good kind of small, or the bad kind of small?", and much to her delight, they replied with answers such as;

- Standing near the ocean
- Looking up at the stars
- Walking through the woods
- When everything is covered in snow

In today's world, which has been magnified by social media, it's easy to feel small and insignificant.  People naturally tend to put their best face forward, but our carefully curated feeds on Facebook and Instagram have certainly done their part in creating the facade that we're all out there living our best life!  The comparison trap is so easy to fall into, and it quickly whittles me down to that little girl wandering around the school yard who felt she would never measure up.

Emily goes on to share a quote by Eugene Peterson, from his book The Contemplative Pastor:

“The metaphors Jesus used for the life of ministry are frequently images of the single, the small and the quiet, which have effects far in excess of their appearance: salt, leaven, seed. Our culture publicizes the opposite emphasis; the big, the multitudinous, the noisy."

In fact, the whole of Jesus' life dealt in the small.  He was born in Bethlehem, a small city in Judah.  He came as a baby, small among men. And yet His smallness never determined or influenced His significance, as Emily points out, "simply because He did not hold on to His own glory". Jesus understood that His life and His work were part of something far greater than Himself. He came to establish a Kingdom. Yet even in that,  Jesus didn't make it His business to grow it.

Once we are secure in our God-breathed purpose and look beyond our earthly goals to the Kingdom, our need for significance diminishes and our perspective changes. If God is in it, we can rest assured that His work will be accomplished.  Even if our voice is small, we can know with confidence that we have reached those who needed us. I find this especially encouraging with regards to writing, and particularly in this format of blogging.

Much has changed in the decade since I first typed out my first blog post at the now defunct Homeschool Blogger. Blogging is now a business, with preferred hosting, minimum standards, and supported by a strong social media presence whose algorithms seem to on a daily basis.  In many ways, at least in my opinion, it seems to have lost its soul. That's not to say that there are not self-supporting blogs/bloggers without relevant content, because I follow a number of them that remain edifying and uplifting, even as a "business". For me, the defining factor is, is it a calling (God-breathed), or just commercialism (Self-greed)?

For me, the take on all of this is, as Emily admonishes, is to learn to "Celebrate Your Smallness". We don't have to be a big fish in the pond to make an impact, because the good news is our impact is not even up to us!  Our job, in our smallness (He is God and we, are not!), is too show up each day to whatever the task He has placed before us, and in faithfulness, to give it our best. It is He who decides how far the ripples of our efforts extend.

I love these words of encouragement from Emily;

"Instead of forgetting or running from my own smallness, what if I chose instead to look it in the face, to settle down into the place where I am, to notice what is happening around me on my ordinary days?  What if these small moments are the very portal into experiencing the kingdom of God? I believe they are, and if we miss them, we miss everything. We run right by the kingdom's doors, and no matter where we go, we have missed the door that leads us home."

Wherever life finds you today, my friend.  Whether you are a single, just starting out in a career, newly married, a young mother with small children, an empty-nester, or if you are caring for elderly parents, take heart in knowing that what you may deem as small efforts, are making a kingdom size impact.  Give God the glory, and join me celebrating our smallness, today, my friends!

We are members of the Amazon affiliate program, and this post contains affiliate links. 
 When you click through one of the links and make a purchase, 
 we receive compensation. We appreciate your support!