Life on the Bayou, “Lucy” at the aquarium, and an MRI

Gosh, but it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write. So much has happened in the past two months and it’s left me turning in circles and unable to focus for a while.

December found us spending more time in church for funerals of family members, than not. I lost my dad at the beginning of December, a very close friend the day after Christmas and my husband’s niece lost her baby only days before her due date before New Year’s.

Losing a parent is rough and going through a funeral with family members at each other’s throats is not a pleasant situation. Losing someone who has been an integral part of your life for the better part of 17 years isn’t easy. Especially when that person sees you as part of their family and that is how it was. This man was as close to a saint on earth as I have ever met. He touched so many lives in a spiritual way and his legacy will live on forever. He was that kind of man, truly special.

Our niece’s baby did so many somersaults that she managed to twist her umbilical cord to the point it cut off her life-line to her mother. She was a beautiful little baby, pink as could be as she had just passed before delivery. It was heartbreaking for everyone. Her passing marked the third death in my husband’s family in five months.

As I look back and try to absorb all the emotions that have been floating around, I told my husband that I didn’t know what was the hardest – grieving a parent you’ve known your entire life, watching the burial of a beloved man, or watching two twenty-eight year olds standing with their arms around each other when they finally make the decision to allow the casket to be closed on a baby they will never get to raise.

Life is strange and definitely not for us mere mortals to understand. At the baby’s funeral, our priest said that the week before we had buried one of our finest (our friend) and that day, we were burying one of our purist. On New Year’s Day when our priest visited at the hospital, he spoke about the baby being a true angel, that she wasn’t tainted by this world. She had never taken a breath of this life. I thought of the Blessed Mother carrying a Savoir, and I thought what an honor, to be chosen by God, to carry an angel. That is special.

This past week I had the chance to play with the penguins at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. A friend of mine has a child with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and he was eligible to be part of the Easter Seals program that sponsors the event. My friend invited me to go along. She is too funny and sweet. The aquarium is closed on Mondays and she knows that I am an introvert and suffer from social anxiety. When the person told her we would be the only ones there (besides the other four families) she immediately thought of me – so off we went on a field trip, the two of us and two of her children. Did I mention how great it is to have such wonderful friends who love you and take your quirks in stride? I was not always so lucky, so I know that I am truly blessed.

We had so much fun, but the day wasn’t without incident! “Lucy” just had to do something! After learning about the penguins and their habitat, we were invited to enter the habitat and play with them. Of course, the habitat includes a huge swimming hole! I think I prayed the entire time that I would not fall in, because if that was going to happen to anyone it would have been me!

Most of the penguins are quite friendly and we were able to hold them. We were allowed to stay and play for a long time, which was nice. We weren’t rushed at all and the penguins seem to enjoy the visit as much as we did. The person in charge was as eager to answer all of our questions, as we were to ask them.

The only thing I feel bad about is that I am in most of the pictures because Mom was busy taking pictures of the kids and I was helping them hold and play with penguins! I felt she should have been in the photos instead of me, but at least the camera was safe in her hands. At the end of the visit, we were squired away to a room where two penguins with paint on their feet walked all over paper taped to the floor. Each child went home with a stuffed penguin and a picture “painted” by the penguins. We had so much fun!

Okay “Lucy” did have one incident that could definitely have been disastrous, but wasn’t. When we entered the door to go to the penguin’s habitat, don’t ask me what I expected to see. A staircase perhaps? What I saw was a ladder, much like those used in boats to climb down into the engine rooms. I had to laugh at myself and even said, “Oh! A ladder.” We climbed up the ladder with no problem and I forgot all about it – that is, until it was time to leave.

Having spent a little time climbing up and down such ladders, I knew as I watched everyone climbing down as though it were a staircase, that it wasn’t. Soon, it was our turn to follow Jude’s mom and sister down the ladder. They laughed when they turned around and saw Jude and I descending the ladder the same way we had climbed up. A ladder is a ladder is a ladder, I don’t care how you call it. She thought I was little nuts when I described how I climbed down, but Jude and I made it safely to the bottom with him climbing down by himself (like a big boy) surrounded by my arms.

That was the safe part, because as I turned around and started out the door, I didn’t see the raised lip and almost went flying. I still can’t tell you how and where I caught myself, but fortunately an accident was avoided.

If you would like to read about the program and see a few pictures, please click on the link. http://www.nola.com/family/index.ssf/2015/01/easter_seals_louisiana_and_aud.html

And, what do you do on the way home with kids? You stop for chicken tenders! We had a great day and it was nice to be light-hearted for a while.

Tuesday, I had an appointment at Ochsner for a MRI on my hand. The diagnosis was erosive arthritis and if you follow me on Instagram, (@SouthernCharmPlanner) I am documenting my progress with a medication that was prescribed. My doctor told me Erosive Arthritis is a cousin of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Not a lot is known about it and there is no cure or known treatment – rare was what she called it. That didn’t surprise me as I already have two “rare” blood disorders. I am an INTJ and have a “rare” personality – 4% of the population share this personality. Rare is quickly becoming part of my vocabulary.

Since Hubby was off at the duck camp, a friend went with me to the hospital. On the way home – laughing here – we stopped at iHop. It’s not only children who like chicken tenders! We ended up sitting and talking until almost dark!

I escaped two incidents this week unscathed – which still has me shaking my head. The second was Friday evening when I went to the dog’s kennel to check to make sure their blankets had not been drug out of their houses. Their kennel is the white picket fenced yard surrounding my Garden House (the pic is above). Their houses are located under an overhang to the side and on a wooden platform. As I walked onto the wooden platform, my foot slipped on the slime (it’s been raining) and down I went. My arm went down on top of the fence between two pickets and I hit my knees. My thought as I was going down was this is going to be a bad one. By the Grace of God, I was kneeling down and wondering what I broke when I realized I hadn’t hurt myself, not even my knees! I am still shaking my head because I’ve done more damage with less traumatic falls. My favorite jacket was even spared.

Other than catching up on Etsy orders and book reviews, that has been my week. Hope you enjoyed visiting!

 

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Memories of my Dad

IMG_5629My dad passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 84. He had been struggling for a while, suffering from Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s. The one person who should have been holding the family together, was more instrumental in tearing it apart so that now we are a family divided.

The last time I visited with my dad was this summer. He didn’t seem to know who I was. He still looked well and I felt good about my visit with him. That was the last time I saw him. I know that as time marched on, his condition deteriorated and I chose not to visit. While some may view this as a cop-out, I look at it as self-preservation. The family drama also made visits difficult.

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My mother, father, younger sister, me and my sister Debbie.

I lost a sister fifty years ago to Leukemia. I was 5 and Debbie was 7. I remember some things as though it happened yesterday. It was an event in my life that changed me forever. I do not deal very well with losing people. I know that it’s part of life; just not one that I deal with very well.

I’ve been through a lot of loss in my life, beginning when I was very young. The last, and most devastating loss was during my divorce from my children’s father. That was 18 years ago. Although they are blissfully unaware of what transpired (the therapist said I protected them too much) and how things have progressed to where they are now, it was through manipulation called Parental Alienation Syndrome. That’s the problem with PAS. Children do not normally realize what happened until sometimes many years in to adulthood and they get angry any time it is mentioned. Sometimes much too late to reconcile with the alienated parent.

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My Dad‘s parents, my dad, me and my daughter, Ashley

This is a loss I wake up with every day of my life. While we bury some of our loved ones, grieve, and somehow manage to move on with life, this is different. It is a loss of a loved one every day and you continue to grieve, but not move on.

My Dad wasn’t perfect. None of us are. But, he was a good dad. He was a State Trooper for many years and because the pay was extremely low, he sometimes worked three jobs to support his family. If I had a “situation” he was there to fight my battles, to defend me. He sewed my broken bra straps. He dried my tears. When I needed a bug collection for science class, he helped me catch the bugs and then he carefully preserved them and mounted them inside of a glass case that he built for me.

He built two wooden shadow boxes and hinged them together. It had a handle and a latch and looked like a wooden briefcase. Inside each side he mounted styrofoam board with my bugs and installed glass over each side. It was the best in the school. While others mounted their bugs on poster board, my dad helped me mount them in first class. I was teased unmercifully, but like Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, that bug case was made with more love and attention that most kids get in a lifetime.

There was a Christmas when I received a little keyboard and I learned to play the Blue Danube. He was so proud. Anyone who came to the house had to listen to me play! I remember my dad singing all of us to sleep with Red River Valley. I also remember him keeping a little jar of lemon drops on the dresser and we were forbidden to enter my parents bedroom. We’d go to bed and listen to make sure they were in the kitchen and one of us would sneak into the room and take a couple of lemon drops. He never said anything about the missing lemon drops, although I’m sure he knew we took them.

He passed on his love of German Shepherds to me. He accepted me as the person I am. I am proud to have had him as my dad.

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State Police Headquarters

When my dad began feeling the effects of his illness, he mention two things that he wanted to do. One was visit the State Police Academy and the second was to visit his hometown of Olla, Louisiana. My husband (also a retired trooper) made arrangements to take him on a tour of the academy and he had the opportunity to sit in the Colonel‘s chair. He enjoyed his day tremendously and I was so blessed to have this time with him. The second in command presented him with two State Police medallions and when we returned home, I printed a photo of the old academy and of him in the Colonel’s chair and framed it along with the medallions. He loved to look at it everyday and tell the story. I regret that his health soon declined and we never had the chance to take him to Olla.

My dad had retired from the State Police by the time my second daughter was born, but when my first-born was little, he loved driving up to my house and putting the lights on for her. She would stand in the window and clap her hands. She adored her grandpa and he her. She was the first grandchild and the darling of his eye. He often picked her up and took her home with him.

IMG_5609My dad was a member of the MPs.

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This is my older sister and I with my dad at Christmas around 1959-60.
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My dad and me about 20 years ago.

While I miss my dad terribly, I know he is in a better place. A place where he can no longer hear the drama and manipulation around him. A place where he can now hold the child he lost so many years ago. That brings peace to my heart and I feel more happiness than sorrow. I’ve had him all these years and now my sister will have her turn in eternity. That makes me happy.

Those thoughts will carry me through his wake and funeral. I’ll grieve but it will be bittersweet. Goodbye for now my wonderful Dad. You were here for me when I needed you and I will miss you. Enjoy your life in eternity.

 

As the days are slowing creeping by, more memories have been floating around and I wanted to add them to this post, mostly for myself, but I also thought you might enjoy them as well.

When I posted on Facebook – what did we do before Facebook – to let my friends know that my dad had passed away, they began sharing memories of their own, which in turn, brought back memories for me.

There were times when I was stopped by policemen and didn’t understand why. I was always told I was going too fast, when I was pretty sure I had not been. Years later, I found out the reason. My dad, who was a State Trooper at the time would occasionally come across other law enforcement officer’s children who were speeding. He had a habit of following the kids home or driving them home, if need be, and standing there while they admitted to their parents that they had been driving way too fast, or were inebriated. Turns out, it wasn’t always appreciated by the parents. Also turned out, I was an easy target. I drove to school my senior year and like most places with one highway, it was easy to spot your target. While it bothered me at the time, I’m pretty proud that my dad tried to take the better road by trying to help these fellow classmates out rather than plopping them in jail. I can only imagine the retaliation I would have received if that had happened.

My high school boyfriend said there were many scary moments with my dad (I think I may remember more than my fair share – blushing here) but the one he really remembers is when he hit a parked car as he was driving past my house – about 15 miles away from where his father thought he was.

Another school mate admitted that my dad had stopped him for speeding and he must have been singing my praises (he was a friend) because being my friend got him out of a ticket.

