Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I've finally recovered from Christmas. It took three days of resting and sleeping. I admit that I brought on most of it myself. I was SO laid back and relaxed before the holidays that I waited until the last minute to shop and cook. This shot the stress factor through the roof. Usually I'm through with my shopping in July or August. I like to pick up things throughout the year when I see then. THIS year I was shopping on Christmas Eve. The selection was good and the crowds weren't bad, but the fear of not finding what I wanted really brought on the stress. Stupid, I know.

So then I spend Christmas Eve and Day angry at my family (especially husband) because I have all this cooking to do and they're not helping as much as I think they should. I'll say it again as I've said it many times before, "I'm my own worst enemy." Sorry, my family, for being a grouch at such a special time.

Note to self: Go back to buying gifts all year and finish in the fall at the latest. Start cooking as early as possible and freeze what food I can for the holidays.

During the twelve days of Christmas, through January 5, I'm rereading last year's journals and going over my 2009 Goals. I didn't get as many of them accomplished as I would have liked so will focus my efforts there as well as making new Goals for 2010. Wow! Typing 2010 seems so futuristic. I'm not even sure how to say it. Is it two thousand ten or twenty ten? I guess either is correct. It just sounds so sci-fi.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A New Reading Challenge for 2010


Challenge Button
January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010

Click on the button above to see a fun reading challenge for next year. It's from Letters From a Hill Farm blog. Some of the listed authors will be new to me. I've heard of them but haven't read any of their books.

One thing I love about my bookgroup is that I read books I wouldn't have tried on my own. This challenge will be good that way too. It'll make me get out of my reading comfort zone.

And who doesn't love the movie You've Got Mail? It's filled with books since both of the main characters are bookstore owners. The reading list comes from books mentioned in the movie.

So click the button and have fun!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Additions to last blog post: I'll tell you about Blog Award #1 when I do all I have to do in order to get it! Also, I'll highlight all the blog addresses when Laurel can teach me how. Yikes =-( ! Yeah, I'm pathetic.

One more thing; I didn't notice until the last post was put up that I was supposed to answer the questions with one word. Yeah, right!

Blog Award-Yeah!

My friend Katy @, awarded me with my second blog award! Thanks, Katy!

The way it works is that I answer the following questions in one word, and then pass the award on to five other bloggers.

Here are the questions:
1. Where is your cell phone? On my desk
2. Your hair? Dark brown with slivers of silver
3. Your mother? Amazing
4. Your father? Sweetest man in the whole world
5. Your favorite food? Southern
6. Your dream last night? Don't remember
7. Your favorite drink? Tea
8. Your dream/goal? Balance
9. What room are you in? Kitchen
10. Your hobby? Photography, etc.
11. Your fear? Loved ones dying
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Wiser
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren’t? Always content
15. Muffins? Like them if they're healthy
16. Wish list item? Digital SLR camera
17. Where did you grow up? Tennessee
18. Last thing you did? Ate cereal
19. What are you wearing? Cottage jeans, white tee, navy cardigan, houseshoes, scarf
20. Your TV? Off
21. Your Pets? One dog, three cats
22. Friends? Wouldn't want to live without 'em
23. Your life? Blessed
24. Your mood? Quiet
25. Missing Someone? Garrett
26. Vehicle? Yukon
27. Something you're not wearing? A hat
28. Your favorite store? Any used book store
29. Your favorite colour? Green
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today, a lot
31. Last time you cried? This week
32. Your best friend? Laurel
33. One place that I go to over and over? Laurel's house
34. Facebook? Yes
35. Favorite place to eat? Red Lobster (I know, I'm easy)

I'm passing this award on to:
Laurel @
Pom Pom @
Frances @tp://
Laura @
Tonia @

If you don't already know (I didn't), copy and paste this post to your blog then erase my answers and put yours in. I really love all your blogs.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Two Sweet Things

Here are two of my favorite sweet things; my little cottage all decorated for Christmas, and my sweet daughter decorating the tree. Life is good.

This Could Happen To You

This is what happens when you spend a Friday night alone with an eleven-year-old girl with too much time on her hands. I have one hand painted with ladybugs and the other painted neon yellow with black tic-tac-toe designs. I think I'll shake things up a bit and go to church tomorrow morning like this.

Sorry for the blurry pics. It was hard to hold the camera with one hand and get close enough to see the details.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Contemplating Structure

More from Music of Silence-"As the shadows lengthen, we have intimations of the end of the day. We notice the limits and boundaries that give our lives structure. The hour of None (3 p.m.) wants to lead us to the right understanding of limits; to see them not as prisons, but to face them and work within them. And if they are arbitrary limits that inhibit our genuine growth, then we must overcome them.

Our lives have many structures-our jobs, our families-because it's only within limits that anything meaningful can happen. If all possibilities were available at all moments, if there were no limits, no boundaries, no definitions, we'd be lost. People mistakenly think that happiness comes from removing all limits. The lesson of the lengthening shadows is to forgive and to live to the full within the inherent limits and boundaries of our lives."

Schedules and boundaries in my life have been on my mind a lot lately. Laurel and I both laugh at how we love to make very precise schedules committed to paper and then find it impossible to stick to them.

I've found that the only time I can keep to a rigid schedule is if I stay home all day by myself and have no interruptions. How often does that happen? Maybe once a year. So for the rest of the time I try to stay on schedule and be flexible if interrupted.

