The Start of my Summer

My summer started off with a drive across country to move our middle daughter to her first post-undergraduate job. Our southern belle traded in trees and grass, an abundance of FREE parking, and moderate winters of Arkansas for concrete, metro riding and walking, and really cold winters of the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia). And in no time she fit right in as if she’d been there all her life!

She wasn’t exactly new to the area, she interned there from January to May and loved it so much she decided to transplant and make it permanent.

During our brief time there she took me and Mr. Husband to the National Mall and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. It was a lot of walking involved, but I didn’t care. I packed my gym shoes and was ready. Seriously, I had no idea we’d do that much walking! By the end of the day, we had walked more than 6 miles. That’s a 10K… one I had not trained for! And it was more than worth it!

  • I rode the metro…

Metro riding 300x251 The Start of my Summer

  • Stood in the very spot Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood to give his ‘I Have a Dream,’ speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial…

I have a dream 300x251 The Start of my Summer

Visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument…

IMG 4469 225x300 The Start of my Summer

And the apex of the day was visiting Barack and Michelle Obama’s portraits in the National Portrait Gallery… The lighting was terrible, but I just had to share!

Barak Obama 300x251 The Start of my Summer

Michelle Obama 300x251 The Start of my Summer

There was so much more to that day, but those were the highlights. There was so much we didn’t get to, and I’m looking forward to my next trip.

How was your summer?

I’m Back

Im back Im Back

I would like to say I’ve been on hiatus finding myself, traveling the globe looking for…

You get the picture.

Truth is… I had technical difficulties with my blog. One fine day after my last post in March of 2017, my home page was a blank white nothing. I asked around the internet and consulted a few people. The best I got was maybe a virus, and ghost something or another.

After a while, trying to figure it became less of a priority. From time to time, I’d type in my URL, and you guessed it… the blank page was still there. Funny thing was if I went to the Pinterest board for my blog,  the posts came up. Whatever the mysterious difficulty was, it only affected my home page, therefore blocking my login to the admin page.

This week, while recovering from eye surgery, with nothing but time on my hands, I did the unthinkable. I called my host. And within 15 minutes the lovely lady on the other end knew what was wrong, and had a solution. Within two hours of getting off the phone, my home page was visible again.

Oh, crap. Then it hit me… What am I going to say now? 

I decided to catch you up on what’s been going on with me in the past year in no particular order.

What I’ve been up to… 

  1. I recently hit a major milestone in my life, turning 50 years old. It sounds really crazy saying it out loud, and even more crazy typing it just now. Just yesterday, I was a senior in high school singing to the top of my lungs Prince’s ‘Little Red Corvette.’ It sounds cliche’ but where did the time go?!
  2. Just two weeks ago, I had my second cornea transplant. In May of 2016, I wrote Through The Fog of Fuch’s Dystrophy that explained my eye disease, Fuch’s Dystrophy. Yesterday, my doctor said I was “ahead of the curve,” being just two weeks post-op. I am grateful, thankful, and truly blessed!
  3. A little over a month ago, our sixth grandchild was born. She is an absolute doll! I love being Nunnie (grandmother) to my sugababies. I get to spoil them all, and no one can stop me.
  4. Soon, I will publish a brand new picture book, ‘Coon Stew, An Al-the-Gator Tale.’ I am looking forward to sharing more details with you in the near future.
  5. We have an empty nest! Last May, our youngest daughter graduated from high school, giving us at the time three college students. Although they all attended the university in our city, they lived on campus. And this May, one the oldest of those three graduated from college and moved to the DMV, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.
  6. Since I turned 50, I decided to dedicate the year as a ‘year of giving.’ There will some things I’ll share, and other things that I won’t.
  7. One of the shareable projects of my year of giving is little free libraries. In February I started a Children’s Book Drive to raise books for little free libraries in my town. As of today, we have collected 600 books. I’ll have more news to share really soon.
  8. While moving our daughter to the DMV area, we made our way to the National Mall and the National Portrait Gallery.

Of course, there is so much more to tell about all of the above… and I can’t wait to share it with you!  What have you been up to while I’ve been away?

Planning An Awesome Year

Planning Planning An Awesome Year

In January, I was looking ahead to 2017 and contemplating how busy this year would be. With the day-to-day of work, home, community and now promoting a new book… I was going to need help. Since having a personal assistant is completely out of the question, I settled for a planner.

When initially looking for a planner, I had no idea what I wanted, only what I needed. Everything I came across was.notit! Then while scrolling through Instagram, I saw a post about the Me and My Big Ideas – Happy Planner. After watching the video, I thought I’d give it a try.

Before my Happy Planner made it, Tish Bullard made a post about her prinTable planner pages. It’s like she was reading my mind. Finally, I had everything I needed. So I thought.

There are communities, how-to videos, conferences, and more for planning. Planning is serious business, and can be fun outlet. I’m wading in the shallow end. So far I’ve purchased stickers, pockets, meal planning inserts, and new covers.

