Monday, December 15, 2014

R e s o l u t i o n ....

OR  PURPOSE????

At this time of the year, we are inundated with articles about setting a New Year's Resolution. When I was younger, I had a hard time picking something and then sticking to it for the whole year. I always tried to have one that had a PURPOSE but nothing ever really seemed like I was making a difference. Giving up stuff also seemed not very meaningful to me -- I don't drink or smoke ... so I don't need to stop those. I could lose a few pounds ... but that doesn't seem like something I need to vow to do for the whole year.

A couple years ago, I began something a bit different. I sit back, read through some of my journal entries and decide what my purpose was for the next year. I do not call it my resolution any longer ... I am trying to figure out what is my purpose in life. I also decided that I have to check-in each month and see how I'm doing. As I reflect at the end of each month I'm able to adjust my "purpose", change direction if need be, and decide if what I'm working on is really working. I find that checking in on my "purpose" each month makes me more accountable. Am I smiling at people who look like they're having a tough day? Am I paying it forward?  Am I showing random acts of kindness?

Santa with the Toys for Tots gifts for 2015
Small tree on the bench in the breakfast nook.
As I looked through my journal this year, I noticed that there was a recurring theme: some children have LOTS of things, but there are still many children who will go without during the holidays and all through the year. Many of their parents are out of work, many are single parent families, some families are just down on their luck. I feel that I am very fortunate for all that I have and so I decided to attempt a year long "purpose" for 2015, and also work on some smaller, more personal, month long reflections.  I'm excited to say that my year long "purpose" will be collecting toys for the 2015 TOYS FOR TOTS program. Each week when I go shopping, I will pick up a toy or two that I will donate in 2015! I'm excited to finally have found a "purpose" that will fill my heart with joy each week when I go shopping!

I started my quest in the last week and already have two toys in my arsenal. I'm hoping to have between 70 - 100 items by the next holiday season.

Following are a few pictures of some of my holiday decorations this year ... I used to put up a LOT of decorations. I have uncomplicated my life for the holidays and just put up some of my favorite things and have gone smaller scale ...

Our front porch ... our squirrel is in honor of the squirrels that used to come to our porch in Massachusetts. One-Eye and White Ears were fixtures for years at our Marsden Street house.
We now have this little guy and a small tree.

Ashley made the snowman and I made the wreath!

Our small corner tree. I love this tree! Takes about 10 minutes to set up!

The two decorations on the left, Ashley made in grade school.
Another small lighted tree -- these decorations are on the alcove above the front door.
 
I love Christmas trees, so I think having many small ones around the house make me smile!
 

 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Greenhouse ...

A few months ago we finished building my brand new GREENHOUSE! I am so excited because it has an automatic vent that opens with the warmth of the sun -- it has a double door so the top of the door can be opened to let fresh air in. It also has gutters so I will buy a rain barrel in a few months so that when the Spring rains begin, I can save some water for use inside of the greenhouse. We added a WIFI thermometer so I can monitor the temperature in the greenhouse from inside the house -- it is currently 82 degrees inside of the greenhouse!  Here are some pictures of the greenhouse right after it was built.

An empty greenhouse -- still too HOT in Texas to put any plants inside.

A view from inside of the greenhouse.
It was about 120 degrees inside and about 95 outside!
This was back in September.
 
By the end of October,
I added shelves, indoor/outdoor carpet, a heater and of course PLANTS!

Japanese Cherry Blossom seeds ... we will see what happens!
 
Basil sprouts! I planted these as seeds the week of Thanksgiving.
I'm looking forward to giving friends and family fresh and dried basil next year!
Strawberry plants -- I got about 7 strawberries last June, hoping to get at least a dozen next summer!
 
Other plants in the greenhouse!

 
A prickly pear cutting ... if pieces fall off, I plant them in dirt and
they are pretty resilient and will root -- but need to be in a pot for about
a season before they are put into the ground ... I LOVE PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS!
 

