Thursday, August 31, 2017

Home From Travels and New Eyeglasses

Hello friends! I'm home from my travels to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I had such a great time visiting family. I even braved "big city" driving in Pittsburgh. Aren't GPS units wonderful things?! They get you where you want to go and I have to say I don't think I could have done this trip without mine. 

Notice anything different? As I was returning from West Virginia on Tuesday, I took off my glasses at a rest stop to clean them and they broke! Isn't that always the way these things happen? I took them in to the opthamologists' office today to see if they could be fixed and as the optician was working with them they broke more! As I'm kinda blind without my glasses there was a moment of panic. They did have this frame, though, that I liked and fit my lenses with a little bit of grinding. They sent me to their nearby lab with my old glasses taped up so I could drive ( I looked just lovely as you can imagine) and the technicians ground the lenses and popped them into these frames. Since I had just changed prescriptions in March, I'm glad I was able to keep the lenses and just pay the expense of new frames and the grinding of the lenses. When I like a frame, I tend to keep them a long time and even have new lenses placed in my same glasses frames. I know the opticians always caution about this, because the frames can break, but, honestly, I've had pretty good luck over the years doing this and it is more cost effective. Anyway, that's the saga of my broken glasses. That was the only negative of this trip. I'll share a few more pics of who and what I saw as I traveled.

Three of my sisters and I had a fun time in Pittsburgh together. Here, we were playing a prank on my nephew by taking this selfie in front of the sign outside one of his favorite hangouts. He is always posting on Facebook about this place, so as we were driving by and saw the sign, we just had to stop and snap a photo. It's a family joke. My nephew thought it was funny, though!

And here I am with my other sister standing next to the pond on her farm in West Virginia. My great niece took this photo for me. She is eight years old and I think she did a good job as my stand in photographer! 

The pond is so pretty with this fountain in the middle. The young ones like to go fishing in the pond whenever they can. 

And this deer was grazing at the edge of the pond. The scenery on the farm is so pretty. It was a very peaceful moment.

And so my travels, for now, are over. It's home to unpacking suitcases, doing piles of laundry and catching up with other home chores. I've been a bit off my blog routine with the traveling, but next week I should be back on track with some fashion and tablescape posts for you. Hope your week is going well and that your Labor Day weekend is filled with good things. I know that all of us are keeping Texas and all those affected by Hurricane Harvey in our prayers. 

Until Next Time,

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #29 Life's Good Work
As long as I'm alive in this body, there is good work for me to do. 
       Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the                                                 Message of Christ.                                    
(Phillipians Chapter 1 Selected Verses)

The picture you see above was taken exactly one year ago. So much has changed in my life since then. At this time last year, I was starting my final school year of teaching. I was attending staff meetings, preparing my classroom and doing lesson plans. I was filled with a sort of strange anxiety about ending a long career even as I was excited about the prospect of retirement. One year later, I have now been retired since January. And another school year is about to begin. But, this time, I am not doing all of the preparations that have been a part of my life for the last 35 years. And it is a bit of a strange feeling, I have to admit. As I hear my husband describe meetings and lesson planning he is currently doing, I am no longer a part of it. In fact, as the school year begins, I am traveling and visiting with family, something I have never been able to do at this time of year. "Work" as I used to know it, has changed. Certainly, I am still working in many ways. At my home, at my church, doing my blogging, helping friends and family....this has now become my "work." It is different, my schedule and routine are much more flexible than before and I don't have a school schedule that I must follow. But, just as today's scripture reminds me, there is still good work for me to do as long as I'm alive. And I want to do this work and live my life in such a way that I am a credit to the message of Christ. I am still working on defining "work" as a retired person. And that can be challenging at times, because we live in a world that centers on the idea of "accomplishments." My school work life was very defined with semesters and the big beginning of school rush and the final tests of the school year which brought the year to a close. Life is not as defined now. But, I'm still "working" and while I have wonderful memories of a career in teaching, I believe that my true "life's work" is serving the Lord. And from that work there is no retirement...but, oh so many benefits. I pray for blessings for you in your life's work of servanthood as well.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Where is Debbie?
Hey friends!  I'm on the road again visiting family and writing this post in the Pittsburgh, PA area.  Did you watch the eclipse today?  I made it to my sister's house just as it was happening. It didn't get very dark at all here in the Pittsburgh area, but my hubby drove to Franklin, NC to see the total eclipse. Poor guy is still sitting in a huge traffic jam trying to get back to our house in Asheville!!
I spent the weekend in West Virginia, visiting family there before traveling to see PA family today. Here is a delicious meal my sister, Sharon, cooked for me while I visited in WV. All the veggies you see here were grown in one of her three (!) gardens. She and my brother-in-law freeze and can all of their veggies for the winter. The biscuits and cobbler you see were made from scratch, too. My sister, Barbara, made a fantastic meal for me, also. I'm definitely not starving on this trip! Now, I'm visiting with sisters Star and Joyce here in the Pittsburgh area. I am so proud of myself for doing the drive here today. Thank goodness for GPS devices! It routed me through downtown Pittsburgh. It was quite exciting to drive through the Pitt Tunnel and exit to see all of the skyscrapers next to the Monongahela River. I can now say I am a "big city" driver! Fun fact, this river starts South and travels North.
You'll remember I visited this area last August and walked some of the River Walk near the old Steel Mill area. Here's a flashback photo from my walk last year. I'm sorry I didn't get a Saturday Scripture posted. I couldn't handle that post in addition to driving to West Virginia on Saturday. I seem to be getting wifi this year at my sister's house, so as long as that continues I'll try to do a Saturday Scriptures post this Saturday. It's wonderful to see my family, although I'm missing Mr.thisandthat who is holding down the fort at home. 

