Friday, September 30, 2011

Coffee Conversation

Anyone who knows me (in real life) knows that I’m a coffee person. I’m not a connoisseur by any means, but I know what I like when it comes to my favorite beverage. Although I often say, “Coffee is my only vice,” in my heart of hearts, I can’t think of coffee as a “vice,” really.

Recently a friend was teasing me about how many coffee makers are in my house. Well, there are three that I use regularly. But, I have a large house, and one must have coffee available regardless of the area of the house one finds oneself in when it’s time for a cup of coffee!

In the kitchen (upper level), we have a Capresso, a wonderful machine we have used for years. It grinds the coffee (with a Swiss burr grinder) then flips the basket over and brews it. Our favorite blend of coffee (whole bean, obviously) is Ronnoco, Columbian Supreme.


This is the coffee maker we use for our morning coffee, enjoyed in the sitting area of our bedroom, where we have a nice view of the woods behind our house (we are on five acres of woods, and our upper floor places us quite a bit above the ground).

morning coffee summer


Our view for morning coffee


morning coffee winter


It is in the lower level of the house where we spend most of our routine daytime and evening hours. Among the rooms on that level, we have a family room, a small kitchen, my hobby room, and my husband’s office area. The coffee maker for the lower level is a Keurig (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it). Our favorite K Cups are Green Mountain Nantucket Blend and Kona.


Also, in the lower level kitchen area, where we have a “coffee bar,” we have a very nice espresso machine (from Starbucks). I use the Starbucks espresso beans and grind them in a Swiss burr grinder.


Our favorites from the coffee bar include Caramel Macchiato, Nonfat Latte, and this time of year, of course, Pumpkin Spice Latte (the syrup, compliments of my sister!).



Speaking of “time for a cup of coffee,” that Pumpkin Spice Latte is sounding pretty good about now!

Monday, September 26, 2011

How I Scrapbook

Recently I was asked if there was a description somewhere on my blog of my “method” of scrapbooking. In case it would be of help to someone, here is a brief and general description of how I scrapbook.

First of all, although I do some digital pages just for fun, for my “real” scrapbooks, my method is traditional/paper. I scrapbook chronologically, rather than topically. I take pictures of most everything that happens in our lives, and I scrapbook most pictures. I complete 2-3 albums, 12x12, each year. So far, I have almost exclusively used Creative Memories albums. (I do topical albums for vacations/trips, and usually use K&Company post albums for those.) I started scrapbooking in 2004 and have about 30 albums, stored on several shelves such as this one:

Some of my albums

I have a hobby room with lots of supplies, laptop, printer, Cricut Expression and Cricut Imagine. I have a table to sit and work on embellishments (inking, stamping, for example), and another table where I stack some things in process. But I stand to scrapbook. My husband made a raised box that brings my work area up closer for me, for comfort for my neck and shoulders. This is my main scrapbooking station:

Where I stand and scrap

This is my process: When I have a group of photos (I order from Snapfish), I organize them by “event” and try to keep each event to 5-8 photos (for a two-page layout). I label each group of two-page layouts with the date. Each of these “stacks” represents a two-page layout.

01 Organize the photos by 2-pg layout

For a layout, I spread out the photos on my work mat.

02 Lay out the photos

Next, I think about the colors I want to use for the layout. I tend to let the colors of the photos, and the “mood” of the “event” determine what background paper (actually cardstock) I will use. Foundational to my scrapbooking style is the use of color. So, I look through my Die Cuts with a View card stacks. Some of them are here:

Cardstock Packs

I pull one or more stacks and/or a few sheets from the stacks to play with, laying out the photos to see how they look on the different backgrounds.

03 General papers that might work 

04 Several possible paper combinations

I narrow down the paper/cardstock selection until I’m down to a couple of sheets per page.

 06 use these

Then I play around with placement and paper use. I work some with simple embellishments (Cricut die cuts, etc.). For me, the pictures really are the main thing, followed by journaling. So there is not a lot of room for elaborate embellishments.

07 possible layout

I mat some of the photos (using white cardstock in this one), add some buttons with baker’s twine, ribbon, etc.

08 final layout

I usually use the Cricut for the letters of the title, but occasionally I revert to my old method of self-stick alphas.

