Monday, June 30, 2014

Vacation Tales

"Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you...'"   ... Hebrews 13:5


I'm loving my vacation!

There's been lots of resting and tv watching and not cooking real dinners. 

And then one afternoon, sunlight fell across a simple jadeite mug and reminded me of beach glass and summertime and that's what made me crawl up on my counter top to do this:

(Darn ol' cobwebs anyway.)

Then I put my rooster collection all in one place instead of scattered around the house. (You'll see a few African things I've forgotten to show you.)

While simultaneously staring out our new picture window, I'm watching The X-Files (not the 'spirit episodes', tho') and The Middle, a quirky combination probably altering my brain in odd--but pleasant--ways. 

I've taken extra trips to the supermarket and Dollar Tree (so nice to have the car on weekdays) and Tom and I Skype each day around 1:30. I'm hoping to visit with a couple friends soon, get over to Home Depot and visit the nearby movie theater. And this house feels absolutely full of people, what with God and Grace and Daniel and Sammy The Cats and all of you inside my computer and my heart.

Lots of my friends are whisking away to exotic, real vacations, but I've not had one of those since 2010 (remember our train adventure?). I could complain about that, but why? For I believe that old saying: 

"We do the things we really want to do. One way or another." 

So if I truly wanted to go on a getaway vacation, I'd find a way to do it... and I won't whine and complain or make excuses when I don't. I'll live peacefully with my choices.

You might disagree with that old saying, but that's ok. In a hundred areas of Life, I keep finding it to be true for myself. I keep making ways to do all the most important-to-me things--and that can be very, very telling.

It's the time of the opening of the day lilies.

" Those who live in the shelter of the Most High 
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty."   ... Psalm 91:1


Free kindle books:

The Language of Sparrows


It's a God Thing

The Other Daughter

Extraordinary Lessons From an Ordinary Life


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Of Course, I *Could* Worry ...

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us"   ... Romans 8:37


Soon after Tom's departure from South Africa the last time, the town he'd stayed in was flooded (I saw pictures). Then just three weeks ago, a fire destroyed the kitchen and dining areas of the motel where Tom and his co-workers had stayed.


So this time he's rooming with a partner in a house which basically just has beds and a kitchen table and no place to hang a bath towel or to work at a computer, all of which doesn't help his concern about the advance courses he must teach this time (the rolling 6-hour black-outs aren't great, either). Then on Friday a young coworker rolled his car three times after he'd gone out drinking and though he wasn't hurt, a couple of his local friends were.

And of course, Naomi's over in Germany and Switzerland with her band and her boyfriend who we do not know and that's awfully far away and I'm not a fan of plane travel in Today's world and they're traveling  much by car and isn't the Autobahn somewhere around there? And --

So yes, I could worry.

But a few years ago I realized that worrying makes my head and my whole body, tired. And now, at 55, it seems I either have energy to worry or to be happy--but certainly not both. I used to have that kind of energy, you know, to be mostly-happy and worried at the same time, but now this aging lady can't pull that off anymore.

I must choose one or the other. My brain shorts-out when it tries to do both.

People say, "If you have kids, you worry about them. You can't help it." But where is that Bible verse? 

Where is any Bible verse which says it's just dandy with God if we worry about anything? True, He understands our weaknesses, but He also understands that He gave us His strong Holy Spirit so that we can become even more than your garden variety conquerors.

More than a conqueror--that's what I want to be. A warrior, not a worrier.

And at my age and on these hot, humid summer days, I can only aim at one of those. I might as well aim for the good one.


"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad."   ... Proverbs 12:25

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."    ... Philippians 4:6,7

You'll find more verses about worry here.


My buddy, Anne, shared bits of her friend's very pretty yard here. Loved the dreaminess of it all!


Free Kindle books:

Dear Bob and Sue

Gypsy Spirit

Remember Me


Hate Dentists?