I guess those were the good old days with such simple stories. My little group of friends and I were the goody two-shoes as the saying goes. Our idea of trouble was stopping in a curve on the “back road” and running into the graveyard to touch a grave. Of course, it was Deadman’s Curve where the groom was racing to see why his bride had been delayed and they crashed head-on. Doesn’t everyone have a story like this?

My dad’s CB handle was the Toy Maker. He carried his wooden toys that he made in a box in his police unit. When I was expecting my first daughter, he built a cradle for her. It is a work of art. He later made replicas for both of my daughter’s for their dolls. I have a toy train that runs around my Christmas tree each year.

I’m not calling this post finished because I know there are lots of memories that I will remember. Hope you enjoyed some of them.

 

Holiday Planning begins with pretty planner pages!

I was feeling the holiday spirit today and thought why not decorate a few pages in my May Book and share with others. Sometimes you look at your planner pages and think, this needs a little pizzaz, a little life breathed into it. I am hoping to inspire you.

As you have seen in many posts on my blog, I use a planner. I am a person who loves to plot my days. In fact, I need the To Do lists to keep me focussed. If not, I tend to just wander around and do all sorts of other things rather than the things I really need to accomplish that particular day.

Don’t think you have to spend a lot of money in order to be organized; a simple notebook will do. I have the Day-timer and inserts – which I adore. I have an Erin Condren – which I’m not particularly fond of. The layout just doesn’t suit me. I found a way to make each of these systems work for me, which shows you how false the claim “I can’t find a system that works for me” is. I know some will disagree, but they won’t change my mind. You first have to figure out your organization style, how your mind works, and what you are capable of doing with that information. Then you choose a system that will work for you and not against you, setting you up for failure.

If all you do is take a sheet of paper and draw columns and make lists, you’ll find your day more productive. If you have kids, a job, and home life, make three columns. Write what needs to be done in the appropriate column along with a timeframe. You don’t need a fancy planner. Throw a few stickers and little washi tape on the page and now it’s pretty.

As I said, I have tried many systems and they all work but my favorite is just a little notebook. My one obsession is graph paper. It works with my personality. I know this so I use it. I also use a month at a glance calendar. I record appointments, bills, etc. on the month at a glance calendar. This is the calendar that I throw into my bag when I leave the house. I have all the important information with me so if I have to make an appointment or check and see if we have a free day to add an activity, this calendar will tell me. The To Do lists are left at home in the book.

I normally sit down either Saturday or Sunday and transfer everything for the upcoming week to my graph book. I decorate it if that’s what I have in mind to do and I write my lists for the week. Of course, as the days go by, things will be added, but I now have my week set up. I use a page for each day (this allows for my HUGE handwriting and decorating) and I divide a page in half for Saturday and Sunday. You may need an entire page for Saturday and Sunday and that’s okay, I don’t.

I make my own stickers and I love using them. They can all be found in my Etsy store (www.etsy.com/shop/SouthernCharmPlanner) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/SouthernCharmPlannerAccessories  Also check out the planner group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/SouthernCharmPlanners We love posting pictures of our planner pages and you can always find tips on organizing and supplies. You can find stickers and washi tape at Michaels, Walmart, Hobby Lobby and any number of stores that sale craft supplies as well as on-line. Just start googling.

I am posting some pages and I’ll tell you how I achieved the look.

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This is Thanksgiving. There was no need to fill it up with loads of stickers and such (although I did put a few indians and pilgrims). The orange plaid background on both pages is scrapbooking paper. I cut it to a two-inch width and then ran it through a sticker maker (Xyron). I applied it to the page. On top of that I layered one of my To Do list from my shop. I added a few Thanksgiving stickers and I was done. I still have plenty of space to jot down notes about the day or add more to my lists.

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My Black Friday consists of decorating my house for Christmas so I’ll be filling up the empty space on Friday pretty quickly once the day gets closer.

I also decorated a couple of days in December. I couldn’t wait to use some of the Christmas stickers I made, and I love Christmas.

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I wish the pictures were a little brighter because the colors definitely are! Below is how the stickers look in the Erin Condren planner. Christmas stickers

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I achieved this look by using scrapbooking paper and cutting it to length and running it through my sticker maker. I adhered it to the page and then added a To Do list on top. I really like the layered look. It’s festive. This is a day that bills are due so i added the stickers that represent the gas bill, water, cell phone, and cable bills. I also have a meeting that afternoon and the page wouldn’t be complete without a nutcracker or two. FullSizeRender (5)

Cookie Swap will be coming up the beginning of December so I added a little sticker for baking and two To Do lists as there will be plenty to do before the party on Sunday.

I hope these pictures give you a little inspiration to break out of the humdrum and add a few stickers to your planner. It will make you smile and I guarantee you will be hooked. You’ll never look at a planner page the same.

I would love to hear if you are a planner. What system do you use and how is it working for you? Do you decorate? Do you have any questions about planning or organizing? Be sure to leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting today!

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My Life in Review – The Traveling Midori

I have been a member of a group on Facebook for almost a year now. It is a group of people who are enamoured with Midoris, and to celebrate the year anniversary of the group and to promote friendship, one of the members came up with the idea of traveling Midoris. The concept behind the group was that there would x number of groups – depending upon the number of interested parties – and each group would have its own hand-made Midori. This Midori would take a year-long trip to be documented by each member of each group as they in turn hosted the Midori for a week in their lives.

I think the group ended up with approximately ten groups of ten people. These Midoris are traveling world-wide at this very moment, and to me, that is exciting. I am part of the Pioneer Dorian group and I am experiencing my week right now! Each of these Midoris have been hand-crafted by the members of the group and are works of art in their own right. Each person hosting the Midori is encouraged to document their life and add a little of themselves to the book, giving each book its own unique history. It will take a year for each Midori to complete its journey. At that time, the books will be assigned to a new group and begin a new year of travel.

It is very interesting to flip through the pages and see what other’s have chosen to leave of themselves. Some of the participants are artists, some are writers, some lead busy lives, and some lead quiet lives. The journey of each book is also being documented on Instagram with the hashtags #travelingdori #pioneerdorian and others, each representing the name of the group’s Midori. You’ll find us on Twitter and on Facebook in the Traveling Dori group.

This is my story:

I received a package in the mail on Saturday, June 7, 2014. I wasn’t expecting the package as we are not warned ahead of time. It is a surprise for each of us when the Midori will arrive. Even as I opened the envelope, and peered inside, I was still not certain what I was seeing. It was when I pulled out a leather sleeve and looked inside that I realized I was the next recipient of the Pioneer Dorian. As I sat down and began to thumb through the different books, I was taken by surprise by the artistic talents of the person before me. It gave me pause, and I began to picture what I might leave behind for the next person.

Where the person before me was surely a free spirit – drawing and writing in a random fashion – I am not. I shall leave my mark upon the Pioneer Dorian in a much different way – a way that speaks to me, as the next recipient of this piece of history will no doubt do. I will decorate my pages with stickers and washi tape. I will add a ribbon marker to mark my place, pink, as that is my favorite color.

While some are whimsical, I am not. If I contribute art, my mark will be a carefully thought-out Zentangle with precise lines made with intention.

As I turn the pages of this wonderful book, this traveling Midori, I will bring order to it for the short time it is with me – then, I shall send it forward where it will be transformed once again.

I hope you enjoyed the story and enjoy the pictures of the traveling Pioneer Dorian – next stop – Georgia, USA!

Wednesdays in a Southern Kitchen – Crab Cakes

Okay – it’s not Wednesday, but this week has been quite busy and I couldn’t get the post ready on time.

photo 1My highly anticipated and waited for Crab Cake Recipe. Trawling season opened here in Southern Louisiana a couple of weeks ago and fresh shrimp have been abundant at our home – the same with fresh crab. I’ve made this recipe with fresh crabmeat and with fresh chopped boiled shrimp. Both are scrumptous. I hope you enjoy.

This is a simple recipe that I tweaked and if you are adventurous, add additional seasonings such as bell pepper or onions. I like to keep it simple in order to “savor the flavor” of the seafood.

Whisk together in a medium size bowl:

1/2 cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 large egg

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Gently fold in 1 pound of lump crab meat (or 1 pound of boiled shrimp, coarsely chopped)

Fold in 1 cup of crushed crackers (I use Townhouse because us of the flavor – use Townhouse, Saltines, Ritz – your preference)

I use a large cookie scoop to form the crab cakes the same size. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and place the scooped balls on it, flattening slightly. If necessary, use a second sheet of wax paper for another layer. Place the covered cookie sheet in the freezer for about a half an hour to an hour.

Heat approximately 1/4 to 1/3 inch of oil in the bottom of a skillet (I do not deep fry my crab cakes). Place the crab cakes in the hot oil and cook 4-5 minutes on either side until lightly browned and crispy. It doesn’t take long as the ingredients are mostly cooked to begin with.

Serve as entre’ with a salad or on a bun.

I have never baked them, although I’m sure they would be good that way.

I’ve also been enjoying fresh shrimp salads for the past two weeks. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to veggies and to be honest – I’m being blamed for the deluge of rain we’ve been experiencing as of late – it must be because I’m actually eating veggies!

My salads are very simple to assemble and are quite delicious.

photo 1 (1)Chopped Hearts of Romaine lettuce

Fresh boiled and peeled shrimp

Chopped tomatoes

Chopped cucumber

Craisens (wonderful sweet and chewy – adds texture)

Shredded cheese

Chopped boiled egg

Salad dressing of your choice

I have picked up Hubby’s habit of chopping salad ingredients into bite-sized pieces and eating my salad with a spoon. I know – sounds weird, but I assure you, much more enjoyable! And, besides being a picky eater, I also have a texture thing going on; this allows me to eat a salad, and that’s a good thing (especially when we need rain).

I couldn’t leave you without just a few pictures of Ryka and Calypso, so without further adieu, here they are this week.

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Ryka enjoying the sun. Calypso chasing her tail.
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Calypso after the chase. Ryka grateful she wasn’t trampled during the chase as no one is safe when Calypso winds up.
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Calypso likes to put her ball in her bowl like my last shepherd (Sentry). Just doesn’t want anyone else to get it. (Like that’s gonna happen.)
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Ryka likes to lay down to eat. She’s getting very lazy, especially with the Southern Louisiana heat.
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Ryka decided she liked dryer balls. And, then I couldn’t find them. After seeking help on Facebook, we found more on Amazon.
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Porch time. Safe from Calypso’s tail-chasing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you not in a fishing state, this is a trawl boat on opening day off of Grand Island, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.
For those of you not in a fishing state, this is a trawl boat on opening day off of Grand Island, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed the recipe and if you decide to fix it, please let me know what you thought.

 

 

 

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My Life in Review – Never let it be said that life is dull

Never let it be said that life around me is dull; I’ll just make my own fun. Yesterday was mow the yard day. Trawling season here in South Louisiana opened so Hubby was occupied for the day and I was looking for something to do.

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photo 5 (2)Ryka and Calypso love to ride the new mower so after all was said and done (the yard mowed) it was have some fun time. I pulled up to the kennel and cut the blade, and they both came running out, actually stumbling over each other in their haste to see who was going to climb up on the mower first. This surprised me as Ryka doesn’t seem to trust me. She’ll ride with Hubby, but is quite hesitant if given the opportunity to ride with me. Kind of makes you wonder…but Calypso? Now, that is a throw-back to the 1960s. She is the wild child and doesn’t think twice about anything. She leaps without looking. It’s all about fun.

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Now, you may think I’m a little crazy because how do I know what my dogs are thinking? Clearly, if that’s the case, you don’t have a dog (and not everyone wants a dog). Ryka is the regal one. She sits like a queen, acts like a queen, gets treated like a queen. Of course, she’s earned it. She came to us fully trained, but sadly only listens part of the time. When I call her, she sometimes just sits there and looks at me. Just like a teenager! I’ll tell her to “come” again and she’ll put her head down and give me the sad eye look. Generally, the third time I call her, she’ll slowly drag her body up – like it’s a huge chore – and walk on over, hoping there will at least be food. On the other hand, if she thinks there’s a belly rub coming, she’ll flip over in a nano second.

