Category Archives: Reading / Books

Into The Forest 

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Into the forest I go; to lose my mind and find my soul

I’ve got lots of favorite quotes about nature but when my mind and heart are heavy I wander around the garden or stare at the sky for a while and am always reminded of this one. It’s so fitting. Sometimes you just need to escape your thoughts and worries and just vibe with the planet to try to gain peace and clarity.

My mind is full of worry this week and there are so many I know going through difficult times right now too. So many prayer requests recently and so many more unspoken.

But I believe there is power in numbers. So whatever you believe in, could you just take a minute to send out some positive thoughts and energy? If some float my way too I sure won’t complain, but right now I just hope they can help bring healing, comfort and peace to those I know who need it.

And to that end I leave you with another loved quote –

The wound is the place where the light enters you”.

I hope whatever pain and difficulties you are facing now bring you to peace and happiness tomorrow. And may you be a beacon to someone else in their time of need.

💜

  

Gratitude & Grief 

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I am reading poetry in front of a warm, crackling fire. My sweet (though slightly sick) babygirl is nestled beside me and our furbabies are cuddled up snoozing beside her. There is music flowing through the house and my husband is in his chair nearby enjoying a glass of bourbon with a full belly after a wonderful home-cooked meal. Everyone is comfortable and my loved ones are all safe… There may be a million things going wrong, but in today’s tumultuous times these are the simplest and the greatest blessings to be thankful for. As full of gratitude as it may be, my heart aches and wishes for healing to come to this planet. 
#PrayingForParis

#PrayingForHumanity 

#PrayingForPeace 

Praying for Peace & Healing

The Frenchman

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“The hard part isn’t the first step, or the second step [on the way towards your goal]. It’s the 5th, 6th and 7th steps when you’re in so deep you forget why you took that initial step in the first place. The middle of the tunnel, when you left the light behind you but you can’t yet see it in front of you either. When you have to trust that whatever ‘insane’ notion came over you to take the first step is still worth it now that you don’t see where it’s headed anymore. That’s the hard part of doing something big/great. It’s when you’re halfway up the mountain and you’re too far up to turn back but you can’t see the summit camp yet.” 

The Frenchman

2015 Calendars

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Okay guys, so the holidays are going to be here before you know it and with all the work around this place well, it’s adding up. So….

I’m selling 2015 calendars!

They are 8×11, spiral-bound, wall calendars featuring 12 months (starting January, 2015) with a collage of beautiful photos (taken by yours truly!) on each month.

A beautiful collage will greet you month after month. Each photograph was taken by me and is one of my favorites! :)

A beautiful collage will greet you month after month. Each photograph (taken by yours truly) is one of my favorites! 🙂

 

Get a jump on your shopping. These would make a great gift. And while you’re at it, get one for yourself too! 😉

You can order them through my Etsy shop here.

I sincerely appreciate it and, for anyone ordering, I hope you enjoy!!

Phenomenal Woman

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Rest in Peace Maya Angelou.

My book of quotes is the size it is from amazing souls like you. You leave behind a lasting impression and some amazing, wise words for us to remember you by.

Thank you.

 

 

You alone are enough,  You have nothing to prove to anybody - Maya Angelou

You alone are enough,
You have nothing to prove to anybody – Maya Angelou

I've learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life - Maya Angelou

I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life – Maya Angelou

To those who have given up on love, I say, "Trust life a little bit" - Maya Angelou

To those who have given up on love, I say, “Trust life a little bit” – Maya Angelou

You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. - Maya Angelou

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. – Maya Angelou

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away - Maya Angelou (One of my all-time favorites)

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away – Maya Angelou (One of my all-time favorites)

Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option

Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option

When people show you who they are, believe them - Maya Angelou

When people show you who they are, believe them – Maya Angelou

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.  - Maya Angelou

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou

You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated - Maya Angelou

You may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated – Maya Angelou

Let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good. - Maya Angelou

Let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good. – Maya Angelou

(Excerpts from ‘I’ll Rise’)

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

-Maya Angelou, 1928

 

 

Rest in Peace Phenomenal Woman 

Oh The Irony

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Did you hear about the doves two children released with Pope Francis on Sunday?

Two white doves were released during a prayer as a symbol of peace.

The doves were released during prayer as a symbol of peace

The doves were released during prayer as a symbol of peace

Almost immediately the doves were attacked by a blackbird and a seagull.

The irony of this is ridiculous

The irony of this is ridiculous

Fairytale likeness aside, this seagull is obviously NOT Scuttle from The Little Mermaid!

Fairytale likeness aside, this seagull is obviously NOT Scuttle from The Little Mermaid!

