Friday, January 29, 2016

A Hairy Situation

I was vacuuming a few days ago when it started making a very weird noise.

“It” meaning the vacuum.

Not me.

Or anything coming from the fireplace.

I decided to investigate the noise and realized a plastic piece on the side of the vacuum kept popping out.

Not sure why that particular piece was key to the operation of the ENTIRE vacuum 

but I didn’t design it.

I flipped the vacuum over and discovered the horror that was the rolling brush inside.

What in the holy hair?!

I had to give our vacuum a hair cut.

After I saw just how much hair I cut out of the poor roller brush, I started to understand why that plastic piece was trying to jump ship.

And wonder if Chewbacca did not in fact live in our house.

After that disgusting task, I tried using the vacuum again.

Didn’t help.

Not even a little bit.

The plastic piece kept falling out.

And I started noticing that it wasn’t really 
sucking anything up off the floor.

I called Monte and we figured out the vacuum was almost 10 years old and possibly not worth the repair cost of having it fixed.

So, with coupon in hand, I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and bought the cheapest thing I could find.

The last vacuum we had was a Dyson that we loved, 

until the noise 
and broken plastic piece 

but then, that’s our fault.

Monte and I quickly decided that we weren’t going to shell out the money for another Dyson and with him on the phone doing searches on brands, we decided to go with a Shark Rocket.

Mainly because it was on sale and I had a coupon.

And also because it was very lightweight.
And got good reviews.

This thing is powerful!

I have to keep it on the low setting or it tries to suck up an entire area rug!

It wasn’t until I was trying not to suck up all our area rugs that I realized it didn’t have any detachable hose features.

We definitely need that for our carpeted basement stairs.

So we’ve decided to get a handheld little cordless vacuum.

So, all is right with the world 

and there is a broken, 
Dyson in the garage waiting for trash day.

In other news, McDaniel is getting her hair cut on Friday…

Monday, January 25, 2016

Going Green


The green smoothie wasn’t bad.

It wasn’t bad AT ALL.

In fact, after I got over the shocking green color, 
it was GOOD.

It’s filling and makes me forget about wanting a second cup of coffee if I drink one for breakfast.

Click on the link for the recipe I found online at

I liked this one because it didn’t include fruit juice which I think makes smoothies too sweet or dairy which I think makes smoothies too thick.

Here is how I make the Energizing Green Smoothie since I don’t like mango:

• 2 cups fresh spinach
• 2 cups water

Mix the water and spinach in the blender by themselves to get rid of green chunks.


Green chunks that stick in your teeth are bad 
if you ever want to drink a second green smoothie.

• 1 cup frozen strawberries
• 1 cup frozen pineapple
• 2 bananas
• 2 tablespoons chia seeds 
(I got the white ones because I know myself and drinking something 
with black seeds in it would freak me out)

They aren’t kidding about the energizing part.

I haven’t had to have my usual afternoon tea pick-me-up since having this for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Over the weekend I ran out of spinach and strawberries and decided to substitute it with kale and raspberries.

The green was intense.

 It turned a gazpacho color.

It tasted like farts.

I’m sorry, that was graphic.

And 100% true.

But I forced myself to drink it since I tallied up the cost of all the fruit and it seemed a shame to waste.

And I didn’t go into intestinal distress like I feared,
so that’s… good.

I happily made a pitcher of my good ol’ spinach smoothies this morning. 

It makes 3 servings for me but I’m sure I could squeeze 4 out of it.

I either keep the pitcher in the fridge for later or I freeze the extra into separate ziplocs and defrost them in the sink under hot water before drinking them (I use a spoon to chunk up any left over frozen parts). 

Hope you like it and let me know how you alter the recipe.

Unless it involves kale.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Public Speaking

My high school daughter just started a public speaking class.

She gave her first speech this week.

McDaniel had to bring in three things that defined her in a bag that also had a tie-in.

She brought in things that represented her faith, her name and her love of writing.

All in a KFC bucket to represent her love of fried chicken.

She wasn’t nervous. 
Not even a little bit.

Public speaking is way up there in the top fears of man.

For some, even more so than death.

After speaking at my church’s women’s retreat this past October, 
I get that.

McDaniel told me all about the speeches that she will need to give over the next semester.

They are basically the same speeches I was required to give when I was in high school.

It brought me back.

And honestly, 
I don’t remember being nervous 
back then either.

I had THE BEST public speaking class.