Calypso – what can I say? She’s the wild child. She’s half Ryka’s age at 3 and has Doggie ADD. She loves spring – she loves any season. She loves the cold and wet and mud in the winter. She loves the cool days of fall and spring. But, she especially loves the summer months with swimming and bugs. Actually, she loves water period. She loves chasing anything that flies by. I love sitting on the porch swing watching her run back and forth. If you’ve ever watched a cutting horse, you’ll understand. She is very graceful. She runs and cuts and heads back and spins on a dime. Shepherds are very powerful animals and to watch her run and gain speed and cut is actually quite a beautiful dance. What is particularly interesting to watch is when a mosquito hawk (dragon-fly) lands on the chain link fence. She does a series of tapping with her back legs until she gets her position just right and then up she goes on those hind legs and grabs the bug without ever touching the fence – that is grace. Then, in a New York second she’ll bite your finger trying to get her doggie cookie – we’re working on that one. I can feed her ham or cheese and she is quite careful about nibbling it out of my fingers as not to bite (I’m constantly trying their patience on that one so they remember not to bite the hand that feeds them), but if I have a dog cookie, she’ll take my fingers off in the process. I’m still scratching my head on that one.

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Signs have been popping up all over the parish (we are in Louisiana) in the shape of forks. It’s all about tourism. I was at a meeting focusing on our Parish Comprehensive Plan (I’m on the Planning Commission) and there was talk about a new fork that had popped up. To us, who live here on the bayou, it depicts a little humor. It is so often the answer when someone is asking directions – “It’s up the bayou” or “It’s down the bayou.” It is a phrase I even find myself using it quite a bit. I’m a transplant to the area and never gave it a second thought until one of my daughters asked me – “How do you know what is up the bayou and what is down the bayou?” I guess it’s one of those relevant things – if you are here, that’s up and that’s down. Move a little and what was up is now down, or visa versa. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy the sign and a little trivia. This particular sign can be found once you exit the interstate, (which crosses Bayou Lafourche) and you circle around to Louisiana Hwy. 1 which runs with the bayou. Instead of Raceland or Lockport, it just simply states “Up the Bayou” or “Down the Bayou.” You have only those two choices.

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I did have a little excitement this week. I attended a meeting and then headed off to grocery shop. My habit is to put my keys in my pocket when I exit my vehicle and then lock the doors. That way, I NEVER forget my keys. There’s that word I NEVER try to use because it always comes back to bite you – NEVER! About half way through shopping I happened to run my hand down my side and realized in a panic that I didn’t feel my keys. At that point I tore my bag apart searching, hoping frantically that I had tossed them inside. No keys.

I did my best to calm down and then began praying in earnest. I completed my shopping and retraced my steps back to the truck. No keys. At this point I was beginning to panic. I stepped up to the window and there on the console were my keys and after my initial excitement, I realized they were locked in and I was locked out. And, to make it worse, Hubby was at a meeting 40 miles away and that person had picked him up at our house – 15 miles “down the bayou” and that is where his set of keys to my truck were. Not a good situation and to make matters worse, it was 6:00, the time his meeting was set to begin. I was quickly adding up the miles involved to get my truck opened – 40 + 15 “down” + 15 “up” + 40 back to the meeting = I had better find another way into the truck.

photo (1)Then I remembered – ONSTAR!!! Then, I thought oh no, how do I call OnStar? I am one of those people – the one who is so organized, she panics that maybe that is the one time the information won’t be found. I did have my phone and I called. The kind lady asked how could she help and of course, being me, I told her my keys were locked in my truck and I was locked out of the truck. The whole process took less than three minutes. I gave her the needed information and she told me to step away from the truck and the locks popped up. Magic! Needless to say, there was a whole lot of prayer thanking going on.

I’m sure those weren’t all of my adventures, but I think I’ve blocked the rest out. See you next week!

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My Life in Review – last week

I was sitting here trying to remember what I’ve done since last week – haven’t we all had that particular LARGE lapse in memory? And, then, as I am prone to do when working at my dining room table, I looked up and started gazing out the front door. Then, it hit me, at least what I did yesterday.

photo 5Hubby and I spent the bulk of the day outside yesterday working in the yard. It was his birthday and that is one of his favorite things to do – yard work. I know – right? That might (probably, definitely) would NOT be my first choice, but what the hay! Our driveway is lined with crepe myrtles that are sprouting buds, and a few blooms are starting to open, which means they are beginning to droop even lower across the driveway. Driving down the driveway is becoming quite the hazard, especially in our new truck. It’s like getting hit in the head with branches as you drive.

Southern Living posts an article yearly about people like Hubby – only he’s not as bad as he used to be now that the trees are huge – they refer to them as bushwhackers. Yep! That’s what I call them too. He will go out to trim a few wayward branches and the next thing you know, we need the tractor with the trailer to haul all of the branches that have been “trimmed”. That was the kind of day Hubby was having yesterday. He trimmed the twenty or so crepe myrtles down the drive and then went on to the magnolia tree and the red maples, and the pecan trees. Calypso and Ryka were doing their best to stay out from under the fallen branches as they picked shady spots under the very trees he was trimming.

I thought I would get in the action by trimming the azaleas around the front porch. That is a yearly chore we perform after blooming season. The bushes are hardy and grow quickly. Famous last thoughts of mine were something akin to don’t cut the electric cord. I think I managed to trim about four feet before I caught the cord – right after I almost caught my leg. So much for that. Hubby took a break and fixed the cord and after wrapping it in miles of electrical tape, decided it would be safer if I held the cord while he trimmed the azaleas. Smart man!

photo 4 (1) photo 3 (1)You might think that’s the only mishap adventure of the day – sadly (shaking head) it wasn’t. You must admit – I must be married to a Saint in the making. He hooked up the tractor to one of the trailers and was working his way down the drive, stopping to load up the branches when I, otherwise known as “Lucy”, decided to lend a hand. It’s been a while since I’ve driven the tractor and you would think it’s like getting back on a bike – well, maybe for someone else! (Did I tell you that I was banned from driving the tractor after I hit the barn?)

I was making the turn off the drive into the front yard and turned too sharp and came to a grinding halt. What did you expect? Please don’t tell me this surprises you! Do you not follow my blog and adventures? Once again, Hubby to the rescue and after several different attempts (with me giving direction of course) he managed to move the tractor and trailer into a straighter path. This took a little doing because of the deep threads on the tires of the tractor. I never do anything half way. After moving the tractor along, he then filled in the divots left by the tires. He’s so used to my misadventures that he doesn’t even shake his head, although I would bet the house there was some fancy eye-rolling going on under that cap of his.

 

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Always an adventure with Lucy – My Life in Review

Last week was pretty uneventful. Monday was just that – Monday. Slow-moving, can’t get going Monday.

Tuesday was mow the grass day. I guess that was a little eventful. If you read my post about the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s you’ll see what i’m talking about. No doubt this week will hold more of that excitement. The neighbors seem to have a long attention span.

Wednesday, a friend and I went shopping. It was more an errand day for both of us. She had pickup and returns. I had pickups and, well – no returns. She’s a hoot just simply because she puts up with me. She “gets” me. She called to let me know of all the different places where we needed to make stops because she knows I need to make a list and get used to the idea – Type A personality along with a splash of social anxiety thrown in there. Then, as soon as she picks me up, she laughs and adds another stop. We both laugh when I pull out my phone and add it to the list – then I’m all good.

One of our stops was Lowes. Lowes must have been clearing out the current stock of flowers in order to make room for their new stock coming in because we really made off like bandits with $1 flowers and mandevillas for half off. It would have been hard to figure out who was a worse influence on who. I searched until I found the perfect one and announced that my daughters were buying me a plant for Mother’s Day. All of my friends – and I guess anyone reading my blog, know that my daughters suffer from Parental Alienation and weren’t buying me anything, much less speaking to me. So, I buy my own gifts. Anyway, it didn’t take her long to announce that her kids were buying her a plant too. So, the back of the van filled up pretty quickly between the two of us.

We finished up in the garden section of Lowes and headed inside to pick up a few things. I am going to be painting my office soon and needed to gather up a few paint supplies. I also managed to run over a poor man in one of the aisles. Don’t worry! I apologized – profusely – but sometimes people just don’t care if you are apologizing. It was an accident – sadly enough, it wasn’t my last for the day.

We had stops at Target (where I managed NOT to hit anyone) and headed to Hobby Lobby. My intentions were to get a plant hangar, but you know about intentions. I came away with NO plant hangar but instead, some really cute garden ornaments – really cute ones! I was headed for the paper department to look for a pack of paper and my brother called. Me, a buggy, and a phone call – not a good combination. This time I ran smack into a post. At least it wasn’t a person this time.

After lunch and a stop at the mall (where I racked up on Bath and Body Works products – buy 3, get 3 for free) we headed for the last stop of the day – SAMs wholesale. Would you believe they let me have a buggy? I guess my reckless driving reputation hadn’t reach them yet.

A few items that I had ordered from Amazon arrived last week that I am loving. Someone recently told me about Zentangle – my definition of it is art for people who can’t draw. It is so much fun! I ordered a couple of books for ideas and a basket to put my daily things in such as my Midori, my art books and tablet, and a book I am reading as well as my Kindle. It helps to keep my desk clear for other things. I may even add my knitting to it. It has loads of room in and hold quite a bit.

 

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The basket came in a nice velcro plastic bag.
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Velcro opening
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The basket
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The basket with my daily supplies

 

I also picked up an Orla Kiely makeup bag at Target that I love. Her brand is always so well-organized. What makes all the difference in this bag is that there is a separate zip compartment on top for things like brushes and eye liner and lip liner, etc. That’s the problem I’ve always found with other makeup bags. One huge compartment and that just doesn’t work for me. Plus, I just love the designs. They are really bright and fun prints. I will leave links to the products down below.

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Top compartment
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Bottom compartment

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I also changed a few things in my fake Midori (my Codori made by Cody Williams). I was using magnetic clips to mark my pages in my little books and it was getting a little bulky. Plus, I wanted a couple of charms – I like my pretty pretty. I had some pink ribbon and added a heart charm to mark my Gratitude Journal and was looking around (more like rooting around in my desk drawer) and came across Sentry‘s tags. Sentry was the German shepherd I had before Ryka and Calypso. I took one of her heart tags and put it on another piece of ribbon to use as a marker for another journal. I loved that dog and seeing the charm everyday brings back good memories.

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My “CoDori” It is navy blue with Live Life stamped on the front.
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Sentry’s tag

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Calypso
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Hubby and Ryka
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I seem to always take pictures in the evening. This is in the morning.

 

That’s my week in review. How was your week?

Product Links:

Reisenthel Market Basket – Baroque Ruby Reisenthel Carry Bag Market Basket

Zentangle Basics, Expanded Workbook Edition – Zentangle Basics, Expanded Workbook Edition: A Creative Art Form Where All You Need is Paper, Pencil & Pen

Orla Kiely Garden Bag Collection – http://www.target.com/p/orla-kiely-garden-bag-collection/-/A-15013377

May Designs – http://www.maydesigns.com/

 

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The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s? Never say it ain’t so!

Fence me in

 

I often lament about living in a “different” part of the country – the South – way down South, as in almost to the Gulf of Mexico. I didn’t always live here. I’m a transplant, a Northerner, from north of the Intracoastal Waterway, in other words – a foreigner.

