If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


They say you are not southern if you don't have at least half of your belongings monogrammed.

Well, I think I probably qualify.

I have several cute Thirty-One bags with my name or initials embroidered on them.

I also have a couple of purses with my initials on them.

My daughter-in-law got me a necklace with my initials monogrammed on it.

My key fob has Mickey Mouse and a B on it.

I have a couple of sweaters with my initials embroidered on them.

I even have a vinyl and chevron striped O on the back of my truck.

So, when Bridgette gave Mike and I a wooden swirly O for Christmas, I was really excited!

I put it together with a simple project to have a classy decoration for our front door.

Here is a brief tutorial:

1.  Have a wonderful daughter who gives you a swirly initial for Christmas.

2.  Dig a picture frame that has seen better days out of the trash can.  (Wonder why Laura threw that away?)

3.  Use a coupon and get a yard of burlap at Hobby Lobby when they have it marked 30% off.

4.  Borrow your son, Stephen's, staple gun and staple the burlap to the salvaged frame.

5.  Use some white bread ties to attach the swirly initial to the burlap.

6.  Hang it on your front door.
Sorry, my camera is on the blink and this cell shot is the best I've got.

(I forgot to take before and during photos.)
I think it turned out great, don't you?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Beautiful Needlework

My mother does some of the most beautiful handwork I have ever seen.  She is a person who doesn't just sit.  When she and Daddy have the television on, she always has something that she is stitching.  She has cross-stitched countless samplers and pillows.  She has embroidered multiple crazy quilts.  She has knitted a heap of afghans and coverlets.

For each of us, when we married, she cross-stitched a wedding announcement sampler or a knitted coverlet.  After the birth of a new baby, one can expect a pillow or a birth announcement sampler, a knitted blanket, or a baby quilt honoring the new addition.  She also pieced and quilted each of us a full-sized quilt for our bed.

What I'm trying to say is that the woman is pretty darn good with a needle!

For Christmas this year, she stitched a sampler for us.  It is in my favorite shades of blue.
A picture cannot capture the beauty and craftsmanship.

I wandered round the house looking for just the right place.  I held it up to one wall and then another.  I took down a plate and tried it here.  I took down a picture and tried it there.  I almost hung it in our master bedroom.  Then, I got to thinking...(Yes, I do think SOMETIMES!)

I want to hang this work of art and master craftsmanship somewhere that almost everybody who comes to our house can see it.  So, that means the kitchen, the den, or the guest bathroom.  The bathroom won out.

There is a narrow section of wall between the vanity and the linen closet.  It is the width of the sampler plus about three inches.  So, it seemed to me that the wall was made for that sampler!

So, when you come to visit, don't wait till the urge hits you, go check out the beautiful needlework!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

L-O-N-G Holiday Break and Snow Days...

I don't think holiday breaks ever come as quickly as teachers and students need them sometimes.  It always seems that the last two or three days before a break are the rowdiest, most difficult to manage in some semblance of order.

Then, the students have some time away from one another, away from the order and confines of the school routine, away from the very walls that house their learning environment...and away from the teacher.  Plus, the teachers have a bit of time away from lesson planning, assessing student learning, re-teaching or enriching student learning, guiding reading and writing, revising, etc. and some time away from the students and the very school-house (what my grandfather used to call every school as if they were all still little one-room buildings instead of large campuses).

Those little breaks really make a huge difference and it doesn't matter how much students enjoy learning and the social aspects of school or how much teachers love their job and their students.  Those little breaks are a necessity to ensure harmony and peace.

Then, parents are generally glad to have a break from the routine and confines of a time-schedule.  So, they appreciate the break as well.


After a couple of weeks of less structure and lots of togetherness at home, everybody seems ready to be back into that routine and structure.  Then, when we add a couple of days of extended break with COLD temperatures (don't forget the Polar Vortex) that keeps folks cooped up inside, whew!  Change is a good thing!

As I walked the hallways of the school building I was in today, I saw students engaged in the learning activities teachers had planned for them.  I saw students with a sparkle in their eye and involved in the process that is learning.  I heard a few reminders of hallway behavior expectations, but I also saw students who were eager for transition and participation.

There were some fidgety folks in the hallways and I'm sure there was similar action within the classroom because those boys and girls really need to get outside and run and romp and just burn energy that only children can do.  So, I'm looking forward to temperatures above the freezing range for the next couple of days and I know that those teachers and students and parents will appreciate that sort of environment, too!

As instructional technology coaches, we try to stay out of the way at the beginning and the ending of the semesters of school to give teachers and students an opportunity to establish their learning community and set up some routines and expectations.  Although I think some folks believe we do, that is not a time for us to sit with our feed propped on the desk eating bon-bons, though!  We are working behind the scenes and getting things ready for teachers and students to implement support tools and learning platforms.  We are also mapping out professional development sessions and combing through lesson plans to help teachers polish them for teaching, publication, and sharing.

