Sunday, December 28, 2014


furtive, sly

I have a very vivid memory of being sneaky when I was very young, definitely pre-school age.  My dad was not flexible at all.  If he said something, he was not inclined to back down.  This particular night, he decided that I would not be allowed up from the table until I finished everything on my plate.  I was not in the mood for mashed potatoes that particular night, so I was stuck sitting there for a very long time.  So long that everyone finally left the room, which gave me the perfect opportunity to scrape them back into the serving dish and announce that I had finished.  

I can't believe that my mother did not figure that out.  Maybe she didn't think I should have to eat the potatoes either.

Easter morning with the family who apparently did not own a lawnmower.  We had a cool bird bath though.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014


If you are interested in joining the Young Living family and being a part of a group that is committed to educating and encouraging others on the use of essential oils, you can do so by clicking here and/or contacting me personally.

Our family of Young Life distributors has a private Facebook page with over 18,000 contributors.  It contains a search feature to help in finding the answers to any question one may have about an ailment or an oil.  While it is not meant to take the place of a medical professional, it is very helpful for those interested in taking a more proactive approach to health and well being.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through the tab above.  


post contains Amazon affiliate links
I may be new to essential oils, but I've been exploring and experimenting with healthier alternative treatments for common and not-so-common ailments for many years.  I am so excited to see that a lot more folks are coming around to the logic of this way of thinking. The state of healthcare in the United States is declining quickly, and the less people can be dependent upon the system and the drugs said system promotes, the better off they will be.  Yes, that is my very strong opinion.

I am not discounting modern medicine.  My husband just had a pacemaker inserted for goodness sakes.  I am saying that many, many illnesses can and should be treated in a more natural way.  

I am not an expert and probably never will be, but what I am is willing to try a natural remedy when possible.  So far I have been very pleased with my whole Young Living essential oil experience.  Even though I am not quite ready to write a testimony of a miracle cure to anything--mainly because I have not used them long enough or for anything major--I am ready to say that I am addicted to diffusing and certain scents and am on a mission to try them all!
I have always been a smell person.  I love candles and fabric softeners and perfume.  I now feel so much better knowing that my smell addiction is being fed by something that is also good for me and my health in general.  And I will go as far as to say that the oils I have applied and diffused over the holidays--along with the prayers of many--did, in fact, help keep the depression at bay.  I know they helped because I began to crave them before I plummeted.

I am not much of a resolution maker, but I do like to start each new year by taking some positive steps.  I usually commit to a more disciplined schedule, organize a bunch, plan a renovation project, and decide on something new to try or to learn.  Last year it was soap making.  I am pretty sure that this will be the year of essential oils.  Just the little I've learned so far is fascinating.

If you are considering exploring a healthier lifestyle and the use of essential oils, you may be interested in the list of products that I have personally purchased and used that complement my oil usage.

SKOY CLEANING CLOTHS ($7.19 for four)
I love, love, love these cleaning cloths.  The product info states that one cloth will take the place of 15 rolls of paper towels, but I think it may be more!   They are super absorbent and great to wipe down countertops.  Because they are 70% wood and 30% cotton, they are completely biodegradable; but that does not mean that they are not strong!  I know that because I recently turned the garbage disposal on with one in it.  There was not even a slice in the cloth when I pulled it out.  I've washed them many times and throw them in the dishwasher as well.  I read that you can sterilize them in the microwave, but I have not done that.

Pair these with a Thieves cleaning solution--which I plan on making as soon as my order comes in--and I know it will be a win-win!  I may even enjoy cleaning the kitchen! 

Friday, December 19, 2014


In October of 2011, my family, my daughter's family, and two other families decided to start a new tradition for fall break and camp at Beartree in southwest Virginia. We had camped a lot together--but this time would be a bit different.  Camping at Beartree is real camping with no hook-ups or cell phone service.  There are, however, bears and raccoons and other critters.  It is a beautiful state park--in the wilderness. 

The weather that weekend was perfect, and the fall foliage was at its peak.  Kids and adults settled in, playing games, building fires, riding bikes, and engaging with one another.  In other words, we got busy making the kind of memories that last a lifetime. Looking back, even three years later, I still consider that weekend to be one of the best of my life.

On Saturday, the majority of our group was shuttled to the top of the mountain to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail.  It was the first time for my youngest daughter and three of my grandchildren.  They loved the scenic, downhill ride through the state forest and back country so much that they returned the next day to do it again!  You might say that my family's love affair with the trail and the area started that weekend.  For me, it was to be the beginning of something much bigger than I could have imagined at the time.  A small seed had been planted that was destined to grow a journey.
my family, my daughter's family, and our friends
Just nine months later, my world would be shaken so violently that hope would have to be hunted down with an  intensity of new dimension for my very survival.  The sudden, accidental deaths of my eleven-year-old grandson, Nate, and his friend, Noah, on July 4, 2012, would cement the nagging need I had to discern the purpose of God for what remained of my life.  I could no longer live life hoping there was a purpose. 


creeper trail cabin

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

I have been buying for teenage girls for a while now, so I am pretty confident that these are some good choices.  Tessa, my current teenage daughter, agrees!