Recently, when I couldn’t find the sticker themes I wanted, I chose to create my own. That was so much fun. There running list of sticker theme ideas Is two pages long now.. As soon as I have a few minutes minutes to spare I’ll create those too.

So far, my planner has been well worth the purchase. It has kept me well informed and on track, except for one day I put an event on the wrong day.

Do you take time to plan you day/weeks/month?

 

March Photo Challenge

Recently, our middle daughter turned 21. Yes, it feels like I was just 21. Things were good, and I thought I was invincible. Sorry, back to the regularly scheduled program.

Before her birthday, she wanted to have a photo shoot. I was all for it. After pulling my “real” camera from under the bed, I charged the battery and was ready! The iPhone makes snapping pictures a breeze. But this shoot called for the real thing.

PICT0413a 867x1024 March Photo Challenge

 

We journeyed downtown where there is history, edge, and a great big canvas for creativity. And I had a ball! Union Pacific photo bombed, at the perfect time.

I do not, in any shape or form call myself a photographer. However, I do enjoy taking pictures. It’s also way cool to walk around with this weapon of mass creation around my neck like I know what I’m doing. My subject and our location made me look halfway decent. A trained professional may find fault. But art is subjective… right?

One of my favorite Instagram friends @daenelt has really inspired me as well, with her photos. Her pictures.are.amazing! I do believe she’s doing a year-long photo challenge. Searching for a photo-a-day challenge myself, I found The Idea Room‘s 365 Day photo-a-day challenge, and I’m jumping right in with the March photo-a-day challenge.

march photo a day 2017 1024x1024 March Photo Challenge

For the next 31 days, I’m a wannabe photographer. Excited much? Of course, I am! Pull out your camera, or phone and join the fun.

Vuja De

Vuja De e1486583079933 Vuja De

My morning ritual the past six months consists of listening to a podcast, or TED Talks while getting ready for work. There is something about positive, informative, and uplifting information and people that make a difference in starting my day.

Recently, TED Talks tweeted  Adam Grant’s The surprising habits of original thinkers. I was intrigued by his entire speech. But the one thing that stood out and grabbed me by the… I wanted to say something profound here, but I have no words. Just know it stopped me in my tracks.

I backed the speech up, and played it again. Then paused it so I could run and get my notebook and pen. I wrote it very large and then looked it up.

Vuja De

something familiar viewed with a fresh new perspective. 

Until now, I haven’t posted anything on my blog since December. I’ve attempted twice, but nothing came to me. After hearing about vuja de, I started thinking about my blog and creating content with a fresh perspective.  It has also made me reconsider the things around me.

5 Podcast I love:

 

‘Going On A Bear Hunt’ – Pre-Sale

In October, I announced my recent labor of love ‘Going On a Bear Hunt’ is on its way. A full-color children’s picture book about the adventure of two city boys who find themselves bored in Lockhart, Louisiana. Uncle Eddie Ray takes Aiden and Austin on a bear hunt like none other.

I’m offering a pre-sale for autographed copies.

Here is a sneak peek of an early illustration, along with an excerpt of the story.Counting Ants 1 Going On A Bear Hunt   Pre SaleSo what do you think? I hope you enjoyed the excerpt, and want to purchase a copy. Thanks for your support!

pixel Going On A Bear Hunt   Pre Sale

 

Testing Holiday Recipes

I’ve never been much of a baker, rather I enjoy preparing meals. Dinner and breakfast are my favorite meals to cook – and in that order. I do like a good dessert, and over the years I’ve dabbled more, and more. When it comes to sweets that I enjoy, I’ll try to make it at least once.

I’ve had scones on a few occasions, most recently while having lunch at Panera Bread. Since then, it’s been in the back of my mind to make a batch. With Christmas around the corner, and a little extra time on my hands yesterday, I whipped up a quick batch of cranberry orange scones.

Cranberry Orange Scones Recipe

My family has been more muffin eaters, and scones are a welcome addition. The batter being thicker is a cross between shortbread and a biscuit dough. It was firm enough, without being too stiff, making it easy to press into a circle using my hands instead of a rolling pin.

Cranberry Orange Scones 2 Testing Holiday Recipes

I followed the recipe almost to the letter. Instead of 2 Tbsp. I added about a-half-cup of sugar. I prefer just a little more sweetness. That half-cup of sugar was just enough, perfect even. After baking fifteen minutes at 400 the scones were perfect!

The orange glaze was a nice contrast to the cranberries. When I make these for Christmas treats, I’m thinking of topping it with a cream cheese glaze instead.

Scones Testing Holiday Recipes

Mr. Husband, who can be picky, asked questions, nibbled, and ate a whole scone. That was a good sign. I even packed one with his breakfast this morning.

I’m looking forward to cooking, baking, and creating holiday treats with and for my family for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

What are your favorite holiday recipes?

Going On A Bear Hunt – Coming Winter 2017

 

Last summer, while sitting on the porch of our family’s homestead laughing and talking with cousins inspiration struck. My cousin’s son declared he, his uncle, and brother were going on a bear hunt.

