Preparing Your Closet for Winter

I’ve always said that life is messy, and indeed it is! Apparently I am also camera challenged, as my 2-year old Sony camera that I love so much is in for repair. So for the near future, I am having to take all my pictures with my phone, which means they aren’t as clear and crisp as I’d like them to be.
2014-09-08 17.45.07I love fall. Without a doubt, it’s my favorite season, and a welcome sight after a long, hot summer.

Fall is a time for cozy-ing up, cooking, enjoying the last nice days of the season, the fall color…aaah!

It also means it’s time to get your closet ready for the coming winter months. It’s sort of a way to take inventory of what you have, what you need, and maybe even fall in love again with some old favorites. 🙂

I know you’re busy, peeps. Don’t stress yourself or get overwhelmed by dragging out everything at once. There’s not really any right or wrong way, and the closet police are not going to come after you if you make a mistake.

Just do it a little at a time – you can get a lot done in 15 minutes! To make it easy for you, I’ll break it down into steps; all you have to do is move through the steps one at a time. Like magic, it will be done!

So, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and let’s take an honest assessment of your closet.

1. Pull out the summer things you love but you know you won’t wear again until next spring. 

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Remove them from hangers and set them aside so they won’t be in your way, especially if you’re working on this project over several days.

This may include sleeveless or short sleeve tops that you wear alone and not under a blazer as a shell. Make sure they don’t need mending or have stains. You want to store only clean, ready to wear items.

I know you read a lot that “if you haven’t worn it in a year (or two years), then get rid of it.” I disagree. If you love it and feel fabulous in it, keep it. You’ll eventually wear it.

Take these Minnetonka shoes, for instance. I bought them 4 or 5 years ago in Ft. Myers Beach, FL. In those last several years, I think I wore them once or twice.

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Suddenly, this summer they became my ‘go-to’ shoes. I rest my case. 😀

2. Pull out everything you know you won’t wear again. 

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If it is too small, doesn’t fit right, you hate it but hate to admit you wasted the money, has bad memories associated with it, or is older than your oldest child (especially if they are in junior high) it needs to go. Pronto!

If you need to try it on, this is the time to do it. Liberate yourself from clothes that drag you down!

And if you ask a friend or family member’s advice, remember, you can only look as fabulous as they are honest. So don’t be mad at them for telling you the truth. Perhaps they did you a big favor.

Bag them up, and keep the bag nearby until you’ve sorted through your winter clothes.

3. Make a neatly folded pile for items that need mended, items that need dry-cleaned, and items that need washed (or throw them into the hamper.)

If you don’t like to sew or don’t have the time, make a plan to drop them off for mending in the next couple of weeks. My mending stays in a chair in my den, which is near my purse. That way I can remember it.

4. Are you planning for a vacation this winter? Now’s the time to pack for it!

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As I was sorting through everything, I placed the items I knew I would wear in Florida this winter in a tote to carry out to our RV. It’s much more enjoyable to pack that sucker when it’s 65 degrees than -3. I’m just saying…

Be thoughtful, take your favorites, and since you wore them so recently, you’ll remember which those are. Pack them now, and label your tote so you will remember where you packed them!

5. Assess what’s left in your closet.

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You may have a few multi-season items, dress clothes, etc. Try them on, make sure they fit, make sure you love them.

Sort your shoes, get rid of any that you don’t like or don’t fit or look tired. Move your summery sandals to a less accessible spot.

Do you need to rearrange the order?

I actually switched out my closet a few weeks ago, I just haven’t sorted my shoes yet.

In the spring, I talked about how I hang everything in my closet by color. My friend Samantha takes it a step further and hangs hers according to sleeve length. What a great idea! I have done that several times, I just forget to keep doing it when I hang my laundry up. 😀

I tell you this because I want to stress that the most important thing is to create a simple system that relieves your mental stress but works for you.

And, for the love of all that is holy, if you are using wire hangers, STOP IT. This is how all your knit clothes end up with ‘hanger nipples’. Invest in some decent hangers which support your clothes, even if you have to buy just a few at a time. You don’t have to spend a fortune on them, even the plastic tube hangers are a better choice and are inexpensive. For your dress clothes, the dress and suit hangers are great to help preserve their shape.

6. Bring out your winter-season clothes.

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The fun of this is that it’s almost like Christmas. 😀 I enjoy seeing my old favorites again. But then I’m easily entertained.

As you sort and hang or fold your winter things, make an honest assessment: is there anything you know you won’t wear? That now, given the absence of a few months, just doesn’t seem right? Now’s the time: get rid of it too.

Put them in the bag with your summer clothes, then place the bag in your car NOW to drop off the next time you’re running errands.

Do you have some things that you aren’t sure you want to wear, but yet aren’t sure you want to get rid of yet? Leave them in the tote that you fill with your spring clothes. The next time you swap, evaluate them. Maybe that will make parting with them easier.

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7. Sort your accessories.

Over the coming days/weeks, sort through your accessories. Coats. Purses. Socks. Jewelry.

If it makes you feel good or you think you’ll wear it, keep it. Otherwise, bless someone else with it.

The exception to this rule is sentimental items. I have several things I have saved that have belonged to relatives and friends who have passed away. I have kept these items, but I have them stored in a separate place that isn’t in my closet.

I keep a box in the basement where I place things I’m going to donate. When the box is full, I drop it off.

Your closet should contain only the clothes you love that you’re wearing for the current season. If it’s stuffed to the gills and you can’t find anything, odds are you’re keeping items in there that shouldn’t be there. Keep things you don’t use regularly or that don’t belong there somewhere else.

8. Make a list of things you need.

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Is there a few items you need to make your wardrobe ‘complete’?

Do you need new socks? Dress pants? Turtlenecks or tees? (Those look ‘tired’ easily, so they need to be replaced more often.)

The shelf above is where I keep my tee shirts folded. Sure, I would love to have one of those closet organizing systems, but for a variety of reasons, it’s just not practical here. Not to mention I find the thought of selecting and installing it exhausting. Who has the time?

These little shelves work perfectly. You can see I’ve labeled them to simplify finding them. And if I decide not to use them here, I can multi-purpose them somewhere else in my house.

How about pajamas? Are you wearing old pajamas or lounging clothes which are stained or have holes?

Truly, the little luxuries in life have to be new socks and new pajamas. 🙂

We’re moving into the time of year when we spend more time in those things. Choose something comfortable and cozy that you’ll love to wear: you’ll feel so much better! I know you may have some favorites, but if your favorites have holes and are stained, you aren’t doing yourself, or anyone you live with any favors.

