Friday’s Fave Five

Just like that, we’re into December and Christmas preparations. I love these brief pauses on Friday with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to reflect on what God has done in our lives this week.

1. Getting a Christmas tree. So far, we still go out each year to choose a live tree. I think Jason and Mittu have come with us every year since Timothy was little, and maybe before. Past Christmas photos showed one with Timothy bringing his little toy chain saw one year. πŸ™‚

This year Jason arrived first at our usual place only to find an empty lot. So we looked at another place we went last year because it was nearby and run by a local church. We didn’t like the experience, but it was the only other place we knew of.

But their prices were really high and the experience was really nerve-wracking. They had way too many helpers there–we couldn’t take a step without someone asking if we had any questions. No, we just needed to look and see which one we liked, and no sales person could tell us that. Jason heard a guy behind us ask one of the salespeople if anyone was helping us. She said we wanted to just look around. The guy said, “You need to use more force!” Force? For selling Christmas trees? We got out of there as soon as we could. Fortunately, Mittu saw an opening the back way so we didn’t have to run back through the gauntlet of smiling faces asking if we had any questions.

I searched for Christmas tree lots on my Google maps app, and it brought up a tree farm about ten minutes away. So we caravaned over there. It was a delightful little place open for business for the first time (in which case, I am not sure how they showed up at the top of my search results. But I am glad they did). They told us how things were laid out and left us to look around. They had a gift area, and I think they may have had hot drinks. They also had a little picture-taking station.

Their prices weren’t any better than the other place–but the experience was far superior. We may have to break down and get an artificial one before next year.

Then, there was a very old blue truck in the lot with a tree in the back. I thought they had it there just for effect—you see truck with a tree on a lot of Christmas decorations and cards these days. But then an older couple, the man with a long white beard, got into the truck and drove away. The guy tying our tree to our car roof said the older man dresses up as Santa and takes a tree and presents to Cade’s Cove every year. So that was fun.

2. Tree decorating. Even though Jason and Mittu decorate their own house for Christmas, they help decorate ours as well. Jesse came over, too, and was a big help getting boxes down from the attic. For the past few years, Mittu has made lunch for us all on tree decorating day. I’m so thankful they all do this. With everyone pitching in, it only took a couple of hours to get everything up, not counting transporting the bins to and from the attic.

I wasn’t feeling Christmasy until we got the house decorated. Now I am ready to start the holidays.

3. Lunch with Melanie, a dear friend, at Cracker Barrel, one of my favorite places. None of the rest of my family likes Cracker Barrel, so I am glad I can indulge with Melanie. We both had the maple bacon chicken, which was excellent. We had a great waitress who, when she found out Melanie’s birthday was the next day, gave her a free piece of cake. And they let us sit and talk as long as we wanted without kicking us out. πŸ™‚

4. Encouraging words. It’s such a blessing when someone says something that encourages you right where you needed it, when they could not have known that their words were needed. I feel God orchestrates those things. How we need to walk closely with Him so He can use us that way.

5. Timothy recordings. Jason and Mittu were here for another marathon cooking session to make up microwave meals while they are still painting in their kitchen. At one point Timothy started playing some old recordings on their iPad–some of them were him singing when he was about four. So sweet.

I hope your week went well!

Friday’s Fave Five

Some weeks overflow with blessings. Other weeks, we have to be more intentional in looking for them. This week has been full, and it’s a joy to share with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story. Please feel free to join in!

1. Thanksgiving. I am thankful we have a day set aside to remind us to be thankful. We had a wonderful day with all the family except our out-of-state one, plus had an abundance of good food. We watched a couple of episodes of The Santa Clauses, though we each dozed in different parts. πŸ™‚ We tried to play some Jackbox games, but the system kept crashing–probably a lot of other people had the same idea. We did our “Thanksgiving tree” throughout the day, writing on leaves the things we were grateful for.

I forgot to mention last week I’m thankful we found a turkey! I had heard they might be scarce and expensive, but we didn’t find that to be the case.

2. Testimony times. The church we’ve been visiting had an opportunity both in Sunday School and then in the midweek service to share what we’re thankful for. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in a service given over to testimonies, and this one reminded me that churches used to do this regularly. It was such a joy to hear different ones’ stories of how God worked in their lives.

