Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Preparing For A Tea Party

For weeks now I have been preparing for our Ladies Tea at church. I host every year and love doing it.  It's so fun for me to think up ideas and to see how they work out.

This year, I was going a direction based on a roll of ribbon that Rachel found, but then we were at Christmas Tree Shops and saw some vintage looking globe ornaments.  We were both really taken with them, and that is when I thought we could do a "Christmas Around The World" theme!

We are doing the table centerpieces with items from different countries.  Peru, Holland, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Ukraine, Senegal are the ones we are doing.  Each guest will get a ornament to take home and a handout of traditions from other countries, also as a take home item.  We also have a guest speaker this year, author and speaker Karen Andreola.

Tomorrow I begin the process of packing up my tea cups and glass luncheon plates to take to the church, and we will set up the tables tomorrow evening.

I'll take lots of photos, as always, and will share them with you for Friday.

Christmas Gift Ideas - Post One

I thought that I would share a few posts with gift ideas in them.

My first suggestion, as always, is books.  We always give books as gifts along with some other items as well.  Have you seen this idea for picking gifts 

I like this guideline and today I am talking about the 'read' idea.

Specifically, I'd like to talk about a book series that is wonderful.  It is very inspiring and epic.  It's called 'The Green Ember,' by SD Smith. (the quotes are taken from the website)

"Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.
Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.

Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?"

"The stage is set. It’s war. Morbin Blackhawk, slaver and tyrant, threatens to destroy the rabbit resistance forever. Heather and Picket are two young rabbits improbably thrust into pivotal roles.
The fragile alliance forged around the young heir seems certain to fail. Can Heather and Picket help rescue the cause from a certain, sudden defeat?"

"My place beside you
My blood for yours
Till the Green Ember rises
Or the end of the world."

We listened to these on our Audible app on our recent trip.  Everyone in our family LOVED them.  Audible is part of Amazon and for $14.95 a month you get a credit to buy an audio book.  I got Audible to buy things for Kyle to listen to when he goes to bed at night, and I bought The Green Ember after hearing about it through Sally Clarkson and Sarah Clarkson.  Kyle loved it so, I bought the sequel, Ember Falls, and the prequel, The Blackstar of Kingston.  

Audio books are a great option for kids who struggle with reading, or for trips, or for sick days.

We enjoyed all three, and are now hoping for a sequel to Ember Falls!  We highly recommend this book series!  We'd say its right up there with our beloved Chronicles of Narnia!

Kyle, even though he has listened to the books many times, has asked for the books for Christmas! 

Are there books you would recommend as gifts? Please share in the comments!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Home, With Some Thoughts On Family, Traffic, and Advent

There were many emotions in play this last week.

Tim's mom is 95 years old and has a form of dementia.  She has always had a servants heart, and is easy to be around.  She never 'needs' anything.  A born extrovert/sanguine personality, she loves having us and our busy family around.

It was hard to leave her, since we know that at her age and with her having had several mini strokes, this could be the last time that we see her here on earth.

But we have hope - the knowing - that she, as a child of God, will be with the Lord in an instant, when He calls her home.  There is great peace in that knowledge.

When you are on a trip with a lot of people and staying together, and having other family and friends join you during the week, the opportunity to annoy one another is great!  

But you know what?  Life is messy, but real love keeps diving in to forgive, and care, and forgive some more.  We all need that at all times.

I am thankful that my parents and Nate and Kay and the girls were able to go with us on this trip.  It was one for the memory bank.  Time with four generations, cousins, friends who are family.

I'm grateful.

We hit some crazy traffic today.  It made people tense, it made a long day, longer.  But as we drove the last 45 minutes home, we listened to Chris Tomlin's Christmas album "Adore" and we sang along.  And in the dark car driving along the back roads, I heard the voices of my children and my granddaughter singing along, and praising God for His unspeakable gift to us, and I rejoiced.

All of the stress of the trip and the traffic, just melted away.

In this season of Advent - remembering His coming - I am glad to orient my heart on Him.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Headed Home

We are on our way home now.  Long day, but we are tucked into a nice hotel for the night, and are able to relax.

Here are some photos of our Thanksgiving and Friday.

After lunch we went to Blue Springs State Park to see the Manatees.

Then a trip to Disney Springs and the Lego store.

These were living statues.

Friday the ladies went to Mt. Dora for tea at the Windsor Rose Tea Room.

We also went to a mexican restaurant for dinner and then Tim's mom left to go stay at his sisters house, since we were leaving early this morning.

Grammy got special Klaire snuggles.

