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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October Instagram Challenge

I can hardly believe that September is over and October is here!   In September, I tried something different with my Instagram prompts:  they were not date specific and you could post each one on whichever day you wanted.  I don't know about you, but I had such a hard time remembering which ones I had done and which were I had left.   So, this month, I'm back the old day-to-day format.

If you are interested in joining along, please jump right in!   The only rule is to remember to use the hashtag #MTOctoberShots2015.    Other than that, post when you can and don't worry if you miss a day or need to switch things around.  Leave me a comment, too, with your Instagram username, so that I can follow you as well.  It's a great way to make new friends and be inspired with others' interpretation of each prompt.  (You can connect with me on Instagram by clicking the small icon to the right under my picture)
P. S.  I save the image above to my phone so that I always have it with me.

Day 30 - A Little Chat

Wow!  I made it!  I completed a post for every single day of September.  Sometimes I wrote them ahead of time and scheduled them for posting, but I had one for each day!   The Blog-Tember Challenge was a great way for me to get back into blogging on a regular basis.   Now it's time to sit back with a cup of coffee  cup of Zipfizz and some granola and reflect on the month.

I am really busy from day to day, but not all of it seems very "blog-worthy" in my opinion.  I've never considered myself to be much of a writer--I'm much more comfortable creating than putting words down on paper, so it was great to have a prompt for each day:  some of them were difficult for me, and others easier.   I'm pretty sure that I was one of the "older" participants, but, the prompts were general enough for the most part that they could be applied to anyone's life.

I think that the most difficult prompt for me was the "Letter to my 16-year-old Self".  It was also one of my favorites.  That prompt required looking back at a time that is difficult for most teenage girls and kind of re-live some of those feelings, however, this time I had the advantage of living through it and experiencing life for many years afterwards.  I've even lived through that age with two daughters as well!   They say that hindsight is 20-20, and it really is true.

This Blog-Tember Challenge motivated me to finally get a brand new look--one that works better and is more in line with what I want my blog to portray.  While I created the header and signature graphics, I bit the bullet and bought a professionally designed template and I am very pleased with it!

Last, but not least, I have found some new blogger friends and look forward to following their journey in the days and weeks to come.  In yesterday's post, I looked forward to October and set out some goals to post about over the next 31 days.

Did you have a favorite post from Blog-Tember?
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Day 29 - Blog Topics

After posting every. single. day. in September, I can't just drop the ball now.  While I can't guarantee daily posts, I do hope to get at least 10 posts up and running during the month of October.  Maybe more, who knows.   So what will those posts be about?   Most likely you'll see some of these:

1.  October Instagram Challenge will be posted - While I feel like I am running out of new, original ideas, I find that having a prompt helps me to remember to take a photo every day and I really like that.  Plus, I really enjoy seeing what others who are playing are doing!
This is the one from last year:
2.  A fun trip - There's not much better than a trip with your best buddy, and I have one planned very soon.  I can hardly wait!!!
3.  My healthy lifestyle journey - I've been working for the last few months are getting healthy and staying that way.  It's time to share how it's going.
4.  A huge event that I am in charge of at church - I'll be a nervous wreck that week before, hoping that everything goes smoothly and that the event is a success.  Looking forward to having it behind me!

5.  Halloween costumes - What's an October without a Halloween costume post?!?!   This year, I am making costumes for at least 4/5 grandchildren.  The selections are constantly changing for at least one of them, so stay tuned to see how they turn out.  (here are the ones from last year)

6.  Art Journaling - I am going to be leading an art journaling class in the next few months, so I really want to dig in on my own.  
7.  A post about my mom - Her birthday is this month and I'd like to do a bit of reflection.

8.  Crafting - I don't have any specific plans for this right now, but, as usual, there are tons of ideas floating around in mind.

9.  Halloween Memories - A few memories from my childhood and perhaps more recently, as well.
10.  Project 52 Update - While I haven't been posting lately about this project, I have still been taking photos each week.  Hoping to post an update during the month of October.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day 28 - Typical Day

My typical day is beginning quite early these days---generally about 4:30 a.m.  I always his "snooze" one time, but then make myself climb out of bed when it goes off again.  Once I get up, I'm good to go, but getting up certainly is difficult some days.