Worry is a misuse of imagination. ~Dan Zadra

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it. ~Mark Twain

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The New Window

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry ..."   ... James 1:19


I am mesmerized.

From my lazy place upon the couch I can recline and, on 'a big screen,' now see the river flow and boats float back and forth and seagulls circle and water skiers and riders on bicycles and walkers cross this 'screen' and cars drive past and four huge trees with leaves fluttering in breezes and honeysuckle blooming upon the hedge and doves zipping past to the feeders. It's like watching a silent movie in color with captions I write inside my head.

Oh, this new picture window just feels so right, like it should have been placed in that wall 83 years ago. I know ours is a kit house, but if only the owners had opted for a larger window there they could have also been enchanted as I am. A little old couple lived in Hobbit Cottage for many years and oh how much they missed!

And more? The window's white frame turned into one of those divine, meant-to-be mistakes (making me doubly thankful that I didn't freak-out about it. Whew.). The woodstain would have too much 'broken up' our tiny living room, felt too jarring and you know? There's no need to buy white paint at Home Depot, for in late afternoon, the unfinished wood trim so nearly matched the wall and looked perfect to these old eyes. Soon I'll paint both picture window frames the same light yellow of the walls so that nothing will detract from the scene beyond the glass.

Sometimes the simplest of changes can make you feel a brand new way. May I remember that and not become one of those people who hisses to everyone that she hates change... and thus misses out on so much.

                                         Really, the walls are a pale yellow, though they nearly never look that way in photos. Sigh. Oh, and I'll probably keep the dark green Morris chair out of there over the summer. I'm enjoying the airier feeling.


Oh, the dust which coated our rooms! Window Guy (who appears 3 minutes away from retiring) groaned when he discovered that outer wall is made of slat wallboard, said it'd been years since he'd run into that. He grumbled many more times to his co-workers, but in a good-natured way (and did not swear, at least aloud) and all our furniture turned white beneath the dust. I had to majorly clean afterward, but didn't mind in all the excitement of our new window and getting my life house back. 

Oh, and one of the window guys looked and spoke like Jim Caviezel and that certainly made ol' Debra smile. He was the last guy left (after six hours with a team of men) and asked for some cleaner and paper towels so he could wash the window from the outside for me (which I thought was a very Jim Caviezel thing to do. heh.)


Yesterday I told you I'd show you the new kitchen window, but I lied. :) The glass shelves haven't yet arrived so I'll wait until they do.


Georgene asked about the sites which save me money on groceries and my best advice? Find a local-to-you coupon blogger (or two or more.) Like for me, I Googled 'coupon blog Buffalo NY' and now I follow three local coupon bloggers at Facebook. They do all my coupon + sales match-ups for me, saving me loads of time and money--yay!

Two good national coupon sites are:

The Krazy Coupon Lady

Coupon Mom  (I really enjoy her helpful videos)

Oh, and Georgene (and anyone else): If you'd like my one-time email explaining how to save money on groceries, please email me at I'll gladly send it to you.

And Georgene--happy birthday!


Free Kindle books:

Ordained Irreverence

You Were Always There 

Finding Dolores

Tree Symphony

Dirt Cheap Organic

Friday, June 27, 2014

Changing Plans And Being Ok With That

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."   ... Romans 8:28


So. Our two new windows are being installed even as I write and I've had to adapt to a major-ish disappointment. Quickly. And come up with a new idea for one of the windows. 

The problem? The interior frame of the picture window was supposed to match the existing (wood-grain) trim, but it arrived in white. Sigh. So after Skyping with Tom about it, I, with contract in hand, spoke with one of the window guys and ....skipping some discussion.... blah, blah, blah ... we arrived at a Plan B. He'll install 'rough trim' and I will paint it white to match the window frame. And after that, I will also paint the trim, white, of the nearby, older picture window.

I have 17 other projects planned around here--what's one more? :)

Oh well. I prefer white trim around windows, anyway, and I promised Tom I'd be happy with this change of plans. Maybe someday the wood trim in the big three-part window in the dining area will irk us due to its 'non-matchiness', but for now, we'll live with it.