But I'm not satisfied with this method anymore. I want less boundaries the older I get. I need more time for contemplation and for soaking up the moment. So I'm trying to arrange my days a little differently.

I'm keeping Darcie on her schedule, because she has schoolwork to finish in a timely manner and places to be at certain times of the day. My early morning time will be the same as it has been for the last thirty years; worship from 6-7 and exercise from 7-8. Breakfast, cleanup, getting dressed, and light housework from 8-9. The difference will be from 9-6. I'm not breaking it into tiny pieces anymore. I'm writing down a list of what I want to accomplish every day and numbering it in order of importance. I'll work away at #1 until it's done and then go on to something else.

Or I might do #5 first. I'm a rebel that way. Anyway, it's a more laid-back approach to living that I hope will still allow me to get things done but with more mental leisure.

I'm beginning to see that the quest for balance is as illusive as joy in the midst of chaos. Both are worthy goals but probably not attainable for very long in this lifetime. Or maybe it's just me. Has anyone out there achieved balance or joy for long periods of time?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Streams of Mercy

This is the face that greeted me at 7:00 this morning. He was singing at the top of his sweet little voice, "Come Thou Fount of Every Bwessing, Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Pwaise!"

What a great way to start the day and put a smile on my face. I don't care what everybody else says about two-year-olds. Around here, they're the best!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Music of Silence

I've begun a new book called Music of Silence, A Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day. A little from the back cover says: "a noted Benedictine monk shows how to incorporate the sacred meaning of monastic life into our everyday lives. He demonstrates how to "be here now" by following the natural rhythms of the hours of the day.

This is from the chapter Vigils, the night watch. He's talking about affluence and how it always demands more. "The word affluence suggests that whatever flows in never comes out. Our affluent society stays affluent by making the containers bigger when they are just about to overflow, like a fountain with its lovely veils of water spilling over. The economics of affluence demand that things that were special for us last year must now be taken for granted; gratefulness is taken away from us. But if we make the vessel smaller and smaller by reducing our needs, then the overflowing comes sooner and with it the joy of gratefulness.

The less you have, the more you appreciate what you've got. With the extraneous stripped away, you begin to realize how you are being graced by life's gifts. This is at least one sense in which the poor are blessed. When your needs are limited, your vessel is easily filled, and you can delight in the overflow.

Monks experience the overflow sooner; poor people experience it sooner than wealthy ones, because the vessel is smaller. With monks, who by custom have few and simple possessions, it is artificially made smaller, and so the joy of overflowing comes sooner. If you normally have just soup for your meal, and all of a sudden you get a second course of potatoes, that feels like a wonderful gift, a blessing, and you are thrilled."

After my last bout of decluttering, I begin to see how true this is. I still spend way too much time going through papers, magazines, etc. I don't want to be a chronic paper shuffler. I want to be able to turn more outward and help the less fortunate, the young mothers, my grandchildren, and anyone else that needs me. And so the decluttering continues... will there ever be a time when I'm not a slave to paperwork? I hope and pray so.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Good Outcome from Bad News

Yesterday my soldier son, Garrett, told me that their base in Iraq had been attacked by rockets a few days ago and that two soldiers out on a mission had been shot by snipers. He didn't mean to tell me, but I dragged it out of him. I told him I needed more specific things to pray for. Well, he gave them to me.

I've been praying for his safety, of course, and for him to have wisdom and lots of it. He's a First Lieutenant and in charge of a large number of men. He's prone to hot-headedness, so wisdom is high on my prayer list for him.

I found out later from Laurel that a mini-conference had taken place between her, my husband, and my SIL. They decided it would be best if I didn't know about the rocket attacks. Garrett told HER during a phone call right after it happened.

So my emotions are mixed. I feel left out and angry on one hand. But on the other hand, I think it's sweet that they were trying to protect me. I've decided to let go of the anger and depressed feelings and live my life to bring glory to God even if I don't feel like it.

I'm glad I found out, because my prayer life needed a shot in the arm. I've been praying for several years that I would become a prayer warrior, and what better way to accomplish that than to have a son in danger.

I would greatly appreciate all your prayers too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Decluttering Gone Wild

Since my last decluttering post, I've gotten rid of too much stuff to list here. One thing I've gotten rid of that I never have before is sewing patterns; eighteen of them. I'll never use the low-waisted jumper or the girl's smocked jacket pattern. And I sure won't be needing the maternity patterns again!
These photos are in my art studio, my poor studio that is so junked up with...junk, it'll be a long time before I'll be able to do any art in there.

I can't decide what to do with it all. I could rent a space in the local antique mall for a month or two and see how much I get rid of. But that involves pricing, hauling it there, setting it up, and then removing anything that doesn't sell. Makes me hyperventilate to think about it. Or I could call the local junk shop dealer to come give me a price to haul it all away. I'm just afraid that if I do that, I won't get what it's worth. Or I could list it on E-bay or Craig's list. But that involves hassle and headache I really don't want to deal with.

What should I do? Help!

P.S. A word to the wise, simplify and don't collect stuff in the first place.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday Art Class

Monday mornings I teach art and music to four other children and Darcie. The younger boy (in the truck bed) is my oldest grandson.

This particular Monday we made grapevine wreaths and decorated them with local fall flowers and plants. After showing them how to make the wreaths, I told them to go jump on the back of the truck without telling them what we were doing.

Caed and Darcie immediately jumped in being used to my craziness. The other three cast wary glances all around not sure if I meant it.

