Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

I am spending such an exciting night this New Year's Eve. I am going between watching football and painting some bookcases while listening to fireworks from Destin. This makes the dogs jumpy.

I am pondering whether I will stay up for the New Year. I am taking a break from painting right now to share the remainder of my week.

Hubby and I went to Auburn and the cabin. We made it to a basketball game Thursday evening. That morning we walked around our little neighborhood and looked at the new homes they are building.

When we come off the main road to our cabin, you go left to our cabin and right to the new construction.


We have to climb up this hill to get to the main road. It is quite a workout.

Then you turn down this road to the new homes.


They are all on the lake although they are far back from the lake, and it is quite a hilly and rocky trek down to the lake from here. This was once woods. 

The infamous tornadoes that hit Tuscaloosa also hit here and wiped out all of the woods. It was also an F4.


My husband was standing behind the new construction. The two  homes closest to the water in the distance were completely destroyed and have been rebuilt.

I thought the new homes were interesting.


The first one had a paddle wheel built on the side. I should have gotten a closer picture. It looks to be a real working paddle with the roof letting rain water drift down on it.


They all lots of pretty wood floors and ceilings in them.

AND basements.


This door is access to all the plumbing and stuff. Very good idea.


This one was the largest.

I liked them all, but I didn't get jealous. 

Our small cabin is all we need and we love the fact that we feel like we are in the woods even though we are very close to all of this.



This little brook runs between our cabin and our neighbor. We are up to the right of it.

You definitely see seasons here which is nice for us. In the summer it is lush and green and winter bare as can be.


I love how our driveway is curved so that from the road coming in you might even miss us.
But, we are there just to the left.


We spent the day just strolling around Opelika and Auburn. We went to an "antique" store. Most of the antique stores are not really antiques if antique means anything 100 years or older.

I think maybe "vintage" describes them better. They are just full of stuff from the 70's and 80's that we all sold in yard sales. I often wonder if they really sell anything. 

Well, I am going to go check on my bookcases that I am painting. I am hoping this will turn out well. I am painting the white bookcases in my daughter's old room / guest room now. I have thought about getting rid of them, but they hold a ton of stuff and I don't know what I would replace them with that would be as well built, so I am painting. We will see.

It is definitely going to be a week long project because I am painting them with semi gloss paint and having to do a second coat.

Everyone have an exciting New Year's Eve like me!!!
Sandy





Friday, December 30, 2016

A Couple of Days Away

I always love when Hubby and I can get away even if for just a night. We left on Wednesday morning to head up to our cabin near Auburn. We made a quick stop by the farm to drop off a few things and let Hubby and a friend shoot a new gun.

I brought the pillows that I finally made for the couch. They looked even better than I thought. I have thought and thought about that picture above the couch. I kept thinking that the picture I have at the cabin of a red barn would look better there, but every time I get to the cabin I can't bring myself to move it from the cabin.



I thought and thought on Wednesday morning about bringing the picture to the cabin with me, but ....

Well, I just decided that each will stay in their respective places.



The one above the checked couch at the farm house has a pond that really looks like the pond at the farm. It is hard to see from the picture above. It does have a red mat as the secondary mat as well.

The final thought is it will stay there, and I will get this room painted soon which will bring out the painting and the curtains.

I also am thinking this basket needs to be filled with cross stitch smalls. I need to get busy and finish the two samplers I have planned and then start filling those baskets.


I added some cute read dish towels to the kitchen as well.



I will share some photos I took of construction going on near our cabin tomorrow evening. Several new cabins around the corner are being built.

We took in a basketball game and ate in Auburn with some good friends.

In the meantime, Hubby and I had such a great two days. Lots of talking and thinking and planning. I am in the process of painting some bookcases at home, so I will be working on that tomorrow.

I have plenty to share for awhile.

For now a little football watching,
Sandy

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Year of Getting Healthy

2016 was my year to get healthy.

I decided that this post would end another year of blogging, and that I needed to share it in hopes that it would help someone else out there in Blog Land. I will be sharing this with a number of linky parties.

After suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis for almost 20 years, I had reached a point where I really thought I would continue the downward cycle and might never know a pain free day again.

I was diagnosed with RA in my late 30's (late 1990's). I remember one winter that my fingers hurt so badly that even putting the dry erase marker caps back on the marker was extremely painful. (teacher) Then one day, my shoulder started hurting so that I thought I must have injured it with my teacher bag. During a routine doctor appointment, my doctor did an X-ray of it. He was the first to diagnose the disease.

Throughout the next 2 decades, I slowly added weight (a couple pounds a year). I chalked some of it up to aging and being busy with family and work.

I banked on feeling better when I retired.

I don't recommend this approach to life at all. I have some regrets there, but it is what it is... My hope is that if there is anyone out there in the same boat, that maybe this will help change their course.

I took all the RA medicines --- and I mean all of them. They all worked for awhile to relieve symptoms, but never long term. Some were worse on my body than others. Hair loss, bruises, and yes, weight gain were side effects. I really didn't think weight gain until the last one.

It is very hard to find any negative information on the medicines prescribed for RA, since the pharmaceutical industry has a hold on that kind of information. However, if you take the time to read discussion boards and dig deep into the comments, you will find them.

In October of 2015, I decided enough was enough.  I felt horrible and the before picture at the end of the post shows the reality of what happened over time. Now, granted it is not the best picture of me. No makeup, leisure clothes, hair up...etc. I am sharing it because it was a slap in the face of where I was. That is why I didn't look for a better picture. That picture is reality.

The second to the last medication had caused lung nodules, and the last medication put the last few pounds and had me so pale that I looked jaundiced. Everyone kept asking me if I felt ok, because I was so pale.

I sought out a new doctor and a new plan other than the traditional medicine.

I started my new plan on November 4, 2015. Honestly, it is a date I will remember forever. It was the date that began a change that has made an unbelievable difference.

I started my detox that day. I did a 30 day detox and lived through it. I totally recommend it. There are tons out there. Mine was a specific doctor prescribed detox. My journey to this doctor was nothing less than God's answers to prayer. He walked away from the head of neurology at a hospital in a neighboring city to me. I knew him and couldn't believe the path that he was taking, but I am forever grateful he took this path. He is now a wellness doctor. I know it would be hard for people to go and seek out something like this. You don't know who to believe because it will be probably be very different information than you have received in the past.

In fact, my rheumatologist was not very happy with me and dismissed a melanoma that I believe to be caused from the last drug she prescribed for me.

The wonderful thing about the detox is that it will rid your body of all the toxins and reset your metabolism. I knew I could do anything for 30 days.

Oh and by the way, do a little research about the change in the food supply in the late 1990's. Plenty of videos out there. I would have probably dismissed them prior to my life changing experience.

At the end of my detox, I truly couldn't believe how well I felt. Better than I had felt in ages. I then proceeded to get "my life time list of foods" that I could eat.

This list is basically this...

  • gluten free
  • absolutely NO high fructose corn syrup
  • organic fruits and vegetables
  • organic everything...meats (no hormones)
  • avoid preservatives or anything chemical (if you don't recognize it ---don't eat it) 

I have been a year in progress and have been able to keep it off. I am still 5 pounds from where I want to end up and feel sure I will get there. After all, I didn't get where I was overnight.

I am on no RA medicine at all. I am symptom free unless I veer from my food list. At this point, it isn't hard anymore. No pain keeps you on your program.

I didn't come off my medicine until two months in the new program. I kind of thought I didn't need it, but I have been told over and over that it helped keep joint damage down. A melanoma changed all of that. I had a spot on my back pop up and in just two weeks it turned nasty. The morning I went to the dermatologist I knew I would never take the RA meds again. Never missed them. My color came back and the damage from the medicines is slowly disappearing with time.

The only medicine I take is my thyroid medicine. That runs in my family, but I had two autoimmune things going on. 

Over time I have learned to like a whole lot of new things and have found so many wonderful substitutes for any craving I might have.

