Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year Y'all

As we're waving goodbye to 2020 and walking in to the new year, I hope you will be able to look back and find the blessings amidst the pandemic and turmoil of this past year and to keep putting one foot in front of the other as we move toward the joys and challenges of the year ahead!

Happy New Year Y'all!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas Y'all!

Hope y'all have a wonderful and blessed day as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Book Pages Sculptures

On a very rare outing a couple of months ago, we stopped at Half Price Books to sell back a couple of boxes of books. The store policy is that we have to remain in the store while we wait for the buy offer on our books, so we wandered around social distancing and discovered these gorgeous book pages sculptures.

Since we both found it pretty uncomfortable wearing masks and wandering the store trying to social distance from other shoppers, it'll be a good long while before we return to sell back additional books. Who knows, maybe we'll get inspired and just take them apart and create something instead! 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Book Reviews | Not the Year for NonFiction

As I look back over my books read list for this year, it's apparent that this was not the year for lots of nonfiction reading. Of the 89 books I've read (so far), only 25 are nonfiction, with 21 of those being read during the first half of the year. As the pandemic continued and civil unrest and election news seemed to take over everything, I gravitated toward good fiction.

Here's a quick review of the four nonfiction books I've read since the beginning of July.


The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World had been on my to-read shelf since early 2019. I have mixed feelings about this book - I agree with the premise that we need to empower women as one way to make changes in our world and found the stories interesting. On the other hand, it was somewhat depressing reading the stories of abuse and poverty around the world and I often couldn't relate to the author, Melinda Gates (wife of Microsoft's Bill Gates). Since my thoughts were somewhat divided on this book, I added it to our personal library until I decide if I want to revisit it in a year that's not already filled with so much hard news.

Next, I was asked by TCK Publishing if I'd like to review one of their recent books, so I chose The Art of Writing by Peter Yang (which I received free in exchange for an honest review). I chose this book because I thought it would be good inspiration and a reminder to be continually conscientious about improving my writing here on the blog and in my newsletters, etc. The contents list the "four principles for great writing that everyone needs to know" as economy, transparency, variety, and harmony. So, I was excited to dive in; however, I found this book to be lacking and really cannot recommend it. The author didn't really follow his own guidelines, the examples were sometimes distracting, and some paragraphs were so disjointed or superfluous that I had no idea what he was trying to say. I'm glad it was a thin book, otherwise I would have simply put it in the donate pile without finishing it.

(On the other hand, this blog post from TCK Publishing is a great read looking at why stories are important to our lives and culture.)

These last two books from our personal library are ones I've just read as part of enjoying the Christmas season. 


Windows on Christmas is a small but lovely volume that shares a look at Christmas from various perspectives or "windows" beginning with Mary & Joseph and including the angels, the shepherds, Anna and Simeon. Christmas Stories for the Heart is another small volume that is filled with lovely stories of Christmastime, some of them I've heard or read other places (or at least some version of) while others I did not remember as it's been quite a few years since I read this book that we received as a wedding gift (almost) 19 years ago.

How about you? Did you gravitate toward fiction books this year or take the opportunity to include more nonfiction or (as some have said) simply quit reading and binge watch Netflix? 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday Musings | A Symbol of Hope

The evergreen trees that we decorate at Christmas time are a symbol of hope. In nature, the evergreen tree gives hope that spring is coming as it perseveres through the hardship of winter weather. It remains unchanged through the seasons and gives hope that there will be a freshness and newness when spring arrives.

Similarly, when we look at our Christmas trees, we can remember the hope of new life in Christ. Before that first Christmas, the people were hoping and waiting for the Savior. The birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of their hope!

Notice how the tree points toward heaven and has a triangular shape reminding us of the 3 persons of our Lord - God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We often put a star on top, which serves as a reminder to follow the star that leads to Christ. All those twinkly lights remind us that Jesus is the true light in a world of darkness.

Our beautiful Christmas trees can remind us to place our hope in the Lord and in His Word.

When you look at your Christmas tree, what do you see?

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Scrapbooking | October & November 2020 By the Numbers

This year, as I process each month's photos, I'm creating a digital layout featuring six photos and journaling "by the numbers." I'm using a digital template and various papers from my stash. My plan is to include a photo of me and Robbie and a photo of my mantel display as the top line of photos each month. Since my green mantel display was still up in October, I included a photo of our new couch on that layout and the fall mantel display on the November layout.

Here's how the numbers add up for October & November.

* 3 vacation days & 8 final days Robbie worked from home for FPT.
* 2 weeks off between jobs.
* 36-hour roundtrip to Mississippi for Aunt Betty’s funeral.
* 1 new desk purchased & 1 AC vent installed for Robbie’s home office setup.
* 2 new laptops & 2 new printers added to home network.
* 1 visit from Mama & Daddy.
* 2 early votes cast in the presidential election.
* 5 curbside grocery pickups from Kroger/ WalMart.
* 1 game of Battleship played with Logan via Zoom.
* 2 bookstores visited to sell back books & pick up new magazines.
* 2 virtual crops with friends.
* 1 movie watched: Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
* 21 layouts created, 2 cards made,1 Bible page illustrated, 1 scrapbook- for-hire project completed (58-page album), 10 blog posts published.