3. Bad news/good news from the dentist. I hadn’t had any dental problems for years and wasn’t expecting any. But at my regular dental cleaning, the hygienist found a cavity in a tooth under a bridge. She thought that repairing it would mean removing the bridge, and if there was not enough of the original tooth left, she predicted I’d need an implant. She went on and on about what getting an implant involved (a six-month process). I was pretty overwhelmed and discouraged. There are worse things to endure, but it was still dismaying to discover out of the blue that all this would need to be done. But when the dentist came in to check me, she thought she could patch the cavity with a regular filling. She said there was a small chance that, once she got in there, she’d find that more work needed to be done. But she felt pretty confident a filling would do what was needed. That was a relief.

4. A productive errand-running day. Whether due to age or physical issues–or both–it’s hard for me to be out all day. But while I had to be out to go to the dentist, I wanted to try to get as much errand-running done as I could so I didn’t have to go out again later in the week. I prioritized my list and got everything done except the couple of things that there was no urgency for. Those things could even wait til the new year if need be.

5. Safety. While out on those errands, I was trying to tentatively back out in a busy parking lot. It was nerve-racking because cars and people were coming from all directions, so I inched out a bit at a time while trying to look every which way. Then I saw in my rear-view mirror the car behind me was backing out quickly, coming straight towards me. God gave me the presence of mind to hit the brake and horn at the same time, and the other car stopped and then pulled back into its space.

Are you Black Friday shopping? We’re gratefully spending the day indoors, but we might shop online a bit.

Happy Friday!

Friday’s Fave Five

Another week is almost in the books. How good it is to pause a moment with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to remember some of the highlights and blessings of the week before they fade from memory.

1. Desk chair arm covers. I love my desk chair. It fits me just right, and everything is at the right height. The back is high enough, and the whole chair is comfortable enough, that I can lean back and take a power nap when needed. So I was dismayed when the armrests started cracking, then little bits chipped away, then the cracks started snagging my clothes. I started mentally designing a cloth that could wrap around the arm rest and keep in place with Velcro. Then—light bulb moment—I thought that somebody had probably already come up with a solution to this dilemma. I looked on Amazon and found arm chair covers at a really reasonable price ($8.95). They’re elasticized rather than wrapping around and look so much more professional than what I was thinking. I’ve found a ridiculous amount of delight in these things.

2. A meal together. It had been a few weeks since I had made a meal for the whole family (minus the out-of-state son). So I invited everyone over for spaghetti last Saturday night. We enjoyed some games afterward

3. Gluten Free cookies turning out well. I had been wanting to try one of my favorite cookie recipes with gluten-free flour. Since my daughter-in-law and grandson began having gluten issues, baked goods were the hardest things to make well–they usually came out very dense. I don’t know if the makers of GF flour have improved or what, but these cookies came out so well. I used King Arthur Measure for Measure flour. I don’t bake much any more with just the two of us home who don’t need the temptation of extra sugar around the house. But I just made one batch and sent some home with the kids.

These are Choco-Peanut Butter Dreams. The recipe is included with some of my other favorites here.

4. Unexpected help. My husband is a blessing to me every week. πŸ™‚ But he outdid himself this week. He has a little sweeper/mopper/steamer gadget that he got out to use on a stubborn stain on our bathroom floor. Then he decided, while he had the device out, to go ahead and do the other bathroom floor. Then he decided he might as well do all the wood floors. What he didn’t know was that sweeping was on my agenda that morning. We have a pretty big expanse of hardwood floors, it was such a joy to come out and find them being cleaned. I was able to go straight on to the cookie baking mentioned above. Then I had time to rest for an hour before making dinner.

Then, just as I started making the cookies mentioned above, I realized I needed more brown sugar. Jim stopped what he was doing and offered to go to the store for me.

5. A dinner-making marathon. Jason and Mittu are painting their kitchen, and they asked if they could come over to make up a bunch of meals for the week so they could just warm them up in the microwave at their house. I mostly hung out with Timothy in the living room, and Jason and Mittu were in and out through the night. They also brought Mexican food take-out and left me with a few of the muffins they made.

I hope those of you in the US have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with loved ones and friends.

Friday’s Fave Five

Once again another week has flown by, and we’re pausing with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to remember some of the good things that have happened.

