Monday, May 10, 2021

May Get-Away: A Day Trip to Black Dog Salvage, Roanoke, Virginia

If the picture above looks familiar to you, then you might recognize it from the popular HGTVshow, Salvage Dawgs. Located in Roanoke, VA, Black Dog Salvage is where it all began! Founded in 1999 by Mike Whiteside and Robert Kelp, Black Dog Salvages now boasts two locations featuring architectural details, custom upcycled designs, furniture paint, regional artisans, and salvage-inspired furniture. Their latest editions include The Stone House, a fully renovated guest house and event venue, and The Dog Bowl which is an outdoor music and event venue.  

My friend and I made the trip to Roanoke on Saturday, May 1, and Black Dog Salvage was our first stop. This was my fourth time visiting and it never disappoints! There is so much to see that I'm sure I miss a lot, and being a salvage company, their inventory is constantly changing. They have large architectural pieces, like vintage doors, shutters, lighting fixtures and some beautiful stained glass windows, but I'm usually drawn to the smaller antique items like vinyl records, old coke bottles in wooden trays, and on this trip there was an entire bin of candy cigarettes! Does anyone else remember those? It's distasteful to think of it now, the way it encouraged children to transition from candy to the real deal, but it was the 60's! Neither of my parents smoked when I was growing up, yet I still recall buying a package of these from time to time and imitating the movie stars I saw on tv. I can only vaguely remember what the candy itself tasted like, but it wasn't very good, I can say that. I'm surprised the ones I found at Black Dog had lasted, which I discovered by gently rattling one of the boxes. Though I almost always leave with something in hand, I didn't come across anything I couldn't live without this go around, but it's still so much fun just walking around and perusing the wares. My friend found a couple of unique pieces for her garden, and I was tempted to buy a t-shirt as she was checking out, but even on clearance the price was too high for my blood. 
As we were about to leave we noticed a Loveworks on the property, probably one of my favorites. Loveworks are a really popular thing in Virginia, and are a take on  the state theme, "Virginia is for Lovers". But the one at Black Dog Salvage, in keeping with the theme, is made entirely of salvaged materials.
We spent a few more hours in the area, and had lunch at Taaza, which has the best Indian food around. There Samosa is to DIE for! I could easily make a meal of it. But we split it as an appetizer and I had the Mugulai, which is SOOO good! We also ordered Garlic Naan, and I'm just saying, if you've only ever had what you buy in the store, you're missing out! The restaurant is just a couple of blocks from Black Dog Salvage and located in the Historic Grandin Village, which is also home to my favorite movie house, The Grandin Theater. A couple of years ago we went to dinner at Taaza, took in a movie after and then finished the night with ice cream at Pop's Ice Cream and Soda Bar.  But for this trip we skipped the movie and dessert! 

While we were in the area we made a quick trip downtown to the Roanoke City Market. My friend bought a few succulents, but all I managed to leave with on this trip was a disc of Taza Dark Chipotle Chili Chocolate, which I first discovered in New Hampshire and was excited to find again. It is stone ground mexican chocolate that has a unique texture and flavor, but I personally love it, especially the Chipotle Chili flavor which is probably my favorite chocolate combination. Keep an eye out for it if you're interested. It's typically carried in specialty/touristy shops, but if you have trouble locating it, you can also order it online.



If you're ever in the Roanoke area I highly recommend checking out all of the places I've mentioned, ESPECIALLY if you like Indian food, Taaza is a must! And I also can't recommend the Historic Grandin Village enough! It's small but quaint and lovely to peruse!

I'm hoping to be intentional about sight-seeing and visiting some of the little towns in the region this summer and I'll be highlighting them here, so be sure to visit again!

Don't let the little things pass you by!

Kim


For a chance to win my blog-relaunch give-away, leave a comment on this post.
You get one entry for each post you comment on, but as an added bonus, tell me about a favorite day-trip 
you took and what you loved about the place you visited for an additional chance to win!
Winner will be announced on May 17!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Follow Me On Pinterest!


Are you on Pinterest?  Follow me and look for my board dedicated to this blog, Ordinary Days of Small Things! I am going to **try** to post a link to each blog post, we'll see how it goes! But I have a LOT of other boards and pins for you to peruse if you care to!  Apparently I should have a business account dedicated solely to my blog, but I don't know about all that! That would mean two different Pinterest accounts, but I'm considering it! I'm also working on re-launching my Facebook Group page. One-thing-at-a-time. :) But if you don't follow me on Pinterest and want to, click the link below! 

FOLLOW ME ON PINTEREST!



For a chance to win my blog-relaunch give-away, leave a comment on this post.
You get one entry for each post you comment on, but as an added bonus, if you're on Pinterest 
I'd love to follow you. Leave a link in the comments for an additional chance to win!
Winner will be announced on May 17!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Tacos and Spanish Rice


Good Friday afternoon, my friends! Are you ready for the weekend? I know I am! As a stay-at-home wife 
it might seem that weekends wouldn't be much different than any other day of the week, and I suppose to some degree that's true. But in my efforts to live intentionally I set aside the greater part of Saturday and Sunday for rest from the busier tasks that fill the rest of the week, so I look forward to them, too. 

One of the things I do to simplify the weekend is cooking meals ahead of time. I enjoy cooking, but I am thankful to be at a place in life where it isn't required that I cook dinner every night. With Bill traveling and Kate working or out spending time with her friends, most nights it's just me. That being said, I typically cook 2-3 meals and either freeze the leftovers or stretch them over two days, but on the weekends especially, I try to make sure that dinner is prepared ahead of time.

I mentioned in my previous post that I am currently working on putting together a meal planning and recipe binder. I have kept a recipe binder for years, but it's looking a little shabby and it was time for an update. I'll be sharing more with you on that subject in the days ahead, but for today I wanted to share two recipes from the first section of my binder labeled, EASY DINNERS, because who doesn't love easy any day of the week, right?

The first recipe I am going to share with you is for my favorite BEEF TACO MEAT.  For years and years I seasoned our taco meat with store bought taco seasoning, and maybe you do, too, so no shame! But after making this recipe I've never looked back! It's just so easy and so good, and without all the preservatives, so better for you!

 BEEF TACO MEAT

1 lb. ground beef
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
4 ounces tomato sauce

Add ground beef to a medium size skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain the grease and add the seasonings and tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Use in tacos, burritos, taco salad or breakfast tacos.

I encourage you to give this recipe a try! Just this past week I cooked up three pounds of meat, had tacos for dinner one night and froze the rest in 1 lb. portions. Now when I get hungry for tacos again, which is almost daily, the meat is ready and just needs to be thawed! Nothing could be simpler or taste better!

But of course if you're going to have taco's then you typically want the traditional sides of rice and beans to go with it.  I've shared my recipe to GRANDMA'S TEXAS STYLE PINTO BEANS before, and this is my go-to for any Mexican meal I prepare. I suppose you could re-fry them, but we like them just as they are. But it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally found a recipe for spanish rice that mimicked what is served at most restaurants, and the rice has always been my favorite! I made it just as the recipe called for, until one day I realized I didn't have tomato sauce and so I substituted salsa instead and the rest is history! But the real key to the flavor is browning the rice, it really makes all the difference!