I am putting a link to some other posts I have written on this subject for further thoughts.

My hope is anyone out there struggling from weight issues, RA, or any other autoimmune diseases that you would seek out medical help from a wellness doctor. Find one that really cares and will see you through to being whole and healthy again. There is a way!

If nothing else, try the whole 30 stuff...just do it. Your body will thank you.

As someone who weighed 105 at age 24 and 150 at age 54 and who found out that retirement wasn't going to make me feel better, I want you to know there is a better way. It means a lifestyle change, but it can be done.

Now, my doctor visits included many classes about toxins, sleep, stress, etc. Start researching and I pray if you where I was you can find the help.

A few other posts...

This is where I am today.



I know I am simplifying things a bit, because it really was an education process, but my prayer is that if you find yourself where I was you will find a way to change that. I have cleaned up my cleaning products as well. It is all about the toxins out there!!! at least for us with autoimmune conditions.

Feeling better than I have in 20 years,
Sandy

I will be linking up with some parties as they come up...




Monday Thoughts

This Christmas was the year to return to a real tree. I gotta tell you I LOVED it. I loved the excitement of choosing it and the memories it evoked. I was always one of those who said I would never own a fake one, but somewhere along the way, I did just that. 



I am fully embracing my old rule of real trees only for now anyway. 😊 Of course, at my age I feel free to change my mind at any time.



Taking it down is always bittersweet. I grew up with the tradition of taking it down after the new year, but I have never adhered to that tradition on my own. For 32 years of marriage, I have taken it down on the 26th. One year I was guilty of taking it down Christmas Day night. 

Paul Allen's words. I have never smiled for one of these. I can't start now. I give up.

 I always blamed the urge to get it down on "the teacher in me," but the truth is, I am ready for a clean house slate.

I have been busy today putting all my Christmas away AND changing things up. I will share all of that with the New Year.

As I decorated this year, I used mostly the decorations that were long standing ones. Those brought back the most wonderful memories. I was very simple this year as well. I am going to make that a new tradition. 

Now for other random thoughts...

The weather has been perfect to me. I am NOT one of those people who thinks it needs to be cold for Christmas. Maybe I should live in the southern hemisphere. They have warm Christmases. Anyway, I have loved the weather. My roses are still putting out blooms, although all but my Queen Elizabeth are small in size. 



The geraniums are loving this warm December with me. Maybe they like me know what comes in January and February. Better enjoy while you can.




The pansies are happy too.


I haven't mentioned Paul Allen's girlfriend, because I was waiting to see if it really had a chance. I am so excited. Scared to get excited, but excited. Y'all she is so pretty and SWEET. Very poised. I like her!

I have been busy looking at decorating ideas. I love that blue is going to be a popular color this year...not that trends have ever mattered to me. I love blues and greens period. They are calming.

I love my pops of red on the holidays...Christmas, Valentines's, 4th of July, and pops of orange in the fall, but... BLUES and GREENS are my colors.

I am working on my living room. I bought a new rug back in the fall, and have been working on changing out some items in the room to match the new rug. I will share later.

I am working on a kind of patriotic color scheme at the farmhouse.

I have one more post in me for 2016. It will either come Wednesday or at the very end of the year. We are headed to the cabin for a couple of days at the end of the week, so it may be over the weekend before I post it.

Anyway, I am looking forward to 2017!

Cleaning and dreaming,
Sandy




Friday, December 23, 2016

A Little Baking

Lindsay and I did a little baking today. I made a pound cake for the friend who built my pie safe. Their family is due to arrive at his parents this evening. I actually have to do one more in the morning for our Christmas Eve family gathering.



We also baked some gluten free chocolate chips cookies together as well. They were superb! I had seen a review for the cup4cup gluten free flour that Williams Sonoma sells. Since I had tried two other cup for cup brands and they really weren't wonderful, I decided to try one more time. This one worked well with the cookies. It is quite pricey, so it won't be an everyday kind of thing, but great for when you really want something sweet.