This layout came together quickly. Sometimes I do more elaborate layouts and spend much more time. I was putting together an album on our Florida trip and had about 80 photos to scrap, so I wanted direct and simple, with focus on the pictures and journaling.

It’s difficult to give a brief description , but this is a general overall picture of how I scrapbook. If you have questions, email

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Food & Fun With a Few Good Friends

It is our blessing to lead a “small group” for our church. This is a very special group of friends with whom we enjoy studying the Bible and growing spiritually.

This group also happens to be an extremely fun bunch of folks! Last night we all gathered at our house for a Mexican Night, followed by a competitive but friendly Game Time.

 IMG_2269 IMG_2271 IMG_2272 IMG_2273 IMG_2274 IMG_2275

For dessert, we had Pumpkin Bars (recipe in earlier blog post) and Pecan Pie Bars, shown here (recipe in Featured Recipes page, by request--click at top of page).

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Me I Want to Be (does NOT come naturally)

One of my favorite devotional books to grab is The Worrywart’s Prayer Book by Allia Zobel Nolan. Now why would I be drawn to such a title? Hmmmmm….

WorryWart's Prayer Book

The chapter I read today hit home. Like a blast. Like a shot. A piercing cannonball.

She says,

A worrywart always knows what’s best for their loved ones [who, me?]. That’s because we’re vigilant caretakers who are more aware than most that this nasty world is replete with all sorts of evil, sickness, danger, not to mention calories and other hurtful and downright deadly stuff lurking in every corner—reason aplenty for us to get apoplectic just thinking about people we care for adrift in it. If we could, we’d shove them into a protective ziplock bag and carry them around in our pockets all day. We can’t. So we do the next best thing: like Chicken Little, we run around all aflutter, trying to push them out of the way of the falling sky.

She points out that we fuss about their feelings, their trips, health, safety, failures, things that could go wrong unless WE step in and take action. So we micromanage their lives, trying to limit their exposure to what we think is dangerous or unwise. We do this sometimes even by coercing and manipulating…only because we love them…of course.

But, she goes on to ask, is it really love? Or are we afraid? Afraid we can’t bear the pain if they get hurt? The Bible says fear and love can’t coexist. “Perfect love drives out fear.” Rather than controlling, real love seeks to free people to experience a full life, one that will have both ups and downs.

The author encourages us to ask God to help us to “control our controlling selves” and to teach us that we have to let people we love stumble and fall. “In this way, they can get back up, and without any nudging from us, go on to choose the best path into their Father’s arms.”

Nolan closes this chapter with this prayer, one that I need to pray often, if I am to be the me I want to be:

Dearest God, I know I drive people crazy by obsessively worrying about them…Please help me to detach with love from the ones I love, and leave them in your protective care. You know what’s best for them so much more than I do. So, I pray that your will be done, not mine. Help me to love them in a way that will be supportive without stifling, encouraging without overpowering and concerned but not controlling. Lord, I pray you’ll lead them in your ways and keep them safely under your wing.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dear Diary

When I was 12, I received my first diary, a Christmas present from Mother and Daddy. If memory serves (and it usually does), I requested it. I was intrigued by the idea of a “place” to record my thoughts (especially my “private” thoughts—at that time, mostly about my new boyfriend, Russell Ford, the cutest and sweetest boy in the world, whom I had recently met at our new church where Daddy had come to pastor).


Oh, yes, I DO still have it (embarrassing though it may be to read the entries!).

I immediately fell in love with writing about my thoughts and feelings. As I said to a friend this morning, when explaining how I liked this whole “blog” thing: “I’ve always enjoyed hearing what I have to say!”

From that time, I have written about my life, not because I think it would ever be interesting to anyone else, but because the fact that I have always liked my life and wanted to have a record in years to come, was reason enough. Through the years, now as a mother and a grandmother, I do like to think that there will be others (family) who might be interested in reading my “record” in years to come. Just perhaps. But if not, that’s okay, because it has been (and continues to be) an enjoyable hobby for me!

I believe I had a diary just about every year from then through high school (1965), but if that is the case, the diaries did not all survive the years. I am left with two others (1964 and 1965), in addition to my first one:



In 1965 I got married and moved from diaries to keeping calendars (all those years and through the present) and writing in wedding memories album and then baby books.

