Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas 2014 Virtual Home Tour

51 degrees and it's nearly Christmas??  For a snow loving, cozy curl up and watch Hallmark Christmas Movies type of person, 51 degrees is NOT Christmasy . . . but there is still hope for a white Christmas which is still two weeks away!

My prepping for Christmas began with two paint jobs  - one for me - one for the hubs.   Since the front door is the first "welcome" guests and family see as they come home for the holidays . . . this faded green door needed a touch-up.  (Hubs painted a closet for me :))

A couple coats of paint both green and white - recycling the Christmas wreath from the previous two years and the tour begins . . . 

I have had a Santa collection for many years now and last holiday I spread them around the house.  This year I went back to my old faithful choice - atop the piano - - - adding some greenery.

As something new and discovered on Pinterest I threw some left over garland into my hubs's family crock!

When I finished the living room - I decided that this was not enough to dress up the room - so I turned to my side business Avon for a couple of touches of lights and music - - - 

Santa's workshop plays various Christmas favorites and the little train goes round and round.  The snowman globe will be added to this little corner of the kitchen.   It can be set to blow snow and with our Texas family coming from south Texas and hopin' and wishin' for SNOW - - - I decided to add in snow and snowmen as much as I could!!

The tops of the kitchen cabinets became a fun project!  A small collection of snowmen that I have had at work became the highlight of my decorating!  

Then we move to the basement family room and guest bedrooms.   Whiile the upstairs is Santa and Snowmen . . . the basement is where the tree is - a simple little tree - and a more rustic theme. 

Not a tree that would be featured in any kind of magazine :) but it is filled with our history as a family.  The kids's first ornaments, the school project ornaments, my mom in law's homemade dove, many angels and some "vintage" flocked plastic reindeer . . . rememember those?    In our other home in Glen Elder the tree always was placed in front of a window . . . thought that was how you did it . . . so others could see your lights!  But here in Beloit, we had to decide one tree or two - upstairs or down.  Opted to put our little tree in the family room in basement corner.  With the lights on . . . WE get to enjoy it ourselves . . . and isn't that what is most important?

Since my kids are both coming home for Christmas with their families I thought it would be fun to give everyone a tree in their room . . . I got creative.  For 1.50 I found this half-tree and for 50 cents bought red ornamental balls to put on . . . It has lights and yes they even work!!

I found a baby doll quilt in a tote with the doll clothes and thought it would be perfect for a tree skirt in the "red room" as we call the room where the granddaughters will stay.  They are 12, 16, and 20 and an air mattress has to be thrown on the floor but they love camping out together for four nights . . . laughing, playing games, or just chillin'.

My son and his wife will be staying downstairs as well and they have their own tree of course:

Tree, Santa, Lantern.  These are a few of my favorite things . . . 

And lastly, as I wanted all of our guests to have a Christmas Tree in their rooms . . . 

I added this little snow covered branch tree with lights to our room . . . which shhhhh this is a secret . . . is where our daughter and her hubs will stay.  It seems that our guests now all want the basement guest bedrooms  - not sure if its the beds? the big screen TV in family room? or privacy? that draws them to the guest rooms down there . . . claims have been made and gramps and I have to decide who stays where.  We are offering our room as a "consolation" prize!!   Dad and I will sleep in the upstairs guest room - it's a little small and has no room for suitcases - - - no bed side tables - - - but we will be very comfortable there.  So  . . . I am looking for a little touch of Christmas to put under the tree.  Any suggestions??  

A few more touches and that will finish my tour!

Sisters gave us a flower arrangement in a red lantern last 4th of July.  We had just lost our family dog Dodger.    I knew the red lantern would be used as a permanent house fixture . . . and mixed it in with a lantern given to me from my sister Tami as well as my "moose" on a shelf.

The rustic theme does not fit me . . . but ever since a trip with Clay to the mountains of Estes Park I have changed my mind.   We vacationed with the elk in town, and we came home with a wooden elk as a reminder of the beauty of the Colorado Rockies.  Last winter thanks to Clay's work we were sent to the Dominican Republic and spent a few days in Punta Cana.  The wooden bull is a reminder of that trip.  

If you look closely you will see the elk in the middle of the shelf.  


Both the sled and the horse picture are new touches.  Interestingly, the above picture belongs to my father in law, Rex Henningsen.  Being a rancher and raising his kids around horses, it's a very fitting reminder of our dad.  Rex was in a terrible car accident one month ago.  He is recovering,  but slowly.
My husband smiled when I brought it in from the shed and said could we hang this?  

The new puppy at our home got into the Christmas decorating . . . or UNDECORATING . . . she snuck our son's first Christmas ornament off the tree and chewed it to bits . . .  so it's no wonder a week spent decorating equals a tired momma and a tired puppy.

Hope you enjoyed my little tour ... You will google home tours and find many more extravagant homes with many more elaborate decorating ideas . . . but as I like to say - - - oh actually I think Martha Stewart says . . . "make it beautiful".  So whether you have a big home or small home . . . fancy or modest . . . decorate it with your beautiful things . . . they are really "your beautiful memories".