I finally convinced them to get on. I drove slowly down the dirt road looking for Goldenrod, Pennsylvania smartweed, Beautyberry, and anything else we thought would look good in a wreath.

We filled the truck bed up with wildflowers of all kinds, came back home and decorated the wreaths. They were all quite pretty. They were sure proud of their accomplishments. I'm sure they'll always remember the time "Miss Debbie" took them for a ride in the back of the truck to gather flowers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Favorite Soldier

I couldn't let Veterans Day go by without mentioning my favorite soldier, my oldest son Garrett. He's now serving in Iraq and will be there until sometime next fall. Here are some photos I took of him in various disguises and as he was getting ready to leave home for the last time before being deployed.

He's such a goofball. When he walks into a room it lights up. We all miss him so much and pray constantly for his safety. We love you Garrett!

Thoughts on Vocation

This is my last post from the book Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton. I've gleaned quite a bit from it and recommend its reading. Merton says of vocation, "A man knows when he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live. When we are not living up to our true vocation, thought deadens our life, or substitutes itself for life, or gives in to life so that our life drowns out our thinking and stifles the voice of conscience. When we find our vocation--thought and life are one."

I've found out that it's possible to be in my true, God-given vocation, and because too much thought and over-analyzing go on, the joy in my work is gone. My thoughts have deadened my life. My lists are a substitute for real work done with joy and to God's glory.
I've never thought of myself as a perfectionist before. I do like to do things well, but if they're not perfect that's okay. But in this one area I am a perfectionist. I'm always trying to find the best or quickest way to do a task; to get as much done in a day as possible. Thus the endless lists with the estimated time each chore will take written beside it. I've focused more on the destination and not on the journey. And that makes me too driven. I never get as much done as I wish I could.

That's why this week I made a goal of not thinking about things too much. Instead of writing times beside the chores, I made a list of what I wanted to do that day and numbered the items in order of importance. I've been much less stressed each day too. This isn't my preferred way to make lists and get things done, but for now, until I quit being such a psycho, it's working.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to Decluttering

I forgot that I was doing a Get Rid of Fifty Things decluttering thing. I also forgot what number I was on. Hang on while I scroll back through my blog posts and see.....Okay, I'm on #19-a sifter which I'll put in Darcie's hope chest. #20-two books to donate to library book sale. #21-a candle for Goodwill. #22-A bottle brush for Goodwill. #23-A picture I made by pressing fall leaves between two pieces of glass. I'll move it out to the studio to put in my For Sale stack.

The reason I'm getting rid of my sifter is because I rarely use it, and the only time I do is when I need to put powdered sugar into something like fudge. A sieve works just as well.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New Curtains

After watching Julie & Julia, I bought some blue gingham check curtains for my kitchen. I loved the ones in Julia Child's kitchen and wanted to get that look. I already have red gingham check curtains for the kitchen. Either color matches as most of my kitchen is red and blue with touches of yellow.

I think I'll hang the red ones in the winter to warm things up and the blue ones in the summer to cool the room down. I'm going to leave the blue ones up through this winter, though, since they're new. I just love gingham curtains. They're so clean, fresh, and country.

Nature's Fall Bounty

This is what my kitchen floor in front of the pantry looked like when I got home from Tennessee. There are three bushels of apples, a large bucket of potatoes dug from my parents' garden, pears picked off their neighbor's tree, and three pumpkins sitting on the porch that aren't in this photo.

I've made some headway on the apples by making applesauce and apple pie mix. We've also eaten lots of them. I still have one and a fourth bushels left.

I've given some potatoes away and kept the rest. Last night for our fish dinner, I made home fries in the oven with olive oil and seasoning salt. We'll be eating lots of potatoes around here for awhile.

With the pears I've made Pear Crisp. They're deteriorating rapidly and need to be put up asap.
I hope to can some as Garrett loves Jello with pears. I want to have some if he decides to come home in five months.

One pumpkin has been cut up and baked in the oven and is now in our extra refrigerator awaiting processing. I'll puree and can it where it'll be used for pies, muffins, and bread.

Gayle said he's bringing in some White Half Runners this next week. Yikes! I told him to bring them on as I only have thirteen quarts to last till next June. For those of you who don't know, White Half Runners are the best kind of green bean. They're the only kind we ate growing up. People in the mountains especially like them. The grower down here in South Georgia ships all he grows up to Tennessee. So on top of all the pears, apples, and pumpkins, I'll have green beans too!

I think we'll take a 'Harvest Break' from homeschooling. There's no way I can put up all this food and keep to my regular schedule. Plus, Darcie needs to learn how to do all this canning and food storage. It's another form of education. Another benefit of teaching at home-the children get to live a real life instead of being stuck in a schoolroom with their peers while learning about life from a book. I believe in both books and real life. And when real life asserts itself with this much natural bounty, I'm going to pay attention and see that my students do too!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Planning Addiction

I admit it; I'm a planning addict. I make lists. My lists have lists-no kidding! So when I read this from Slow Time, I definitely could relate. Waverly Fitzgerald says, "There is something comforting about being able to do everything I want on paper, even if these ideals don't often translate into reality. But I also recognize the absurdity of imagining what I want to do, rather than actually doing it."

She goes on, "Often we collect stuff which represents the things we want to do: we clip recipes we never try (because we're too busy to cook), collect travel brochures for places we'll never visit, buy every writing book we see (though we rarely have time to read them, much less write a novel). Unless you actually integrate your desires into your life, these objects are just placeholders and often silent reproaches, reminding you constantly of what is missing from your schedule."

