Tuesday, November 30, 2021

the books I read in November


I love to read all year, but I really love to read during the holiday season! I started early this year and began reading all the Christmas books in November. That's probably partly to blame for why I wanted our home decorated early. Oh well, I'm here for it, like everything else Christmas. Here are the books I read in November. 

This first book was NOT Christmas-y, but it was so good! The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave might just be on my favorite book list for this year.

(Just click on the picture and you'll be directed to Amazon.) This book started with a bang—Hannah receives a note with a cryptic message from her husband Owen that says just two words—protect her. Somehow she knows that the "her" in Owen's note is referring to his sixteen year old daughter Bailey. Owen never comes home from work on that day that Hannah received his note and she doesn't see him again. That's the opening few pages of the book and the rest of it takes you on a wild goose chase as they begin the search for him and they begin to wonder who they can actually trust. I cannot recommend this book enough!

The second book I read was Mistletoe in Montana, by Pamela Kelley. This was the second book in a series and it was so good! 

Dan is stuck in Montana with a badly broken leg and he's dying to get back home to Chicago—back to his life, his work, his friends. To say he's bored in Montana is an understatement, until he meets Traci. Traci has just ended a serious relationship and isn't ready to date anyone, but she's willing to be a friend to Dan and to help him get his newly renovated home ready for Christmas.

I really enjoyed this book, as I do all of Pamela Kelley's books. 

My third book this month was the third book in the same series, Mischief in Montana.

Travis has had a crush on Isabella his whole life, but as good friends, she has never known that until now. She has had one serious relationship and though that didn't work, she is ready to settle down and find someone. Someone new moves into town and as they begin to date, she is forced to examine her heart and the intentions she has with the people in her life. Has she been missing out on hints from Travis all these years?

The fourth book I read was Match-Making in Montana, the fourth in this series.

Anna has had a hard few years trying to get on with her life after discovering that her husband of over ten years was cheating on her. She hasn't been ready to date during that time, but her friend places an ad on an online dating website and all of a sudden, Anna finds herself going on casual dinner and coffee dates with the men who seem to have a lot in common with her. Then she meets her new next door neighbor, Zach, who looks a lot like someone she dated in her high school years. But he doesn't seem to remember her, so surely that's not him?

I took a break from this sweet series and read Christmas at the Restaurant by Pamela Kelley, which is a sequel to The Restaurant.

The Christmas Stroll on Nantucket is coming up and Mandy, Jill and Emma want to do something special at The Restaurant that they own together. Because this is a continuation of The Restaurant, I won't say too much, but Pamela expands on each sister and relationship she is currently in and new characters are introduced. I enjoyed reading about Christmas Stroll, which is a real event that happens on Nantucket each year, the first weekend in December.

Lastly, the fifth book I read was Christmas at Cozy Holly Inn by Meredith Summers.

Julie's grandmother is sick and this might be her last Christmas. She asks one thing of Julie—to arrange one last Christmas party at the old family inn that she used to run, The Cozy Holly Inn. Julie can't deny her dying grandmother, so she makes the trip back home and decides to stay in the inn, because it's can't be too bad, right? Except that she runs into several unexpected problems, the least of which involves a stray cat that has made herself right at home in the basement of the inn.

All the books I read this month were so good! I'm continuing on in reading books that occur during this season in the month of December and I've got some really great ones lined up. Thanks for reading my blog and happy reading! 

Love to all. ❤


Happy Tuesday, friends! I thought I'd share about a few traditions I love at this time of year. Some are ones that I participate in even now, and some are things I loved doing when the boys were young. 

When they were younger, we loved going to visit Santa at The Enchanted Forrest. This is now at The Pink Palace and the Santa that you see in this picture below is my mom-in-love's cousin. We always did this first, then we'd end the night by getting Chick Fil A for dinner. We went to this every year with my in-love's and it was something we always looked forward to. 

Were they not the cutest?! In some ways, this seems like it was just yesterday. 

We also loved going to our local zoo for something they call Zoo Lights. This is still happening today, though we no longer go to this. If you do this, I would suggest going on a weeknight. The weekends get crazy and seats are almost impossible to find on the free tram.

