Blog Archives

Spirit of the Season

Like Kimberly, I’m looking at Christmas in a new light this year. My kids are teenagers now, and while they haven’t lost all of their magical appreciation for the season, they do have a very frank understanding of Santa which significantly alters the gift-giving angle. After all, the reason for the season isn’t gifts, its God. Jesus.

Kids are great

Makes a gal feel kind of superficial and materialistic focusing on the shopping business. So I won’t. This year isn’t going to be about finding the perfect gift, the one that lights up their faces on Christmas morning. Nope. There will be gifts Christmas morning, but greatly reduced. I’ll carry the sentiment through Christmas dinner. As hostess for the family gathering, I’ve asked the relatives to dispense with our customary gift exchange. It only adds chaos to the evening, anyway. I mean, we’re talking 25 people for dinner and my house is far from a mansion. Trust me when I tell you it gets a little crazy. And to exchange gifts right before we’re serving a home-cooked meal? Double the chaos. We need all hands on deck to carve the turkey, make the gravy, toast the marshmallows atop the sweet potatoes, warm the veggies… The list goes on.

gingerbread house

Recently, I discovered that one family in our community celebrates the season without gifts. For themselves, that is, including their kids. Instead, they wrap a gift box, cut a slit in the top, then deposit money into it throughout the month. A week before Christmas, they take the money and buy food for the hungry, clothes for the homeless; wherever they see a need, they fill it.

I like it. It embraces the charitable spirit of the season and reminds me it’s time to focus on the basics. Family, friends, charity, hospitality, song and prayer. How about you? Any changes this season to your celebration?

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Gone Fishin’

Sort of. I don’t know about you, but I never completely walk away from my job as a writer. I’m constantly checking email for updates and news from my readers. I’m working on edits and covers, marketing and all the hubbub that surrounds my business. I don’t mind it, because I enjoy every part of what I do. It’s a part of me. It’s what I choose to do.

fishing in the keys

However, this weekend I took a break and went fishing with the family. It was a treat and totally took me away from everything but the sun, the sea and time with my kids. We chartered a boat and headed for the Gulf stream outside the Florida Keys on the hunt for dolphin. It took several hours of trolling, but I have to say, being on the open water is one of my favorite things to do. I love it. Absolutely love it.

Between us, we managed to catch half a dozen. Not a huge number but the excitement was huge. Just ask my son. Even a can of soda couldn’t keep the little guy’s eyes open.

exhaustion in the keys

Of course the dinner menu called for dolphin. It was delicious!

fresh fish dinner

But then again, how can you go wrong with fresh fish? In my book, it doesn’t get any fresher. Speaking of books, perhaps I see a research fishing trip in my future? Handsome boat captain meets gorgeous fisherwoman?

Works for me!

Mackinac Island

Recently my family and I visited Mackinac Island, a small island located north of Michigan where no motor vehicles are allowed, restricting transportation to foot, bicycle, and horse & buggy.

Mackinac town

It’s a really neat place and a family tradition on my father’s side of the family. In fact, we still have a few members who live on the island year round which is CRAZY — unless you like the snow. They do. 🙂

west bluff

This shot was taken looking up West Bluff Road, a street lined with beautiful cottage mansions where people stay and enjoy the northern Michigan summers on the island.

view from The Grand Hotel

This view is looking down toward the town from The Grand Hotel, the famous location where the movie Somewhere In Time was filmed.

ferry boat

Ferry boats take visitors to and from the island and are quite a sight to see with their huge rooster tails besides being a lot of fun to ride!

lilacs

Lilacs flourish on the island and are the focus of the Lilac Festival every June. Dipping my nose in returned a breath rich in memory as I recall the scents of my grandmother’s drawer liners and perfume.

arch rock

Arch Rock is probably one of the most photographed spots on the island. On a clear day you can see the Upper Peninsula and even Canada beyond!

harbor view inn

We stayed at the Harbor View Inn, a lovely bed and breakfast located on the east end of the island.

patio view from Harbor View Inn

Relaxing comes natural at a place where patios are lined with flowers and drenched in garden view. And then of course, there’s the fudge. Mackinac Island is known for its fudge and you can’t walk a single block without passing at least two different fudge shops. Or candy shops, ice cream… I think it’s the only tourist destination where sweet shops are more prevalent than gift shops!

It’s a dream destination for our family and the first time my kids have visited since they were babies. Both loved it and are ready to spend their summers on the island.  And why not? It’s a FUN place to have fun. Check it out for yourself!

Two Days Late…And Six Months Behind

I’m two days late…no, not that kind of late! You probably noticed I missed posting on my regularly scheduled Wednesday. Oops and apologies!

IMG_1460Late last summer, our youngest bought a farm. It was almost everything he wanted. Two big sheds. A barn. A double-wide heated garage. And a house that needed only minor work.

Except when we moved in to paint the house, we found a few issues, uncovered them, fixed them, then found a few more. And on and on it’s gone.

During the fall and winter, in our spare time, we stripped the house to the outer walls, so all that was left was the shell, then we began the interior remodeling: proper insulation, stripping out old and often questionable electrical wires, moving interior walls around to make the kitchen and bathroom bigger, etc.

This week, the demo is over. We all took the week off from work (although I did sneak in some writing time on the trips to the farm in the morning) and began to replace the electrical wire.

Although we built our last two houses, we always had someone else do the electrical work for us. So this is the first time I’ve ever pulled wire through a house and it was really cool. Hard, exhausting, and a great workout for the shoulders and upper arms and back, but still really cool.

So today is the final day for electrical work. Then our youngest calls the electrical inspector who will come to check to make sure the work meets code (does anyone watch Mike Holmes?!). And then it’s on to laying the sub-floor.

What did you do with your week?

Summer’s End

Halloween is almost upon us. In our house, we’re attempting to avoid the temptation of those itsy-bites of delicious Halloween chocolate bars. Instead our time is filled work and family…but what else is new? 🙂

Fall arrived, and with it, Mom came home from the hospital. Her arrival home coincided with a visit from our European cousins who spent the first two weeks of their Canadian vacation cruising through the mountains, and arrived at our house for the September long weekend. After they left, it snowed, and they got caught in Calgary in about six inches of snow.

Obviously they didn’t believe me when I told them that our late August, early September weather could be rather unpredictable. Here’s a picture from the kitchen of our youngest son’s house.

Surprise snowfall

Fortunately for us, the snow melted, the temperatures climbed, and we’ve been alternating between summer-like weather and the coolness of fall. Our trees have dropped most of their leaves by now, with only a few stubborn ones hanging to the branches.

Here’s a gorgeous picture of the mountain ash tree in our front yard.

Sheila's mountain ash


And a picture of the boy’s yard and the piles of leaves we’ve gathered there.

Raking leaves

My mom is recovering beautifully from her knee operation. We’ve finally figured out where the boy inherited his ramjet personality from. She’s determined to do almost everything herself, but with her knee still healing, at least she’s resisted the urge to climb the tree in her backyard.

I hope you’ve all had as an amazing fall in your part of the world. I also hope our fall weather continues well into the winter months.

An early happy Halloween to you all!

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