At some point, I might try it in my pound cake, but for now, I will go with the regular stuff since it is a family favorite.

My towels for Lindsay turned out pretty good. The pattern was a pretty busy pattern and then couple that with the pile of towels made me worry a bit. I think she will like them.



I think I have every Christmas present wrapped.

Gonna finish setting the dining table, mop my kitchen, and then I will find my comfy chair for the evening.

Merry Christmas,
Sandy

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Attempts at Stitching

As promised, I am sharing a stitching update.

Not cross-stitching, but machine embroidery.

You see I had to put my cross stitching away until next week. With Hubby home and the Christmas scurrying I had to take a break. As badly as I wanted to finish those Christmas cardinals, it just wasn't going to happen. I am so close, but yet too far away to finish, so I stored it away and called it quits until next week.

I have three projects going and I really do think I am going to finish the two Christmas things next week since I am so close and then get back to my samplers for the farmhouse.

My project bags with my stitching glasses which had to increase in strength.

Hubby decided that I ought to get a Boykin Spaniel pattern for my daughter and do some towels. I almost said no that time was an issue, but I found a pattern and downloaded it.

The colors from the pattern were from another brand of thread, so I was trying to match it and make it work. After 3 attempts on scraps, I think I have the colors.

This is not quite the colors.. next one will be a little darker as Boykins are known as "little brown dogs."


Then I proceeded to do it on the towel. Doing it on a towel means layers on top of towel and stabilizer on the bottom. The multiple layers caused the tension to be off and really jammed up the machine.

I just had to walk away.

I am now back in the sewing room and hoping for success.

Much better base color.


We shall see.

Tomorrow I have a little baking to do which is actually therapy to me and then to mop my kitchen and family room. Then it is wait for Christmas Eve.

I thought I would share my early present. I won the giveaway over at Talk of the House. I love Kelly's blog. It is absolutely one of my favorites.

The girl can even do up a package in the mail cute. I cut out my label to show you how pretty her handwriting is.


I posted earlier that this hadn't been my best year. I am possibly looking at it wrong. I have won two giveaways this year on my favorite blogs. Thanks Arlene and Kelly.


And one more thing....I have a great handwriting...won a contest in 6th grade, but even my name has never looked cuter than this.


I am not done blogging for the year, so I will be back at some point. Have to find times when Hubby is busy!!!

Stitching and hoping,
Sandy

Little update: Not sure if I have a winner or not.  Not convinced it is all my error, but hard to do a tight pattern on a towel. Lots to learn.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Pondering the Year

2016---

I don't know if I would call it a good year or not. I have been quite reflective with the month of December. I can tell you above all that the years are flying by the older I get.

Maybe the feeling of "time flying" makes one feel they need to pack more into them, therefore, you can feel let down when you can't accomplish it all.

Anyway, y'all are going to get one of those pondering posts.

I think everyone has switched into high gear with Christmas and quit reading blogs for the month anyway, so if I tell it like it is maybe no one will read until I post again with happy thoughts for a promising 2017.

I am so blessed that I always find it hard to write anything less than positive, but do you ever feel like you are striving and getting nowhere.

I have basically written the same goals over and over the past few years. I know because one of my splurges in life is an Erin Condren planner. I write my goals in the back every year. They are basically the same, and for the most part unfulfilled.

I been pondering how Solomon must have felt when he wrote in Ecclesiastes about there be nothing new under the sun and us striving after wind. I realize I am taking those particular words out of context, but I feel the book of Ecclesiastes is a reminder of pursuing earthly goals in and of themselves never leads to satisfaction.

With that said, this year I am pondering how to make those earthly goals tune in with following God.

Honestly, my not reaching my goals each year maybe something as simple as writing them in a more simplistic attainable fashion. I could possibly be writing them as lofty ideals and not goals.

That is an easy fix.

However, that feeling of not achieving and always striving is more of a soul issue. Issues like that require peace that only God can give. So this year, I am doing a bit more praying about what lies ahead.