We'll be home tomorrow.  I am grateful for the time we had, but I am ready to be home.

We didn't have wifi very often while we were gone, but I have tried to keep up with you all.  I am so thankful for each one of you, and your visits here with me and your friendships.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


I hope your longing souls are satisfied and your hungry souls filled with good things.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Day At Kennedy Space Center

Many of us in our family have an interest in space and in the missions into space, so heading to the Kennedy Space Center was top on our list of things to do on this trip.

Years ago when we lived in Florida and also came down once a year, we took the older kids to the space center quite a lot.  In those days it was free to get in (and they have an awesome educational building), you only paid to take a bus tour.

Now they've added a lot and changed things so that there is an admission fee but you get to do so many awesome things.

 We took a bus tour (its now included in the entry fee) and saw the Vehicle Assembly Building, some launch pads, the crawlers that move rockets out to the launch pads.

We also saw the buildings occupied by SpaceX which is owned by Elon Musk, of Paypal and Tesla Motors fame.  SpaceX has leased this building and the launch pad for 20 years.  

The highlight of the tour though, is the Apollo/Saturn 5 center.  The Saturn 5 rockets (and this is a real one) were the rockets that propelled the Apollo missions into space.  If there had been an Apollo 18 this rocket would have been the one used.
 In the 60's my dad worked for an aerospace company that made spacesuits, and my dad remembers the astronauts coming for testing.  They would put them in the suits and evacuate the oxygen from the room and while they were using the oxygen in the suit they'd have the run on treadmills, and vary the oxygen levels to see how well they could do!
 Here is the suit that company made.

 Back at the visitors center we saw this huge orb with the constellations on it that moves by water.

At the Atlantis complex we saw the real shuttle Atlantis (this is the underside) and Tim, my dad and kids, went on a launch simulator.

Grammy came along and we were thankful for her wheelchair.  When we got home at 8:00pm she went straight to bed!

I thought this Christmas tree in the rocket garden was pretty.

And this was a pretty sunset on the way home.  I think the thing that looks like a cloud is a palm tree.  We were driving when I took the photo.

We are doing a beach day tomorrow.  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Enjoying Sunshine And Blue Skies

 The campus at Emma and Vinnie's school is so beautiful.  We arrived on Friday evening and spent a great day with them on Saturday.

Falls Park is a beautiful place right in the middle of downton Greenville.  

Tim took Kyle and Kamryn exploring on the rocks

In the afternoon some of the family played volleyball and I was 'forced' to hold a sleeping Isla.  I loved every minute of it!

Kyle is an experienced uncle and loves holding his nieces.

 Went to a local place for dinner and got a great visit in with our dear friend Nick.  He goes to our church, and is now attending the same school as Emma and Vinnie!  He calls my parents Grandma and Grandpa.  We love him and his heart for the Lord.

We left yesterday morning for Florida.  Said goodbye to my sweet girl.  It's such a blessing to see your kids grow and walk with the Lord and be happy in their own families.

We arrived in Florida last night and are now spending time with this sweet lady, Tim's momma, Jean.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Vacation Prep

We have our last co-op day, for this semester, today and tomorrow we head out to see our kids in South Carolina, then down to Florida for Thanksgiving with Tim's mom.

I have not packed yet, and I have some things I want to tidy up so our great housesitters don't have to deal with my 'stuff', but by tomorrow morning, I'll be ready to hit the road!

We have quite a crew going.  My parents and Nate, Kay and the girls are coming along.

We have a lot of fun planned, including the beach and Kennedy Space Center.

I'll post from Florida.  It looks like the weather is going to be great this coming week, but we've had lovely weather here, too.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trim Healthy Mama Update

I saw my primary care doctor today for a pre-surgery check up.  You may or may not know that I have a cataract on my right eye, and I am having surgery in early December to replace the lens.  I can't wait to see better, and for reading to become less of an issue!

My doctor was very pleased - really, really pleased at my weight loss.  She had never heard of Trim Healthy Mama but wrote it down, to look into it.  

I am happy with my weight loss too, and they way that I feel.  I am healthier and that is a great thing.

The great thing about this eating plan is that I am never deprived.  From ice cream to other treats, to great meals I am spoiled.  It does require some thinking about whether I am going to have a meal with fats as the main thing or if I am going to have a carb meal.  It means that I have to cook, or prepare food ahead.

This can be challenging at times, but today I found a treat that I can have that doesn't require me to prepare.