Changing plans, having to go to an unthought-of Plan B: that's Life. It happens. But oh, what matters most to God is how we behave when it does!

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."   ... Ephesians 4:32


So I guess you'll just see the new kitchen window tomorrow and the other window will have to wait some days. I'm sure you'll survive. :)


My latest better-than-free groceries:

The two Finish dishwasher products gave me a $3 profit.

Three Teriyaki sauces gave me a $2.30 profit.

The two Jenny-O turkey burgers gave me an extra $1.

The two Suddenly Salad boxes gave me .50 cents.

The three Tabasco bottles gave me .30 cents.

In total, I was paid $7.10 for these groceries.

Why share these deals? Simply as a reminder that--even with continual spikes in grocery costs--it doesn't mean we must pay those high prices.


Speaking of free groceries, SavingStar's Friday Freebie is a 26 oz. box of Morton table salt. This offer is good all weekend.


Free kindle books:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Popping In From My Staycation

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."   ... Galations 5:1


When Tom and his partner rode away in the taxi on Monday, I cried a bit, feeling the brunt of it all, this being alone for another 6 (or more) weeks. So I let myself grieve a few minutes more, but then I said, "Debra! Pull yourself together. You know this is what Tom's meant to do right now."

And yes, I do know that. 

A tiny part of me wishes his job involved only quickie trips and ones just within the U.S. but really, why make myself unhappy by wishing for what is not meant to be?

Now there's a good question. I watch others do that often, but the silly futility of it all made me smile and dry my tears, then switch my brain over to staycation mode. And I immediately felt better.

And oh! I forgot to tell you a couple weeks ago that Buffalo topped the list as the number one best city for staycationsIs that cool, or what? 

(Yet uh-oh! That same week, Buffalo also appeared on another list as the 4th poorest city in the U.S. Oh dear.)

Anyway. Yesterday I ordered-out for my favorite meal--chicken fingers, enough for breakfast and lunch today as well. (Hey. I'm on vacation, remember?) And tomorrow I will walk to 7-11 for a pint of ice cream (chocolate, but of course!), the only time I'll do that these 7 weeks.

I hung a couple paintings, puttered in the yard (only moments, for it was ghastly humid), played with the cats and began watching X-Files again. One lovely thing about growing older is that, give me a couple years, and all tv series revert to feeling new to me. :)

Oh, and I also discovered this documentary on Netflix which some of you will love:

 Forgotten Planet: Abandoned America. 

It covers four cities which are now ghost towns, one of which was Bodie, CA, my favorite since we'd visited there probably 22 years ago, but seems like just last week, due to my vivid fascination with it all. Awesome tv show--I'm hoping I can find more episodes there.

So Life goes on and what matters is that I move along with it, not allowing my head to get stuck in some dark, wishful corner when I could have had fun, instead. Heaven forbid. 


"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."   ... Matthew 11:29

Alan Watts


I Skyped with Tom moments ago and, besides the jet lag, he's doing well.

Naomi and her band are at this moment flying to Germany and if you could remember them in your prayers, I'd be grateful. Thank-you much!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let's Visit Stillmeadow Today

Today I am doing things differently at Hobbit Cottage and calling it a vacation day. I awoke at 3:00 a.m., came downstairs to feed the cats, turned on the computer, watched bits of The Closer in the living room and drifted back to sleep on the couch. Then climbed the stairs and back into my oh-I-love-this closet where I took a nap until 6:30, a more reasonable hour to rise.

And as I continue to mix things up a bit around here, I'll send you over to one incredible post, indeed, by Susan Branch. My fellow fans of Gladys Taber will LOVE what you see! (Keep scrolling down. You'll get there.) 

Oh my goodness! And here's a big thank-you to my buddy, Susan N., for emailing me the heads up.

