Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Devotion for Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year!
Public Domain Image

As hard as it is to believe, 2017 is almost upon us.  A year that is fresh and new stands before us. What will 2017 bring?  I hope for all of us, it brings only good. One thing we can count on in any year is change of some kind. And this year is no different. For me, this new year brings the lifestyle change to retirement, which I will be talking about more in my next post. I've never been a fan of change. I enjoy keeping things as they I am comfortable. And yet, sometimes it takes change for new growth to happen, even though the "unknown" comes with change. For me, one thing never changes....and that is my faith that the Lord walks with me in life. And so, as I enter 2017, I take my faith with me knowing that I am never alone. God's light shines forth always.  The word "light" is my "One Perfect Word" for 2017 and I have already begun a study of scripture, locating where this word is used. I will share those scriptures in future posts. Today, as the New Year 2017 begins, I would like to share the following verses from Isaiah 9:1-7

"The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows-
light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
you expanded its joy.
Oh, they're so glad in your presence!
Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration,
sharing rich gifts and warm greetings." 
(The Message translation)

My Warmest Greetings in this New Year to You Until Next Time,

*As always, I hope you will leave a thought or comment. Your comments are treasured!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Choice of Comfortable Hiking Wear for A Blue Ridge Parkway Trail

Disclaimer: I am not a hiking expert and this post is meant for entertainment purposes only, not to give advice on how to hike. Always check with your doctor before embarking on any exercise. I was not paid to promote the brand names mentioned in this post. All writing and opinions are my own.

Hike Wear I Chose for The Shut In Trail on the 

Blue Ridge Parkway

What does one wear when embarking on a hike on the Shut In Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway?  I'll attempt to answer that question today, at least as it applies to me. For me, comfort and warmth is key!

Today's hike was really steep....not my favorite kind of hiking.  But, Mr.thisandthat assured me that it would only be about a twenty minute climb and then I would be rewarded with a fantastic view. So, trusting that "twenty minutes" wouldn't actually translate into thirty or forty minutes or more ( it has a few times in the past!!) I set off up the trail. 

The day was sunny, although a bit cool especially starting out, so I was glad to have worn my down-filled Mountain Hard Wear jacket. It provided just the right amount of warmth needed for this hike in the mountains. Isn't this rhododendron tunnel beautiful?! This was a very pretty hike. (Similar jacket here.)

Of course, I warmed up quickly as I climbed, but after a cool down period, I was still glad to have the warmth of this down jacket that I have worn and enjoyed for many years. My New Balance 680v2 shoes also kept my feet stable and comfy on this hike. There is nothing worse than being on a hike and not having comfortable shoes! No problem with these comfy shoes that I first shared on this post last summer. 

And, as promised, I was rewarded with fantastic views after I climbed to the top. 

I was all smiles knowing the hard climb was over.

And, my handsome hubby was glad to be able to snap some awesome pics of the view with his new camera lens.

I enjoyed posing for some pics, although the sun was in my eyes.

And then it was time to head back down the trail.

Certainly not the longest hike I've been on, but definitely the steepness made up for the length we hiked today. It felt good to share this time together in the great outdoors. I hope to do more hiking now that I have entered retirement. I believe that keeping my body moving with exercise will help me to keep moving as I age. 

It was "thumbs up" for a great hike! (Note the antennae in the background on top of the mountain. That mountain is "Mt. Pisgah" which was part of the original National Forest started by George Vanderbilt who built the famous Biltmore House and Gardens. These lands we were hiking on were originally part of his hunting lodge land.) For me, having the right clothing, shoes and equipment for hiking makes the whole experience more comfortable. I am no hiking expert, but have gone on many hikes with Mr.thisandthat over the years. My Mountain Hard Wear jacket and New Balance shoes kept me smiling today as I enjoyed a beautiful hike in the woods.

Things I make sure to have on hand when hiking:
sturdy shoes, warm clothing that can be layered for changing temperatures, water, snacks, hiking poles.....I also never hike alone in the woods

How about you?  What do you like to wear in the great outdoors? Do you enjoy hiking and/or taking walks?  Hope you will leave your thoughts.  I so enjoy hearing from you!

Until Next Time

Photography Credits:
William Ross

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Snowmen Tablescapes and Winter Decorating

Winter Decorating 

How was your Christmas celebration, everyone?  Hope it was merry and bright and you enjoyed it to the fullest! My celebration included a lovely Christmas Eve church service followed by a Christmas Eve evening at home spent watching, "A Christmas Story," for the hundredth time (I think I've got the lines memorized) and talking with my husband and mother-in-law. Christmas Day was warm and enjoyable with gift opening and lots of phone calls to and from our family members all over the country. And, of course, lots and lots of good food! 