 

It is normally referred to as the Cajun culture, but I think it should be re-defined and re-named “The Bayou Culture.” I really don’t guess it’s important what it’s called. We live along a bayou that eventually runs into the gulf. It is a quiet community, except for the fact a major highway runs straight through it on its way to Port Fourchon. If you haven’t heard of the port, I suggest you look it up. It plays an important part in our nation’s fuel resources.

 

I have found out that quiet communities do not always mean everyone likes each other. In fact, I’ve found out quite the opposite. Lucky us – we purchased what used to be a junk yard. Really! It was an auto salvage yard complete with a junk yard dog. The owner died as the result of complications derived from a motorcycle accident. Not that that information is at all important to the story I am trying to tell. We purchased the property from the company who bought the property for the junk. The junk had long been carted off, well, most of it, by the time we became the owners about sixteen years ago.

 

What makes this property unique is that it is located between family members. We are, in fact, surrounded by family. It is akin to having your own little country right smack in the center of Russia! And, we are liked about that much (yeah, not so much.)

 

It wasn’t always this way. Well, maybe it was and we were oblivious to it. I became best friends with the girl next door (We are all girls, right? Even though we’re women.) Not so many years ago, she divorced her husband. She got me in the divorce. Turns out, the rest of the family – remember the family property next door – didn’t care for it too much. In fact, I was told at one point that since we were neighbors, I shouldn’t be friends with her anymore. I kid you not! That’s a quote. I’m not much on doing what I’m told so it comes as no surprise, so many years later we are still best friends.

 

I won’t go into the details, but it would make such interesting reading if I did – but, they declared war on us in their backdoor way. At 7 o’clock one Saturday morning, they were exchanging a gate in the fence that had been frequently used for visiting, for a taller one (as in six feet) and then proceeded to put a padlock on it. I’ve always thought it nice that they now have access to my yard (they have the key) and I don’t have access to theirs. I have some thoughts on how to rectify that – don’t worry.

 

Children who used to call us Nana and Papa are no longer allowed to even glance our way, much less wave or say hello. They are closely watched to ensure that no pleasantries are exchanged during visitation days. It is really sad that people put so much effort into being ugly rather than using that same energy in being a Christian.

 

So, this has become our norm. I compare it at times to living in a third war country. The reason it came to mind today and the reason I’m sitting down to write about my life here in this little bayou community is what happened today. Today was grass cutting day in the neighborhood! Wow! You say! Yes, I say!

 

It has become the norm for them to mow their grass and whatever trash is in the yard (they pick nothing up) and blow it through the fence into our yard. If it were just grass, I wouldn’t have a problem and if it were normal grass throwing, but it’s not. They make pass after pass after pass cleaning off their driveway only to blow it through the fence and all over my driveway rather than mulching with the mower and throwing it into their own yard. Trust me, when you’ve picked up enough styrofoam and plastic and paper and whatever trash they don’t pick up that has been chewed up and spit through your fence, making your yard look like a junk yard, it gets old quick. It’s done on purpose to be a nuisance. And, that’s what is so sad. Adults – did I say adults? – acting like this.

 

I’m writing about grass, and although someone might think it petty, they haven’t been living next door to people who have, for the last four years, done non-stop things to be ugly. From throwing trash across the fence to piling spoiled food next to the fence for an innocent puppy to pull through the fence and digest, to a long list of…let’s just say ugly things (I could go on for hours, but I won’t). The grass situation is only the latest in the string of events.

 

So, I’ve decided that every grass cutting day I will take the opportunity to walk up and down my long driveway non-stop until they have completed their task. They have taken the safety vent off of the side of their mower, which makes it doubly dangerous to be anywhere around when they are mowing, which means they’ll be finding another venue for throwing grass due to the liability should they hit me with something due to their negligence.

 

And, that folks, is what it is like on the bayou – at least in our neck of the woods.

 

 

 

 

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Do Gratitude Journals make us grateful ?

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

I love the above quote by Melody Beattie. It has been stuck in my head since I read it yesterday.

Journaling is something I’ve done over the years – quite sporadically, I might add – and I recently began again. Call it stuck in a rut or needing to refocus, but I felt the need to find my center again and focus on being grateful in a life where depression was about to get overwhelming. Holidays, who am I kidding, all days are difficult for me at some point during the day. When you have children who have been alienated from you, children whose very breath gave life to your day, it sometimes takes a lot of strength to get through the day. Multiply that times the seventeen years that it has been part of my life, and you may realize the daily struggle I sometimes tend with.

photo copySo…I bought a new journal (and pretty pens and stickers), something that made me happy to look at it, and began journaling again. Each evening, or at some point during the day when something good has happened and I don’t want it overshadowed by sad thoughts that may come up, I write down thoughts of gratitude. Some days there are many (at least 5) and others, maybe one. And, on some days, there are none. But, at least I’m trying, and in that is gratitude.

Do you journal? Do you find it keeps you in the present?

 

As always, thanks for visiting here at My Life. One Story at a Time.

My journals come from May Designs. They are hand-sewn, custom made books made from recycled paper.  http://www.maydesigns.com/

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to everyone! I hope your holiday is shaping up nicely.

Our’s is settling down to a nice quiet afternoon after all the hustle and bustle. Hubby is a music minister at our church and the big mass for us as Catholics is the Easter Vigil – we were in church for a two-hour mass last night beginning with the fire ceremony. There’s a lot that goes into planning such an extravaganza and this year was no exception. There is always a lot of new music for the musicians and the choir to learn and it can be a stressful time for all. This year, made even more stressful because one person decided they wanted to be a one man (woman) show. It didn’t turn out well on any front. You can’t just walk up and say I’m singing this song and this is my key. It certainly gives the message to all that this is a solo and I don’t want you participating without actually using the words. Needless to say, it didn’t go over well and God takes care of his own – and Karma can suck. The solo didn’t turn out well. I guess that’s a lesson for all – when you do things for God, he will ensure it turns out well. When you do things for selfish reasons, karma can suck.

The night ended on a wonderful note. Yesterday was our 16th wedding anniversary and after everyone left (we didn’t want a show or to keep people after a two-hour mass) Father blessed our marriage and we renewed our vows. There were a few close friends that stayed and it was really special. We are blessed to have a wonderful priest who gives great, meaningful sermons, and can bestow a blessing straight from God.

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Father Roni bestowing a blessing upon us.
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Promising to love Hubby all the days of my life.
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Hubby promising to love me for the rest of my life.

 

This morning it was nice to celebrate Easter morning by reciting the Rosary at the local nursing home with the residents. This is something we’ve been doing for a long time. I don’t always accompany Hubby, but I find that when I do, it is a true blessing. They really enjoy this Sunday morning ritual.

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When the priest says the bride may kiss the groom – what can you do?

We came home to two spoiled doggies – can you call an 80 pound little horse a doggie? – who run into the garage the minute they can clear the door and sit at the cookie jar until we drive in. Yep! That is spoiled. Then, they have the nerve to turn over and want a belly rub! Who wants to rub that dirty belly? I’m afraid that until I have time to bathe them, they will be getting pats on the head and a good brushing each day. Calypso is like Linus – she walks and the dust flies off of her coat!

Our church also has a new tradition of the traveling Blessed Mother. We were very fortunate to have our turn this past week. It was a special week that included the last day of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter – and our anniversary. One of the highlights was the celebration of mass at our house. Father Roni gave a beautiful sermon and we shared the event with close friends. We hosted a Southern meal of seafood gumbo, potato salad and french bread afterward. Here are a few pictures that we took during the week.

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Father Roni, me, Hubby after mass.
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Hubby providing the music for mass.
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One of our good friends giving communion.
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Father Roni saying mass.
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The special altar Hubby set up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She’s b-a-c-k…from life’s distractions, family drama, medical appointments, and shopping

I’ve been kind of missing in action lately, but I’m back. Hope there is someone out there that noticed, after all, we all like to know we’ve been missed.

My husband has been suffering with a neck injury with different diagnosis coming in from a chiropractor, a PCP, a doctor of physical medicine, and now a physical therapist. One was insistent that cracking the neck and back was going to fix it. While I didn’t agree with the method, I was willing to support my husband’s choice to try non-evasive first (although in my opinion, that constitutes evasive). With that treatment ending and the symptoms worsening, we then took it to the next level and medical doctors. We know there is arthritis in his neck, but none of this was explaining the numbness and pain radiating down his arm.

After x-rays and an MRI, we are now in physical therapy and at least things are beginning to make sense. The therapist was able to isolate the nerve causing the pain and some interesting things have begun to happen. Hopefully, improvements will follow. Seems between the two of us, we’ve been making a few too many trips into New Orleans to Ochsner.

Physical therapy is proving to be quite the interesting journey. Luckily, we found a wonderful therapist who doesn’t mind being asked questions and explaining everything going on. I have been known to irritate even the nicest of doctors with my questions. I never left the “why” stage behind. She would do something and I’d ask what she was doing, why she was doing it, and what she hoped the outcome would be. I was very impressed because she is very open with us. She is also confident that the nerve is not permanently damaged and she can restore what has been damaged through treatment. After three months of horrible pain, it is nice to see Hubby finding some relief. The physical therapist also uses dry needling and that is interesting.

I only have one comment. If that is how women act when they are PMSing, geez, no wonder we get on everyone’s last nerve!

Our latest trip into New Orleans this week was for follow-up blood work and an ultra-sound for me. The numbers having to do with my liver and gall bladder were elevated. I have two rare blood disorders and have blood work done every six months to monitor my elevated red cell count and platelet count. Those numbers are elevated, but within the same high range they have been for a year. I have to admit that if I get another tech that hurts me the way this one did, I’m calling for someone new. I have a huge bruise on my arm. She stuck me and then moved the needle around for a while (which, by the way I could feel) before she managed to hit the vein. I don’t watch, but I could feel it and it hurt. I told Hubby he needs to be my advocate next time and instead of watching, needs to stop them. He said had she moved it one more time, he had decided that he was going to stop her and call for someone new.

On the bright side, I did a little shopping this month and bought some cool stuff. I’ll be sharing those goodies throughout the week. First up are my little books from May Designs. I have recently returned to journaling and a pretty book is always enticing and I love these. I also have one for the Facebook group 360/30. The group gives a month’s worth of thought-provoking prompts at the beginning of each month. And I use the third for my medical records.

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Don’t you just love them?

 

And where do you put such pretty little books? Well – in a pretty little pouch. I found these cute Hadaki bags on-line. It came in a set of two, one of which was the perfect size for my little books, along with a pretty colored pen for each book. You’ll come to notice I’m more than a little obsessed with pretty pouches. I have amassed quite a collection through the years and I love mixing them up and using them for different purposes. One can never have too much pretty pretty.

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I even received a cute pink lollipop!
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I decided to leave the pretty green ribbon that held them together. I cut it and tied a piece to each zipper.
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The colors are so bright and cheerful.
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I even used the pretty pink envelope that came inside. I hole punched it to fit my planner and then used one of my Martha Stewart punches to make the cute top design, then added stickers.
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Even the inside lining is pretty.

I recently found a couple of shopping apps and I’ve been trying them out. You receive a list of items each week and if you purchase any of them, you can earn money back. It isn’t always items I use, but I’ve managed to rack up about $4 for just buying what I already buy. One is Checkout 51 and the second is Ibotta. I think they are available for both iPhone and Android.

I also use Grocery IQ as my grocery list app. It is connected with Coupon.com and I was able to utilize a few coupons there as well. One was for antiperspirants. It’s no secret that I love my Secret – unscented that is. When I sweat I do not want to smell like baby powder sweat, or citrus sweat. Anyone else with me? Well, being Southern I suspect that if I am invited on a picnic – and sweat – those in attendance will sniffing the air to see who smells like the Ambrosia (with a twist of sweat.) My new deodorant, thanks to a coupon, is Secret Citrus (I kid you not!) I truly just do NOT want to smell like something when I sweat. The best case scenario would be to not smell, but do you really want to smell like Spring – with a touch of sweat? Who thinks up these fragrances? We truly need to have a sit down with them – and soon.

