Monday, July 6, 2020

Philosophy 101 from My Backyard

Finding Wisdom As I Walk

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10



Hello everyone!  I took a walk around my yard today and snapped a few photos.  As always, there was some wisdom to be found as I walked and thought. So, I'm calling this post "Philosophy 101 from My Backyard."  Of course philosophy is not the same thing as wisdom but, I think you get the idea. So, grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy the walk. 


The ferns I planted on our front porch way back in May are finally starting to look full and pretty and green. I almost pulled them out of the planters a few weeks ago to toss them over the hill and wished I had not bought them. They had brown fronds in them that stuck straight out like a bad haircut and they looked weak and sickly. I had to do a bit of pruning on those brown fronds. Just goes to show that lots of water, the summer sun and the passage of time is what they needed to grow and flourish. Oh, and a little pruning of the fronds that weren't supposed to be there. Kind of like humans when God needs to do some pruning of our hearts to get rid of the fronds that don't belong there so that we, too, can grow and flourish. 


And these ferns didn't even need to be bought and planted, they just appeared!  Now, if I had planted these in that spot I bet they wouldn't have grown at all. Sometimes, when we least expect it, new growth happens in places we would never have dreamed. As always, God is the very best gardener! 


There isn't much left from the trunk of our huge "sacred tree" that fell over from the force of hurricane winds that blew through the mountains several years ago. We were told by a Cherokee tree climber that the tree was sacred because it had been hit by lightening and survived. When we bought this house we admired this giant tree with a big scar down the side. It stood as a sentinel in the woods close to our house for many, many years. Now, its jagged remains stand tall reminding us that life can leave a few scars and even blow us over. But, if our foundation is strong and secure, we can still stand tall and the jagged edges become part of our story and our beauty. 


These weeds haven't been found yet by the Mr.  He pulls the heads off dandelions when he finds them so they don't propagate all over our yard. I kind of like dandelions, though. When I was a little girl I would look for dandelions that had gone to seed. I would pluck them, make a wish and blow the seed head as hard as I could, hoping that all the seeds would blow away in one breath. Because, of course, that would mean I would get my wish! Wouldn't it be wonderful if blowing dandelion seeds was all it took to make wishes come true? But, then again, perhaps we would make lots of silly and frivolous wishes that wouldn't end up being good wishes at all. Like, if we wished for a million dollars and it happened. But, then we still wanted more. And so we wished again. And yet, we still weren't happy. 

There was a story that I used to read to my kids when I was teaching called, "The Fisherman and His Wife."  It was a fable about a poor fisherman who catches a magic fish. The magic fish talks the fisherman into letting him go, promising him anything in return for his freedom. The fisherman doesn't ask for anything and just lets the fish go and then goes home and tells his wife what happened. The wife is angry that her husband didn't ask for anything in return for sparing the fish's life and demands he go back to ask the fish for a better house. The poor husband does his wife's bidding and the fish is happy to give them a better cottage. But, you guessed it, the wife continues to be unhappy and keeps asking her poor husband to go back time and time again, asking the fish for more and more riches until....she finally goes too far and asks to rule the sun and the moon, at which time the fish sends the husband back to his wife to find her living in their original hovel. So, the moral is to be happy with what you have. 

And, I'm kind of happy to have these yellow dandelions blooming among the weeds right now. I think they are pretty. And don't tell the Mr. but I might....perhaps....pick one once they go to seed and then close my eyes and make a wish and then blow with all my might. Because....well.....you never know. 


This is my new rock bench next to the stream that runs through our property. The Mr. asked me if I would like a bench made from some of the stones that were unearthed during our driveway building and I said yes. I think it will be my thinking bench. I can sit there and let my thoughts tumble like water over the rocks. I am prone to getting lost in my thoughts and imagination. This can be either good or bad depending on what direction my thoughts take. I love it when my thinking leads to creative, imaginative ideas. Or when I focus on happy thoughts, memories and plans for the future. I don't like it when I find myself dwelling on the negative, however. Because when that happens it can be hard to shake that black cloud hanging over my head. So, it behooves me to remember the following scripture and what it means for my thinking.