Solmate Socks ($20)
These are awesome!
So many fun mismatched color combinations!
I want some, too!

Tweezerman Mini Tweezers ($12)
These get the job done!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


I wrote a post about my dear, faraway, Internet friend, Kolein, a long time ago--before the two of us had to face grief in ways we could never have seen coming or could have prepared for.  She and her family passed through my neck of the woods in 2011, and I was thrilled to get the opportunity to exchange real, honest-to-goodness hugs with her.

The Christmas after the accident that claimed the life of my precious grandson, Nate, and his friend, Noah, was hard.  Of course, it was.  Before I suffered such loss, I had no idea just how difficult going through the motions of daily life could be.  Even now, as I face the third Christmas, I still have to give myself pep talks to get me through many days.

Kolein probably did not realize then that when she agreed to join me in making a gingerbread house via Skype, she was, in a sense, giving me a huge pep talk.  Her willingness to give up her day to walk alongside me gave me permission to lay my grief aside for many hours and just create.  

My memory of that day is not filled with a lot of details.  I have no idea how much flour went into the recipe or how long I baked the walls.  I do, however, remember laughing like a fool as we both worked to get our creations to stand up.  I remember how good it felt to have a friend share my first gingerbread-house-making experience.


I am all about making memories, but I am not always big on keeping traditions.  I know that does not make much sense.  I have analyzed that a bit while writing my book; and one explanation I have come up with is that being creative, I am not opposed to changing things up a bit.

Last year an idea popped into my head that I think was genius--and will probably become a tradition.  I was helping a friend out by keeping three of her kids while she worked. Active, pre-teen boys tend to make me nervous, so I came up with what I thought was an entertaining, fool-proof plan to fill the day with things they and I would enjoy.  The hit by far was the photo scavenger hunt at the mall.

Monday, November 24, 2014


The business of life is the acquisition of memories.” 
—Mr. Carson, Downton Abbey

Our lives are but a story in this book called life.  Wow, that sounded so philosophical and cannedand who-cares-boring.  Let me try that again.  Your life experiences and my life experiences are so incredibly fascinating that they must be shared.  Thats right:  They must be shared.  At this point, whether you believe it or not does not change the fact that it is true.  This book is chocked full of unscientifically proven facts that you will just need to accept.  We can review my credentials later.

I have always been an intentional memory maker and a natural story teller.  Nothing is more satisfying to me than a captive audience.  It doesnt matter if it is an audience of one or one hundred.  I am actually happy to tell a good story to myself.  To be able to engage others through storytelling is powerful.  Words are powerful. The Bible tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue.  Think about that.  We have the potential to bring forth life through our words or death through our words.  We have the potential to bring forth life through our stories

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
I love gift giving, but I hate gift choosing--especially for the adults and older children.  I have endless ideas for the eight and under crowd.  Oh, why can't they just stay little forever?

After 37 years of mothering and and 15 years of grand mothering, I have given just about every kind of gift possible. There remains, however, a few favorites for the kiddos that I would consider timeless and have purchased several times--and will probably purchase again when the next round of grandchildren arrive.  I guess you could call them my standbys.


laugh (verb)
make the spontaneous sounds and movements
of the face and body that are the instinctive
expressions of lively amusement

This word was a bit hard for me because I did not come from a very fun or funny family.  There were many reasons why that was so, but the main one is that my parents were not storytellers.  Gut laughter comes from living a fun life and then developing the stories that go along with that life.  That is the whole premise of the book that I am almost finished writing.  

There was no laughing around the dinner table when I was a child.  As a matter of fact, we mostly were required to eat quietly so my dad could hear the news or a sporting event being broadcasted on the television in the next room.  We children were to be seen and not heard.  

That is probably why we all loved it when the greatest storyteller of all time, our Uncle Tom, would get going.  He was animated and expressive, and we all fully expected his eyes to pop right out of his head.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I love to shop my husband's warehouse for "stuff" that I might get a vision for.  When I first saw this old bedspring, I knew that I could use it for a display at a wedding I was working on.  After the wedding, I really could not part with it.

And just like that, it hit me.  Since rearranging daughter Tessa's room a while ago, I've been searching for the perfect thing to hang over her bed.  The search is now over, and the best part is that it cost me absolutely nothing.  

full shot edited


vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in 
such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, 
and expression of emotion.

I do not come from a very musical family and that has always made me so sad.  I love music and wish that I had been blessed with the gift that brings so much joy personally and to others.  My mother's singing voice was actually the worst one I have ever heard--and I've watched a lot of American Idol. 