I'm guilty of stuff like this. Instead of getting down to the hard task of actually writing something for submission, I'll buy another book about writing instead. That makes me feel that I'm doing something about writing. I'll buy art supplies such as paint, paper, videos, books--anything as long as I don't actually have to sit down and try to paint. That's much harder than all the preparation.

Same goes for making lists. If I get my life organized on paper it makes me feel good about it.

But enough is enough. I now realize that this is what I do, and I don't want to live in "getting ready to do something big" mode any longer. I do get a lot of different things done, but I imagine what I COULD get done if I'd stop writing it down, thinking about it, and just do it.

I've made the best possible daily schedule I can think of. I've been tweaking on it since September. I need to actually follow it now and see what I can get accomplished. I've factored in times for music, writing, and art; the three things I always feel get pushed aside. I followed it exactly one day this week and was amazed by all I accomplished.

I'm still slightly rebellious about such a regimented schedule even though I do get lots done. I keep coming back to wanting to have a 'summer frame of mind' all year long. As long as I'm homeschooling, I don't think that's possible.

Sometimes I think I think too much! I just need to turn off my brain and get busy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Early Morning

I agree with Thomas Merton about early morning time. He says, "It is necessary for me to see the first point of light that begins to be dawn. It is necessary to be present alone at the resurrection of the Day in solemn silence at which the sun appears, for at this moment all the affairs of cities, of governments, of war departments, are seen to be the bickering of mice. I receive from the Eastern woods, the tall oaks, the one word DAY. It is never the same. It is always in a totally new language."

Can you tell I'm a morning person? I try to get up somewhere between 5:15 and 5:45. It's a lot easier now that we're back on EST. I heard Darcie's light click on this morning about 6:15; forty-five delicious minutes of lying in bed to read before she has to get up at 7:00. I guess she's a morning person too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Few Interesting Facts About Light

I recently went up to my parents' house in East Tennessee. I also was able to spend two nights in a cabin by the Ocoee River; by myself. Two days of glorious quiet. It was wonderful. I always do this in the fall around the time of my birthday. It's my present to myself.

I always spend a lot of time rereading my journals and other books having to do with metaphysical things. This year it was Slow Time by Waverly Fitzgerald. I've mentioned this book in a previous post. I don't agree with all she says. Some of it is too new agey for me. I keep what I consider good and throw out the other stuff.

Here's an interesting tidbit about light pollution. I quote: "In a natural night sky we should be able to see about 3,500 stars but in a city, even in a dark yard, only about 50 stars are visible. According to Italian astronomer, Pierantonio Cinzano, light pollution causes loss of night vision. In North America, 60% of the population may be affected. Some scientists believe light pollution causes illness by disrupting the melatonin rhythm which can lead to chronic fatigue, depression, reproductive anomalies and perhaps even cancer. Studies have shown that women who work night shift have higher rates of breast cancer while women who are blind have much lower rates." I find that very interesting.

Next time it's a dark night, I'm going to go out into the yard and count the stars. I'll get back to you on that.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Morning Musings

This morning I've been re-reading in one of my journals some notes I took in 2000 when our ladies bible study was reading Treasures of Encouragement by Sharon Betters. From chapter V I wrote: "If we refuse to spend time getting to know God, our ability to encourage others will be severely diminished in that it will be based on our own limited understanding of ourselves rather than on our understanding of God and on His unlimited understanding of us." And this: "The less time one has, the more carefully it should be managed. If you wait for free, convenient seasons in which to fulfill real duties, you run the risk of waiting forever."

I've spent a great part of my life waiting for what comes next. I've thought, "I'll be able to do ......when THIS is over." I've tried to train myself to stop this kind of thinking. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed. All we have is this moment. Do we really want to waste it by looking to a future that may never come?

The reason I did this is because whatever was happening in the present was too hard or too painful. So to make it bearable I would momentarily daydream about a better day. I'm not saying that's always wrong, but for me it kept me from dealing eye-to-eye with the present.

I also spent too much time reading for escape and not enough time reading Scripture and praying. This goes back to the first quote. We HAVE to make time in our schedules for God and His Word. It is imperative that we have daily quiet times BEFORE the children get up to set the tone for the day. If we wake up with them it seems like the rest of the day is spent playing catch up or doing damage control. Life should be more than just keeping them alive moment to moment!

This takes much discipline to get to bed early enough so that you can get up earlier than the children. The temptation is great to stay up for those quiet hours at night after everyone's gone to bed. But if the children are in bed by 7:30 or 8:00, then you'll have about two hours of quiet before you have to go to bed. That's when I soak in the tub with a good book, straighten the house, and plan for the next day. It's my favorite time of the day!

Try an experiment for a week or even half a week. You know about how much sleep you need each night to be functionable. For me it's about 6 1/2 hours a night with an hour's rest time in the afternoon when I sleep about fifteen minutes and rest and read. So figure out what time you want to get up. Be sure and allow a time of worship. Even fifteen minutes is better than nothing. More is even more beneficial.

Last thing at night, take a few minutes to plan on paper what you want to accomplish the next day. This will greatly increase your productivity. I know it works, because I've tried it both ways. If it's not on paper, I spend most of the morning just spinning my wheels not getting anything good accomplished.