That declaration, along with the ensuing conversation was an aha moment. Just like that, I had a story. Over the next few weeks, I thought about that conversation from time to time. One sleepless night the story literally called me out of the bed and the first draft of ‘Going On A Bear Hunt’ was penned.

I shared ‘Going On A Bear Hunt,’ with the local SCBWI critique group and fleshed the story out some more, working out a few kinks… And sat on it.

Finally, In June of this year, I reached out to an editor. Extremely nervous about her take on the story I agonized over sending it. What if she thought my story was trash? I watched my email for two days waiting for the edits to return.

After a discussion with Krystal Grant, I set a publication date. That meant the ball was in motion.

Nervous as a church mouse I share with you ‘Going On A Bear Hunt,’ picture book to be released Winter 2017. A definitive date will be announced as it gets closer, and I look forward to sharing updates of our progress.

 

Homegating – Season 3

It’s that time of the year again…

Football!!! 

There is high school football, college football, professional football, football, football and more football! Football from Thursday, through Monday night.

Once Mr. Husband gets in from work on Saturday, afternoons I literally give up on watching TV. Our son comes over and they watch football well into the night, one game after the other. College football is their favorite.

Actually, the entire football season Mr. Husband takes over the television. During this time the DVR is my best friend!

In 2014, I had a great idea,  since I couldn’t beat them, I might as well join them. Dinner is inevitable, why not make it a “thing” and homegate? Yes, I made that word up.

home·gate

verb

a social gathering at which an informal meal is served, instead of from the back of a parked vehicle, in the comforts of home.

It’s turned into a great tradition for our family, and the perfect reason to have family time. Most of all, it gives me the opportunity to try new recipes every week, along with a new theme.

As always I’m on the lookout for great recipes. My favorite sites and Pinterest have provided exciting ideas for the past two years of homegating menus.

I’ve even created a Homegating Pinterest board dedicated to building an arsenal of recipes. And I’m always on the lookout for more.

Our first homegate of the season, I’m considering a burger bar. And eventually, I’m going to try fried chicken necks. A classmate made a FB post about them last year, and it’s been in the back of my mind since. This football season, it’s going down. Now I just have to find chicken necks!

What are your favorite homegating/tailgating recipes?

 

 

 

Nunnie Camp 2016

Before summer started I had my mind set on having Nunnie Camp with the Sugababies. A day full day of fun, games, food, crafts and adventure. That one day hasn’t worked out like I planned. But we have had several days of craft projects, fun outings, and fun in the sun, with a few more to come.

 

Before summer started I had my mind set on having Nunnie Camp with the Sugababies. A day full day of fun, games, food, crafts and adventure. That one day hasn’t worked out like I planned. But we have had several days of craft projects, fun outings, and fun in the sun, with a few more to come.

Cooking

One of our first activities was making refrigerator pickles. This recipe was perfect. The ins and outs of traditional canning aren’t necessary. The best part was they only had to sit in the fridge for one week. Because the Nadia and Zoey were out of town the pickles sat for two weeks, making them even better. We’re looking forward to making more really soon.

Fun In The Sun

Lazy Sunday, afternoons are perfect for blowing bubbles. Jericho loves guns, and his bubble gun was just right. He didn’t need any help, and it kept him from eating the bubbles instead of blowing them from a wand.

Blowing bubble snakes was more creative for the girls. Of course, I found it on Pinterest, and wondered why didn’t I think of that?

Outings and Adventure

 

Nunnie Camp Airshow 2 Nunnie Camp 2016

Growing up, I really enjoyed attending airshows at the Little Rock Air Force Base. When I learned of an airshow in my area, I just had to take the kids. We grabbed our hats, stopped to pick-up drinks and headed out.

Jericho loves all things cars, truck, trains and planes, oohed-and-ahhed at the excitement. For the 30 minutes, we were able to withstand the heat, it was awesome! That day was hotter than hot, and playing in the water was a must. One of my daughters brought out water balloons and water guns making the day absolutely perfect.

Crafts

 

Nunnie Camp Craft 2 Nunnie Camp 2016

When the kids come over the first thing they ask after walking in the door is, “Nunnie, what are we doing today?”

This particular day I was ready to make popsicle stick bracelets and a butterfly feeder.

My Sugababies love a good craft, and not just coloring to keep them busy. These bracelets are simple, and look awesome when finished. We literally had popsicle sticks around the house. Our youngest daughter had popsicle sticks for another project, and she still had an entire bag. I did all the prep work, boiling the sticks, and shaping them in a jar.

I did all the prep work, boiling the sticks, and shaping them in a jar. They enjoyed painting, getting messy, and watching their creations take shape. Afterward, we moved on to the next project the butterfly feeder.

Creating a butterfly feeder has been on my wish list of things to do for awhile. I envisioned a swarm of butterflies in my backyard. Like in the movie ‘Field of Dreams,’ if I make it, butterflies will come. We put the feeder in the backyard where we could watch the butterfly from the big window.

Mmmm… The only insects feeding were pesky flies! Ewww! That went to the trash. I was disappointed, to say the least.

There are a few more weeks of summer left, with more opportunities for Nunnie Camp activities. What fun things have you done this summer?