Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Phrase for 2016

Last year, I decided upon a phrase to guide me for 2015. I really can't top it! No need to even try!!!

2015's phrase was "Count Your Blessings." In light of what I had learned the previous year, I decided to focus on the positives in my life. 

It was truly a great phrase, and I reminded myself daily of that this past year. It will be a mantra for life not just 2015.

So here it is time for 2016, and I have been soul searching for something as spectacular.

I have a phrase this year, but it is not so earth shattering. My phrase for this year will be...


Are you thinking Nike swoosh?

Yea, me too.

I procrastinate by nature.  When I was younger, I would often wait to the last minute to get down and dirty on a project. I spent lots of time thinking about it, but not really breaking it down and doing things all along. I still do that maybe not to the extent of my youth, but waiting until it is a mountain or until everything is just so so to start. This year I am going to try and quit the game waiting until things are just so so to get started. I am hoping to get more accomplished by breaking things into smaller chunks and using whatever time I have to get something done. 

I have put off learning to smock because I don't have time, but I am going to start with small steps. 
Watch some videos to start. 
Just break it down to steps. 
Maybe just getting my materials for it together one day, 
then trying a few stitches. 

I did see that work a bit this year with getting my house back in order. It was the baby steps that took place over months that made the difference.

So, for 2016, I will continue to count my blessings, but I will take those things on my list and ...

Just do it or at least do something!


Monday, December 28, 2015

How Did I Do on My Goal List for 2015?

Last year, I made a list of goals for 2015. These were mostly big ideas. I didn't necessarily make an action plan for all of them. I wrote them in the back of my Erin Condren planner. I wrote about them here. I did well on some and not so well on others.

Warning: no cute photos, just some good thoughts.

I love to reflect at the end of a year. This year, as I was looking at them and planning my new list, I think I noticed a little something that might help me be a little more successful.

The successes for 2015's goals. 

I  found that those goals that I took a little more time to write up an action plan, or I had somehow scheduled them into my calendar, life etc., I did better.

For instance, my house was in disarray after retiring and the craziness of the previous year. I made a cleaning schedule for each day...I know that might seem odd to others, but I think I really needed a lesson plan to guide me. I went back to what I knew. Living by the schedule of a lesson plan had guided me in the classroom for 31 years. That is what I came up with ....part schedule, part lesson plan.

I made a room by room plan for decluttering, organizing, and deep cleaning an area week by week. I let a website guide me. I loved the site A Bowl Full of Lemons. This girl was amazing. She has now written a book due out January 5th. I am sure it will be a best seller. There wasn't a ton of new things in there, after all, I majored in home economics. I know tons of this, but her pictures and her step by step guides really put the motivation in there for me.

Both the cleaning and the deep cleaning, organizing, and decluttering goals were wins for me. Of course, you are never through with those, but for the first time I was doing better in spite of life's interruptions.

Another goal that I felt successful in was reading my Bible and really digging deeper. Again this goal had more a schedule to it. I had a reading plan, a journaling plan, and a regular time to do this.

Printing pictures and placing them in an album once a month was a win, because I had picked a date each month and written it on the calendar.

Now, for the not so good.

I wanted to sew more. I had several things I wanted to accomplish. I started out pretty well, but it slid away as time passed. This one really bugged me, because I have been putting off sewing for years. Wait until I retire! Wait, wait, wait. I am going to put some actual monthly goals together for this and try and choose a day to actually go into my sewing room during the day. Schedule it in my daily plans.

I know that my project list will change, because that is the nature of this passion, but I am going to write monthly goals, I can keep up with the changing nature of this passion. I will keep an ongoing project list of thing I would like to try, but I am going to choose something to actually complete each month and put it on my calendar with a time and day assigned to it.

I will say that I picked up cross stitching after years of laying that hobby aside and have loved it, but it to has a designated time for it. It is extremely relaxing in the evening and gives me something to do while Hubby watches TV and I can be in the same room with him. 