How can you see this and not consider its symbolism? Irony is an understatement. I can’t help but to contemplate the dark correlation of this incident and our society today. I almost expected the sky to turn black and Maleficent herself to appear out of thin air to declare war against the good of the world. Seriously it just seems like something out of a fairytale. And for it to happen in the incredibly history and mystery laden Vatican just adds even more fascination to this story.

Fortunately the doves managed to get away. So at least there is a happy ending at the end of this story and good has triumphed over evil….for now.

Even if she wasn't behind this latest incident, Maleficent is coming…to theaters soon. And on that note, I can't wait to see it! It looks like it's going to be great

Even if she wasn’t behind this latest incident, Maleficent is coming…to theaters soon. And on that note, I can’t wait to see it! It looks like it’s going to be fantastic.

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Christmases & Blessings A’Plenty

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This year is Adriana’s first Christmas and we have 9 Christmases altogether. Needless to say holidays are usually busy for us and involve lots of traveling around. We spent the first with my step-father in the Smoky Mountains where it was beautiful and more like spring than winter. We had our Christmas with the baby on Christmas Eve morning followed by my grandmother’s, The Hub’s grandmother, and step-father’s family and Christmas Day at his mother’s followed by her family, then his father’s and finally one with my mother.

It was 77 degrees in The Smokies while we were there and yet was still alive with Christmas

It was 77 degrees in The Smokies while we were there and yet was still alive with Christmas

I have to say, as cute as it has been so far watching our little girl open her first Christmas gifts ever, I realize more and more (and more especially now) that it’s all that you have that money just can’t buy that are the greatest gifts of all. Our budget was much tighter this year but, all things considered, we’ve ended up with so much more than ever before. God has blessed me with a beautiful, happy and healthy baby girl who radiates the purest joy. I have a husband who both challenges and supports me every day and who even when I want to scream at I love with the deepest part of my heart. I have a family that believes in me and encourages me in all things.  My home is modest but it’s more than I’ve ever had and is a product of our hard work and I know it will only get better from here. I am humble and appreciative and I have an unbreakable faith in a God who gives me reason to rejoice and be thankful every single day…yes, even when things don’t go as planned.

Even raining it was magical

Even raining it was magical

It’s hard to believe the new year will be here in a week. I both look forward to all the new firsts we get to experience and also wish time wasn’t seeming to move so fast. In a few short weeks my baby is going to be a year old!!

One final Christmas craft with the baby. It's hard to believe these little fingers are going to be a year old in just a few weeks!

One final Christmas craft with the baby. It’s hard to believe these little fingers are going to be a year old in just a few weeks!

But for the here and now it’s still 2013 and even more importantly than that, it’s Christmas. It’s the season of peace, love, and joy. Faith, hope and wonder. Giving and appreciating all that you have received. Sometimes your white Christmas ends up being an unexpected and even rainy spring break. Sometimes that silver lining is actually a golden shower. Sometimes the hardest challenges turn out to be the biggest blessings in disguise. And no matter how dark it is, there is always a bright side. This is what I’m reminded of during the holidays. I hope that you find that in your holiday season and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and more blessings than you can count in the coming new year.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Countdown to Christmas – Last Minute & Backup Gift Ideas

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Countdown to Christmas – Last Minute & Backup Gift Ideas

It’s the final week! 7 more days until Christmas! One more week to get the rest of your shopping, wrapping, planning, preparing and traveling all done.

With all the excitement during the holiday rush it happens from time to time that you find yourself empty-handed for the giving but on the receiving end of an unexpected gifter. If you’re like me and have a long list of family and friends to buy for during the holidays, it’s bound to come up. Maybe the brother brings the girl he has been dating for a short while who you have only met a couple times; Maybe a distant cousin shows up for the family dinner; Or that crazy uncle of yours that no one knew was coming. Whatever the case may be, being prepared for the unexpected is the way to go. Now’s the time to stock up on some extras to keep you covered. And hey, even if you don’t forget anyone (good job!) there’s still plenty of reason to go ahead and buy that extra thingamajig for your “just in case” clause. The holidays are great times to score big deals on items you may need in the coming year. And unless all of your friends and family are leap year babies, everyone you know has a birthday coming up in the next twelve months. Why not save yourself some cash and get a jump on that shopping too?

So here’s my list of some thoughtful items that never lose style, can double as a quick gift in a pinch or be put up for a gift later and can fall under any price point or budget:

1) Wine. Folks, wine is the #1 item for a number of reasons: First, it never loses style; Second, it’s universal. It’s a great Christmas gift,  hostess gift, congratulatory gift, birthday gift, etc;  And Third, it’s unisex so you’re covered if you need a gift for a him or a her. Wine also will keep for as long as you need it to – the longer the better in fact. Hell, if you manage to keep it for long enough (which I realize doesn’t usually happen) it may become an even better gift than when you bought it. Just make sure you store it properly. When shopping wines without a particular person in mind, try to stick with the more familiar blends that are popular with most palettes (i.e., Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, or Chardonnay). Next, Avoid Labels. If you’re not sure who this gift is for then try to avoid labels that scream girly-girly-froo-froo or bachelor pad.