If you shop with a list, you’ll be more focused, and are likely to be happier with your purchases. You’ll also SAVE MONEY! And who wouldn’t love to do that?

This year, what I needed most was cardigans which could dress up or down. Even though I wear jeans at the shop, I like to look nice in case I have an appointment or a meeting with a client. I needed something that I could wear with Uggs or dress pants.  Recently, I’ve picked up 3, and one of them is in the new trendy color of plum for fall. Super cute! And versatile! These cardigans are timeless, so I can wear them for a long time.

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So make your list, check it twice, and carry it with you in a safe place in your purse. Anytime you shop without a list, whether it’s groceries or clothes, you risk overspending or forgetting something.

Taking the time to organize your wardrobe and accessories will truly help you have less stress in your life. It makes you feel so good to open your closet door and see only the things you love inside. You work hard, you deserve to feel good!

Happy sorting, friends. And happy fall! 🙂

How To Make a Small Living Room Larger

I’m baaaaaack! And it’s great to be back, dear readers. I have some great stuff planned, I hope you’ll stay tuned for inspiration, motivation and a laugh here and there. In the meantime, hope you have a terrific week. Happy fall!

Living Room Before

Pam, one of my colleagues at the real estate office stopped me one day. “Can you help me with my living room? It’s small, and I know I have too much stuff in it. I need help!”

The picture above is Pam’s living room before we started. As you can see, the entertainment center which was probably perfect in her last house completely overwhelmed the room. Your eye simply didn’t know where to go, which can be exhausting.

 

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Pam and her husband Jim are avid movie-watchers, as you can tell by the shelves with the movies. And, since Jim lives there too, it’s important that both of them like the room and feel comfortable with the changes.

The great thing about the kind of decorating and staging that I do is that it’s a process. One step at a time, we began to edit the room and make tweaks here and there. While Pam really wanted new end tables, I encouraged her to hold off and take it one step at a time.

Sometimes you know when you need to make big changes and major modifications and start from the beginning, but I hate to see someone spend money if they don’t have to.

And if you’re planning to sell your house, this is exactly the kind of things you need to be doing in order to make your house appealing to the majority of buyers, which gives you a better opportunity to get your property sold quicker.

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This is Pam’s entryway. She has some collections which are very meaningful, such as the thimble collection on this wall. Her furniture arrangement really suited the room, and many of her pictures were hung beautifully and in the right place. Her paint color was also perfectly neutral. And, while it’s hidden behind the sofa, her mother’s Duncan Fife dining table sits nicely in her entry way. Honestly, it’s perfect right there.

Her living room needed some editing and ‘tweaking’. So we tweaked. And we shopped. And Pam worked hard de-cluttering.

When you’re in a small space, you have to be very choosey what you put in there. I suggested that Pam edit her things, displaying only her favorites, and also sort through their movies, storing only the ones they watched regularly in the living room. The others could be stored elsewhere in a less accessible location.

For instance, are you storing things in your living room that you rarely ever use? Your living room is valuable real estate!

My Law of Storage is this: if you have a small space, keep only items in that space you use regularly. This Law applies to bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, counter tops, whatever. The less you use it, the farther away it can be stored.

For instance, the items stored under my sink are things I use weekly or every couple of weeks. If I use it less often, I store it in the basement. If you utilize this strategy and prioritize your storage, it really helps you keep from cluttering up your space.

Are you with me on this? 

One exception to this rule is my KitchenAid mixer which was a gift from my dear friend Peggy. It was her late mother’s, and none of her family had a need for it. I feel honored and blessed to have this. And while I don’t use it very often, it is heavy. So it has a prominent place of honor in a kitchen cabinet. Sometimes carrying things back and forth just isn’t practical, and you have to make an exception.

But for the most part, the Law of Storage is a great way to help you prioritize what you need to keep nearby.

So, back to Pam’s living room.

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The first thing we did was remove literally the largest ‘offender’, the entertainment center, and replaced it with a very nice marble-topped media center purchased at the local furniture store where Jim works.

The shading of the wood is both lighter and dark, and this complements the Duncan Fife table on the opposite side of the room very well. Together, both of these pieces have similar ‘visual weight’, balancing both sides of the room perfectly.

Jim and Pam decided it was the perfect time to upgrade their TV, so their new flat screen looks perfect. It was decided the stereo needed to stay, so we placed it in the corner. Pam had selected her favorite items to display, so we installed the shelves to the left of the TV, and moved her thimble collection from the other side of the room on the other side.

Pam has a beautiful eucalyptus wreath on the wall hanging above the Duncan Fife table. It deserves to be the focal point of that wall, which is why we moved the thimble collection to the other side. Now they’ve become a proud collection worth noticing on their own, and not fighting with anything else for attention. 🙂

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Ah, those shelves. They became the bane of our existence. But through blood, sweat and tears (okay, no blood or tears) Pam and I forever shall remain bonded over those shelves. Let’s just say, “It was a learning experience.” 😀

We went with black shelves to match Pam’s black lamps; just a few touches of black as accents add visual ‘texture’ and depth to the room. (Be careful when using black..a little  is perfect, too much is….well, too much.)

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Nothing jazzes up a room that’s a sea of neutrals like a little bit of color. This room didn’t need a lot of in-your-face color. It just needed something subtle.

I think this rug was meant for this living room. It was the last one at Home Depot, it was on clearance, and it’s perfect. It’s just the perfect touch of muted color to ‘anchor’ the room in the center, and it harmonizes with the green eucalyptus wreath.

And, you’ll notice Pam has a new table!

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The oak tables no longer did the room justice, nor were they functional for the changing needs of the room. A smaller room commands furnishings that do double-duty, so we looked for pieces which could accommodate storage.

Off we went to Jim’s furniture store again. These tables coordinate perfectly with both the new media center and the Duncan Fife table. They didn’t come with the baskets, Pam and Jim picked those out separately. But they offer a perfect solution to storing their favorite movies which are easily accessible as well as other favorite collectibles.

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Another thing that made these tables perfect is that the end tables came in two different shapes: one was round, and the other is a smaller version of the leaf-shaped coffee table. This offered the opportunity to place the smaller of the three in a smaller area, such as between the two larger chairs in front of the window.

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Here’s another shot of the rug with the coffee table. The rug was just what the room needed.

Because I’m a half-wit, I forgot my camera for some of the pictures, and had to use my phone. Ooops. So if you notice a difference in the (lack of) skill, that’s why. Yeesh. At least I’m consistent!

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The room now is almost finished, and I’m hearing that both Pam and Jim love it. Their living room has now become a peaceful sanctuary for them, and one they simply love to be in. Pam tells me that, to her surprise, she’s enjoying the peaceful feel of the space so much that she’s on a mission to de-clutter the rest of her house.