From my house to yours . . . Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Jump over to my sister Tami's blog - - - Just One More Thing and tour her beautiful home full of family treasures and memories!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 31 . . .

I enjoy Halloween now slightly more than I did as a child and as a parent . . .in fact, Halloween is on my list of regrets and wish I could do overs . . . that I have made with regards to my children ... I would have more fun!  Of course I need to remember - the fun can only exist for about 10 years because then the "fun" turns into "mischief" and "please mom can I go trick or treating with my friends . . ." .   But I have enjoyed it with my granddaughter.  Decorating pumpkins, trips to the pumpkin patch, riding on a hay rack, riding a small train, pony rides, kettle corn, caramel apples and much more at our favorite little orchard in South Dakota.    Finding Christian variations to Halloween such as The Pumpkin Patch Parable - Fall Harvest in the Park - and a great time at a huge corn maze are some of my best memories.

I also enjoy Halloween now because I have deemed it "Official kick-off to the Holiday Season"!!  Maybe my sister Tami has the official honors of coming up with this declaration, but I agree!

This year Halloween falls on a Friday - and Hallmark - ohhhhh Hallmark  - is kicking off the holiday season with the first Christmas movies for 2014!  My friend Rebecca and I plan to have a cup of Christmas Tea and enjoy the show!

This year, for me, it also marks a new and unending challenge to take better care of me.  For my health and to enjoy the blessings I have been given I will once and for all - make changes that allow me to lose nearly 50 pounds.  I will exercise on a regular basis.  I will eat healthy food.   And most importantly I will put my focus on prayer and Bible study and growing my relationship with God.

Hope you have a spooktacular Halloween . . . and are ready to enjoy the next two months as we head into the holidays!!!

Check back soon to see what special activities I have planned for these two months . . . as I also reflect on the past year and begin to get my focus for 2015!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Holiday Ho Ho Ho Readathon - Holiday Fun!

Jennifer @ Bawdy Book Blog and Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer adore holiday themed books.   So grab your pile of holiday themed books and sign-up to join us November 6th to 11th for a holiday themed read-a-thon, filled with challenges, good cheer and maybe some Figgy pudding! The challenges will be festive and give you a chance to win some holiday cheer for yourself!  Join for one day, just the weekend or the entire event. Read as many holiday related books from your YA, NA and Adult collections as you can.  Participating in challenges, spreading the news, following hosts and reading will all earn you entries for the grand prize- a twenty dollar gift-card from B&N or Amazon to fill your stocking with!

It happens to me every six months - I am left with the doldrums after Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

and I begin to search the web for the next readathon of any kind.  I ran across this Ho Ho Ho
Holiday Readathon that begins November 6-11.  Five days to read Christmas themed books!

So - I jumped right on this - I'm looking at my calendar for that week and will keep the RAT in mind. I'm also planning a trip to the library in a few weeks to select my Christmas reads, but 

I can give you some inside information:  I will be reading a favorite of mine - The Best Christmas
Pageant Ever! and I'm setting out some of my kids's favorites and plan to reread some of them. 

Maybe I'll get creative and find some little ones to read to!!
Won't you find your holiday spirit and join us in the Holiday Ho Ho Ho Readathon?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mid-Event - 12 more hours to go!!

1. What are you reading right now?  Return to Me by Lynn Austin - Good!!

2. How many books have you read so far? None - but two magazine articles - some Bible scripture and 3 chapters of Return to Me.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  I want to continue with my novel - I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I'm enjoying it!  

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?   Mostly self-made interruptions - of course the puppy - but she has been really good and spent a lot of outdoors time today.  So glad it was a beautiful day here in North Central Kansas.  I had to prepare to teach Preschool-2nd grade Sunday School class tomorrow - it required more time and supplies than I had dreamed . . . But I'm enjoying my day soooooo much that any part of the RAT I get to do is just a blessing!  I have enjoyed the challenges - and so now tonight I plan to stay up as long as I can and check out some of the blogs!

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?   No surprises new today but I'm still like a little kid with the whole thing - and I will hate for it to end!

Here's to 12 more hours!  


One of the fun parts of the readathon is the mini-challenges so graciously provided by so many readers!

Kay @ Dead Book Darling is hosting this hour's challenge to show off your favorite, most valuable or most interesting books:  "The unique, signed or simply dear-to-your-heart editions that you’d grab if there were a fire."  

I went down stairs to take a picture of my Janette Oke collection of Christian pioneer stories called Women of the West series and discovered a surprise:

I read these back in the l980's and I was always transformed to the simpler ways of keeping house that our dear pioneer women lived through.  The Calling Of Emily Evans holds the spot of my favorite ever book.  

Then  . . .  as I passed by the "children's book shelf" I thought Oh My - - - that's where some of my real favs are!!!

Key to the Treasure was the first book I ever received in my childhood book club that mom let me join. A new book every month or so.  Always loved The Bobbsye Twins, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys as a young girl - read them all with my BFF Dee back then.  The 1960's.  Key to the Treasure was the first book I ever bought.