As someone thinks within himself, so he is.
-Proverbs 23:7
So, I want to control the thoughts flowing through my mind and not let them head to the negative. Easier said than done sometimes. Especially in today's world. So to help with this, I am reminded of the following familiar scripture:
Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
-Philippians 4:8
This scripture will be a good one to focus on while sitting on my thinking bench. How about you?  What wisdom did you glean from today's post. Or...from a walk in your own backyard?
Until Next Time, Debbie

Thursday, July 2, 2020

4th of July Table Decor and Red White and Blue Outfits Replayed

Getting Creative With Table Decor


Hello Everyone!  I can't even believe that the 4th of July is this coming Saturday! It just seems like June has flown by in the blink of an eye! Anyway, I decided to look for a way to create a little 4th of July display on the foyer table and found that I had to get really creative and think outside the box on this one! 


I think I mentioned that I had done a major clean out of many items I had used previously on the foyer table. And truth be told, I didn't have much in the way of 4th of July decor to start with anyway. So, I began looking around at what I do own and how it might come together for a display. For instance, this candle holder/bottle  is filled with a patriotic looking bandana that I had in a drawer. It fills the space nicely with a little red, white and blue!


And then on top, I started the display with the red, white and blue balls on two picks that I had kept from previous years. I then decided to add the mesh candle holder that has white stars around it and then came up with an idea of finding red, white and blue books to stack. The white "R" topped it all off. 


This is how it looks all together.  And you may notice that the foyer table is not in the foyer. It is in the dining room. The Mr. is putting a few finishing touches on the stairs still and there really isn't room for the table in the foyer when he has all his tools laying everywhere.  So, for now, the foyer table is living in the dining room. 

Just an aside about the red book I'm displaying. It is "Betsy's Wedding" by Maude Hart Lovelace and is one of my all-time favorite books EVER!  This book is actually the culmination of a series of children's books about three friends named Betsy, Tacey and Tib who lived in Milwaukee in the late 1890's to early 1900's. They had all sorts of adventures together and "Betsy's Wedding" is the final book of the series in which Betsy marries her longtime love, Joe Willard, and they settle into a life of being writers before Joe is sent off to World War I. Just like the Maisie Dobbs books that I enjoy, there is historical accuracy in this book that describes what life was like for young adults in the pre-World War I years. I have read and re-read this book many times over the years and although it doesn't hold the interest it once did when I was younger, it still is a book I would never get rid of! It's funny because I found this book long ago at a book sale of discarded books. It had been discarded from a school library and was old looking then. The pages are yellowed and some pages have stains on them. To me, that only adds to the "patina" of a well loved book. While I may be reading some on my phone now, books on a device will never replace the feeling of holding a book in my own hands and turning page after page with delight!

And...a few red, white and blue pics to close out the post!
On replay  from past posts...







And Finally....


I'm wishing each of you dear readers a happy, healthy and peaceful day....and for my USA readers, may you enjoy a happy 4th of July this Saturday!

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Few Thoughts About Blogging As My Fifth Blog Anniversary Draws Near

Musing About Blogging


Hello everyone!  So, as I write this, we are still a few days away from the beginning of July which happens to be the birthday month for my blogging! I feel that it is a good time to muse a bit about blogging, my particular blog and what I feel about being a blogger at this time in our world. Today will most likely be more words than pictures, but I'll try to add some photos in for interest as this post evolves. 



This is the very first picture I posted five years ago on July 30, 2015. It was a poorly taken selfie but I thought I had done something amazing to take a picture and post it to my shiny new blog! For those who are newer readers, my blog at that time was called, "Debbie This And That" and then, as now, used the Blogger platform. Along the way I changed my blog name to "Debbie Styles Life."


Over the years, I've gotten better at taking my own photos both of myself....


and other objects. And I have to admit that I am proud of the progress I have made with photography...at least most of the time. Working on better photography skills continues to be a personal goal. 

