Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Market Angels

I spent three wonderful years in Germany, a guest in the country. I was eager to experience the sounds and wonders of everything German...beer fests, wine fests, and the Christmas markets.
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Arkansas winters, where I spent my childhood, were not the winters of Rudolf and his friends. Occasionally, we had some snow, and it was usually cold. But my first winter in Germany was a real winter, and I loved every blustery, frosty minute.
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On one of those glorious crisp days, we set out to explore the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, the mega-super-store of Christmas markets. My goal for the day was an angel topper for my Christmas tree. I must have seen a million angels that day before I found "it." While sipping the mulled wine and tasting the gingerbread, I searched for the angel that would be a family heirloom.
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She needed a rich tapestry dress, something a queen would wear. She needed blond curls like my two-year-old daughter. And her gold feathered wings had to be without blemish.
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I found her on that lovely day. It was a day for memories and a day for snowflakes. Thank God it was not a day for terrorism.

We need more days like mine and fewer like the one in the Berlin Christmas Market on December 19. I don't know how to make that happen. I just know that true angels are surrounding the dead and injured, and I'll never look at my Nuremberg wax angel the same way again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

First Night of PREP: a Pins to Projects Post

Tonight will be the first night of this year's Parish Religious Education Program classroom schedule. I can't wait  to meet the third graders in my class. To celebrate, I brought a couple of my Pinterest pins to life.

Traditionally, PREP was called CCD, so I created a CCD Idea board to store some ideas for the year. When I received my teaching materials, I began sorting through them to find some fun ones that fit the first week's theme: God loves us. What better way to celebrate God's love for my students than to express how excited I am to meet them? I found a pin for a blog post called Love Those Kinders. I decided to use her first idea: I've been bubbling with excitement to meet you! Here is my interpretation using Mr & Mrs Celebration Bubbles from Hobby Lobby:

Greeting gift for first night

Next, I wanted special name tags. The site www.teachcreatemotivate.com had a great set of templates for a V.I.P. themed table. This will be a terrific way to move through the lesson. First, in their journals, I will ask them to write or draw what made them VIP's. Then in the lesson, I will have them look in a hand mirror and tell how they are VIP's in God's eyes.  Finally, I will ask who are the VIP's in their lives that they communicate with, leading to the idea of prayer as communication with God. I wanted a VIP name tag specifically for each student, so I made my own with Office Depot supplies. The Avery 5151 Flexible Name Badges allowed me to print and peel some for their journals and just print others for their badges. The ones inside the badges do not have the backing peeled off:

The third pinned project I will use tonight will be a template using a shamrock to review the Glory Be prayer. As part of our discussion of God, we will talk about the Trinity. We won't have time to do the whole poster, but each will fill in the template. I'll add it to their journals after class:

These are my Pins to Projects for tonight, more to come later.
Will you share any of yours?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Packing Hacks: Don't Leave Home without These Tips

Traveling can be fabulous with new adventures to experience, new sights to see. Leaving home can also be stressful if needed items don't leave home with you. I love to travel, and I love to be organized. Here are a few tips to help your next trip go more smoothly.


An app for all occasions: PacktheBag

This handy tool can be customized, and you can create a list for different types of travel. I have an Austin FB Weekend and a Weekend Retreat, among others. List items can be copied or deleted and can be checked off as you tuck them away.

Keep duplicate shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc. packed in a small bag ready to go.

I feel secure knowing that all my personal items are ready to go at a moment's notice even though I never actually go anywhere at a moment's notice. This saves me hunting down all the small details each time. Remember to check the latest information on carry-on regulations if you're flying. I never trust my necessities to checked baggage.


Pack by day rather than by item.

The best way to have everything needed for an occasion is to pack the total outfit at once: clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry. Then stack each day's clothing with the first day on top. This especially helped on our ten-day, four-hotel tour of Italy.


Pack a garishly colorful item to mark your charger cables.

Mine is a hot pink acrylic charger shelf that hangs over the plug, but even a purple hair tie will do. The idea is to keep the charger cord from blending into the furnishings. I bought several new cords before I began this practice. I haven't left one behind since.

Ordering Details

Include a three-to-one outlet adaptor for your bedside plug.

Hotels often have one or fewer outlets at bedside. An adaptor can turn one into three, allowing room for the phone charger.

Ordering Details

Take a chip clip or clothespin for the hotel curtains.

The gap between curtains in hotel rooms is almost a given. Whether you need extra privacy or darkness for sleeping in, a little clip makes life much better.

I hope these little hints help. Please share yours with me. Happy trails!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Posts That Have Helped Rejuvenate my Blog

As my few readers will attest, my blog has been languishing due to neglect for quite some time. With my improved health, a completed move and persistent unemployment, I decided to breathe some life back into it.

The Problogger podcast challenge, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, was just what I needed to begin.


Reading excellent blogs led me farther on the path. Here are just a few of the posts that have taught me, inspired me or lured me into better and more consistent postings.

