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An Update

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Well hello there. What in the world are you doing still hanging around? The past year has been a real world wind. I will never say anything bad about my job. I love it, a lot. As I wind down to retirement one year from now though my job has been busy.

The demands for the job have meant that I haven’t had much time to do any creative work. That will be changing.

So, here is a quick update on life as a weekend country girl.

  • We are expecting granddaughter number two in mid June. Sweet Amanda and Baby Boy are going to be giving Lucy a sister and we are thrilled. I am getting busy on nursery preparations finally. The sweet girl may not have everything finished before her arrival.
  • The Southern Belle and Joe have left the city that they love and have moved to Denton, Texas for work. I now have all of my kids living in a four hour drive. I am thrilled and will be filling you in on that quirky town soon. They have bought a house and it is going to get a mini makeover before they move in this month.
  • We bought an RV. We have taken it out on the maiden voyage and love it. We have plans for a lot of trips in the future.
  • This week we will start an exterior makeover of our house. I am so excited! We are getting an enlarged front porch, a carport, and exterior paint on the bricks.

I hope you are all doing well. I promise that I will be doing a better job of keeping you up to date from now on.

Thanks for hanging in there. I appreciate you all more than you know.

Blessings,

Karen

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Keeping It Real- Staging for Photos

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Today I am going to talk about one of the problems that I totally blame Pinterest, the Internet, and HGTV for creating.

Because we humans are so visual, we seem believe that the pictures we see on those places above are how folks actually live.  We buy into the image so much that we forget that it was staged, lighted, set, edited and cropped before we ever got a peek.  I would say it is akin to believing that believing that I could fly because I watched Superman do it on television.

This is not real life, folks.  But it is beautiful!  If the homeowners live like this every day, they must be pretty neat people.  With no pets.  Or kids. Or food.

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Casa Mia

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Recently I asked you guys to do a little staging of your own.  I asked you to take a picture of your table as it normally is, then as it looks after you set it for company.  If you did not participate, shame on you.  Not really.  Okay, really a little bit.  The reason I wanted you all to set your tables is that that is home staging you do when you have company over.  Do you live like that all the time?  I will bet the answer is no.

Here are some examples of before and after photos:

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My buddy had her table ready for a shower, so she sort of cheated in the before picture :)! I love her giant table. It looks great set for dinner.
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The photos above are in a newly moved into home! Way to go.

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I really do keep the table at Star Hill pretty neat because it is in the main room of the house and we don’t have much space.  Star Hill is a study in Red, White, and Blue.  And Texas.

 

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I snapped this picture when we were having company over for breakfast.

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Our back deck.  It is a glass topped patio set our neighbors gave us.  It is a sunbaked wilderness most of the day, but in the evening when the shade takes over, it is pleasant.  We have all our large dinners here at Star Hill

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I paid fifty cents for the metal yellow plates at a garage sale.  The funky yellow wine goblets were in the attic of Star Hill when we moved in.  I think the original owners must have left them behind.  They are fun.

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The Southern Belle even played along.  Yes folks, she owns this beautiful custom made table and she keeps it beautiful.  It is mixed with mid century chairs that are upholstered in a cool fabric.  She found the chairs on Craig’s List as is.  True story.

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Here it is set with her Fiesta dishes and bright napkins.

 

Aren’t the tables great?  I love the variety.  If you have ever set the table for company, you are a home stager. You know how to set the scene, make the table “feel” inviting and show off its’ best assets.

The messages that made me sad when I put out the call for pictures were three that I got that told me they would not participate because they were embarrassed about their houses so they would just enjoy what others did for their homes.

If there are things you do not like about your home, you are not alone.

The vast majority of the world has something they wish they could change about their homes and things that they really don’t want others to see.  I will bet that even those bloggers who have amazing rooms have some place in their home that needs work. A friend of mine years ago stuffed a bunch of things into the oven because company was coming over then forgot.  She turned on the oven several days later and scorched some paperwork.  I personally would be embarrassed if someone looked in my garage when we have company coming because it is usually the dumping zone.

I live in a house that currently has four adults, two dogs, a cat, and a fish.  I re-purpose furniture, as a hobby and it tends to spread. My house is far from spotless.  It is lived in.  Every room.  Right now there is furniture in our breakfast space.