❊ RESTAURANT STYLE SPANISH RICE

2 cups long grain rice - long grain is ESSENTIAL for restaurant style quality!
1/8 salsa (or tomato sauce)
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp minced garlic 
4 cups lower sodium chicken broth 
Dash cumin 
Dash garlic pepper

Heat oil in large frying pan on medium heat. Add rice and cook until golden brown.  When rice is brown, add broth, salsa OR tomato sauce, salt, garlic, cumin and garlic pepper to pan.

This rice is just so good, and in addition to the meat and the pinto beans, you can make up a big batch and freeze it which makes putting together a full Mexican meal so easy, just pull it all out of the freezer, heat it up and enjoy!

If you like Mexican food then I hope you'll try out one or both of these delicious and easy recipes! They are perfect for a simple weekend meal, and even if you don't make it ahead of time, it all comes together so quickly, you'll be out of the kitchen before you know it!

And now I'm off my friends, and I do hope that you enjoy your weekend! The days are longer and sun is brighter, summer . . . is just around the corner!

Cherishing the days,
Kim


For a chance to win my blog-relaunch give-away, leave a comment on this post.
You get one entry for each post you comment on, but as an added bonus, share
your favorite go-to easy dinner recipe in the comments for an additional chance to win!
Winner will be announced on May 17!


Monday, May 3, 2021

Welcome, to Ordinary Days of Small Things,
I'm So Glad You're Here!


Good morning, friends! And welcome to Ordinary Days of Small Things!

As I mentioned a few week ago, today marks a re-launch, of sorts, of my blog. After traveling full time for six months last year and then spending four months in and out of doctor's offices, I haven't had much time to devote to writing.  But now that I'm back home and my health is on the mend, I'm ready to resume sharing with you again, and to begin I thought we'd start off with a little introduction!

Hi! I'm Kim, the keeper of this blog! I've been writing online for close to fifteen years now, most of that at my previous blog, Life in the Little Nest, which chronicled our homeschooling years in a small farmhouse in rural Virginia. Fast forward to today, our daughter's are grown, several of them married and with children of their own, and our baby is about to turn twenty-two. Where did the time go?

Now that there is no one left to teach I'm devoting more time to my hobbies and interests, which are varied and numerous.  I enjoy . . .

- Cross-Stitching (my primary hobby!)
- Crocheting and Knitting (I've tried knitting several times without much success, but I'm determined!)
- Cooking and Baking
- Reading, My favorite genre's are vintage children's literature from the 50's and 60's, self-help/inspirational and biography.
- Watching old movies and listening to oldies on the radio.

This past year, a bit late to the game, I began focusing on living a more simple, sustainable life. I am currently experimenting with making my own non-toxic cleaning and beauty supplies, as well as developing a home apothecary for treating minor injuries and illnesses naturally and holistically. 

Some of my favorite things are Sunday mornings, the colors red and green, that first cup of coffee, full moons, the smell of rain after a storm, and old black and white photos of my ancestors.

If any of these things. appeals to you, then I hope you'll pour a cup, pull up a chair and join me! I love comments, they make blogging so much more enjoyable, so I hope you won't be shy! But as the self-proclaimed poster child for Introverts Anonymous, I welcome lurkers, too! I have so much I want to share with you, a broad mix of topics, many which I've mentioned in this post and then some! My goal is to show up here two to three times a week, so be sure to visit often.  If you ever have questions you can leave them in the comments or email me at ordinarydaysofsmallthings@gmail.com.

Until next time, I hope your work week is off to a lovely start! My goal this week to take a full inventory of our freezer/refrigerator and pantry and plan meals based on what we already have. I'm putting together a recipe/meal planning notebook, and I'll be sharing more about that soon! If you're interested in learning a **little** more about me right now, you can read my "About Me" page. 

Savoring the moments,

Kim


For a chance to win my blog-relaunch give-away, leave a comment on this post.
You get one entry for each post you comment on, but as an added bonus, tell me
what your favorite hobbies and interests are on this post for an additonal chance to win!
Winner will be announced on May 17!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

A Blog Re-Launch Giveaway!


Good Sunday morning, friends! I'm here today on a day I don't normally post at the blog to elaborate a little more on something I hinted at last week, my blog re-launch!

As some of you may know, my husband I and became full time van-lifer's in July of last year, and traveled as we were welcomed due to the virus, up and down the eastern coast of the US. But by the time we came home for Christmas I had developed some minor but painful health problems that after a couple of months of testing and a diagnosis led to our decision for my husband to continue on the adventure without me. And while that is disappointing, I'm now comfortably settled into an apartment back in our home town. I miss my husband every moment of every day, but I must say I'm very much at peace and quiet content being back in a homier setting! I'm also in significantly less pain and managing my health problems well for the moment, and for that I am truly grateful! All that being said, now that I'm unpacked I'm ready to dive head first back into this lovely little blog! I do so love sharing with you in this space, and its something that without a strong cell signal I often was not able to do while we were traveling. I don't mind admitting, I missed it, terribly!

Another thing I'm enoying again is routine and ritual! Van life is great for those who want a new adventure every day, but I discovered quite surprisingly that I function better with a little more order and predictability. This has brought me back to some of my go-to tools for planning and organization, such as my weekly/monthly/seasonal filing system (I might have squealed loudly when I opened that box!), which I'll be sharing about in future posts. But before we dig too deep into the topic, I wanted to share some sweet little embellishments I recently purchased that have added an aesthetic flair to my planning! You can see them featured in the picture above. 

There are;
- Three small notebooks
- A monthly planner, small and compact, just the right size for tucking in your purse.
- A weekly planner, a bit larger but still small enough for to fit in most purses.
- A small set of sticky tabs (maybe my favorite!)
and 
- A floral sticky note pad. 

I wasn't in the market for any more office supplies, but when I came across these I had to have them! I mean, look at all those shades of red/coral and green! They immediately reminded me of my blog header, and since I've recently organized a binder designated specifically to my blog, they were the perfect fit! The monthly and weekly planners is where I'll transfer important tasks from my bigger calendar so that I'll always have them with me. They will most likely be used for more than just my blog. I know most people use their phones for such tasks these days, but call me old fashioned, I'm just more of a pen to paper kind of girl when it comes to things like this. I can flip open a printed calendar so much faster than pulling up and scrolling through an app! The tabs and post its will come in handy, and while I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to use the notebooks for, my first thought is possibly brain-storming ideas and jotting down inspiration for future posts! 