I realize that much of my 2016 feeling of yukkiness comes from trying to adjust to having Mother around everyday and dealing with her grief and unhappiness. That is a whole story unto its self.

One that I may not be able to change, because we have to find in ourself and with God to move forward even at 81. I have been doing a lot of praying for her as well. I do have a wonderful support system with my husband and two kids as well.

She has sucked a ton of energy from me, so that could be the reason for my lack of getting much done too.  I love her dearly, but I must find a way to live without letting her wear me down.

Down the road, a woman not much older than me has a husband with early onset Alzheimer's. It is so sad to watch, so I know I have many blessings. Her next few years are going to get tougher with each passing day.

Lucy, the Springer is having seizures still and had some other very tough issues last week. We think she may have had just a UTI, and that aggravated things. Only dog lovers would understand why we put up with what we do.

Yes, I am pondering, but hopefully, it will lead to some good changes.

I am looking forward to Christmas Eve and Day. I am soaking up God's love for me and that I will have my family close to me. I only have a little bit more to go out for today and then other than church of Christmas Eve, I should be home for the remaining days. It is getting crowded around town. Lots of scurrying.

I am also loving my tree this year and the simpler decor. One of my favorite Instagrammers - Lisa @ lisa_buttercupblissblog had this lovely photo up the other day. I agree whole-heartedly with her. I do wish she was still blogging, but I understand that blogging is probably a dinosaur. I have some thoughts on that too later.



That is enough pondering for one day, but I am not shut down for the new year yet. I have a stitching update (not cross stitching) to share. It will either be a good share or a flop, but today is the day to make it happen or not. Stay tuned for that one.

I am off to finish a few chores and try and do that stitching project.

Trying to not scurry though...slow and steady,
Sandy






Thursday, December 15, 2016

One of Those Random Posts

Thought I would pop in today. It has been over a week since last I shared.

Tis the season that you have to work extra hard not to be too busy.

While I ramble I will just share a few photos... no particular order or pattern.


You know how I said I didn't buy anything new for Christmas this year, but the ornaments for the lantern, well seeing this picture reminds I bought this pillow.

That cute Merry Christmas pillow has spent more time either on the floor or with Lucy, the Springer on top of it. She has taken a shine to it for some reason. It will most likely have to have a good washing at the end of the month.

This past weekend I decided my sewing room needed purging. I began to think that there was too much stuff in there and just maybe that could be the reason I was not going in there and being creative.


First up I got in there and took care of making the pillows for the farm that I have put off for far too long.

Then I did an overhaul of my cabinets and have a huge pile that I have yet to take to Goodwill. That is on my list to do today though.

I have sworn off any trips to the fabric store until I do something with what I kept.



I am not so good at throwing things away, but I had just bought so much fabric and really lost all interest in it. I am hoping a quilter will make a stop at Goodwill one day and be so excited at the bargain. I know my Grandma would have been thrilled.

I have lined up some projects and hope to tackle them after Christmas. Something to do on the dark evenings.

I know I have said it before, but I crave light which is why I think I am not fond of winter.


I have also been very reflective this month trying to think of things I need to improve on and what I am doing that works well.

As a school teacher, I always did that in the summer. IT helped me improve each year. 

My work is my home now, although I have been pondering taking on a part time position after Christmas.


See that stove...it has been baking cookies galore.

You see, dear Hubby came in last week and said he needed cookies to give to all his office. New job, new office, new procedures for Christmas, etc. 
SOOOO.... I baked 60 peanut butter cookies. The secret to not eating what you bake is to bake what you won't eat!!!!

He then proceeds to tell me that he can't take them, because the entire office will be out in the field observing schools. 

Two things happened here...

The first being a former teacher myself, my thought was - "what in the world would you go observe classrooms at this time of the year. Are you NUTS? The kids' brains have already left school for Christmas break."

Then, I had a decision to make....would I be angry at him, or cut him some slack.

I actually had to think hard on this oneπŸ˜†

I chose to be nice and took them to church on Sunday morning for the volunteers. I didn't even tell anyone I had baked them.