It'll take you awhile to read that post so get going! :) Anyone can have their own Stillmeadow of the heart, I believe, and now I'm off to enjoy a vacation at mine.


I've been reading Gladys' Stillmeadow books since 1986 and one of the best things about going online was finally finding others who loved these books as well!


Free Kindle book as of today, June 24th:


Monday, June 23, 2014

The Weekend and Another Adventure

You get 100 points if you can find Daniel in this photo. :)

So. The day has arrived for Tom's Next Big Adventure--and mine.

Oh, the list of projects I hope to complete these next 7 weeks! (We procrastinators always have a l-o-n-g list of projects, don't we?) Mine are many and varied, inside, outside, upside down. 

These five extra days before Tom's departure were like a gift and--as the immortal Goldilocks would say--they were Just Right. So many days of saying goodbye with and without words and now we feel like, "It's time to go so that the countdown to coming home will begin."


See what I brought home from a yard sale this weekend?

This small wire garden-decor-thing made me smile. Maybe someday I'll touch it up with a bit of paint.

Oh, and you won't believe what I found in a box ... Of course, I gasped!

Wow. And only .25 cents each, plus, three are the same vintage I read while in Jr. High. As I gathered them up, I thanked God for giving me more perfect surprise gifts. 

I feel so spoiled.


While Tom plugged a couple yard sale addresses into our GPS, I snapped this photo of a tiny house which made me think of my dear grandparents:

How easy to imagine them there! 

And then I thought, "Oh! Their home in Heaven is probably The Ultimate Grandparents'  1920's House." You know, a white cottage type house with morning glory vines encircling front pillars and all sorts of flowers along the front. And a picket fence and wicker or other white chairs on a front patio and a glass pitcher of lemonade. Inside there's perfect lighting and lovely trinkets to look at behind glass and curved, overstuffed furniture (maybe in sage?) and wood floors and dreamy gold-framed art and --

I may visit their house in Heaven even before checking out my own. Oh happy day.


"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."   ... John 14:3


Clarice shared this today on Facebook. Isn't it wonderful?


Any prayers for Tom's traveling safety would be appreciated. Thank-you much!


Free Kindle books as of today, June 23:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Yes, You *Can*

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."   ... Jeremiah 29:11


You're sick of seeing photos of my side yard. I know, I know.

But I can't stop staring at them. I mean, though this was taken in Autumn of 2011, it still looked sorry like that in Spring of 2012:

(Oh dear.)

But just two springimtes later, it's become what you see at the top of this post. And now strawberries grow there(!) and lettuce and sundrops and cilantro and rosemary and mint and tiny roses and daisies and --

And oh, the miracle of it all, for I'm in my mid-50's, pathetically out of shape (my own fault), yet no one besides Grace and God helped me with that side yard.

No, it happened just one seed, one plant, one brick, one sack of soil and one trip to Home Depot at a time. And in the midst of 200 rest periods and a ton of trying to work smarter, not harder, learning to do things a whole different way because now I must.

Even with changes happening all the time and the world becoming not a better place--still--God helps us all create our own special world, inside and out, so that we can "come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses," in gardens visible and non.

And what we find there? Him, so very good, no matter how many horrid news reports and mean people swirl all around us. Him, in the sweet, warm silence.

With Him, we can do all things born from His mind, whether with our own hands or by way of people or funds He sends to us. He is not limited and He doesn't wish us to be. But we must not see so one-dimensionally nor seek blaming and excuses instead of solutions. 

And His plans for us are always good.


"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."   ... Philippians 4:13

"My hope level reveals whether I am believe lies or truth. My hope level increases as I believe more truth."   ... copied


Free Kindle books as of today, June 20th:

The Elmo Jenkins Trilogy (ack! No longer free.)


This weekend's SavingStar Friday Freebie is a 14 oz. can of powdered Comet with Bleach.


