If your days are anything like mine, they get full pretty fast. Rushing from here to there, worrying about tons of different deadlines for different projects all at the same time. The mind is racing and somedays it’s really hard to get focused – or worse – to sleep at night! Well, we have found a most excellent way to draw our minds back into brain-dead status – TOAD RACING!

Now, this is not your fancy frog racing adventure. No race track, no fast moving frogs, and only 2 rules…1) Who ever makes it to the finish line is the winner, 2) NO CHASING THE TOAD! This last includes tossing a stick or stone to try to direct or redirect it in any way. It has to be all on the toads’ own will power.

toad 1  toad 2

This may sound stupid to some of you but picture this: It is a quiet cool evening. You have had a long hard day of doing too many mental and physical chores. You find yourself sitting in a comfortable glider rocker chair next to a nice glowing fire pit. The stars are our, the crickets are chirping, you can hear the howl of the coyotes in the distance – but you just cannot relax!

Frustrated, you go grab a cool drink, sink back into your chair and then happened to glance around at your environment. You see a toad hopping about. It seems to be on a mission – but – no – wait, it turned around bolting in a new direction. Your screaming brain just came to a screeching halt – “what is this critter looking for?” You now start to see other toads of all different sizes and shapes, popping out from all different places. You lean over to the buddy sitting next to you and say, “I bet that one can get to that stick first!” Your sister/friend/significant other looks at you, selects their own specimen smiles and says “you’re on!”

You shuffle your feet to try to make it turn another direction, but you are not allowed to get up and chase it in any way, shape or fashion – it must move totally by its own will. It stumbles over a small tree branch, travels about a foot toward your goal and you start to get excited – oops, wait it turned to face you now. Pretty sure this toad knows that I have pegged it as the winner so it just decides to squat right down and stare at me – jerk! The other fellow’s toad is now racing, has caught up with mine and actually rammed right into it.  Now they are both just sitting there like bumps on a log (ok, now you know where that phrase came from – you’re welcome!).

You and your buddy begin laughing uncontrollably – can’t help it, the whole idea is goofy! But then, that’s the point…your mind is now totally blank except for how to get this toad to move, your body has become physically relaxed except for the hysterics pouring out of you. Ahhh, job well done!

The unplanned plan worked perfectly! Totally by chance of a perfect night, perfect conditions and stopping to notice the surroundings – relaxation was found!

A couple of months have now passed since that glorious night, and we found ourselves sitting on the east porch contemplating Saturdays chores that we had accomplished. There was still a large amount to be done, so the “list” began to bounce back and forth between us. Do this first, do this by the first deep frost, finish processing the veggies, and my sister slipped in the house to get a couple more drinks. That’s when I spotted them!


(Look close and you can see the 2 at the siding edge trying to come over to beat her, however she is also traveling toward them?)

Not toads this time, but ladybugs! Dozens of them crawling all over the porch railings, ceiling, along the house wall, everywhere. They were moving so fast I thought that they must have a plan? As one moved close to me I set out a finger – she climbed right on it – now this is silly! How will she get where she is going while perched on my finger? But, again, moving non-stop she reached the edge of my coat cuff, bumped it and immediately flew off and reconnected with the house again. These were not sluggish toad, these little puppies cruised! When my sister came back out with fresh drinks, I pointed out the lady bugs and stated; “I believe that one of mine (the one spinning in circles) will reach the end of the porch ceiling first!” She started giggling and said “You’re on!”

So who won the race? No one, everyone, who really cares? The whole point of this is not who wins the race, or how they won the race, but the fun we found along the way. Yes the ladybug is faster, but she is just as dizzy as the toads were.



So – it’s been about 18 months since our grandson/fire loss. There are still some hard days, but I am exceedingly tickled to announce that my sister is baking again! THIS IS A MILESTONE!! It is her passion and, in the terms of therapy for our family, a sign that things are getting better. This has made me come to realize what the meaning of life is…passion!

Now don’t get your nickers in a twist – I consider things like “caring for your fellow man/woman” to be a given! There are just some things in life that should not need a reason for being. It should be a subconscious action (I know it is not for many of us, but I like to believe we are trying?!) to look out for one another. The meaning of life though, should be an individual thing. It should be your reason for getting up in the morning and wanting to greet another day. To me that is –passion!

For the longest time, after the loss, I have been worried about my sister. Granted, we have had a lot on our plates that needed to be accomplished first; and putting our lives back together has been (still is) quite a task. It took me several months to find my passions again (you can check out my Pinterest page – GardenGlows  or my Etsy page.), but I am very glad to say they came back. Hers’ did not appear until just this last weekend.

