Saturday Afternoon Tea: Snow, Christmassy stuff, and a disappointing read

I’m debuting a semi-new feature here where I take a day just to chat about what’s going on in my world over a cup of tea for me and a cup of whatever you want for you (please drink responsibly). I’m calling it Saturday afternoon tea because I’d like to post it on Saturday afternoons. Today, though, I kept getting interrupted (for good things) while writing it so I wasn’t able to post it until early evening my time.

I don’t know if I will share this feature every week or every other week. We will just play it all by ear right now, which is a saying The Husband likes to use a lot.

This feature will most likely replace the What’s Occurring section of my Sunday Bookends post because a lot of it will probably be the same info.

I mentioned in the Sunday Bookends post last week that Little Miss and I went to the town Christmas light parade with our neighbor and her grandchildren. It was so terribly cold that night but I did manage to grab a couple shots of Santa and Mrs. Clause.

Thursday and yesterday my photos were of snow since we finally got our first real snowstorm of the season.

We only ended up without maybe five inches of snow when they originally called for up to ten. I am glad we received the lower amount. `

There are rumors we may receive another snowstorm at the end of next week, which could leave us with a white Christmas. We will have to see how that goes.

Our dog, Zooma the Wonder Dog, loves the snow. As soon as she saw it Thursday morning she rolled over on her back and rolled in it. On Friday when Little Miss ventured out into it, she chased Little Miss and then loved having snowballs thrown up in the air for her so she could catch them.

Our kitten also loves the snow and chases little snowballs that she makes by running in the snow.

I’ve still got the Christmas spirit, for the most part (despite some hiccups here and there), and have been trying to read Christmas-themed books and watch Christmas-themed movies. I’ve been trying to cram so many Christmassy things into my days, though, that I’ve overwhelmed myself a little bit.

There is no way I will be able to watch every movie I wanted to watch or read every book I wanted to read or attend every event I wanted to attend. It simply isn’t possible between working on my short story/novella for the blog, reading a book for a fellow author, letting cats and dogs in and out all day, trying to find ways to make money from home, cooking dinner, and homeschooling the children.

For now, I am watching as many movies as I can and zeroing in on one main book to finish before Christmas – Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon. I’m also trying to remember for this next week that quality is better than quantity when celebrating the Christmas season.

I’ve been listening to Christmas music during the week, including this collaboration on YouTube. Maybe you’d like to put it on while you bake or wrap or have family time this week.

I will mention it more on Sunday Bookends, but I was disappointed this week by a book I took out at the library that I thought was a clean, cozy mystery book that would work as a Christmas-themed book. I was almost done with the book when out of the blue the author dropped the f-bomb. It was so strange. I told a friend it was like reading a Miss Marple book and then suddenly she asks, “What the bleep is going on around here?” It was just so out of character and odd for the rest of the book. Like getting a nasty surprise in a piece of chocolate or some other special kind of food.

Needless to say, I won’t be reading any more books by Leslie Maier.

If you read my Sunday Bookends posts, you can just skip the paragraph where I vent about this again.

Pretty much off the topic here, but I was thinking this week about how when I write my Educationally Thinking posts it sometimes sounds like we just skip happily through our school days.

That definitely couldn’t be further from the truth, which was proven on Tuesday of this week when Little Miss and I had a huge miscommunication issue and ended up not talking to each other for two hours while we both pouted. That ended up in me having to lay down some new rules about our school days and those new rules actually worked for the rest of the week. We found some rules and a routine that worked for us just in time for Christmas break which starts on Thursday of this upcoming week.

After that, we will have a full week off and we truly cannot wait for it.

We don’t have any big plans for that week. We might play in the snow if we get some more snow, make some crafts as Christmas gifts, watch Christmas movies, read Christmas books, and just simply be together.

How about you? What’s been going on with you and what Christmas-related plans do you have coming up this next week? I’d love to hear. Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Zac Efron, country music, a story about chickens, and cowboy mysteries

Sunday Bookends is my week in review, so to speak. It’s where I share what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been watching, what I’ve been listening to and what I’ve been writing. Feel free to share a link or comment about your week in review in the comments.