Neely of It Starts with Coffee shared some of her tips for success in Best Productivity Tips for Bloggers . From her I learned to make a calendar of my postings and stay on a schedule.

In her Blog Tips: How to Maximize Your Content, Paula of Thirteen Thoughts gave me the terrific tip to use Pinterest to generate interest in my posts. I'm a rabid pinner with many followers there, so I'm excited to share my posts there.

For actual content, I drew inspiration from three particular posts. I am an "ordinary life" type of blogger, and these posts helped me see new ways to express myself.

In The Days are Long, Patti of Joy in the Middle reminded me to open up. Share what it's like to be a mother, grandmother and wife "of a certain age." It can be nostalgic and a little nutty too.

Checking In is a post from Over the Backyard Fence that inspired me to post about my upcoming long weekend watching University of Texas football with my husband, This may turn into more than one post since we will have family time, friend time and museum time in Austin as well.

Clover Lane's And Then There is August reads like a day book of family adventures. I have plenty of those.

My future task is to do justice to all of this great advice and inspiration and produce a blog worth reading. Let me know how I'm doing.

Also, please take time to share with me posts from blogs that you believe will help me on my writing journey.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

5 Reasons American Ninja Warrior is one of my new favorite shows

Disclaimer: I am not now, nor will I ever be accused of being, an athlete. That's not modesty. It's just a sad fact.

My interest in American Ninja Warrior began when my six-year-old grandson told me with great seriousness that he no longer went to the park to play. He went there to train to be an American Ninja Warrior. I just had to see what had inspired him, and the show immediately became one I looked forward to each week.

Why? How does this festival of fitness appeal to an out-of-shape middle-aged woman more comfortable in a library than a gym?

  • First, the show is good, clean fun, and I don't mean the big splashes for failed attempts. The emphasis is on healthy lifestyle and hard work. Some of the ninja athletes have made comebacks from illness, injury or tough backgrounds to be positive and successful. That success is emphasized and celebrated, no matter how many obstacles they complete.
    • Next, each event is a family atmosphere. Moms and dads dye their hair to support their costumed ninja children. Babies with headphones even brave the craziness. It's a good craziness that is all cheers and no boos.
      • The athletes' support of causes is another reason I love to watch. Painting his hair pink, one competitor was drawing attention to breast cancer. Another had a video shout-out to the little boy he was mentoring at home. Many use the national television audience opportunity to express their faith. All good causes are welcome on the show.

      •  Fourth, this is an equal opportunity athletic competition. Men and women compete on the same course, with women outshining some of the men. Athletes of every ethnicity and from each of the 50 states compete together. Their mental toughness and physical strength propel them to each new level.

      • The most important reason I like the competition is the positive attitude of each ninja. Many cheer on their opponents. No matter if or when they drop from the course, they rise from the water with a smile and a serious lack of tantrums. No need for a handy bleeper button here.

      Saturday, June 18, 2016

      My friend is ill.

      A great friend is seriously ill. More than a friend, he's a spiritual father. For many years, I have leaned on his steadfast wisdom.
      I love him dearly; but I am not a family member. Therefore, I am not privy to his prognosis. His immediate family only knows me as one of the flock who look up to him. I don't know if he is dying or suffering a debilitating setback.
      I visit his bedside several times a weak. Some days he smiles and calls me by name. Sometimes he just smiles. Sometimes he sleeps. He wears restraints and lies in a quiet room, often alone.
      When awake, his eyes are peacefully alert. He listens to me and answers some simple questions with a word or two, a nod, a smile, a rolling of the eyes--his sense of humor intact. Then he speaks. The words are soft, a mix of full phrases that drift into one another often meaninglessly.
      I feel selfish. I desperately miss his booming voice, his book suggestions, his birding stories, his insights into my own heart. I miss his self. I wonder if he is missing his self as well.
      Yet, he is still here, and I will still be there as long as he is.

      This is age. This is illness. This is life.

      Friday, November 13, 2015

      I love sewing...

      I love sewing, crocheting, embroidering, anything with a needle or hook. 


      I follow the instructions, pay attention to details and correct mistakes by starting over when necessary.

      What if life were like that? It certainly hasn't been lately.

      Scripture, Church teachings, and spiritual writings--these are my instructions. I pray over them and follow them as well as I can.


      The details around me have my almost undivided attention: 

      my husband and family, my friends and even strangers who cross my path. They receive from me the care and dignity that is their birthright as children made in the image of God.

      When I make mistakes, and I do, my priority is to repair any harm I cause.

      I unravel sometimes, rip out bad stitching. Then I go back to the instructions and start again. 

      Sewing produces a product, more or less as the pattern promises. 

      Life doesn’t always do this. Winds whip away designs as I begin to admire their shape. Thieves of time or tragedy transform beauty to dust in a thunderclap or an excruciating slow-motion rumble. No amount of desire can undo or repair the damage.


      I know how to sew, to crochet and to embroider. 

      I don't know how to live a precarious life, not even after over fifty years of practice. However, with help of the ultimate designer, I will continue to study and learn.