"The more the rest of the world disobeys God, the more we need to press in and be determined to obey God. As the dark gets darker, the light has to get lighter."   ...  Joyce Meyer

Always leave your little part of this world better than the way you found it...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Secret of a Remarkable Life, Even Today, Even on Earth

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'   ... Mark 12:30


That, my friends, is the secret of a daily incredible Life down here on Earth. 

No matter what our circumstances may be, a deep love and friendship with God will stop our foundation from crumbling, will keep our emotions intact and our heart beating with a joy that no one, no bad time, can take away--unless we let go of it, concentrating on the bad time rather than our great love.

Everything good and lasting and satisfying comes out of that intense love. Anything else, any other goal or substitution set into first place will always feel like and be less. And that 'less-ness' will lead to a low-grade dissatisfaction and a continual longing for something more. And a life only partially lived and one most likely lonely, worried and unfulfilled.

"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."   ... Stephen Covey

For me, this has been the key to a joy which cannot be explained and does not come and go. It stays. And today I'm encouraging you to make certain you've found that key and treasure it-- treasure that Love, that Friendship, with every single breath.


"Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."   ... John 14:23

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."   ... Psalm 16:11


Free Kindle books as of today, June 19th:

Strike the Match

Stepping Down

Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles

Standing Accountable

Bored No More 

Finding God When You Need Him Most

Easy and Delicious Homemade Bread


Where have I been?

Only lately did I discover the marvelous Judy Bolton. My, my, my ... she and her friends are a delight! And I'm thrilled that these stories are being republished for Today's readers. 

(My book on the left is The Mystic Ball.) Yesterday I ordered the next two books. (Uh-oh!)  

Here's my favorite blurb about these:

"The thirty-eight volume Judy Bolton series was written during the thirty-five years from 1932-1967. It is one of the most successful and enduring girls' series ever published. The Judy Bolton books are noted not only for their fine plots and thrilling stories, but also for their realism and their social commentary. Unlike most other series characters, Judy and her friends age and mature in the series and often deal with important social issues. To many, Judy is a feminist in the best light-smart, capable, courageous, nurturing, and always unwavering in her true beliefs; a perfect role model."

Has anyone else read these?


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Grateful Wednesday

                                                           Don't you love June roses?


"Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me."   ... Psalm 119:133


Hooray! Tom will not leave for South Africa today. His boss told him (and his traveling partner) that the funds for their plane tickets had been approved, but alas, they hadn't. So, although his departure day is up in the air (tho' probably Monday), that's ok, for we both needed extra time to get used to the idea of his leaving so soon.

I do enjoy a good reprieve! 

Life is filled with these tests, things which happen so that we'll see that, uh-oh! We're not quite the sweet, patient darlings our deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) had us believe. And what grade did we get on this 'quick!-your-plans-have-changed' test? Hmm... Probably B-'s. And you know what that means, right? Someday we'll be tested again, because these tests keep coming until we pass them with A's.

Twenty (and more) years ago I used to always question "Why do these annoying things keep happening?," but how calming to know what's really going on.  :)


This is part of what I see from my front patio chair:

As with all my photos, the real thing is much prettier.


On Saturday, Tom and I finally made it over to the new Veterans' Memorial in the town of Niagara Falls:

Not being the emotional, crying type of lady, I thought I'd be fine, but oh dear! At one point, an incredible sadness welled up from within me and I nearly burst into tears, for it's as though I could feel all the grief from the moms and dads, especially, who lost their sons (and daughters) in these wars going back to even the 1800's. I ducked my head, pulled myself together, then resumed my quiet looking at all those many names of local soldiers... and felt grateful for my freedom.


"The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?"   ... Jeremiah 17:9

"And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not."   ... Deuteronomy 8:2

The SavingStar healthy offer of the week is 20 percent off of loose, unwrapped cucumbers.


Free Kindle books as of today, June 18th:

Some Things Never Change (Book Two) Ack! Like Book Three, this quickly went back to $2.99 on the same day it  was offered for free.