Saturday, December 31, 2022

A Mini-Vacation and a Resort Review


Happy New Year's Eve! 

We finally made it back from our mini-vacation and I'm so glad to be home.  I've always been a homebody, but even more so these days. Traveling just doesn't thrill me like it once did. 

However, we had a great time, in spite of a few hiccups, and made some memories, which is what it's all about!

We visited the city of Grapevine, which is known as the Christmas Capitol of Texas, and I would say it certainly lived up to it's name!

It had a Main Street, which was completely decorated and was set up like the set of a Hallmark movie. 

Every shop was decorated and there were Christmas carols being played on loud speakers. 

We walked and shopped and stopped for ice cream. We took pictures in the park and at one point, when our feet were aching, we stopped and just listened to the music and both agreed that it felt as if we were in the scene of a movie. 

Later that night, we drove down the street so we could see it lit up at night and it was beautiful. 

This was the resort we stayed in...The Gaylord Texan. If you've ever stayed in any of the Gaylords, you know how massive they are.  We used our Marriott points to stay, so it was a treat for our mini-vacation.

It was also decorated for Christmas, although I only got a few pictures of the inside. 

We've stayed at two Gaylord resorts over the years and though they are beautiful, we've decided they aren't our thing. They are too big to really enjoy. We spent 90% of our time walking from the room to the car or the event we wanted to see. It was so crowded that we stood in line for two hours just to check in when we got there. 

I'm sharing all of that, not to complain, but to inform, in case you've ever wanted to stay in one.

There are other resorts we've been to over the years, that are smaller and much more relaxing - Lost Pines Hyatt Resort and Rough Creek Resort - both in Texas - are amazing places to stay and much more intimate and relaxing, yet still offer plenty of family activities to do. 

Overall, David and I had a great time together and if you remember in my last post, I put out a challenge to see if we could go on vacation without his job bothering him. Well, that didn't happen. He ended up having 3 conference calls he was required to be on, so we're still going on almost a decade of him not having a true vacation from work. Not even sure what to say about that anymore.

It was a great way to end the year...making memories, having fun and then coming home. 

I am always ready to move on to the New Year and begin a new 12 months of trying to get more organized, lose weight, be a better meal planner, challenge myself to stick with the same paper planner for an entire year, and all of those fun things we tell ourselves are necessary. 😀

But honestly, I'm just so thankful the Lord has given me the greatest blessings already, which are right here at home (and a few miles away) in the way of family and friends.  Maybe that's why traveling doesn't thrill me anymore. I already have everything I need right here.

There is a saying I've seen a couple of times that goes something like this...

"Don't use the weekend to escape from the life you have. 

Use it to build the life you want."

I think I kind of feel the same way about vacations. It's fun to see new places, but that should be the goal, not trying to escape the life you have. Because the life (and home) you have, should be where the real joy is found. If it's not, then it's time to start building the life you want. 

And with that, I will say...

Until Next Time...


Monday, December 26, 2022

A Christmas Recap

Well, Merry Christmas and let's move on. Is that ok to say? 😀 Yes, I'm one of those! By Christmas night, I've done it all, given my all, and collapsed on the couch to the tune of "All I Want for Christmas is a good night's sleep and a foot massage!" 

But, let's go back...

Christmas weekend was amazing! 

We had church on Friday night, with a beautiful worship service. It was icy cold that night! But we all made it home safe and sound.

Saturday David and I spent the day with his mom. We took her to lunch, the grocery store, and then went back to the assisted living, where she lives, and decorated her apartment for her. David hung her tv, put together a dining room set and I rearranged her furniture and hung some decorative pictures on the walls. 

It was a nice day and her room/apartment looks very homey now.

Christmas Day was great! This is our annual Christmas selfie, which keeps getting harder to take because there are more of us. Actually we take one of these on all the big occasions. I love the ones that don't turn out perfect. They always make me laugh. This was the best one out of all that David took. The rest of them had the ceiling fan string hanging right in front of Collin's face 😀 This is also at the end of the night, right before everyone was about to load the cars and head home. 

Earlier in the morning, Collin, Morgan and Asa came for breakfast and we took this picture of him on the horse. He loved it! When we gave it to Emmy 7 years ago, she cried and wanted nothing to do with it. Since then, all the girls have loved it and I suspect the boys will get some good years out of it too. 

This was the first Christmas for both Calem (2 months old) and Asa Miller (7 months old). This time next year, they will be unwrapping their own gifts and we will have even more little feet running around. (As in, their little feet! Not new ones!)