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I decided to show you one of the tables we set when the crowd gets large at Star Hill.  Yep, it is my painting table.  Just plywood painted with exterior paint. Oh, and all my paint drips.

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I set the table for two.  the flowers are out of our yard.  The picnic basket is from a garage sale, the table-cloth was a wedding gift almost 33 years ago.  A friend of my mom made it for us.

 

There are times that I am photographing a project when the ONLY space that is neat is what fits inside the viewfinder on the camera.  To the right, left and behind me may be a mess of things I have pulled out and a mirror reflecting light into the cave like space I am photographing in our suburban home.

Photography is not real life folks. Real life is messy. Real life is imperfect. Real life is opportunity.

I hope you have a great day.  Make some memories.

Blessings,

Karen

 

Finding Balance

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My sweet baby girl, The Southern Belle, came for a visit this weekend.  She is running in the Houston Marathon.  This will be her third marathon in a year.

Here she is in Boston this year.  She was already headed back to her room when the devastation occurred. We are thankful. blessed.

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I have a lot to learn from that very smart young lady.  She is already working on, and succeeding at, something that I have always had hard time with and does a waaay better job than I do.  She has found ways to balance what is important in her life.   She got married this summer to a great guy.  We love Big Cat and attribute some of the fun factor in her life to his influence.

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In addition to being married, she holds a very demanding job and all the obligations that it entails, has an active membership in a service organization, is still active in her local chapter of her college sorority, and has set aside time for her passion, which is running.   She is also the first one to mail a birthday card or post card from her travels, she calls her parents and grandparents regularly, keeps up with her college buddies,

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keeps a clean house, and still has time to socialize with her friends.

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She is not afraid to tell someone who calls that now is not a good time ( even her mom!), but she will call them back.  I feel guilty doing this.  She is willing to be the first one up on holidays so that she can go to the gym or for a run before the day gets started, she looks for things to do that are fun but still fulfill her responsibilities or include friends. (We passed out pink ribbons at the Carolina Panthers football game before the game got started on one visit and went to a KIPP academy event on another trip .  She planned a Pinterest party on one visit and we ate out at potential wedding rehearsal sites on a pre wedding visit.) As I thought about all she has going on and how she is able to manage it I thought about the rock analogy.   You have probably heard this story told before but like me,  you may not have seen it.  You may also be like me and just need a reminder.

My word this year is focus.  I need to focus on what makes my heart sing, and put those the big rocks first then let the rest settle in around what is important to me. I need to stop relinquishing control of my agenda to others who may not have the same priorities I do, and I need to focus on my spiritual, physical and emotional health.

This Weekend Country Girl is going to put marriage, family, faith, and health in her jar first. Oh, and laughter.  I need a lot more of that.  Doesn’t this picture of my four kids just make you smile? It sure does make my heart sing.

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2013 In Review

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Wow. When I wrote this last December I had no idea what the year would hold for us: Changes in the New Year

A Yiddish proverb says:

Man makes plans, and God laughs.

Here is what we did from our 2013 goals:

We are limiting eating out to one day a week. We did this.
We are taking our lunches to work. We made great progress on this.
We are keeping fruit and cut up veggies in the house. Much improved, but still a work in progress.

We are both committing to move more. We are parking further away from stores, taking the stairs when possible, and finding activities to do that involve physical activities. Hubby is joining a gym and I am getting up thirty minutes sooner so that I can Wii or treadmill in the mornings. Overall we get a B- on this. We did walk in two 5k’s this year, we have started using the treadmill and elliptical, and are more active, but we still have a way to go.

The hardest change I am making is to limit the amount of artificial sweeteners. I do love a diet Mountain Dew… too much. I know that my cutting caffeine and those fake sweeteners at the same time is not a good idea for those that I work with and love so coffee and a teaspoon of agave will keep me fueled up. I am also going to drink more water. Good ole plain water. Yuck. I get an F here. The change in our world set me back. Waaaay back. I have started drinking coffee with monk fruit sweetener and limiting soda to two cans a day. Most days. I am drinking more water.

This past year we sold a home, bought a home, moved into the lake house, moved out of the lake house, moved in to our new suburban home, started new jobs, attended our daughter and son in law’s wedding, and welcomed our son and daughter in law in our new home while they prepare to go overseas for a year of mission work.

