Sunday, February 7, 2021

THE BEACH IN THE OFF-SEASON...

 We are starting a new trend in our empty-nesterhood...finding a warm place to land for a couple of weeks in the middle of winter!  We usually drive and listen to audio books along the way - one of our favorite things to do!  It's usually a working vacation for The Hubs.  He can work remotely so we find a nice place with a view and some warm temps in January. I take projects, a book to read, and cook most of our meals so we can afford to stay longer.  :) 

This year we were headed to Orange Beach, Alabama like we did in 2018, but then got a message that our condo owner had decided not to open the building until February.  So we got our refund and scrambled to find something else. We ended up finding another place about 30 minutes east in Pensacola Beach, Florida.  Unbeknownst to us, this was where Hurricane Sally hit last fall!  But it turned out fine.  The main bridge was out, so we had to drive 22 miles further, but other than that, the beaches were pristine.  There were some tree debris around and some roofs under repair.  90% of the businesses were open.  We had a great couple of weeks.

This year we got a place with a view.  It was amazing to wake up and see the gulf from our bed.  I enjoyed my hot tea each morning on the balcony with the sunrise and the sounds of the waves crashing.  We watched for dolphins on the water's edge.   A couple of mornings, I needed a coat, but most of the time it was a pleasant 50 degrees.  Here's the highlights:

Pensacola Beach outside our condo
Fort Pickens - an interesting place to explore

Biking Pensacola Beach - the UFO house

Pensacola Farmer's Market


We found some pretty shells on our daily walks!



Saw a few jelly fish

The whitest sand and the clearest water!
Brunch at Flounder's enclosed patio!  We loved their food, decor and service, and ended up eating there twice.  
This is me in the booth at Flounder's the first visit.  We laughed so much when they led us to this giant booth.  It reminded us of our first date at Molly Murphy's restaurant, where they did the same exact thing!

See ya again, Pensacola Beach!  We love you!








Saturday, January 9, 2021

3 NATIONAL PARKS IN 3 DAYS...

 In the middle of Covid last fall, some friends of ours asked us on a whim if we'd be interested in driving to New Mexico and doing some hiking with them.  They are on a quest to check all the National Parks off their bucket list and there are 3 in close proximity to each other along New Mexico and the Texas line:  Carlsbad Caverns NP, White Sands NP, and Guadalupe Mountains NP.  We rented an Air BnB and after we all got negative tests for Covid, we were off!  Carlsbad was our base.

White Sands NP, New Mexico



We drove several hours from Carlsbad to get here, but stopped along the way at a couple of interesting places:  the Cider factory and the Pistachio farm on the way back.  I enjoyed seeing White Sands because my whole life I knew my parents had honeymooned here! We hiked, ate lunch and tried to sled down the dunes!  

Carlsbad Caverns was pretty amazing.  I don't think I've every been in a cave room that HUGE!  There were no formal tours, but we could walk through on our own.  It was an amazing walk!


The last day we went to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, just over the border in Texas.  This was my favorite day!  We did an easy hike, McKittrick Canyon, in the morning, and saw lots of beautiful fall color.  We were done about 2:00 p.m. and I pushed for our group to try the Devil's Hall hike.  Little did we know what we were getting into... it proved to be longer than we thought and lots of boulder hopping in a shallow creek bed.  A lot less people on this trail, which I enjoyed. It was definitely worth it!







                We loved our quick trip and had a good time getting to know these friends better!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

WOMEN'S MINISTRY SOCIALLY DISTANCED EVENT...

After 6 months off blogging, I'm getting a little caught up!  I don't know if I'll return on a regular basis but wanted to document a few things that I've been doing.


Our Women's Ministry at church came to a halt with Covid, except for some small group Bible studies.  I worked harder on our social media accounts, posting three times a week to try to help keep our ladies connected in some way.  Then late in the summer I had an idea - with lots of people embracing some old ways - neighborhood walks, spending more time outside, why not try something we did back in the 80's?  Secret Sisters was something we did at church, with those participating getting information about another member at church.  We were encouraged to write notes and give small gifts, dropping them off at a designated spot in the church building.  It was a fun thing to do and I vividly remember gaining a new appreciation for the older woman whose name I'd been given.  


So with the help of the Fellowship Committee, we devised a plan to launch a fall Secret Sisters program.  It ran from September to December, and we hosted a Drive-thru Reveal party outside the front doors of the church building.  The trick was we needed to get the "reveal"cards and gifts a few days before the event from the participants.  We didn't want anyone to drive through, thinking they would get something and know who their Secret Sister was, and not have something.  So that was a job with 103 ladies dropping off things a week before - but it worked! We got all but 2 and I had called their recipients to let them know their Secret Sister had illness in the family.  

Me and my helpers! We had Christmas music playing and our smiles on!
Greeting our ladies driving through
           Each lady who came received a thank you note so they could send one to their Secret Sis.
We also gave everyone a Pocket Pie, made by a woman in our church who started a baking business.
It was pretty chilly that day, but it was SO GOOD to get to do something for the ladies in our congregation!  My hope and prayer is that everyone that participated has 2 new friendship connections - one between them and their Secret Sister they gave to and one that gave to them.  :)

Monday, June 1, 2020

COMBATING FEAR...


FEAR is something I would have said a month ago was not a problem for me.

Funny how things can change so quickly.