Here are our sweet girls. I had to borrow this picture from their mommy. We got a lot of videos of them Christmas night, but after they opened gifts, they never stopped running and playing until we took the family selfie at the end of the night. 

And, after everyone left last night, we took our own picture before cleaning up and collapsing on the couch. (and the clock in the background doesn't work and always says 5:00 because we are friends with the man who wrote the song "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" so we set it to 5:00 and left it there.)

It was a really sweet day with our kids coming and going and coming back that night. We had lots of food, lots of presents and lots of kids to enjoy the festivities of it all. 

Today it's back to laundry, car maintenance, taking down the Christmas decor and getting ready for a week of vacation, just the two of us!

Tune in to see where we go! And whether or not I can keep David from answering any work calls while we're gone. 

Until Next Time...


Friday, December 23, 2022

A Hearty Breakfast and A Millie Day


Yesterday was Millie Day, which is what we call a day when my 3 granddaughters come to visit. Once they hit the doorway, it's go-go-go from then on, so I knew I needed a good breakfast before they got here, because you basically have to stay one step ahead at all times 😅

Right now I am loving these grilled cheese sandwiches that I make with a twist. 

First off, I'm using Italian bread and this might just become our all-time sandwich bread because you can see how inexpensive it is and David and I both love it! In fact, I use it for garlic bread in the evenings with dinner too. 

Next I have Raspberry jelly or spread (always seedless) and some thick slices of cheddar. You could use any flavor of cheese you like, but cheddar has always been my favorite.

I still spread butter on both sides, but on the inside of each slice, I spread a thin layer of jelly - just enough to cover, but not too much. You're just going for a slightly sweet taste.

Start out slowly heating it, so that the cheese has enough time to warm up. Then I turn the heat up gradually, toasting both sides to a pretty crispy finish. I like mine crispy 😀

This is a quick and easy breakfast or lunch and it holds you for hours, so you can wrangle 3 little girls, if you had to 😀

Speaking of...

One of the activities they wanted to do yesterday was drinking hot cocoa on the back porch. So of course Millie had to snap some pictures of them while they sipped their drinks and "read" their magazines, which they also requested. 

This is our oldest, Emmy, who is 7.

Ella, who is about to turn 6 in January. Don't let all the seriousness fool you. She was giggling just before and after this picture.

And this is Addie, who will be 4 in February. She was the baby, until all the boys came along. 

And that's that 😀 After the cocoa and goldfish were gone, we headed back inside for a movie, playdoh, puzzles, barbies, blocks, lunch and a surprise visit from PawPaw (which they love). He always tries to sneak by for some hugs, if he's in the area. 

It's always a fulfilled day when they are here and when they're gone, I miss them until the next time.

But, we will see them at church tonight and again on Christmas night for our family time.

This morning it's 17 degrees (was 18 when I woke up! It's going the wrong direction!!) and I'm not motivated to go anywhere! It's too cold!

I hope you're warm, wherever you are!

Until Next Time...


Thursday, December 22, 2022

A Post of Random Pictures


It's Thursday and this is the current backyard view at 7:32 a.m. It's foggy, 47 degrees and everything just feels damp. 

Today I decided to look through my phone and choose some random photos and talk about why in the world I have pictures of these things 😀 (And honestly, I can't bring myself to write one more Christmas post!)

Last night, when David got home from work, he got right to the task of covering our front yard plants with plastic, for the upcoming freeze. We just had the landscaping done over the summer and we can't afford to lose all of our plants. And they are looking so lush and pretty! Uggg! I hope it goes well.

Anyway, my husband is a "work alone" kind of guy, but he did need my help for about 10 minutes. When I came inside, I was cold, so I decided that a good cup of hot tea would warm me up. I snapped this picture while my tea was steeping. The honey is from a local family that we are friends with, so I thought about putting it on Instagram and tagging them, but for some reason, decided against it. 

Do you ever just think..."why would anyone care about this?" and stop yourself from posting? 

Well, I enjoyed my tea, nonetheless. A cinnamon flavor with chamomile. It warmed me up and it was caffeine free, which was a bonus.

This is a random picture I took one day this week, while sitting in the living room. You'll see a lot of pictures of this table over time, because it's a small house and this is definitely a focal point and the center of the main living area.