DSC_0016  (one of my fav passions in life – knitting!)

I didn’t want to push her, since she was trying to handle the losses in her own way; however, there comes a time when a little shove can go a long way – as long as no one can tell you are doing it!?! I have to admit, I have the same basic problem – don’t rush me – and – leave me alone, I will do it when I am ready. Then there is a time when someone has to step in and let you know you are overdue for a bit of happiness.

I have been dropping hints for months! I bought her 2 fantastic magazine subscriptions on cooking. A couple of outstanding huge cook books (only a fraction of the ones she lost in the fire). Tons of cooking supplies/appliances/stuffs to help nudge her a bit. All this only seemed to be put on a shelf. Then, totally on her own, this last weekend she found her passion again!

Corned beef and potatoes, pecan bars (all from scratch even sat and cracked the nuts so they were fresh), homemade tomato soup from our own tomatoes (yep – prepped, processed, cooked and seasoned – yummy!), and one of my all-time favorites – homemade, from scratch, Italian Bread!

DSC_0018 DSC_0019

Now there are 2 things in life that automatically say home to me: 1) The smell of fresh baking/baked bread and 2) The smell of fresh baking/baked desserts – of any kind!  When you walk into someone’s home and they are in the middle of cooking something, it immediately brings on a warm, welcoming feeling. It makes me remember get-togethers with friends and family, where we three girls could be found helping dad cook everything up days ahead of time (yes – DAD – not mom, she was a terrible cook – melted a metal pot of water on the stove trying to make noodles? True story – LOL).

I hope that everyone reading this has a passion in their life and, more than that, I hope you are following it.  May it bring you excitement, comfort, joy, and a major reason to get up every morning filled with the desire to share it with the world!


Attack of the killer Monarch’s – eeekkkk! OK, so they don’t really attack, they don’t bite or tear your flesh off (maybe a zombie butterfly would? Hmm??). They don’t really hurt anything in their butterfly form. But looking at our blue mist bush in the corner of the yard gave us a moment to pause and ponder…where did they all come from?

We have always had Monarch’s passing through, but this year the hoard is awesome! They were clinging to our elm trees when first spotted. We just thought it was nice of them to see us as a rest area. By the next morning we had this:DSC_0015 This looks like just one single beauty – but look again:


The bush was invaded by butterflies! Monarchs first caught my eye, then when I followed them, I found the bush covered in butterflies. I don’t know what all the names are, there is a smaller version of the monarch (in color) but with grey fringed edges. A smaller yellow with bits of green, and I also recognized the cabbage moth (often mistook as a butterfly) floating around the bush. The honey bees were also going crazy sucking the nectar off the flowers. My belief is that this must be the best time of year for the blue mist to give off sweetness. That would explain the insect coverage.

I stood and stared at it for several minutes, then I thought, “I don’t care why there are all here, just glad they paid us a visit!”


We have seen farmers spending decades on getting rid of weeds in their fields. Unfortunately a lot of those “weed” are food sources or habitats for a number of other creatures. The milkweed pod plant is a favorite of the Monarch but, until this year, we didn’t have many around. Now we have bunches! Even our county road crew was nice enough to leave them alone in our ditches. There are a number of things that love the milkweed pod plant. It also has the added benefit of creating a great dried little cup type form that works great on a number of crafting projects (makes great Spock-type ears for our pumpkins – hee hee). This year (if I can collect enough) I want to try a wreath out of them.

I don’t know where they all came from this year. I don’t know where they are going to (Mexico I think?), but I am very thrilled that they used us as a pit-stop for several days. I hope that we gave them enough rest and food for energy to get them through the balance of their journey. Can’t wait to see what surprise we get next year! Monster Monarchs Munch Mexico?? Enjoy!



Halloween, Christmas, babies and animals playing together, Murphy’s Law phrases (or the kind)…yep, can’t help myself – I have to smile at these types of things. Any baby animals doing anything usually does it too.

When things are at their worst, what do you find to pull you out of it? I have found many quick and simple things to do or see that help me change a feeling or attitude. My grandson and I worked on making a mess – oh wait, I mean making papier Mache’ pumpkins (ok – it was a mess too!) – WHAT FUN!! We (mostly him) had glue all over us, bits of sticky newspaper stuck on us, and it ended up on places I didn’t know of until I showered (turns very white in the shower). My sister got pics of us so I could see the mess!

nathan making pumpkins 2015

I am getting a ton of helpful emails from my fav DIY and crafting sites to help inspire me into amazing things. Unfortunately, with all of my replacement parts I am only able to do some of the fun ideas – but I also have help! My sister is a Godsend when it comes to me and my ideas! She is very helpful and supportive (even if I have to beat it into her – not!! LOL) with most of the ideas I come up with.