Steven taking pictures of me taking pictures of plants in the greenhouse ...
 
As you all know -- I love nature and I hope you also enjoy seeing pictures of the wonders of life in my greenhouse!
 
 
 
 
























Friday, November 14, 2014

DAY 1 - Kentucky Book Fair

I have been trying to get to the Kentucky Book Fair for the past three years ... it just never worked out. I was grateful Connie Crowe has remembered me for all these years and this year was once again chosen to attend and ACTUALLY COULD! 


I left the C O L D of Fort Worth ... to arrive to the C O L D of Frankfurt, KY on Thursday, November 13. I was very fortunate and had the pleasure of being driven from Louisville to Frankfort by a LIMO! I told Dan that I'm a children's author and needed to take his picture so he could appear on my blog ... he had fun posing! We even took a selfie!!!!  THANKS DAN for being a good sport and Executive Car Service and Connie for setting it all up!!!

The drive from Louisville to Frankfort took about 50 minutes and I was hungry and tired ... I arrived at the Capital Plaza hotel and looked out my hotel window and saw the Capital Bldg. For those of you who have forgotten your U.S. capitals -- Frankfort is the Capital of Kentucky!!!


 
On Friday morning, I was getting ready when all of a sudden this L O U D alarm went off -- I thought it was just in my room, until this voice comes on the P.A. and says to evacuate using the stairwell!
LO and BEHOLD ... it was the fire alarm and yes ... the Firemen came to check it out!
 I met Knox and his mom Alecia in the restaurant on Thursday night .... he is from New York and she writes Young Adult books ... they were in the room across from me and Knox was a little nervous at first ... but in the stairwell I said ... THIS FIRE DRILL is KIND OF FUN!  and he said "YAY IT IS!"
And when he got to meet the FIREMAN he was really pretty happy!
 
After that minor setback, I went and finished getting ready, had breakfast and went off to the convention center!
 
My FB Friend from Ohio ... Aileen Stewart is at this event and it was great meeting her in person!
She has the FERN VALLEY SERIES . Super cute books for kids.
 No ... she's not posing for me!  lol!!!!!!   Yes she is!
Her next book will contain recipes too!  That will be a must have for me because Miss Aileen is always whipping stuff up that looks so delicious in FB posts!!!!!
 
The children have arrived!
The Kentucky Book Fair has a children's day and children from Frankfort and surrounding areas come on Field Trips to the convention center.
They hear authors talk, ask questions and buy books!

 
 One group of students came all the way from Louisville, KY.
The kids who read 10 or more books over the summer were rewarded with being able to come
to the Book Fair!  They were so excited to look at all the books!!!!!

 
Let's see what this book is about?
Trying to decide if she wants to use her KID money on a Muffin book!
 
 Two new little MUFFIN fans!
 
 
Miss Aileen gave me my own little mini loaf of
Butterscotch Oatmeal Zucchini Bread
OMG!!!!  YUMMMMMMMMM!!!!!
 
If you are in the Frankfort, KY area, you have NOT missed the festival ... Come on out to the Frankfort Convention Center on Saturday, November 15 from 9am - 4pm
where the Kentucky Book Fair
will be open to the public!  There will be 150 authors there!
Stop by and say HI!!!!
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

CONTEST! CONTEST! CONTEST!

I spent almost 1 hour yesterday in my tomato garden (2 gargantuan plants) yesterday picking ________ tomatoes ....
While picking, my eyes were seeing RED and my mind was wandering!
I decided to do a CONTEST!!!!
 
In honor of my upcoming book -- RED Goes To Kindergarten, I've decided to give away
ONE book to the person who GUESSES the number of grape tomatoes in these two NORMAL sized colanders AND
ONE book to a person who comments about their FONDEST memories of Kindergarten
(RED Goes To Kindergarten release date -- Spring/Summer 2015)
 
You can guess the number and write a memory ....
 
You must comment here on my blog!
 
HAVE FUN!
 