1. Dry ice “experiments.” We had gotten some dry ice to use at our family Halloween party, but had quite a bit left. Jim texted Jason and Mittu a link about some other things they could do with dry ice. They invited us over on Saturday to do some of those dry ice activities with Timothy. As it happened, when Jason went to get the dry ice out of the freezer–the bags were empty. The dry ice had turned back into a gas, I guess because their freezer wasn’t as cold as dry ice needs to stay solid. Since we were set up and planning to play with it, Jason set out to find some more, having to go to four stores before he found any. But Timothy had such fun mixing up water with food coloring or dish soap and dropping dry ice in, then using different utensils on it. We found that if you squeeze dry ice with tongs, it makes a screeching sound. And Jim and Jason got curious about what would happen if you put water and dry ice in a water bottle with the lid on. Short answer: it explodes loudly. (There’s a sheriff’s deputy living in Jason’s neighborhood, and we were a little afraid he would come over to investigate the noises we were making on the back deck. He didn’t, thankfully.) Near the end of the activities, Timothy proclaimed, “I love science!” πŸ™‚ Then Mittu made stir-fry for us, and we played a couple of rousing hands of Uno.

2. Voting. I’m thankful we have that privilege in this country.

3. Veteran’s Day in the USA today. I am abundantly thankful for those who have served our country, often in unseen ways, at great sacrifice to their families.

4. Getting an hour back. I don’t really like changing the time back and forth, nor the early darkness. But I do like that extra hour once a year from “falling back.”

5. Apple cider. We usually just have this a couple of times a year, but Jim and I discovered we both like having an alternative hot drink. Neither of us likes hot tea, but we usually want more warm drinks in cold weather than coffee.

I hope you’ve had a good week as well!

Friday’s Fave Five

Here we are at the first Friday of November. Our trees are past peak color, but there are still plenty of beautiful autumn leaves outside. Nights were in the 50s, and days got up to mid-70s this week. I’m thankful for this weekly opportunity to pause and reflect with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story.

1. A joint church service. The church we have been visiting prays faithfully for their “sister church,” a Black church about twenty minutes away. Last Sunday, they held a joint service with the theme of Psalm 133:1: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Different people from both churches sang, testified, read Scripture, and spoke. The styles of singing and preaching were different, but it’s good to experiences those differences. It was such a wonderful day.

2. A neighborhood get-together. One of our neighbors used to organize a big neighborhood cook-out on July 4th each year. The practice kind of fell off for several reasons, and then the pandemic hit. Last Sunday afternoon, we had the first big get-together in a long time. I met some new neighbors and touched base with some old ones. An added blessing: intermittent rain had been predicted, so one lady opened her garage for the get-together. But, though it rained that morning, the afternoon was dry. Plus the temperatures were comfortable. We were able to set up lawn chairs in the driveway while keeping the food and drinks in the garage.

3. Family dress-up party. When the pandemic closed down the usual places my son and daughter-in-law used to take my grandson trick-or-treating, they asked if we could have a family party on Halloween night. We’ve done that ever since. Here are our costumes for this year:

Mittu made some yummy chicken sandwiches and these two cute pies, one apple and one blueberry.

4. Mammogram done. Nice to have it behind me for another year. I don’t have the results yet, but the first look didn’t seem show anything alarming.

5 Operation Christmas Child. After my mammogram appointment, I stopped by two different dollar stores and then packed my OCC box last night. I love participating in this.

Bonus. The Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions started this week. Host Ken Jennings said it was their “Academy Awards, World Series, PhD Defense, and Homecoming Week all rolled into one.” This has been a season of super-champions. It’s fun to see some of my favorite players again, and it will be exciting to see which of them comes out on top.

How was your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of October already. I’m grateful Susanne at Living to Tell the Story started this tradition of stopping for a few minutes to recap the best parts of the week. Maree’s blog today shares how gratefulness makes us happy.

1. Pumpkin decorating/carving. Mittu made chili and cornbread. Jim and Jason were the only ones to carve their pumpkins this year. They’re the most proficient at it. Jason created his from a photo of Timothy.

The rest of us painted ours. Mine is *supposed* to look like a cupcake. πŸ™‚ Jesse did the clown face, Mittu the cute little ghost, and I think Timothy’s is a bat. I found some face stickers that some of us used on the back of our pumpkins.

2. Caramel popcorn and apple cider is what I traditionally make for pumpkin decorating night. the caramel popcorn is one of my husband’s favorite things. It’s a bit of work to make, but it’s so addictive (and it makes the house smell so good).

3. Trunk or Treat. We’ve never been in a church that did this. but the church we are visiting did this week both as a community outreach and to provide a safe place for kids to dress up and get candy. Most of the adults giving out candy dressed up, too. Jim and I resurrected our Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother and the Big Bad Wolf outfits from a couple of years ago. I thought some of the kids would be afraid of Jim’s mask, but they mostly just laughed or growled when they saw him. One little one kept his distance, though, and stared. Jason, Mittu, and Timothy came out for it, and it was a lot of fun.