The next book goes back to my childhood really - The Real Mother Goose - - - we three girls had this book and I'm not sure if this is that book or if I bought one for my own kids - - - I believe that this belongs to my kids.  My kids did not appreciate this book the way that I did . . . I poured over page after page of nursery rhymes . . . was enthralled with them!  Kids now days don't do nursery rhymes do they??

The Curious Little Kitten was my daughter Casey's favorite read to me book - - - I still remember without peaking today that the little kitten tried and tried to get over the fence in her back yard - - - and when she eventually did - - - a big dog was on the other side!  The Animals Christmas Eve and Big Birds Red Book were my favorites to read to the kids.  And lastly, Benji, The Fastest Dog in the West was my son Todd's favorite book to check out at the library.  In fact, we would return it . . . look through all the books . . . and he would recheck out Benji every time.  Must have had a nice librarian who understood boys and their dogs!

This was a fun challenge - sometimes I regret not spending more time reading to my kids - but when I reflect at the four shelf book case full of kids's books - and especially going right to these favorites - I'm reminded - hey I didn't do so bad!!

Happy Reading of YOUR old favs!


Into hour #2 of the Dewey's 24 hour Readathon and the challenge is:

Do you prefer coffee or tea when snuggled up reading?

Coffee for me please - black - and in a Christmas mug!

That's my second cup and it's time for breakfast as well!

Enjoy the readathon friends!

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is on . . .

One of my four favorite days of the year!!!   Spring Readathon - Christmas Eve - New Year's Eve - and today - Fall Readathon!  

I love to read the warm up posts and see how different readers prepare for the big weekend of reading fun!  I especially like to compare notes with my sister Tami at Just One More Thing who introduced me to the readathon a couple years back.  

I enjoy spending the week before the RAT doing a little extra housework and laundry so I can be guilt-free on Saturday at 7 a.m.   

I also made a trip to the grocery store to pick up some healthy snacks and some items to prepare some meals the easy way - - - I have a roast with vegetables planned for Sunday - - - and some chicken to roast today for lunch.  The hubs will be working and may not make it home for lunch so I can always resort to mac and cheese as well.  Another option I chose is to put together an oriental coleslaw salad and call it good!     Snacks consist of apples with peanut butter or sugar free caramel - - - or plain to share with our new puppy as a snack!  I also have a cucumber and some dip if I choose and bananas and some mixed fruit as well.   So - - - food - - - check.

My reading choices are all contained in this picture - 

My sister and I have a book club - and she has chosen Return to Me as our October book - so that is my main focus for the day.  The book is written by Lynn Austin.   It is a different read for both of us - an old testament true story put in novel form - I can't wait to start!  As you can see - I have my Bible ready for early morning devotions and prayer time.  And - I hesitated to add these magazines to my reading list because I wasn't sure it was part of the "rules" for RAT . . . but I'm risking it . . . I  actually "borrowed" these from my drs. offiice - - - while visiting there this week I found good articles in each one and decided to see if they were up for loan.  Time magazine and a guide to taking back your kitchen . . . talks about caregivers and Alzheimer's Disease . . . Real Simple Magazine has 76 greatest organizing tips of all time, Halloween DIY ideas and 18 easy fall meals . . . and WebMD just looked like a good resource on health, beauty, fitness, and family.    Please feel free to reprimand me if mags are not appropriate reading material for the RAT!  :)

Next preparation item was to find a charger for the Ipad that I am writing this post on right now!  It seems that grams left her charger in the motel room last weekend - - - so after a few phone calls and a rather impatient wait at the local phone store I was set!  

Lastly, and most interesting, is that I will be reading with a puppy in the house.  This will prove to be a challenge I'm afraid.   Hubs is having a busy season at work and so can't relieve me of my duties with the new doggie - but the weather looks promising and the fenced in back yard looks inviting - so Libby will spend some quality time outdoors with her big brother Roy.  

Well 7 hours still start time so I will get this post ready to go at 7 a.m. and I will see you all back for coffee and some great fun with books and challenges and snacks and . . . 

How did you plan for the RAT?

                       Roy and Libby

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

50 IS the New 50 . . .

On a recent revamp of my sisters/I book club - T & T Book Club - I went first with the selection pick for September.  In honor of our quest to do things better in the second half of life - (after 50) I chose a book written by Suzanne Braun Levine.

With chapter titles like  - "Nothing changes if nothing changes . . . No is not a four letter word . . . Age is not a disease . . . and You DO know what you want to do with the rest of your lives . . . " I was excited to jump on this book and find out that many women out there are feeling the same way I am with this over 50 lifestyle.  

I was sadly disappointed - - - with her every now and again referral to the "F" word I was just turned off.  I honestly felt like the chapters grew longer and longer and said nothing . . . I would find a couple sentences and I'd get hopeful - oh here we go . . . but then . . . more mixed up content.   My sister did enjoy a few chapters - especially the one on saying NO - and we can all use help with this.  But that has not been my problem at any part of my life - is saying no to others - - - I don't do much of what I don't want to do . . . and I don't normally feel guilted into doing something that I really don't choose to do.  