But here's the best part! While I was picking up a set for myself, I decided to pick up an additional set to gift to one lucky winner! It's not much, just a small offering to thank my devoted followers who have stuck with me over the past year even through the sparse months! I have so many exciting things I want to share here with you in this space, and I can't wait to present my thoughts and ideas in the coming weeks! The blog re-launches on May 3 and that's the day that we'll start the contest and I'll pick a winner two weeks later on on May 17!  So if you'd like your own set of these sweet little organizational tools, here's the easy way to enter!  Just leave a comment on this post!  Then, for every comment you leave on each post I share between May 3 and and May 16, you'll get an additional chance to win! So if I write six posts between May 3 and the May 17 and you comment on each post, combined with your comment here will give you 7 chances to win! If you have a friend that you think would enjoy visiting with us here and might like to win, share this post with them!  I'll write everyone's name on a slip of paper and draw the winner on May 17 and post it here! Also, if you are "Anonymous" you'll need to include at least your first name in the comments. If you're the winner I will then be in touch to get the necessary information to mail out your prize!

I am looking so forward to sharing with here again! And I can't wait to see who wins! Good luck

HOW TO WIN THE BLOG RE-LAUNCH GIVEAWAY

❊ Comment on this post! - 1 chance to win

❊ Comment on each post beginning May 3 through May 16 - 1 additional chance to win per comment.

❊ Anonymous visitors will need to include at least their first name in the comments to be eligible.

❊ Comments close at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 16.

❊ Drawing will be held first thing Monday morning, May 17 and the winner will be posted!



Friday, April 2, 2021

Happy Easter!


 It's been a busy, busy couple of weeks, finalizing my move and getting me added to the lease at my daughter's apartment. Now the task of getting my things from storage moved in today and tomorrow, and Sunday is Easter! Can you believe it?  I'll be back soon with regular posts, but until then here's wishing you and your's the loveliest Easter!

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Housework As A Spiritual Practice

I love these sweet, vintage magazine covers. They always remind me of my paternal grandmother 
who was an avid magazine collector. She was exactly my age when I was born, which has come to 
mind often to me this year. In looking at the date on this cover, it occurred to me that she was a young 
27 year old wife and mother of two little girls at the time . My father would come along four years later.  
Sometimes it seems surreal that someone I knew and loved lived during this time. My daughter was born in 1999,
 a 97 year gap between two of the most important people in my life, near an entire century, 
and I was born smack dab in the middle of them. 
❤︎

"The art of cleaning is a simple spiritual activity that is often overlooked. The image of the monk sweeping the courtyard has a deep significance, because without the practice of cleaning there can be no empty space, no space for a deep communion with the sacred. Outer and inner cleaning belong to the foundation of spiritual practice, and as the monk’s broom touches the ground, it has a particular relationship to the Earth. We need to create a sacred space in order to live in relationship to the sacred within ourselves and within creation.

In today’s busy life cleaning one’s home is often considered a chore. We may spend time and energy (and expensive products) in our daily ritual bathing, but the simple art of cleaning our living space is rarely given precedence. Our culture calls to us to use products that will kill all of the “germs” that surround us, products that are often more toxic than the germs, but do we give attention, mindfulness, to caring for the space in which we live? Are we fully present with our brush or vacuum cleaner?

Once I realized that everything is part of one living whole, that nothing is separate, I understood how everything needs care and attention. I bring this feeling and awareness into my cleaning. Cleaning a table, dusting a shelf, I give attention and love, because everything responds to love and care—not just people, or animals, or plants, but everything. I feel strongly that just as I should have only what I need, I should have only what I can look after, love, and care for. It is a simple recognition of the sacred that is present within everything, and a way to live from the heart in everyday life. Maybe, having been brought up in a family without love or care, I feel this need especially strongly, but I sense that it comes from a deeper knowing of how everything is part of the fabric of love—that creation is woven out of love. And so when I clean I am also looking after, caring for, what is around me, knowing that it too needs to be loved.

I must admit that I love to clean. I find cleaning deeply reassuring. Personally I love emptiness, inner and outer space. In cleaning my living space I am creating emptiness, clearing up the debris that so easily accumulates. And when one cleans with love and attention one is not just vacuuming the dust, but also the psychic debris, even the worthless thought-forms that stay in the air. Because our culture values only what it can see and touch, we do not understand this invisible accumulation. But it is real, and without conscious attention it clutters our life more than we realize. Just as ritual bathing prepares the worshipper, or just as we may take off our shoes at the entrance to a temple or mosque (or even a friend’s home), cleaning is an important preparation for living with the sacred in our daily life.

When I first started lecturing, traveling over America, I would stay in people’s houses. At the time I was lecturing mainly to Jungian psychology groups, and so would sometimes stay in the house of a therapist. I remember one night being given a bed in the “spare room,” which was also my host’s therapy room. After a few restless hours I gave up trying to sleep and realized that I was lying in the psychic soup of all of his patients. Through his therapy work he brought unconscious feelings to the surface, brought shadow dynamics, anger, and depression into consciousness. And so they were floating around the room, waiting to attach themselves to the next person who entered. The therapist had no understanding of psychic cleaning. Sadly it had not been part of his training or practice. The air was dense with discarded psychic contents.

This is not uncommon. Often people who do healing wash or shake their hands afterward, but then the illness just goes into the water or into the air, to be drunk or breathed by another. When my teacher was in India with her Sufi sheikh, she would sometimes witness him performing a healing. She noticed that after each healing he would cup his hands and bring something to his mouth. She realized that he was inwardly digesting the sickness that he had cleansed, so that it would not just stay in the air and attach itself to another person.

Ecological awareness teaches us the importance of recycling and composting. The waste from our daily lives should not be allowed just to accumulate in a landfill. Nor should it be allowed to get into our water, which in a less visible way is becoming toxic with all the tranquilizers and other drugs that go through our system into the water, affecting and mutating the fish. There are many ecologically aware people who make it a practice to leave as little as possible in their garbage bins for the landfills, and work to safeguard the food and water supply, and this is very commendable. But if we are to practice spiritual ecology, if we are to include the spiritual in our ecological awareness, we need to bring a greater awareness to all the debris we leave behind. We need to learn how to clear up after ourselves, how to keep an empty space—how to be attentive in our cleaning.

When we bring a quality of attention in our cleaning, the psychic debris can be absorbed along with the dust. Often the attention is linked to the breath, so the two work together. When we work this way the debris does not harm us, and I have found a deep satisfaction in this practice.

Our present culture teaches us to accumulate, but not how to make empty. But for real spiritual work in the inner and outer worlds, in order to give space to the divine, in order to return to the sacred, we need to practice a certain purification in our daily lives. We learn to eat consciously, to be attentive to our outer environment, to sweep our courtyard. We also need to learn how to clean our house, both physically and inwardly. Just as we need to learn to empty our mind in meditation, to clear away the clutter of unnecessary thoughts, so do we need to consciously clean our living space. Dusting, sweeping, vacuuming with attention, we bring a certain awareness to the ground of our being. This has to do with respect for our environment.