I didn't read nearly as much as I usually do this past year. I am not sure why, but I am hoping to pick back up that reading this year. 30 minutes before bed each night.

Exercise has to get back on the schedule too. I have not decided what is the best time of day for me, but I am pondering that one.

I did fair on cooking more, but not on my plans for what I would cook. That one is a halfway successful. I will have to try and continue a plan for that one as well. I have not been too good at making a meal plan for a week at a time, because Hubby is still in the education business and that means lots of outside duties. I have to be real flexible here. I do want to try some old recipes and make them healthier, so I will have to add a certain number to my monthly goals.

To sum up, I think having an action plan or set of steps is super helpful in achieving any sort of success. I will keep those that worked last year, but in addition, I am going to make a monthly set of goals and plans to try and work on those goals that didn't work last year.

I will share more on my plans as we head into the next year.

Pondering and planning,

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Depth to My Bible Studying

As I read finished my reading through the Bible this year, I kept a list of things that I wanted to delve into a little deeper. You can read about my reading through the Bible here and here.

One of those things was the book of Daniel. While Daniel doesn't have a wealth of verses to write down and quote as promises, it has a wealth of information in its stories. Daniel and his friends paint a perfect picture of obedience to God and His ways. Time and time again they swam against the current protected by God for their faithfulness. Kings gave us a clear vision of what happens when they chose to ignore the Most High God.

I have used a commentary, The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe, to guide my going back through this book. I was reading Chapter 5 and was quite struck by the times we are in and their similarities to current events.

Very quick and simple version!!!
The king in Chapter 5 is Belshazzar. The king is dining while the armies of Medes and Persia are encamped around the city, but he is indifferent and orders the servants to bring in the consecrated vessels taken from the temple.  While they are in the dining hall, the fingers of a human hand appears to write something on the wall. No one can interpret the writings. The queen enters and tells him that Daniel can interpret it. Daniel is called and does indeed tell the king what the writing says. He reminds the king that he has not honored God and well... history shows us what happens when we forget to give God honor and praise. The chapter ends with the king's demise that very night

The commentary had this quote from a Dr. Harry Rimmer.
"The world has always had its great cities, its mighty empires, and its powerful dictators, but the Most High God still reigns in heaven and on the earth and accomplishes His purposes. No nation, leader, or individual citizen can long resist Almighty God and win the battle."

The commentary finishes with this thought on Chapter 5...
"Belshazzar forgot the Word of God and the lessons of history and lost his kingdom and his life. May we not make the same mistakes today!"

It seems our great nation is at that point today. I feel so honored to be an American. My father-in-law and my dad served this country in the military. My father-in-law went into Normandy on June 7th. It was not a pretty sight. If my dad has not succumbed to cancer, he would have gone to Vietnam at its very worst. I was taught to love this great country in school and have truly lived the AMERICAN DREAM. 

I think it is time for Christians in America to fall on their knees and pray for this nation. He still hears us and might just give us a reprieve of time to lead more to Him.

That is my two-cents.

On studying and digging deeper into His Word, I want to continue to do more of that in this new year. I have always read, but that digging deeper, I have committed to keep that up.

Things that helped me this past year...

#1. Trying to find that specific time to do it... but, giving myself grace when that time of day doesn't work out.

#2. Journaling when something really strikes me as worthy of  remembering.

#3. Writing my prayer requests on a index card to keep in my Bible. I know prayer is more than just a list of requests, but I think God really does want to hear my prayers for others!

#4. I have also kept a pretty notebook adding my favorite verses and song lyrics to look back and reflect.

#5. This year, I am going to continue with the app I have been using called First 5. I love it! I am going to finish Daniel, then use their app to dig deeper in the passages that they teach about on the app. So far, they have covered, John, Genesis, and Matthew. Can't wait to see what's next.

Striving to continue to grow in my knowledge of Him and His Word,

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to My Blogging World

The most wonderful day of the year finds me relaxing and being so grateful for my many blessings. I love waking up on Christmas morning and thinking about how blessed I am to have been raised in a Christian home and to know the love of my Savior.