Blogging is about writing, though, although photography is often an important part of blogging and the writing is what I enjoy most. I guess I hoped at the beginning that my writing would lead to the great American novel and would be so engrossing that my posts would go viral and inspire the world. Hmmmm...that didn't happen! Now, as then, I continue to be a fairly small-time blogger. I earn every follower one person at a time and am thrilled when someone new decides to follow, subscribe and/or leave a comment! I also am blessed to have a group of very faithful readers and commenters. Sometimes the comments are left on the blog itself, sometimes on Facebook and sometimes just a personal email to me. I treasure them all and am grateful that in this world of blogging there are people who actually want to read something I write! And, to comment on it, even better!

When I first began blogging, I really didn't have a clear cut plan in mind for my blog. In many ways, I still don't. I like watching my blog evolve with each passing year. I knew, back in 2015, that there were many blogs that I personally enjoyed reading and I kind of wanted to "be like them" when I first started. The blogs I enjoyed most were the ones that offered a little bit of everything in their posts-daily life vignettes, pictures of travel and, of course, fashion. I was able to get to know about these bloggers and their daily lives as I eagerly read their posts. Some posts came daily, some came two or three times per week. Because I was so new to reading blogs, there were plenty of archived posts for me to catch up on during the "off days" when new posts were not offered. So, as I began blogging with "Debbie This And That" I decided to not set a particular posting schedule other than to try to post 3-5 times per week and to share a little bit of everything in my posts. Soon, I was sharing about daily life, where we traveled, foods we ate, books I was reading, writing devotionals that shared my faith and even a bit of fashion. Hence, the "this and that" part of my blog! It was fun and I felt a bit giddy being one of the crowd that had their own blog!

Blogs, like people, tend to evolve over the years and many of the blogs I started out reading I only follow sporadically or not at all now because they either no longer exist or have changed into a blog that doesn't fit my interests that much anymore. That is the nature of blogging, I guess, and I'm sure that folks have gravitated either toward or away from my blog for the same reasons. One blog does not fit all! I'm still not committed to particular days for my blog posts, but try to blog at least once per week now, a big change from the 3-5 times per week I started out doing. Each week can be a bit different though, depending on what is happening or what I have to share.

I find that I struggle, at times, to have something to say that I feel is worthwhile to put out there for people to read or look at. Especially now, with the world so inundated with the Global Pandemic of Covid-19 and its repercussions, our country split with many divisions over politics, racial justice, civil unrest and more. All of this has weighed heavily on my heart in recent months and has definitely affected my blogging. Like everyone else, I miss life the way it was before Covid and long for the time to come when there are treatments that work to cure it and a vaccine available that prevents catching it. I am well aware that the world has been here before. Pandemics have happened for others in the world before me. Life during these times wasn't easy for those people either. But knowing that doesn't make life in today's times easier, especially when the cold hand of fear grabs hold of me when I think of someone I love getting sick and/or dying. Or even of myself getting sick and/or dying. It's scary for everyone. Nobody knows how they will react to Covid until they get it. 

That doesn't mean the Mr. and I have barred the doors and aren't going anywhere. But, we do so carefully taking wipes, wearing masks, doing our best to social distance and washing our hands. But even so, I find life a bit exhausting right now and certainly not what I envisioned our time of retirement would be. The trips we planned, visits with family, going out to eat at different restaurants, lunch with a dear friend, a fun shopping outing...all of these are on hold right now as caution is practiced. And, yes, we can meet in a small group with masks and chairs six feet apart but it. is. not. the. same. We can go to a store or restaurant if we dare but it. is. not. the. same.

As a Christian, I know that ultimately God is in control. I have not forgotten that. I have written many devotions on this blog and will continue to do so. But, God doesn't promise that we will never have hard times or suffering. God does promise that He will be with us and walk with us through whatever life brings. Knowing this does not mean that I will act foolishly and refuse to wear a mask or willingly put myself in harms way. It means that I will do all I can to protect myself, my loved ones and others all the while trusting that God will take care of me, and them, no matter what.  The following words from Deuteronomy 31:6 really resonate with me:

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you." 