In some old Celtic rituals after a wedding the couple walk to the celebration preceded by a young boy and girl with brooms, who are sweeping away the evil spirits so that the couple have a happy marriage. These ancient rituals carry an understanding of the inner worlds and how they can affect our daily life. In the practice of spiritual ecology we are not just working with the outer physical world, but also the inner worlds, and we need to respect this. We need to relearn how to live lightly, to leave as little debris behind us as we can. We need to relearn how to sweep with our broom. It is simple good housekeeping, more important than we realize.

In the Sufi practice we work with the heart, and so darkness and debris are also absorbed through the heart, with love. Sufis are sometimes known as “sweepers” because they sweep up the debris, the dust of the world, that others leave behind"

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Adapted from Spiritual Ecology: 10 Practices to Reawaken the Sacred in Everyday Life

*AN OFFERING:  I offer this post for it's wisdom and beauty. As a follower of Jesus Christ, and in my own experiences with spiritual warfare and deliverance, I have personally witnessed the work of spiritual forces left lingering and ready to work their mayhem. "Our battle is not only against flesh and blood" - Ephesians 6:12. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and the act of annointing and "sweeping out" , for both people and places, in the practice of spiritual warfare.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

You Are Welcome, In This House


Just a little something I found on Instagram and made my own.
If you like it, click on the image to enlarge, right click (control/click on Mac) 
and save to your computer. Insert into document and adjust widths as needed. 
Print and enjoy!
 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Seven Promises of God (And Good News!)

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers today, I could feel them surrounding me. Test results are good! No cancer, no Crohns. We're still trying to get to the bottom (literally) of what is causing my issues, but right now it looks like it may be IBS or food allergies. Waiting on biopsies and bloodwork, but I'm resting with a little more ease. My paternal grandmother died from colon cancer, and while there's no direct link, these types of problems concern me. But praise to Him there wasn't even a single polyp, and I waited until this year (59) to have this done. My advice if you're on the fence, just bite the bullet and do it! My experience wasn't bad at all, even the prep was manageable, but then remember, I'm the girl who chews on garlic cloves to ward off colds! But seriously, from what I've been told the prep has improved in recent years. My doctor used Clenpiq and mine was cranberry flavored, not something I'd choose off the shelf to drink, but easily managed none the less. Find a doctor who uses it and get it done! It's worth it!

I found these seven promises on Instagram yesterday during my prep and wanted to keep them somewhee I would see them often, so I made up this little graphic and printed it out and put it in my bible. I won't link it to save space in my Google Drive (I REALLY need to clean it out!), but if you like it, you can click on the image and save it to your computer.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Pleasant Ways to Pass Unpleasant Times

I'm sorry that things have been so quiet around here this week. I have so many things I want to share, but this week, if I'm being honest, has been a bit stressful.

I'm having some tests done tomorrow, the kind that require a 24 hour liquid diet and drinking what I've been told is something a bit unpleasant. Fortunately I've been known to chew on garlic cloves to ward off a cold, so I do pretty well in the distasteful department. But texture is  another thing, so I've got my straw ready to push as far in as possible in an effort to avoid as much of my tongue as I can, so we shall see. But the greatest source of my stress is less about the prep and test, and more about seeing a doctor at all. I won't go into a lot of detail, but because of things that have happened to me in the past (unrelated to doctors, by the way), I don't handle examinations of any kind, well. 

So for now there's pine and cinnamon bubbling away in the diffuser, a cup of my favorite peppermint tea, and a nice broth and lemonade on the horizon. I bought four different blends of tea because I figured in the absence of substance, variety is the key. I may have gone overboard, but no bother, they'll get used up.

Breakfast is the hardest, what exactly does one have for breakfast that's a clear liquid? I don't think my stomach could handle the broth this early, so my objective is to simply try to push through with my peppermint tea. Any time I fast, it's the hours between 6-9 a.m. that the devil fights me the hardest. But if I can make it to 9:00, the urge to cheat soon passes, here's praying today will be the same.

I realized last night that my prep, being today, falls on St. Patrick's Day, and being mostly Irish, I'll claim that luck. We even awoke to a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow this morning, with the deposit of a fat little stimulus check, and while I have my doubts about government dependence, in this case, I'll take it.

We've decided to put most of it in savings, but we are allocating a bit for a little fun, so I'll pass some of the time today perusing my wish list at Amazon. I got out for a bit yesterday morning and picked up a few things I'd already planned to have on hand. The latest issue of Bella Grace, a new Charles Wysocki puzzle, though this time I went with a 300 piece. It seemed more doable, and finally, I've two new books on my Kindle, Return to Our Senses and The Gift of Wonder, both by Christine Sine. I'm also still on the hunt for a good copy (preferrably hardcover) of Snowbound With Betsy, because until I find it, my OCD self says they must be read in order I can't move on, but I'm also NOT paying the prices Amazon is asking. I found an old, tattered copy on ebay, but I really want the cover that is pictured in the link above as all my other books in my collection are. 

With all of this, not including my library of old movies, cross stitching and crocheting, I should be able to pass the time a little more pleasantly. The worst part will most likely be the dose I have to drink at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. My stomach has always been slow to wake up, so that one might be a bit harder to digest. But I'm trying to think positive thoughts, because I know our minds can be a powerful force and things are often not as bad as we imagined them to be. Still, I'll be glad when this is over. 

The tests are at 10:00 tomorrow, and while it's considered routine, there is a possibility that I may have Crohn's or IBS, and they'll be testing for both, so your prayers are much appreciated! As I mentioned earlier, I don't like doctor's in the first place and do my level best to avoid them at all costs. They have their place, it's just rather limited in my life, but this time I really didn't have a choice. Still, I try to be kind, but if there's one arena where my introverted self becomes rather outspoken, it's with doctor's and nurses. I'm not a pushover, and in the end since I'm the one footing the bill, I don't allow myself to be bullied. When I do succumb to the need to seek out their services, it's on my terms. So as you pray, maybe say a little prayer for them, too, they may need it. :)

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Easy Peasy Peanut Butter Fudge

Today I'm sharing my easy peasy recipe for peanut butter fudge! I've made this for years and I'm still amazed how good it tastes when it contains only three ingredients and is made in the microwave! If all fudge was this easy I'd probably make it all the time!

I typically make this at Christmas, but I never got around to it this year and I've been missing that addition ever since. We've been experimenting with some sugar free fudge for my husband which reminded me of this recipe, and since my diet is not as restricted, I made up a batch for myself, although I seriously need to find someone to share it with! There is no way I can eat all of this by myself!

If you like peanut butter fudge you should definitely try this recipe. It never fails!

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
1 pound powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla - optional (I have never added this but the original recipe included it)

Grease an 8X8 inch pan with butter, and then line with parchment paper (this will make the removal of the fudge much easier). In a large glass bowl, combine the butter and peanut butter and cover with a paper towel. Microwave for about 2 minutes on high.

Stir and microwave for 1-2 more minutes depending on the wattage of your microwave. Carefully remove it from the microwave because it will be very hot!

Add the powdered sugar (and vanilla if you're using it) to the melted peanut butter mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until it's well combined.