We had a little family drama this week as well. If you follow my blog, you know that I adore my German shepherds. Ryka never darts out in front of the truck when we come through the gate, but this time she did. I had just closed one gate after Hubby came through and was starting to close the second when I looked up and saw Ryka start to cross in front of him. It happened so fast. The truck bumper hit and flipped her and then she rolled to a stop as Hubby did, right against the tire.

I did what any good Southern lady would do. I let out a blood curdling scream. Jamie Curtis in Halloween doesn’t have anything on me! I think I frightened Ryka more than getting hit by the truck did, but thankfully, she got up and walked away. I still shudder when I think about it. I was quite upset the entire afternoon and that night I spent about an hour just cuddling and playing and rubbing them before I came inside.

I was always concerned about Calypso because she insists on running down the drive in front of the truck and escorting us to the garage. Before the truck, we had a suburban and we could at least see her ears as she galloped along. The truck is so high, she would have to be a horse to be seen. Ryka always lagged behind and this was completely out of character for her. As they say, “All’s good in Hollywood,” at least momentarily.

There were loads more adventures and family drama this week, but I’ll save that for another day. As always, thanks for taking the time to visit here and I wish you a wonderful weekend. I have a book giveaway, so if you love a good romance, be sure and leave a comment there. The book is Waiting on You and the link is: http://mylifeonestoryatatime.com/2014/04/05/waiting-on-you-by-kristan-higgins-review-giveaway/

Thanks for visiting!

 

 

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I’m leaving on a Jet plane – in the next two hours …

and I’m not packed! What would you do and how do you cope? Just to let you know, I am not leaving in the next few hours, but I wouldn’t stress if I were. Why and how? you ask?

It’s not my nature to stress over the easy things and I have packing down to a science. If I were – and I’m not – leaving in a few hours, this is what my day would be like.

First, I’d grab a pair of jeans. Then one of my favorite go to ensembles – a sleeveless white blouse and a cardigan (notice my photo to the left.) Next would come undies and I’ll leave what I grab to your imagination! And, off to the shower I go.

Getting out of the shower, I grab my shampoo and conditioner and toss them in my “Bathroom Bag” (first in a large zip lock of course) and then grab which ever bath gel I’ve decided I like for the day (most likely the fullest bottle – I keep four or five refillable bottles in the shower of different gels) and toss that in with the shampoo/conditioner and zip it up.

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Depending on how I’m traveling I have a back bag or a tote bag for toiletries.

I then pull another zip lock out of the Bath Bag and after spritzing my hair with detangler, toss that in the bag (I reuse the zip locks and store them where used). Same goes with the deodorant and my perfume. (This bag is still sitting on the counter.) I dry my hair and toss my comb and brush into the bag and it’s ziplocked. The dryer goes into the big bag. I apply makeup and that container goes into the bag. After brushing my teeth, the toothpaste and toothbrush goes into another zip lock and into the large bag. Little things like Q-tips and a bar of soap stay in their containers in the Bath Bag so I don’t have to bother packing those every time. There have been years when Hubby and I have traveled a lot so there are many items that I have two of. The second stays packed.

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Let’s pretend that I’ll be gone for three days and I don’t need dressy clothes. I grab my all time favorites and eliminate the hard decision-making about what to wear. I fold four (I always grab an extra) white sleeveless blouses (I know – I like what I like) and four different color cardigans and slip two sets each into two gallon zip lock bags, toss in a couple of fresh dryer sheets and ziplock squeezing out excess air. (I normally grab a couple of LLBean soft t-shirts and pack for those days when you want to change in the evening due to the weather.) I then grab a couple of pairs of jeans and follow the same procedure. I use a rolling duffel bag from LL Bean and using zip locks keeps my clothes situated, fresh smelling and clean. (I have two sizes and the length of the trip determines which size I use. With the large, I can eliminate the bath bag.) I don’t like a jumbled mess and if you are flying – the zip locks keep the hands of the agents searching the luggage off your clothes (yes, I think of everything!) and I’m sure they appreciate it as well. (Dirty clothes get put back in a ziplock with a dryer sheet.)

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Where all the zip locks and back bags are stored – under the bed.

A note here: If I am only using my rolling duffel and not bringing my Bath Bag, I just toss the zip locks (just a phrase because let’s face it, I never just toss anything) into the duffel and don’t worry. Everything is protected.

That’s it folks. I’m packed for a three-day trip and the whole thing took me about an hour and fifteen minutes (and an hour of that was showering and dressing.) And, may I add here, I didn’t stress a bit.

(All of these photos are from another – and much longer – trip.)

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Hefty makes 2-gal, Gain original works the best.
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Some of the things packed.
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Gathering from the closet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I always put the jeans and heavier items on the wheel side.
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Rolling duffel – best thing ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When my children were little and traveling with me, I packed a day’s clothes in each ziplock to make it easy for them (shorts, shirt, socks, undies.) Pajamas with a change of underwear would be packed into another ziplock. They were able to grab a bag and know that everything was there for them to get dressed. And with the dryer sheets, clothes smell straight from the dryer.

If there was a need to pack dress clothes, they would be carefully slipped into a white garbage bag that I make a little hole in the top to accommodate the hangers. I would then wrap them around my pillow and place in the top of the duffel. We also like to pack our pillow – what can I say except I like my own pillow. I have never had to iron (and I only buy cotton) clothes. I do the same with Hubby’s dress clothes.

The idea of the duffel came around when Hubby retired about seven years ago and we began taking lengthy trips. I didn’t want to be hauling three and four bags into a hotel each night while on the road. I purchased a LLBean X-Large rolling duffel for each us with that in mind. When you use one bag, you don’t stress over leaving something behind and it is so easy to roll the bags. We traveled (drove cross-country) to Washington and then on to an Alaskan cruise/tour and were on the road for three weeks. Everything we needed fit in these bags, including a pillow and our Lands’ End squalls. It worked wonderfully – one bag each! To answer your unasked question – yes, there were other bags. After all – I’m me. I had a backpack jammed with entertainment things and books, etc. as well as our plans for each excursion and my purse. But, I promise you – that was it. And, Hubby had his own backpack so he could cram his jacket into his own backpack and not mine.

Have questions? Need clarification? Please leave a comment.

As always thanks for stopping by My Life. One Story at a Time.

How do you pack for a trip? Have any tips to trade?

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Putting heavier items on wheel end keeps them from sliding down while rolling. Always tighten straps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Roll!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a different style of packing, visit my friend Kristy at Giftie Ecetera at http://giftieetcetera.blogspot.com/2014/04/planning-packing.html

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40 Bags/40 Days Declutter Charity Challenge

For the last few years, I have participated in a challenge that I first saw introduced by the lovely Sarah over at Clover Lane. It’s called the “40 Bags in 40 Days challenge” and the idea is to rid your home of unneeded and unwanted “stuff” by filling a bag every day during the 40 days of Lent. By the end, you will have donated/sold/tossed 40 BAGS of clutter.

I have to admit that the first year I did this challenge, I was a bit overwhelmed. Sarah suggests writing down 40 different areas of your home that you want to focus on during the challenge, and that was definitely helpful for me. I broke things down into very small categories and even dedicated one day to just cleaning out file drawers {not even my whole desk}. Following that daily plan of one small area at a time made things much more manageable. Also, instead of trying to fill an entire big garbage bag each day, I would focus on grocery size bags for the small projects. In the end, I had collected 21 black garbage bags/boxes and 19 grocery bags of STUFF we didn’t need. Some went into the recycling bin, some went to our garage sale, and some went to charities.

As much as I enjoy the decluttering process of this challenge, I think the part that I love most is finding new charities to contribute to. Having “too much stuff” is a blessing we take for granted sometimes. There are people that would do anything to have shoes without holes, dress clothes appropriate enough for a job interview, pots and pans to make meals at home, toys for their children to play with, glasses to see with, etc. And if we have extras of these things lying around, unused, why not give them to people who need them?! Use this challenge and every day of Lent {regardless of your religion} to give back to your community. To give to people in need. To do something good with all those blessings you take for granted.

This year, I plan to use my 40 Bags/40 Days list a little differently. Instead of listing 40 areas of my home, I am going to list out my 40 “bags” and where they went. I want to be able to look back and see how much I was able to recycle, how much I was able to sell and most importantly…how much I was able to donate to people in need.

Although there are many places that will take most of your items {like AMVETSSalvation Army or Red Cross}, there also some other wonderful charities that are looking for specific items like shoes, dress clothes, eye glasses, plastic toys, etc. Here are links to some charities I have worked with in the past and some I hope to work with again this year:

For gently used shoes: Share Your Soles
For gently worn or new dress clothes: Dress for Success
For old {good condition} eyeglasses: Lions Recycle for Sight
For gently used plastic toys: Second Chance Toys
Used books: Reading Tree
Old cell phones: Cell Phones for Soldiers
Gently worn coats and jackets: Operation Warm

 

I am so excited to get started on this year’s challenge and hopefully get my whole family involved too. And of course, to help you all out with this challenge, here is a free planner printable to help you track your 40 bags/40 Day:

 

Use it to plan out the 40 areas of your home you want to tackle in the challenge, or use it like I am and track your “bags” and where they are going.

Start Spring off right with an organized home, and a full heart :-)

Download the Large {8.5 x 11} list HERE.
Download the Small {5.5 x 8.5} list HERE.
Download the XSmall {3.75 x 6.75} list HERE.

 

I am reposting this from my friend, Jen, at Polka Dot Posie. (http://www.thepolkadotposie.com/2014/03/40-bags40-days-declutter-charity.html ) Let’s all join in and make the next 40 days count!

Don’t forget to check Southern Charm Planners on Facebook! at https://www.facebook.com/groups/LouisianaPlannerGirls/

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Tackling the Mail –

For some reason, mail seems to overwhelm even the most organized of people. I am proposing a few easy steps that I think will help you conquer the mail pile forever.

First, stop at the garbage can – preferably inside, because you should be tearing off the back page with your address and shredding it for security purposes. I usually dump the load of mail (and sometimes it is just that – a load) on the island in my kitchen. But, WAIT, I don’t leave it there, so walk off just yet. I quickly divide the envelopes and circulars/magazines in to two piles (one of each.) I know immediately if I am going to order from the catalog this month or not and chances are, I also receive an email from the company (I am currently working on my addiction to electronic mail.) If I have no intention of ordering, I tear off the back page and toss the remainder in the garbage. And so it goes with each piece of mail. Then, I tackle the envelopes. Most of the time it is junk, but I follow the same procedure. I tear off our name and address to shred and check for any documentation inside that may contain our information and then I toss. It seems more and more, as we attempt to protect our private information, credit card companies are filling out card applications for us before mailing them. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what’s up with that. Help us out here guys.

Also, if you are computer savvy (and even if you’re not) have your bills delivered electronically and eliminate even more mail. I set up an email called myfinancials@mail.com (use your name and gmail or yahoo, etc.) Only bills and financial documents go to that email. It is not a social email. This ensures your bills do not get lost in the shuffle of daily emails.

I also use an app called PaperKarma. You scan your mailing label and they take care of stopping the unwanted solicitations. It has helped tremendously in getting rid of those pesky flyers you get once a company sells your address information. I literally went from getting twenty mailings a day, to one or two a day.

