Friday’s Fave Five and Writer’s Conference News

On Fridays I like to pause for a few moments with Susanne and friends
to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

Usually for Friday’s Fave Five, I make a list of at least five things I am thankful for from the previous week. I’m going to do something a little different this week, though.

One of my faves is that I attended an online writer’s conference this week! The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference was supposed to be in May, but was postponed to November due to the pandemic. Since the virus still had not abated, they could not take as many people due to social-distancing recommendations. And some couldn’t come anyway due to travel restrictions. So they had a virtual option this year.

The conference started Sunday night. Then Monday through Wednesday, we had two online morning sessions, two afternoon sessions (75 minutes each), and one each evening (an hour and a half). Thursday morning we had two, then the conference ended at lunchtime.

One other favorite is that I had a manuscript critique via Zoom through the conference with a woman who owns a publishing house with her husband. I appreciated her expertise. I thought she was very balanced: she pointed out some mistakes and practices I need to work on but also what she thought were good features.

I got tons of good information and inspiration from the sessions this week. But as I write this on Thursday afternoon, my brain is fried! And since this was the primary focus of the week, I don’t have much else to share—unless I think of something between now and in the morning.

Just a few more thoughts about the conference: one thing you miss by not being there personally is the networking with others. A couple of ladies set up Zoom meetings for about ten people at a time, apparently with great success. I didn’t join in because they often took place when I was spending time with the family. Maybe, if they do it this way again, I’ll try to get in on at least one or two.

Also, when you go to a conference, it’s exhausting, but it’s also a break from routine. At home, you still have your everyday responsibilities. I didn’t do much besides meals, dishes, and laundry. But I wished I had planned some super-easy meals for this week. We did have frozen pizza one night, so that helped (and that’s my third fave!)

I am inspired but tired! So I’ll leave my faves there for now.

Hope you’ve had a good week as well!

Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to pause for a few moments with Susanne and friends
to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

Here we are at another Friday already! And here are my five favorites from the week:

1. A Zoom call. A friend and I had our own Zoom meeting so we could catch up by seeing as well as hearing each other.

2. Haircuts. My dear daughter-in-law cut my and my husband’s hair for us again—second time for me since the pandemic started, third time for my husband. We so appreciate this! And then she fed us lunch afterward.

3. My husband’s head for business and finances. We recently refinanced our mortgage to take advantage of lower interest rates and to borrow a little extra to take care of paying off our solar panels, one of our sons’ school loans, etc. As my husband and the loan officer were discussing the papers we were signing, I was thankful he knew what questions to ask and what it all meant—not just for closing, but for the whole process.

4. An excellent customer service experience after a couple of bad ones. My husband had to deal with a situation with a company that involved several hours on the phone over two days, being on hold and transferred multiple times, then going to the store for three hours—and the issue is still not resolved. By contrast, we went to another business this week to take care of a few things. The two people we dealt with were knowledgeable, efficient, and friendly. So refreshing.

5. Attending a funeral virtually. The pastor of the church where I was saved as a teenager passed away at the age of 91. He was a kind, faithful, godly man, and his preaching and teaching gave me a good foundation for the rest of my Christian life. He conducted the funerals of both my parents even though I had moved away and no one from the family attended church there any more. Though sad for the loss, I was thankful the service was live-streamed and recorded so those of us who couldn’t be there could participate. It was a blessing to hear of his history, character, and personality (most of it I knew, but some was new to me). It was also fun to see people I knew from my time in Houston who participated in the service. “The memory of the just is blessed” (Proverbs 10:7a).

Bonus: We don’t have any particular rites or traditions to observe Veteran’s Day, but I like to take a moment to be thankful for the veterans in my own family and all those who are serving and have served. It’s amazing that anyone would sacrifice so much for others, and it’s much appreciated.

Happy Friday! What is something good from your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to pause for a few moments with Susanne and friends
to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

The first week of November has flown by. I want to hold it in hand just a few moments before it vanishes completely by remembering the best parts.

1. Dressing up. Because my son and daughter-in-law couldn’t take my grandson trick-or-treating, they had a family get-together Halloween night and asked us all to dress up. Even though I tried to think of something with minimal work, it was fun.

Mittu potrays a tired stay-at-home mom with her coffee (love the shirt!). Jason is the Brawny paper towel guy. Jim is a wolf. I’m a fairy-tale Grandma. Jesse is Cyclops, an X-men character. Timothy is Marshmellow. (They don’t endorse all that the singer Marshmellow puts out, but they let Timothy watch a couple of his videos).