Using a spatula, spread the mixture in to lined pan. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, foil or a lid, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Once cooled, carefully turn the pan upside down onto a cutting to remove fudge.  Remove the parchment paper and cut into small pieces.

Store the fudge in your refrigerator, and enjoy for up to 2 weeks!

Remember, you can find links to all my recipes in the right side bar!


Monday, March 8, 2021

Quiet Believers


Last week I began reading an old favorite that always inspires, The Hidden Beauty of Everyday Life by Kent Nerburn. All of my books are still packed away in storage and it may still be awhile before I have them with me again. But thanks to The Internet Archives and a strong cell signal, most of them are still within my reach.

Just a few days before I'd been lamenting over The Sacred Pathways assessment I took a few weeks back, and feeling guilty for scoring so low in the areas of caregiving, enthusiastic worship and social justice. I felt guilty, ashamed almost, for not being more demonstrative with my faith. But deep down I also knew that this wasn't an accurate reflection of who I truly am. 

For instance, in the area of caregiving. I do have compassion for the hurting, struggling and less fortunate, I'm just not the person to come along side and walk with you day in and day out through that season. But I help the homeless when they cross my path, as I feel led. And prior to Covid my husband and I volunteered in a soup kitchen on a regular basis. In the past I've cooked meals for the grieving and new mothers, all of which I would say express care and compassion. Small, singular acts of service provided at the time of need and with limited social interaction. This is how a highly sensitive introvert with social anxiety cares for others, and it still counts, at least, it does in my book.

As for enthusiastic worship, to be honest, it just doesn't appeal to me. Just recently I was listening to a podcast about the mega-church movement and their high-tech, entertaining, "seeker friendly" approach to the gospel and found myself nodding in near constant agreement. And while I'm not here to preach on that platform (maybe another day), I felt relieved. Apparently I'm not alone in my opinions. I am, however, a deeply worshipful being, I'm just not a jump around the stage, rock star kind of worshipper. But there are songs that usher me to the foot of the throne at the sound of the first note. The quieter, more reflective, and dare I say, more worshipful strains. These songs touch me in a place deep in my soul. They leave me prostrate, bowed down, hands lifted, tears flowing in worship to my Savior and King. It may not be what one deems "enthusiastic", but it is heart felt and genuine, none the less. It is private, and it is personal, but it worship, without question.

And finally, yes, it's true, I'm lacking I guess, when it comes to social justice. At least, if you consider rioting, picketing and chanting outside abortion clinics or boycotting businesses, just to name a few, the "christian approach" to social justice. And before anyone gets their feathers in a ruffle, let me explain. There are many things, especially in this day and age, that I do not agree with. I also know that what we see on television, in social media and read about in the newspaper is anything but the truth. But I do not and will not ever condone "Christians", which in itself means "image bearer of Christ", who participate in riots, who call out women, who on some level are already grieving and at the very least physically shaken, moments after aborting their child, and who single out a company and incite a boycott all while still willfully handing over their money to ten other businesses who support the same if not far worse abuses and practices. In other words, don't preach to me about my peppermint latte as you show off your most recent Target haul. Don't get me wrong, my daughter works for Target and I frequent their aisles more than I care to admit, and they even have a Starbucks at the entrance to the store! But for me if one is going to draw a line, better it be broad than narrow, or at the very least, don't shame the rest of us if we don't follow. And while I am pro-life, I am also pro-love. If you want to know why so many women turn to abortion, look no further than the church who shamed and rejected her for her actions in the first place. If we as the church would come along side these women in the early stages of their pregnancy, offer them guidance, resources and support, present them with options for both keeping their child and for adoption, I believe the number of abortions in this country would drop significantly. So no, I don't believe in taunting and shaming a woman outside of an abortion clinic, it is we who should be ashamed for our judgement. So yes, as you can see I do have very strong opinions, but because of my nature, you won't find me shouting them from the rooftops, to be honest, I'm a little surprised I'm sharing them here.

After I reflected upon all of this, I felt better about myself, and it was a little while after that I came across this passage in Kent's book.

"These are the quiet believers, those who live a life of service, trying to shape their small corner of the world into a place of warmth and love by making each ordinary act of life a prayerful offering to the greater mystery of God.

There are many among us who believe in God but do not loudly proclaim our belief. We know that our minds are small vessels in which to hold so great a mystery. We believe, as the Bible says, that there are many rooms in our Father’s mansion, and that all rooms are welcoming and all rooms are good. We do not wish to tell others that one room is greater than the others, we do not wish to leave anyone standing outside the door."

I don't know about you but I think this is so beautiful, and it makes me proud to count myself among the "quiet believers" in this world. It's funny, because from an early age I've often said that "just because I'm quiet doesn't mean I don't have beliefs and opinions", and that is true. But I never marked myself as a "quiet believer" and I rather like the association. I especially love that last line, "we do not wish to leave anyone standing outside the door." Even Jesus "knocks" on the door of our heart, he doesn't barrel through and break it down. A soft tap upon the door of our heart and it is we who choose whether or not to allow Him to enter. That's how I strive to live my life, a soft answer, a soft word of advice, always with love and never with judgement. You can take it or leave it, I'll love you just the same. We, the quiet believers,  save the world in our own way, one small act, one smile, one kind word at a time. And you're anything like me . . .

Here's to us!


Saturday, March 6, 2021

Decorating Your Home With Gently Used Items - A Few Updated Pieces


If you recall, last Sunday I posted about decorating our new apartment (which probably won't happen until August, but that's another post for another day), with repurposed and re-crafted pieces that I picked up at yard sales and thrift stores. If you missed it, then you can go back and read it here.

Anyway, I was able to update two of the pieces to suit my style and decor this week and I wanted to share them with you today.

In the picture below are the pieces as I originally purchased them are on the left, and on the right you can see the updates.


As I mentioned in my first post, I didn't care for the look of the pine trees on the ribbon of the basket, which ended up not being a ribbon at all, but a thin piece of wood. But thankfully I was still able to cut it and pull it out pretty easily and, as I suspected the green and black check ribbon I bought for 75% off at Michaels after Christmas fit the space perfectly! I am IN LOVE with this basket! I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to use it and for now it's sitting on a shelf at my daughter's apartment. I spent a little time there this week visiting and crafting, and this was the first project I worked on. I knew it would be the easiest and that the ribbon was the only change I would make. It took me less than 20 minutes to complete it.


Since you can't see the wooden kleenex box very well in the second picture above, here's a better view. This one was pretty easy, as well. I had a day this week when I was feeling well enough to work with my husband on some projects in our storage facility, one of which was painting two chairs to go with our kitchen table. We've been functioning with two black chairs and just pulling in odd ones here and there from the rest of the house for awhile now and I was eager to have four black chairs specifically for the table. So now I have two sets of two matching chairs but they are similar in style and to be honest I kind of like the mismatched look, and the fact that they are all black groups it all together nicely. I'm going to let the paint set for a couple of weeks on the two we just painted to make sure it adheres well, then I'm going to distress them with sandpaper like the other two chairs and the table.  But, while I was at it I decided to go ahead and paint this wooden kleenex box, and I love how it turned out! Like the chairs I'll let it set for a bit, probably not quite as long as the chairs, but I also have to buy some sandpaper the next time I'm out, and then I'll scuff it up!