We always did this with Dad and Sandy, and Trish and I loved this tradition. We all did, really.

We always help my in-love's with their tree and with getting the heavy boxes out of their attic. 

Todd and I have been hanging close on the tree branches since 1995. We always start off with eating dinner before jumping in to pull the boxes out and putting the tree together. Phyllis does the rest, but we help do that stuff, then she and I end up decorating the tree. I love that she tells me stories about each ornament. I have ornaments like that as well, ones that are very meaningful for a particular reason. 

The boys, Trish and me used to do Dad's outdoor lights every year at his house, which started back in 2010 or 2011. It started dwindling down by one of my sons each year and the last year they helped was probably three years ago. This was the third year we did his lights by ourselves. I always make her take a picture with me when we do this and we usually get Dad in on it as well, but I forgot to do that this year.

Trish and I have fun doing anything together. We have a movie night planned soon and maybe even a night for driving around to look at Christmas lights.

Speaking of that, my friend Christa and I did something new to us and fun last year.

We walked around the town square and admired all the Christmas lights together. I think we got coffee as well, either before or after, but it was one of the most fun nights we've ever had together. I hope to do that again this year, but we also have something planned for one Monday in the next week or two. I'll share about that then, though.

Every year the worship ministry is responsible for decking the church halls and we did this last night. I love our church all decorated for the holidays! This year I was promoted from a Christmas tree fluffer to a garland hanger. Joshua (our worship leader/pastor) fed us Chick Fil A first, then we jumped in. It was a fun night! My friend T picked me up and we may have snuck out afterward to grab peppermint milkshakes from Chick Fil A!

Last but not least is one of my favorite events of the year—Tablescapes is our most anticipated and well attended women's event each year. We are so excited about this tonight, because we couldn't have it last year! Stupid covid.

Here's a sneak peak of my table this year. I'll share more about this later in the week. Other traditions I love but that are not pictured are as follows:

Our annual Christmas parade is Friday night! I can't wait. I love a good marching band!

Every year our town tree lighting is comparable to the Rockefeller tree lighting. (Kidding, but our tree is planted in the ground and is still living!)

I love our Christmas church services and events, like the Jingle Jam that's coming up Sunday night. It'll be a jazz concert put on by our orchestra. I also love the messages that are preached and the choir program we'll do in two weeks. We're singing with the Getty's as well this year, on December 22nd, for their Irish Christmas event.

What are some traditions you love? I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all. ❤

Monday, November 29, 2021

weekending, Thanksgiving edition


Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with the ones you love. I know we did, and I'm feeling extra grateful for time with family, friends and moments of the six of us being at home together for almost an entire day. More about that in just a minute.

I wrote an extra blog post over the weekend, the one in which I share four somethings from the month gone by. If you missed that, you can read it here

We spent Thanksgiving at Mom's this year. It was a huge improvement over last year, when we were all at home with covid. We were a small crowd, but some years are just like that. Even though we were small in size, the food was plentiful and the laughter and conversation flowed. I did take a few pictures.

This is my handsome nephew Tyler, who just so happens to share my birthday. I love that he so willingly poses for my pictures. His mom (my sister Lisa) lives in Denver, so I always take pictures of him for her. This was him with Mom and then with me. I love his shirt! It's the one time a year he wears it.

The food was incredible! I proceeded to eat leftovers all weekend and as I write this, it's all been finished. In our family here at home, we've been battling with our sinuses for about a month, at different times and this past week has been my turn. I started feeling really bad after lunch, because the rain brought in cooler temps and my head felt like it was going to explode. I felt better on Friday when I woke up and I feel like I'm almost over it now, on Sunday night. 

We stayed home on Friday and then my husband and oldest son went in to work a shift with the sheriff's department. The rest of us (minus Drew, who was working that night as well) and my sister Trish went to Dad's for pizza and a movie. We used to eat another big traditional meal on this night and then we would go to Zoo Lights, but now that everyone is grown, we've had to adapt and change it up, since everyone has a work schedule now. We loved admiring the lights at Dad's that Trish and I did a couple weeks ago. The pictures never do them justice, but I took some anyway.