After slipping on some workout clothes, I head to Camp Gladiator for a full hour of high intensity boot camp.   I come home drenched in sweat, with the sun just beginning to rise, and energized for the day.
After a shower and breakfast, I'm ready to head to work.  Being an itinerant teacher means that my schedule is not the same every day.  Each day is slightly different, so I try to be sure that I check my calendar each morning for the possible conference on change in schedule that might come up.
I usually have lunch at my office, while catching up on my emails.  This year, I am trying very hard to bring my lunch to work each day rather than resorting to fast food or picking up something at a convenience store.  So far, so good.  Fridays are the exception---on Fridays, a couple of us generally try to meet for a quick, healthy lunch at Jason's Deli, Panera or some place like that.
After school, I sometimes have enough time to run to the grocery store, post office or other errand before heading home and switching gears.  Some days, I pick up baby D from Mother's Day Out and always love bringing him home with me.  Lately, we have been playing outside on the grass, practice his walking or play with the dogs until Callie picks him up.
Ron gets home an hour or more after me and we spend a few minutes chatting about day and reading the mail. Sometimes, I have a meeting at the church or a project to work on, but generally I fix dinner and we eat in front of the TV---I want to return to eating at the table, but it's just so easy to eat on the couch.  Lately, I have been cooking more, but at least once a week, we go out for an evening run---usually to practice on hills---and we eat out on those nights.
Both of us are tech addicts, so we almost always spend the evenings perusing the internet while we watch tv.   Because the morning comes so early for me these days, I have been going to be bed VERY early . . . or at least, I begin getting ready for bed early.  There are always some distractions and it takes me a little while to wind down and finally fall asleep, but my clothes and shoes are ready and waiting for me to jump into the next morning.
Sunday, September 27, 2015

Day 27 - Wish List

What's on my wish list?   Well, I have a Pinterest board devoted to this very thing, so it was pretty easy to come up with my top contenders.  Besides the obvious "world peace", etc. here are few things that I wish for . . .

The Passage Ring, by Lisa Leonard.  I love her jewelry and would really LOVE to have 2 of these to stack--one in gold and one in silver.
Pine Cone Wind Chimes  I don't currently have any wind chimes and think these would be great hanging on the back deck.
Vintage Locket - Another favorite of mine, by The Vintage Pearl, that I would love with a picture of some of my special people in it.
Microplane Herb Mill - Not that I cook every night, but when I do, I often use some of the herbs from my herb garden.  
Kantha Throw Blanket - Not only are these luxurious and beautiful, but they are hand-made in Bangladesh by women who were formerly living on the streets or working in the sex trade.  Someday, I am going to splurge and have one for myself!
Shower Wrap - I've made shower wraps before.  I've given them as gifts.  But, I have never had one of my own and I think I would enjoy one.  Especially now that they come in such pretty, plush patterns.  
That's it for my list.  Feel free to forward it to my husband.  (hint, hint) 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 26 - To-Read

What's on your "to-read" list right now?  I always keep a running list, just waiting for the opportunity to sit down, uninterrupted, and soak it all in.   It seems to be difficult for me to make the time to do it during my regular work schedule---if I get wrapped up in a book, I have a hard time putting it down to go to sleep and then I am really sorry in the morning.  I really need to schedule a little reading time into my schedule!  

Here's what is on my list right now:

1.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Marie Kondo.
I keep hearing/reading about this book, and this point, I am pretty sure I NEED to read this book.  So, today I purchased a copy for my iPad.

2.  Daring Greatly - Brene' Brown.  
I purchased this book a while back and still haven't made the time to read it ---- but still want to.

3.  Seven - Jen Hatmaker.
After reading two of her books and loving them both, I think I'm ready for this one now.  Even though I haven't read it, it might go very well with the "tidying up" book.

4.  Beach Town - Mary Kay Andrews.
I love reading her books---fun, light-hearted and entertaining.  And sometimes, that is all I want.
Friday, September 25, 2015

Day 25 - Three Songs

What are three songs that you are connecting with right now?  I always have music playing when I am in my car---which is a good portion of each day since I am an itinerant teacher.   I love almost all kinds of music, but certainly have some favorites.   I switch back and forth through radio stations as my mood changes---from our local pop station, popular Christian radio, to our local NPR station to Satellite rock stations.   Some of my current favorites are:

"Made For You" by Alexander Cardinale

"Believe" by Mumford & Sons

"Honey, I'm Good" by Andy Grammer

And just because I have a hard time stopping with just three . . .

"Never Gonna Let You Down" by Colbie Caillat

"I Refuse" by Josh Wilson

"Happy" by Never Shout Never

And this past weekend, I attended one of my favorite Shreveport Symphony concerts ever---and not just because my daughter, Callie, was in the orchestra.  The music selections were great and the superstar pianist, Gabriela Montero beyond amazing!!  So for now, I'm kind of loving Rachmaninoff!
Thursday, September 24, 2015

Day 24 - My Favorite Bloggers

As I've mentioned before, on a perfect day, I have plenty of time to enjoy my Feedly blog roll while relaxing on the deck or even in the living room.   When my time is limited though, I have to skim through some blogs, and flag them to check on later.  But, there are some that I always stop to read.  Here are 5 of them:

Dancing Commas - This one is my oldest daughter, Jana's blog, and while she is currently very busy with work and caring for a baby, I love it when she has the time to post.  She always begins each post with a quote, and it serves as sort of a journal of her life.