Winner will be chosen Tuesday, November 11 at 8:00 pm Central Time
 
 

 
And ... for your information .... some of these tomatoes are in the fridge and some are simmering on the stove for another batch of Laura's Homemade Sauce!  : )

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Introducing my Yoga ANGEL!

For the past 3 years Angel Carithers-Brownlee has been a Facebook Friend of mine who I facebook met from my illustrator friend Charla.  For 3 years I never met Angel -- but followed her journey with her Yoga studio -- Temple Road.  I knew Angel was a yoga instructor and I knew I always wanted to try yoga but was always tooooooooo scared and felt very intimidated to give it a try! I thought you had to be very flexible and young!

This past summer, I felt I was under a tremendous amout of stress working on my Texas Teacher certification, Steven going to Japan, and juggling book events. I finally got up my confidence to walk into Angel's yoga studio. I have to say ... it was one of the BEST things I have ever done!  Temple Road Yoga is a peaceful, wonderful environment and Angel is a loving, caring person and a phenomenal yoga instructor. She made me feel so welcome and took the time to help me work through some of my FEARS of yoga! Now that I'm back in school, I do yoga as much as I can at home and look forward to breaks when I can go to the Temple Road Studio!

Angel
Thank you Angel for taking the time to answer a few questions ....

Tell us about Angel -  First and foremost, I am a mama and wife.  My husband Brandyn and I have 5 children ranging in age from 14 to 22 years. The love of my family keeps me grounded through the busyness of life. I was born and raised in Arkansas, so the southern girl is always a part of me.  We have a large extended family and spend most of our free time coming together for good cooking, music and lots of laughter. Interestingly, I had the privilege of growing up in a broken home. My parents divorced when I was 1 year old.  This has proven to be one of the greatest gifts of my life! It is what I learned that love has no boundaries and there are no mistakes.


Have you done anything else besides YOGA? Oh yes! Many careers before landing on the yoga mat! Everything from Marketing Coordinator at a casino in Las Vegas to a
Cash Management analyst for an oil and gas company in Texas.  However, in every job, there was always an element of service.  Ironically, my first job at 14 was cleaning houses for several elderly ladies in our neighborhood. One of these dear souls was
grieving the loss of her beloved husband and she would ask me to stay for lunch and visit after I finished cleaning.  I could sense that she was quite lonely.  As we enjoyed our ham and cheese sandwiches, she recalled the times she and her husband shared together.  Inevitably, each time, she would break down and I could feel the heaviness of her pain. When I look back over my life so far, I feel strongly that we are born with the gifts we are here to share.

How did you get interested in yoga? Like many others, I became interested in yoga, after coming to the end of myself.  At the time, I was working a full-time job, while taking college classes at night, my youngest was 2 and we were building a home, so there was no breathing room in my schedule. I was physically, emotionally and spiritually spent and felt overwhelmed by life.  So one day on my lunch hour, I decided to try a yoga class at the YMCA. There were about 25 people in the class and I
had no idea what I was doing. Unexpectedly, when I laid down for savasana, the tears began to flow.  In an instant, yoga became "home to me" and from that moment everything began to shift.

How many years have you been a YOGI? I would say all my life, but technically practicing since 2002.

What are the best things about your job?  There are so many things that make my job wonderful!  Being a witness to someone letting go of tension in their body or mind is one of the things I love.  It is a great honor to be with another when they relax into themselves.  You can see the joy on their face and you know in some small way you are part of their journey.  It is also wonderful to see the light in someone's eyes when they overcome a limitation whether physical or emotional through yoga.

How did the idea of Temple Road come about? Temple Road came to me in a beautiful dream.  I've written about it on my website at TEMPLE ROAD YOGA

What inspires you? Courageous, open hearted people. Those who have gone through the fire and yet make the choice to stay open and move toward love.