This deliciousness is ice cream.  It is sweetened with erithrytol, instead of sugar and this flavor has a bit of sugar in the chocolate chips that are in it.  But there are few chips in it and I'm only eating a half a cup as a serving.  I can't wait to try other flavors! (this is a pricey treat, so it will remain just that, a treat!)

My weight hasn't changed much in a year, but I am in smaller clothes.  My doctor encouraged me to start to exercise, now.  I need to do this on a consistent basis.

I am committed to this way of eating for life!  

I have many friends who are doing this eating plan as well, and are getting healthier, and losing weight.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thinking Ahead For The Holidays (link to 'perfect every time' slow roasted turkey)

I am by nature a spur of the moment, spontaneous kind of woman.  I have learned to go with the flow, and be able to shift the direction of my days when needed.  I do manage to get a lot done, most days.

One thing that helps me in the bigger things like Thanksgiving Dinner or Christmas decorating or my annual Christmas Tea is that I've learned to think ahead and make decisions, so that as I am going about my days leading up to the 'event', I am able to gather what is needed (sometimes shopping for two separate events at the same time).

I had a breakfast date with my busy man this morning. 
 This is our favorite spot for breakfast - The Gallery Grille at Tanglewood Golf Course.
It was nice to take sometime together before our trip that starts this weekend.

While I am not super organized by nature, I can pull it all together when I need to.  I have found it helps to have some basic plans in place, that act as a guideline for the event.

Here are a few tips that I have found helpful.

1. Decide how you are going to set your table, and how you will serve the food.  

For Thanksgiving we have found that it works best to set up a buffet to serve the food. This may be too casual for some of you, but for us this works well.  Since I don't have all the food dishes on the dining table, I am able to really set a beautiful table! Remember that beautiful doesn't have to mean fussy.  One year, I polished out table and put beautiful silver candelabras on it and not much else.  It was simple and elegant!

2. If someone asks to help, find a way for them to help!  

Let them bring a favorite vegetable dish, or dessert.  Let them light candles, put the place cards on the table, turn on some music.

3. Ask your guests if they have any food allergies or if there are any food preferences.  

I recently helped with a wedding where some of the guests were vegetarian.  The bride forgot to tell us about that.  Thankfully the lady in charge of food had planned a great salad, fruit cups and vegetable side dish.  We offered seconds to the vegetarians and they were fine.  It was however an awkward moment and we didn't want it to reflect in a negative way on such a special day.  It all worked out at the wedding but it would be very challenging to have someone with a gluten allergy come to your meal and not have a dessert that they could eat, etc.

I follow the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating and so when I am a guest, I ask if I can bring dessert or a side dish.  That way I know that I can bring something that works for me with my eating plan and enjoy myself!

4. Be flexible.  Maybe the best thing for everyone this year is a simple gathering, where you order pizza, or go out to eat.  Sometimes that is the needful thing for everyone.  Give yourself a time to be truly Thankful for those in your life.

5. Remember that these events are about sharing time with our loved ones and friends.  It doesn't have to be like a Norman Rockwell painting to be perfect.  The paintings aren't real, people are, and some can be difficult.  I find that if I have my guests best interest in mind, if I am looking to make there time at our home nice for them (and not have the focus on me) then it is usually a success.

6. People love to be invited.  So many are lonely these days, and even if they don't want to intrude on your family meal, see if they will come for dessert.  Ask them, several times if you have to, but don't let them sit at home alone, if possible.

7.  Take time, daily, for a few minutes to get your focus right during the holiday season.  Ask yourself "What am I celebrating?" or even "Am I celebrating?"  We can get so caught up in the shopping and the 'have to's' that we lose our joy and the reason we are celebrating the Holy-days.

What are your plans for this Thanksgiving?  Have any of you starting on Christmas yet?

Edited to say - 

Here is the link to the best turkey ever!  It's perfect every time!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Scotty Dog Garland

This project turned out to be so fun and easy!

I simply used the cookie cutter I purchased last year, when I made scotty dog shortbread cookies for our tea.  I traced around it onto plaid scrapbook paper.  I bought a huge pack from Hobby Lobby several weeks ago.  I used four different patterns and put a different plaid on the front and on the back.

This made them a bit heavy on the baker's twine so in the photos you can see a bit of tape on the twine here and there.  You cannot see it in person. (I used low temp hot glue to attach them to the twine)

 Right now they are hanging under our stairway shelf but I may move them to the hallway.

I want them to be where I can see them because they make me smile!

If you make a Scotty Dog garland, let me know!


  We are finally getting some blue skies with real clouds, and sunshine! I took sometime with Kyle and Kamryn's help to set up the deck ...