I believe these things are THE KEY to being good homeworkers and mothers; a daily time of worship alone with God (preferably in the early morning before anyone else is awake), a disciplined bedtime for children and yourself, and planning the next day the night before. Try it for a few days and see if it doesn't make a big difference in your life. I've been living this way for thirty years and have no plans to change. This plan is good for all stages of a woman's life but especially the years with young children. Let me know how it works for you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day #4 is also my Birthday!

I only found one thing today to get rid of, a bottle of champagne. I took it over to Laurel's house tonight where she was feeding us supper for my birthday. We never did get around to opening it. Maybe we should have given the wild ones a drink to calm them down! Just kidding!

Oh well, Laurel, we'll just have to have a girls' night out, watch Practical Magic, and drink champagne. Want to set a date?

Day 3 of Get Rid of Fifty Things

Today's five things were easy as I had been mentally going through my house while on vacation and picking them out. I'm numbering them differently than I have been in the last two posts. I've already gotten rid of eleven things, so I'm starting today with #12 which is a pink sweater-consignment shop. #13-A colander-I came home from mama's house with my grandma's-See if DIL wants it. #14-Messenger bag-Goodwill. #15-Generic milkglass vase-Goodwill or DIL. #16-Five assorted dishes out of my dining room cupboard-Goodwill. #17-A handful of jewelry-Goodwill.

I decided to do six things today. This is easier than I thought. I think I'm at a new level of decluttering. I really want to see things leave the house, so it's not that hard. Maybe toward the end it'll get harder?

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Bookgroup's Book for November

We're reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society for November. I'm loving this book. I've already written down several quotes I want to remember. Here's one: Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person's name suddenly pops up everywhere you go? My friend Sophie calls it coincidence, and Mr. Simpless, my parson friend, calls it Grace. He thinks that if one cares deeply about someone or something new, one throws a kind of energy out into the world, and "fruitfulness" is drawn in.

I've had that happen to me many times. I've stopped thinking of it as coincidence. I don't believe in coincidence anyway, good Calvinist that I am. I think it's more of an awareness.

I'll post more later from this wonderful book. I wasn't sure where this island was located. I knew it belonged to England and was somewhere around the British Isles. Well, it's in the English Channel between England and France. I'd like to visit Guernsey some day. I have seen the cows from there. That has to count for something!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Second Day

Today I got rid of: 1. A school reader-Homeschool group
2. Concrete stepping stone-Goodwill
3. Microwave (it died)-Recycling
4. Large stainless bowl-Into seasonal storage
5. Black sweater-Laurel?
6. Wall decoration-Goodwill

That's a total of eleven things; 39 more to go. I'm going to take a week long break. We're headin' for the hills tomorrow. Yee haw! I'll still post (probably) if I have access to DSL but won't be home to declutter. Maybe I'll help Mama declutter her house.

Monday, October 19, 2009

First day of new project

Wow! I've decluttered to the point that I'm having a really hard time getting rid of anything else. Today is Day #1 of my new project Get Rid of Fifty Things. I'm aiming for five things a day. Here is what I've finally managed to come up with today and who I'll be giving it to. 1. Southern Living Magazine-recycling
2. Another magazine-send to Garrett
3. Computer Math game-Homeschool group
4. Book-Library or Goodwill
5. Handpainted glass pitcher-Sell on e-bay

I hope every day won't be this hard! Either I don't have much stuff left to get rid of or I still have too much and don't want to let it go. I'm leaning toward the latter. Uh oh! I'm in big trouble. Help me Laurel!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Fifty Things Project

I have a new dejunking project. It's called The Fifty Things Project. It's very simple; you get rid of fifty things. You can throw them away, donate to a worthy cause, or give them away. I'm starting in the morning. Anyone want to join me?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A New Bucket List

In the book Slow Time by Waverly Fitzgerald, one of the exercises is to make a "Life List". I prefer the name "Bucket List". Things you want to do before you kick the bucket; as in die.

Here's the beginning of my new list.
1. Go to Ireland
2. Be a published writer
3. Live for an extended time in Scotland
4. Own a vintage truck
5. Become a good watercolorist
6. Make a killer Victoria Sponge Cake
7. Make a Bakewell Tart
8. Make Cornish Pasties
9. Read Samuel Pepys Diary
10. Read the Life of Samuel Johnson by Boswell
11. Grind all my own grain-no more white flour
12. Bake bread consistently
13. Add gingerbread to the outside of our house
14. Go to Tuscany
15. Wear the cutest clothes ever

I could add --To save the homeless and find a cure for cancer, but I don't think that'll happen. Some of my things are quite small, but they're things I really want to do. And isn't that the point of a bucket list? What would be on your list?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An Afternoon in my Life

Here's how I'm spending a rainy afternoon in Georgia.

Avoiding the housecleaner by hanging out in my studio

Listening to the rain on the tin roof of the studio

Reading new blogs

Drinking a mixture of sweet tea and Monavie

Packing a bag for my watercolors to use in the mountains next week

Wanting to go eat another delicious eggroll made by Laurel

Feeling the breeze made by the ceiling fan

Admiring the new curtain just hung on the door of the studio I made out of an old, white sheet

Looking forward to curling up under a flannel quilt on the couch with the 7th Outlander book

Dreading going out in the rain to take my car in for repairs

Anticipating nodding off over said Outlander book and taking a snooze

So I'd better go in the house and eat that eggroll, read that book, and take that nap. Toodles!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wisdom from an Eleven Year Old

This is fair week in our town. Tonight I took Darcie and a younger friend. I overheard Darcie giving her a piece of advice; something she has learned after many years as a fairgoer. She said, "When you go into the house of mirrors, DON'T RUN." And there you have it folks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Encouraging Words

"Don't let life discourage you. Everyone who got where he is had to start where he was." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Even though I don't agree with Emerson's theology (he was a Unitarian), he did say wise things from time to time.