The best thing about taking a news and social media break (with little peeks here and there) is that there is more time to read, write, and watch documentaries about country music superstars. This week I finished a book, started three more, watched two movies, a half of another and finished a documentary about Garth Brooks.

What I’m Reading

I finished A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson this week and really enjoyed it. I’ll have a review of it later in the week.

I’m reading The Bottle Cap Lady by John Spiers of My Life With Gracie with my daughter, who is also a Gracie (but a human one, not a chicken one.). She must be enjoying it because on our second night of reading she asked for it instead of Paddington. I know I am enjoying it and the subtle little life lessons in the stories about chickens.

The description of The Bottle Cap Lady:

The mysteriously troubled Bottle Cap Lady had proudly held the record for serving up more Deluxe Chicken Dinners than anyone else in a single evening as a waitress at The Chicken Place until she lost her job for coming to work drunk. After failing at one part-time job after another, she turns her attention towards Pearl, a small and curious white hen who resembles the chicken statue on top of The Chicken Place Restaurant. The Bottle Cap Lady does not realize there is a Christmas gift only Pearl can give her, but will The Bottle Cap Lady let her give that gift or will she turn Pearl into a Christmas dinner before she even has a chance?

“The Bottle Cap Lady” is the unillustrated version of “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens.” (The author considers this version to be a work of children’s fiction pretending to be adult fiction.) The story text is the same for both novels. Only the preface, introduction, and epilogue are slightly different.

For something completely different I am reading a Longmire novel by Craig Johnson. I was going to read The Dark Horse but my husband suggested I go back to the first book in the series, The Cold Dish. The Netflix show Longmire is based on Johnson’s series of books about Sheriff Walt Longmire in Wyoming. (Warning: These books are not Christian and not for anyone who prefers clean, romantic fiction.) It remains to be seen if I make it through this one, but so far I do like the writing style.

For nonfiction, I hope to start Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias this week.

What I’m Watching

My husband and I watched a two part (90 minutes each) mini-series about Garth Brooks on Netflix this past week. I think it was originally made for CMT to promote his last album. It was an interesting look at a singer we’ve both followed for almost his entire career, although my husband discovered him first because he’s been a country music fan longer than me. Still, I watched Garth when I was in high school, well before I met my husband. It was interesting to see how his career developed, to learn about his divorce from his first wife and leaving his career to raise his three girls and then his marriage to Trisha Yearwood. One thing we knew but learned even more during the documentary was that Garth is very emotional. He must have broke down ten times during this thing as he remembered his career and rise to fame. That’s not a bad thing so don’t get me wrong, it was just something we noticed.

I also watched a movie on Netflix called The Lost Husband with Josh Duhamel this past week. The movie is about a woman who is widowed, loses her house, and moves her and her children in with her great aunt until she can get back on her feet. Her great aunt runs a goat farm and expects her to work on the farm when she gets there, which is a huge culture shock for a city girl like her.

The movie is a little bit of a romance, yes, but it’s not the main focus of the story. The main focus is on the woman not only trying to rebuild her life, but deal with her grief over the loss of her husband and with the unraveling of a family secret. It’s not super dark, not overly cheesy and I enjoyed the story line.

Duhamel was perfect in his role. I liked the subtly of the story, for lack of a better description.

I didn’t mean to pick another Josh Duhamel movie, but somehow did when I watched Life As We Know It, which also stars Katherine Heigel. My husband said the movie was probably awful, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It did drag in some places and was a little too cheesy, but I have definitely seen worse.

My son and I have been watching Zac Efron’s travel show on Netflix aptly titled “Down to Earth with Zac Efron. It’s an interesting show that has shown me Zac is much more than a guy who spells his name weird, has amazing eyes, and often plays the doe eyed love interest in movies. He’s a combination of down to earth and Hollywood sheltered in this show.

