31 Days of Blogging: Completed!

Since it's the last day of Nester's 31-day blog challenge (woo hoo!), I feel like I need to finish off the series with something Profound. Deep. Riveting. That scares me to the point of not believing I can write anything at all. 

So I decided I'm just gonna keep being me. Sometimes silly, sometimes serious, hopefully always real. I'll try not to compare myself, who's been blogging for only a month (for cryin' out loud!) with other bloggers who've been at it for years.

There were times during this month when it was hard for me to keep on keepin' on with posting. I wondered, is anyone even reading? (Thank you, commenters; your encouragement means the world to me!)

Sometimes my perfectionism would get in the way; I wanted everything to be just right and would get frustrated when it wasn't. That's when I'd have to trick/encourage myself by asserting: It doesn't have to be good; it just has to get posted!  

Now it's the end of a whole month of posts, every. single. day.  (I didn't end up doing any of them ahead of time.) What a way to throw oneself headfirst into blogging! 

And ya know what? I feel good...pretty darn good!  






Foto Flashback: Halloween Edition

I'm having so much fun with my vintage photos! (Better "vintage" than "old," right?) In fact, I've been dilly-dallying (i.e. goofing around with my pictures) so long that I'm getting this post up at the very end of the day. Let's dig out some memories from past Halloweens... 

Justin & Nathan as Bert & Ernie, 1992(?)

Justin & Nathan as Bert & Ernie, 1992(?)

Adam's first Halloween, 1994

Adam's first Halloween, 1994

1996 or 1997

1996 or 1997

 "Chef Jeff" and me, with a "Bun in the oven" (Sabrina!),2000

 "Chef Jeff" and me, with a "Bun in the oven" (Sabrina!),2000

Sabrina's first Halloween, 2001

Sabrina's first Halloween, 2001



Our little angel, 2006

Our little angel, 2006

Oooh, scary!!  Sabrina & Adam, 2012

Oooh, scary!!  Sabrina & Adam, 2012

Grandson Will's very first Halloween, 2012

Grandson Will's very first Halloween, 2012


And it's come full circle...

Another generation discovering the fun of dressing up for Halloween... 

Wearing a costume lovingly made by Mommy

Posing for photos in the entryway or on the front porch

Carving pumpkins


(Hopefully not) eating too much candy! 


Happy Halloween, y'all! 




ThisLife.com: Fall (Back) in Love with your Photos

Remember waaayy back to my first post, when i started this 31-day series called Things I Meant to Tell You? Well, some of the posts this month were sort of current things, so, obviously, I hadn't meant to tell you them before -- duh!

But this one is about a website -- a service --  I found, that I thought was so awesome, that if I'd had a blog at the time, I surely would have told you about it!

This Life library in day view mode

This Life library in day view mode

Anyway, I have to backtrack a bit... I have tons of photos, both prints and digital. Last summer I was looking for photo organizing ideas, and came upon thislife.com. It's a cloud-based photo storage solution, so you can access your photo collection, all in one place online. I eagerly signed up and got started uploading my digital photos from everywhere: our computers,Facebook, Smugmug, etc. 

 This Life, viewed by month

 This Life, viewed by month

ThisLife.com recently became part of Shutterfly.com, so they went offline for a bit for all that rebranding/re-whatever-they-do stuff. And now they're back again! It's in beta (so they're still making changes),but I'm jazzed cuz now they have mobile apps!    

This Life is still a little rough around the edges, (the mobile apps are wonky at times), but I'm so excited about this service! Now that they're part of Shutterfly, you can also order prints, cards, books, and all sorts of photo gifts.

Photos sorted by year in This Life

Photos sorted by year in This Life

I've barely scratched the surface of what I/you/we? can do with This Life. Oh yes, I've uploaded plenty of videos too! There are different levels of membership, depending on the size of your photo collection. I'm getting the big kahuna -- I've been having sooo much fun getting my "Photo Life" in order!  

What about you, dear readers? How's your photo life? (or is that too personal a question?) How do you organize your pictures? I'd love to know! 

The First Fires of Fall


This might end up being one of our last family dinners by the fire, since soon (after the floors get refinished) we'll turn the "dinebrary" and "tv room" back into to the family room and dining room. We flip-flopped the rooms three years ago. It was fun, but we're ready for another change. Who knows, I could put books in the dining room, and still call it the "dinebrary," right? 

 Last night, our next door neighbors had their annual bonfire. And BOY, was it a Bon FIRE! It'll take days for it to fizzle out...especially since Jeff fed that fire today with some discards from his (ahem) chain-sawing "adventures."  (More on that  in another post, maybe.)