You go, girl!

Pam has always wanted a fireplace, so that’s the last item on her list. So if you’re wondering why the blank wall to the right and why the wall hanging is so high…we’re waiting until her fireplace is installed before moving that piece, in order to put as few holes in the wall as possible.

Living Room After

Now, you notice the beauty of the room and the hardwood floors, and the room feels soothing and peaceful…exactly what a hardworking couple need when they come home at the end of the day.

And a bonus? It’s easier to clean! I’ve never heard anyone complain about that before.

I love instant gratification and making people happy! 🙂

As fall arrives and we spend more time indoors, evaluate your space. Do you need to do some editing to fall in love with your house again and to prepare it for more family time? Remember, it doesn’t have to be done overnight. It’s a process.

So take your time, and enjoy your family and the beautiful days of fall. 🙂

Grief is a Personal Journey

This post has been rattling around in my head for a few months, but I just wasn’t ready to write it. It needed to ‘marinate’, until I reached a point where I simply had to write it before I could move forward myself. I felt compelled to write this for YOU, dear reader, in hopes that sharing my journey will give you strength. Because if you’ve suffered a loss, you need the comfort of knowing that your journey to healing is yours, and yours alone. 

Ziglar

 

I’ve been thinking about grief a lot lately. Many people, some I know and some I don’t, have suffered significant loss in recent months.  My heart hurts for them.

As humans, we all share the suffering that comes with a loss, regardless of whether that loss is a human loss or a beloved pet. And we all share in the ability to comfort and lift up each other…or not.

I learned a long time ago that even when it’s expected  –  such as parent or someone who’s had an extended illness –  it may make it a little easier to bear. But even then, it’s still a shock when it happens.

And then there are the losses whose circumstances are so sudden and so tragic it leaves us struggling for answers and  wondering why and questioning our faith in God.

We all share in the cycle of life. The cycle of loss. The cycle of blessings and joy. The cycle of struggle.

I wonder if we would appreciate one without the other.

When my mother passed away, the loss was bittersweet. On the one hand, I was relieved that she no longer had to suffer or miss my dad. Yet, I missed my mother terribly. Part of the curse of being the baby of the family is having to say ‘goodbye’ to both of them well before my 50th birthday.

I was blessed to have enjoyed my parents as an adult, and to have had the wonderful opportunity to spend a lot of time with them. Before their health limited their activities, they were a lot of fun. And they had a lot of fun.

I had a great childhood. Growing up on the farm was a wonderful experience, and I miss it terribly.

I have no desire to go back, my life is the here and now. But that doesn’t mean I miss it any less.

My memories are full of my favorite things: listening to the whisper of the Chariton River as it moseyed downstream. The wonderful smell of the earth during spring planting after what seemed like a long winter. The smell of new-mown hay or fresh-cut silage.

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Baby calves, baby pigs, and baby chickens.

The peace of the countryside, and the beauty of a peaceful sunrise over the Chariton River valley, or a quiet sunset over rolling green hills.

The roar of big power as the equipment rolled out to work the land. The controlled chaos of working cattle or moving them to another pasture. Counting cattle with my dad or brother from the two-seater 1946 Old Champ airplane, back in the cattle-rustling days.

The hours spent riding my bike or 3-wheeler among those hills. Lunches in the field (food never tastes as good as when it’s eaten outside), all the trees my mom planted, her flowers, picking berries, the large garden we had.

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I said my first swear word on that farm. I was fourteen or fifteen, backing my parents car up to the barrel tank that held unleaded gas. I went to brake and my foot hit the accelerator instead. The car shot backwards into the tank, sliding the framework back into the chicken house, and the gas barrel fell down in between.

“DAMN”, I said. 😀

We chuckled for weeks remembering the panicked squawking erupting from the chickens following the “BANG” of the tank stand on the side of their house.

Picnics in the pasture with just my dog and Miracle Whip sandwiches. All these memories are so much a part of the tightly woven fabric that is me that it’s impossible to separate them. It’s part of the framework through which I see everything.

Skippy and me

That is why I can’t go home again.

To drive down to the farm just makes the loss feel more significant.

My parents house is gone now. Nothing is the way it was.

Buildings and structures don’t live forever. But the pang of loss is so sharp, so painful, the loss of so much feels so deep that it hurts too much to go.

Elmer Hilltop View

In recent weeks I attended my cousins’ sweet vow renewal and anniversary party in my hometown. It was really nice to see them, and I saw some people I hadn’t seen in years.

As I got in my car to leave, I thought about driving out by the farm or the cemetery. Instead, I turned around and headed back home. It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to end it with happiness. Not the lonely feeling of loss.

In the almost six years since my parents passed away, I have only been to the cemetery 4 or 5 times. And two of those times were for my parents’ burials.

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I know for a fact that there are those who judge me for this. Personally, I believe that the right to judge belongs in the courtroom or to God (or simply a Higher Power, depending upon your beliefs.)

But as we’ve all witnessed and been subjected to time and time again, there surely is no judge or jury harsher than the Court of Public Opinion.

My friend Dianne and I were talking recently. I don’t even remember the topic.

“I don’t go back to my mother’s grave,” she said. “She’s not there.”

And she’s right.

I feel my parents’ presence in a lot of the things I do, in the memories I carry with me. I feel my mother especially when I make her noodles or am cooking for the holidays. I feel my dad’s presence when Jimmy and I are talking business or about life in general. Sometimes random, funny thoughts will come up about my dad and silly songs he used to sing.

For instance, recently I took a silly quiz on Facebook which told me that I should live in El Paso, Texas. With great pleasure, I shared with Jimmy the story of a memory that had been long forgotten.

“He’s an a..hole from El Paso,” my dad might suddenly sing, straight-faced, in a melodious voice. Jimmy and I busted up with laughter, and I can still see my dad doing that. August 10th would have been his birthday.

These are the kinds of things that make me feel close to my parents and cherish their memory.

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Rather than placing flowers on their graves, I choose other ways to memorialize them. This year, I gave money to the cemetery. There’s nothing prettier than a well-maintained cemetery, and my mom would be pleased that theirs looked nice.

I have plans to create a Serenity Garden at the cemetery behind their graves, but I’m just not ready yet. Someday.

Grief is a personal journey that has no timeline, no specific route, and no destination. We have become such a schedule-focused society built on get-it-done-yesterday deadlines, I think grief can be challenging. It’s easy to feel an unseen pressure to move on, squash it down, pretend it isn’t there and put on a happy face.