The show focuses on natural ways to sustain our life, including how we eat, how we get our energy and our mental health. Efron shows that he really understands the need for a healthy life all around and it’s interesting to see him looking less like an actor and more like an every day person with his beard and chilled out personality. Apparently the internet even made fun of his “dad bod” because he didn’t work out for this show, he was just a normal guy and guess what? He looked healthy and like a normal guy enjoying himself and my husband said he’d love to have Zac’s “dad bod” any day. In other words, we live in a superficial world and the fact comments about the show were more about his looks than the substance of the show just shows how shallow our society can be. The bottom line is that the show is a combination of education and entertainment.

What I’m Writing:

I shared a chapter from Quarantined: A Novella last week and a chapter from The Farmer’s Daughter.

I also shared a post about the music of TobyMac being a soundtrack to my life and a photo featuring images from our summer so far.

What I’m Listening To

This sermon:

Favorite quotes from this one:

Sometimes we are so busy trying to figure out how to get out of them that we expend all the energy that we could have spent trying to learn what God wants us to learn through the storm.

God’s timing is not designed to give us relief. So what is it designed to give you? REVELATION.

Is it harder to give faith to the what if than it is to give FEAR to the what if?

Fear is just faith in the wrong what if.

This podcast:

Laughter for All with Comedian Nazareth

This album:

What’s Been Happening

Not much has been happening here honestly. We are gearing up for homeschooling to start the first week in September, I had some bloodwork done and had an autoimmune disease and diabetes ruled out for causing some of my health issues, which is good, and the kitten is growing fast.

Yesterday there were twin fawns in our backyard so I thought I’d share some photos from their visit in our photos from the week. These are a combination of photos I took and my husband took. The camera and lens are not the one I regularly use and I really didn’t like the quality of the shots but it was still neat to see the twins again and grab some photos of them.

I’m also sharing some photos of the kids’ swimming and the view of our “Endless Mountains” as well as some scenes from a recent political rally we went to for my husband’s job.

Photos from The Week

Sunday Bookends: Old houses, contemplating personal errors and finishing books

What’s Going On

This week the weather was either humid or raining, with a couple of very nice days thrown in the middle. Despite the nice days, I accomplished pretty much nothing most of the week. I didn’t visit my parents. I didn’t finish cleaning out the flower beds (but I did at least start). I didn’t finish a book (although I almost did).

I didn’t see the bear that I’ve been looking out my window for for two weeks, apparently missing her and her cubs by a whole ten minutes on Thursday. Argh!

I did, however, clean out part of the area under the fence that I just found out we own so that I can put some mulch there and maybe later plant some flowers.

I did, also, take my daughter on a short walk and find a possibly haunted house down the street. It’s pretty creepy looking in the daylight. I’d hate to see it in the dark.

I also cut back some of the roses and photographed them some more before they all fall off and leave me.

And I did bury my potatoes in some dirt to see if that helps them grow some more or . . . yeah, I have no idea. I watched a gardening show from Ireland and they said to do it. I like the Irish and trust them, so, we’ll see what happens.

I also contemplated all my personal failures over the years, including some of the weird complaining posts I shared here on WordPress that made me sound like even more of a drama queen than I am.

Then later in the week I noticed how different it is to live on a hill when a thunderstorm hits than in a valley between two rivers. When we lived in the valley we were somewhat sheltered from the thunderstorms but here we hear the rumbles and watch the storm clouds roll toward us. My daughter looks at me with wide eyes when it thunders now because thunder wasn’t as loud at our old house. Sometimes it is like we are closer to the sky here and maybe we are since our hill is pretty tall. I looked up last night and saw this huge cloud hanging what felt like right on top of me. Oddly, no storm came from it — just a few haphazard rain drops.

What I’m Reading

I’m still reading Wooing Cadie McCaffie by Bethany Turner and I am really enjoying it. Will Whitaker and Cadie have been dating for four years and when he doesn’t propose like she thought he was going to she decides it’s time to end it. Will, however, doesn’t want to end it and wants to find a way to win her back again. It’s a really funny, cute book so far.