My husband wanted to hit the thrift stores again to pick up some DVD's to take on the road with him when he leaves (which will still be awhile yet), and while we were there I came across these two tablecloths in my FAVORITE colors and both in perfect condition. They fit my kitchen table well enough, they won't hang over much on the end, but I don't mind that, and I'm sure I'll find a multitude of other uses for them. And the best part is, they were in the linen bin and almost all the items in that particular bin are only a $1, so this was a real steal!

I picked up a few other pieces, too, but I'm going to save that post for another day. A few of the times I plan to keep, but I did pick up a few things to sell, as well. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I'm going to work all of that, but I'm not in any hurry and I still have to craft and repurpose the items to get them ready.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed seeing my "flipped thrift", I guess you could say! I'll be back on Monday and hope to visit with you then!  Have a beautiful weekend, it's gorgeous here!


Friday, March 5, 2021

Small Things Post It Notes

You all know me by now, when I find a resource I love, 9 times out of 10 I'm going to recreate it to suit my color preferences, and the same goes for post it notes! I do have a few lovely green and red ones, but finding them in the shades I love, is hard. That's why more often than not I just grab one of these designs  anytime I'm working. Sometimes I even skip the sticky part and just tape it or paper clip it to a document. You can also buy repositionable glue sticks to make them work exactly the same as post-its. 

Anyway, I've been going through my files that I use for this blog this week and organizing some things again. Do you know I have more than 200+ blog post ideas in cue just sitting and waiting to be developed and shared with you? I'm so excited! Though a lot of things about our decision for me to remain at home have been hard, being able to share with you all here on a regular, consistent basis is one of the things I am very much looking forward to! There's SO much more to come, but or now, if you like these sweet little post its, just click the links below!



Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Ordinary Days of Small Things
Spring Day Keeper + Supplements


Good morning, friends! And let me begin with an apology, although I thankfully I caught it a little earlier this season than last. I don't know why I'm so off in posting the links to the seasonal day keepers! I think in my heard I'm moving with the seasons and since spring doesn't properly arrive until the 19th, I keep thinking that's when the next volume begins! BUT, since I have these arranged in three month increments, March IS the first month of the new season keeper, so once again, I'm late! But thankfully it's only the 3rd, so you haven't missed much and it will be easy to catch up if you need to! 

With that, I'm posting the link to the SPRING DAY KEEPER down below and I hope you'll enjoy it. It's the same format, nothing new, but I know a lof you really enjoy it! I'm also including the link to the goal planning sheets and the phenology wheels for spring, as well. ~ Enjoy!

ORDINARY DAYS OF SMALL THINGS SPRING DAY KEEPER


SPRING GOAL PLANNING SHEETS

As a supplment to the day keepers, last quarter I featured these goal planning sheets. I'm not sure how many of you actually downloaded and or even used them. To be honest, I often create these wonderful resources and then they sit, printed, unused. Something I'm working on. But since its so easy to update them, I've included them as well.



Also, if you're interested, I've added a new feature to my right side bar,

RESOURCES I'VE FOUND USEFUL

The links will take you to online assessments that you can take to discover 
things like your Spiritual Pathway, your Personality Type,  or your Enneagram type.
There are also links to guide you in creating a Rule of Life, as well as ways to add 
the spiritual practices of Silence and Solitude and observing a weekly Sabbath,
as well as a few others. I have either used these tools or am currently working
through them, and since I seem to mention one or all of these frequently in my posts, 
I thought it would be nice to group them all into one place for easy access.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Sustainable Living - Decorating Your Home With Gently Used Items

 With the upcoming changes in our lives, I've been thinking about creating a cozy nest once again, both for myself and my daughter, and as a sweet place of retreat when my husband returns home from time to time from traveling. It's going to be an adjustment for all of us, for sure, but we are all at peace in this process.

Most of my lovely things have been packed away in storage, but since we did some significant downsizing prior to moving into the van, I am looking for some decorative items to supplement the things that were discarded when we thought we would both be on the road together for at least a couple of years. 

I'm VERY late to the game, but living sustainably has become more and more important to me as I've grown older. You would have thought growing up the 70's it would have played more of a factor, but I somehow I never related much to that classic Keep America Beautiful commercial as littering was at least one thing I never engaged in, or so I thought. But I've learned over the years that what we throw into our garbage can and conceal in plastic trash bags (which is part of the problem), is just as detrimental to the earth and our environment as blatantly throwing trash out the car window. No one's letting me off the hook, and it's high time I did my part.

One of the ways that I am looking to do this is buying local and second hand, when possible, and I'm finding that it's almost always possible. So when I decided I wanted to begin to pick up a few items here and there to decorate our new apartment I turned to our local Goodwill. Now before I go any further, I know there are a lot of people who have issues with Goodwill alone, and I completely understand. But in my neck of the woods there aren't many other sources, save for yard sales which won't be in full swing for a few weeks yet. And yes, there is Facebook Marketplace, but having been a buyer and seller in that format I find that route mostly more frustrating than profitable. What I may save in money I lose in emotional peace. I don't know what it is about the nature of most of the people who buy and sell in this format, but it's never been a very pleasant experience for me.

Anyway, I thought about writing a weekly post "Thrifty Thursday", as in the past Thursday was the day I went to the grocery store and picked up food items for the weekend and also stopped in at our local Goodwill, there are actually six different store fronts within an hour's drive here, though I seldom hit them all in a day. But until we actually get moved and settled **again!**, I haven't established my daily and weekly routines yet, though I suspect they will be much the same as before. But this week I ended up getting out yesterday, so maybe today's post is more suited to "The Sunday Sales". To be honest I'm not even sure I'll post weekly, because I typically never went EVERY week.  However, I am considering recrafting and repurposing some of the items I purchase to see if I can't turn a small profit and supplement our income a bit. I haven't decided exactly how or where I'll sale my goods, but it is something I'm considering. That being said, all of the items I picked up yesterday I plan to keep, at least for the moment. So let me share my haul with you! 

In this picture you see this cute little wooden container with the pine tree cut out. I ADORE decorating with a woodland, cabin theme, especially in our bedroom. You can't tell by the picture, but it's actually pretty tall and narrow, I'd say about 10" in height. I bought it filled with pinecones, which you see peeping through the cut out, but my husband wanted those for the van, so I gave them to him. My plan is to paint it black (of course), and then place a tall votive candle inside to shine through the cut out, kind of like a little night light. Though I might have trouble finding one tall and narrow enough to fit, in which case I may just pick up another bag of those cute scented pinecones that you can find pretty easily at craft stores and fill it again. Anyway, I fell in love with it the moment I saw it and for $1.99 I was happy to get it. As an added bonus, when I got to the check out line I realized the color for the day was red and since this had a red price label on it, it ended up only being .99 cents!