Second - Now that you’ve sorted and thrown away all the unwanted mail, you have the bills left. If you utilize on-line bill pay with your bank, why file them away and have to handle them a second time, if all you need to do is set up the payment on-line? I make it a habit to only handle paper a minimal of times. When the water bill comes in, I immediately set it up for payment and file it. I don’t have to worry about remembering a due date. Before bill-pay was available, I would immediately write and date the check and put it in the envelope. Instead of a stamp, I would put the date it needed to be mailed. I then filed the bill and placed the envelope in my planner to be mailed on the appropriate date. I did this with each bill. If you do not have time to do this each day, place all of the bills in a file and either on Friday or Monday (or your choice of the day), write all the checks and record the mail date in place of a stamp.

Third – For other papers which need to be filed, such as insurance (medical, auto, etc.) I have files set up and the paperwork is filed as soon as the check is written. If you have magazine subscriptions, keep the renewal notices and payments all together in one place. Magazines are famous for sending you renewal notices a year in advance. You’ll know if you need to renew by quickly scanning the file. I typed up a chart and had columns for the magazine name, renewed date, and renewal date for easy reference.

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Also, another idea to keep in mind is that most larger magazines are also available on-line to read on your tablet, kindle, or computer. This also eliminates clutter. When I read an article or see a recipe that I’d like to keep, I use the Evernote (available on Kindle, iPhone, computer, etc.) to save it to folders that I have set up. It is easily accessible and involves no clutter. You can read about the advantages of using Evernote here: http://mylifeonestoryatatime.com/2013/11/15/technology-thursday-a-gem-called-evernote/

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Image via CrunchBase

For all other bills and receipts that need to be filed for tax purposes, I have a notebook system in place. You can read about it here: http://mylifeonestoryatatime.com/2014/02/07/that-pesky-end-of-the-year-tax-stuff-organization/

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Fourth – There is no fourth – you are finished! No mail. No piles. Done. Go enjoy yourself and let your mind be free.

Do you have a system for dealing with the mail? If so, what is your system? If not, uh – what are you waiting for!?

As always, thanks for stopping by. I hoped you found the post informative. Should you have any questions, please comment.

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Whoa! That is one huge mountain of laundry!

If company stopped by your house unexpectedly, is that what their reaction would be? Right before you slammed the laundry room door shut and treated them to a nasty look?

I don’t have that problem – the one with being able to slam the laundry room door shut that is. My laundry room is in the garage, right by the back door. For those friends who stop by and insist on coming in through the garage rather than my pretty front door, they get to walk right by it – whether the bins are empty or overflowing onto the floor. Fortunately, the bins aren’t normally overflowing.

How do I keep up with the laundry? Well, there is the fact that there are only two of us. But, then there’s the fact that Hubby can sometimes change clothes as often as a two-year old playing dress-up. What I am getting at is like everyone else, I have laundry. The difference may be in how I handle dirty clothes.

I only have two bins. One bin is for Hubby’s work jeans, shirts, underwear, towels, and dish towels. The other bin is for good clothes – the things you don’t want rolling around in the washer and dryer along with the towels and jeans. That’s it. When the bins are full, honey, it’s time to wash!

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Good clothes
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everyday items

Many people still think old school and would never dare to mix jeans with towels, etc. I say, “It’s a new age.” It took me a while to get to that point though, so I know what you’re going through. (Jeans once they are beyond fading, not new jeans.) Also, a bit of advice. I also love walking into a store and lusting after the beautiful colors of towels that are available. However, I do not buy them. Beautiful colored towels are simply that – beautiful – until they fade, then, not so much.

To me, beautiful towels are evil! They cannot be mixed with other clothes because they bleed. They cannot be bleached to look new again. They can only look older and older and older. I’m old enough without my towels looking my age too. Now, before I go any further, I will confess that I have succumbed to the beautifulness. I do have a few pretty hand towels – they are just for show! They create extra laundry – which I do not want.

I decided to write this post because I have a dear friend who recently posted on Facebook that she was behind in laundry and didn’t think anyone was listening. I wanted her to know that I was listening to her.

Above are my two bins. The larger is for those everyday items; jeans, towels, etc. When it is full, it’s time to wash. Washing usually starts after Hubby takes his shower and fills up the bin. It gets washed and put in the dryer. By bedtime the clothes are dry, but normally they stay in the dryer until the next day – there is nothing wrong with that.

The next photos depict how I handle the laundry once it’s dried. I pull out the jeans first and immediately fold them. I pick them up and shake them and then fold them in half; fold in half length-wise, and then in half again. It’s done – 4 seconds tops. I am so used to doing this, I just hold them against me and almost roll down. They are work jeans and this is good enough (took me a long time to allow it to be good enough, but I’m there.) Next, shirts. Same procedure. If you grab it at the collar and about half-way down the long sleeve and shake, it should fall into place. Lay on the dryer door and fold in thirds. Done. Lay on top of jeans. Pajama pants come next because they are long too.

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clothes in dryer
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in half length-wise
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in half again – finished
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in half
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sleeves folded over
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grab by collar & pinch sleeves
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pinching sleeve
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pinching collar
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finished
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fold down 1/3
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folded items on top
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small items in bottom of basket

After that, all that’s left are the underwear and towels. Those get tossed into the basket and the folded items are put on top. I then take the basket to my bedroom and use my bed for the rest of the folding. The folded items are set aside and I pull the other items from the basket and toss in the appropriate pile.

This may sound like extra work, but I have found it to be a more efficient way. Dish towels go in a pile. Bath towels (hand, rags that go in bathroom) go in a pile. Socks in a pile. Undies in a pile. Undershirts shaken and put aside. This takes about 5 seconds. Now, you are ready to fold. If you have little ones, you give the dish towels to one to fold, towels to another (except large towels unless they are older). More on how to incorporate the kiddies later.

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basket on bed
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items tossed into piles
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Hubby’s piled folded

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Hub’s socks, undies, etc.

I normally grab Hubby’s undershirts next. I fold and stack them. I then grab the undies, fold and stack. Then the socks. Since I am in the bedroom, I simply turn around and put his clothes on the shelves in his closet. What can I say? I designed my closet. He designed his closet. It’s not what I would have chosen, but he likes it so I work with it. The jeans and shirts are deposited on their shelves.

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jeans/shirts on shelves
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items on shelves

Next up are the dish towels. I grab and fold and stack. It only involves two stacks – dish towels and dish rags. When completed, one goes on top of the other. I then grab the towels and do the same. The laundry is done and folded at this point. I did the laundry this morning so I could take pictures and it still only took me about 15 minutes.

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kitchen towels

I grab and stack the dish towels on top of the bathroom towels and head out. I drop the bath towels off in the bathroom and the kitchen towels off on the island. I don’t take the time to put them in their exact spots. I wait until I come back to wash my hands and then I put the bath towels up. When I clean the kitchen after breakfast, I put the towels in their spots.  I just find this to be more efficient for me. It only takes a few extra seconds to put them in their places and certainly can be done after folding, especially if someone is going to come behind you and mess up all of your good work.

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bathroom
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kitchen towels

You have used up 10-15 minutes of your day and the laundry is done. I use this system because after trial and error, I found that you can fold much faster if you are folding one like item at a time. Before, I was folding and looking for the pile of undies or rags or towels. That took up a lot of time in itself. This has been my tried and true system for many, many years.

If you have children (this is what I did when my children were young) and you are teaching them to help with the laundry, then one can fold the kitchen towels and one can fold the bath towels. When I walked into the girl’s bedroom one day and opened a drawer to put away clothes and saw that one of them had completely turned everything over to get a shirt at the bottom of the stack, I quit folding their clothes. There wasn’t any point in spending the time to make things look perfect if it wasn’t suiting their way of finding their clothes. I picked my battles and learned to work out solutions that made us all happy during each phase of their lives growing up. It is what moms do.

I got a basket for each child and put their clothes in it. They would fold while they watched tv. This is when perfection ceases to exist. Even two-year olds can fold their undies and put them away. It doesn’t matter what they look like; they will be proud of the accomplishment.

To not add steps to your laundry process, you would take their baskets and put them on the bed. As you are tossing and making piles, you simply toss their clothes into their baskets. There will still be some items you’ll want to fold yourself, because after all, we don’t want our kids looking like raggamuffins if they don’t have to!

An extra thing that I do for Hubby to aid him in getting dressed if I’m not around is I put his folded dress socks over the appropriate pair of slacks. He’s finally learned which colors go with brown belt and shoes or black belt/shoes. This saves on the disarray in the closet and it takes just a second to do this kind deed.

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match socks to pants
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in closet

As always, thank you for visiting and taking the time to read my posts. I love hearing from you and if you’d like to share your laundry tips, please leave a comment.

I am joining friends for the Thursday Blog Hop! Click the links below and see all of the great blogs that are participating. You can participate too!

Welcome to the Thursday Favorite Things Blog hop. The Thursday Favorite Things Blog hop is where you can link your favorite post of the week or write a post about your favorite things and share it with old and new followers. The hop is hosted and posted on 3 different blogs! Please follow all of the hostesses. That’s right, your link will appear on the blogs of Katherines CornerOver 50 Feeling 40 and Vintage Mama. Three times the opportunity to make new bloggy friends and to share your wonderful blog and discover others too.

popular Thursday Blog Hop

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How’s that overwhelming housework schedule working for you?

Housework? Overwhelming? What alternate universe do you live in?

Hey! Don’t hate me because I’ve figured out a schedule that works for me. I’m one of those overly organized people who make a schedule and God help the person who tries to make me change it without loads of prior notice.

Now I am realistic enough to know this post could potentially bring out the beast in some people, but those may be the ones who let life overwhelm them instead of using a planner and a schedule to help them corral life. Yes, I just said that and now you can’t see me because I’m hiding behind the sofa to escape the tomatoes and watermelon being thrown at me.

All kidding aside, I am a person who functions best with a schedule, although I have been known to fly by the seat of my pants – once or twice in my 56 years. And I will admit that the schedule is a guideline and I do deviate from it on occasion.

I live in a small cottage (approx. 950 square feet). It has two bedrooms, two baths, kitchen/dining, and a living/library. Although, when I lived in a bigger house the same system worked.

I developed a system years ago of cleaning one room a day. Trying to clean the entire house in one day? Did I mention that I have zero attention span and I get sidetracked VERY easily.

I’ve had a lot of questions about my cleaning schedule and will list it below. Then, I’ll be posting several times this week on how and what I clean, since I’ve had requests about that as well.

Monday: Bathrooms

Tuesday: Library/Living Room

Wednesday: Office

Thursday: Kitchen/Dining

Friday: Bedroom

Saturday: miscellaneous

Sunday is God’s day.

On Mondays you can find me cleaning the bathrooms. My bathroom doesn’t really get that dirty, unless you count all of the baby powder I can’t seem to get rid of. Picture a duck splashing in the pond. That’s me with the baby powder. I have yet to figure out how all of that powder flies everywhere! Which also brings to mind a funny story (maybe one of those had to be there to get it stories.)

A friend of mine stopped by one afternoon to walk. She went into the bathroom to change and put her clothes on the floor. It looked clean, but when she picked up her clothes, she noticed what she thought was dust. She came out of the bathroom all excited thinking that my house wasn’t that clean after all! Imagine the laugh when I told her it was baby powder. I now keep a swifter in the bath to clean up the powder.

Getting back to the bathroom cleaning routine, the bathroom truly does not get that dirty because it is in a constant state of cleaning. I shower in the morning. I am not a bath person so the tub doesn’t get dirty. This is also partially due to having a rain shower head that drops water straight down as opposed to spraying all over the shower (believe me it makes a difference.) I also use a squeegee once I turn the water off. That’s all it takes to clean the shower. Once a month, I’ll spray and wipe down the shower walls. It is also my habit after a shower in the morning to change out the hand towels. I keep Fabuloso in a spray bottle and I’ll spray the sink and counter and wipe off with the dirty towel. If I think about it, I’ll wipe the steam off of the mirror cleaning the mirror at the same time. I always take my dirty clothes and put them in the hamper in the laundry room.

photo 3photo 1photo 2There really isn’t much to clean on Mondays except for the toilet, because it stays clean. I spray the toilet with Fabuloso and wipe down. In between cleanings, I may use Lysol wipes. All of the above maybe takes 15 minutes. And I don’t use anything exciting. I use the two products in the photo and Lysol wipes.