We can schedule nearly everything else, but you can’t schedule recovery from grief.  Time can work miracles, and healing happens sometimes almost without being noticed.

The best thing we can do for loved ones who are grieving is offer them quiet support and the freedom to grieve how they need to. The route and process is different for all of us.

Grieving requires patience. And support. And kindness. And forgiveness. Be patient with yourself. Reach out if you need it. Be kind to yourself. If you know someone who’s grieving, be patient with them. Be your best self, for however long it takes.

Forgive yourself if your journey to healing is different than someone else’s. And forgive those who judge. They do so out of reasons which are their own and have very little to do with you.

“The very things that held you down are going to carry you up.”  Dumbo

There were many dark days I read that quote over and over, because it gave me hope. It still does. And it’s true.

I leave you with this prayer ( I don’t know where it came from to give credit):

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circling flight;

I am the soft star that shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry

I am not there. I did not die.

Rainbow

The Best Planner EVER!

My dear readers, I’ve missed you so! Blogging regularly makes me feel so…well…regular. 😀 But alas, I have to make money too. So I promise I will return with another post following this one as soon as I can. I have so much to tell you!

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I’m a planner person.

Regular readers of my blog as well as my close friends also know that I’m a list-maker.

So it was almost destiny when, thanks to my friend Erika, I discovered this planner on her Facebook page.

I was intrigued.

But then she went a step further and posted the VIDEO. Wow.

Never one to make an impulse buy (my friend Peggy says anything you’ve thought about more than 10 seconds cannot technically be considered an impulse buy), I pondered it for several days.

Then I went to work out one morning, and right there, right in front of my very own eyes, was my friend Samantha’s planner. It was the same planner with a different cover.

Suddenly, the cannons fired and fireworks lit the sky…inside of my head. That sealed the deal! It was a sign.

The planner needed to be mine.

The cover is removable, and you can switch it out with a different style if you want. Cool, eh?

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It’s the perfect size to slip into your (large) purse or tote. But it’s so pretty, why would you want to?

It comes with motivational quotes everywhere, and lots of color.

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A calendar for the year…

 

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The month…

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And the week. 🙂 Each day is broken down into morning, day, and night…

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There’s room at the bottom for meal plans, or other things you like to keep track of. I’m using it for meal plans, it just so happens that I haven’t been able to plan one since I got the planner. (Now that is a conundrum!)

 

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Over to the left is a list of weekly goals or other notes…

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And look! It comes with STICKERS! Great to have some fun and make occasions more special. 🙂

2014-07-27 16.48.07There are various colors and occasions…

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And blank ones too to add your own!

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Notepaper for lists! Love, love LOVE this! Now I don’t have to carry the extra list notebook along with my planner. 🙂

 

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And multiple pages of blank unlined paper with various designs and colors.

 

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A pocket page which includes a perpetual calendar. You only have to write down birthdays and important phone numbers ONCE! You simply transfer it to your next planner. Is that a time saver, or what?!

I can’t count the number of times people have said to me BF (before Facebook), “I don’t know how you remember my birthday!” I WRITE IT DOWN. Like everything else! 😀

 

2014-07-27 16.51.08 There’s a clear pocket for stamps, business cards, or whatever in the back.

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And they send you several stickers with your name and motivational quotes. 🙂 FUN STUFF!

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There’s also some adhesive gift tags, but I didn’t get a picture of those.

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My friend Sophia, also a planner, fell in love with it, so I ordered her one for her Christmas and birthday. Her birthday is actually a week before Christmas, but we unanimously decided to start celebrating it June 30 to change things up a bit.

Her gift was either really early or slightly late, depending upon which way you want to look at it.

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You can see her page divider is in the front of hers. Each one always comes beautifully wrapped, like they really thought about you while they were doing it.

So I ordered a couple of other cool things: bands to put around my planner to keep it closed, and personalized matching notepads. The notepads come with adhesive to stick inside the back cover of your planner all ready for you to leave someone special a note.

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How often do you receive an invitation to an event, and by the time it gets here, you’ve forgotten where and what time it was?

These clips allow you to clip the invitation in your planner during the week in which it happens. Is that cool, or what? No more wasted time looking for that stuff.

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Time is a valuable commodity which I hate to waste on unproductive, useless things such as searching for something I’ve misplaced.

 

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If you’re drooling over this planner as I was, you can check them out and order them here.

In the element of full disclosure, I will get a few freebies if they know I sent you. Like stickers, etc. Nothing big, I promise!

I have to warn you, these cost  more than the planners you can buy at Wal-Mart. But the enjoyment I receive from it far outweighs that. It simply brings me joy to look at it every day.

Or if you don’t want to click the link, you can go here:

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Just be sure to watch the videos so you can see all about them. There are all kinds of colors and patterns.

ENJOY! 🙂

5 New Uses for Everyday Items

It’s no secret: I have a passion for re-purposing. There’s nothing so satisfying to me as giving something a new lease on life. Especially if it’s junk. (Junque?)

Almost as much as junk, I have a passion for re-purposing everyday things. The more uses you can give an item, the less it costs you, eh?

Or something like that.

Here are some new uses for everyday items that I use all the time.

While not everything in this post may work for you or your style, let this post get your creative juices flowing. What do you have simply lying around your house that you can find a new use for?

Here’s my favorites:

1. Saddle Blankets

2014-07-06 10.11.15This is a rug in my bedroom. It began it’s life as a saddle blanket (yes, for horses) at Tractor Supply. (Farm & Home has them, as I assume most farm supply stores who have supplies for horses would.)

If you have animals, you know that animals involve messes. Even the best house-broken pet is going to have an accident from one end or the other at some point. And I know from experience: even if you don’t have carpet, they choose the most expensive rug in the house. (Or is it just my dogs that have a taste for the finer things?) 😉

These are a great size for rugs. And guess what? They are only about $10!! And they wear like iron!

After sacrificing a few for the art of learning, I figured out the best way to launder them. DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE DRYER!

I wash them in cold or warm water on the gentle setting, adding about a 1/2 cup of kosher salt in addition to detergent, which will help keep the colors from bleeding. Then hang them to dry. Voila!

They are big enough to cover almost my whole bathroom floor.

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At my back door and at the top of the basement stairs.

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And I even use them as decorative items. (Although these actually came from Mexico.)

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I’ve used them in the past as floor mats, and they are currently used as cargo mats in the back of my car. I picked up gray, white and black ones for the car, and they look great! I even use them in our RV. You could use them as tablecloths for a picnic table, for wall hangings in your family room/man cave, or tons of other things.

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They are also great furniture covers if you have pets, or simply want to add some color and hide a stain on your sofa. 😉  Check ’em out!