My Life. . . Just Not On the Road I Expected (but still dang good) - Through Karen Russell's generosity and the nomination from a friend, I was fortunate enough to take her DSLR photography course several years ago.  Not only do I love the photos of her family and their activities that she features on her blog, but love that she is a real person struggling with teenagers, a grown son, a large extended family and still having a great life.

Flower Patch Farmgirl - I started following Shannon's blog several years ago and I love her writing style.  I am entertained by the stories about her family and inspired by the difficult transition they have made in order to live out what they feel God is calling them to do.

Under the Sycamore - Ashley Ann is another photographer whose photo style I enjoy---their art focuses on capturing life as it is happening.  She also has some great, easy crafts from time to time.

Eighteen 25 - Three sisters own this blog and they have great projects for every season of the year. 

What are your favorite blogs?   Are there some that I definitely need to add to my blog roll?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 23 - Guest Post

Today, I am please to feature Robin who blogs over at Robin's Corner.  Robin was on the For the Love Launch Team with me and even traveled to Austin for the party.   Upon her return to California, she had an experience that prompted a post that I keep thinking about.  Although I haven't been in the exact same situation she found herself in, I have been in similar ones.  And I didn't know what to do.  I still don't know what the "right thing" to do  in the heat of the moment is.  But, thanks to her compassion and her voice,  I will search for the answers and not just look away.

With her permission, I share her post below (Thank you, Robin):

To The Lady in the Lobby at the Hotel

Forgive me.
I had just landed in Sacramento after an amazing adventure in Texas. It is a 5+ hour drive home, and during the layover in Dallas I realized I was too tired to make it home so I called my hubby and asked him to find me a hotel.
He’s a great guy.
I am directionally challenged at times and masterfully pulled into the back parking lot. I was fatigued and drained as I rolled my polka-dotted suitcase toward the front door.
But I did see you.
I saw your 5 inch candy apple Stilettos and skin tight skirt. I noticed you fidgeting, looking around. I wondered if you were waiting for someone; perhaps someone you’ve never met who was going to pay you to meet him at a hotel.
I was returning from a crazy trip to Austin, Texas, where I gathered in a house with twenty women I had never met, and went to party with two hundred additional stranger-friends. There were so many conversations about calling, and loving, and being small.
Sometimes my face goes blank as I hear words but don’t really get the meaning. You showed me I have so very far to go.
I immediately talked myself out of any assumptions. I live in a bubble on the Central Coast of California. This is a city. People dress differently. Who am I to think….
I went inside to check in and, of course, couldn’t find my ID. I was digging through the papers and weekend remnants in my suitcase sized carry on when I heard a man say, “My room’s this way.”
He had his head down, dark curls covering his face. The see-through liquor store bag he carried was full of whiskey and soda. A dozen feet behind him you followed.
I looked up just in time to look you in the eye and smile. I couldn’t breathe as you rounded the corner out of sight. You see, I am certain I saw fear in your eyes and I had no clue how to help.
It wasn’t that I was scared–I wasn’t. I was genuinely lost. I had no ideas. I had $13 in my wallet, and believed that wouldn’t help fix whatever had broken in your world that led to this moment.
Making a scene in the hotel lobby didn’t seem like it would add to your dignity. No one else around appeared to notice or care. Was this normal in this place?
I went to my room and prayed but the whole time I was praying I was thinking about the passage in Joshua chapter 7 when God tells Joshua: Rise up! Why is it you have fallen on your face? 
Christians can sometimes use the term “On my face” as a badge of honor describing earnest prayer. But in Joshua, God is saying now is not the time to pray. I can so easily use prayer as a cop-out. “I’ll pray for you,” can be both a wholly beautiful promise of love, and a way to let myself off the hook because I don’t actually want to do anything.
This time I had no inkling what to do.
Driving down the long stretch of Highway 5 to home the next morning, I couldn’t get you out of my mind. Flipping through radio stations to fill the silence and remembering the fear in your eyes, I became one of those people. 
I cried huge, prolific tears at a country music song:
It’s where I drank my first beer
It’s where I found Jesus
Where I wrecked my first car
I tore it all to pieces
I learned the path to heaven is full of sinners and believers
Learned that happiness on earth ain’t just for high achievers
I’ve learned I’ve come to know
There’s life at both ends
Of that red dirt road
Brooks & Dunn
I don’t pretend to know one iota of how you got here, but I do know something has gone wrong and I am so, so sorry.
I want you to know there is still beauty. Beauty in you, beauty for you, beauty in the arms of God who is waiting to hold you.
DSCN4089I have not lived your story, but I do know from my own sometimes shattered world that getting pummeled against the rocks wounds.
DSCN4136And I know that it can be so hard to believe that just around the corner from the rocks is a new place, that can be the beginning of a whole new life.
But more than anything I want you to know that I saw you. You are not invisible. You matter.
I don’t know what I will do the next time I am in that situation, but I will try to find answers that make sense. Fixing human trafficking is (as of this moment) not my calling, but that is no excuse to do nothing when something of value–you–right in front of me is about to be…
I don’t have the right words.
But I do know that I am so, so sorry.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Day 22 - Get Creative!