It was filled with a variety of people due to the fact that everyone HAD to take this class to graduate.

I remember the girl who got so nervous during every. single. speech. that she shook uncontrollably and could barely hold her note cards or control her wavering voice.

It was so hard to watch.

But, boy, did we root for her.

It was a safe place.

I remember the sweet boy with the sheepish grin who, during his demonstration speech, 

decided to show us how to take out and put back in contact lenses.

He couldn’t read his notes when his contacts were out.

I remember the girl who showed us how to decorate a cake and passed out butter cream roses for the class to eat.

I would pay a lot of money for one right now.

I also remember the boy who showed us how to tag a hog’s ear.

I grew up in a small town surrounded by big farms.

He had cut out a construction paper ear and for reasons unknown,

(nerves, I hope)

he hole-punched the holy heck 
out of that construction paper hog’s ear 
until it completely fell apart.

I remember a boy with a poster board who had story-boarded in great stick-person detail, 

just how creatively he chose to torment his sister.

No one laughed harder at that speech than him.
And I laughed pretty hard.

It was fun listening to McDaniel talk about all the speeches she heard.

And who knows, 

she just might remember a few of them almost 30 years from now,

like me.

What about you? 

Do you have any high school/college public speaking memories?

I’d love to hear them!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


When life gives you a predicament,

a real one,

not what to cook for dinner
or what to wear.

It is sooo easy to listen to what the world would have us to do

rather than God.

It’s easy to run to a person,

especially the one who will tell us we are always right, 

always justified,

and give us the absolute easiest solution possible

with little to no growth 
or change
or skin off our own nose.

The world is such a liar.

And it is filled with liars.

Liars that we go to for counsel.

We hear from them that it’s okay to pursue happiness over character.

Selfishness over community.

Obsession over moderation.

Personal rights over sanctity of life.

It’s how “unschooling” was born.

And a ridiculous term called “affluenza”.

And a disturbing show called “My Strange Addiction”.

When did the world decide that telling a kid to sit down and do their homework was destructive?

Or employing accountability?

Or telling an adult that NO they cannot pretend 
to be a lamp 
or eat Draino?

Once we accept Christ and actually read the bible, 

we come to know the truth.

Not “your truth” or “my truth”

which brings about spoiled brats 
and adults who treat their 182 Cabbage Patch dolls 
like real people,

or sadly,
explosive vests as a fulfillment to
“their truth."

Truth isn’t plural.

It is singular in every sense of the word.

And that word begins and ends as God.

So why do we not seek out the truth when we are in a tight spot?

We must get some sort of satisfaction out of staying up all night, 
wrung out with worry,

trying to figure it all out on our own.

God knew this would be our nature,

our sin nature.

So he gave us great verses like this:

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is--when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”

John 15:5-8
The Message

God shows us who He is through our fruit 

(what we produce, alive and active in the truth)

and maturing in Him.

Meaning:  the predicaments in our lives are meant to grow us when we remain in Him.

Dependent on God.
The vine that keeps us alive.

Not the world.

In the end, “the harvest is sure to be abundant."

My study notes in the NIV version of this verse says that "God is glorified in the fruit-bearing of disciples.”

God is like an awesome orchard of vines so proud of all His grapes.

The vines that have broken away are nothing but deadwood worth nothing more than firewood.

I don’t know about you,

but I don’t want to be deadwood.

And I’ve been known to pick up driftwood at the beach 
and display it in my home.

Driftwood is deadwood.

It’s beautiful, though, isn’t it?

No fruit here.

What do we teach our children if we choose to be deadwood?

That when the going gets tough, 

pull away.

When life gets difficult,

try to fix it all by yourself.

In the end,

you are just an immature piece of deadwood 
waiting to be turned into a pile of ash.

Or a decorative knickknack.

That’s a grim future to choose compared to this promise:

“For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “plans to proper you 
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Happy New Year

It’s 2016 and everyone, it seems, is trying to start fresh.

I talked with a girlfriend yesterday and we both were looking at meal planning websites to kickstart dinner time.

I hate routine when it comes to meals.

My palette needs variety.

And my eyes need color.

I can’t eat a plate of all brown.

Monte has no problem with that.

In fact, an all-brown plate is something 
he’d order a plate of right now.

With a side of meat on a stick.

So far, my meal planning has produced only two recipes.

I just can’t get my mouth around quinoa, bulgar and flax seed.

