Friday, May 17, 2019

Finding Simplicity; An Update

Update On My Word Of The Year

Simplicity At The Lake
For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. (2 Corinthians 1:12)

Hello Everyone! Believe it or not, we are only a few weeks away from being six months into 2019, so I thought I would do an update on my "Word of the Year." I don't recall doing an update on my one perfect word before so this may be a first. I also apologize for not having lots of pictures for you to look at in this post. This will mostly be words. But, we're talking about simplicity, right? So, less pics and more words kind of goes with it! 

As you know, if you were reading my blog back in January, my word for this year is "Simplicity."  It is a word that called to me as I entered into my third year of retirement and my fourth year of blogging. I think choosing this word to focus on was quite timely. I have found that going into retirement from teaching kind of threw me into a bit of shock. Not that I didn't want to retire, because I did. But, after identifying with the teaching world for so many years, I was left trying to figure out how I would "identify" now. I would be interested in hearing if any other readers felt the same with their initial retirement. For me, I chose to focus, in those first months and first year, on my blogging, on resting, on homemaking and on churchwork. I really invested myself in outfits for the blog, reading books and finding new authors, cleaning out closets and redoing home decor and helping out where I was needed at church. Each day was filled with a kind of wonder that I wasn't at school anymore and now-how-can-I-best-fill-my time sort of thinking. Of course, during those months there were some trips to see family, as well. 

The second year of retirement found me a bit more settled with more of a routine of some school volunteering, taking over responsibilities with the handbell choir at my church and doing some teaching online. I cleaned and re-cleaned closets and sorted through clothing and books to see what items might be taken to Goodwill and/or traded in at our local bookstore that sells used books. I went through a bit of a debacle with changing my blog name, but now have settled in to "styling life" each day both in real life and on the blog! For some reason, I was all over the place with "perfect words" trying to figure out how "thankful, committment, music and risk" would fit into my year and was amazed at how they did! There were also several family health concerns that year and, thankfully, all concerned are doing much better at this point. 

Which brings me to my word of "Simplicity" for 2019. It's kind of necessary to have done that little recap of the last three years, because it helps me to see why, in this third year of retirement, I feel much more settled in this "new" retirement way of life. And, frankly, I'm looking to keep life simple right now. I have just done a Major closet clean out and I want to keep my closet as it is right now. In other words, I'm not looking for any new items of clothing! I have also cleaned out many books and am trying to make use of my library card much more often instead of purchasing books. And as far as home decor goes, I kind of like the decor in the house as it is right now. I don't really feel like redoing the foyer table or the living room side table over and over again. My next goals are to clean out kitchen cabinets and see what items we may not need or be using and donate those items. 

So.....I hope you will stick with me if I simply choose to blog about what is currently happening in my life or if you see  outfits and/or home decor items more than once. I'll try to make it interesting for you, but I'm adding "Simplicity" to the blog, as well. 

Moving toward simplicity is certainly a process. At least it is for me. I'm glad to note, however, that simplicity is finding its way into many areas of my life. Things like how I exercise, what I eat, how I make plans to do things. You have probably heard of the acronym "KISS" for "Keep It Simple Stupid!"  I don't like being called stupid, however, so I prefer "Keep It Simply Simple" much better! 

If I keep my daily life, including blogging, simply simple I think there is less stress and more joy. 

How about you? How do you keep your life "simply simple?"  Hope you'll leave a comment and let me know. 

Until Next Time,

Monday, May 13, 2019

Monday Morning

A Little Bit of This and That To Start Your Week!

Happy start of a new week, friends! Today, I'm sharing a little bit of "this and that" to start off your week! Just sharing some odds and ends from the weekend, things I've been working on, reading and so forth. I hope that you all had a great weekend and that your weeks are off to a great start! So, here's what I've been up to recently!


I decided to do some more paper crafting and I created some cute and useful objects using cardstock designs in these smaller size booklets I bought recently at A.C. Moore. Each of these books of cardstock were on sale for around $1.66 and the designs are really cute. The pages are a perfect size for cutting and working with to create different objects. 

I made another decorative notecard. Aren't those tulips beautiful?!

And, I decided to also create a "box" using the cardstock which I then turned into a vase and filled with faux silk flowers. 

I couldn't help but think of school days while I made this box. I laid out the cardstock in a "net" that I knew would fold into a box. We used to teach nets to students as part of our math instruction. The children needed to be able to create nets and to identify whether a particular net would fold to make a closed figure or not. All part of geometry study!

Love how this arrangement turned out and it looks great on my foyer table with the three little faux cactus plants. The box could also be laid on the table with the opening facing out and little figurines placed inside. 