Sorry Suzanne Braun Levine . . . although you did touch on a few good points . . . most of your outlook on life and family and marriage kinda well annoyed me.  

I shall move on to the next book on our T & T reading list - - - Tami has challenged us both with an interesting read that brings the old testament stories to life!  I'm excited!  

Someone wise has said . . . "Life is too short to read bad books . . . "   I did . . . and wish I hadn't.  

Monday, September 8, 2014

How much is that doggie in the window . . .?

My mom used to sing that song to us girls when we were little . . .

     How much is that doggie in the window?  
     The one with the waggley tail . . . 
     How much is that doggie in the window?
     I do hope that doggies for sale!

As you know - we have had two dogs - Roy the big gray dog and his side kick the Boston Terrier. We lost Dodger earlier this summer due to an illness and have had a new puppy for one week and two days now.    So I am completely qualified to answer the question  . . how much is that doggie in the window . . . 

Other than the downpayment and remaining cost upon pick up . . . Having a new puppy costs:

A new bag of healthy - grain free - puppy chow - just for starters . . . 
A food and water dish - oh wait - two actually - because the first little inexpensive one was way to
     easy to be pushed around the room and spilled - - - so a heavy set was called for.

Small collar and of course a personalized name tag including our name, address and phone #.

Safe playthings and chew toys for puppies - - - Nylabone recommended!

And Also having a puppy costs:

     a few hours of sleep - - - I find myself somewhat drowsy at my desk in the afternoon!

     ENERGY!  I said to hubs, "Man the kids must have really helped with the previous pets!"
     He kindly reminded me, "And you were just 40".  Thank you for that.

     The satisfaction that our new carpet is free of any accidental happenings . .  

     Time . . . household chores take twice as long when you are keeping your eye on a
     house-training-in-process puppy.   Mopping has now become a game I guess . . . although
     it was not my idea!    Add in daily walks, time spent "outside" waiting,  and hours  playing 
     and I have found my "spare time" has disappeared.  

Yes - the doggie in the window has a price . . . and I am writing this post mostly because of the differences I have noticed in starting over having a new puppy without "real children" at home to entertain!  It HAS made a difference.     So as I have made it through one week of new "motherhood", I have certainly realized I don't move as fast - and as pain-free as before.

I also gave some thought as to "why" I wanted to do the puppy thing again.   Dog #1 was all for the kids - especially the oldest, a boy who had begged for a dog for years - to the point that he pretended he was one!  Dog #2 was to replace the empty nest when our youngest left home.  Someone for me to take care of . . . I did take great care of Dog #2 (all BT's remember).  and so why now?  I'm very comfortable with my empty nest now and so "why go to the work of another puppy?" I have been asked.  Here is what I think:  Dog #3 is me saying - "hey - I can still do this!"  Time is marching on - - - I wasn't ready to say that there wouldn't be anymore house dogs in my life - - - ever - - - and as much as I love the idea of adopting a needy puppy - we were also nervous about it - - -.I believe there is something in having a dog that is special to me because I didn't have one growing up at home.  I believed that dogs were diggers and chewers and stealers if allowed to roam.    Then I was given a large outdoor dog to care for - what a challenge for me . . . and it has gone great for the most part.  I began to think of myself as a dog person.  And I liked it.  I love the quote that suggests dogs bring out the best in a person.  We will love this girl and she will break our "old hearts" some day down the road when we have to say goodbye - so for whatever the reason we got her . . . she's here to stay and will some day be another great companion!

So as we start week #2 with our latest adventure . . . after a not so good Monday morning  . . .

Just kidding Just kidding!  


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Annual Konda/Henningsen Golf Oklahoma

It was to be a weekend of surprises . . . Our son in law Tracy asked us to come down to Topeka on Sunday night, and surprise Casey.  Just show up unannounced.  So we did . . . with a surprise of our own - our new car.

We parked on their street and texted the picture to Casey - - - she however didn't get the text and we ended up in the drive way and honking the horn before our arrival was announced!

Surprise part #2 . . . We told Casey we were there to golf with her the next day on her dad's birthday.  Tracy then threw out the rest of the story . . . pack a bag girl because we are headed to Guthrie, Oklahoma to golf for two days!    

Don't know how you are with surprises like this??  I being a "first born" and little bit bossy . .  I like to have a plan . . meaning I need notice so I can have a plan . . . but Casey can roll with it and was excited to go!

Tracy chose Guthrie as he and his best friend Gary had golfed there before - four championship courses within two miles, one even named "Augusta".

Monday we headed out and arrived in the red dirt state at our destination around noon.   After checking into the motel - we headed out for our T-off time of 1 p.m.    I myself am not a golfer  - but was allowed to ride along for free.  I did sneak in a few holes.  We had the best time together, laughing, golfing, and enjoying the beautiful area.

Tracy had special supper plans for us . . . after four hours of golf and some rest time at the motel, we headed downtown Guthrie to Stables Cafe.  One of my favorite kinds of places to be . . .full of memorabilia.  And known state-wide for their chicken fried steaks.  

More great times!  Even though they were fresh out of chicken fries!