I took this photo inside an Amish farmer's market looking out the window at two children on a wagon filled with boxes of produce. The market is in East Tennessee close to my parents' house. I had to sneak around and take pictures since the Amish are camera shy. That was fun!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thoughts in Solitude

I'm back! I didn't realize it had been so long since my last post. Lots of things have happened since then, but I'll save them for another day.

Today I wanted to share a quote from Thomas Merton from his book Thoughts in Solitude. He says, "If you want to have a spiritual life you must unify your life. A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire."

I've been thinking a lot lately about the reasons why I do what I do. Why do I want to pursue photography? Why would I want a website showcasing my art? Why am I so weepy about Garrett leaving? God has really been shining a spotlight on my heart motives. I'm finding that motives have all kinds of things wrapped around them. It's like peeling an artichoke to find the center. The difference between my heart motives and an artichoke is that the artichoke is just an artichoke. You know what you'll find when you pull away the leaves. The leaves are pretty much all the same. Simple.

The heart though is wrapped up with pride, sin, lust, self-serving, anger, envy, etc. Thankfully, God peels back these wretched layers gently and slowly. Who could stand it otherwise? Our sin would overwhelm us.

I've gotten frustrated in the past about not being able to figure out my sense of unease over the art I try to produce. Other people seem to just be able to turn out piece after piece with nary an angstful thought. God's definitely trying to teach me something.

So I try to do those things I KNOW he's called me to do; take care of my home, love my husband and children, teach Darcie, be with my grandchildren, encourage my friends, be kind and patient to all, feed the hungry, etc. Then if there's any time left over, I try to do art. It's important but not as essential as the above listed things.

Lord, help me to be content with what you've called me to do. Forgive me when I envy others who seem to produce so effortlessly. Help my eyes focus on you, and if it be your will, provide me with opportunities to make beauty. May my motives be pure and my heart desire only what brings glory to You. Amen

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Welcoming Fall

Hello fall! I love you! I love you! It's my favorite season.

Darcie and I celebrated last night by having her favorite chicken salad (with grapes and celery) on a croissant. I know that doesn't sound very "fallish", but she won't eat the stew I had made. I was in an indulgent mood.

For dessert we made Smores in the microwave. I know that's lame, but who wants to start a bonfire when it's 75 degrees outside? Not I!

The thin, summery clothes are put away. No whites after Labor Day around here! I'll swelter for a few weeks in my fall clothes until cooler weather gets here. I'd rather mark the seasons as I remember them growing up than adapt to this hotter climate I live in now. Call me stubborn. Yes, I am, but that's how I roll!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Don't Waste Your Life

I finally finished reading Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. I really like his convicting, hard-hitting style.

Here are some portions from the last chapter entitled My Prayer-Let None Say in the End, "I've Wasted It". And now shall we who treasure Christ and know your love is better far than life lay up, like all the world, our treasures on this earth? Would not we hear you say, as you once said, "Fool, will not this same night your soul be taken back? And then whose will these barns of bounty be?" Forbid, O Lord, that while the world is filled with need we would sit down and say, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry." A terrible reversal waits such lovelessness. "Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation."

Oh God, such riches are a wasted life. Protect us, Lord. Grant us to hear and heed another call: "Lay up your treasure not on earth, but in the place where moth and thief will never come. Make treasures for yourself that cannot fail."

The answer is that in this life we may begin to treasure Christ, and here gain an aptitude for joy in him. It is delighting in his fellowship beyond all family and friends. It is embracing all his promises that there will be more pleasure in his presence than from all the lying promises of sin. It is a gladness in the present taste of glory and the hope of future fullness when we see him face to face. It is a quiet peace along the path he chooses for us with its pain. It is being satisfied that nothing comes to us in vain.

He calls us now to use our riches for the poor and to join him in this final task of frontier missions. Is not this, then, the way we lay up treasure in your house-to give our money and ourselves to make as many rich with God forever as we can? Grant that we move toward need and not toward ease.

As God lives, and is all I ever need, I will not waste my life...through Jesus Christ, AMEN.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fall Header

I've changed my header photo to be in season. This time of year these spider lilies spring up overnight around one of our pecan trees in the front yard. I didn't plant them; had never heard of them until moving here. But they're popping up in other yards too.

Late one afternoon I was driving Darcie to ballet, when I saw a yellow butterfly poised above the red spider lily. I immediately stopped, attached my zoom lens, and snapped the photo.
I love that it's almost a silhouette with just a touch of color. To me, that's the fun and surprise of shooting film.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I wish these had been around when my children were infants. They're the ticket! Here's Darcie getting in some practice with the new kitten, Belle. She'll sleep for hours snuggled up next to Darcie. She was a stray that was separated from her mama too early. Now she has a new mama!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Proud Sadness

I haven't posted in a while, because we've started homeschooling for this year. This is our first full week, and I'm trying to stick to the schedule faithfully. The hardest thing for me to do is get in bed by 10:00. As you can see, it's 10:51, and I haven't had a bath yet. If I don't go to bed at 10:00 then I can't get up at 5:15. I'll get up instead about 6:15 which will give me time to have worship and exercise before waking Darcie at 7:00. I'll just miss writing in my journal and reading a book on creativity.

