Tuesday, January 30, 2018


For a few years now I have been wanting to get out of town in January.  It's such a bleak month and my husband has said multiple times that he could really work from anywhere with Wifi.  So I held him to that and several months ago found a condo on the beach in Alabama to stay in for two weeks.
Orange Beach, Alabama is the home of beaches, condos, seafood, brunch, bread pudding, backcountry trails, and lots of friendly people. We had been to Fairhope for a Spring Break trip a few years ago, but never as far as Orange Beach.  We knew it was drivable – about 13 hours – and we could take whatever we wanted, so we did!  We took our bikes and some books and projects, along with our swimsuits, with high hopes! 

We learned that there really are such things as “snowbirds!”  Almost everywhere we went we were the youngest couple around!  In the information we got at the welcome center, we saw there are snowbird groups from specified states that meet and do activities together.  We were BABY SNOWBIRDS just testing this thing out.  

What did I do for two weeks?  I read, walked on the beach, meditated, biked, tried new recipes, replaced the zipper in my robe, completed a craft project, binge-watched a Netflix series with The Hubs, learned new makeup techniques on YouTube... Some of it may sound silly but these are things I rarely have time for when I'm at home.  The beach was cold, but wonderful!  I walked on it barefooted every day except one, when it dipped to 20 degrees – quite cold for them! Twenty degrees is cold, but back home it was only 6, so we still felt fortunate.  Most days the temperature was in the 50-60's.  There were trails nearby for walkers and bikers that were the best maintained ones I’d ever seen.  We biked several different ones, mostly with the end result being the local Starbucks.   

Living in our tiny condo (392 sq. ft.) was fun for a short amount of time and I cooked most of our meals.  It was really the first time we had ever gotten away without some kind of tourist plan with sights to see and history to learn.  I think most of our married life we spent our vacations with our children in mind, educating them and showing them the wonders of the world.  So to go somewhere WITHOUT AN AGENDA was really different and relaxing! 


Monday, January 22, 2018


When we went to Europe in November, it was to visit our missionaries and also attend a special retreat they go to once a year, the Euro-American Family Retreat.  I hadn't thought much about the retreat at all (much more about the 5 days of free travel between weekends) just that we would be there, and the lessons probably wouldn't apply to me...

Was I ever wrong!  The retreat was so meaningful.  I'm sure the effect is multiplied for the missionaries that serve in Europe and see the others this one time a year.  The fellowship was great, conversations, introductions, hugs and love all around.  We knew several of the missionary couples from our college days.  The singing was awesome.  There were a lot of good singers in the group!  The lessons were excellent. They centered on how to help passive Christians become active.  I was very much intrigued and applied them to the particular ministries we work with..

 Everyone really wanted to be there, unlike some activities within the general church, sometimes.  The breakouts were good.  In-between all of the sessions, different groups were dining at meal times in the adorable town of Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber.  Those who wanted to participate, which was probably about 50 of us, sang in a special concert in a 700 year old church!

We stayed late to practice with the English speaking singing group.  We were lead by a very capable woman from France.  We sang several songs we knew and one we didn't, that we fell in love with, "Behold Our God!" Hopefully we will be singing it in our congregations before too long.  It was a great bonding experience for those who participated as we sang in this freezing cold church (no heat) with amazing acoustics.

We left on the third day of the five day retreat and I was so sad to not get to hear all the lessons.  The next time I think "THAT DOESN'T APPLY TO ME," I will pinch myself! :)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


We are starting off the New Year with a bang!  Our youngest is engaged!  It's been a whirlwind since he met Miss Right.  They go to the same school but didn't really know each other until last summer, when they were both in New Reign, a singing group, and traveled together with the group recruiting for the college.

He's been planning ever since then and popped the question Saturday night.  It was at our home and her parents flew in from Portland.  Another brother came in from Denver and a sister from Las Vegas.  She has another brother and sis-in-law that live here.  So lots of love and travel went into this event.

He popped the question at our house, because there's a construction project they've already been working on in progress in our driveway... a tiny house!  Kinda crazy, especially since the walls have just gotten up over Christmas break, but they knew they both wanted to live in a tiny house and are both really hard workers and decided to make it happen.  With the help of some family and friends, he decorated it inside and asked her "come see something." With brother being the photographer, he proposed while we were all hiding inside our house to surprise her.  It turned out great!