2. Glass Jars

How many times do you a product – such as marinara sauce – that comes in a quart jar? Do you end up tossing the quart jar without thinking, or do you re-purpose it?

We often end up with these jars, which come with their own nice screw-off lids.
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By the way, I don’t recommend serving this apple pie at your next large family gathering. Or maybe you should… hmmmm….that could make things interesting!

Sorry. Squirrel.

I.love.these.jars.

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Currently, one is host to some basil that I should really make the decision to toss. But I can’t. So I’ll wait until it makes the decision for me. How cute would it be with flowers?

2014-07-06 10.18.06One is holding a homemade BBQ sauce from the @Lord_of_Q himself, Myron Mixon. It keeps for a year, which makes a jar the perfect vessel to hold it. You can purchase clear round Avery labels and print pretty little labels for whatever your container holds. I was lazy and just hand wrote mine.

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One is holding kosher salt for the laundry.

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The smaller ones make great containers for salad dressing, either home made, or store-bought and decanted.

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The jar in the above picture now actually holds a Myron Mixon rub that I made yesterday which also keeps for a year.

The decorative ones make wonderful juice glasses. That’s apple juice, by the way. Not a specimen. (Just in case you were wondering.)

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They are also great to hold beauty supplies in the bathroom. This is baking soda; I use it to whiten my teeth and as a facial scrub. 🙂

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This one is my current favorite cocktail beverage glass. I carry it everywhere. Seriously. I think maybe pizza sauce came in it. I can’t even remember. But it was free!

 

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You name it, they work great for it. They are great canisters for just about anything!  And best of all..some of them are free!

3. Bandannas

Okay, I can’t totally take credit for this one, although I’d love to.

I’m an avid fan of the Pioneer Woman, which is from whom I got this idea.

We are very casual entertainers. Thus, paper napkins seem too…casual if you’re having several people over. Cloth napkins seem too dressy.  Bandannas are perfect!

You can throw them right in the laundry, and don’t have to worry about starching them!

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They come in a variety of colors, and they cost $1.00 each at Wal-Mart. (Which happens to be the only store that carries them here in our town. Where you are may be different.)

You can match your dishes, or just mix and match colors.

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Over the last couple of years, I’ve collected a few colors to mix it up.

You can dress up your dog for company. 🙂

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“Mother, would you please put away that stupid camera? You’re embarrassing me.”

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, I did wash this bandanna after she wore it. Just in case you happen to ever eat dinner at my house. 😉

Wrap them around jars and use them to hold utensils at a picnic, or use them to hold pens and pencils on your desk. My mother kept her collection of buttons in a jar.

You can use them in your hair, or as a fashion accessory.

I didn’t take any pictures of that because I shot these pictures Sunday morning, and I was lazy and didn’t put on any makeup. So nothing to see here folks; let’s move along. 😉

I could go on and on about the versatility of these things!

4. Galvanized Buckets and Pails

I literally have these everywhere.

I have one in my kitchen to hold dog food. It’s mouse-proof, and matches everything!

If you don’t like the color, paint it! Stencil it! Decal it!

It holds an entire 30-pound bag of dog food, so I always know how much food I have left. It has a large handle which will hold the lid on if we’re traveling and makes it easy to carry.

This one cost me $18 at Tractor Supply.

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If I tire of using it for dog food, I can use it for fish food, bird seed, or anything else that needs contained.

NOTE: IT IS NOT WATERPROOF!

There are two small holes on either side of the lid handle which will  allow some water to enter if it rains. So I don’t recommend keeping food in it outside.

But it’s perfect for containing grill accessories!

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I use a tub to hold blankets in the basement. If we’re having a party, I’ve been known to move this outside and fill it with ice and beer/water/soda.

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You could even bob for apples in it at Halloween! Or go pick them when the time comes.

The picture below is the wastebasket in Jimmy’s bathroom. I have a larger one in the bathroom at the shop.

Inside each of them is another of my favorite multi-purpose items: a Wal-Mart bag. Seriously, there’s a million things you can do with these! Besides small trash can liners, we use them for poopie bags when we travel.

Sorry. Squirrel.

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I’ve used galvanized pails as planters, decorative items, pendant lights, and magazine holders. Some of you may remember my Christmas tree from a prior post.

Galvanized pails and pine cones

 

This pendant in our basement began its life as a $4.00 paint bucket at Home Depot.

Seriously.

 

Pendant

You can organize toys with them, items in the laundry room…the ideas for these just keep on coming! 🙂

5. Plastic Bags and Egg Cartons

I’ve mentioned before about how much I love egg cartons.

They make wonderful holders for jewelry such as earrings and rings.

They don’t get tangled up, and each one has it’s own separate little space.

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I also use them to hold nail polish. They would be great holding small items in your desk such as thumb tacks, rubber bands, etc. Anything small that needs to be contained. Sewing supplies, maybe? Small, hard-to-find items that you end up digging and digging for wastes a ton of time. And I’m not into that.

I want to free up as much of my time as possible for fun, meaningful things in life that bring me joy.

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Which is why I put all my necklaces in plastic bags.

How many times have you opened your jewelry box to get a necklace only to find it tangled? Or tangled with something else? So, you try for a few minutes until you realize that you are getting frustrated and short on time and now, thanks to this, crabby? Not a fun way to start the day.

I rest my case. 😉

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I prefer the clear plastic pint bags for jewelry, that way you can see it better.

If you have a matched set of earrings and a necklace that you always wear together, you might consider placing the earrings in a snack bag inside the bag with the necklace.

It’s also MUCH easier to travel. I just grab the bags and put them in my suitcase.

Speaking of travel…I have a neat bag with my initial on it for jewelry. It’s a really cute bag and I love it; it’s just not compartmentalized. So, I put all my earrings separately into snack bags, and place them inside the jewelry bag. Easy-peasy!

Happy re-purposing, my friends! 🙂

Every Room Needs “WOW Factor!”

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Our bedroom has been undergoing a minor transition over the last few years.

About the time we got married, I had the most beautiful cream bedspread with a southwestern-style design in navy and gold.  It was gorgeous, and we loved it.

When we remodeled our bedroom, we positioned our bed in front of an accent wall painted a very dark, dark navy color called “Starry Night”. I probably have a picture of it somewhere, but that would require me to get up, go to the basement and do some digging. And I just ate lunch and am lazy. 😉

That was before all the dogs who found me just happened to be black.

So needless to say, the life span of that bedspread wasn’t as long as I would have liked, which necessitated a change. Because we liked the blue wall (we aren’t really ‘blue’ people, but it was a really pretty color), I looked for something that would go with the blue and the rustic feel of our house.