And here’s an encounter between Grandma and the Big Bad Wolf. πŸ™‚

We enjoyed spaghetti and a wonderful chocolate swirl cake, and then played some games.

2. An extra hour. I sure hate to give that hour up in the spring for Daylight Savings Time, but I love getting it back in the fall.

3. The election. I was hoping and praying the results would be more definitive. At the time of this writing, we still don’t have a final result. But I am thankful we have the opportunity to make a choice.

4. At-home sleep study. That’s been on the horizon for six weeks now, and it was nice to get it over with. It will be 7-10 days before I hear the results.

5. Winning a book. I received notice that I won a book in a contest I had forgotten about entering! A nice surprise.

We’re having a cold snap this week, making us finally turn the central heat on. I think I say this every year, but I am so thankful we can heat the whole house with the push of a button. We had a fireplace in our last house that we used just for ambience sometimes or when the power was out. It was cozy, but a lot of work to keep adding wood and clearing ashes. I’m glad we don’t have to do that to keep warm.

The cold has made it seem like we had a short autumn and skipped ahead to winter. But it’s supposed to be a bit warmer next week. We hadn’t been out and around to see the fall color this year, but I drank in what was left on my way back from the sleep center.

And that wraps up this week! How was your first week of November?

Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to pause for a few moments with Susanne and friends
to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

It’s hard to believe we’re on the last Friday of October. Soon holiday season will be here! Here’s what I am thankful for this week:

1. Pumpkin decorating. We had our annual pumpkin carving/decorating on Saturday. Always a fun time!

2. Caramel corn and apple cider, two treats I always make for this occasion! Making the caramel corn is labor-intensive, but the recipe makes a lot and is so good.

3. Productive days. I got a lot done around the house this week, plus some work on the blog, an article, and my book. Usually either physical work or computer time gets done, so it was nice to make strides in both.

4. A successful new recipe. I’m trying to find leaner main dishes. I tend to have a lot of starches in mine, with a fair amount of meat and a few vegetables. So I am trying to find healthier ratios. These Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breasts were so good.

5. Intersections. It’s amazing how often the different sources I read all contain the same message on the same day. The Bible passage, devotional book, commentary, and a couple of blog posts I read this morning all spoke of waiting on the Lord.

Do you have any blessings to share from this last week in October? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to pause for a few moments with Susanne and friends
to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

Somehow this week has gone fast. They all do these days, but this one got to the end much sooner than expected! Here are some highlights from it.

1. Our ladies’ Bible study met in a home rather than outside due to rain, but had a Zoom option for those who didn’t feel comfortable meeting inside. I was the only one to Zoom in, but it all went well.

2. Tutorials. I mentioned last week frustration with the new WordPress editor. After neatly pulling my hair out trying to do Monday’s post, I decided I needed to dedicate some time to figuring this out. I looked up a few WP articles as well as some tutorials from others on YouTube. And I told my brain that learning new things was good for it. πŸ™‚ I got a handle on the basics, which is probably all I will need (I told my family it was like someone created a high end camera with ten lenses and scores of bells and whistles when most people just want to point and shoot). I especially appreciated finding out here that if I revert to a “classic block,” the beloved toolbar that I had been missing will show up.

3. Family time and games. My son and daughter-in-law invited us over Sunday evening for grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, chocolate cake, and games. One we tried was Pictionary Air, which integrates with an iPad. I don’t draw well on paper, so I figured drawing in the air would be even worse. But I found I was decent at it! It was a fun night.

4. Early voting. I appreciate the privilege we have to vote in our country. There was a long line, extending out the building and around the corner. But it moved pretty quickly, and everyone was masked and distanced. The time we waited outside, it was a nice temperature with a pleasant breeze. We had fill-in-the-box ballots rather than the usual electronic screen. But everything went efficiently and everyone was pleasant.

5. Takeout pizza. We got done voting right around the time I usually start dinner, and Little Caesar’s was on the way home. πŸ™‚ And I had loaded and run the dishwasher in the afternoon, so no cooking or kitchen clean-up that night—always a fave.

I hope your week went well!

Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to pause for a few moments with Susanne and friends
to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

The first full week of October was cool and lovely.