I got some bad news today. Garrett called and said he'll be leaving for Iraq on October 2. That only gives us two weekends, and he's not coming home this weekend. He's going to a Clemson game.

He kept asking me if he should go. Of course I'd rather he came home, but I wasn't going to tell him he had to. We'll get to see him for a long weekend the next week.

I hate this feeling of sadness I have. I have to keep telling myself over and over that I believe God is sovereign over life and death, and if it is his turn to die, he'll do it here in the U.S. or somewhere else. It doesn't matter where.

My heart says, "Of course it matters! I want him here in town where I can control things." Like I can! I'm having a hard time letting him go. I guess it's a mom thing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Awake My Soul!

In a book I'm reading called Sacred Hearts
by Sarah Dunant, I liked this passage that talked about the 2:00 A.M. office of Matins which is observed in monasteries and nunneries.

This novel takes place in an Italian, 16th century, Benedictine convent. There were many young girls living there, and this passage begins with them: Girls of their age are greedy for sleep, and Matins, slicing its way through the middle of the night, is the harshest of all the convent offices.

Yet its brutality is also its great sweetness, for its very meaning is to coax and draw up the soul through the body's resistance, and when one is pulled from sleep there can be less distraction from the noise and chatter of the mind.

Zuana knows sisters who, as they age, grow to love this service above all others, to feed off it like nectar, for once you have disciplined yourself to transcend tiredness, the wonder of being in His presence while the rest of the world is asleep is a rare gift, a form of privilege without pride, feasting without gluttony.

I found myself thinking, "Yes, I experienced that feeling during the 2:00 A.M. feeding when I had babies." It happens now when I have a sleepless night. I feel like I've been given a precious gift of time and quiet alone with God.

I didn't feel that way with the first one or two. I was mostly aggravated then. It took more precious children, realizing with each subsequent one how swiftly time moves on, to begin to appreciate and cherish those early morning feedings.

And now when I experience the occasional sleepless night, I get excited to have a house that's perfectly quiet. It's a great time to pray, think, and plan. I sit on my front porch swing, turn on the fan to keep the mosquitos at bay, and have a great time alone with my heavenly Father.

And if it's a bright, moonlit night, I might go bike riding...which reminds me of the time one midnight when the moon was almost as bright as day, I woke up my older children to come take a ride with me. Laurel couldn't be stirred, but Garrett came. We made a great memory that night. I'm sure many more memories will come flooding back in this upcoming year when he goes to Iraq. But we won't go there now...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The 'Tween

Darcie in her playhouse.
She just turned eleven; my baby. She wants her own house but is scared to go out of ours at night.
She gives me spontaneous hugs yet moves away if I try to touch her arm during church.

She's a bundle of contradictions. Good thing for her that I've learned over the years not to take these things too personally. For I know that she's instinctively moving toward being her own separate person. Little does she know how much she'll want our closeness later in her life.

So for now, I try not to overreact when she moves away a little. It does hurt my feelings though. But I have to be the adult and look beyond these years to the time when we'll be best friends. I keep telling her now that she's my best friend. She believes it, because she feels the same way. But the tug outward continues...confusing for her and hurtful for me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Five Questions

Another nugget from When Organizing Isn't Enough-Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life. Whew! what a title!

When trying to decide whether to get rid of an object in your house, ask yourself these five questions: 1. What practical value does this item provide?
2. If I just got rid of it, what would I miss about it?
3. If it was taken away, would I try to re-create it?
4. Is it invigorating to my life right now?
5. As I think about my theme, does it vibrate with relevance?

You were to pick a theme for the next stage of your life before you begin letting go of physical things, scheduled things, and habits you want to break. My new theme is Rediscovery and Exploration.

Asking myself these questions about things I want to hold onto really helped me make the separation. I'm excited about being free from more of my possessions.

I'm tempted to move everything out into the yard and only bring back in those things that I really love..and need. I remember before we moved in how much I loved our house empty. I love the reverberation you get in an empty room. I don't know why I have such a hard time letting go.

One thought I had last night when Laurel and I were mulling this subject over was that I tend to hang onto things in case I'll need them during a "rough time". When I was growing up, Mama always put up more food (canned and frozen) than she needed. She would say, "You never know what kind of crop we'll have next year. We'd better put up more than we'll need."

Other things similar to that while I was growing up have influenced me to hang onto my possessions tightly in case bad times come. I think it's partly from fear and lack of trust in God's provision that I do this. I've never realized this before. This will take some thinking through....

Friday, September 4, 2009

In a Funk

I'm grouchy this morning, because I have too much stuff! After spending a few days in Rugby, TN and the Appalachian Museum in Norris, TN, I've realized on a deeper level that the things I own are keeping me from the kind of life I want; even desperately desire. I'm paralyzed by the unpacking and accumulation of mail and e-mails that stacked up during the week we were gone. It almost makes it not worth it to go away!

I'm really sick of 'stuff'. I'm looking in my jelly cupboard and see 26 different kinds of tea! I would like to keep about five: An Earl Grey decaf, Yorkshire Gold, Sleepytime, Chamomile, and a green tea. It's the cute tins that lure me in to buy. Resolution: I won't buy any more tea until I run out. And then it'll be replacement tea to put in the cute tins I already have.