Recent events in our  home life, my friend's lives, and our world have brought back FEAR:  FEAR of lightning, FEAR of my husband dying, FEAR of accidents, FEAR of illness.  In fact, the storms we've had recently have had me on edge.  I talked to a friend about it whose house was struck by lightning years ago told me she cried every time there was a storm for a long time.  I tell myself these fears are irrational; lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place (myth).  Everyone in this world will face death themselves or of someone dear to them.  But when it's a friend close to your age it reminds you again how close it is to you also.  It's going to happen and even Christians admit they'd like to stay with their loved ones a bit longer than they might be given.  Accidents happen and we can only do so much to prevent them.  Life is just filled with opportunities for FEAR.

I started a feature for our women's ministry on social media early this year called #myfavoriteverse.  Different women, different ages and experiences tell me about their favorite verse; what it is and why it's meaningful, and I post one weekly.  Just the other day I received one from a schoolteacher friend.  she said her favorite verse was too long, but she said she had another one:



Her comment about this verse was that whenever she was feeling anxious, she would repeat this verse over and over again, out loud.  She is claiming her God-given spirit of power over FEAR as a Christ follower and baptized believer.

I loved this and needed this!  Meditating on the word, which is something I've been working harder at the last couple of years, might mean saying it OUT LOUD.  Combating FEAR with scripture is the way to go.  Jesus did it in the desert when confronted by Satan several times.  You never know when you might be caught off guard I guess and your security will be shaken up.  We must have security in the right things to be able to stand.






Tuesday, May 5, 2020

EXPLORING THE SALT PLAINS OF OKLAHOMA...

COVID -19 has taken it's toll on us and we're itching to get out!  We decided to take advantage of a sunny spring day and go check out the Salt Flats of northern Oklahoma.  It is located about 2 hours north of OKC, but we had never been!  The Hubs loves a nice day in his convertible, so off we went.



We passed several of these fields of yellow flowers and I just had to make a stop for a picture!  


The Great Salt Plains State Park is near Jet, Oklahoma.  We drove around and saw the lake, ate our picnic lunch and then drove through the GSP Wildlife Refuge.  It is relatively small in comparison with the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, but nice.  It is a haven for birds and marsh animals.  There is also a huge spillway by the lake that you can walk along.  


We drove through the small town of Jet and saw a masked man!  About 6 miles west of Jet was the "salt flats" where you can dig for selenite crystals.


We got to the crystal digging spot in the afternoon.  It was warm and breezy.  It looks like a dried up lake, with the salt sitting on top.  


 This area was designated as a digging spot, so there were a lot of people in this area!  We walked out to the very end to have plenty of room and feel uncrowded.


We found crystals immediately.  The selenites are near the surface and are very fragile.  Our challenge was to dig them up carefully so they wouldn't break.  The Hubs wore himself out digging and finding crystals!  We took only the largest ones home with us.


 These crystals with the hourglass of sand in them can only be found here!  Pretty amazing!  This is the perfect day for those with elementary aged kids that enjoy digging.  We actually enjoyed it a lot, ourselves!

On the way home we stopped in Enid, Oklahoma and got hamburgers at a drive thru restaurant.  It was nice just to get away from the house and do something different for a change!  





Monday, April 27, 2020

A DESSERT FROM OUR TRAVELS...

BANOFFEE Pie!  Banoffee = bananas + toffee, and it's so delicious!



I decided I had to learn to make this after having it on two different trips to Ireland.  Thinking it was an Irish thing, I looked it up and guess what?  It's British!  But served in Ireland a lot, I guess!

Here's the recipe I used from the internet, and I will say there's only one kind of complicated step when making this:  getting the sweetened condensed milk in the can to turn to caramel, or toffee, as the Brits say.  I had looked at several recipes to get the condensed milk to turn to caramel.  I first tried the water bath method, then put it in the refrigerator to cool and use the next day.  When I opened the can, it was still yellow, and not tan, like it was supposed to be.  So I followed this recipe and baked it in the oven in a pie dish with a water bath.

After that, you basically assemble this no-cook pie.  Put the caramel into the pie crust, then sliced bananas, then the whipped cream and garnish.  Voila!  A fresh tasting, yummy, messy, wonderful dessert.


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

SURREAL...


Well, here we are in the midst of Covid-19.  The. Whole. Country.  For me, reality is just hitting.  My life hasn't changed much and I was (and maybe still am) enjoying the introvert life.  Yes, I'm disappointed we can't meet with our church family.  I hate it that people are sick and dying without a cure.  My niece's wedding is up in the air after all the planning.  My daughter-in-law and niece missing their graduation ceremonies.  And, an Alaskan cruise planned for the end of May is out, after being planned for more than a year.  I feel pretty helpless, but I know prayer is my defense. 

It's surreal.  Never would I have thought in our intelligent, advanced, technical world would we have come to a halt like we have.  It's a lesson in humility.  It's a lesson to learn who's in control of our world.  It's a lesson that drives us to our knees and to trust more in God. New vocabulary and concepts are everyday discussions now:  social distancing, stay safe, mask wearing, work from home.  Whatever the final outcome of all of this, I love it that people are coming together for a common cause.  We've been divided and all with our own special interests for so long.  

I love this sign that I saw on my walk through the neighborhood.  We CAN do hard things!  We are adaptable - a big lesson from the first college class I ever took! I consider what we'll be telling our grandchildren about this time 20, 30, and 40 years from now.  Will we sound like our grandparents talking about Dust Bowl or Depression days?  For myself, I'm divided between the want to do something amazing with this gift of time and just relaxing and enjoying the time of rest.  

How about you?