We watched some Netflix shows and football games during October, so we ended up only watching one movie. If you've been around my blog for a while, you already know that I am a fan of the Little House on the Prairie books, that I took a comprehensive class on Laura Ingalls Wilder as a writer a few years ago, and we've even visited the Wilder home in Missouri. So, when I heard about the two-movie series Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I wanted to see it. The first movie focuses on Laura's meeting, marriage, and first few years of life with Almanzo Wilder, which involved the birth of their daughter, losing a year's crop to a hail storm, a still born baby, a bout of diphtheria that left Almanzo weakened, and a house fire. The second movie, which we watched in early November, followed their trip to Missouri and the new life they built for themselves there. The movies are well done and true to their life story (as opposed to the Little House on the Prairie TV series, which veers greatly from Laura's actual life).

* 1 CFO position at Katsumi began.
* 1 family member diagnosed with Covid-19 & 2 others possibly exposed.
* 3 online church services attended.
* 56th birthday celebration for Robbie!
* 1 visit to Mama & Daddy.
* 17 family members in 5 homes & 3 states on Thanksgiving Zoom call.
* 5 Christmas trees decorated.
* 13 movies/shows watched: Beyond the Prairie Continues, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Miracle on 34th Street, Holiday in the Wild, Christmas with the Kranks, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Frosty Returns, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Little Drummer Boy, Coat of Many Colors, Christmas of Many Colors, The House Without a Christmas Tree.
* 9 layouts created, 2 cards made, 40-page theme album completed, 3 Bible pages illustrated, 1 scrapbook- for-hire project completed (54-page album), 10 ornaments created, 1 diaper cake assembled, 8 blog posts published.

Along with part two of Beyond the Prairie, we watched one other movie before we began enjoying Christmas movies. The Day the Earth Caught Fire is a 1961 movie that was recently remastered for Blu-ray. The United States and Russia test atomic bombs at the same time, which alters the Earth's axis of rotation. This is a really good end-of-the-world movie with an intriguing ending.

Like many others around the world, I was ready to start decorating for Christmas and watching our favorite holidays movies this year. For us, the Christmas season typically starts on Black Friday when we pull the Christmas trees down from the attic and begin decorating. Since we were not hosting Thanksgiving or traveling anywhere this year, we started a week or so before Thanksgiving and ended up watching 11 Christmas movies/shows before the end of the month.

We started with the 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street, a favorite that ends up with Judge Harper declaring that there is a Santa Claus. The Netflix movie Holiday in the Wild follows the story of Kate as she travels alone to Africa after her husband leaves her. While the storyline is fairly predictable, the setting makes this a memorable movie. It is set in an elephant sanctuary that rescues young orphaned elephants and cares for them before they are returned to the wild. We watched Christmas with the Kranks on Amazon Prime, but this is such a FUN movie that we'll be adding it to our movie collection for next year. When the Kranks daughter announces she's not coming home for Christmas, they decide to skip Christmas all together, which leads to hilarious interactions with friends and neighbors.

We have a TV Christmas Classics Collection that includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Frosty ReturnsSanta Claus is Comin' to Town, and The Little Drummer Boy. These animated and stop-motion shows always remind us of childhood Christmases and watching these on television. The House Without a Christmas Tree is another favorite made-for-television special that first aired in 1972. I don't remember ever seeing this one until Robbie and I married, but he's enjoyed it for many years. Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors and Christmas of Many Colors - Circle of Love are two new favorites that were just released in the past few years. These stories from Dolly's childhood in the Tennessee mountains are touching and extremely well-done. While Coat of Many Colors is not technically a Christmas movie, we always watch it at this time of year because the story in Christmas of Many Colors follows it chronologically.

How did the numbers add up for you in October and November?

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Mantels | December 2020

My goal this year was to design a new mantel display each month in a way that reminded us of bits and pieces of our wonderful life...and share those stories here on the blog. I kept a few displays up longer than a month so actually ended up creating nine total displays for the year!

December's display has a Christmas theme and features Santa & Mrs. Claus.

We picked up the large Santa & Mrs. Claus at a craft fair back in 2010. I like that they're both showing some cute personality.

Each month I'm including a photo (or two) of us, and I knew our wedding photos would be perfect to represent the Santa & Mrs. Claus of our home. Those little figures in front of the frame are actually small bells that my sister sent me from The Santa Clause House in Alaska back in the early 1990s.

We picked up the Home for the Holidays wooden barn sign on a very rare trip inside WalMart last week as it seemed to fit with 2020's theme of staying home. The kissing Santa & Mrs Claus were purchased on my first visit to Canton First Monday Trade Days in 2001, four weeks before we were married. That Christmas tree is one I created from an old paperback book.

We found the Santa & Mrs. Claus on the bench about 12 years ago in a store in one of our local malls. It was sitting in the display window and caught our attention, and we knew it would make a great addition to our collection.

We have a large collection of Santa figurines and ornaments, but this is the first time I've put just the Santa & Mrs. Claus items on display together. I'm thrilled with how this turned out!

How did you do with your displays this year? Did you find a place to showcase some of your memories and change them up throughout the year?