On a sunny day, this is where the light comes in and reflects off the table. When we made this table...oh, did I mention that David and I made this table? Well, let me go on 😀 When we made the table and I was choosing the paint color, I wanted gray, with a hint of whitewash over it. It was a picture I saw in a magazine and I wanted to copy that color scheme for my own.

We were living in our old farmhouse, which was on family land, right across from David's parents, so David built the table in his dad's garage. It is so heavy! But when it was done, we moved it over to our house, put it in the dining room and painted it for days, inside the house. 

We used two colors of chalk paint and it took several layers to get the color just right. Then we had to use a sealant, but had to choose wisely so it wouldn't yellow over the years. We must have chosen well, because the color is still just the way I love it and it still makes me so happy to look at it every day. Especially knowing it was built and painted by David and I. 

Ahhh...slice and bake cookies! I love having a tube of this dough in the fridge, because you can bake as many or as few as you feel you must have on any given day. 

These bring back memories of being a young girl, and my mom always making slice and bake cookies. Of course we would eat a few pieces of raw dough, with chocolate chips. It was the best! I still do that, but not as much. I try to save the calories for the actual cookies, these days. 

This week I popped a few of these in the oven to have with my afternoon cup of coffee. Of course, I had to take a picture because...well, it's what we do these days! 

And's the most random picture yet, but the funniest and felt like an accurate depiction of how I feel about Christmas and shopping, right about now. Worn out! 

But earlier this week, I made a little Instagram reel showing my Christmas decorations. I snapped this picture for the reel, but I noticed it didn't make it into the final video. That's probably and most definitely because I have no idea how to really make a reel, but it was a good effort. 

Anyway, this is a pile of Banjo's toys (our dog) and when I looked down, this guy was laying there looking like he was shopped out too. So, I took his picture and agreed with him that it's time to be done.

I hope you enjoyed this very random walk through my camera this week! I'm sure this should be a regular type of post around here, because I have a habit of taking pictures and then never doing anything with them. Maybe I'll start something new 😀

For now, it's Merry Christmas, once again and see you in the next post!

Until Next Time...

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Sweet Chaos and Some Unexpected Gifts


Well, we are halfway through the week leading up to Christmas and I'm so glad to say that the gifts are all wrapped, stockings are filled and all the groceries are bought and waiting for the big day. 

We were finally able to have family dinner on Monday. I was feeling much better and felt like it was safe to have everyone here. I didn't hold the two baby boys, just for safety reasons, even though I'm just dealing with allergies now, but it was so hard not to! 

We love our family dinners. They are crowded in this little house, but what David calls "sweet chaos" and I agree. 

The girls immediately get toys out as soon as they get here. We try to all sit and eat together, but inevitably  there are "more drink", baby needs feeding, someone has to go potty, and other bits of chaos going on, so we sit when we can and get up as needed. 

After everyone is done eating, we usually migrate (a few steps 😀) to the couches and talk about the latest show we're all watching at the same time or other things that come up.

On this particular night the girls played Charades and we all had to guess. They were great at acting out and they stumped us a few times. At one point, Emmy and Ella brought two stools over, sat there with Emmy "playing" the guitar (she's 7 years old 😀) and they sang the entire Twelve Days of Christmas to us. 

When everyone left and David and I did our walk-through-clean-up time, I saw this in the guest room. A little phone we gave them, a pad, pencil and some old glasses of mine. They had been playing "work." It was so cute, that I had to snap a shot of their set up.

They also had this suitcase out and were probably going on a "trip" somewhere. I just love their imaginations!

Speaking of this suitcase...well, two things...I made this one day at my friend, Kim's. Isn't it amazing? It was so fun to work on, as we spent the day talking and eating (our two favorite things to do together). The other side is decorated too and I just love it! We often do craft projects together and I would love to do one of these again. 

The second thing, which involves Emmy night she spent the night with us and we let her watch an old episode of "That Girl" with Marlow Thomas. So for days after that, she would take this suitcase and fill it with random items and say that she was "That Girl" going to New York to live. It was so cute. Like I said, I love their imaginations. For weeks afterwards, if a toy was missing and we couldn't find it, I would take a look in the suitcase and there it would be! So fun 😀

Speaking of my friend, Kim...we had brunch yesterday and she gave me some unexpected gifts. As I was thinking about this, I realized that unexpected gifts are the best, because it means someone was thinking about you and you didn't even know it. That just warms my heart 💚 

I can think of other gifts that came out of the blue and those have all been the sweetest moments and the most treasured things I've received. 