When I was little, I never wanted to take down the Christmas decorations after New Year's, which is when my family typically undecorated. It always seemed so sad to put away all of the bright lights and beautiful decorations. The house always seemed so somber after the decorations were put away. But, as an adult, I have typically undecorated within a few days after Christmas. Part of the reason for this was knowing I needed to have the house back to "normal" before school started again and life resumed its hectic pace. And, part of it was that, as an adult, the decorations seemed to make me feel kind of sad after Christmas was over. I still loved the tree lights and all, but knowing the holiday was over took away the excitement that I felt leading up to Christmas. But then, just like when I was little, the house seemed so bare after all the pretty decorations were put away. So, several years ago, I decided to do a winter decorating theme with snowmen for the "post" Christmas decorating. I look forward to getting out my snowmen and other winter decor each year, even as I am putting the Christmas decorations away. 

And, using my ceramic tree with white lights helps me to still enjoy pretty tree lights after the multi-color Christmas tree is put away. This corner of the living room doesn't feel sad at all!

Over the years, I've collected several really cute snowmen and I have them scattered all over the house. From the living room....

To the family room.....

To the "infamous" foyer table. 

Snowmen are everywhere!

And in addition to snowmen, I have other winter decor such as snow globes. 

And this handsome snow deer. 

All of these snowmen kind of put you in the mood for winter don't they?  And I actually heard the word "snow" on the weather forecast for later this week.

So, who knows?  Maybe in a few days, I'll be able to build a real snowman from the white stuff in my front yard! Time will tell. But, until then....I'm pretty content to just enjoy my indoor winter decor.

How about you?  Do you still have your Christmas decorations up or have you switched out to winter decor?  How was your Christmas?  Hope you'll take a moment to share.

Christmas Story Image free clipart

Until Next Time,

*All images property of with the exception of "A Christmas Story" clipart. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Day Greetings


Wishing all of my readers a blessed and happy Christmas Day!


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Five Dazzling Looks for Holiday Wear and Tips for Shopping Your Closet

What's Your Holiday Party Wear Style?

Hello, hello! Did you notice it's been awhile since I've posted? Let's just say that life has definitely gotten in the way of my blogging these last couple of weeks between finishing up at school, preparing for retirement and trying to keep up with all that needs to be done to be ready for Christmas. I plan to do a big post on my retirement as the new year begins, but for now let's focus on something more holiday like, which I figure is what folks want to read about now anyway.....namely party wear! I've been shopping my closet to bring you some ideas on how to use what you already own to be party ready for not just Christmas parties, but also those upcoming New Year's events. Everyone has certain styles they prefer in party wear, so I have chosen five different looks from formal to casual to share with you. As you look at how I have styled what I found in my closet, be thinking about how you might use what you already have in your closet to create similar party wear looks. Ready? Here we go!

Formal Party Style

For my formal look I chose an ankle length black skirt and paired it with a wide neckline sparkly mauve top. I love the drape on this top which adds such a feminine touch to this look. Add a pair of black heels and a vintage clutch and I'm good to go to a formal "do." You can see a close up of the sparkly top in the first picture of this post.


For my semi-formal look I kept the same sparkly top but switched out the skirt for some great skinny capris by Rafaella. These capris are so comfortable, stretchy and move with you. Notice I also exchanged the black heels for my wine color heels which adds a pop of color that matches well with the mauve top. I also added a bead bracelet with mauve/pink beads. Sometimes, something as simple as changing out the shoes and/or accessories can give an outfit a whole new look. 

I'll also add a caveat here that my idea of formal and semi-formal may or may not fit your idea of what these terms mean. I think it all depends on where you live and the types of parties you attend. For this almost retired elementary school teacher, these styles fit my definitions of formal and semi-formal.


For the first of two semi-casual party looks, I chose basic black slacks paired with a silver/black sparkling top. I've had this top for years and have gotten a lot of mileage out of it for parties. A little extra sparkle is added with a long length tassel necklace. Can't you just see yourself drinking a sparkling grape juice or another beverage of choice wearing a similar outfit?

And it never hurts to add a pop of color like I did with these gorgeous red pointed toe heels. I introduced these heels in this post and I love the way they add to the overall sparkle of this semi-casual holiday wear. 


And speaking of red, here is another semi-casual look in which I keep wearing the same black slacks but add a favorite wide collar cowl neck sweater with a long multi-strand pearl necklace. I also changed out the shoes for a low heel strappy sandal. You can't see it in the photo but the straps on these slip on sandals have sparkles on them. 

In my opinion, you can't go wrong with red for holiday party wear and I find the wide collar of this cowl neck sweater to be elegant looking. The pearl necklace also adds an extra touch of elegance to the overall look. 


And, finally, I'm sharing a very casual holiday look. Not every party we attend is a dressy affair. Gatherings with close friends and family don't necessarily call for the heels and sparkles. But, it's still nice to give a nod to the holidays. That's why for this final very casual look I wore my favorite jeans with a red faux turtleneck sweater, added a cute snowman scarf and topped it all off with my Gloria Vanderbilt blue jean jacket. And, to add even more comfort and style, I'm wearing my favorite booties---the Skechers Go Walk bootie. These babies are so warm and comfy. I have to say that out of all the looks I have styled for you today, this is my favorite.....and also the most "me." 