Enter the bedspread in the above picture. We enjoyed it, but then I began to get restless. Call it a career hazard.

“Starry Night” had run its course, and it was time for a change. So I painted the wall behind my bed “Garden Sage”. We loved the green wall, but the room lost it’s WOW Factor. Tired of the moose (meese?) bedspread, I wanted a plain one with no design. And so, the one in the picture above adjourned to our RV for the rest of its useful life.

Remember the term ‘focal point’? How you want  one object in the room to be the ‘focus’ of the room? That’s the item you want your eye to go to when you walk in.

Well, WOW Factor ramps it up just a bit. The Oxford Dictionary defines Wow Factor as “a quality or feature that is extremely impressive.”

It doesn’t have to be fabulously expensive. It just has to be fabulous!

Your Wow Factor can be anything.

Maybe it’s a really fabulous painting or photograph on canvas. It can be the colors or the size that give it its Wow.

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My friend John is a photographer who specializes in large canvas prints. If you visited Kirksville’s Red Barn Arts and Crafts Fair last fall, you may have seen his booth or met him and his charming wife Bonnie.

I ordered this canvas from him custom-sized just to fit my space. The crispness of the colors and the contrast take my breath away and make me feel like I’m standing in that field.

Our bedroom has its WOW back!

There are lots of things you can do to give your room WOW Factor.

A simple accent can do it. And paint is relatively cheap! This is a picture of my friend Beth’s living room from a previous post. Is that wall awesome or what? It’s Behr’s “Wine Tasting”.

The Living Room After

Or a fireplace. Here are a couple that I’m very familiar with. One was originally brick and has been recently refaced. (Ahem.)  😉

The Family Room After

And here is one made of cultured stone. Probably more cultured than the people who live here. 😉

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A large window with a spectacular view.

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Beautiful cabinetry or a piece of furniture accented with a paint color that makes it POP!

The Kitchen After

I  have it on good authority that a number of people thought my friend Beth also got all-new cabinetry, simply because they’d never noticed them before.

Perhaps it’s a really unusual mirror or some other wall decor.

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Did you see me waving in the mirror? 😀

There was no way I could contort myself out of the picture, so I decided to just flagrantly be in it.

WOW Factor makes your room look complete. And, the rest of your decor in that room become accents that harmonize with it.

It’s especially important if you’re thinking of selling your home. If there’s nothing in a room that stands out, buyers may view the room as being just sort of…blah. And thus, there isn’t really anything that stands out about the house.

You want buyers to remember your house and how they felt in it after they’ve looked at 12 different ones and they all start to run together. And to remember it in a good way.

The rooms should be decluttered,clean, balanced and neutral, and each room should have a WOW Factor. (Not all WOW Factors need to be over-the-top. Sometimes all you need is a really nice clock. Or a beautiful wall paint. Or maybe wainscoting.)

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This is our guest room just off the Black Dog Saloon (AKA our basement.) The wainscoting in here is rusty tin which came from an old barn where my parents’ house was on the farm. And amazingly enough, I found a rusty metal clock to go with it. WOW. I’m still not completely happy with this room, but that’s another post for another day.

And just in case you were wondering, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That bed really is low. It’s an air mattress, as we don’t yet have a guest room bed. I told you my house wasn’t perfect! 😀

Staging is taking what you have and making it look nice in the space! 

If you have a room that feels like it’s missing something, try to take a look at it as objectively as possible. Or have a friend look at it for you. After all, it is really hard  to see things when it’s your own house.

Trust me, I know. When you walk by something often enough, it’s easy to simply not see it any more.

Maybe all your room needs some WOW! 🙂

That Wascally Wabbit!

2014-06-18 20.52.58So close, but yet so far…

We live close to a state park and our house is surrounded by timber. Since we built a pond in our backyard we’ve had an abundance of wildlife living around our house.

This provides for many interesting visuals and a great deal of humor. Animals can simply be hilarious to watch.

Unless you’re one of our dogs.

In which case it’s a rare instance that you get to actually go outside and chase the “offending” animal.

The animals know this.

Take for instance this rabbit just outside our Great Room window the other night.

The girls began suddenly carrying on, prompting me to get up to see what all the racket was about.

Mr. Bunny (merely making an assumption here, I wasn’t close enough to check) was minding his own business nibbling in the grass.

Enter offensive dogs barking furiously.

Mr. Bunny pauses to see if dogs will be coming outside. He ponders for several minutes, waiting and watching.

The girls remain at the window. Here comes the human, taking pictures. Everyone remains at the window.

Mr. Bunny decides no one is coming out, but  remaining alert “just in case”…he turns his back to them. He appears to be ignoring us.

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The girls continue barking furiously, begging me to let them out. Charra told me they needed to go out.

It’s at this point I feel I should mention that this isn’t this bunny’s first rodeo here.

Mr. Bunny lives here with it’s mate, and they often play with each other around the yard.

Very rarely have the girls been let out to give chase; it’s usually an accident. None of us realized they were there until we opened the door.

We have no desire to see Mr. Bunny/Squirrel/etc. get disassembled while we watch.

It had been a really hot day.

For Mr. Bunny, it had apparently also been a long day. He was pretty tired.

There’s nothing like stretching out and relaxing under a big shade tree on some nice cool earth. Ahhhhh…..

2014-06-18 20.56.53Isn’t that nice?

Mr. Bunny really enjoyed it.

And it was especially good since his nice little resting spot was right in front of our window.

2014-06-18 20.57.13And two extremely frustrated little girls were watching.

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Ahhhh, what a perfect summer evening, just relaxing…

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After we all went to bed, I slipped out and checked on Mr. Bunny. Most likely he left as soon as the girls weren’t watching any more.

Game Over! 😀

Our Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park

2014-01-27 10.31.56I never thought I would love a place as much I loved the inter-mountain West. In fact, the exploration and settling of the West is my favorite time period in American History.

And then I visited the Florida Keys. And that jewel at Mile Marker 0 they call Key West.

And just like that, Key West became my Favorite Place Ever.

There’s something for everyone in Key West, no matter what your lifestyle. But that’s another post for another day.

Today, I want to tell you about Dry Tortugas National Park.

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Originally discovered by Ponce de Leon and his Spanish crew, they named it Las Tortugas (the Turtles) because of the vast amount of wildlife found there. Later, much later, it was renamed Dry Tortugas because of the lack of fresh water available.