I also did some more stenciling on notecards. This design reminds me of "flower power" designs from the 1970's. 

And here is the completed notecard. Guess I need to start sending some notes don't I?!


I decided to take a break from the Maisie Dobbs novels that I have been obsessed with reading lately. I found an Agatha Raisin novel that I had not read at the library and checked it out. M.C. Beaton is the author of both the Agatha Raisin novels and the Hamish Macbeth novels. Both are mysteries. I have always enjoyed reading the Agatha Raisin novels but I do find that the writing is starting to seem a bit "stilted" to me in these later novels. The same thing happened in the Lillian Jackson Braun "Cat Who" novels as Ms. Braun aged. The sentences became shorter and the storylines seemed to not be as in-depth. Maybe it's just me, but I feel the same thing is happening with the Agatha Raisin novels. I'm going to finish this book, though, and see how it ends. 


I've been watching these two furry felines scamper around the house. They love to chase each other and get into wrestling matches. They both seem to enjoy this most of the time. Sometimes, they get a bit rambunctious and I have to break them up!

Garden likes to hide behind doorways and jump out when Cassie walks by. Then, Cassie hides and does the same thing to Garden. Cats!

Cassie's most favorite thing to do is to look out the doors and windows to see what she can see. 

Today, she saw this silly old bear walking around our yard. Mr. Bear had to pull several stones up in order to check for ants and insects to eat. Silly old bear!


Jeans, a comfy top and tennis shoes or Skecher slip-ons has pretty much been my uniform lately! This blue top that I showed you in an earlier post has been worn quite a bit. I really like it and love the comfort level. 


We took my MIL out for her birthday and mother's day this weekend and I enjoyed another Pita Pizza from Apollo Flame, my all-time favorite restaurant! They are an institution in this town and I hope they never close. I'm not sure I could handle that!

And, that's what I've been up to this weekend. How about you? Leave me a comment and let me know how your weekend went and what you have been doing! Love hearing from my readers!

Until Next Time,

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Mothering Without Children

A Few Thoughts On Mother's Day

Hey friends! Today, I'm sharing a few thoughts on the upcoming holiday of Mother's Day, a day revered for all things related to motherhood and mothering. I know that for many of you dear readers, it's a day when your children honor you for being the warm and loving Moms that you are! And for others, it's a day when you honor, or honor the memory, of your own wonderful Moms. 

My Mom hasn't been physically present for Mother's Day now for about 24 years. It's hard to believe that she has been gone that long. I miss her every day still. She was a wonderful Mother who loved her children very much. She commanded respect and taught each of us that the world didn't owe us a living. She loved pretty clothes and pretty jewelry and always looked put together even on a tight budget. Most of all, she loved her Lord and taught each of her daughters about Jesus. I feel like I got my love of reading and my interest in fashion from my Mom and how I wish I could still talk with her about things! Luckily, she gave me four wonderful older sisters who are available to talk with and share our lives together. Mom really wasn't expecting to have a fifth child when I came along. I was what you might call a "big surprise" to my parents as I was born much later in their lives. I have to admit that I thought it an "oddity" at times to have sisters who were 20, 18, 14 and 9 years older than me. All of my schoolmates seemed to have siblings just a year or two older. And, yes, sometimes people asked if my Mom was my grandmother or if my oldest sister was my Mom! But, I have to admit that it was also pretty cool to have sisters who "mothered" me in addition to my Mom and in my grown up years I have met others who had much older siblings, as well. So, I'm really not as much of an "oddity" as I thought! 

Here I am with my four sisters on a visit "home" a couple years ago. As you can see we enjoy getting together, laughing and talking. The Mr. calls my sisters his "other four Mothers-in-law!" I love my sisters very much. 

So, here's the thing about Mother's Day. It's not my favorite holiday of the year. For many reasons, the main one which is I'm not a mother. At least not in the "usual" sense of the word. And so, every year when Mother's Day rolls around I sort of feel, you know, left out. The truth is, it's hard, at least for me, being a woman who is not a mother on Mother's Day. 

The other day I was at a function when a lady sitting next to me asked the usual type of getting to know you question..."so, Debbie, do you have children?" To be honest, I hate this question when it comes up because when I say no I don't have children (which is true) it seems to leave an uncomfortable open-ended question lingering in the air. And that un-asked question is, "Why not?" I'm always a bit awkward with how much to say when asked if I have children. Of course a simple "No" should suffice. But, somehow, I always feel like I have to justify not having children. So I typically add, "but I have lots of nieces and nephews." Which usually garners a smile from the other person. And sometimes, I also add, "we have two cats who are our fur children." Which may or may not garner a smile. And, if I'm really feeling vulnerable I might add, "no we couldn't have children," which usually garners a look of sympathy. And that can be awkward, as well. Because I honestly don't want people to feel sorry for me. Let's face it, being asked if you have children when you don't have children can be a bit awkward, at least in my opinion. Especially when you are a woman. Hence, Mother's Day is not my favorite holiday. 