Tuesdays are clean the library day. I refer to my living room as the library because it houses all of my bookcases – big surprise there! There are no carpets in my house, only a few rugs and those get vacuumed on Saturdays. Mostly all that needs to be done is dusting – and there’s a lot of that with all my shelves and books. I also dust the ceiling fan and the baseboards. After swiftering (the most amazing thing to ever be invented,) I’m done. I have wood floors throughout my house so I don’t wet mop too often. A damp mop once a month is all it needs to pick up that extra dust. Once every couple of months, I’ll vacuum under the sofa cushions if I’ve seen Hubby eating snacks there. I also swifter each day – 5 minutes to go through the entire house, that’s it. For wet mopping, I use Fabuloso in the water. (Excuse that stack of blankets – it’s winter. They are normally stored in the ottoman on which they sit.)

photo 3 (1)photo 2 (1)photo 1 (1)When friends stop by they are always amazed at how clean my house is. My reply is it should be as there are only two people living in it – Hubby and me. Plus, I never walk through my house with empty hands. I am a firm believer in everything has a place and everything in its place. When I walk by the sofa, I take a second and straighten the pillows. If something is on the table, I grab it as I go by and deposit it in the kitchen sink, etc.

I will tell you a secret here (and deny it with my dying breath) but I do have a “messy” little secret and I’ll be cleaning it tomorrow – my office.

That’s my cleaning spill for today. If you have any questions or would like to contribute your cleaning secrets – please leave a comment!

I just LOVE when someone stops by and comments, especially when I’ve been remiss about explaining something. Such was the case involving the Swifter. Now, without further adeaux, I present the “SWIFTER DUSTER AND SWIFTER VACUUM”. I officially thank whoever came up with this ingenious idea. If I weren’t already married, I’d marry them!

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Why I didn’t get flowers for Valentine’s Day

WHAT!? You say? No. I didn’t get flowers. I didn’t get candy. Those are all items easily picked up at the market while frantically trying to get home in time for a romantic dinner before Valentine’s Day goes to hell in a hand basket.

What I did get for Valentine’s Day is love. And why is that enough? I’ve had the fake flowers and the fake candy – the items grabbed in a rush because it is what you’re supposed to do. I’ll take true love any day.

Hubby likes to say that everyday is Valentine’s Day because we live in Valentine. We really do – Valentine, Louisiana, a little settlement along a lazy bayou. And, it is Valentine’s Day everyday – except for when it’s not, we all have those days.

Hubby got up bright and early to go fishing this morning. He has been so busy building a house (he’s in construction) that he hasn’t had the time to just relax and let his mind wander a bit. So, he loaded up the boat and went fishing. Why does it not bother me that instead of spending today with me, his wife, he is out in a boat? Because it makes me happy to know he’s finally relaxing a little. That is what love is about. That is what Valentine’s Day is about.

I’d rather have a Husband, who when the water lilies are in full bloom and floating by the wharf, leans precariously over the water and snags a few of the beautiful purple blooms – because he knows how much I love them rather than one that grabs a bouquet at the market at the last second. Being thought of is Valentine’s Day.

IMG_4038I’d rather have a Husband, who when it is very cold outside, lets my two German Shepherds into the garage for a warm night’s sleep because he knows how much it would mean to me (without being begged to.)

I’d rather have a Husband that takes the time during running errands and says let’s stop for burgers at the Goal Post (a little drive-in) than one who takes me to a crowded restaurant just because it’s February 14th.

I’d rather have a Husband who takes a look at my dirty truck (yes, I have a truck) and sneaks out to wash it to surprise me.

I’d rather have a Husband, who just this morning, grabbed a plain sheet of writing paper, and left me a beautiful note saying how much I mean to him, rather than grabbing the first acceptable card from a rack.

I’d rather have a Husband who comes and sits on the porch swing in the evenings with me, rather than watching Gilligan’s Island.

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day and I didn’t get flowers. What I do get is Valentine’s Day – every day – in Valentine, Louisiana.

Happy Valentine’s Day – every day – to my Husband. Love you to the moon and back!

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Finding the perfect planner setup

I have posted several different inserts that I have been trying out in hopes of finding the perfect one for me. I think I have finally developed a system that will work for me. I have gathered the pages that I use most frequently and I am keeping them close at hand as you will see in the video.

Links to the products that I use:

Southern Charm Planners on FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/LouisianaPlannerGirls/

Day-Timers: http://www.daytimer.com/daytimerstore/mwv/product/Distressed-Leather-Free-Form-1%22-Planner-Cover-Desk-Size-/45014?searchClickId=0171103771%2C716&catId=&prodId=45014

Polka Dot Posie: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PolkaDotPosiePrint

Pembroke Papers: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PembrokePapers

I Heart Organizing: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/p/free-printables.html

I hope you enjoyed your visit and stop by again. As always, thanks for visiting and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

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Setting up a planner is a journey where there is no destination…

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As I was helping a person in my planner group – Southern Charm Planners – I realized that the information was important to anyone wishing to set up a planner.

It used to be there were only a few options to choose from when setting up the “guts” of a planner. Now, the world (internet) is your oyster. Just visit Etsy, an online shoppers paradise, and search “planners.” You would be amazed at the number of hits. Not having a system already established, the results would intimidate even the seasoned veterans of planner organization.

Every color of the rainbow can be found and just about every possible conglomeration of pages are available. Want the columns verticle in your week at a glance? Sure, no problem. Or, would you like them horizontal and divided into categories? Yep! You can have that served up too. You can have it in red or purple or pink or a combination. You can choose lines or lineless (just made that word up). Maybe you would prefer a day to a page or two pages per day.

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I, myself, like a week at a glance. After a lot of searching, I found the page that I currently use. It features a Time Plan with a place to check off tasks as I complete them. This week I have outlined each day in pink so it shows up better. I like having a priority section and phone calls and email section.

I also enjoy having my daily page with my Time Management Schedule mapped out for me. I have a real problem with my attention span, or lack there of I should say. It’s about the length of knat (for those of you who live in the South.) For everyone else, it’s zero. I can get distracted like nobody’s mama. You can read about my time management system here http://wp.me/p1nV7v-ub     It also gives me space to add a To Do list. I have even added a third page (behind the daily page) where I record all of my blog activity for the week (book reviews, posts, etc.)

And this brings me to the point of this posts. If you are a newbie just setting up your planner, or perhaps a more seasoned veteran looking for something new, remember to take your time. Setting up a planner is a journey where there is no destination. It should always be a work in progress. Take your time and look at the many different setups available and think about how each system would work for you in your own planner. Download a free month at a glance and add plain hole punched paper in your planner until you figure it out – rather than spend unnecessary money. Draw the system that appeals to you and play with it for a week or two before making a decision.

Ask yourself a few questions and think about your everyday life and what you would like to track. Is it appointments? Phone calls? To Do lists? Exercise or medications? Your children’s activities or the bake sale? Do you want to log everything on the same pages or would setting up sections in your planner work better. Keep in mind that everyone is different and needs a different system to track the important aspects of their life. This is what I mean by setting up a planner being a journey.

This is a quote by Judy Garland – “Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.” 

You don’t have to use the same planner (Day-Timer, Filofax, Day-Runner, Franklin-Covey, 3-ring binder) or the same dividers (Financial, calendar, menu, medical, etc.) as someone else. There is no reason to try to outdo or keep up with the next person. Setting up a planner is a personal endeavor and one you should enjoy. It shouldn’t cause you undue stress. Don’t be persuaded by bright lights and flashy colors. Get off the boulevard and explore the side streets. Keep your needs and your budget in the forefront. Your planner needs to work for you, not the other way around.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and found a little something you could take away. As always, I would love to get your take on things, so feel free to comment and join the conversation – or start one. Remember, if you have any questions, just post them in the comments and I’ll be glad to write a post with additional information on the topic.

Southern Charm Planners – https://www.facebook.com/groups/LouisianaPlannerGirls/
Day-Timer – http://www.daytimer.com/daytimerstore/mwv/product/Distressed-Leather-Free-Form-1%22-Planner-Cover-Desk-Size-/45014?searchClickId=0169751530%2C3519&catId=&prodId=45014
Polka Dot Posie – https://www.etsy.com/listing/170968988/2014-small-polkadotposie-signature?ref=related-5
Pembroke Papers – https://www.etsy.com/listing/176148796/downloadable-2014-12-size-a5-week-o2p?ref=shop_home_feat_1
I Heart Organizinghttp://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/p/free-printables.html
Southern Charm Planner’s Charm – https://www.etsy.com/transaction/180298065

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A Peek at how my week is shaping up and a DIY!

I have a dark corner in my kitchen and it drives me absolutely crazy! Hubby has a difficult time understanding this because I don’t seem to need light anywhere else. I am perfectly content to only use lamps in the house, rather than the overhead lights. Maybe it’s the ambiance. Who knows?

But, the kitchen, especially this corner (the only corner) is another story. I need light. I want light. And I had light – until the bulb burnt out – AGAIN! Hubby has been busy trying to finish a rent house that I am close to renaming “Murphy’s Law”. Seems the guy has  moved in and grown roots. Anything that can go wrong, has gone wrong. I’m sure you know the drill.

But, getting back to the light – this is not the first time it’s burnt out. Hubby installed these two pot lights (as I refer to them) under the counter only months ago and already they have both burnt out. They aren’t cheap so I’ve decided to just return them and ask for new ones. I am really tired of buying new lights every few months. Hubby’s back was bothering him and I can be very impatient at times. Who, me? Yes, me. I see a problem. I see a solution. I want it done. Case in point. Light burnt out. I have a new one. It needs to be installed.

I decided that it couldn’t be all that difficult to do. Before I met Hubby, I was quite an efficient woman. I decided with the long hours he has been working, it might be a good idea to become a little more independent again. Being old-fashioned works for us. He’s the man. I’m the woman. He does the man things. I do the woman things.

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After a little contemplation, I finally figured out that since the housing was already installed, there must be a way to only change out the guts.

I was correct. I even cut and connected the cord to the new plug. It is amazing how simple the quick connects are. I can’t wait to use this new-found knowledge on other things. I’m an accident waiting to happen so that might not be so good. But, getting back to the light, I managed to do everything right, only I was having trouble snapping the little light into the casing. I was matching up the holes with the piece on the light and therein lay my error. I should have just shoved it up and it would have snapped into place. I was being a little too correct and technical.

The light works and needless to say, I am one proud person! And, let there be light once again!

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It is also the corner where I keep my jar of cup cake liners. For the past several years I’ve just shoved them into the jar haphazardly as I’ve purchased them. I was sort of partial to the riot of color going every which way, which is unusual for my personality. The other day I had about five minutes to spare and decided to empty it out and reposition the papers. I think I like the stacks now. It provides color in the corner of the cabinet. There are some plain papers to the back of the jar that I actually use.

And, now a sneak peek at how my week is shaping up. I have been into using pink and aqua and blue lately when decorating my planner. This week, after visiting with a friend who absolutely loves bright colors, I chose an orange – quite a difference from my usual pastels. I think I am kind of liking it for a change.

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I also found some really cute free printables at Lime Tree Fruits http://limetreefruits.com/freebies/. Who wouldn’t want to write out a grocery list on this cute design or keep track of expenses?

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So that’s my week on this Monday. I’m sure the calendar will be filling up as the week continues. How’s your week shaping up and what type of planner are you using these days?