I started to give up on The Knife Slipped but have pushed through because the story is starting to intriguing me (even though I got totally confused somewhere in the middle) and I love some of the lines.

“My mind was a warped lens projecting a distorted image on the screen of my consciousness. I knew it was the end. I one way I didn’t are. I’d absorbed too much of a beating to want to fight back. My bruised body only wanted rest. Physically, I was licked. Mentally, I wasn’t. I wanted revenge. I knew I was going, but I wanted to take this guy with me. I found myself wishing my skin was stuffed with nitroglycerin, that I had some of way of exploding myself and taking us all into eternity.”

I’m a couple of chapters away from finishing it (and may have finished it by the time this publishes.)

Hopefully I will start the cozy mysteries I have lined up later this week.

What I’m Watching

I’ve been watching Hart of Dixie and during some episodes I feel more brain cells dying, but I still enjoy it.

I’ve also been watching Somebody Feed Phil. This is a food/travel show staring Phil Rosenthal or created and wrote Everybody Loves Raymond. I was sad to see that there was only five episodes but maybe there will be more episodes later. Phil’s delight when he eats food is so fun to watch.

What I’m Listening To

I’m listening to the songs that have been put out by Needtobreathe for their new album, even though I have to admit it’s weird since one of their founding members just left the group. It doesn’t feel like the same band, but yet it does. I still like the new songs.

Photos from the week

So how was your week? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday Bookends: Free ebooks, moving and some fresh air

What a week, huh?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to interject politics, worries, or virus numbers from around the world in this post, so you’re safe.

The only thing I will say about it all is that I have discovered a couple new things from not being able to get the groceries I usually do. One, I had no idea that Bob Evans potatoes came in individual servings. I rarely eat them but picked them up when potatoes were running low in our area. We’ve eaten these at my parents and they aren’t the best, but they also aren’t the worst. Two, a local pizzeria near us makes amazing pizza and I wish we had ordered pizza from them in the past. We know this because we ordered two of their pizza making kits and the ingredients were fresh and resulted in incredibly tasting pizza.  Once the restrictions in our state are lifted, we will be sure to order from them again.

As many of you know, if you’ve been a long time, or even short time reader of this blog, I don’t handle stressful situations well. I especially don’t handle the unknown well. Not knowing what might happen from day to day or if someone I love will come down with this virus and become very ill is very draining on me.

BUT —  and yes, this is a good BUT — only by the literal grace of God,  I have been able to stay calm and surprisingly positive throughout this situation affecting our world.

It isn’t that a couple of nights haven’t been ruined by me laying awake and scrolling through a mental list of “what-ifs” but I’m able to push those thoughts aside a lot faster than I used to be. I’m handing so much more over to God than I did in the past. I am remembering (for once!) the words “the battle belongs to the Lord!” When a reader told me she remembered my post and wrote those words on a piece of paper and hung it up on her house to help her get through all of this craziness, I was not only touched, but it encouraged me to do the same.

I have not been doing as much reading as I would have liked to this past week, even though my brother encouraged me to do a 24in48 readathon. The idea is to read 24 hours out of 48 hours. Um… yeah. Not really going to happen. Probably ever. For me anyhow. (Edited this to add this comment of clarification from my brother: “Just to clarify that is the idea. That is not the rule, especially this time around. I think what’s happening this time is that a lot of people are gathering together and talking about books, even the little that they are able to read. One participant suggested a goal of reading 10 minutes each hour or listening to an audiobook for 20 minutes, which I think is doable. Today, for myself, I am going to post once or twice on Instagram and stay away from Instagram Stories, read Sunday Salon posts like I normally do, and read as I can while avoiding all news altogether.” (You can read the rest of his comment in the comments section and check out his blog for what he’s doing to keep his mind off of things.)