Hubby added a few new pieces to my Nativity. I will ask for the stable and angel next year. I love the simplicity of this set!

I am finding a moment to relax by myself. The boys are playing a few holes of golf to try out a new club. Mama is busy at her new home near me!!!! preparing a Christmas lunch for us. She is happy, and that makes me happy. I have to share my daughter with her hubby's family, but that is a good thing too. I pray my son finds a wonderful Christian girl too one day. One step at a time though, for now, I will be happy that he is making better choices these days.

The table set yesterday for Christmas Eve supper.

Yes, there is one different. This set of china is what we use each year for Christmas Eve, but the family is growing, so I had to throw one in from my china, and we are squeezing in.

We have Christmas Eve dinner at our house each year. The menu has been basically the same for the last 30 some odd years. 
It consists of steak, potato soup in a bread bowl (once was baked potatoes), salad, my pound cake with strawberries and real shipped cream. We added something extra this year. Jeff came by some crab claws so those were added. Messy:(

It was all delicious, but being around the table with my family is the best!!!!!!!! I was going to share a photo of the family around the table, but figured they might shoot me as I didn't tell anyone I was taking a photo and they are all putting food in their mouths. It was quite funny.

I will share a few of us opening presents though.

Aunt Donna and Lindsay with sandals on to remind us of how warm this Christmas has been.

Uncle Al, Mama, and Tyler

Jeff and Paul Allen AND my lightless tree.

Everyone loved all of their gifts. I loved mine especially. I asked for gift cards to my favorite clothing store, Talbots,  for all my weight loss. I still have a bit to go, so I don't want to spend too much until I get it ALL off. Jeff couldn't do that, so I got a pair of jeans and casual top and a pair of dressier pants with a sweater in my new current size. I will not look like a refugee for another month. I did get two gift cards for later. My goal is to have a whole bunch of clothes to sell in another month or two.

Y'all, one of my most incredible blessings is my health. I am still feeling so much better. Everyone is noticing my energy level and lack of pain. With all these rainy days, I am doing so well. Praise the Lord!!! 

Bonus: I have gone from a 14 Petite to a 12 Petite and I am still trying to lose a bit more. I think I can! I think I can! I think I can! 

Hubby, Son, and I are headed to Mama's in a little while for Christmas dinner, so one more picture for the road.

In all my distress about my tree, I didn't take the annual picture of my kiddos in front of the tree. I can't believe I did that, but we were at my daughter's house two nights ago, and I snapped this one. It will have to suffice for this year.

I will be back in a few with my goals for the new year.

Everyone  enjoy that family today!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Another Random Post

I am done with my shopping and almost done with the wrapping. My plan is to not leave the house tomorrow unless it is to go and help Mama with things. She is staying at her new place the remainder of the week. We will try and go finish up next week at her place in Brewton. Then....PRAY for a quick sale.

Her new place is adorable. She has been trying to work around being sick. I can't get that woman to rest like she is supposed to. I am afraid we will be back at the doctor's next week. Only then will she listen. I am giving you a small sneak peak at her new home. When she gets better and gets it looking like she wants it, I will give a full tour.

The second bedroom.

The dining and living room are one big open space. The piano is kind of in the middle. I did play one of my five songs that I know. "Away in a Manger"

We got her tree up so she would feel at home.

I feel like I have done nothing but go to parties this Christmas and move Mama. I am kind of partied out and ready to just be with family, but I will share a few pictures from one we went to last night.

The couple's (Tommy and Leann) home that I snapped a few pictures from is a very cool home. Both are super talented and creative people. Tommy made the cross for my daughter's wedding. 

So, as you can see, he is very talented.
He has all kinds of stumps made into tables and decorative items around his home. I snapped a few pictures with the decorations that Leann added to them last night.

Tommy had gathered cedar trees from his hunting camp to line the porches of their home.

Another stump that is mounted on the outside of their home.

Just a cute picture of the many food tables everywhere.