Stay tuned because on Wednesday I’ll be giving you a sneak peek at my Fossil bag and what’s inside!

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New Year’s Resolutions – Why the hype?

It’s that time of year again and it seems that everyone is either writing or talking about their New Year’s resolutions. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt the need to make a resolution. Isn’t it something we do in the recesses of our mind anyway, even if we don’t proclaim it? Why do we have the need to clarify thoughts of things we hope to accomplish when two weeks into the New Year, most have been forgotten?

The New Year for me is the same as any other day of the year. January 1st simply means the close of one disappointing holiday season and another year approaching. I no longer make Christmas wishes that I know will not come true. I know this because my wish has been the same for many years, and it’s gone unfulfilled.

Each year I tell myself that maybe this will be the year my daughters will choose to be a part of my life, and each year it doesn’t happen. There is no communication, no phone calls, no returned texts, no letters, nothing. So this year I made a difficult decision, a decision to move forward. No more wishes. No more disappointment. No more expectations. I made the decision to quietly put the past to sleep, as the past cannot be rewritten. It cannot be changed, and I cannot predict the future. The present is all I have and I need to try to make the present count. For self-preservation, that means no more wishes.

It really isn’t a New Year’s resolution that I’ve made, so much as a life resolution. My only aspiration in life was to be a mother. I am grateful for the sixteen years that I had as mother to my daughters, but that life is over, taken from me in a divorce. I’ve learned that one can mourn for a lifetime for pieces of their life, but it won’t bring them back. So, for this January first, I pulled off the black veil of mourning, and made the decision to move forward. I will shake the proverbial puzzle box and dump the contents out on the table and put a different puzzle together this year; a very different one, one without wishes.

 

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My Morning Exercise Debacle

I call it my daily exercise routine but perhaps I should refer to it as my daily comedy routine. Leslie Sansone and I have a daily date; only difference is, she is exercising and I am just trying not to injure myself while attempting to follow her. If she only knew the revenue she was missing out on by not offering a DVD that is simply a warm-up – well, let’s just say, there would be one on the market tomorrow!

     After three months I have that warm up down pact! Okay – almost. Some days even that is just too fast a pace for me to follow. Now picture this (of course, your mind may not let you): We’re walking, little steps now, just warming up. Now, we’re gonna do side to side steps. We’ll start with the right leg. What? Which is my right again? Oh yeah, my left hand makes an L and I write with my right hand. I’m doing it! Just like her. Whoops! I’m off a leg. OK, back on track. Now, let’s take those legs a little farther out and let’s do small lunges. Excuse me, Leslie; this is me we’re talking about. You want me, Lucille Ball‘s protege, to do lunges. Oh! That’s easy. I can do it. I’m doing it. Hey! I’ve got the hang of it. Oh, now she wants to walk again. I can do that; walk, walk, walk. Oh goodness, now she wants me to do kickbacks. I don’t do kickbacks. I’m an honest person. Whoops! There goes the ottoman halfway across the room. Wow! Look at the scratch  on the wood floor. Back to a walk now, I’m getting the hang of it. Right, left, right, left. Does it really matter if I’m on the wrong foot? Whew! I made it through the warm-up. I am doing good. Now it’s time for the real stuff!

     Ok. We’re picking up the pace. We’re walking, and walking, and walking. Wow! We are going to hold weights as we walk. Cool. (She really has no idea who she’s dealing with.) Now she wants me to raise my arms straight up and down as we walk. Up, down, up, down, up… Ouch! What was that?! I hit the fan! Utoh – now it’s missin’ a blade or two or three. That’s alright; less in my way (I’m sure my husband won’t mind – he says the fan makes him cold – guarantee that won’t be happening anymore.) Up, down, up, down. That works for me. The fan has the same pace as I do with those missing blades; back to walking.


     We’ve done our mile. My favorite time again; cool down.  Warm up, cool down. I think I just caught on to that phrase. Small steps now; walk, walk, walk. Small kicks now; kick, kick, kick. We’re cooling down. Now we plant our feet wide – not too wide – and do mini squats (now tell me, are there any other kind?) Turn to the left (right?) and stretch the calf muscles by balancing yourself with your hands on your thigh. Does she have any idea who she’s talking to? I grab a couple of chairs and put one under each arm. OK – I’m stretching. I’m cool. Lean further into the stretch she says. Whoops! I don’t think I’m supposed to be on the floor; another scratch.

And, as I peer up from my precarious position on the floor, I see my dog, Sentry, is at the door. From the look on her face, she seems to be wondering if we’ve had an earthquake and no one informed her.  Serves her right for all the times she has hit every pipe under the house in her eagerness to chase the mail truck. Okay, I’m cooled down and stretched out.  The floor has been mopped with sweat and buffed shiny by my not so delicate fall from grace. I think I’ll just watch the rest. Hope I enjoyed the workout, she says. She hopes I’ll come back tomorrow. What the heck. See ya tomorrow Leslie!


     And people complain about exercising……

The New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints NFC Championship victory in...
New Orleans Saints NFC Championship victory in the Superdome which will take them to the Superbowl. Right after the winning kick! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went for my morning walk today and as usual, no one knows what thoughts will be entering my head. This is so true because why on earth would I be thinking of the New Orleans Saints? Decorating, yes. Baking, yes. Organizing, definitely yes. But, the Saints? Go figure that one out. But true to form, this is what came to mind.     

Is it safe to be from Louisiana, more specifically South Louisiana, and not be a diehard New Orleans Saints fan? I was contemplating the validity of this thought and decided that I can dare say it can be quite intimidating at the very least.                

I found one sure-fire way to stop an animated point by point, play-by-play conversation cold in the middle of the church aisle (a Catholic church at that) was to interject an excited statement of my own about the joys of going to a movie or shopping and having the theater and stores all to myself (it’s not that I don’t like people, I just prefer the quiet.)The looks of complete and utter bewilderment I received were worth putting my life in peril.      

At this point, I will stop to thank the Saints for making it to the playoffs. People who would not speak to each other are now holding each other in rapturous conversations. And did I mention the ear-splitting, window-rattling rendition of The Saints Go Marching In that followed the bedazzled priest out the door after mass. Who would have ever thought we’d live to hear a priest include a prayer for a football team and a “GO SAINTS” in his final blessing before joyfully marching down the aisle to the above mentioned song? Not me!     

It almost isn’t safe to attend church if you are not a Saints fan. Who knew there was so much Saints paraphernalia that could be worn, held, walked on, spit on, listened to(you get the picture)? One enters the church these days with much trepidation. Even the prim and proper little old ladies are sporting Saints t-shirts under their jackets while giving out Holy Communion as well as sporting Fleur-de-le earrings in their sagging ear lobes!     

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I am not a fan of the New Orleans Saints; I am just not a fan of football. I, for one, am more than a little happy that football season has come to a close for the year. Fans have finally begun washing  their well-worn lucky t-shirts and are placing their lovingly folded clothing in the drawer for a much-needed break before next year’s season; at which time those Who Dat’s will surely spur up the emotions of South Louisiana once again. 

Reprinted from March 3, 2010

Happy Cows – Do they really all come from California?

I just went for my morning walk, okay, late morning walk.  As much as I would like to be a morning person, I just am not; unless, you want to consider taking all of my late night, early morning hours in to count. If I had my druther, the day would begin somewhere around 10 in the morning and run until 2-3 in the morning. Now, that would be a perfect day! I somehow accomplish more in the hours between midnight and 3am than I do any other time. Anywho, getting back to my walk, the weather is cold. Not so cold that a warm jacket, hat and gloves will not take care of the bite. There is something about the crispness of the cold that makes you feel like it is a whole new start to life. Just breathing in the cold air is cleansing.

After my wonderful walk, I came in and did what every other red-bloodied American does, I turned the television on. Happy cows. Now there is a topic worth discussing. How do people know that happy cows come from California? Do they smile differently? My favorite of the Happy Cow commercials is one of the earlier ones. “Do you think cows are pretty?” I suppose it is a favorite because I consists of a few too many pounds myself and somehow find myself commiserating with this happy cow. I simply can’t help asking my husband while spinning around in front of him, “Do you think cows are pretty?”  Is it too much to ask for him to say “yes?”

I do have a couple of other favorite commercials. I could sit all day long and watch Miss Piggy get hit in the head by a 2×4. Deranged I know, but for some strange, unexplainable reason, it makes me laugh out loud. I do try to redeem myself by not laughing when impressionable children are around. The other commercial is a Windex commercial. Two birds ring the doorbell of this poor unsuspecting man who is sunning out by his pool. Meanwhile, they have closed the (you guessed it) freshly Windex’ed (made this word up) patio door and he runs straight into it. Not ONCE, but twice! And yes, I roll on the floor every single time.

Why do some commercials just hit the mark and others don’t? I guess we all have our own sense of humor. So, here’s to Happy Cows (and guess what? They don’t all come from California!)

 

A tribute to Sentry

Sentry passed away three years ago right before Christmas, after being a loyal companion for 7 years of my life. I found this story while perusing my other blog and decided to post it. There were a lot of adventures involving Sentry. I got Calypso and Ryka two months after Sentry passed and they have been a blessing,  but I sometimes wish Sentry could have known them. I miss her dearly.
How do I start except for saying my poor dog. First, she fell off of the wharf on Sunday and last night she got locked in my husband’s workshop for the night. I was teaching religion and while I was gone, it started thundering, which Sentry is deathly afraid of, so she kept following my husband, Jeffery, in and out of his workshop. Once she observes a routine, she becomes complacent so she must have stayed inside for a while and when he closed up, she got locked in. That was around 7pm last night because that’s when I drove up and I assumed she was under the house because of the rain. 

     This morning I went out to walk and I called and called and rang the bell – no Sentry. I looked under the house, in her house, in the barn – no Sentry. By this time I am getting frantic (remember, I am SO good in a crisis) and I am almost in tears telling hubby that he has to come and help me because I can’t find her. THEN, the idea came to me that she may be in the workshop (has happened before) and so I knocked on the door and she started whimpering. She doesn’t bark when I call her; which I do not understand. It would make my life so much easier. I wouldn’t have to panic quite as often. 
     
When I opened the door and out she ran, she followed my trail back and forth and round and round before she came to me. That trail was a definite indication of how frantic I was quickly becoming. She is perfectly fine now but probably won’t go in to the workshop for a while. It’s strange how every dog I’ve had has managed to get themselves locked in the barn. You would think that would be the first place I’d look!

Getting back to our Sunday event when Sentry toppled off of the wharf – what a frantic time again! My husband and I were sitting in the swing on the wharf enjoying the slight breeze and peacefulness. Sentry was lying in her usual spot – the edge of the wharf – watching the fish jump and the minos swim by. She is fascinated by them. It all happened so quickly that I’m not sure what exactly happened, but the next thing I knew is that she was in the bayou! She just seemed to roll right off of the wharf and SPLASH!

     Of course, I am sooooooo very helpful in a crisis. I did the only thing I could think of – I started screaming! Now, we all know how much that helped. My husband was sitting right next to me – I am fairly certain my screaming did nothing to alert him to what he had already ascertained – the dog was in the water. Now most people probably wouldn’t panic. They know dogs can swim but you have to remember – this is MY dog and she’s never been in anything deeper than the ten inch ditch in the back yard; and that, she just splashes in. She still had her leash on – thank goodness – so we (make that hubby, not screaming me) were able to guide her around the pilings and the crab trap and the fishing line, 20 feet down the wharf to ground. None the worse for wear, she shook a few times and went right back to her spot, you guessed it, on the edge of the wharf. 
     Fortunately, life went quickly back to normal and we went back to swinging. (Little did I know that there would soon be another crisis…….)