But, being the human that I am, I can still get down and allow worry and concern and disappointment to get to me. And, it affects my blogging. I did not expect that the fifth year of my blogging would find me wondering if what I have to write about or say is still interesting, relevant and worthy of print. I guess at this point in my blogging, I'm focusing a bit more on what I want to say to people than on just putting myself out there 'cause it's fun. It may be that future posts will have a bit more of exactly what Debbie thinks about things. I don't plan on turning all political on the blog, but I do plan to speak my mind when I want to a bit more. 

One of the things about my blog that is most important to me, and has been from the start, is that this blog is all mine. I get to make the decisions about posts and pictures. I get to design the way the blog looks from the width of the pages to the type of print to the size of the photos and the header at the top. I love that this blog is my creation and I can change it at will. Over the last five years I have changed blog names, owned my own domain with each name, and spent countless hours creating what I wanted the blog to look like. I have been told my blog looked "outdated" and that I should change from Blogger to Wordpress. I have been told that I should buy a design for my blog from a company that designs blogs to look "modern." Each time, I have resisted doing this because I did not want to lose my own creative decisions. I also did not like the way some of these new designs looked. I read more "modern" blogs that I have a hard time navigating because I can't find the post I am looking for on the blog. I find my current Blogger template design to be quite easy to work on and navigate. So, as a blogger, I have to be bold at times and take criticism with a grain of salt. I like being in control both in life and on my blog and I'm happy with things as they are with the way my blog looks and works. 



So, here I sit five years into blogging looking to the future when hopefully life will resume more normalcy. My plans for the blog are simply this; to continue blogging, being myself and providing for others what I hope are interesting, informative, fun and creative posts about a variety of topics and events in my daily life. I hope to offer a sliver of respite for other people from their daily worries and concerns and to offer hope that God, through Christ, is always present with us and for us. We never walk alone. I hope to continue to improve with both my photography and my writing. I hope to continue to style life and to share life with my readers in a way that offers smiles, inspiration and joy. 

I'll be celebrating five years of blogging throughout the month of July so this won't be the only post that talks about my blog anniversary. I am prone to introspection, though, and starting out the month with a few thoughts about five years of blogging is a good way to start the celebration! 

I hope you will leave a comment about this post, other posts you have read, things you enjoy reading about on the blog or something you would like to read about or...anything else you would like to share! 

In the meantime, I'll continue to provide posts about...


Styling Life
with heart, soul, creativity 
and....oh yeah
A Little Bit Of This And That!


gif from Canva.com
Bye, Bye, Until Next Time,
Debbie

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Styling During The Sahara Dust Storm

How To Style For Dusting


Hi Everyone!  The Mr. and I have been noticing how odd our sky looks here today and we finally figured out that we are experiencing the Sahara Dust Cloud which has moved into our area. So, today, I am sharing my "dusting" outfit, pun intended! 


I actually felt like dressing up a bit more than jeans and a tee shirt today. I had re-discovered this pretty blue cold shoulder top in a drawer this week. Don't you love it when you have forgotten a piece of clothing and then re-discover it?! Who needs to shop when that happens. It's like getting a new article of clothing all over again! I just love the flowers on this top with the stripes. And I thought about pairing the top with my Erika pants and I'm so glad I did. A perfect combination. 


I know I've worn this top on the blog before but not with these pants and shoes. I like that I can wear a bra with this top because the straps are so wide. And the whole top is comfy and light. I've been trying to keep track of the outfits I am actually wearing this summer so I can weed out what I'm not wearing. Of course, sometimes, a season or two will go by and then I will re-discover a piece of clothing so I don't want to go too crazy with my weeding! 


Speaking of re-discoveries, how do you like this lipstick color? I found it a few days ago while digging around in my makeup kit and had totally forgotten I owned this color. I have been wearing it since and like the color. It has just enough pink to say "summer" in my opinion.


And this is a bit of an aside, but I wanted to share a bit of creativity today. I had been holding onto a Dollar Store canvas wondering what to do with it and I decided the other day to create a sign using some ribbon around the edges and some stickers that I had also kept. 