Tonight we had our first fire in the fireplace, which always makes me happy. We used to have a tradition of having a fire on the first day of Fall, but around here, it was still hot outside! 

Grandma (my mom) came for her usual Sunday dinner, along with Justin, Stephanie, and Will. We ate in the "dinebrary," which we haven't done in quite awhile. I was too busy eating and visiting to take pictures during dinner, so I snapped this pic (below) after everyone left, and it was just the fire, Carly (this is all new to her!), and I. 


I'm a Morning Page-r, Are You?


Have you ever kept a journal or diary? In her groundbreaking book on creativity, The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron introduced the idea of starting your day with three pages of writing, preferably longhand, whatever is on your mind. 


Over the years, I've done Morning Pages, or some other kind of journaling, on most days. And I've discovered if I don't write in the morning, it just won't get done later in the day.

There were stages when I've journaled on the computer or on the iPad (with a bluetooth keyboard), but recently, I've come back to pen and paper. There's just something about the pen gliding across the paper that I love!

Friday Foto Flashback

Last week on Friday Foto Flashback, you saw us with our first son, Justin. Moving right along...Justin got older, outgrew the blond hair, and also gained a little brother, Nathan (and a little furry friend too)!  Don'tcha just love my stylin' white sweats and oh-so-cool fanny pack?

At the pumpkin patch, 1990

At the pumpkin patch, 1990

Fast forward three years...(ok, so we're flashing back, then forward...hope you're not dizzy)... Here we are at the same pumpkin patch that we would make sure to visit every time we'd take an October trip to the CA coast. You could say we had 2.5 kids, since I was actually pregnant with our next son, Adam! 

Our growing family, 1993

Our growing family, 1993

"I've Decided to be Kinder..."

I recently discovered this beautiful song, even though the "video" (no motion, just audio) is more than two years old. (Don't let the ladies in slips scare you off.) I love the message of the song, not to mention the beautiful harmonies. Sabrina and I will play it over, trying out the the different parts.

I've decided to be happy...I've decided to be glad

I've decided to be grateful...for all I've ever had

I've decided to let go...of all this pain tonight

I've decided to let go...of all these demons inside


I know...I am blessed

I know...all I ever wanted was this

I know...I don't need more

I've got...what I came for


I've decided to be open...to that little voice inside

Telling me I'm beautiful...it's okay to be alive

I've decided to be kinder...to myself when I feel sad

I've decided to be grateful...for all I've ever had




Animal Antics


This past summer Sabrina got a new kitten, "Carly Fiona." This kitty, despite being older now (and spayed) is still a ball of energy, and sometimes, I admit, a little troublemaker!  But, awwww, how could anyone resist that little Calico ball of fluff?

We weren't sure how Carly would get along with Lollipop, our adorable Schnoodle,  but after a short adjustment period, they became fast friends. 

That is, until Lollipop had the audacity to get a haircut and change her appearance so drastically as to not be recognizable by Carly!

Before Lollipop's new "do" 

Before Lollipop's new "do" 

 "I'm feeling so sad to be given the cold shoulder, I think I'll bend my foot this funny way..."

 "I'm feeling so sad to be given the cold shoulder, I think I'll bend my foot this funny way..."

They became friends again. Ah, what a relief... 

 "Hey sister Lollipop, do you know how we can get out there?"

 "Hey sister Lollipop, do you know how we can get out there?"

Adam with the whole "kitten" caboodle!

Adam with the whole "kitten" caboodle!


One day, I found Lollipop, then Carly, taking turns as Sabrina's reading companion, within minutes of each other!


Nate the Great

Meet Nathan, our second-oldest (or middle) son. He's a senior at UNC Greensboro, majoring in art. When he was little, he understandably loved the Nate the Great series of books.

Nathan, aka "Uncle Genius"

Nathan, aka "Uncle Genius"

I was looking for a super-recent photo of him, and I realized I don't have any, since he's been away at school. (If you saw my photo collection, you'd know this is a rarity!) This picture was taken last Spring break at the Wright Brothers' Memorial, in the Outer Banks of NC. I wanted Nate to pose by the word "genius" (part of a quote, wrapping around the structure), not just cuz I think he's smart, but also since he wants his nephew, Will, to call him "Uncle Genius!" (Yep, Nathan is funny all right; we think he should do stand-up.)