Why do SO MANY recipes include them?

Oddly enough, I also have a mild curiosity about making green smoothies.

Then I looked at the possible ingredients.

IF I take this green smoothie step,
there will be substitutions.

On top of wanting to add some variety to our meals,

I’m desiring to clean out all the things 
from all the areas of our house.

I talked with my neighbor about just this topic this morning.

There’s always that one room in the house 
where everything gets stashed.

For her, it’s a guest bedroom.

For me, it’s our master bedroom and the basement.

The master bedroom is the room in our house 
that has been neglected the longest.

Which is sad since it’s the room where I should feel relaxed, 

like a retreat

and not just the room that holds the unfolded laundry,
a library-sized stack of books
and luggage in between trips.

I started looking for master bedroom design ideas online and I don’t think it would be that hard/expensive to get the look I’m after.

But then again, I’m the one who willingly typed in “green smoothie recipes” into a Pinterest search.

With that caveat, 

and very poor transition,

I’m going to recommend a few things 
to add to your new year list making.

Things I think you’d love mainly because I do.

Monte and I saw the above dinosaur t-shirt in New York and I thought it was funny. 

How many times did our girls tell us they didn’t eat something 
when it was smeared all over their face?

I guess this is more of a funny than a recommendation.

Although, if you aren’t owning up to something you know you need to own up to 
because others have caught you in the middle of it, 
 maybe 2016 is your year to do that.

How's that for trying to get back on track 
from the rabbit trail?!

1.  Grandma Gatewood’s Walk:  The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Save the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery.

I bought this book for my dad last year and he couldn’t say enough about it. He gave it to me and it took me awhile to pick it up and start it. I can’t believe I waited so long to read it. It’s fantastic!!

Grandma Gatewood is a 67-year-old woman who decided to “take a walk” one day in the 1950s and ended up walking from Georgia to Maine. She had little supplies but a love for the forest and a great survivor spirit.

It should be a movie.

Instead of all those horror movies that keep getting released 
and anything Quentin Tarantino directs.

Speaking of movies…

2. War Room

Monte and I intended to see this movie in the theaters but didn’t. We got the DVD after Christmas and I’m so glad we own it! It’s such a great movie about forgiveness and the power of prayer.

This is not a chick flick. It should be seen by men as well as women.

3. My Southern Journey:  True Stories from the Heart of the South by Rick Bragg

My girlfriend Beth got this for me for my birthday. Rick Bragg writes a column for Southern Living magazine and Beth would often tear them out for me to read. He writes in such a way that you feel as if you’ve just HEARD him tell you the story from his own mouth.

He writes a whole chapter on dirt. 

And it’s fantastic.

This is a collection of some of his columns and other essays. It’s easy to pick up and read a few chapters before bed.

4. Pie Face

You’ve probably seen videos of people playing this game circulating around online. 

Monte did.

And he decided that we had to have this for Christmas.

But it was sold out most places.

Monte decided to buy from two different places to ensure a Christmas delivery.

One came within a few days.

The other came after Christmas with Chinese writing all over the box.

It didn’t disappoint.

It’s a game of chance where you risk getting a face full of whipped cream.

It really was random who’d get it and who didn’t.

The game also comes with a small sponge that you wet so you get soaked if the hand decides to do so.

I found the wet sponge to the face refreshing 
after the sticky whipped cream.

5.  Card ’n’ Go Seek

I saw this game at our grocery store in the Christmas aisle. I’m not sure why I picked it up but I’m glad I did.

This is so fun!!

You place one card less than people playing that have words of things you must collect to represent that word.

Things around the house.

Things like “sweet” or “transparent”.

We played at my parents’ house and my mom had a clear advantage (and intense competitive spirit).

Once an item is used, it can not be used again which increased the difficulty.   

6. Restoration Hardware’s No-Crack Hand Cream

Beth introduced me to this a few years ago. I’m a sucker for hand cream. And the fact that it’s called “No-Crack Hand Cream.”

We’ve shortened it to “Crack Cream” around here.

Of course we did.

Monte LOVES this stuff. It has no perfumey smell and it isn’t greasy. Monte’s hands bleed they get so chapped and, well, cracky.

Enter “No-Crack Hand Cream” to save the day!

I have no idea if Restoration Hardware sells this all year or just at Christmas. It’s $5 for this little jar but it lasts forever.

I hope you enjoy any or all of the above things as much as I have.