We also took a little time yesterday to tidy and clean up our storage area, purge some of the outdated files, and get organized a bit for the semester ahead.  So, I guess we were getting our fidgets out as well.

I hope you are getting a little romping in during these cold, frizzling days but that you are staying warm, too!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Practice Project

We had a snow day today.  So, after I went with Mike to the doctor, I came home and did a little painting.

I copied recalled an inspiration piece I had seen at a local gift shop.  When I was Christmas shopping, I saw these cute bamboo spoons that had painted handles.

I thought that would be a perfect piece to go along with what I had in mind for a gift for one of my friends.  I already had a cookbook and another kitchen gadget.  So, these cute spoons would finish out the gift nicely, I thought.

Well, those cute little spoons were priced as a set of three for $27.

Now, I love this friend.  I really think a lot of her.  I think she would like and enjoy those cute spoons.

However, my budget just didn't see way for that pricey addition to make it into the gift box.

So, when I was at the local Dollar General the other day, I saw these packages of plain-old wooden spoons.  They were priced at four for a dollar.  So, I snapped them up.  Then, I came home and did some taping.

Just for the record, this cheap blue painter's tape does not like to stick to the cheap inexpensive practically-priced, plain-old, wooden spoons.

I decided that this was a practice exercise anyway, and just decided to roll with it.

I tried to tape a pattern that would make three sets.  I think I got that done, but they all started to run together after a while.

I just used the paint I had on hand - some bottles of acrylic left from another project and some sample pots of Valspar that I got for free at Lowe's.
I put three coats of paint on each spoon.  Then, I stood them up in glasses and left them to dry

I removed the tape and found that they looked pretty cute for the most part.  There were a couple of places where the paint bled under the tape but nothing really glaringly ugly.  I think I probably better paint the handles of the spoons with some sort of clear coat to protect them.  I wonder if that would be some sort of cooking health hazard?

I'll let you know what I decide and show you a finished product soon!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Polar Something-Or-Other

I heard on the TV news this afternoon where we have some sort of Polar Something-Or-Other going on.

It seems there is frigid weather everywhere in the United States except for Hawaii.

When Toby went out to do his business, he came in and backed right up to sit between Mike's legs.

Mike was trying to situate a coverlet over his own legs at the time before he propped his bad leg up with the recliner.  Toby seemed to think he needed the coverlet and started scratching and pulling at it to get it situated for his own needs.

Guess who won this battle?
Hope you and your friends are staying warm!

A Good Hint

Some people are lots better at taking hints than others.

My mother was absolutely G-R-E-A-T at taking a hint for our Christmas gift this year.

She and Daddy got us exactly what Mike and I wanted and needed!

The pots are nice and deep for boiling and simmering soups and beans and potatoes that I have made for dinner lately.

Mike likes the see-through lids and non-stick finish for when he cooks sausage and eggs like he did for breakfast this weekend.

Doesn't the blue color look designer-ish there in our kitchen?
Thanks for digging that box out of the pile of other colors, Daddy!

Didn't they do a great job picking out just what we wanted and needed and longed to have for our cooking efforts?

I may have been just a little helpful...

I may have given her a wonderful hint...

Well, after all, she does gift to LOTS of folks...and I appreciated the hints from the adult children's holiday lists
Aren't those copper knobs pretty?

I'm sure there are times when she wonders what would be the ideal gift...

I just thought I'd give her a little hint...

Just to help out...

So, I sent her this email:
One of the recent Big Lots ads...

Just a subtle little hint, don't you think!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Havin' Some Weather

Every time we have had the television on 'regular' TV - not cable channels for football games or movies or something - the local channels have been filling the airwaves with weather warnings.  It reminds me of this old fellow who knew my Daddy when we were growing up...

When we were little girls, my sister and I loved to ride to town with Daddy and go to all the exotic places he patronized.  There would be a stop at the local country market.  He got cigarettes, a candy bar or sweet cake, and a Pepsi and we got some sort of candy and a soft drink.  Sometimes we might get something like chips as well.  

We would usually go to the tractor supply store for some sort of part or hydraulic oil or something like that.  We would go to the local Farmer's Co-op to "pay a little on the feed bill" and pick up sundry farm or animal needs. 

My sister and I had some great adventures when we got to ride along with Daddy.  Those trips didn't happen very often but when they did, we were thrilled.  Sometimes we got into adventures that were common-place like when we would jump off the loading dock into the bed of Daddy's farm truck.  Sometimes those adventures were a bit more memorable like the time we were waiting at the feed mill, had gotten pretzels at the store, and ate all the loose salt in the bottom of the bag causing us to be sick.  

One reason all those exotic places provided great adventure is because we didn't go there very often.  Another reason is probably because we had a bit more freedom when we tagged along with Daddy than when we went places with Mama.  We always had to stay within her sight or she would say something like "stand right here next to me," or "don't get into that," or "no touching."  When we were with Daddy, we seemed to get to explore all the aisles and touch everything from halters and ropes and chains to jugs of oil and fuel additives while he talked to the clerks.  We could climb onto the feed sacks and scamper around and hide on the display shelves.  