Well, I've talked way too much today!

I'm off to do some regular life today, such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, bills, etc. We still have to maintain real life, even in the Christmas season, don't we?

We are preparing for some very cold temps here in S.E. Texas. Thankfully, no rain, so maybe we'll be ok. Tonight we'll be covering our plants and hoping for the best. 

Have a wonderful day, my friends! 

Until Next Time...

Monday, December 19, 2022

Feeling Better...Finally!


Well, I can honestly say that I'm glad to see a new week. If you read my last post, you know I was sick all last week and though I am still not 100%, I am feeling much better today. 

I basically hung around the house all day Saturday, slowing doing household things, while David worked on our bathroom renovation.  I've always loved Saturdays when we are both at home, working on things. We take time to talk and have coffee together before going back to whatever we're working on. 

Sunday I woke and felt almost brand new, except still stopped up, so I decided I didn't want to go to church and sit next to people, sniffling or sounding sick, so we stayed home. 

Thankfully church is always live on Facebook, so I was able to tune in and hear my youngest son, Collin, leading worship. I had to snap a picture of him, just for my own photo collection.

I'm so proud of this young man! Well, both of my boys, of course. My oldest son, Ted, normally leads worship and Collin leads on Wednesdays, but Ted was playing drums yesterday, so Collin was leading.

These are both young men of integrity and I just love the way they turned out 😀 They treat their families as priorities, they treasure their wives and adore their children. And most of all, they love the Lord, which leads back to how they live their lives. 

And I love that I can watch and worship with them, even if I'm not there in person.

For lunch on Sunday, David and I decided to take a drive up the road (about an hour) to a little cafe where they serve delicious comfort food.  After being in the house for so many days, I needed to get out for just a bit and this was just what I needed...a hot bowl of Chicken and Dumplings. It was so delicious and I wish I would have asked for an extra portion to-go, because it really hit the spot!

Of course, while there, David saw someone we knew. It's a running joke in our family, that David will see someone he knows, no matter how far away we are from home. We once went to Colorado (about 24 hours away from us) and saw our next door neighbor's brother, who knew who we were. You can't make this stuff up! 😂

Our little drive and nice warm meal (that I didn't have to cook) was exactly what I needed to feel alive again. By the time we got home, I was feeling good enough to do a few things outside that afternoon, while it was warm. 

David finished putting up the shiplap in the bathroom we are renovating, we put out a few lighted trees in the yard and called it a day.

That evening we sat down to finish up the Harry and Meghan documentary, while I worked on the puzzle I currently have going. Talk about heartbreaking! If you haven't seen it and you're even halfway interested in the Royal family (which I wasn't until we started watching The Crown), you need to watch their story.

We finished the night with an episode of The Crown and I was done for the day. 

Today will be spent with grocery pick up, cleaning the house and getting ready for all the kids and grandkids to come for Family Dinner. We missed all of our get-togethers last week, due to my being sick, so tonight will be a welcomed sight. I miss them when we go too long in between visits! (I won't kiss any of the babies tonight though! Not taking any chances.)

Thanks for checking in and reading my ramblings 😀 You are greatly appreciated!

Until Next Time...


Friday, December 16, 2022

A Week at Home and Enough Hot Tea!

 Well, this tree has been my constant companion this week, seeing that I've spent the entire week at home nursing a cold and sore throat. Uggg!

I had so much on my To-Do list this week, not to mention two birthdays and a family dinner that was supposed to happen last night. But illness has a way of making life come to a halt and so most of the plans went out the window.

Nevertheless, I've caught up on some planning for the new year, cleaned out some old files, made some headway on my puzzle and watched way too many episodes of Heartland. 

I've finished one book, started two more, gone for a grocery pick up, called my brother, talked to my mom,  ordered and picked up some photos prints from Walgreens and cooked very little. 

I've had more hot tea than I care to think about, sat on the porch in the afternoon sun and gone outside to take pictures of my plants that have decided to bloom in December. 

All in all, it's been a good week and I can breath today, so that's always a good sign. 

I will cautiously revise my To-Do list today and see how far I get. Not sure how far from home I will go, if at all, but we'll see how the day plays out. 

I hope you're doing well and nothing is holding you back 😀🤧

Until Next Time...

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Reading and Relaxing - Even in this busy season


Yesterday I took some time, in between running errands, washing clothes, and wrapping gifts, to go out on the back porch and read. It was just what I needed to slow my pace and put some rest in my busy day. 