You see, I feel that at heart, I am a very mothering person. I feel many women without children of their own, are. So, with no "sour grapes" intended for all of the wonderful "official" mothers reading this post, I pose the following questions as food for thought. 

Does caring for your pets count as mothering? I know that I have been up and down at night, cleaned up throw-up and assorted other messes, nursed them when sick and mourned them when they passed. 

In all the many years that we have been "pet parents" to Morris, Groucho, Gracie, Annie, Max, Frisky, Cassie and Garden, I have always been amazed at how these animals seem to know the difference between the male and the female "parent." They have loved both my husband and me, but I always noticed that they would come to me for "cuddles" and to my husband for "safety." If verbal discipline was in order, my husband's voice always carried more weight than my voice. Interesting, isn't it? 

Does my 35+ years of being a teacher count as mothering? For over 35 years I taught children to read and do math, wiped noses and put bandaids on boo boos, broke up arguments and wiped tears away. I disciplined, gave hugs and taught teamwork and how to think through problems and difficulties. At Christmas time I made certain each child had a present and daily made certain that tummies were filled with food. Two memories of teaching stand out as I write this today. One memory is of a little boy who had a rough home life and near the end of the school year drew a picture for me that included a picture of me and a picture of himself. In the picture he wrote, "Hi Mom!" I still have that picture in my album. The other memory is of a little boy who came to my desk for help with some work and as I helped him he turned to me with this look of wonder and a smile on his face and said, "Your breath smells just like my Mom's!" Interesting, isn't it, how children look at the world?

Does being an aunt count as mothering? My sisters have gifted me with six nephews and nieces. These nieces and nephews, in turn, have gifted me with 12 great-nieces and nephews. So, when I tell people that I have lots of nieces and nephews I really mean it! (Apologies to family members I missed in these photos. I tried to include everyone but know I missed some! You know I love you all whether your picture is here or not!)

                              Image may contain: 3 people, including Jennifer Dowling and Debbie Ross, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

When my original six nieces and nephews were little I baby-sat for them, rocked and fed them their bottles, sang to them, changed their diapers and played with them. As my greats began to come along I spent as much time with them as I was able with great distances between us. I love them all daily, pray for them and always enjoy hearing from them and about them. My sisters are the "official" Moms and Grandmothers, but I have enjoyed being their Aunt Debbie. 

Do friendships count as mothering? Over the years I have been blessed with friendships. As we age our mothers are not with us to give us hugs, cry with us, rejoice with us and hold our hands during fearful times. Our friends step in to provide us with the warm embraces and shoulders to cry on that our mothers may have previously provided us. 

How difficult life would be without friends to step in when some "mothering" is needed! 

Public Domain Image
Does going through years of infertility treatment count as mothering? For my husband and I, the years of treatment we went through was basically a "road to nowhere" as it can be for many couples. Others are luckier and, at the end, have a child. But, that was not to be for us. I admit to being envious at times of those couples who find it so easy to become parents. For some, they are married for a year or two and then comes the happy announcement. But, for others, it is not that way. Talking about infertility is not easy for me and, believe me, I debated even mentioning it in this post. As I said, I'm not looking for sympathy. Nor am I looking for lots of questions from curious people. But, this is my blog and infertility is certainly a part of my life and has been for many years. And, if I'm talking about my thoughts on Mother's Day this aspect of my life is certainly relevant. For a long time, I truly struggled with this aspect of my (our) life. Just seeing a baby being baptized could reduce me to a puddle of tears. As the years have passed, the pain of infertility has become less, or at least I thought it had. But now, at age 60, it has reared its head a bit. Certainly not as sharp as it once was but definitely there no less. And I believe that has to do with the fact that people in our age group are now becoming grandparents. And I have been surprised, and a bit dismayed, at experiencing the feelings of loss all over again. Please know that this does not mean that I don't rejoice when friends become grandparents. I do rejoice for you and I do want to see pictures and hear all about those wonderful grands! Perhaps in some future post I might delve more into living through infertility (or perhaps I won't) but, for now, I'll just say this much. Going through infertility, for me, was like mothering a "dream child." I pictured this little one toddling around our kitchen floor. I dressed him or her in my imagination and dreamed how this child would look and act. I imagined how my husband and I would handle all of the typical issues that come with parenting. I planned how we might handle childcare with both of us teaching, how much time I could take off to be home and how I could bring this child to school with me once he or she entered kindergarten. I even bought a little sleeper that I would sometimes hold and cuddle picturing the little one that I just knew would eventually wear it. But, at the end of the years of infertility, there was no child. I loved a dream child who never came to be. 