The colors look nice on the living room side table so that is where my little sign is living right now. I have cleaned out a lot of items that I was using to decorate my foyer table but I was starting to think the other day of doing a 4th of July foyer table so stay tuned to see if that will happen! If I do one, you know I will share it here on the blog. 


So that's about it. A little dust in our atmosphere, a lot of dust in my house (but who wants to hear about that?!) and a re-discovered top that pairs well with my blue capris and red striped  shoes. That's the news at my house. What's the news at yours? Hope you will tell me in the comments!

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Match Made In Seven: We're Allowed Out Out

We're Allowed Out Out But I'm Still In In!!


Hi everyone! It's time for another monthly edition of Match Made in Seven! You will remember that we are an international fashion/lifestyle blogger's group that features a theme each month that we take turns choosing. The theme might be a song, music, movie, color or something else. This month's theme is chosen by Anna and is: "We're Allowed Out Out." Be sure to check out all of the other blogger's posts and how they interpret this theme. Their links will appear at the end of my post. 


Well, I must tell you that this is the first time I have had to post for our monthly theme at the very last minute! I think it is because I really don't feel like I am getting out much at all at this point. As I said in the title above, folks may be allowed out out but I'm still in, in!! I wasn't the first in line at the beauty shop and I haven't been shopping inside stores except to get groceries or items from the drugstore. So, my "out out" pictures today will reflect clothes that I would wear to do those things. Hopefully, a cure/vaccine will be quick in coming so I will feel better about getting more "out out" very soon!


For me, a comfortable day out will include a soft tee style top with that little something extra to make the top stand out. Here, you see the fringe and pearl stars at the top of the tee. 


And here, the pretty hem adds a little extra zip also. Tees like this can be dressed up or down according to where you might be going. This material is extra soft and comfy too!


Since I'm only going out to the grocery or drugstore I only need to wear jeans and some sandals. Most days tennis shoes work too. These poor jeans are distressing themselves around the knee area. I don't have to pay money for expensive distressed jeans. Just wait long enough and all jeans become distressed!


So, that's my "out out" outfit! I hope you are well and safe wherever you are. Be sure to stop by the other ladies' blogs to see their interpretations of this month's theme. 



Until Next Time,
Debbie 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Around The House

New Foyer Bannister and Driveway


Hello Everyone!  Today's post could be named, "How We Spent Our Time During The Covid-19 Quarentine."  We have been trying to use our time wisely by accomplishing many tasks around our house that we have had on the "to do" list for a very long time. So, since the Mr. likes to keep busy anyway and we couldn't go out and do other things, he decided to work on creating our new bannister for our foyer. And, I know it sounds like I'm bragging, but I must say he did an incredible job and they look wonderful!! He bought the newels unfinished and then finished them before installing. Then he added the iron balusters to the handrails and steps. Do you remember the picture I showed you from the earlier post that showed what we were trying to emulate for our steps? If you've forgotten, here's a reminder.





I think the Mr. did an excellent job!  It was a lot of work along the way.


We decided that the new bannister looked so good that the foyer needed to be painted!  So everything was covered up for the painting. It always makes me nervous to see him on such a high ladder!


Luckily, he could use an extension wand for parts of the painting. The Mr. is quite particular about how he paints so, as usual, I was the gopher helping with drips, covering items and keeping a watch over him! I also am an excellent taper! I also devised the paper towel roll around the metal chandelier chain. What would he do without me to assist?!  Seriously, though, we are both quite pleased with the results in the foyer. 


Now, I shared in an earlier post the massive job we were having done on our front driveway. Adding a brand new culvert to replace the broken and clogged old one that was over 40 years old. 


But, what I didn't share is that we are also having a gravel driveway installed to the back of our house!  And what a job it has been.  Although the Mr. and I are excited we are also a bit dismayed by how it has changed the footprint of our backyard. Our poor bears are a bit confused as their playground does not look the same!  We are saddened that a couple of trees had to be removed. The Mr. had planned that trees would remain untouched but after talking with our paver, we realized they needed to be removed. 