It was a memorable year. We are tired. Exhausted. Hubby and I did manage to get some projects done at the lake house and our new home, but hopefully next year we will get a few more projects at both places complete.

We plan to update the master bedroom, finish the covered porch area, refurbish the deck, and get an outdoor shower in at Star Hill.

We are putting in sliding barn door at the burb home, fixing up the guest bath, and working on the back yard.

My personal word of the year is focus. I need to focus on what is important, focus on finishing projects, focus on my personal life, focus on finances, and focus on my relationships.

I am reading Dave Ramsey right now and plan to post one of these 20 things rich people do weekly so that we can get on track for retirement.

Visit his blog here: Dave Ramsey

The following 20 facts will be posted, one by one, weekly. I will have time to post them all twice during the year and re post the problem areas.

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1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.

8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.

12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.

13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.

18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.

I also will be posting a Bible verse weekly in the laundry room.

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Man, do I have my work cut out for me here. In one year, I should be able to post them all two weeks and time to focus on the trouble areas an additional week.

I hope you and yours have a blessed new year.

I would love to hear your goals for the new year,

Blessings,

Karen

Please Don’t Make Your Kids the Center of Your Universe

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Wow.  I am posting this with fear and trembling.   I promise, promise, promise that I will get back on track and start letting you in on our projects after tonight.

I wrote this piece out on paper about a week ago, then have revised it almost every evening.  I have prayed about this post, yet I still am a little afraid that I am going to offend those of you who don’t know me.  I apologize in advance.  I love my children. And I think they both would tell you that they were not abused growing up. I am not apologizing for what I write, but I do apologize for offending you.

As an educator for almost 30 years, and a human for the last 52 years, I am alarmed by the growing trend in families to make children the center of their world/family.  I read on Facebook frequently statements that go something like “My precious children are my world…” It alarms me because as an educator, I have seen that change in classrooms and as a 52 year old, I can see retirement on the horizon and I am concerned that we are not preparing the next generation to take over for us.

There is an NFL channel football commercial where a dad is crying as his daughter watches pretty princesses and he misses the game.  It alarms me personally that the commercial did not bother me when I first saw it.  A dad not being allowed to watch his football game because his daughter wants to watch something different would not have been funny or cute when I was growing up.  In my wildest dreams I cannot imagine that taking place in the home where I grew up, or I hope, in the home we raised our children.

If you will indulge me, I have a bit of advice for you parents with children still in your home.

Parents, make sure you have your own lives, and let your children develop their own.  If you are doing your job as a parent, you are getting those children ready to go out into the world.  They are probably going to outlive you and they will also possibly be parents one day.  Your kids are counting on you to get them ready for their  lives outside your home.

During all the revisions of this post I boiled my list down to what I thought was most important to share, but I didn’t trust myself until I ran the list by several other educators to make sure I was on track.  I am not claiming to be an expert, just an observer.   It is my hope that you are teaching or modeling the skills that they will need and the values that you hold dear.  So, here goes my list of what I hope that you are teaching your children:

1.   Life is not fair. Period.  There will always be someone who has more money, is better looking, taller, thinner, or gets luckier breaks than you.  Work hard, do the best you can with what you are given and stop trying to be who you are not.

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Dumpday.com

2.  Your kids deserve the following things from their parents:  love and affection, medical care, food, clothing, and shelter.  They do not deserve a car at 16, a laptop, a $200.00 purse, or a smart phone or any of another thousand things that students I come in contact with have come to believe is due to them.  If you decide to provide your children with those luxuries and they do not appreciate them, PLEASE take the items away and encourage them to earn money for what they want.

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3.  There are winners and losers in life.  There will be teams they don’t make, jobs they don’t get, and games they lose. Losing doesn’t mean they should quit the team, the game, or the job search.  Quitters never win.   Please parents, teach your children how to lose gracefully, and win graciously.

“Failures are expected by losers, ignored by winners.”

Joe Gibbs

4.  Your children are family members, not guests.  Membership has its privileges, but members also have dues to pay.  As a member of your family they should have chores, not for pay, but because it is the expectation in your family that everyone pitches in.  Even little ones can pick up their toys, take their cup to the sink, and put their shoes away.