Aren't they beautiful? Each year, we get better and better.

We all stayed home on Saturday as well. I did a couple of loads of laundry and cleaned out a couple more cabinets and drawers, then that afternoon I went to Mom's for dinner. I ran my car through a car wash before I made the trip out there. Todd and the other guys stayed home and watched the TERRIBLE Alabama/Auburn game and proceeded to almost have heart attacks during the three overtimes. (Alabama barely eeked out a win in the third overtime, by a mere two points. The majority of the game they had zero points until the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. Needless to say, at that point, I stayed in the back room at Mom's and watched the rest of the game with Bill.) 

Speaking of Bill, look at their beautiful lights!

I came back home and read a while before going to bed for the night.

Sunday morning was spent at church, which was so very good, then I was home for the rest of the day. I ended the day by having my quiet time that I missed out on that morning, and called it a night. 

(This picture above was me doing my study on Advent over the weekend. It's going to be so good!)

It was a really good weekend! How was yours? I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Keep checking back this week to find out about the books I read in November! I'll see you back here tomorrow. Love to all! ❤

Sunday, November 28, 2021

share four somethings, November edition


I'm joining in with Heather for this month's edition of Share Four Somethings, where we share about what we've loved, read or said, something treasured and something ahead. 

Something loved: November brought about so many wonderful things. My pastor's wife (who had been in the hospital with covid/pneumonia, then later in a care facility) came home was one huge thing and answer to prayer. November brought about cooler weather, changing colors in the leaves where I live, and the months brought about continuing in traditions like doing my dad's outdoor lights with my sister Trish.

November brought about quality time with people I love, times of laughter and reconnecting with my friends whom I never see enough and my love of the peppermint milkshake from Chick-Fil-A that I love so much and that you see evident in my smile in this picture above.

Something read or said: I have been reading in several good places in the Bible. In my daily reading Bible lately, I've been in the books of Ezekiel, Psalm, Proverbs and Hebrews. There is so much goodness there! I've been reading some wonderful promises through the scripture writing plan I use each month that Shannon from swtblessings.com makes.

November brought about a dynamic speaker coming and preaching at my church and witnessing a miracle before my very eyes. A friend of mine had been worried about the dad of their grandson and the dad "just so happened" to be at church this particular day—and when the speaker Chad Williams gave an invitation at the end of his message, that dad was saved and gave his life to the Lord that day! November brought about some wonderful sermons from my pastor (who is my favorite of all time) on messages out of the book of John. One such message was titled "A Crisis of Faith" and what to do when we walk through fiery trials, and another great one called "Living Victoriously" that inspired me to begin the writing process on my portion of our next Bible study that we're writing as a team. 

Something treasured: November brought about more of my favorite thing—quality time. It's my top love language and my favorite thing, especially the older I get. Quality time can be with my man on a date night, our sons when we're all home together at the same time, my parents, my siblings, my friends. I've had all of that this month and I've treasured each moment. This picture below was one I took at Dad's house Friday night while Trish and I watched a Christmas movie with him and Sandy. 

I treasure each of the moments the good Lord gives me with all of the ones I mentioned. It doesn't matter if it's something in person like when Andrea and I went out (above) one night on my town square to do some catching up and Christmas shopping, or if it's an hour spent on the phone with my best friend Missy or my dear friend Dedee. Each of those times is a gift from the Lord and I am always so grateful when He gives me the gift of time.

Something ahead: As I write this, I'm listening to my new favorite song, O Come All Ye Faithful (His Name Shall Be) by Passion and Melodie Malone. There's the video for the song below, which I'd love for you to listen to if you have some time.

It's not the day of Christmas that I love so much, friends. It's the entire season that begins right before the days leading up to Thanksgiving and continuing through January 1 of the new year. The season brings about kindness more easily witnessed, joy that is evident in others, a sense of hope and anticipation in the hearts of others around. One of the things that I love so much is the Christmas music, and I don't mean the traditional carols—I prefer Christmas worship music like this song I shared above. Read a few of these lyrics:

O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant

O come, o come ye to Bethlehem

Come and behold Him, born the King of angels

O come let us adore Him, o come let us adore Him, o come let us adore Him—Christ the Lord!