This guy was hired to take down the trees. I called him Rambo because I could not believe how he put on the equipment, grabbed his chain saw and shinnied up the tree like it was nothing!


He had a huge knife attached to his leg to whack off smaller tree limbs but mostly he used the chainsaw and would cut right down to where he was hanging on the tree. When the sections fell it was quite loud!  So, it's a done deal for the trees and we are sorry for that. 


We did discover, however, that we have a plentiful supply of huge and beautiful rocks on our land and we were able to use our own native stone for the retaining wall and for other uses. The huge slab you see in this pic we chose as a "sitting rock" on the back of the driveway. I'll show you a video of this stone being moved into place. 


It's hard to believe that the slab weighs as much as a car!  I know we will enjoy using it. 


So, at this point, this is what the driveway looks like.  It isn't quite finished as the pavers need to add the finishing stone.  We still have lots of green woods but the look of the backyard has definitely changed.  We just felt that this driveway would be a good idea for us as we age and we can use it for other folks who can't climb stairs easily now.  Plus, bringing groceries into the house just got a whole lot easier! We are going to work on landscaping around the driveway area and the torn up hillside will grow back with greenery. Change is always hard. 


Garden asked to help me with this post.  She says that she can be an "Ace Cat Reporter" just like her Great Aunt Gracie was! 

So, that's the news around our house!  What's going on around your house?  Hope you'll leave a comment and let me know.  I love hearing from you!  And, if you would like to read more about our house renovation, check out my previous series, "The House That Love Built" to read all about our 17 year renovation of our home. 

Until Next Time,
Debbie

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Blue Stripes, Red Stripes and Yes A White Dress

How To Wear Stripes and White Dresses

Ok, people, my online shopping willpower has gone out the window, what can I say? I broke down after looking at so many pretty white dresses online and ordered the one you see above. No, it isn't the sleeveless long white dress I showed you in a previous post. This one is knee length and tiered with bell sleeves. It's rather full and I had to return the original size and go for the next size down. If you ever order Vasna dresses I can tell you they run big. I've already washed this one so it's mine for keeps!


I decided to belt the dress here and it looks pretty good with a belt. But, in all honesty, I think I'll be wearing this dress loose most of the time. So, where are the stripes I mentioned in the title you ask? Well, let's take a closer look at the shoes. 


Yep, I ordered these striped red shoes too! I always worry ordering shoes online because I feel like I need to try them on but these shoes by Abella fit me perfectly right out of the box. I love the elastic cross pieces on top which hold the shoe on my foot without any flipping off from the back. These shoes are really cushioned on the foot bed and are rounded for plenty of toe room. And, they are sooo cute, I think! I'm wearing them in this pic with my thrifted blue striped pants and I like the blue and red stripes together. A very summery look that I enjoy wearing!


Can you tell I cut my own hair?  Well, I did.  It was getting too long and stringy looking and even though the salons are opening up here I don't feel ready to go there yet. So, I took scissors in hand one evening. 


This is before.....


And this is after. I don't think I ruined myself too badly. I always figure it's hair and it will grow back!  Now, in other news....


We are having major driveway work done right now after waiting for a long time for the work to get started! I had mentioned previously that heavy Spring rains had flooded out our driveway and did lots of damage. So, we are having a new culvert installed (a much larger one) and repairs to the driveway made. We are also adding on to our driveway. It's quite a job with lots of big machinery and noise! 


The Mr. is keeping a close eye on everything. He doesn't want trees or our huge rhododendrons destroyed. You can see the workers in this pic. They are doing a really good and careful job. 


It's been quite awhile since my last post. I don't know about you but I'm just kind of overwhelmed by everything in the world right now and it has been hard to blog. I'm going to close this post with a scripture and the Serenity Prayer, which is always uplifting to me. I hope that wherever you are right now you are well, safe and have serenity! 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace,
taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it,
trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to his will--
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him forever. 

Until Next Time,
Debbie