In 2010 (was it really three years ago?), Nathan had the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy for a semester.  He had a blog back then, My Girl Florence. full of awesome photos chronicling his travels. Maybe he hates me to brag about that "old" blog (maybe not), but I think you'll enjoy the narrative, along with pictures taken on the streets of various Italian cities, not to mention his (mis)adventures at Fashion Week in MIlan!

Nathan called me yesterday, and we had fun talking about art and photography. He blessed my socks off with a sweet and encouraging compliment. It made my day! 


Up in the Air!

I'm still giddy...  Today, Jeff invited me to take a ride on a vintage plane, the Ford Tri-Motor, which was on tour and had a stop at our nearby small airport.

Ford Trimotor-1.jpg

The 1929 plane, otherwise known as the "Tin Goose," is the same kind of plane that Indiana Jones flew in "The Temple of Doom." ( I found that out later.) Cool, huh? Uh...wait a minute...I don't like that word..."doom..." 


I admit, I was nervous (or superstitious, or both?) at first.

After all, this was an OLD plane!

Was it going to work ok?

Could it really, actually get off the ground? 

The door was that little oval thing? 

Was I going to feel claustrophobic? 

Oh boy...earplugs in...here goes!


But once we were up in the air... with the exception of a few little bumps that alarmed me just a bit at first... I was LOVIN' IT!

A Darn Good Day

I spent the day with Adam at a trade show where he had a table, selling his own invention, Darn Good Fire Starters. This is his fourth show since August, and he's learning a lot about how to present his product.


The latest addition to his line is the Starter Pak, which includes two Darn Good Fire Starters, along with a firesteel set for starting them up. He has a video here, showing how to use the Starter Pak. (I wasn't able to embed the video. Bummer.)


Well folks, that's all for now. I'm darn tuckered out! 


Friday Foto Flashback

Here we are, with our sweet grandson Will. . .  Wait, you're not buying it? Did the acid-washed jeans and humongous handi-cam give it away? I mean, Jeff & I still look that young even now, don't we? 

Ok, it's not Will. It's his daddy, Justin. And the year is 1989, when Justin was about 21 months old. Hard to believe, but Justin actually had blond hair before he became a brunette like the rest of us. 


Vintage TV: "Murder, She Wrote"

We're so nerdy. Here's what we get a kick out of watching at our house (on Netflix, they have all 12 seasons, by golly):


It's always been one of my mom's favorite TV "programs" (as she would call it), so when Grandma comes to visit, Sabrina will often ask, "Grandma, wanna watch 'Murder, She Wrote?'" (My mom still has a hard time believing that we have access to any episode we want to see, thanks to Netflix!) 

Are any of you thinking that was a show that should have stayed "dead" in the 80's - 90's? Oh, heavens, no! 

Come on, what's not to love? Crazy, "retro" fashions, big hair (permed or not) on gals and guys, and a nostalgic line-up of guest stars (love the huge cast of characters) from old sitcoms and almost-forgotten TV dramas.


And most of all, there's the novelist/sleuth Jessica Fletcher, played by Angela Lansbury. Love her! She is a bit dangerous, though. Think about it: no matter where she goes, even in her quaint little hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine, a murder happens!



I found a great article that discusses the outlandish "murder rate" in Cabot Cove, along with the fact that "Cabot Cove" is actually the town of Mendocino, California. Jessica Fletcher's adorable cottage is now Blair House Bed and Breakfast. Oh, I think it would be so fun to stay there sometime!


Wednesdays at Red Barn

Sabrina takes riding lessons every Wednesday with other homeschoolers.  I love barns, especially red ones! 




Here's Sabrina with some gal-pals and their horsey pals. Sabrina's favorite horse is Jodi, a petite, graceful Appaloosa. She had fun decorating this photo, using  an app called A Beautiful Mess.




Even on rainy days, they get to ride. The arena isn't covered, but the barn is so big that they can ride in the breezeway. On the day this pic was taken, they rode bareback, which Sabrina found quite challenging, especially at the trot!


Checking in (or Checking out?) on Day 15

Howdy. It's day 15 of the 31-day blogging challenge. And I'm tired. I really don't want this to be a "rant" post because I don't want this to be a "rant" blog. But it is what it is; "sea lo que sea," I often like to say.

It's not like I can't think of anything to write; I've got ideas coming out of my ears! After all, like I said before, I used to rehearse blog posts in my head, for my imaginary blog. And even now that I've started the blog, the words (or at least the ideas) are swirling around my brain, almost like little voices... Haha! Don't worry; I'm not "hearing voices;" I think any of you who write will understand what I mean. 