“There is no substitute for hard work.”

Thomas A. Edison

5.  Finally, show  your children that they are not in fact the center of your universe.  Please don’t stop what you are doing to go find a missing toy, or leave work to go home and get their lunch, or make them a different meal because they do not like what your cooked.  Allow these problems in their lives to become opportunities to struggle a little, help them to problem solve, to learn to be responsible, and to take responsibility for their actions.  Give them permission to grow up and become productive citizens.

“Growing up is hard, love. Otherwise everyone would do it.”
Kim Harrison

I would love to hear from you,

Karen

Spending the Weekend With MeMie

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It is hunting season here in Texas. Don’t judge us.
1. We live in Texas.
2. We don’t kill what we don’t eat.

My dad, son and husband took off to the property for the opening of deer season. Sweet Amanda had plans this weekend with her mom so that left my mom, MeMie, and me hanging out together. I am so blessed to have her around still. She has had a few health scares that could have taken her from us. My mom is now and always has been a character. She wore bread sacks over her shoes so she could play in the snow when I was younger. She took my friends and me to wrap houses. We took spontaneous trips to the beach growing up. We would get there, buy groceries and spend the day. She still has a group of friends that celebrate birthdays together, plays bunco and sits together in church.  I learned at The Southern Belle and Big Cat’s wedding that she was on a dance team in college.  I had no idea.

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She is a child of tough times and even tougher people. She is still in love with my dad after 54 years.

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She can sew, makes the best sweet-hot pickles, jelly, pepper sauce and relish. She was green before being green was chic. I grew up learning to reduce, reuse and recycle. We just called it our every day life. I didn’t always appreciate this when I was younger. I wanted store bought clothes and going out to eat. What was I thinking? She saved , cleaned and reused foil, bread sacks, twist ties, and zip lock bags. My parents have a garden every fall and spring. They compost, they can, freeze and eat off the vegetables that they grow. I have a lot to learn still from those two. This is what she brought me this visit with instructions to return the empty jars and rings or else!

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She is where I learned my thrifty ways. She still shops the clearance section first and just about won’t buy anything unless it is on sale even though she can afford whatever she wants. We spent a good amount of time in Target because the Dollar Spot stuff was half off.

It was great to spend the weekend with her. She got to meet some of my students at a community disaster drill that my Interact students were volunteering at, we got to shop. Near my house is the biggest Kroger in Texas. We checked it out. They have furniture, home accessories and the best kitchen section around. We shopped at Marshall’s, went to the mall and ate at Chick Fila for lunch. She was so proud that I found a $200.00 suit at Macy’s on sale and with a coupon for $55.00. That was the talk of the evening at our house.

MeMie doesn’t love having her picture taken. She is much more comfortable behind the camera than in front.

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I did sneak this picture of her watching me paint in the back yard.

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I am so fortunate that I got to enjoy the weekend with her.

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Two Nephews and a Wedding

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The Southern Belle is now Mrs. Big Cat! A beautiful wedding in Charlotte, North Carolina with Chamber of Commerce weather was held on June 1. The hydrangea were in full bloom, the birds were singing, we got to spend time outdoors with both sides of the family. It was awesome.

Because Mr. and Mrs. BC have 2 sweet nephews and zero nieces they wanted to include them in the big event. What to do with two boys and one wedding? Give them both a job. The Southern Belle turned to Pinterest for inspiration and discovered this:

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(Source unknown)
A quick trip to the Etsy Shop told her that she was not the only bride who would have a “herald” in the wedding along with a ring bearer.

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The only problem with the signs on Etsy was the price. Customized signs were a little more than TSB wanted to spend. A friend has a machine that cuts vinyl letters and she agreed to make a vinyl sticker to go on a board. It comes as a big ole sticker. Hubby cut the board to fit, I painted it white and applied the sticker then peeled off the covering carefully.

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This was the scary part!  I only had one sticker and it could have gone bad.  I am so glad it worked.

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Sweet Maeby had to help her Gramps.

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Hubby put handles on the back so that his nephew could hold it.

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I do not have any photos of the nephew coming down the isle.  I was too busy trying not to blubber.

Here is a picture of the sign with the family.  One day next week I will tell you about the ring bearer box.

TSB's New Family

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