Another reason it was always interesting to go along with Daddy was because of the characters we would encounter.  I remember this one older fellow who always had to take some time to talk to Daddy.  His conversation almost always opened with this statement, "Boy, we been havin' some weather ain't we?  You all been havin' weather out to your place?"

So, I guess I am writing this post to tell you, it has started to rain here and we are havin' us some weather.  Ya'll havin' any weather out to your place?

Handy, Dandy, Fancy, Schmancy, Useful

One of these things is not like the others...

I know that is what this seems to be.

Yet, in all actuality, they really are all alike.

You see, they all are descriptors for my Christmas gift from Mike!

It is a beauty!

I have used it to make Wedding Cookies, bread, and sausage balls so far.   (Click on the links for the recipes.)  It is a work horse.  It is easy to clean.  I love it!

Friday, January 3, 2014


This old girl had a big holiday season!  I enjoyed spending time with family.  I had some time off from the hustle of work.

First, I celebrated with my work family.  We wrapped up our year with a meeting and each of us reported the progress from our starting days back in August and looked forward to tasks anticipated for next week.  Then, we shared a delicious deep dish pizza provided by our boss supervisor mentor and guide.  (Her title is one that is hard to define because, after all, who in the world could possibly 'boss' eight women?  Plus, she doesn't hand down directives so much as identifies areas of focus, offers suggestions, and asks questions of us to lead us toward action.  Technically, she is our department head and shoulders lots of responsibility and passes along expectations.  Actually, she is more of a leader, guide, and mentor who also protects us when we err and stray or when others are making unreasonable demands of our time and skills.)  Finally, we exchanged gifts that we had selected for a random exchange - each of which had a kitchen focus.  I gave an adorable snowman-shaped serving dish and I received a montage which included a large jar with a chalkboard label, a vegetable spray spritzer, and some delicious smelling lemon soap and lotion.  We also rejoiced over the coffee maker our department leader gifted to us for the office!

We celebrated with Mike's family at his mother's on Christmas morning.  She had prepared ham, biscuits, and gravy and we all brought other contributions of eggs, potato casserole, etc.  We always give gifts to the children (our great nephews and niece).  Knowing that they are bombarded with toys and fun things to play with at Christmas, I usually give books.  However, I didn't make it to as many school book fairs this year as usual.  So, they got things like Legos, dump trucks for the twins, a doll for little Josie, and a starter tool set for Jayme.  Then, we play Dirty Santa by drawing numbers and taking turns opening a gift or stealing somebody else's gift.  We swapped things like pliers, wrenches, screw drivers, a beverage serving carafe, a covered cake pan, a cookie jar, and signed bottles (by the master distiller) of Jack Daniels whiskey.  It was a lively morning with good food, good fellowship, and lots of good-natured laughter.

I went over and visited my parents and we had a fabulous visit!  It is so nice to be able to spend time with them without the distraction of a meal to prepare and serve or lots of other people around.  (I enjoy boisterous times with the whole crowd, too, of course!  Quiet times to talk and visit are just hard to beat, though.)  I love it when I have time to just sit and catch up with the folks and learn what is going on in their lives and...just breathe together.

Our children all came at the same time to visit us this year and exchange gifts with one another.  It was a loud and rowdy time and we all truly enjoyed it, I think.  We munched on ham and biscuits, sausage balls, dips and chips, and sweet treats.  Everybody contributed to the smorgasbord and all was delicious.  Paper and bows flew and children and grandchildren bounced around and smiled and giggled and guffawed.  The grandchildren are spoiled with gifts from the adults and the adult children draw names and exchange gifts.  Their name drawing is done online and they make lists of hopes and wishes.  I love getting to see their lists and it provides Mike and me lots of choices for indulging them.  With the whole crew we strive to give them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  It was nice to have them all in the room together for a rare gathering like that  (except for one poor flu sufferer who was home in bed).

We are always amazed at how well the grandchildren play together without fussing or arguments or tears. It is also wonderful that our grown children seem to enjoy one another's company.  Running and bouncing and climbing and giggling and squealing and cooing and smiling and playing and imagining and sharing - the grandchildren.  Talking and laughing and teasing and discussing and sharing - the grown children.

Mike and I also got to have some time together.  We watched lots of TV - football, crime dramas, holiday movies, Duck Dynasty, and he took in several old westerns, of course.  We rested and coughed together as we are still trying to shake the residuals of the flu.  We read books and dozed.

We are gradually getting back into the swing of a 'regular' routine.  It is always nice to celebrate our many blessings and share time with our family reminding us why we are here and why we continue to...do.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Mike and I acknowledged our anniversary yesterday and I'm sure we looked just like this when the new year arrived!
Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

We hope 2014 finds you happy, healthy, and blessed with all the wonderful things life has to offer this year!