I've been purposely reading books that are calming and satisfying in this busy season of life.

I love books about homemaking and how other women run their homes. I'm always open to learning something from others; something helpful that I've never thought of, or just new ways of doing old things. 

Kate Singh is an author I discovered on Amazon one day and I've since bought several of her books in print and ebook. She is very practical and I just enjoy hearing her perspective on groceries and budgeting and how she saves money here and there. This is her latest book that she wrote while stripping her home of internet, excess in most areas and began to really live off the small income her husband made.

I'm not an extremist and I would never go as far as she has, at times, but I do appreciate hearing how others cut back in their lives and how they made do with less. 

Mrs. Sharon White has a blog that I've followed since my very early blogging days, back in 2008 or 2009. She is an old soul who writes with a voice that is very comforting and non-condemning. She runs her home in an old-fashioned way and then simply writes her methods and beliefs in such a way that feels like you're having tea in her parlor. 

I've bought three of her books, so far, and have referred back to each of them for inspiration when needed. You can read her blog HERE or buy her books on Amazon. 

These are just a few books I've read this month and it's a combination of wanting the calming voices they write in, plus my usual preparation for the new year.

I love learning from other homemakers. I feel like we're never too old to learn something new; even if it's something we've been doing for years. I call it having a teachable spirit, which can apply to any skill or area of life.

I will be carving out time each afternoon for reading and relaxing. Even if it's just 30 minutes or so, it gives me the energy to do the other things that are calling for me that day. 

I hope your day is filled with learning new things or learning new ways to do old things. Or at the very least, carving out some time to just be. 

Until Next Time...


Monday, December 12, 2022

Weekend Recap


Hello friends! This is my very exciting weekend recap where I share all the amazing things I did to fill my days between Friday and Monday. Actually, I'm joking about the "amazing" part, although it was a great weekend and I'm here to tell you about it. 😀

Friday was spent mailing Christmas gifts to my family, doing a little shopping for David's office party, and  going to Kohl's to return something and coming out with a few new blouses for me. 

I have purged so many things from my closet and left myself with basically just a few nice shirts that aren't knit t-shirts, so I thought it was time to have something nicer to wear with jeans, on occasion. 

After that, I came home and can't remember what I did, but it probably entailed coffee and Netflix. Oh! And this great puzzle my DIL gave me months ago and I'm just now working on. It's a tough one, but so fun to look at all the pictures and reminisce about all the retro things. 

Saturday was spent making this delicious lasagna (from scratch), putting together all of the kid's stockings, and helping David with a few little jobs on the bathroom renovation. 

That night we binged several episodes of The Crown, which we are thoroughly enjoying.

Sunday we met the kids after church, had lunch, and then took the girls on a shopping trip to Target, for their gifts from David's mom. She is in an assisted living and asked if we would buy the girls some gifts from her, so we thought it would be fun to let them choose their own and make it a fun outing.

I'm not sure I would call it "fun"...roaming around Target on a Sunday, two weeks before Christmas! It was hectic, for sure. Plus, I was quickly reminded how overwhelming aisles of toys are for kids and we almost had a major meltdown from one who was completely overwhelmed and didn't know what to choose. Ok, live and learn! Might pick a better method next time. 😅

In the end, they made some choices and David snapped this shot to send to his mom, along with a video and a phone call. 

As you can see in the top photo, we bought the old Snoopy snow cone machine and it was a success. 
We also bought two matching outfits for the boys - Asa and Calem - who were at home napping by then.

And speaking of Asa...his mommy snapped this silly photo of PawPaw (David) and him at lunch, wearing PawPaw's cowboy hat.  Not sure what he was thinking, but it looks like he was waiting on Daddy to come rescue him 😂

After that Target trip, David and I needed rescuing! 

We let the girls play at our house for a few hours, before taking them home, and then it was time to finally sit and relax.

We had lasagna leftovers and I was able to freeze 3 small containers for future meals! I just love doing that!

We watched one episode of The Crown and I was falling asleep during the end of it (which is typical), so I went to bed. 

This week will be a busy one and I suspect it will stay that way for the next few weeks. 

Today is full of laundry catch-up, cleaning, making grocery lists, and getting ready for the two birthdays that are on Wednesday and Saturday! 

Welcome to December!

Until Next Time...

Also, in case you missed the little Christmas excerpt from my book that I shared last week, you can read it HERE.

You can also catch my post on budgeting and stewardship HERE