This picture does not capture the top of the cabinet. It is a piece from a cedar tree retrieved from the bottom of the Choctawhatchee River. It is AMAZING.

This is on their back porch. It is gorgeous. 
I didn't take any pictures on the inside, but trust me everything was just as cool.

I will be home most of tomorrow or at least that is my plan. I have done no baking since I am on my diet. I do plan to bake a little tomorrow, but not eat it. I may allow myself to have a small portion, but until I meet that goal weight, I am staying strong.

Along those lines, I am not believing how much better I feel. 

I also learned a lesson that I am none too happy about.
I will never buy any Christmas decoration that is prelit.

I have not shared the outside as I said I would mainly because I have been so busy and secondly because the lights on my wonderful prelit wreaths went out last week. Hubby did a quick fix and just spot lights on them. That worked and I may or may not try to fix them before I store them away this year...

BUT THE BIGGIE happened this evening. The lights on our living room tree went kaput. I have tried everything known to man to remedy the situation. It is done for.

What is a tree without lights?! We do the family celebration at our house and I am lightless. I don't even feel like I got to enjoy it because I have been so busy. Hubby has offered to help me take it all off and go get a real tree, but I just don't know if I have the energy to do all that. I will go back to a real tree next year and string my lights.


This tree sucked me in last year, because it looked so real. Well, so much for that.

I will most likely just look for a way to add some lights around the room for Christmas Eve and let it go this year. It has been a crazy month anyway, but I am so glad to have Mama close. Just to know she is two minutes away is worth the hectic month. Praying she gets over the pneumonia and doesn't go back into the sinus issues we had for six months last year. That will be my Christmas wish.

Blessed even though my tree lights went dim,

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Random Post to Catch Up

This will be a most random post. 

The movers came to Mom's on Thursday last week and moved the furniture and many boxes to her new townhouse. I would share a few pics of her new place, but she would be VERY mad at me. It has to be a little more perfect. I think she is very excited about it, which is really good news.

After the movers packed up the truck, I walked back into my old bedroom and got a tiny bit teary eyed. Mom still has two bedrooms that she left the wall paper in. One was my old room. I counted baskets of flowers on nights when I couldn't sleep. I got choked up when I walked back into the empty room.

I am so glad she is moving here, because it will help me out so much. She has gotten sick again. She had been really doing well since early summer, but she started getting a cold. We ended up at the doctor's today. She has pneumonia, but hopefully we caught it early. Very small spot on her lungs. We will x-ray her in two weeks. I think she is trying to do too much. Hubby will be off next week, so I think we are going to try and finish up things in Brewton and get that off her mind.

In the meantime, this time of the year is busy with school. We had a concert to attend last night, and I have a ton of baking to do tomorrow for him to give as gifts.

I went to a brunch the other day. My friend's home is always magnificent. She goes all out for Christmas. 

I snapped a picture really quick of her fireplace to share with you. I should have gone early and just captured her whole house as it is amazing.

I loved her wreaths with JOY.

Bookcase next to fireplace.

Then later in the week I had been working at church and took a few there.

Our entrance into the preschool and grade school areas. Out church's name is Beachside Community Church, so there is a bit of beachy to it.

Entrance into our preschool area where I serve on Sunday mornings.

Our large group area where we hear our Bible story and sing. I thought it was all so cute.

I am still on my diet to reach my goal weight. I am now on a program called "healthy & active: The Metabolism Program." It is matched to my bloodwork and gives me a list of foods I can eat until I meet my goal weight, and then my life time list.

I am feeling so much better. I can really tell that foods can set up problems for me. I will keep a journal of the troublesome ones. When I have reached my goal weight, I will eat the foods from my lifetime list, but each week I can have two cheat days. So, yes, I will be able to have dessert and pizza occasionally, but I can tell you I will stick to the plan, since I am having such relief. I will plan those "cheat days" very carefully!!!

I have 17 more pounds to go, but I have lost 18!!!