As an introvert, sharing personal things is never easy. And, I have to admit that there is a part of me that feels like perhaps I should click "delete" now. It kind of feels good, though, to put some of my thoughts on mothering out there. And so, I'm not going to click delete. For me, "motherhood" is a bit complicated and always has been. I'm so thankful to have had a loving Mother in my life. To have had loving sisters and friends in my life. I also realize that there are those folks reading this who may not have had a loving Mother in their life. Or those for whom being Mothers has not brought the happiness or joy that is often envisioned. Everyone has their own story. And today, I'm sharing mine. 

A few years ago, I happened to be eating out on Mother's Day and the waitress was giving all the women present free dessert. I actually felt a little guilty eating the free dessert, even though all women present were getting it, because, you know, I didn't feel "legit!" As I said before, it's hard being a woman without children on Mother's Day. 

But this year.....if free dessert is offered....I think I will just take it with thankfulness for all of the "mothering" I have been blessed to do, and to receive,  in my life. 

Happy Mother's Day to my beloved Mom in heaven....and to each of you for all the mothering you do!

Until Next Time,

Monday, May 6, 2019

Monochromatic Jeans Outfit

Monday Style 

Happy Monday All!  I hope your week is off to a great start like mine. Today, I'm wearing a monochromatic jeans outfit-top, pants and shoes! Even my bracelet is jean fabric, but it won't stay on!

I have to say that I'm loving this jeans top for so many reasons. I love the 2/3 length bells sleeves, the deep blue color and the way it cinches my waist and actually gives me a waist! It's surprisingly light-weight so I'm hoping I can get a lot of wear out of it before the hottest days of summer prevail. 

This top is one that is "billed" as a jacket, actually it's called a trench coat which I don't quite understand as it wears like a top, but "oh well." All I know is that I'm enjoying wearing it. Sorry for heavy sunlight but I take pics when I can and sometimes it is hard to get perfect lighting. Perfection doesn't seem to be part of my blogging pics, but I do the best I can. 

This top is actually the second top in this style that I have purchased but you won't see the first one until later this month! (Hint, Hint!) The brand is Eden Court purchased at, where else, Stein Mart! Jean pants are Vintage American Blues and shoes are by CL Laundry. I couldn't find the exact link for the pants. Mine sit at my natural waist and are not mid-rise. I am not a fan of mid-rise pants at all. Why do they make them? Bring back high waist pants!

Tell me, what is your Monday style?  Hope you'll leave a comment. 

Until Next Time,

Monday, April 29, 2019

Springtime In My Backyard

Signs Of Spring

Happy Monday everyone! I took a little walk around our yard last night and snapped some photos of all of the Springtime in our yard! Like these beautiful azaleas in full bloom. 

Someone before us made sure to plant a variety of colors. I love it when they are all in bloom! Wish they lasted longer. 

I cut a few to display in a favorite vase in our foyer. Someone at church gave me the little green carnation stem in the middle. 

I've spent the last few days planting annuals and perennials around our house. Ferns, dianthus, coleus and dusty miller on the front porch. 

Another fern on the back porch along with containers holding lantana and dianthus. 

I've had good luck with these flowers in the past and I hope that this year is the same. Everything I've planted is supposed to be "deer resistant." Fingers crossed!

I added more coral bells to our stone wall garden along with some violet phlox. The hostas don't ever seem to get big in this little garden. I'm not sure why since our side garden has hostas that are huge. 

See? They are just beginning to open up and are already big! I tend to neglect this side garden a bit. I need to do some major cutting back as plants on the hillside want to take over. Maybe this summer I'll do better?

My garden bench is ready for sitting. As you can see we have plenty of ivy!

Our waterfall has been running steadily since last weekend's heavy rains. Unfortunately, the stream got clogged and we had a river running down our driveway last weekend. Not good for the driveway! The Mr. finally was able to unclog the problem and the waterfall is under control once more. The perils of living in the country!

And a final "artistic shot" looking through the trees at our St. Francis statue in our stone wall garden. 

Thanks for taking a walk with me around our yard this Monday morning! I hope your week is off to a great start and sunny skies and pretty flowers are coming your way. Tell me, how is Spring coming to your backyard? Hope you'll leave a comment!

Until Next Time,