You can go simple with a bow tied around the bottleneck or a wine gift bag or box. When you’re making your Christmas rounds from parties to family gatherings wine is a great back up to keep in the car for any “just in case” moment.  And they don’t take up much space so you can pack a few if you need to.

2) Winter Accessories. This could be just about anything from ice scrapers to coats but to keep it simple and easy (and make sure you’re covered no matter who it ends up being for) I would stick with some of the ideal standards. A nice scarf can be a perfect gift for a guy or girl. Stick with a pattern and color that’s not too feminine or masculine. Plaids are ideal because they incorporate many colors and compliment a number of styles. A pageboy hat is another ideal item that is unisex. Solid colors like black, brown or grey go with just about anything and anyone’s wardrobe.  A thermos or coffee mug can also be a great gift idea to keep on hand. And if you want to add a nice personal touch you could make a jar of cocoa mix* to go along with it. (*See #4). A nice cozy throw blanket is also great for the season.

3) Sports Novelties. If you come from a sports family then it’s a pretty safe bet that something spotlighting your favorite team will go over just fine with whoever receives it. Think cups/mugs, keychains, bottle openers/bar sets, etc. that can be used by anyone and are practical just in case they’re not a mutual big fan of sports or your team so they can still get use out of it.

4) Homemade for the Holidays. Whether it’s homemade cocoa mix, dip mixes, soup mix, spiced nuts, an ornament, it screams creativity and also adds a caring touch to your gift. And mixes can go a long way so you can just as easily make five gifts as you can one. You can get a few inexpensive baskets from the dollar store and add a few things to make it a nice gift basket. Perhaps a bowl and spreader to go with the dip mix, an ornament or two, a coffee mug to go with the cocoa or bowls for the soup. Just a few items like this together can make a very nice gift with a beautiful presentation.

5) Gift Cards. I saved this one for last because I’m not particularly a fan. It’s not that it’s not a great idea. I mean, it’s unisex, and with Visa/American Express or Mastercard gift cards they can use it anywhere and not just at a particular store so you’re covered for anyone. My trouble with this is the dollar amount and lack of thought that it gives off. (Granted if you’re buying them as a back up for someone you may have forgotten then obviously you’re guilty of the lack of thought thing anyway). But, not being sure who it may be for may make it hard to decide what amount to buy. $10 may be too little and $50 may be too much. You could buy several but you don’t want to just give someone an unwrapped gift card straight from your wallet with no card or envelope or anything. Plus with most of them having an average activation fee of  $3.95 it doesn’t make much sense to be walking around with several of them in your wallet. If you do go this route just make sure they don’t expire in case you don’t end up needing to gift them right away. Most gift cards never expire but some lose their value little by little over time. Be sure to read the fine print on the back before you purchase them.

Want some other gift ideas for your last minute shopping? Try these for some of the special people in your life:

FOR HER: 

For the Bookworm or Foodie – Whether a classic and recently released on the big screen like “The Great Gatsby” or a brand spanking new cookbook like Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman’s “Year of Holidays” you can’t really go wrong with a good read.

For the Trendster – Beanie hats and fingerless gloves are also hot winter items for the younger ladies in your life.

A little Pampering – Regardless of what type of lady is on your list, there is at least one service she could really use right now from one of her local salons/spas. Whether it’s a mani/pedi, facial, massage or just a hair cut and color every woman enjoys and deserves a little bit of pampering.

The Drinker – Wine like a nice pink moscato or riesling are sweet and favorites of many women.

FOR HIM:

For the Comedian – Books may not be on every guy’s wish list but the new book “Ron Burgundy: Let Me Off At The Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings” is sure to be a hit with the movie and comedy lover in your life.

For the Outdoorsman – A fisherman can never have enough tackle; A hunter never enough camo; or for the general outdoorsmen a pair of binoculars or even a tree / bird guide for their nature walks can make a great gift.

For the Sports Fanatic – A sports fan loves anything with their favorite team on it from a tee shirt or hoodie to grilling sets, camping chair, towels, bar sets / glasses, etc.

The Drinker – Craft beer or a good bottle of ‘grandpa’s cough syrup’ never lose style.

Happy shopping!

Madiba

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You could spend a year quoting some of the wisdom of Nelson Mandela and perhaps still not cover it all. So I’m not going to even attempt to find some new wise words to try to describe his life – Especially when so many of his own words speak a million times more profound than anything I could think of. No, instead I will simply say:

RIP to a man of great hope, faith, passion, and wisdom.

Wise words from a wise man

Wise words from a wise man

One of my favorites

One of my favorites

RIP Nelson Mandela

RIP Nelson Mandela