Then I turned around and my husband was a school superintendent, I was a teacher (still keeping those calendars), and my children were in junior high. One day my husband came home telling this big tale about a salesman who had been in his office that day, talking about a personal computer (I had heard of “computers”—they were machines that were huge, hard to use, and were threatening to eliminate the need for teachers—that’s what I had heard, anyway).

This salesman had shown my husband how that the computer (he was obviously trying to sell to the school superintendent) had something called a “word processor.” This fantastical invention would allow someone to type a document through a keyboard, see it on a TV screen, then “save” it (I asked my husband where in the world it could be “saved” and how you could be sure it would not get “lost”) and then, you could “call it up” (that was hilarious to me…  “calling up” a document???—“Here document, come…here document…”) Then my husband continued to spin his fictional tale. Beyond that (a “saved” document that you could “call back up”—and it would come?), he said that the salesman showed him how that you could “go back in” to the document (again, hilarious….GO IN to a document?), make changes (corrections, deletions, insertions), and it would scoot the words and make everything turn out right in the end. Then you could re-save it, with those changes. Really? Puh-lease.

By this time, I was rolling. I said to my husband, “You didn’t buy that bill of goods, did you? I mean, you do realize this could not be true. Because if this were true, it would be one of the most amazing things on the planet, and I’m sure I would have heard about it—it would for sure have been on the evening news!” (I’m remembering how many papers I typed in college, using carbon paper, if I wanted a copy for myself, and how that if an error was discovered after the paper was done, I would re-insert the paper and painstakingly try to line it back up so that I could make the correction, desperately hoping the correction didn’t require me to go onto the next page, because I might have to retype the entire paper.)  So, this salesman had to be making it up, or, more likely, my husband misunderstood.

Well, the superintendent fell for it, and he bought a computer for the school, and one for me at home. Miracle of miracles. Seriously.

The first major project I wanted to do with this new miracle was to type all my life journals. I mean, really, to be able to “save” my writing, “call it back up,” edit it, oh, and I almost forgot the second part of the miracle—to be able to PRINT it? Are you kidding me? I’ll never forget the awe I felt the first time I sent a “print” command from the computer. I nearly fell over when it actually came out at the printer.

So, that’s what I did during the snow days that winter (there were a lot of them). I gathered together all my calendars, notes, even my old diaries, and began compiling them into my “life story.” Once I got caught up with it, I have continued to keep it up to date. Originally “saved” on 5.25-inch floppy disks, and then transferred to 3.5-inch disks, it is now hundreds of pages and stored (backed up) on three different hard drives. Titled “As I Recall,” maybe some day it will be printed and bound. Someone else might even want to read it. Again, if not, that’s okay. But, obviously, it is still a work in progress. It has become the family history record (what year did so and so graduate? who came to that wedding? etc., etc.).

At this point, my obsession with journaling may not be obvious. Read on. I currently have 7 journals or calendar/journals in process, in addition to “As I Recall.”


This is my “notebook” (first got the inspiration for keeping a notebook from reading a life-changing book, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, many years ago). My notebook contains a daily planner but also personalized sections such as Projects, Church, Quiet Time, etc.

imageI am happy to see this book still in print. I highly recommend it. 


These two are journals that I grab to pour out my thoughts, frustrations, plans to reorganize my life, problems I need to deal with, anything that I want to vent about—some of these pages get ripped out and tossed—these are not journals I want to pass on to posterity, but they do help me categorize my thoughts.


This little journal, with “The joy of the Lord is my strength” verse on the front, is a handy place where I journal all my thoughts about my hobbies/projects. For example, I record all my thoughts and ideas about the Heritage Albums I will do someday (if I can ever stop “planning” them and start “doing” them!) I record ideas I have for my projects.

IMG_0028This is my Prayer Journal, given to me by my son’s family. Once I started journaling my prayers and some devotional thoughts, it has become a habit that I want to continue, even after this little album is full.


This is a sample entry in the Prayer Journal. I write things, and I bring in documents or articles or printed devotional thoughts.


This baby is an experiment. I got this from an online store operated by a Christian lady who specializes in personalized calendars (to see her work, search for Much Ado About You), for those who like to actually write in a calendar, the old-fashioned way (by hand). I do like to do that, although I may be too dependent on Google calendar to make the switch. I understand it is not time-productive to keep more than one calendar, but I’m going to experiment with this handwritten concept for a while, just for fun. Because I can.