4. Getting a physical is not fun, but getting it over with is nice. Plus I had a fairly good visit this time. I am not always happy in trying to discuss things with this doctor—he tends to brush off my concerns. But we had a good discussion this time.

5. Tidying the blog and around the house. Nothing major, but I deleted a few defunct things from my sidebar got some things put away at home. It’s always nice to neaten and restore order.

Finally, I wanted to share this quote from a book I am reading, Joy: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback. This seems to encapsulate Friday’s Fave Five:

“If we are not looking for the good things, we may fail to see them when they come. That’s part of why thankfulness is so important. Offering thanks to God, no matter what is going on in our lives, is a way of acknowledging that he knows exactly what he is doing and that we can trust him” (p. 28, Kindle version).

I liked this one as well:

“Sometimes thankfulness is a choice we make rather than a feeling we have” (p. 28).

Friday’s Fave Five

I appreciate our regular practice of pausing at least once a week to remember the blessings of the week with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story.

1. The University of TN vs. Alabama game. Neither my husband and I are much into sports. But when we moved to Knoxville, it was hard not to get caught up into Vols fandom. The last few years, however, we haven’t been able to see the games on our particular cable plan. Last Saturday’s game was on CBS, so we turned it on mid-way through the second quarter. Man, what a nail-biter. Each side had some great plays, and each side made mistakes (they’re only human, after all). I hadn’t realized that there was a particular rivalry between these two teams, with AL winning the last 15 or so of their matches with UT. But UT won with a field goal in the last minutes. I’m thankful the game we got to see was such a good one.

2. Dinner with the family. We usually see Jason, Mittu, and Timothy at least once a week, but hadn’t seen Jesse since my out-of-town family was here a couple of weeks ago. Mittu made dinner for us all Sunday night–tilapia, garlic mashed potatoes, and broccoli in cheese sauce. Then we played a couple of games.

3. Newish clothing. I had ordered some long-sleeved items last year near the end of winter, but didn’t have a chance to wear them much before the weather turned warm. It’s been fun to rediscover those this year and to find that my clothing is pretty well set for the season.

4. A favorite old sweater. I have newer, better looking sweaters, but they’re a little heavier and thicker. The one I wear most is old, stretched out, frayed, and even has some holes—but it’s just the right weight for around the house. One bonus: since it’s already so well-worn, I don’t care if I spill on it or snag it on something. But I’d be embarrassed to wear it out or even have anyone but family see me in it at home. I’d love to find something the same weight to replace it with.

5. Our beautiful fall weather and color continue, though we’ve had early morning freezes a couple of times.

Some of you who have participated in FFF for a long time may remember Debbie in Canada (Edmonton) who used to blog as Purple Grandma, though her blog doesn’t appear to be online any more. Her family and ours attended the same church for a decade or more after we were first married. She and her husband planted Foundation Baptist Church in Calgary, and I believe they began Foundation Baptist College, or were, at least, instrumental in starting it. Debbie has been battling cancer recently. It started in her pancreas but has metastasized to other parts of her body. She keeps having bad reactions to different combinations of chemo—fever, severe digestive issues, low white blood count. I think she has ended up in the hospital after almost every treatment. Her doctor discontinued chemo, saying it was killing her. Their only other option appears to be various herbal treatments and supplements. Debbie is ready to go to heaven, but she’d love to stay around for a while longer with her family. If you’re a praying person, I’m sure she would appreciate your prayers. If you’d like to follow her journey, you can find updates at Mama Talbert’s Cancer Fight on Facebook.

Friday’s Fave Fives

Susanne at Living to Tell the Story invites us to stop for a moment and appreciate the good things of the past week. It’s been a nice, quiet week here with lovely fall weather.

1. A reversible bedspread. I’ve had the same bedspread for a few years and have kept the same side up all this time. But on a whim, last time I changed sheets, I decided to turn the bedspread over to its other side. It’s like getting a whole new covering. πŸ™‚

2. Drop Stop. There’s something about the angle of my car seats that makes my phone slide out of my pocket. Then the phone falls between the seat and console, and I usually have to get out of the car and dig around to get my phone back. I had seen Drop Stop advertised, which fits between the seat and console to keep things from sliding down there. I thought that sounded like a neat idea, but didn’t get it until I saw it on a Woot daily sale. When I saw it was just a stuffed tube of fabric, I thought, “Why didn’t I think of that? I could have made something like this.” But it’s made out of a fabric that fits with car upholstery and doesn’t look “homemade,” so I guess that’s something. πŸ™‚

3. Central heating. I know I say this at least once a year—but it’s good to be thankful for the same thing more than once, right? πŸ™‚ We turned our heat on for the first time this fall when the outdoor temperatures dropped into the 30s. It was so lovely to just push a button and not have to gather wood or take out ashes.