Yesterday, I baked him 60 more to take today.

He also got burned because he grilled a whole bunch of pork loins for a party yesterday, only to find out that the decision had been made to cater it.. I guess the big boss forked over the money.

Now, I have lots of pork loin to eat for the next couple of nights. 


I am enjoying my real tree immensely this year. I probably wouldn't if I had carpet, because I remember taking it out was the worst. 

One thing I have learned though is there is a reason why all of our ornaments were lighter weight. Even though it is a Frazier Fir and pretty sturdy, I lost one of my most favorite ornaments because it was too heavy.

I have enjoyed my simple decorations this year too. You can be overwhelmed with all you see out there on the blogs, but as I get older I am just thinking....poor thing....it is going to take them forever to take all that down.

I have got mine down to a pretty good system I think.

I simply love this girl's home though. 

Source

She has just the right amount of antiques mixed with all that white that you see these days.
The blog is called Nine+Sixteen.

Well, I will close it with that.
Need to get busy,
Sandy





Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Starfish Christmas

I changed very little around the house for Christmas this year. The kitchen and living room look exactly the same.
I am enjoying my real tree.
The stairwell and banisters have the same garland. The dining room is a repeat.
I won't bore y'all with the same old same old.

I did change the foyer table this year. That happened mainly because I took some plant stands out of the foyer, so I had to put a plant on the table. I made it work around that.


I just added some berries to the plant. I did paint some of my starfish red and scattered them about this year.

In the pool table room, I switched up some things on the desk.


The only thing I bought this year was some more ornaments to add to the lantern.

That lantern and bunny are some of my favorite things.


In the dining room, I added some red and decorations to the bottom shelf of my buffet.


Do you spy a red starfish?


In the living room, you will see another of my starfish.





Last year's rooms can be seen on the archives. This is all that I did new this year. Loving the simplicity and the glow of all the lights.

Sandy the Starfish

Sharing Some Cuteness from Church



I always talk about going to volunteer at church on Tuesdays. I thought I would share what I do, but mostly the cool spaces that I get the privilege of working in each Tuesday and Sunday.

I go up each Tuesday morning and unload the bags and tubs we use in our preschool and grade schools classes.

We use tote bags to put each small group's activity materials in kindergarten through 5th grade.
In ages 2-4, we use tote bags and tubs to contain all our supplies. I unload them on Tuesday, and someone comes behind me to load them back for the next week, someone else cleans the room, someone is always working on getting the supplies cut, sorted, etc.

In other words, it is the most amazing group of volunteers and a well oiled machine. I read over my lesson and just walk in on Sunday morning and have fun. No prep!!!! Did you hear that, no prep! 

I also start a load of bed clothes to wash from the baby rooms.

As I was working, I just thought who wouldn't love to see all the coolness of our environment.

So without further adieu, here is some really cool spaces.

Upon entering in the lobby...




Entering in the far right doors leads you to Waumba Land which our preschool zone.

Look up!!! because you are under the sea.


I worked on the wrapping boxes and decorating the tree two weeks ago.


The stage is where we come for out Bible story and singing.
The two's often hang out on the wave benches.


Then it is back around these hallways to my little room.



More pictures from under the sea.



Yes, that whale is huge. I would definitely know that Jonah fit in there, which by the way I do believe.


Through those other doors in the lobby you head to Upstreet, the K-5 zone.

It is made to look just like the Boardwalk out on the beach.









The Goofy Golf thing really looks like the Goofy Golf place that is Fort Walton Beach icon.

We are in the old Daily News Building, so we saved one of the newspaper dispensers.



Oh, and I made those palm fronds on the palm trees!!!



A close up of an article that appeared in the newspaper about us.



This is my little workroom. I am going to spend a little time tidying up after Christmas.


Then on through to the volunteer hangout on Sunday mornings.




Love hanging out up there on Tuesday mornings and helping the most wonderful staff.

I am going to share pictures of my house soon.
Maybe,
Sandy