Wayne Landrum, a former park service ranger who  lived there for six years, describes it this way:

There is a special place, at the end of nowhere, but on the way to everywhere, a place of explorers, pirates, smugglers, soldiers, prisoners and scientists. This is a place where some men lost all hope, and many died in despair. Though pain and suffering contributed to its fascinating history, it is also a place of beauty, vivid colors, peace, solitude and happiness. Abundant wildlife live in the clear turquise sea, rainbow-colored coral reefs, and on the white sandy islands and beaches. This is a place where sea birds rule, sea turtles thrive, and coral reefs and sea grasses provide for a rich diversity of ocean plant and animal life. This is Dry Tortugas National Park.”

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Although the information for this post came from a variety of sources and my own experience there, much of my descriptive and historical information is excerpted from his book, Fort Jefferson and The Dry Tortugas National Park. It contains far more fascinating and detailed information than I have space to post here. 

For instance, did you know that over a period of 5,000 years, the sea has risen about 350 feet as the climate has warmed and the polar ice cap melts? The rate of rise has slowed over time; during the last 2,000 years, the sea level has only risen about 6 feet.

Food for thought, isn’t it? 😉

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So anyway…

Dry Tortugas National Park is 70 miles from Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, 90 miles north of Cuba and 70 miles north of the Tropic of Cancer. It consists of seven small sandy coral islands which together only encompass about 97 acres of dry land.

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This is the lighthouse on Loggerhead Key, about 3.5 miles from Garden Key, which is the home of Ft. Jefferson.

Rising and falling sea levels during the last 100,000 years have caused major changes in the size and shape of the Florida Peninsula. As the seas began to rise due to melting ice about 15,000 years ago, coral reefs began to form as the sea reclaimed the land. (Before the seas began to rise, you could have walked from Florida to the Dry Tortugas!)

The islands of the Dry Tortugas have been an important landmark for passing ships from the time of discovery until the present. To this day, they remain the only safe harbor within 70 miles. Prior to a big storm moving in, it’s harbor is often filled with boats.

According to our tour guide when we were there, “You know it’s going to be bad when all the shrimp boats come in.”

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These were the first lands sighted when arriving from the west. Spain and Portugal begun running great galleons loaded with gold, silver and precious gems from Central and South America. They discovered the fastest way back to Europe was by sailing through the Gulf of Mexico, by Cuba and east through the Florida Straits. By going this way, they could take advantage of the Gulf Stream, which allowed them to sail significantly faster.

The additional speed of the Gulf Stream did not come without a price, however. The Dry Tortugas and other islands in the Florida Keys are surrounded by shallow water with coral reefs and rocks. Combined with strong currents, frequent storms, poor charts and crude navigational instruments made this area a graveyard of wrecked and grounded vessels.

The most famous of them is the Atocha. There’s a special on either Discovery or the History channel about Mel Fisher’s search, and subsequent discovery of, the Atocha. There is a museum in Key West where you can also purchase coins and jewelry which came from the Atocha.

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During the War of 1812, the British pillaged and burned Washington D.C. This made the United States painfully aware of a need to improve its defense from a seaward attack. Due to the Dry Tortugas location directly in the path of all vessels going between the Mississippi River, west Florida, and all the eastern coastal states, it was ideal. Settlers along the Mississippi River began to ship trade goods down the River and ultimately on to Europe. It became important to establish a defensive position in the Dry Tortugas to protect shipping vessels.

The plan for the fort was to provide a safe storage depot for enough materials capable of sustaining the land and naval forces charged with the defense of the Florida Reef for one year. The fortification was also to provide a safe harbor for warships, and facilities for repair of the naval squadron.

Ft. Jefferson was designed as an elongated hexagon, capable of mounting 420 heavy guns. Congress appropriated funding for the first time for construction in 1844.

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With the beginning of the Civil War, it changed direction in history: it became a military prison.

And it was not a happy place.

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It is a hallowed place.

Peaceful and quiet, you can almost feel the souls of the thousands of people who preceded you.

Only one other place have I felt this: Rhyolite, Nevada. It is a ghostly mining town which 10,000 people used to call home. (But once again, another story for another day.)

It’s most well-known prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd. He was sentenced to a life sentence on Ft. Jefferson for setting the leg of John Wilkes Booth, President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin.

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Booth broke his leg when he jumped from the presidential box to the stage. He managed to escape on horseback, stopping early the next morning at Dr. Mudd’s farmhouse seeking medical treatment.

And, that is how the kind doctor’s name became mud. (Do you suppose?)

Today, you can camp at Ft. Jefferson, and many do, taking advantage of the beautifully clear and colorful water to snorkel.

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A catamaran brings you the 70-miles from Key West to the island, giving you the opportunity to observe sea life such as flying fish, dolphins and more.

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Ft. Jefferson is massive, almost reminiscent of a college campus. It’s an engineering marvel built by human hands which has withstood 150 years of nature’s fury.

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The stairs were built wider on the left than on the right. Because most men were right handed and carrying weapons,  it forced potential invaders to climb the stairs on their weaker, more exposed side, thus giving them a disadvantage.

Some parts of it were an epic fail that were never finished.

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For instance, the plan for making fresh water was to build cisterns underneath the fort. The purpose of the sandy roof was to filter the water as it moved down into the cistern.

But the only sand available was on the beaches. Salt water beaches…

And eventually, the cisterns became contaminated with salt water.

The soldiers who were stationed here were forced to wear the same wool uniforms as their brothers up north.

An epidemic of yellow fever swept through the fort.

Lives ended here, and lives began here.

Just like the Magnificent Frigate Birds who live here and no where else, Ft. Jefferson is magnificent.

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It’s a testimony to man’s ability to overcome the odds in spite of himself.

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We were able to spend about 4 hours at Ft. Jefferson that day.

It wasn’t enough.

There’s something about it that speaks to you. A magic that makes you want to come back.

2014-01-27 14.25.03 A magic so strong it almost makes you want to camp there, to see the black, starry sky as our predecessors did centuries ago, to fall asleep with no noise other than the waves crashing against the sand to lull you to sleep.

Almost. 😉

Many park service staff and tour guides visit Ft. Jefferson on their off-time. If the draw is so strong when people are there, I can only imagine what it must be like when it’s hushed and quiet.

To absorb the beauty and the melancholy of this hulking place built on the backs of mankind.

There’s no wonder they keep going back. We plan to.

How I Embarrass My Husband

After 14 years of marriage, my husband and I have both mellowed and have much more in common than we did in our early years.

After all, you take two independent adults in their 30’s and mix them together, it’s not going to be all butterflies and roses.  Nor would we want it to be; that would mean that we weren’t always being ourselves.

But there are still some ways we are very different.

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For instance, my husband is quiet. I am anything but.