Day 2 of Golf Oklahoma or The First Annual Konda/Henningsen Golf Oklahoma Vacation started out early on the golf course after a great breakfast at the motel.  Kudos to the Holiday Inn Express.  Great rooms, great pool, and great food!


What a great way to start the day - - - This course was named Aqua Canyon . . . LOTS  of water to deal with!!


 Wrapped up a very special mini-vacation with these two great people.  How blessed to have them in our lives.  One of Clay's first comments was, "we've got to get Todd's up here to golf".   Hard to do things with one of the kids and not wish that they both were there.  We will do it!    And anytime that we can all get together - we are blessed!

Thanks to a son in law who means the world - and thought to ask the in-laws along on the Surprise Trip!    Great memories made - we will treasure!

Saturday, August 16, 2014



  • WORK

This is how my New Year's post probably looked.  These are the seven areas that I chose to spend my time on this year.  Didn't set resolutions - just thought about the important things in my life and set out to focus on making improvements and growing in each area.

More than midway through the year and here is where I stand:

Worship - attending church less and attempting to read and study my Bible alone.  There is much to be said about Hebrews 10:25:  Let us not give up on meeting together as some are in the habit of doing . . . My kids heard this multiple times.

Homemaking - no change here.  I enjoy an organized and clean house.  

Friendships - this has been a very sad focus for me.  I have been able to say for the last decade that I have a best friend.  And I believe that we have friends for seasons of our life.  I have not kept a friend FOR life.  People change and situations change and although I love my dear friend still - we don't find the time to spend on our friendship like we did at one time.  We both know it.  We discuss it.  No change here.

Travel - This has been one of the biggest surprises of my life actually.  I had never understood why people loved to travel and why anyone would want to retire and travel the countryside.  I became a traveler in 2002 and actually I became pretty mobile in 1998 when my son went to college and I had to check in with him from time to time . . . Then we have traveled to see our granddaughter, who is nearly 12 now.  Precious memories made on every single trip to either  South Dakota, Texas, Great Bend, Junction City, and now Garden City. Ballgames for our daughter.   Many trips now to Texas and Topeka to see our kids.  Throw in a few trips for business and or business-related and I have seen some territory and love it!  I wanted to focus this year on making travel easier.  I have done one thing to impove travel.   I have given up taking a "carry-on" bag that Southwest so nicely lets us have - I used to stuff it full of everything I might possibly want or need for the flight and trip - and found out that lugging that plus my purse (not a small item either) was too much for my broken down back.    So I travel lighter.  Just my purse.  And of course my luggage that I checked.  

Work - Much thought, worry, prayer, stress and anxiety here.

Exercise - Have done almost none.

Reading - Have done almost none.

So . . . I still like my plan for focusing on these areas, but as you can see, I didn't get a very "clear picture" in several of these areas.  But I'm a work in progress.  To finish out 2014, and please disregard any other post recently where I have said differently, I will focus on taking action and improving my life in these areas:  Worship, Work, Exercise, Reading.

I plan to take action and write about it as I do - - - stay tuned - - - I promise to be back on track before it's time to sing "aulde lange syne" my friends.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A vow of silence . . .

"Silence is golden . . . "

                    “Never miss a good chance to shut up.”   
                                         “My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.”
I recently decided to explore silence.  I have a Bible that teaches of the "spiritual disciplines" and one of them is silence.    Spiritual disciplines are ways to imitate Christ in our lives.  Thought up by someone who noted in scripture that certain fruits were present in the life of Jesus.  And so what better reason to practice those ways.
That being said, my motivation as well as being more Christ-centered - is to eliminate some stress in my life.  Let me explain:   Here is my pattern - and would some psychoanalyst out there please leave an in-depth comment on how to fix me?  In the situations of my life I stay jolly and positive and want everyone around me to feel comfortable.   Sure wouldn't want to upset anyone.  Instead of sharing healthy opinions - I stuff them and stuff them - until they come popping out at seemingly small issues.  Confusion abounds.  I then feel bad and apologize.  Or I just say too much and get tied up in a long conversation of which I do most of the talking . . . Then I buy into negative self talk.  Great life strategy huh?

For whatever the situation - whether it be at work, with family, or with public I end up thinking to myself - be quiet - don't get involved - practice silence.

For the next three weeks I'm going to work through the area of silence in my spiritual disciplines Bible.  I'll be back to share . . . or . . . not.

Enjoy some quiet time for yourself too.

Open Your Mouth Only If What You Are Going To Say Is More Beautiful Than Silence


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Virtual Book Tour: The Songbird of Sovereign by Jennifer Wixson

You can own a copy today! See giveaway details below!

The Songbird of Sovereign is the third book in a series by Jennifer Wixson called The Sovereign Series.  This is my first book review and I have been excited to give it a try.  As I began to read this month I was drawn into the story for several reasons.  I first read about Addie and Pappy Russell.  Addie was a 55 year old farm wife - hard working farm wife I might add - and she had arthritis.  She and Pappy had been married 37 years.  (Loved it!  Clay and I have been married 37 years, I am 55, and yes I have arthritis!)