This is the new fun thing I LOVE!!—the Smash Journal. This gives me a place to keep “stuff” that wouldn’t make it into my scrapbooks.


This is a sample page from my Smash Journal (not going to be doing a scrapbook layout about “aging gracefully,” but it is something I think about and like to “write” about).


Speaking of scrapbooking, this is the hobby-by-nature for someone who is obsessed with record-keeping for posterity. It is the ultimate process/product, really, for those of us who love pictures as much as journaling. I started scrapbooking in 2004 and currently have about 25-30 albums, most all very full 12x12’s.


Oh, yes, I’m Cuh-RAZY about office supplies (in my life, AKA school supplies). This must be a genetic thing. My brother and I confessed to each other recently that we love to shop in office supply/stationary stores and can never leave without a new…..pen! How many dozen do I already have at home? But when you like to journal a lot by hand, the instrument does matter! This is my current favorite, TUL, Needle Point, Fine.


I have a hobby room where I do all my scrapbooking. But, this is my “journaling” area that is set up where we “watch” TV. I actually “listen” (to the Cardinals, or whatever Russell is watching) while I work on my Smash journal, or my iPad, or in my notebook, or write in one of my journals. So, this is MY “work area” for when we are relaxing in front of the TV.

So, that is the strangeness that all started with the “Dear Diary” of a 12-year-old girl!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fantastic Fall Weekend at the Campsite

We FINALLY found a time on the calendar that we could get away for a couple of nights (Thursday morning through Saturday morning), traveling the short distance (1.5 hours) to our annual campsite in the Mark Twain Lake area. We actually got to “camp” this time, as opposed to the previous trips we have made there, to work on setting up everything. We got to choose our lot last fall, before it was even finished. We love it. It is adjacent to Corps of Engineers property, so it feels like we have our own woods.


This little “flower bed” that we put out at the entrance to our lot makes me feel “at home.” we just added some mums. I love mums. I love fall.


The little white sign says “Waterfowl Refuge.” From our lot, we can hike down to the lake, not too far away (we haven’t had a chance to actually do that yet).

Campsite from low part

Supper at the Camper

potato fixins

Ready to slice the potatoes (Russets this time, with skins on) and onion, to fry in the handy electric skillet, outside on the picnic table (we’ve moved on from the old days of cooking them on the fire). This is my job, while Russell grills the meat.


I like to start first with just the Vidalia onion in the hot shortening. Why? For the pure joy of the aroma of onions cooking outside!

potatoes start to cook

Potatoes sliced on top of onion, salted and peppered. Mmmmmm…..starting to smell like camping supper!

corn and tenderloin

Grilled pork tenderloin and sweet corn. Yum!

potatoes almost done

Potatoes almost done, too. Perfect timing!


After supper and dishes done, the perfect campfire, thanks to my man!

Next morning….


Coffee and breakfast cooked inside the camper. Russell felt compelled to take a picture of my personality (Type A?)….some of my favorite “things” handy—camera, iPhone, coffee, iPad with wireless keyboard, notebook/planner.

Rainy Day—not a problem for us!

russ in rain

After sitting under the awning, snuggled under a blanket, for a couple of hours listening to the rain, we moved out to the fire, which continued to burn in spite of the constant drizzle.

barb in rain

Sassi cares not where we are, as long as she can be on one of our laps!

marshmallows nicd

While sitting in the drizzle, we got a hankerin’ for something sweet, so we roasted marshmallows right in the middle of the day. Because we could.

Evening Time

After several hours in the rain, we went indoors, enjoyed a wonderful supper of Cheddar Chicken Chowder, prepared at home (click on “Featured Recipes” link at top) and cornbread muffins.

Later that evening, we listened to the Cardinals game on the radio system in the camper.


Little snackaroo while listening to the game and reading our books (I was finishing the Albert Pujols book, and Russell was reading the Tim Tebow book).

sassi book and cocoa

It feels GREAT to need heat in the camper, as it seems only a couple of weeks ago that we were in the middle of a miserable heat wave!

Next morning, up and at ‘em, breaking camp and heading home. Great time!

Did I mention I love fall?