I am an optimist; he calls himself a realist.

I remain convinced that ‘realists’ are pessismists in sheep’s clothing, but that’s another post for another day.

He doesn’t make a habit of chatting up strangers. I could carry on a conversation with a fence post.

He thrives on routine: happiness to him is eating a ham sandwich for lunch 56 days in a row. I believe change is ‘fresh’.

Why did you have to change the shower soap? I was fine with what we had! Why do you always have to go changing everything?” 😉

So it stands to reason when I came zooming into his life, he was in for some major change.

Jimmy is one of those guys who prefers to fly under the radar and not be noticed. Unfortunately, he’s with me.

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I’ll explain.

I learned a long time ago that God had a sense of humor. When I was younger (e.g. less sure of myself), I tried to be polished. Perfect. Sophisticated.

It’s hard to feel sophisticated when you rip the back of your dress getting into a sports car.

And so, being very familiar – and now comfortable – with Murphy’s law, I have some particular quirks that I’ve simply learned to live with.

For my husband, however, it’s an ongoing process.

I am incredibly clumsy. 

It seems to go in cycles, with no rhyme nor reason.

I fall down or bump into things with astonishing regularity. I’ve been this way for years.

I’ve fallen off curbs, in parking lots, on sidewalks and down stairs. I’ve bumped into a million different objects. When I was 12, I bumped my head on a brace on the side of a grain bin and bled like a stuck pig. The end result of this was two black eyes. For WEEKS.

Several years ago, I sustained a minor head injury and had to be transported by ambulance to the ER. En route, I complained to the paramedic that there was a dance that weekend at the Moose, and now I would have black eyes.

“Oh, that’s not necessarily the case with a head injury,” he said.

“You don’t know ME!” I wailed.

Well, sometimes when life hands you lemons, you have to make lemon drop martini’s.

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So I bought a pair of cool sunglasses and pretended to be a Rock Star.

Several years ago I was leaving work one Saturday afternoon when I slipped and fell down in the parking lot. As I drove home, I could feel the all-too-familiar tickle of blood running down my knee.

I immediately called a friend of mine. Not because I was injured, mind you. I wanted her to share my grief in scuffing my new shoes, and my amusement at the irony of falling in the handicapped parking space.

Naturally, my friend’s husband wondered why she was laughing uncontrollably and wiping her eyes.

“Are you sure she shouldn’t see a neurologist or something?” he asked, concerned over what had been a recent rash of falls.

“No, she’s just clumsy,” she reassured him.

So therefore, it stands to reason that nothing strikes fear in the heart of my husband than opportunities for me to fall.

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Such as the walk we took on the top of Ft. Jefferson in Dry Tortugas National Park this winter. Three stories above the ocean with no fence or guardrails, just a bumpy sandy, grassy surface about 15 feet wide was all that separated me from a nice, open air plunge.

Poor guy was worn out after that little hike, pointing out obstacles, ushering me past uneven spots, and steering me away if I got too close to the edge.

Thanks, dear!

I’m a very messy eater.

There’s a very strategic reason why you nearly always see me wearing black if we’re out to dinner. It’s because if I spill something, you’re less likely to notice!

You probably know about the White Shirt Law: that’s the unwritten law that says you MUST wear a white shirt if you’re going to eat Mexican, Italian or BBQ. It’s just the way of the world.

Do you suppose my love of pristine white shirts is related at all to the fact that I can rarely keep them clean? Hmmmmmm.

2014-04-13 11.16.43This is a new, sparkling white sweatshirt I purchased just especially for Truman State’s Homecoming parade last fall.

What a fun day that was!

It was early, it was cold, and it was a blast!

After the parade, Jimmy and I went to the Wooden Nickel for lunch. My favorite lunch dish?

BBQ Beef brisket, of course.

I made it through nearly the whole meal, completely unscathed.

Until the very.last.piece.

I tried to cut it with my fork. It didn’t wish to cooperate.

Zing! It shot out from under my fork to another area of the plate.

In the process, it literally showered me with sauce droplets.

Jimmy’s expression was somewhere between shock, amazement, amusement, and horror.

“How DO you manage to do that?” he asked. “Every.single.time?”

The look on his face was priceless. It sustained me for weeks.

After 3 days of soaking and about 4 wash cycles, my sweatshirt is as good as new and ready for the second go around.

Needless to say, I go through a lot of tee shirts in a year’s time. After a while, they just look sort of…tired. 😀

I could keep going, but there’s a beautiful day out there to be enjoyed and I’m about to go do it. Make it a beautiful day, friends!

 

The Reason I Write This Blog

2014-01-14 17.52.51I knew I had to be willing to be a little bit ‘nekkid’.

That’s why it took me ten years to get a blog up and going after several false starts and several unfinished books and short stories.

To be authentically me, to be willing to have my thoughts and opinions and insights ‘out there’ and be willing to receive or hear criticism took courage. (At least it did for me.)

I guess that’s the beauty of  getting older. The things that were so important when you’re trying to build a life and a resume and a career and figure out who you are matter. Then you get older, and it doesn’t matter so much. You gain confidence, and realize that maybe you do know something after all. I mean, isn’t that why we’re all here? To learn about life?

By the way, I know this picture has nothing to do with this post. Who doesn’t like sunsets?

But I digress.

I believe that we all have our purpose on this earth, we all have a place. We’re here to serve mankind and to make the world a better place. The hard part is just figuring out what that purpose is, and navigating all the road blocks that pop up along the way.

A dear, dear friend (who shall remain nameless, you know who you are!) messaged me on Facebook last weekend. She made my day.

She reminded me why I began this whole blogging journey in the first place.

True friendship cannot be defined by miles or time.

That’s the beauty and the reward.

Hundreds of miles and a couple of decades have gone by since we’ve seen each other in person. Yet, I know that if we saw each other tomorrow, we’d give each other a big hug and it was like time never passed.

She’s gone through a rough bit these last few years.

We all go through long periods of sadness or stress. That’s just life.

Her simple words, “Your latest Sunshine express made me smile. Life has been rough…and reading your stories has been a highlight on many days. Thank you!!”

It’s easy to get caught up in numbers and page views and wanting to appeal to readers.

But my friend’s message was a sign; an affirmation, if you will, that I need to keep being authentic. I need to continue on this path I’m on. I need to keep being ‘nekkid.’

Because if I brighten just one person’s day, I’ve accomplished my purpose and been successful for that day.

So friends, thank you for reading. I hear positive feedback from a number of you, and I appreciate that. I hope you’ll keep joining me on this journey…where ever it goes, because I love ya.

And I love you too, my friend. Hugs to you from afar. 🙂