4. Fall decorations. I didn’t take pictures–the decorations are the same as in past years. πŸ™‚ But I enjoy changing things up a bit with the seasons.

5. Pickup order working out. I was running errands, the last of which was picking up a grocery order from WalMart. Then I got a text that my order was delayed. I tried to call the store to see when they thought it might be ready, but the number wasn’t working. Then I tried their 800 general customer service number. Long story short, I was able to pick up the order while I was out instead of coming back home and having to go out again that evening or the next day, which was a big help.

How was your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

Just like that, we’re a week into October already. I appreciate Susanne at Living to Tell the Story for hosting this opportunity to pause and appreciate the good things of the week before they slip out of memory.

1. Lunch with Melanie. Since Melanie moved here from FL, we’ve tried to meet for lunch once every few weeks. I enjoy our fellowship, and lunch at Red Lobster with gift cards from my family is great, too.

2. Scheduling medical visits is NOT a favorite thing. I tend to put it off, and then when I do try to call, I spend time on hold or leave a message as we play multiple rounds of phone tag. I finally got a dentist’s appointment changed to a more suitable time and got my yearly physical scheduled. Nice to have that finally done, but it will be nicer still when both appointments are over.

3. A church dinner. We’ve been visiting a new church which has started having dinners on Wednesday evenings to facilitate people being able to make it to Wednesday night activities (prayer meeting, Bible study, youth group, choir). We had come to Bible study a few times but hadn’t made it to a dinner yet due to Jim’s work schedule. We finally went to dinner there this week. It’s a good way to get to know people–and not having to make a rushed dinner at home before dashing out was nice, too.

4. Naps. I don’t know why, but I have been wiped out this week. Maybe due to the fun but busy weeks before. But the nice thing is that this week a lighter schedule has allowed me to doze off in my desk chair or on the couch as needed.

5. Fall color is spreading in earnest. I love when autumn color comes on gradually, and each excursion outside yields new things to see. Some years the color hangs around for a while—other years, a good storm knocks the leaves off early. I’m hoping the color will stay as long as possible.

Bonus: The cooler nights are really helping me sleep well.

How was your first week of October?

Friday’s Fave Five

Susanne at Living to Tell the Story hosts this opportunity to pause and appreciate the good things of the week. It really helps to pause and reflect a bit before the week floats away into memory.

It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of September. It was a busy month for us–maybe that’s why it seemed to go by even more quickly than usual.

Here are some of the blessings of the last week.

1. Extended family visit. My step-father, two sisters, and nephew from TX flew in to spend a few days. We all drove to SC to spend a day with two more sisters, my niece, and great niece there. It was the first time in three years all five sisters were together. We only wished my brother and his wife in CT could’ve come and made it a full family reunion. I had hoped the TX family might see a bit of fall color here, because they don’t have that in TX. There wasn’t a lot here yet, but we saw a bit driving through the mountains to SC. The weather was great the whole week except for a bit of rain and fog on the way back from SC. I wrote more about the visit in my end-of-month post yesterday and shared some pictures. We had such a good time and miss them already.

2. A completed extended to-do list. I tend to want to do a full-scale spring cleaning before anyone comes to visit, but I’ve learned the hard way that, 1) I never get everything done I want to, and 2) I wear myself out if I try. I made a master cleaning list I keep in the computer and added to it this time. For the first time ever, I got every “cleaning for company” item crossed off! That doesn’t mean everything that could have been done was–there’s always more to do. But the most essential things were. A very few items got crossed off without being completed since I determined they weren’t needed. But that’s a legitimate way to deal with them, right? πŸ™‚

3. Pumpkins Spice Mini Donuts. I’m not big into pumpkin-flavored everything, but I really like getting these once a year.

4. Great American Cookie Company. I’m not at the mall often (probably a good thing), but I love this company’s peanut butter cookies when I’m there. I got some both at a mall in SC and then here in TN this week.

5. Cooler weather seems to have settled in for the season, and I love it.

How are things in your neck of the woods?