On the other hand, my grandmother had a beautiful soprano voice and my earliest memories are of her rocking me and singing to me in German, specifically O' Tannenbaum.  
Grandma Mahr with me in March, 1958

My Grandmother was everything good and kind and loving.   She called me Dolly Dimples.  I miss her every day.

All posts from the 31 Words project can be found here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


It really is the best holiday.  What's not to love about a day that focuses on family, food, and gratitude?  Even the colors of the season communicate warmth and love.
This dough bowl was an impulse buy that has left me dealing with some serious guilt.  I am the bargain-hunter type, so when I make any purchase over $100, I usually feel sick to my stomach--for a while.  The only way I could recover from this purchase was to make sure that I found a way to decorate with it each season--I mean really decorate with it.     Then, and only then, could I begin to justify the purchase.  This fall is season three, so I think that I am just about over it.

The mantle got a bit of a makeover, too.  Here's the before fall.

And here is the after.
I love how the nature prints lend themselves to each season, and I have no regrets about painting the mantle.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I wanted to decorate the cabin last year, but without having the heat installed, it seemed unlikely that we would actually go there in December.  This year we have heat which means I will definitely be spending time there, so I added just a few things to put us in the holiday mood.

I made garlands out of pompons (Target $1 bin) and by stringing drinking straws and plastic beads (Hobby Lobby).
Next, I wrapped lights around a metal cone that I have been moving around for a few years waiting for an idea of how to use it to hit me.  I placed the cone on a log that I dragged in from the woods.  Because we are not here all the time and our space is tiny, it has made the perfect tree.
I kind of think that Donna at Funky Junk would be proud of me.

I am really hoping to add some decorations to the outside next week when we come to cut down our Christmas tree.  Last year we enjoyed a little bit of snow when we went, and I am praying for a little this year also.

I would love to decorate a bike--if I could find an old one--and put it outside.  

I would also like to add a few decorations to the camper which is now right outside the back door.

Hopefully, I will be posting some more cabin photos next week!  In the meantime, I have some more garland to make.  You should go make some, too!  Kids love it, and it's easy-peasy!


When I volunteered to help with my granddaughter's homeschooling this year, I knew that I needed to create a space that allowed us to focus and work with the least amount of distractions. 
I knew that the room at the top of our stairs would be perfect.  After rearranging the furniture a bit, I painted one wall with Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint in coffee. It took about three coats and had to cure for three days.
Then I chalked the whole wall (according to the instructions) using sidewalk chalk   That did not take as long as I thought it would, but it sure made a mess.  Now I use Prang Hygieia Chalk because it is not nearly as dusty.  Every now and then, I wash down the whole wall using a flat mop.

We absolutely love our space.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


ready to face and endure danger or pain
showing courage

I was either very brave or very stupid as a child.  Maybe I was a bit of both.  If there was a dare, I would take it.  Every time. I didn't care if it involved picking up a snake or swinging from a vine in the woods over a deep ravine or crawling through the window of "the haunted house" or standing up to someone.  Even as an adult I tend to be the same way:  very brave or very stupid.

These photos of my sister and me were taken in 1968.  I was in 5th grade, and 
she was in 4th.  I believe my grandmother gave these matching dresses to us
which was a huge deal since my mother made most of our clothes.   It is 
obvious that I had fashion sense (with the addition of the lovely pin) even then. 
Maybe the true test of bravery was wearing that lovely pin.  *wink*

Sunday, November 02, 2014


While planning our visit to Portland last month, I googled and searched Pinterest for as much information as possible before tackling the "weird" city.  While most of what I read was very helpful, nothing takes the place of experiencing it first hand.  And nothing takes the place of a first-time visitor's perspective.  I will share things that would have been helpful knowing on the front side, and places that I would consider non-negotiables when planning an itinerary.

Kenzie and I started our trip well rested.  We would not end it that way.  The three-hour time change took a little getting used to--especially around mealtimes.  We spent four days in Portland and the surrounding area in the middle of October.  And contrary to everything I read, people do carry umbrellas in Portland--with good reason.  I wish we had brought ours.  Sheesh, I wish we had brought raincoats and boots, too.

Powell's Books is the largest independent book store in the world.  Its shelves are well stocked with new and used books, and we could have spent all four days there.  I have been to plenty of bookstores, but the atmosphere and organization in this place is phenomenal.  I loved the fact that the used books are right there on the shelves next to the new ones, so you get to decide on the price and quality.

Each floor is color-coded and a map is provided.

Since I buy most of my books online, I sometimes forget how much fun it is to browse through "real" books and how great it feels to see our favorites--especially our family read-alouds-- on the shelves.  Tessa, Kenzie, and I caressed quite a few.  It is also fun to be surrounded by other book lovers.