His name shall be wonderful, Counselor

His name shall be everlasting Father

His name shall be Prince of peace, mighty God

His name shall be Emmanuel!

How can you not worship when the lyrics come straight of our Scripture? This particular passage is Isaiah 9:6.

For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

So, that is what I am looking forward to in the days ahead. 

Thanks for reading my blog! Love to all. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

Friday Favorites, 11.26.21

 Happy Friday, friends! I'm linking up with Andrea and Erika for this weekly blog post. How was your Thanksgiving? Have you recovered from overeating yet? I saw this meme that said something about that—something like, "I love how people pretend that Thanksgiving day is the one day a year they overeat." Isn't that accurate? Our day was lovely. A little quieter than usual, but some years are like that. It was a huge improvement over last year, when we all had covid and had to stay home and couldn't even eat the food my family brought us.

That being said, I have some favorites from the week! I thought I'd share.

I got to spend quality time with my pretty mom TWICE this week! That's a record. Spending time with her is my favorite! I love eating sushi with her and doing some light shopping. That's what we did on Wednesday. 

You know that reading is my favorite hobby, but I especially love Christmas books! I'm writing this on Thanksgiving night and I have big plans to finish this book tonight so that I can start on my next one I have waiting. 

This is one of my favorite Bible verses. So is this stone that the verse is inscribed on. This is something I bought for myself last week—it's tumbled marble from Ephesus, which is where Paul the apostle wrote some of his epistles! The book of Ephesians would have been written for those who lived in Ephesus, which is why I love this stone. It's so meaningful to me because Ephesians is one of my favorite books in the new testament. The maker of this is Twelve Stone Art and I included the link in case you want to check it out for yourself. 

This was one of my favorite things I saw online this week. Do you have a friend like that one? I feel like that I'm usually that one friend. I am so clumsy and am always tripping or running into something. 

Consider this your warning—from now until the new year, I am FULL ON Christmas mode, friends. Give me all the bright colors, all the glitter, all the Christmas cheer one can stand, because CHRISTMAS IS MY FAVORITE. 

These shoes and graphic tee are a couple of my newest favorites. The tee came from Old Navy, the clogs are some I bought last Saturday while I was with my mom and are my favorite brand of shoes—Dansko. They're so good for people who have any issues with their feet, which I do. I have tendonitis in my ankles and my left foot has been broken twice in the same spot, so along with all that and plantar fasciitis, they hurt almost all the time. I can do cheap everything, but I never skimp on shoes. None of us in our family do, actually. We have always bought inexpensive clothes and good shoes. If your feet hurt, it can make your entire body hurt. I know this because of the years I spent working at my sons' school. The floors were concrete and I spent three hours a day for four years walking on them and my poor feet were never again the same.

My favorite thing to see is something like this picture—one of my sons loving dogs. Oakley belongs to Graham and he is her very favorite. They're the sweetest thing.

Todd took me to one of my favorite places Wednesday night! This is a taco truck near his shop and their street tacos are incredible. The steak in these is very flavorful. I can't wait to go back to get one of their quesadillas.

This is my nephew Tyler. Isn't he so handsome? It's always a favorite when one of my cute nephews will take a picture with me. I'm so glad he joined us at my mom's yesterday for Thanksgiving!

Having Drew home is one of my favorite things. He was so tired from working the night before. We got home from Mom's and he came right inside and laid here to take a short nap.

One of my favorite things is to see how much my sons love their vehicles. It makes me so happy to know they love life. Graham and Drew love their vehicles too, but I'm being lazy and don't feel like scrolling to find pictures to show you of theirs.

I hope you had a great week and a wonderful time celebrating the holiday! I am excited about this morning. I am treating it like a Saturday and I'll be waking up and watching a Hallmark movie. We have another Thanksgiving celebration tonight with my dad, but only part of us can be there, thanks to work schedules. This is what adulting looks like. 

Thanks for reading my blog, friends! Love to all. ❤

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...