If any of you watch any TV, you may be a DIY/Homemade/Crafty fanatic like me? I can’t get enough of the stuff and this year is already starting out with a bang! Home and Family TV on the Hallmark Channel has started doing up their home for the Halloween holiday. They built a type of “crypt” (they called it that, looked like a mini castle tunnel to me?) and I thought, why not take just the front part of it and rig it to our new porch? They used simple enough supplies, just may work. I mentioned this to my sister and she shot me the evil eye look. That’s usually passed to me when she thinks I’m out of my gourd – oh well!

So, my task is to gather a list of materials together (oh, oh, another trip to Home Depot – dun, dun, daaa!) get stuff cut and painted, then see if I can coax her up on the ladder to complete my idea.

See now, I have not even started this project yet, but I got myself to smile just thinking about it! Hee hee – hope you did too!


hard to be a woman (a friend sent this to me in an email – true!)

I got a bit side-tracked on my last little blogs, but the fall always makes me happy. This is part of what I want to entreat on you in this blog – be happy. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s very true from my experience.

I blame it on my parents, again a cliché, but this is also true. My parents both grew up in the depression. They did not have easy “silver spoon” type lives, but had to work hard for everything they had. To me, my parents were complete opposites that meshed perfectly. Dads’ side of the family was large but distant. Growing up we knew his brothers and sisters, his parents, but that was all. Now moms’ side of the family is total opposite. I can tell you about great aunts and uncles on her side. Little did I know growing up how special this really was?

The best thing they both shared was a great sense of humor, but mom always seemed a bit more confident about it. Our family motto is “if we are not picking on/at you, we don’t like you” and this also was very true. My dad gave me a great couple of Knick-names to prove it 1) Rimp (for those of you that remember the Jetsons cartoon – when George shrunk, Astro ran around saying “rook at the rimp” – since I was the smallest/shortest one in the family – I got the name) 2) Dumb Shit – now don’t get excited on this, it was not a bad thing or ever said in meanness…but instead was an endearing form of affection. Since I was also raised to “keep trying” it meant a lot of failures. And, on occasion, the comment from dad was “Ya dumb shit, what did you do that for?” – Again not harsh, but usually delivered with a muffled laughter. Even now, when our family gets together and starts going into our stories, the phrase is used abundantly amongst us. Always with a smile, a tongue-in-cheek, and occasionally outright belly laughter.

So, how did I get through 2014? I believe it was with that same attitude that dad carried. When bad things happen I am great at the moment of impact. I can hold up in the worst of situations to take care of business. This is just what I do and did. I handled the funeral basics, the fire investigators, the police, the contractors and construction crews. But they were all handled carrying that same dumb shitism (yep, that is now a word!).

When August came around I was spinning with things that still had to be done – including my 2nd major surgery and no use of my right arm (and yes, I am right handed – D.S. again dad!). That was when I realized that if one more person told me “It’s gotta get better from here right?” I was going to punch them square in the mouth! I was sure that every time someone used that phrase, something else bad happened, because it usually did.

Then one nice cooler spring day earlier this year, I stopped.

I went out, by myself, in our front yard gazeebo.

Sat down in my glider rocker, iced tea in hand, and stared at the new house and found myself thinking of my mom.

The one constant phrase on her side of the family was/is “THIS TOO SHALL PASS”. It was her answer for every bad thing I could ever remember happening. This too shall pass – pretty much said it all, and I smiled. Then I remembered my phrase: Everything Happens For A Reason – you may not ever find out what that reason is, but there is one for everything. Again I smiled.

My 4 yr. old grandson was gone. Fifty plus years of mementos of our lives were gone. The house and all our possessions were gone. Half my left index finger was gone. My right shoulder was gone along with both knees and part of my left shoulder and left foot. So what was the reason for all of it? Still, today, I have no clue.

What I do know is that life went on and will continue to do so. I do know that laughing through the hard times makes them a lot easier to deal with. I also know that I have a very strong family, and a fantastic bunch of friends, and an outstanding rural community to live in. I know, to the core of my soul, that without all of them (and a large dose of a warped sense of humor) I could not have made it through. Now the only sad part is that I do not have any of those awesome pictures of them all to share here with all of you (and we had some goodies)!

So I leave you with one last phrase from my mother: “SMILE, it makes people wonder what you are up to!”