This made me think as I read the rest of the story . . . what is it that catches your interest and lights your fire for a book?  It can be something like I mentioned above - a certain character who shares your age - maybe your interests - or maybe your name?  It could be the home that is featured in the story.  And one of my favorites is when I fall in love with the setting of the story - especially a town.

The Sovereign Series are all about a little town in Maine named, Sovereign.  My bucket list includes traveling to the east coast and staying near the ocean so I was thrilled to discover these books.  I have the first two books, Hens and Chickens and Peas, Beans and Corn, all lined up on my virtual shelf on my Kindle!  Reading them out of order but very anxious to get started!

A little glimpse into the story goes like this:  Jana Hastings is the star of the show.  I had no idea, that the disease of Tuberculosis was so devastating!  I have always taken that little TB skin test I used to get at work as a minor little test of inconvenience.  Jennifer Wixson opened my eyes to the dread of that disease that put fear into all people in its day.  At the beginning of the book, Jana is diagnosed and taken to Windmere Sanatorium in central Maine.  She quickly learns the "groups" that the children are placed into according to their prognosis.  Some, like Jana, have hopes of a cure, but some do not.  I was floored to learn that some of those children would spend their lives there.  How naive I can be . . . I quickly thought of my own parents - born in 1935 and 1936 - they too were at risk for this devilish disease as the antibiotic did not come around until the 1940's.    The story continues with Jana making friends and meeting a young boy who she quickly finds a special place for in her heart.    As the story of the two families - the Russells and the Hastings unfolds - it is interestingly intertwined with modern day characters and their story line.    Jumping between the 1940's and 2013 - - - we hear the story of Miss Jana Hastings through the eyes of the town's minister, Maggie.  And we get to meet Jana who is present day age 89!

Once again the most unusual events in the story caught my interest.  The dawning of World War II.  My son in law is a history teacher and I have hundreds of history type questions that I fire at him regularly.  I was thrilled to share with him the part about President Roosevelt and the differing opinions people had of his involvement with bringing us into that war.  My heart ached for the mothers and fathers who feared for their sons as the war loomed ahead.  

I highly recommend the series of books.  Jennifer Wixson does a fantastic job of descriptive writing and certainly has a talent for developing characters that you quickly love!    Now on to books #1 and #2 . . . 

Lastly, if you would like to have a chance to win your very own copy of The Songbird of Sovereign please leave a comment below and tell me . . . what is it about a book that can clinch the deal for you?  Keep you reading and not wanting to put down a book . . . Can't wait to hear your thoughts! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

If at first you don't succeed . . .

Half of 2014 is officially over and I have a few of my "focus areas" that need some work.  To refresh your memory - check this post and then continue reading as I enlist the hubs to once again get back to movin' and getting stronger and more fit!   There are sooooo many reasons that all of us need to be serious about staying active and being strong.  It's not just for the young who want to build muscle and look great on the beach or in the gym or who want to win competitions . . . it's critical for optimal health in the 30's 40's and as we are finding out . . . the 50's.    Use Google - check it out for yourself . . . I'll leave that to each individual and their own physician to recommend a program.  Here is what Clay and I have decided we will do:

     1.  No food eaten after 8 p.m. 

     2.  Healthy portions.  Healthy food.

     2.  Limit eating out at restaurants to once a week.

     3.  Exercise 5 days out of 7.

     4.  Bible reading daily.

     5.  Once a week do something fun together - not including the meal we can eat out.

Nothing earth shattering or surprising in that plan.   We each have a weight that we are wanting to achieve - I will lose 40 pounds and hubs will lose 25.  

The exercise will vary - I love to bike ride - I love to swim - I like to walk, play catch, clean house, and water flowers.   Those are my activities of choice.  I also like Bocce ball and working out on the fitness machines.  I have a treadmill and a gym membership.  Beloit offers many walking paths - awesome swim pool with lazy river - and plenty of places to hike.  

Clay does mega-walking in his job - - - He loves to golf - - - He will use the treadmill - - - and he has a gym membership.  

I know that I will need to start slow and I challenged my sister, Tami to a week of fun activities to get us moving.  Tami has been a success story in losing and keeping off a significant amount of weight.  She is active around their farm with gardening, and yard work, walking, jogging, and man-handling a large dog on a walk . . . known as the BDW (big dog walk).  

So here we go . . . and if you would like to join in the fun this week . . . please follow along  - - - here is our exercise routine for Week #1:

Choose five activiies from these seven and do any day you choose!

Activity #1 - Take a hike in the countryside - at least one mile of walking.  Take 3 pictures to share via your blog.  (Clay's will be shared on my blog)

Activity #2 - Swim or Bike Ride or Golf (If you chose to ride along with hubs - take your hand weights and you are required to do hand/arm exercises at every other hole!   Yes I've done this before!

Activity #3 - Walk 1.5 miles and do strength training for arms of your choice.  

Activity #4 - Play catch with baseball.  Keep it going for 20 minutes.  

Activity #5 - Walk 1.5 miles on a walking path - or country road - or around your farm!  Do the BDW!!