Anyhow, I probably read a total of an hour on Saturday and may read an hour Sunday so two hours total.  I’ve been having trouble focusing on reading (much like my brother) between current events and packing up our house to move, plus homeschooling (which we do all the time, as I mentioned in my post yesterday) playing with my 5-year old (who thinks she needs constant entertainment at this age), writing a short story for my Facebook pageant Instagram author account, and finishing up A New Beginning.

Isn’t it cool how I made myself sound really important and busy in the above paragraph? Looks good on paper/screen, right? In reality, it looks like a Picasso painting that’s been puked on.

While I am thinking or writing about books, in case others are not yet aware of this, Scribd, which I had never heard of before, is offering their subscriptions for free for the next 30 days. That includes almost all of their ebooks, audiobooks and even sheet music. My brother told me about this and it has been nice to have because all of the Romana books by Beverly Cleary are currently available for free there and my daughter loves Romana so I am reading the books to her before bed.

For myself, I am reading the second book in the Mitford series by Jan Karon, A Light in the Window and also Falling for You by Becky Wade (continuing the nice light romances I mentioned last week.)

We were able to get outside in between blasts of heavy rain on Friday, which was very much needed after a damp, cold week. It was 71 on Friday and dropped to 37 by Saturday. Talk about messing up sinuses. I’ll share a few photos from our day here and then probably do a separate post later in the week when we all need a break (another break) from the bleak news cycle.

We usually visit my parents on Sundays but with everything going on we decided to skip this weekend even though we think we’ve most likely exposed each other already. My dad is 76 and pretty matter-of-fact about things so last week he told us “We’re in our 70s. We could get a cold and die at this point so I’m not really worried.”

My dad is a young 76. He is still very active so keeping him in one place hasn’t been easy.  Earlier this week he said “Well, I guess we should try to not travel much during all this,” and we decided together our family would stay home for this weekend and maybe next, but after that, we are moving and may need to stay a couple nights with them.

We are praying none of us catch this before then so we don’t have to sleep in our van or car until we get the keys to the new house (apparently we have to be moved out prior to signing our closing papers to sell this house and can’t have keys to the new place until the sale of this house is final. Yeah. Fun times.).

We enjoyed a visit with them last week and while the trees are still bare, we did some signs of spring starting to show up.


DSC_8772DSC_8788So how about all of you? What are you reading, writing, watching or simply doing right now? Let me know in the comments.

More ‘Autumn in Pennsylvania’, photos, the Apostle Paul, and a little about books

Winter is coming in a bit like a lion this year as the North was lashed with wind and rain part of this week. We spent part of our week inside, under covers, watching movies and sometimes reading books.

Early in the week I rolled my ankle and thought I was on the way to the ER like Marcia at The Write Stuff (who visited the ER for the first time in her life twice in a week!) but luckily that didn’t happen. I wish I had an exciting story to go along with that ankle story but I was literally only pushing my son’s bike in the driveway to take it to the van so he could take it to his grandparents and my ankle just turned. That was all. Very boring story. The ankle was sore off and on all week but nowhere near a crisis. One day I thought it was swollen and then remembered I just have fat, Hobbit-like feet and ankles and it wasn’t actually swollen.

At the end of the week, I also feel in a hole at my parents, with the foot of the ankle I had twisted going straight down and sending me to the ground. My son thought it was hilarious because he said one moment I was standing and the next moment I screamed and disappeared. Luckily, I didn’t damage it worse and was still able to go to a community event with my husband later that evening.

Speaking of Hobbits, I have stalled on reading the book and I have no idea why because it’s a good book. Here is a goal for this week: finish the book, like my son who is finishing it up for schoolwork.