In the middle of the week, I rarely have much time to "get creative", so I'm actually sharing a really simple creative project that I completed a while back, but have never taken the time to blog about.  On my spring trip to Round Top, I found an old beat-up mailbox that came home with me, with a specific project in mind.   A few weeks later, I planted a small vegetable garden and set to work on transforming the mailbox.  I can't seem to find a photo of the "before", but it was not a pretty thing!  In fact, I think that my junking buddies thought I was crazy for bringing it home with me.

My original plan was to mount it on a fence post.  However, while trying to figure out the logistics of where to put it, etc.,  I remembered that I had a small plant stand that I was about to get rid of.  The mailbox fit perfectly on it!
So what in the world is it exactly?  Voila'!
One of these days, I plan to add some sort of decorations to the side in the form of paintings or vinyl, but in the meantime, but for now, it looks pretty great just sitting beside my herb garden (my veggie garden is adjacent to it).
Monday, September 21, 2015

Day 21 - Quote

Thinking over the tons of quotes I have collected, and narrowing it down to one favorite is next to impossible for me.   There have been so many quotes over the years that have spoken to me, but I've narrowed it down to just a few.  First, a couple of older quotes:
This has been a favorite quote for years, and one that I try to keep in the forefront of my mind as I love my life, day to day.  I was raised in a church that emphasizes reaching out to others and serving others, but only later did I realize that this quote originated with John Wesley, the founder of our denomination (Methodist).  
I've had this picture as the screen-saver on my phone for quite a while.  It's a good reminder to take action rather than just sitting on the sidelines complaining about my situation.  

And some quotes that have more recently become meaningful to me:
While I have tried to "write" my life story well, there have been lots and lots of mistakes and I find myself editing it daily.   The good news for me God gives us to begin again every single moment!

And last, but not least:
I'm trying to live more on the front row, but I generally find myself more in the middle---not too bad a place to be, I suppose.  Especially if you have a someone great seated beside you!!

If you want to take a look at some other ideas/quotes that I find inspirational, check out my Pinterest board.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Day 20 - Guilty Pleasures

Today's prompt means that I have to actually admit to some of my guilty pleasures.  Some of them you probably already know about, but others . . . well, maybe not.  Putting them down on "paper", with photos even, makes them seem so real.

Popcorn - Okay, this one is not secret to anyone that knows me, but I love popcorn.  I like kettle-corn, some of the flavored popcorns and movie-theatre popcorn.  But, my favorite?!??!   Good ole' home style popcorn with a little bit of oil and salt.  This microwave brand comes pretty close to getting it just right.  Ron loves popcorn, as well, so that makes it even better.  Except when he wants to eat all of my popcorn.
The Bachelor (or Bachelorette) -  Yep, this one is kind of embarrassing to even admit, but, I like watching this show, despite the fake people, hokey situations/dates and all.   It is just mindless entertainment to me (although I would not have wanted my kids watching it when they were young and trying to figure out dating, etc.)
Reading Blogs -  While I have a hard time keeping up with my Feedly "feed" on a daily basis, I love having an uninterrupted block of time in the mornings (a rare occurrence) to sit out on the deck and see what is going on in the lives and homes of my favorite bloggers.
Big Bang Theory - Ron got me started watching this when we began dating and I love it.   Again, it is just mindless entertainment to me and makes me laugh.
Antique/junk Shopping - I certainly have no need for anything new at all to bring into my house.  In fact, I need to get rid of so much (about to begin reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), but I love browsing through antiques and second-hand markets, imagining how I could re-purpose items or restore them to their former glory.  Of course, it's fun to make purchases, but I can also be perfectly content to just browse and window-shop--particularly if it means spending time with my "junkin' buddies"!!

So, there you have it.  A few of my guilty pleasures.  Of course, there are more, but that's enough to reveal for one day.   What about you?

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