So, there you have it.  Five holiday looks ranging from formal to casual, all put together by shopping my closet. Nothing new was purchased for these looks. So, what can we style fashionistas learn from this? For me, there are a few lessons which I took away from this shopping my closet challenge:

  • It's important to have some "basics" in my closet to build outfits from. Staple articles of clothing such as black skirts and black slacks are a must. A variety of shoes with different heel heights/colors is also a must. 
  • I shouldn't be so quick to give away/donate articles of clothing because I may decide to wear them again. I tend to go through my closet a couple of times a year to weed out items. And, yes, I know about the rule, "if you haven't worn it in two years get rid of it." But, I also know that the silver/black top went through a few seasons of not being worn and now I am pulling it out again. I'm just sayin'.....I don't want to get too hasty with the give aways. 
  • The same articles of clothing can look vastly different depending on the shoes and accessories worn with them. This also can move an outfit from looking formal/semi-formal to more casual. Accessories and shoes are important!
  • Mix and match different tops with the same slacks/skirts to experiment with the looks that can be achieved.
  • Pops of color....especially reds can add to the overall festive holiday look!

So, did you get some ideas for shopping your closet for the holidays?  Which outfit do you like best?  Are you a formal, semi-formal, casual or "all of the above" fashionista? Please take a moment to leave your thoughts while I go clean up all of the mess I created while shopping my closet!!  

Until Next Time,

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Five Easy, Fun and Stress Free Christmas Tablescapes

(All images/photos are property of

Easy Christmas Tablescapes

Happy Saturday, friends!  I hope no one is feeling stressed about the holidays. There is always so much to do at this time of year...decorating, gift buying and wrapping, parties to attend, extra church services, possibly mailing gifts if loved ones are far away. It goes on and on and on. This year I also added.....retirement to my list!  And, yes, believe it or not that does involve some stress as I try to finish up a 35+ year career!! Anyway, if figuring out a tablescape is one of your stresses, worry no more....I've got you covered in today's post! Five easy, fun and stress free tablescapes that can be pulled together in no time.

#1 A Florist Arrangement

OK, I had a little help with this one since I had a recent birthday and my oldest sister sent me this beautiful holiday arrangement. But, sometimes, a florist arrangement is the way to go. Pick it up yourself and it's cheaper than having it delivered. (And how lucious does that chocolate cake look for my birthday? I can attest that is was delicious!)

#2 Christmas Mugs and Small Tree

It doesn't get much easier than this. I simply used a Christmas placemat, added a couple of Christmas mugs, a Santa statue and a small live tree that I purchased at Home Depot for under 10 bucks. 

The cute mugs were Walmart purchases last year. Keep in mind, that all of the tablescapes I'm showing you today can be used on a dining table or on another smaller table that you have in your home where you would like to create a tablescape.

#3 Using Vases In Unique Ways

I have to admit that when I think of using a vase, my first thought is to put flowers in it. After all, that's what vases are for, right? But, if we let our imaginations work freely, then vases can be used in many ays. How about filling a clear vase with gold ball tree tensil and allowing some of it to "drip" over the edges. Then add some gold poinsettia picks and, for good measure, a couple of gold ornaments to the side. 

Nothing like a little sparkle to make your table shine!

#4 Using Unused Tree Ornaments

If you're like me, you many enjoy changing up the ornaments you use on the Christmas tree each year. That means that several favorite ornaments may go unseen for a season or two. Why not create a tablescape using those ornaments? I used a Christmas placemat, added a green fluted edge pie plate and filled it with gold Christmas ball tensil and musical ornaments. My husband and I are both musicians so over the years we have collected a lot of musical ornaments....mostly trumpets and violins, which are our instruments. Since I wasn't doing a musical tree this year, we can still enjoy seeing these ornaments on display. 

#5 Nativity Display

I have quite a few nativities and I enjoy putting them on display prominently during the Christmas season. I want them to be a main focus in my holiday decor. Christmas is about the birth of Christ and while the trees and other decorations are fun, the nativity is central, in my opinion, to the reason we celebrate Christmas. I actually have these on display on a side table in my living room, but moved them to the kitchen table for this tablescape. 

This white nativity was a wedding gift to Mr.thisandthat and I from a dear friend's mother. 

Love the little "box" nativity in the foreground. It closes. Behind, is a child's nativity.

This "Precious Moments" snowglobe nativity was a Colorado purchase two summers ago. I found it in a thrift shop! Behind, is an ornament nativity that I prefer to display on a table rather than on a tree.

So, there you have it!  Five easy, fun and stress free ways to create Christmas tablescapes this season. Everything I used, I already had on hand in the house....with the exception of the floral arrangement which was a gift to me. Don't stress over the holidays, dear readers. Enjoy the pleasures of home and family, use what you have on hand and remember the reason we celebrate....the birth of our Lord and Savior,  Jesus Christ! I hope your weekend is stress free and fun. Let me know which tablescape you like best? And what are your ideas for a stress free holiday season?  Please share....

Until Next Time,