See, I told you it would be random.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas: Kitchen

The last of the rooms I decorated for this year is the kitchen. I always keep it simple in there just because it is the hub of the home. 

I have to tell you, I am very glad I just decorated the living room, dining area, and formal areas this year. I am feeling every bit as festive without as much work. Hmmm....lesson here?! 

The kitchen...
We will start with the table.

I made the napkins one night last week. I love this fabric. It is amazing to work with. I have had it for years just waiting to do something with but never did. I used it recently in one of my monthly cottage backgrounds. It is like a linen blend. Sews beautifully. Lightweight, but yet not heavy.

I even mitered the corners.

The monthly cottage.

I might have gotten carried away with gingham.

When I was a kid, my grandma ALWAYS had candy in a candy dish. I have carried on her tradition. A few Kisses. My mom calls them silver bells.

Ready to go if needed for a quick dessert. I am trying to wait to treat myself a little closer to Christmas.

You may have noticed our tray of trivia. It came from a game that someone gave us that has local trivia in it as well as like Trivial Pursuit questions. I knew we would never play this. We were game players when the kids were little, so I took all the cards and put them in this plastic dish. Anytime the kids are here, they have to endure two cards of questions. I think they really like it though.

I was going to show the sewing room which really only has one thing in it and my wrapping station, but the truth is that is in full Christmas swing and is not picture worthy. I love my wrapping station. It is one of my favorite things in the room.

Now, there will be no more looking at Christmas as to add things this year. If I see something I like, I will Pin for next year. In fact, soon I am going to have that January goal setting and organization mindset on.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas: My So Called Formal Areas

I call this my so called formal areas, because the design of the house was that there be a formal living room. My mother-in-law had the most spectacular Victorian furniture in this area. That is not us. We are a casual family and at the move in time there were two teenagers. Since there is a big room with seating downstairs and a living room on the back with the water, we knew we would never ever walk in the so called front sitting room. Thus, we have a pool table. That is us to a T!

Without further adieu, the foyer.

Into the home on the right you will see our pool room.

Mr. Bunny got a red ribbon.

In the entrance hallway leading all the way to the living room, we have our Auburn tree. Last year was the first year I actually went with a separate Auburn tree, but we had so many ornaments, I decided to devote them to one tree. With the help of my daughter, I used one of my slender green trees and did orange and blue lights mixed. I really wasn't satisfied, so this year I used the tree I used to use in my daughter's bedroom. I plan to make an awesome tree skirt by next year.

You see that front door in the background. Next time you see it, it will be a different color. I have not been set on it since I put the darker blue around the glass. My son was adamant that it looked awful. I fear he was right. I went in search of a new color and decided to take into account the stain glass that is in the foyer. I have a lighter blue. I will be painting it soon.

The new color will match the blue in the oval of the stained glass.

Back to the Auburn tree.

 Now, into the dining room. My Willowtree Nativity  is displayed here. I went simple with nothing else there with it. I have asked for one more set of things to go with it and that is the camel set of animals. I don't particularly like the barn that goes with the set.

I added a little ribbon to the sconces this year. I really like that.

While I was busy setting up on Saturday, I set the table to give you an idea of what it will look like on Christmas Eve. We really do eat on the china. I think at least one day a year should be special and certainly celebrating our Lord and Savior should bring out the best. This is what we consider our Christmas china. I used to do more of those meals, and I am really trying to get back into that groove.

The only difference on Christmas Eve is that there will be a table cloth and more place settings squeezed in around the table. We squeeze in and sit close, but we love it. I have all the food in the kitchen, so only eating in here.

A close up of the awesome candle sticks. I found them last year at a wonderful store in Dadeville, Alabama called The Plantation House. 

View from the landing.

View to the landing

Tomorrow, I will share the kitchen and sewing room. That will wrap up the inside. I went very small this year. No bedrooms or downstairs. Maybe I will capture a bit of the front yard.

As I look around at the craziness of the world, these moments we capture with family around a dinner table are all the more important.