I’m off to clean out all the non-essential things from the master bedroom.

Or, in other words, 90% of its contents.

Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Tis the Season…to be Busted

Lest you think from my very scarf-heavy Christmas pictures earlier,

 that I have a whole Pinterest-perfect thing going on here,

let me summarize my last few weeks.

I put up the most dismally weak, BLUE, manic solar lights ever on the trees in front of our house.

So I took them all down and decided to put up bright, WHITE lights to somehow rectify 
the short period of time that we were, to quote Ellie, 

“The embarrassment of our street."

I underestimated how many strands of lights it would take to wrap a DWARF lilac tree and three small shrubs.

4 boxes of lights in, I realized I needed MORE lights.

I just popped in the house, 
grabbed my keys and purse
and left for the store.

It wasn’t until I was actually IN the store that I realized I had a pretty significant twig stuck in my hair.

My hair was pulled back into a pony tail 
so it had to be pretty obvious.

To everyone but me, of course.

I also found a long chunk of hair that should’ve been pulled back into my pony tail,

no longer was.

I am pretty confident I looked like 
I slept under a bridge.

I’m not totally sure 
because I hadn’t bothered
 to check in a mirror.

I tossed the twig in the Christmas light aisle and tried to kick it out of sight

and did my best to tuck the stray chunk of hair behind my ear in what I hoped was a whimsical, wind-swept totally not, I CAME FROM UNDER A BRIDGE kind of hair style.

The line was 30 deep.

Plenty of time to feel the judgement of others.

I wanted to yell,

“You think I look bad?!
There was a  TWIG in my hair 
not 3 minutes ago! 
Go check the Christmas light aisle 
if you don’t believe me!"

I do think the lights turned out great, though.

My neighbor texted me the other night,

“Love your palm tree!”


She said to look at the dwarf lilac all lit up from her perspective.

I did.


Palm tree.

I just tossed the lights over and across the top of the tree, forming, what I didn’t realize, was the perfect shape of palm leaves.

Hey, works for me!

I’d put our nativity scene right under it 
but it’s metal and Joseph’s face got bent in storage 
and his face cracked and fell off.

Moving on…

Monte and I went to a party for Young Life leaders and supporters, Friday night. I knew to bring a side dish but failed somehow to read the part of the invitation that said to bring one White Elephant gift per person.

Nothing beats the Christmas Spirit out of me faster 
than not being prepared.

And I LOVE White Elephant gift exchanges!

Luckily, I’d been shopping that day with my friend, Beth, and we’d bought some funny gifts.

I texted McDaniel to grab one of the gifts, throw it in a grocery sack, 
slap some washi tape on it and drive it over to us pronto!

She did. 

I LOVE having another driver in our house!

That covered one gift.

Monte had the idea of taking a $10 bill from his wallet and scrounging around the host’s basement for a box, and just sticking the money in it.

It ended up being a very popular gift with all the college kids in attendance.

But the stress of that exhausted me.

Monte and I are morning people.

The next morning we got up and for whatever reason, ate breakfast in our pajamas.

Then we watched Game Day still in our pj’s.

That is so not normal for us.

We are not lounge around in our pajamas type of people.

We get WAY too many pop-in visitors and it’s also hard for me to be productive in pajamas.

Which is precisely why they are called lounge wear.

Monte and I aren’t great at lounging.

But Monte had been traveling for two weeks and I was still reeling from the “We were supposed to bring presents?!” realization.

I was enjoying my second cup of coffee on the couch when the door bell rang.

I ran for the basement and left Monte to answer the door in his bright orange plaid pajama pants.

Thank goodness it was just Julie.

She was suspicious though.

Earlier this week, I hosted a brunch for my bible study.

I was rushing around trying to get everything done at once and in record speed when I opened the pantry door on my face.

My cheekbone, to be exact.

It hurt.
And swelled quickly.

I covered it up with makeup and forgot about it.

Later that night, Monte looked at me for a long time and asked,

“What’s wrong with your face?”

Words every wife wants 
to hear from her husband.

Just this morning, I made the uncharacteristic move and stayed in my pajamas while I did bible study homework, started laundry and scrubbed the toilets and bathtub.

Of course, the doorbell rang.

I had forgotten to tell all the ladies 
that prayer group was cancelled this week.

Busted in my jammies again.

So now, as I type this with hot wax hardening on my lip and chin,

I fully expect to hear the doorbell ring again.