The house at the top is one at the Appalachian Museum that belonged to one man. It's less than 100 sq. feet; a little bigger than Darcie's playhouse. He had a bed, stove, shelves for his few belongings, and a calendar with a picture of a cheerleader on it. That cracked me up. He had room for everything he needed. He just didn't need much.

Going through the museum, I noticed that whatever the settlers needed they made. If they couldn't make it, they'd trade for it or do without. Their handiwork and craftsmanship were beautiful. These were my ancestors. It makes me proud to come from such hardy and handy folk.

It also makes me ashamed that I've come so far from my roots. I really want to be more like them and start making useful things again. To get rid of all this superfluous junk and have wide spaces inside the house and inside my mind.

This book, Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life, is excellent. She goes way beyond the usual decluttering and focuses on the WHY of your stuff. We keep things for emotional reasons. Once you can figure that out, you're much more likely to kiss it goodbye for good.

I'm going to spend today, Saturday, and Monday asking myself some hard questions and trying my best to let go. I'll let you know how I do.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Remember a few weeks ago I said I was doing the Squat Challenge. This morning I passed the final test of 200 consecutive squats. I can really tell that my leg muscles are stronger. Next is the Sit-up Challenge. Now that'll be harder for me. Stay tuned!
i did two hundred

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fall Flowers

This time of year the morning glory takes over the garden. I usually just let it ramble. It's just about taken over the gate into the herb garden making it hard to go in. Have you ever noticed that most of the fall wildflowers are various shades of orange and purple with a sprinkling of red? The photo to the left is Cosmos.

Driving up in Tennessee this past weekend I saw lots of chickory along the roadside. It has the prettiest blue flower. I'll try to get a picture before we leave. We're up on the Cumberland Plateau this week. The temperatures are about twenty degrees cooler here. It's so invigorating to walk outside in the morning to fifty degree weather. Delicious!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Little Ladder

I bought this small ladder at a local thrift store without knowing what I was going to do with it. I figured you can always use a little ladder, right? The first thing I thought to do with it was to hang it on the kitchen ceiling with pots attached. Only thing wrong with that is... I have a ceiling fan in the middle of my kitchen ceiling. It wouldn't really look good in my 1940's style kitchen anyway.

Instead I put it in the library with magazines draped over the rungs. I like it for now. Anyone have another good idea on how to use it?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rediscovering Myself

I'm sorry these photos are so small. I scanned then onto IPhoto and rotated them but couldn't get them any bigger. Any suggestions? Help!

I started reading this book, When Organizing Isn't Enough-Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life, by Julie Morgenstern, and I think it's going to be the icing on the cake for me. I've been through so many mental and emotional upheavals these last few years. I think this book will help me to finally move on with my life.

Ms. Morgenstern suggests that you pick a theme for the next phase in your life and let that propel you forward. Mine is going to be "Rediscovery and Exploration". She asks, "What lost parts of yourself can you rediscover through your memorabilia?"

You get so busy taking care of others and doing whatever is required in the smooth running of your household that you can lose sight of the person you are down deep; the REAL you that makes you unique. It helps to find that person again by looking at old photos, newspaper clippings, and saved treasures from your childhood.

I got out my two photo albums from my childhood and went through them with a discerning eye, and this is what I noticed. Two things stuck out more than others. One is that as a small child, there were lots of baby dolls in the pictures. I always had a new one each year at my birthday, and there were several in which I was playing with them. I have never considered myself maternal until I started having my own children. But looking back at these photos I realize that I spent a lot of time playing mommy. I'm angry right now, and I'll have to explain why.

When I was nine or ten, I went to summer camp for a week. It was a Bible camp in Dayton, Tennessee. We had this Bible memorization in school (imagine that!) where if we memorized a certain number of verses we got to go to camp for free.

A woman missionary was there speaking to us about her work in Ghana. She was going to show us how the women there carried their children on their backs. She said, "Let me pick out a girl that looks motherly." She didn't pick me. Right then and there I labeled myself "NOT MOTHERLY". I figured it was obvious to all that I wasn't the motherly type. I remember feeling shame that I wasn't picked. Isn't it strange how children do this to themselves?

So for the next fifteen years I pushed all thoughts of someday having children out of my mind. I wanted to get married but didn't want children. Gayle and I never once talked about having children until right before Laurel came into existence. Strange!

But now looking back at my old pictures, I realize that I was maternal at a very early age! I feel a new sense of finding my true self that's been buried for forty-three years! You would think that after five children and four grandchildren I would feel maternal enough. But now I'm Mother Earth! It's very freeing to put a demon to rest. I feel a future post lurking in the background; about how we cripple children by unconsciously labeling them. Of course, I mostly did that one to myself. I'm sure that if I could meet that missionary now and tell her what she helped destroy in me, she would be mortified.

To get back to the main theme of discovering myself in my memorabilia, I also noticed that from middle school on, I had designed all of my party dresses. I've always loved describing exactly what I wanted a dress to look like and having Mama make it for me.

I'm always describing to Laurel how I want to dress while I'm at home working. I love retro clothes with a bit of funk added for surprise. I've also come to learn that I have a very theatrical nature. Not that I like being on the stage; I HATE BEING UP IN FRONT OF PEOPLE! I like for everyday life to be quiet, yet I want to FEEL every minute I live with great intensity.

So my new theme for life is: REDISCOVERY AND EXPLORATION.

So how will this hopefully affect my present life? Well, I think I'm maternal enough! But I do want to stop talking about how I want my clothes to look and start designing and sewing again and try to get some retro everyday clothes made so I'll be the cutest grandma ever!