Also in this picture you can see the little tin spice cans. I originally bought these thinking my husband might want to use them, and by the looks of them, I think someone originally paid a pretty price for them. There are 24 of them altogether, all labeled with a sticker on top naming common spices, and in addition each one has a pretty hefty magnetic bottom with a strong stick. I picked them up because I'd seen many van-lifers use these magnetic containers for their spices and I thought my husband might want to do the same. But he seems pretty happy with his current set up, so now I'm thinking I might remove the stickers and rather than using them as spice containers I might fill them with small craft supplies like straight pins, safety pins, beads, etc. I'm hoping to set up a small work area in my bedroom when we move, or maybe somewhere else in the apartment, I haven't really decided. But since crafts supplies can make an area look a little busy, I'm not sure I would want it to be very focal in the main part of the house, I would prefer it be tucked away somewhere. But in any case, having organizational tools like this can help to mainstream some of that clutter and make things look a bit more presentable. These were $2.99, and as I said, they are so well made I feel that was a real bargain!

And finally, in the image on the right you can see more of the little spice tins as well as a little basket with the cute little wooden pine trees adorning it. I picked this up almost as soon as I walked in the door but went back and forth a couple of times before purchasing it. The reason for that is because I didn't like the look of the little pine trees on the ribbon around the middle, they were just a bit too whimsical for my liking. But then I remembered that I had some green and black checked ribbon at home about the same width that I thought would look very nice in place of it, and then when I got to check out and discovered that the $2.99 red price tag made it half off so $1.50!, all the better!

Under the basket, and also peeping out a bit in the other pictures is a wooden kleenex box cover. As my daughter and I both suffer from seasonal allergies, keeping kleenex handy has always been important, and I don't even want to admit to the amount of time I've spent looking for a design and color of box that would compliment our decor, and it almost always doesn't. But this box solves that problem and for .99, it will save me hours in the future! It's a little worse for wear and needs a little sanding and a coat of paint, but since my plan is to paint it black, that isn't a problem!

All total I spent $6.50, which I thought was a REAL bargain as I'm sure originally just one of these items was likely twice that alone!

So I hope you've enjoyed coming along with me on my little thrift shopping tour, and if you have I'll be sure to include more of them. I will be coming back in the coming days and weeks and sharing how I recrafted and repurposed each item, if you're interested, and if I can figure out how to sell items from right here on my blog, this might be an avenue I employ to do that. So who knows, something might catch your eye here one day and end up in your home!

Until then I hope you have a lovely start to your week. I'll be back later this week with my thoughts on the practice of silence and solitude, how I'm incorporating it into my day and how the Lord has already begun to use it in my life, so I hope you'll join me!

March

 


Friday, February 26, 2021

The Present Moment Is Eternity


Many years ago I stumbled upon a book in the public library, Holidays and Holy Nights by Christopher Hill,who first introduced me, a wholly Protestant girl, to the world of Catholicism.  I had no desire to become Catholic, but there was a beauty and a rhythm to this branch of faith that I found appealing, comforting. Recently, as I’ve begun working my way through the spiritual practices, I was reminded again of this lovely book and the in particular, the following passage. In my efforts to slow the pace of life, these words are a balm for my hurried soul, and what started me on my journey to a slower, sacred, and more meaningful way of living. 

"The whole point of the Year of the Lord is that there is more than one way to experience time. The understanding of time that most people live with is only one way to experience it. We could call it the worldly or profane understanding of time. It is an image of time as a straight horizontal line with a middle point, where we stand, called The Present. This line is always moving past us like a conveyor belt. On the left is the Past, where present moments constantly flow and immediately cease to exist. On the right is The Future, which is always moving toward the Present, but never actually arrives. 

This model is almost completely abstract. In other words, we never actually experience any of it. The present is gone before we are aware of it, and the past and future lie outside our grasp. Anxiety is built into it. Each human possesses only a limited quantity of this kind of time, and it is constantly passing us by, never to return. 

This view of time is not necessarily bad. It can be a useful tool. All human progress, in some sense, depends on it. But its not the whole or most important part of the picture. It is not the way we experience time in the deepest parts of ourselves, on the level of our hearts, and it is not the way God experiences time. Above and below this abstract, one-dimensional timeline, is well, reality. This is the world we actually experience, in which we “live and move and have our being”, as Paul said. The word “I Am” as God introduced himself to Moses. The present moment is eternity. 

For most of human history, people experienced time very different. The pattern was not a line, but a circle or cycle. The cycles of sun, moon and stars; of the seasons of the life, death and birth of plants, animals and human beings. Everything went away, but then in some way everything always came back. We can be sure that people living with this image of time still got anxious about things, but anxiety wasn’t built into the system itself. 

The image of the cycle contains a lot of truth. It expands the one-dimensional timeline into a two-dimensional circle and so takes in a lot more of reality. it is less abstract than the line, truer to experience and incorporates the fundamental patterns of creation. Years, seasons, months, weeks, days and hours all come from this model of time. Birth, life, death and rebirth are all in it. What it doesn’t include is the possibility for growth. In this cycle, the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

The Year of the Lord, the Christian understanding of time, is a variation on the cycle. The timeline, as we’ve said, is a one-dimensional model. The circle is two dimensional. The Year of the Lord is three-dimensional. It is modeled on the spiral, a circle that grows outward and upward. It grows in a vertical direction as well as horizontally, combining the straight line of the past, present and future with the height and depth of eternity. Like a spiraling tornado, it sucks one-dimensional time up into three dimensional reality. It uses time to break us out of time. It hallows and sacralizes time and transforms it into eternity. Year, season month, week, day and hour all concentric circles that lead deeper and deeper into the center; the present moment, where we live in the presence of God. The present is the Presence. And the present time ripples outward again, connecting us with all time and all the cosmos."

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Wheel Of Life Exercise


This is one of those posts that is real and raw, where I brave the critics, step out from behind the screen and say, "This is honest, this is me." In some ways 2020 and 2021 have been some of the hardest years of my life, and not even so much because of the implications of Covid. For me it's had more to do with being honest with myself about the things that I value and want, and more importantly, realizing that I can't have it all and that some things, even GOOD things, have to take a back seat for now to make room for what is best. That means that in recent weeks I've devoted a lot of time and prayer to assessing my life and being honest with God, myself and the ones that I love.

I know I've mentioned it some many times now that I'm probably beginning to sound a like a broken record, but this series has rocked my world and is dramatically changing my life for the better. That doesn't mean it's all been easy, it hasn't and it still isn't, which is one of the reasons I KNOW that God is in this. To be honest it's been hard for me to want for anything else, but thankfully my years of employing the philosophy of Charlotte Mason have taught me that reading / learning are best absorbed slowly.  So I'm pacing myself and taking my time, and while I did breeze a bit through the vision casting portion of the series (still HIGHLY beneficial), now I've entered into the learning and application of the spiritual disciplines. As this series was originally presented weekly, I've now set aside Friday's as the day that I listen to a new message, and then I devote the rest of the week to using the resources that are provided to guide me in practicing the disciplines and making them a part of my daily life. This is the first week of practicing silence and solitude and I am loving every minute of it!