One NOT-favorite thing this week is WordPress’s new block editor. Is anyone else frustrated with that? I didn’t even like the Classic Editor—I liked the old editor before that. It had a toolbar across the top and a sidebar with everything I needed. Now I’m having to look up how to do the simplest tasks. It’s maddening when a simple process is done away and replaced with a complicated one. They’re allowing us to still use the Classic one, at least for a while—but sometimes the post will switch from classic to block when I am right in the middle of it. Grr!

Well, on to more pleasant things:

1. Cleaning off my desk. Probably no one else would be able to tell a difference. But I can. πŸ™‚ Plus, in cleaning out my “in box,” I found three gift cards that I had forgotten about!

2. A church picnic. We seem to be having these a little more often than the pre-pandemic potlucks we used to have. We have them outside on a covered pavilion with everyone distancing and bringing their own food so as to avoid cross contamination. We did share cupcakes this time, though, for the pastor’s son’s birthday! It was nice to catch up with folks, especially a few who are not on Facebook much.

3. Cleaning catch-up. I’ve been keeping up with dishes and laundry and occasional sweeping, but not much else since my hospitalization a few of weeks ago. I can’t say I enjoy housework, but I enjoy the results. πŸ™‚ I got caught up on some routine housework tasks plus did a partial cleanout of my closet, including throwing away a few things that I should have last spring.

4. A meal from my daughter-in-law. I know I mention this often. But it’s a favorite every time. πŸ™‚ This day in particular, I had my annual physical then went to the grocery store. My husband usually helps bring in and put away groceries, but he was away that day and Jesse was working–he can only take breaks on schedule. So by the time I got done, I was a little frazzled. Then I got a text from Mittu offering to bring over rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and banana chocolate chip cake. Though I always appreciate it when she brings over a meal, it was especially welcome that day. Then she and Jason cleaned the meat off the bones and let us have the leftover meat, enough for 2-3 more meals.

5. Fixing an iPhone and iPad glitch. I have two email accounts and hadn’t been able to access one on my devices. I could read email but not send or forward it. I’ve just been handling mail for that account on my computer. But this week I uninstalled and reinstalled that email account on both devices, and it seems to work ok now.

And that wraps up my week. How was yours?

Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to pause for a few moments with Susanne and friends
to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

Here are some of the bright spots of the last week:

1. Apple Crisp. Sunday night we Face Timed with my oldest son (always a favorite though I don’t list it every time). He mentioned picking apples with friends. As we discussed different things to do with apples, I began to crave Apple Crisp. I had an appointment the next day and stopped at the store afterward for a few apples, among other things. And then made Apple Crisp. πŸ™‚ I love this recipe because it doesn’t use oatmeal for the toppingβ€”oatmeal never tastes quite done to me in toppings like that. This tasted so good, and the house smelled wonderful while it was baking.

Apple Crisp

4 c. sliced, pared tart apples
2/3-3/4 c. brown sugar (packed)
1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 c. butter or margarine, softened

Heat oven to 375. Grease square 8×8 pan. Place apples slices in pan. Mix remaining ingredients thoroughly. Sprinkle over apples. Bake 30 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm, with light cream or ice cream if desired.

I used the lower amount of brown sugar and Golden Delicious apples. I may try a tarter variety next time. I think I could use a gluten-free flour with it for our gluten-intolerant family members.

2. A walk with my husband. I know some of you are avid walkers and hikers. I usually exercise via my stationary bike, but Jim headed out for a walk Sunday afternoon, and I joined him. I can tell walking does things for me that stationary biking doesn’t. Plus I enjoyed the company and conversation. πŸ™‚

3. Crunchy leaves. There was a smattering of leaves on the sidewalk as we walked, and walking over crunchy leaves is just one of life’s little pleasures for me. πŸ™‚

4. Follow-up appointments from my hospital visit with afib.I saw both my primary care doctor and cardiologist. The latter doesn’t always explain things to my satisfaction, but if I can formulate questions ahead of time and have them ready, he’s happy to answer them. I felt I was able to ask and receive answers to everything I needed. We’re adjusting medications for now in hopes that will help. Another surgery to “patch” the problem area in my heart is an option, but not one I want to hurry toward without trying medicine first.

5. October! Turning the calendar page to a new month is a another little pleasure, and October is one of my favorite months.

What’s something good from your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to pause for a few moments with Susanne and friends
to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

I was so sorry to miss FFF last week due to being unexpectedly hospitalized for a couple of days. I’m doing better nowβ€”waiting on a couple of follow-up appointments to see what, if any, next steps should be taken.

But I have two weeks of favorites to catch up on! These are not in chronological order: most of the events happened before the hospital stay.