This time it will be someone with a camera crew offering me a giant check and some balloons 

or someone from a brand new TV show asking if they can give me a makeover.

Tipped off by my friends, no less.

The friends that keep catching me in my pjs.

But the answer is still yes.

For the love of Pete,


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas is in the House

I’ve been done decorating my house for some time now.

But I’ve hosted a couple brunches and attended a handful of parties 
so I haven’t had much time to post.

We have our last party Saturday.

It’s our annual neighborhood Jingle Hop where we “hop” from one house to another and another.

Three houses in all.

Last year, we had to do a hop and a skip 
since our house was torn up 
in the middle of the renovation.

We are excited to host our neighbors this year in a bigger space.

My neighbor gave me this just a few weeks ago.
I love it!

I painted this sign last year from the wood shelves I saved from our old den before demolition. I made two extras and gave them to my neighbors who also host the Jingle Hop.

I got new garland this year for both mantles.

50% off at Hobby Lobby.

That’s the sheet music wreath I made hanging on the mirror.
I really like the garland on this mantle but I want new stocking holders.

Maybe I’ll catch an after Christmas sale.

I knew I wanted wreaths on the new windows in the new space.

Julie came up with the idea of incorporating turquoise in the wreaths since I already have it as an accent in the room.

I made those bows out of burlap chevron ribbon I already had.

The bows are small because I didn’t have much of it.

On the window sill are Wizard of Oz nutcrackers since we dressed up as those characters one Halloween.

This shows where the wreaths are in the windows.

Ignore the screens leaning against the wall.

I had to take them out to hang the wreaths.

I have a ton of angels. I only brought out a few this year.

Well, hello, Fancy Gator!

With that top hat on, it looks like he’s smiling.

Take it off, he looks like he’s hungry 
and maybe envisioning you as lunch.

I made that tree with book page strips, Styrofoam rings and a pencil to curl the paper.

Carisa gave me this awesome wooden H for my birthday.

I paired it with the circular seed spreader I had to spell out “Ho!”

It took the girls awhile to notice it.

I made the button tree a few years ago by gluing green buttons onto book pages. I just taped the Scrabble letters
spelling out NOEL right onto the glass of the frame.
I put an enormous Rudolf nose from my Christmas photo booth stash

yes, I have one,

on the cardboard moose head. 

This scarf used to be on a stuffed snowman that Nigel carried around for years during the holidays until one year he decided the scarf had to go so he ripped it off the snowman.

And then proceeded to rip the guts out of the snowman.

For whatever reason,

I’m guessing this one,

I kept the miniature scarf.

Owls might get chilly, right?
Mama Kringle came with a little play set we had when the girls were little. At one time she had a sled and Kris Kringle, I think.

She’s the only survivor of some tragedy that I have to assume 
includes Nigel’s chewing.

Ellie made that adorable reindeer at church a million years ago.

When in decorating doubt, put a scarf on it.

You can quote me on that.


Scarf = instant table runner.

I need to iron it.

After last night’s anniversary dinner involving punch and marinara sauce,

I need to wash it too.

I have two figurines that a friend gave me to represent younger McDaniel and Ellie.

I LOVE them!

But I accidentally dropped the McDaniel one a few weeks ago and her head shattered.

I saved as many pieces as I could and tried to hot glue it all back together.

It’s terrifying.

I haven’t pointed it out to Monte yet. This could keep him up at night.

And part of her head is still missing.

There feels like there is an entire message with this of how when we try to fix our own brokenness there are cracks and missing pieces.

That only God can make us new.

But that’s a message for another time.

I needed to be at the grocery store like an hour ago.

Sorry this picture is so dark.

The skate may say it, but I really don’t mean it.

Those green hydrangeas have been in that barn wood trough my dad made since summer. I just added a few fake poinsettias.

I decided to rearrange the living room since we didn’t really use it much with four chairs facing each other by the fire place.

Now the girls do their homework here since the lighting is better than in the office.

And I’ve had extra seating for brunches and parties.

That’s my grandfather’s wooden Coke crate.

Julie helped me arrange this seating area with my two favorite chairs.

This is the best place early in the morning to do bible study homework.

I’ve always loved this.

I really like that I have a good place for the nativity scene. I used to put it on the piano but it wasn’t in full view.

I got the metal O Come Let Us Adore HIM sign from Pick Your Plum this year.

Merry Christmas everyone!