Activity #6 - It's all about the tummy today:  
                               Put on your favorite music - make it loud
                               15 jumping jacks
                               15 sit ups
                               15 bicycles
                               15 leg lifts
                               Repeat once!

Activity #7 - You choose!!!  Anything you'd like to get your exercise for the day!

Unfortunately for those of you who are more advanced in your ability to move . . . I have made this a beginners pace as Clay and I need to not get discouraged.  My hope is that we can all have fun with it - and that's the key!!  

Side note:  I am going to have my blood work done for a cholesterol panel and I am going to see my chiropractor.  These are two areas that I have been negligent with for quite a long time now.  

Hubs will be monitoring blood pressure as he had a few readings that were too high when last at the drs. office. 

How about you?  Please feel free to share in your blog the choices for exercise you picked here and what other things you may be trying in order to live a healthier and happier life!

Let's get moving!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Puppy Tales (Tails)

Introducing Liberty - Libby for short.  Libby was born on the 4th of July - at the same time that we were saying goodbye to our BT Dodger of 11 years - - - This is the craziest thing - me and a dog - because I was raised in a home with no dogs - never wanted one - never planned to own one - said no to my son for 11 years and watched him "play dog" "dream of dogs" "Look at books and pick out dogs" until one day - - - we got a call from the local vet where our brother in law worked - and they had a free BT puppy with a bent ear.  So we got him.     Later Clay's mom Janice recorded in her diary that Todd said "it's the best day of my life"  

Pepper and I did not fare real well together for awhile - he threw up a lot - I yelled a lot - he threw up more - and on and on.    He was a great family pet - and I've written about this as well as the next BT Dodger.  Dodger's purpose in life was to refill the empty nest . . . he did it well . . . and then some.

So how I got from the nervous and unhappy puppy mother to the one pictured above - is just kinda funny to me - - - I like the companionship and having someone to take care of.  And I heard it said best this last week - - - "Dogs bring out the best in people."  

I agree.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review

Snow Melts in Spring is my first book read for Summer 2014. 

I am participating in a summer reading program called Kate'sBook Blog.

Katie's Book Blog Summer Reading

She loves the land. Mattie Evans grew up in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Although her family has lost their ranch, she still calls this land home. A skilled young veterinarian, she struggles to gain the confidence of the local ranchers. Fortunately, her best friend and staunchest supporter is John McCray, owner of the Lightning M Ranch. They both love the ranch, and can’t imagine living anywhere but in the Flint Hills. He’s haunted by it. Gil McCray, John’s estranged son, is a pro football player living in California. The ranch is where his mother died and where every aspect of the tallgrass prairie stirs unwanted memories of his older brother’s fatal accident. Gil decides leaving the ranch is the best solution for his ailing father and his own ailing heart. But he doesn’t count on falling in love. Falling in love isn’t an option. Or is it? When Mattie is called in to save a horse injured in a terrible accident, she finds herself unwillingly tossed into the middle of a family conflict. Secret pain, secret passions, and secret agendas play out against the beautiful landscapes as love leads to some 
unexpected conclusions about forgiveness and renewal.  (Taken from the author's description)

I really enjoyed the book!  I live not too far from the Flint Hills and I have always wanted to do some hiking in that area and spend the night in a little Bed and Breakfast I found online.  It was a fun read, had twists and turns that kept it exciting, and as always I have the Lightning M Ranch all mapped out in my mind - the house - the barn where Mattie builds a small animal clinic after a fire - and the area where the horse rides were taken.  Great read for the summer!    

Also interested me as our granddaughter wants to go horse back riding in the mountains . . . and the plans are in the works for that . . . I'm sure that will be another post as my time on a horse has been limited to about a whopping total of 20 minutes per lifetime!

Here's to the next book on my reading list . . . Songbird of Sovereign by Jennifer Wixson.

Enjoy your summer reading!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Getting a plan . . .

The following blog post was nearly "deleted" today as I started on a new post - - - as you will see below I was feeling stressed out - - - and once the post was written - - - I didn't have any intention to print it - - - but today as I re-read - - - it doesn't sound so bad.  It's all very true.  Life isn't always picture perfect.  So - read on . . . and then follow along with me to see my " plan" in action,

It's nearly 2 a.m. and I have been home from work for one hour.  Why?  Trying to catch up with work that cannot seem to find an ending.  Two steps forward and then three steps back.   I'm going on a long weekend trip to see our son this weekend so extra hours are required.

Poor management? (that would be on me)  Busy establishment? (that's a good thing) Short on help?  (I think maybe yes).  A person can't move from one position to a supervisory position and take all of your present work with you to the new position . . . then become even busier on top of it all . . . it makes for a tired lady.    And yes sitting up at 2 a.m. blogging may bring certain people down on me . . . but I'm not suffering from physical tired.  I'm tired in my heart and in my soul.  

Every aspect of my little life - which is blessed in many, many ways - is not going the way I think I want it to go.    I want to work hard at my job and meet deadlines easily - I want to lead with grace and wisdom and kindness and forgiveness.  I want a more healthy body at a smaller size but I refuse to do what it takes to get it.  I want to relax in my home with my family and pets and read and clean house and keep up with laundry and watch favorite TV shows.  