1. Jim being with me in the hospital. I didn’t think he’d be allowed due to COVID restrictions, but I am so glad he was.

2. An in-person Ladies Bible Study. We met sort-of outdoors in our pastor’s wife’s garage so we could spread out and still allow for air circulation. I sat just outside the garage door so as to maximize fresh air flow. I actually enjoyed the Zoom meetings, but it was good to see each other in person again.

3. Grandparent’s Day September 13. My daughter-in-law made Sunday lunch and Timothy drew pictures for us. πŸ™‚ I was gifted with beautiful roses and Godiva chocolates, and Jim with coffee beans.

4. Jesse’s birthday.

He always asks for stroganoff for dinner and lemon cake for dessert. I’m usually more of a chocolate person, but I do look forward to this cake every year! Since he’s looking to move out soon, I’m trying not to think about this being his last birthday while living at home….

5. Cool weather. The fall-like temperatures some of you mentioned finally arrived here! I love the cool crispness of fall after the heat of summer and before the chill of winter. A few leaves are starting to change. I changed my front wreath, but will add some other fall decor this weekend when someone can get boxes down from the attic for me.

Bonuses. My daughter-in-law brought shepherd’s pie over for dinner the day I got out of the hospital. We had stuff in the freezer for easy meals the rest of the weekend. Then she brought chili and cornbread over last night. I took advantage of the cool weather to cut back our rose bushes and some ivy in planters that was trying to take over. I’m not a gardener by any means, but I enjoy working outside every now and then.

And that wraps it up for me. I hope your week went well!

Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to press the pause button for a few moments with Susanne and friends to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

I should probably switch over to a fall FFF graphic. But I think I’ll give it another week or two. πŸ™‚

1. Lunch at my son and daughter-in-law’s. They had us over Saturday for some steak and fried rice stir-fry. Yum!

2. A church picnic. We’re still Zooming in for the service, but the picnics are out in the open air on a pavilion, so we feel safer attending those. Everyone brings their own lunch and lawn chairs, so we’re not all breathing over a table full of food. Some families were traveling for the long weekend, so we had a small group. But it was fun. The pastor proposed playing charades, acting out Biblical characters or scenes. At first I was reluctant and just wanted to talk, especially since we hadn’t had a chance to talk with folks there in a while. But it turned out to be really fun.

3. Labor Day weekend. Labor Day is an odd holiday that no one really celebrates per se, but it’s a nice end-of-summer get-together and cookout opportunity. We had my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson over for my husband’s grilled burgers, and my d-i-l made potato salad, home fries, and apple cake. All I did was shuck and boil corn on the cob and heat a can of baked beans.

4. A clean shiny fence. My husband and youngest son labored on Labor Day pressure-washing our fence. It’s so much brighter now!

5. Reading a funny book to Timothy. I’ve mentioned that he’s usually too engaged with other activities to want to sit down and read much. I had bought a book that I used to read to my own sons and loved, If Everybody Did. I don’t know what happened to the original. He was reluctant, but finally agreed to sit with Grandma while she read. It was so fun to hear him giggling more with each page.

One example: this is what would happen if everybody stepped on Daddy’s feet. πŸ™‚

If Everybody Did by Jo Ann StoverI love how the typography also reflects the actions.

Remembrance

This day in 2001 was one of the worst in American history. Many promised we’d “Never Forget” those who died and those who ran into instead of away from trouble to help. While I hate the events of 9/11, I miss the camaraderie and acknowledgement of dependence on and need of God on 9/12. I hope it doesn’t take another national tragedy to get back to that place. Our current national troubles seem to be pulling us apart instead of drawing us together.

Friday’s Fave Five

On Fridays I like to press the pause button for a few moments with Susanne and friends to reflect on some of the blessings of the week.

1. A quiet week after a busy one.

2. A portable phone charger. My phone battery needs recharging in the middle of the day. Our chargers are in hard-to-unplug places behind end tables and nightstands, so I couldn’t easily transfer them to my desk or the kitchen. I’ve had to leave my phone in another room to recharge during the middle of the day. I asked for and received a portable phone battery charger to use at my desk. Works great!.

3. Pink charging cables. My husband knows my pink-loving heart. β™₯

4. Encouragement from a more experienced writer.

5. Sleep, for whatever reason, is sometimes elusive in “middle age.” But this week I’ve fallen asleep early most nights and gotten back to sleep pretty easily after waking up during the night.

What’s something good from our week?