Speaking of books, I haven’t made a ton of progress on that front but did manage to progress in Diane Moody’s Memphis & Me and have made a list of other books I plan to break into this week, including:

  •  Village School by Miss Read
  • Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers
  • Rhythm and Renewal by Rebekah Lyons
  • The Misadventured Summer of Tumbleweed Thompson by Glen McCarty (middle school book for book discussion for our homeschooling group)

As for what I’m watching, I watched Paul, Apostle of Christ with Jim Cavaziel this week and wow, it was powerful. Jim is playing Luke this time, instead of Jesus. Paul is played by James Faulkner who gives a powerful performance of a man at the end of his 30-year journey as a missionary for Jesus. Paul is in a Roman prison, charged by Nero with burning half of Rome, which of course he denies doing. The movie shows that the fire was more than likely started by Nero himself, who then used the Christians as a scapegoat to take the blame off himself. The Christians are currently living in hiding, with many being murdered because of their faith, trying to decide if and when to leave Rome to seek a more hospitable situation in Ephesus. Luke sneaks into the prison to visit Paul and record his message to his fellow persecuted Christians.

There is some fiction thrown into the story to add some drama, but that doesn’t take away from the crux of the Bible-based portions of the movie.

The movie was very moving, thought-provoking, deep, and should be watched with tissues close by. I honestly had a hard time watching it and not thinking of our world today and how persecution against people because of their faith is not something of the past, but something of the present that is continually getting worse. I tried not to envision that one day Christians (or people of other faiths) will be marched to the coliseum to be eaten by lions like we and others were in the day of the Romans.

To lighten the mood a little (ha!) I’m also watching a British sitcom called “One Foot in the Grave” (it doesn’t sound lighter, does it?) about a cranky man who has been forced into retirement. The series has both humorous and heart breaking moments so it’s a bit of a roller coaster ride emotionally, but the humor is up my alley – a little dark and odd.


I snapped only a few more fall related photos this week, partly because we had rain and wind two days in a row and it was miserable weather to photograph in and partly because I didn’t go many places to take photos featuring the fall foliage.


I’m fairly certain this after I fell in the hole because my son was laughing pretty hard after I disappeared. Little “jerk.” 😉

So how about you? What have you been reading, watching or doing lately? Let me know in the comments.


This post is part of Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon 

and Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer’s Sunday Post. 

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Weekly Round Up and Favorite blog posts

I thought I’d start a weekly tradition of wrapping up my posts from the past week and also share some favorite blog posts from other bloggers. Hopefully, it will be a tradition. It may just be a one-off thing, knowing me.

Tuesday I shared my monthly 10 on 10 post, which is part of a blog circle with other photographers. We share ten photos from the previous month, from either one day, event, or subject, or simply our favorite photos from the month.


On Wednesday I rambled about what books I’m reading and some of the cons of getting back into reading – like forgetting to feed my children. Oops.

On Thursday I shared the latest installment in a story I have been writing, based on the story in the Bible about Jesus raising a 12-year old girl from the dead.

For some of my favorite blog posts from this week, (disclaimer: I actually read some of them last week, but I’m SHARING them this week, so hey, that’s how it works in my world):

Blessings by Me wrote this post about 5 Indoor Plants That are Hard To Kill. I found this interesting because I’m a plant killer and I don’t have hope that I could keep even the plants on this list alive. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve killed at least one of them at least once, if not more than once.

Michelle at The Green Study cracks me up because she puts such a creative spin on the highs and lows of life. This post, “My Misery Brought A Plus One” is one of the more creative posts I’ve read about being sick.

As a fellow mom, this post “You pretty, Mommy,” by Cheyenne on Chey’s Corner, gave me “all the feels” as people younger than me say. It’s a great reminder for mom’s that our children don’t see us the way we see ourselves. They don’t see the flaws or shortcomings. They just see the mom they love.

bryanI wouldn’t normally promote my brother’s blog because it gives him a big head (like the photo he uses for his blog header), but I did like his post for the Sunday Salon this week when he asked how people read but also WHEN do they read. His post was part of a link up of other bloggers who read or review books and then write about it on their blogs. Most of them are strictly book bloggers and it’s a great list of links where you can find some good ideas for new books to read.

So what did you post this week? Read any good posts by other bloggers? Let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new bloggers.