I want a good nights sleep.

I want to pray and read God's word.

I want to simplify.

I have been dejected at not finding things to blog about as I did in the past.    

So sounds like I need a vacation??  Well we are off tomorrow to the great state of Texas.  Our son Todd and his family live there, and the five day weekend promises to bring some fun in the sun and much more . . .


Relax   Enjoy family  Rest my soul   Come home with a plan . . . stay tuned.

“Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life. You can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of yourself.” - - Robert F. Bennett

Problems are always made better at the beach :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Greatest Great

All grandparents think that their grandchildren are the best right!  So I know that as much as I think our newest family member is the Greatest - - - You may beg to differ - - - but I hope you enjoy meeting our Great Grandson Grayson.

                                Grayson and dad

First thing that I'm sure popped into your mind - knowing that I'm a 55 year old is how could I have a great grandson already!!  Interesting twist in our family tree is that our daughter and favorite son-in-law are an "age gap relationship" and so the young gentleman in this picture is Ben - he is my grandson by marriage and as you can see - Grayson is his look alike son - hence - I'm a great grandma!!  I love it!!  We have been blessed with the family that our daughter married into - but now back to the star of the blog today . . . 

                   Grayson and Grandma Casey

Grayson is nearly one year old but he has stolen my heart in this short time.  It's interesting to me that I feel "different" in my role as great grandma.   I'm very used to being "grandma" to now 6 kids.  Our son has 3 girls and our daughter is a step mom to 3  - and so they vary in age from 11 to 29 (I think).   I know my role - I spoil them - I advise them - I pray for them - I enjoy spending time with them.     The great grandma role is still sinking in . . . I watch my daughter and SIL be grandparents and they are doing it up right!!  I find myself showing his pictures and videos to the gals at work - bragging about him - - - and I couldn't feel prouder!    But my role is not to be the grandma and grandpa . . . he has four of them . . . they babysit for him . . . buy him things he needs . . . take him to parks or for rides in the wagon . . . they teach him and sing to him . . . they worry over him . . . they get to show him off - he is their's!!

                 Grayson on Crazy Hair day at Daycare

                                     Grayson and Grandpa

But . . . every now and then . . . when no one is looking . . . Great Grandma Teri gets to steal some kisses or walk the floor or read a story . . . yes read a story . . . I have decided that is my "thing" to do with Grayson . . . He is being read the little Bible we gave him already . . . he has wonderful parents who are also doing it right!  

So . . . as I take on a new role to me . . . I am so thankful for the love and care that this little baby is getting - - - prejudices aside - - - he is absolutely the best - - - happy - healthy - smart - loving - and so funny!!!   

And every chance I get . . . you will find me here . . . 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The search is over . . .

I have been searching far and wide for the perfect patio lounge chair.  Thought I wanted to go vintage like this:

Or cheap like this above:

You see I have four really nice chairs on my patio - but they are only comfortable for about l5 minutes - then I start to squirm and get restless and go back to the house for a better chair.  

Everyone raves about the new anti-gravity chair - I don't care for the look - but last night even gave into that as hubs and I tried to open one up in the middle of Alco - couldn't figure out the locks - fought with it to get it to fold up - or NOT fold up when I tried to sit in it - - - we gave up - - - I gave up - and just felt like after two years of searching - I was done.

This morning was Saturday and I woke up at 7:30 - fixed some coffee and headed in my nightgown to the patio.  Patio looked very inviting - It's Flag Day - June 14, and so I had my flag flying in the wind . . . the wind . . . yes . . . I sat in my "sorta comfy chair" balancing my Bible, journal, phone, devotional, and oh yes a cup of coffee on my lap . . . 

Psalm 34:  The eyes of The Lord watch over those who do right.  His ears are open to their cries for help.  The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.  He rescues them from all their troubles.   The Lord is close to the broken hearted and he protects the bones of the righteous.  He takes care of all of our needs.    

Knowing that,  as the devotional material says,  can allow us to live simply and not in want . . . "Simplicity is not about going WITHOUT - but going WITH GOD through the beautiful journey of a life lived in the simple abundance of grace.

I loved the message - I thought of my terrible shortcomings in the area of acting like God would act - I reflected on all of my blessings, and the desires of my heart, the desire to have the perfect patio - or the perfect home - or the cleanest vehicle - - - and then it came to me . . . 

I don't NEED the perfect loung chair for my patio - - - AFTERALL - - - and I had been thinking this - but ignoring it - - -I live in KANSAS for heaven's sake - - - today the wind is blowing at tornado like strengths just for kicks - - - I had some early morning cool weather with some awesome shade - but very soon - it was 91 degrees and sunny in my little corner - - - it rains - it hails - the chairs need to be stored inside or they blow around - get weathered - or chewed on by a dog . . . the amount of time that I really have to lounge on the patio and take naps out there - - - is very small - - - and right then I knew  - - - my search for lawn furniture was over.  I have what I need . . . stop searching . . . stop wanting . . . I have always wanted a patio - - - now I have it - and the search is over.    At least for the moment . . . I found peace.