With that, I've sought out other series and podcasts that peeked my interest and that are further expanding on the themes presented in Practicing The Way. Yesterday I listened to a the first part in a series from The Practice  called Invitation to Stillness and Response which I am very much enjoying.  The speaker is Fr. J. Michael Sparough, who is the retreat director and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.  I have a penchant for seeking out information about the speakers that I listen to, so that took me on a bit of a tumble down the rabbit hole, which is what eventually led me to this resource, The Wheel Of Life Exercise, which is what you see in the picture above. This isn't something that was mentioned or even recommended by Fr. Sparough in his message, just something that I eventually landed at, but I'm so glad that I did.

I was already become familiar with A Rule of Life which is scheduled to come up a little later in the Practicing the Way series, so The Wheel of Life of Exercise seemed like a good pre-cursor, I suppose, as it gives you an overall picture of how satisfied you are with your life in the present moment. Now, before I go into a very real and honest overview of my personal wheel, I will tell you that I am my own worst critic. I've been asked questions like, "Would you treat your best friend the way you treat yourself?"often, so when I look at this assessment my guess is I'm probably scoring myself a bit lower that perhaps what the reality of my satisfaction with life expresses. I'm a perfectionist and a pessimist, what can I say? The glass is always half empty and there is alway room for improvement. But with that, let's get to the wheel and my thoughts on each area represented.

The idea behind the wheel is that you rank your satisfaction, on a level of 1 (being least satisfied), to 10 (most satisfied) grading eight specific areas of your life, Career, Family & Friends, Significant Other / Romance, Fun & Recreation, Health, Money, Personal Growth and Physical Environment, so with that, here is where I currently see myself.

❊ CAREER - 4
As for a career, I don't technically see myself as having one. I'm a full time van life traveling, empty-nester wife and mother, although changes are on the horizon (more on that later), but as I am also in the process of writing a book and have a desire to devote more time to writing and developing this blog, I listed that as my "career". I think it may be the first time I've ever actually identified myself as a writer and aspiring author. That alone was worth the entire assessment. :) That being said, with the changes in our life over the past year both writing and blogging have taken a hard hit, so that's the reason I scored it so low. But, as I hope to implement a plan to improve both, I'm hoping that my satisfaction in this area will improve dramatically.

❊ FAMILY & FRIENDS - 2
This was one of my lowest scoring areas, and the reason I scored it so low is because I don't believe I am very good at personally staying in touch with or expressing my love and appreciation for the people in my life. It is true that I'm an introvert, but that being said, this area needs some focused and intentional improvement.

❊ SIGNIFICANT OTHER / ROMANCE - 6
While my extended family may suffer from a lack of interaction, my husband does not. After several difficult years of being separated, I would say that our marriage is now stronger than ever. Is it perfect? Not by any means, but I'm very happy with our relationship.  I did only score it a 6 out of 10 however, because I do think there are a number of areas where I could strive to improve.

❊ FUN & RECREATION - 4
You might think that since we just spent the past five months traveling the east coast that fun and recreation would have scored higher. And while I did enjoy myself very much, there are other things in life that I've missed dearly, like cross stitching and crafting, and writing! Those things have been pretty difficult to do in the van, and as much as I love traveling, if I'm honest, it doesn't give me the same satisfaction as crafting and making a home does, so that is why I only scored it a 4. There are some changes in our lives that are upcoming soon that will change this, so I'm sure that number will rise over the rest of the year.

❊ HEALTH - 3
My health has definitely taken a strong hit recently, and while they are not anticipating my current struggles to be anything that I can't recover from, it's certainly made me aware of some changes that I need to make to help restore and maintain my health going forward.

❊ MONEY - 2
This is another area that tied for the lowest score, and the reason, I've NEVER been good with money. I remember growing up I got an allowance once a week, typically on Friday, and most weeks by Saturday morning, it was already spent. They say that in every marriage there is typically a spender and a saver, and I've got that spender role wrapped up. Please tell me I'm not alone! I'm ashamed to admit that even at my late age spending is still a problem and it's high time I addressed it.

❊ PERSONAL GROWTH - 6
In the area of personal growth, it tied for first, which makes me very happy! I attribute that to my relationship with Jesus Christ and especially to Practicing the Way. I'm learning so much about myself right now, and it's impacting every area of my life. As I mentioned at the beginning, it hasn't all been easy, and there are still some hard challenges ahead, but I don't recall another time in my life when I felt more challenged and yet more successful than I do right now! I still have a long way to go and these are just baby steps, but I'm very optimistic!

❊ PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT - 2
This also made a three-way tie for dead last, and this is where life is getting real for me. I've had to be honest with myself and my husband and admit that van life is not for me, at least, not full time. This admission and decision has been so-very-very-hard for me.  I love Bill so much, he's my best friend, and as much as I love going on vacation, living on vacation is just not for me. I'm too much of a homebody, and I need that "base" so to speak, to ground me. Being a wife and mother and managing my home was the the only "career" I ever aspired to when I was growing up, and even though the girls are grown now, home is still where my heart is and making a home for my family to return to is still very much at the core of who I am. So in the coming weeks we'll be making some adjustments and finding a place for me to make us a sweet little nest that our children can visit, and yes, that Bill can likewise come home too, because traveling is still very much his dream and he will be gone at times. That won't be easy, but we both feel that this is the decision that is best for both of us. I'll still join him from time to time, and for the time being it looks like our youngest daughter will be sharing the space with me. I would say "moving back home" but she prefers to view it as more of being "room mates", which I understand, she IS 22, as hard as that is for me to believe! It's a good decision for everyone right now, and I'm excited by the prospect of a new place and all that entails. Once Bill is done traveling then we may do something different, but for now we're just looking for a little apartment to call home. But because we aren't there yet and I am currently splitting my time between the van and Kate's apartment, I scored this one pretty low. I love the van, but it's not home, and as much as I appreciate being able to hang out with Kate in her space, it's still not the same, so that's the reason for the low score. But, if any area has the potential to improve, it's this one!

So there you have it, this is me, up close and personal, I guess you might say. Doing this exercise was hard as it forced me to take a real and honest look at how satisfied I was in each of these areas, and furthermore to ask myself why. It's part of what helped me to come to terms with how unhappy I've been not having a home, and to realize that it's time I got more serious about taking better care of myself and working on managing money better, hard, but necessary. And while it feels a little risky putting something so personal out there, I did so because its also important to me to never present myself as if I'm living some perfect, fairy-tale life. I've followed bloggers like that over the years, and even seen a few of them tumble. I personally find that discouraging and I only want to be an encouragement which I believe means keeping it real. I'm hoping that maybe you might find this exercise insightful as well. If you're interested in doing this yourself, just click the link below!