The main challenge for me, jumping into blogging like I have, has actually been the learning curve of formatting, adding photos,links, etc..  I'm using Squarespace right now, because I thought it would be easy to "customize" my own site/blog, and I wanted to go against the grain and not use what "everyone else" was using. (Hmm, should I link to them, or not? Question is, will the link even work? grrrr. Ok, here ya go.)

Maybe I should have named my 31-day series The Squarespace Experiment. I'm not going to throw in the towel just yet. I want to learn as much as I can about the Squarespace platform; they offer tutorials, workshops, and 24/7 support. So I don't hate them; they are actually quite helpful. I just get mighty fluster-pated. (I don't even know what combo of words that is made up of, but that seems to describe it!) 

I don't wanna go through all the learning...I wanna already know it NOW! (whine, whine, whine...) 

want it NOW.jpeg

More Book Talk: Nonfiction


Let's talk about nonfiction reading. I've started, gradually, Money: A Love Story, by Kate Northrup. I haven't gotten very far with it, since I usually end up reading (at the end of the day, literally) whatever novel I'm into instead. But I'm looking forward to getting into it deeper, because it seems intriguing. I wouldn't say I have "financial woes," per se, as the subtitle suggests, but I do want to learn to examine my understanding of this whole subject. Hence, the title refers not to "loving" money, but to exploring what one's relationship with/to money is. The author (who happens to be the daughter of author Christiane Northrup, M.D.)  has some interesting videos on her site, too. Actually, I think she's adorable!


Another nonfiction book I'm reading in (laughing!) fits and spurts is The Egg and I, by Betty MacDonald. It's a memoir (1945) of the author's misadventures when she marries a chicken farmer. My family has always loved the movie, starring Fred MacMurray and Claudet Colbert, so when I found this book at a yard sale (original hardcover version), I snatched it up.  I often read parts of this aloud to Jeff, which sends us into a laugh-fest. One thing I've discovered: when I read a funny book like this before bed, I sleep quite well. Ah yes, laughter is good for the soul.


Finally, there's a Kindle e-book, also a memoir, that I'm reading more than all the other books in my Kindle queue. (I flit around quite a bit on Kindle; I call it my "book looker-upper.) The e-book (there's no print edition, unfortunately), by singer and musician Stewart Francke, is called What Don't Kill Me Just Makes Me Strong.  It is the account of the author's journey, starting in the late 1990's, through leukemia, bone-marrow transplant, and his new life. This book hits home, since my own sister, Lila, is also a survivor (almost two years) of a bone-marrow transplant. In fact, Stewart performed at the survivor symposium Lila and I attended in California this past April.

Speaking of Kindle...Do you have one? I have an "old" version, that doesn't light up. My kids have Paperwhites, which look pretty cool. But mine has 3G, which means I can download something almost anywhere I go. Nice feature when traveling. Not that I'll ever run out of reading material, since I probably have hundreds of "samples" in my device!

Even though I read samples of all genres on the Kindle, I prefer, for the most part, to read novels in the printed form, either borrowed from the library, or purchased, if I just can't wait. Sometimes, if I love a library book, I might end up buying it for my collection, or to loan out. I don't mind reading instructional, inspirational, or memoirs on the Kindle, as long as it's not picture-centric, like a decorating book.   

What about you?  Do you prefer reading on a Kindle (or other device), or a printed book?


The Pilots in my Life

Jeff in 1985 -- Flight School, Ft. Rucker, AL

Jeff in 1985 -- Flight School, Ft. Rucker, AL

One day this past spring, Jeff invited our 19-year-old son, Adam, to go along with him.

Just for fun, Adam took a turn at the controls (with the instructor in charge, of course), and found that he not only enjoyed flying, but he's a natural at it! 

Now I have two pilots in my family, and I couldn't be more proud! Especially since I want to do a lot of traveling! 

Once upon a time, Jeff, my Hunny (yes, I like to spell it like Winnie the Pooh), flew helicopters with the California National Guard.

Eventually, he gave up flying, but it has always been one of his passions. Recently, he has taken up flying again (fixed wing this time) and absolutely loves it! 

Jeff after his check ride, on his 50th birthday -- July, 2013

Jeff after his check ride, on his 50th birthday -- July, 2013

Adam's first solo flight

Adam's first solo flight

My son...up in the air...by himself!

My son...up in the air...by himself!

Here's the fam -- some of it, anyway!

Here's the fam -- some of it, anyway!