What do you do when you are in the studio by yourself? I practice, pray and meditate. Sometimes I turn the music up really loud and stay in a posture on the floor for 20 minutes soaking in the breath and the energy of the space. Oddly enough, even when my husband and I are cleaning the studio, it is like a meditation.  There is a great deal of peace that flows through somehow.

Are there ever days you don't want to do YOGA?  No. The word yoga from the root "yuj" means to yoke.  In that sense of the word, I always want to have an experience of the Divine and I search for that everyday.  I do feel having a personal yoga practice is essential if one plans to share yoga with others on a deep level.  However, my yoga practice may look different each day.  Sometimes I may just do ball work, pranayama and meditation, while other days I may have a more active practice.  Recently, a question came across my radar during meditation - "What does love long to do through you?" so for the following week the main part of my yoga practice was putting that question
out there and seeing who showed up to receive the answer.   

Please share your favorite teaching YOGA story. Hahaha! This may not be what you had in
mind and it may be inappropriate, but (sometimes you just gotta laugh) and it is one of my favorites.  So one day in class we are working on holding cobra for an extended period of time to strengthen the back.  At one point I was noticing how gripped everyone's butt was and I had some concern for the stress around the tail bone.  So I (accidentally) said, "Okay everyone, do your best not to fire through your butt!" Laughter erupted and it was AWESOME!  
      I had to reply to this -- I feel Angel has a way to know when there is a lot of tension in the room and will say just the right thing to help everyone RELEASE that tension ... that is a GREAT story!!!

Temple Road was created to encourage and support our community, while offering a safe place for prayer, yoga and meditation. We may look different on the outside, but inside, we are all the same…sacred and loved. The practice of yoga is to help us see more clearly and ultimately, remember who we are.

Temple Road Yoga offers Yin Yoga, Chakra Based Yoga (Temple Road) and Beginner Flow. We also host "Rising Lotus" Yoga & Group Therapy for Women on the 1st & 3rd Monday of the month. A variety of workshops are held throughout the year for those who want to learn something new or deepen their practice.  For more information on classes, workshops and events visit -- TEMPLE ROAD YOGA

We are located on the west side of Fort Worth on 820N and White Settlement Rd. off  of  Expedition Drive across from The Home Depot.

Om Shanti!
xoxoxAngel

THANKS ANGEL!   I just had the pleasure of attending the Reiki & Restorative Yoga with Gong Meditation class. It was the most amazing 2 hours!  I can't believe that the GONG can sound so soothing and with the poses and breathing and Reiki I was taken to places I've never been -- it truly was a soothing and calming journey. I truly hope that Angel and Kenny will team up again -- I know I will be there!

If you've wanted to try Yoga -- give Temple Road Yoga, off White Settlement Road a try -- here is the link to their FB page Temple Road on Facebook

Kenny and his amazing instruments!!!!
 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

GONNA BUY ME A MERCURY

Well if I had money
Tell you what I'd do
I'd go downtown and buy a Mercury or two
Crazy 'bout a Mercury
Lord I'm crazy bout a Mercury
 
I'm gonna buy me a Mercury
And cruise it up and down the road


If you read my blog, you know that a few weeks back my husband googled Mercury Comet's and the Mercury Comet we owned while living in Georgia popped up and it was for sale! We loved that car and were heartbroken when we had to sell it when moving to Massachusetts. We knew the harsh weather up north would take it's toll on the Comet's paint. I've only gotten to ride in her two times since we've brought her home ... but I often sneak into the garage and look at all the cool details that cars lack these days. Here's some of my favorite intricate features of the COMET ....
The front side panel


The original hub-caps

 
The rear tail lights ... so cool!!!!!


The back windshield is amazing!!!!

The steering column ... 

The radio -- which has been updated -- there's a hidden cord to
plug in your iPhone -- or you can play 8-tracks!  lol!!!!
 
 The speedometer

The MERCURY guy on the middle of the steering wheel

The seats and middle glove box

The original engine!

The MERCURY guy on the sides near the back window (he's on both sides!)
 
I LOVE MY MERCURY!!!!!!