Our son wanted me to make a fajita dinner and I'm so glad he suggested it because we got to really talk and relax with most everyone - not like being at a restaurant.  HERE is my favorite recipe that I found a couple of years ago and love.  I made it along with all the trimmings, and also some special cookies made with cookie cutters that look like them!  It was a fun night.  

The cookie cutters were a Christmas gift our son gave to them, so I had to try to use them!  You send in a picture and they are made out of plastic.  I think they really look like them!  No lie, they weren't easy to use, but they turned out!

Mom helped me!

A home-made gift from a roommate!

Decorations in the tiny house

The parents and the happy couple!

Friday, January 5, 2018


Finishing up Europe trip posts!

Our final stop was in Germany, in a small town that seemed right out of the Beauty and the Beast movie!  Our main reason for going here was the Euro-American  Family Retreat, which is a yearly event for missionaries in Europe.  That deserves its own post, when I can get around to it!

Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber is a small walled town that dates back to Roman times.  Ob Der Tauber means "on the river." It's important to know that because there is another city in Germany named Rothenburg!  The town has a rich history which we learned about on the Night Watchman Tour.  The reason it is so well preserved was that after being routed by various groups in the 1600s, the town was so small and poor it could not really rebuild.  So it remained as it was, untouched until 1873 when artists discovered Rothenburg's beauty and classic German architecture!  It was protected during the World Wars from destruction.  Today it is a tourist attraction, a quaint German town with bright colored houses and old churches, along with the Rathaus clock tower.  It's now known as a stop on the "Romantic road" and a great place to see an authentic German town, eat and shop.  There's also a bridge nearby that was filmed in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

It's way off the beaten path, in fact, we had to take several small local trains to get there.  We stayed at a neat place with a lot of charm.  While there we walked on top of the wall, toured St. James Church, climbed the Rathaus clock tower, gawked at everything in the Kathe Wolfarte Christmas stores, toured the Medieval Crime Museum, ate schneeballen and took about million photos of the cute town.

Hard to keep it brief, but here's some favorite photos:

Steps up to the walkway on the wall - it is covered too, so nice to walk along.

This was in our hotel dining room - kinda funny, kinda creepy!

St. James church

Town Square getting ready for Christmas!

Inside and outside the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas stores - yes, there was more than one! There were all kinds of ornaments I had never seen before - got a neat one!  There were artists set up in several areas carving wood and painting ornaments.  It was like Disney-Christmas!  

Giant advent calendar
The Rathaus tower was only open for weekends so we lucked out!  It was a crazy climb - only 20 people are allowed up there at once because it's so small.  Here I am squeezing through the last climb to reach the top.  It was freezing cold and windy, but we got these great views of the town!


The Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum was surprisingly interesting.  This necklace was a punishment for those who fell asleep in church!  The sinner had to wear it outside the church building at the next church service!!!  It's large and heavy.  

Last morning there - one more walk on the wall.

Every building - so cute!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


This year I wanted to do something with maps.  For one reason, we have several that are leftover from vacations that I felt I would never use again!  I also wanted to do something with our state shape because I love the t-shirts and other things I have seen like this.  So here's what I came up with:

 State blocks - really easy when you have leftover wood pieces.  I sanded the edges, used spray adhesive to glue the state shape onto the block, then added a little heart sticker to indicate the area where our relatives live.  
 I also made these Santa ornaments from some seed pods in our yard - painted them, and added a jute loop with hot glue.  I collected the pods in late summer.
These pencil cups are for those in our family who don't live in OK - just made from cans, spray adhesived the map strips, then also did a 2 inch strip inside the can.  

I didn't get a good picture of the homemade gifts from the extended family - we didn't have a big get-together this year but I will tell you the other gifts were Home-made spaghetti sauce in a jar, a little tree made with musical note-paper, and a garland.

Now for the Grand Finale!
My kids (and their spouses) made me a beautiful gift!  They recorded a few songs on a CD!  My daughter-in-law did the artwork - a watercolor snowflake!  Love hearing their beautiful voices whenever I want.