Your turn....are you doing any late summer traveling? Did you experience the solar eclipse today? Hope you'll take a moment to share! 

Until Next Time,

Friday, August 18, 2017

Summer Tablescape Using Natural Elements and Blog Tour

Hello, everyone! I'm excited today to be part of a group of lovely ladies who are participating in a Summer Tablescape Blog Tour hosted by Katherines Corner. Each of us has designed a summer tablescape to share with you. After you check out my post, please be sure to stop by the other blogs on this tour and see the amazing tablescapes these ladies have designed. 

I wanted to design a tablescape that focused on natural elements of nature as much as possible. So, I began with place mats with a lovely leaf pattern on them topped with my trusty Winn-Dixie china plates. 

Keeping with the nature theme and the green of summertime, I used a green filigree centerpiece container filled with stones and seashells that we have collected on various vacation trips and kept as keepsakes over the years. To add to the nature theme, I also placed three pine cone sticks into the mix. The self lighting candle in the middle adds to the ambience. I so enjoy dining by candlelight!

I'm also using rocks as name card holders. I wrote the names on little cards and taped on a seashell then taped the name cards to the rocks. 

I think my tablescape is an eclectic mix of china, crystal, rocks and shells.

The setting is meant to reflect casual elegance while thinking about fun summer trips we have enjoyed!

How about you? How do you bring summertime to your table? Hope you'll leave a comment and share your thoughts! And, please remember to pop over to the other blogs on the blog tour. Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Little Black Dress Series #3-Very Casual
Hello friends!  I'm finishing up my three part series on my Little Black Dress by showing how I styled the LBD very casually. If you missed my other two LBD posts be sure to check them out. In my first post I showed how I styled the dress formally and in the second how I styled the dress semi-casually
One thing I can say about this dress is how versatile it is to style! I can honestly tell you that no matter how I style it, I am comfortable from start to finish!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, this dress is by Premise and was purchased at Stein Mart. I love the fact that I can stretch my clothing budget by styling this dress so many different ways!
Here's how I created this very casual look:

  • Jewelry was kept to the bare minimum with only earrings, one stretch bracelet and a scarf instead of a necklace. 
  • I'm wearing my comfy Walmart brand striped tennis shoes. They add  a little fun to my style!
  • I'm carrying a blue and white striped beach tote rather than a purse. It holds everything I need for a casually busy day!
  • To ward off the sun's rays and add one more note of "casual" I'm wearing my Steve Madden fedora hat. Do you wear hats? They can add an element of fun to your fashion!
  • Note that although I have a blue theme running throughout this outfit, my accessories are not "matchy, matchy" and that's perfect for a very casual look!

So, what do you think about styling a dress three ways? Here's a collage review of the three looks. Which do you like best?
Hope you'll leave me your comments. And please be sure to stop back by on Friday when I will be joining in a Summer Tablescape Blog Tour hosted by Katherine's Corner. And, of course, hope you'll join me for Saturday Scriptures!

Until Next Time,

*Photography by William Ross
*Not a sponsored/gifted/paid post

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #28: Peace in Tough Times and Happy Times

"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."  (The Message-Selected verses from Romans Chapter 8)
What a world we live in, you know?  There is so much beauty and splendor at many places in our world while, at the same time, there is so much fear and war mongering and evil. It's a true dichotomy, this world we live in. Today, there are people experiencing their greatest joys while others are experiencing their deepest lows. Just this week in my own corner of the world, I have heard of people experiencing great happiness at becoming grandparents and celebrating birthdays and family gatherings, while I have also heard of people going through end of life cancer diagnosis and facing upcoming surgeries. It's a tough road to hoe sometimes, this life we live in this world. It's easy to get discouraged. And then, you turn on the TV and the news is even worse. You want to just throw up your hands and say, "What's the use?!" 

Today's scripture is comforting to me, because it reminds me that God's Spirit is right here beside us helping us along. When we grow weary and don't even know how to pray, God in Jesus does our praying for us. Each sigh, each groan is turned into prayer and is present before God. And here's the best part....the scripture tells us that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. That's a promise for those who are experiencing their deepest lows as well as those who are experiencing their greatest joys. 

In my daily devotional life, I often use the "Jesus Calling" series by Sarah Young. In today's devotion, Sarah writes the following thoughts that came to her from the Lord:

*"Come to me when you are weak and weary. Rest snugly in My everlasting arms. I do not despise your weakness, My child. Actually, it draws Me closer to you, because weakness stirs up My compassion-My yearning to help. Accept yourself in your weariness, knowing that I understand how difficult your journey has been." 

These are beautiful words to hear at this time, in this world we live in. Whether your feet are weary today, or are dancing with joy.....may you know without a doubt that God's presence is with you, closer than your very breath.


*Brief excerpt taken from "Jesus Calling" August 12 devotional, written by Sarah Young, 2008 edition. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Remembering A Princess

Public Domain Source Wikimedia Commons
Something you may not know about me is that I am a huge fan of Princess Diana. We are hearing a lot about her in the media right now because, sadly, it is the 20th anniversary of her death. Her sons, William and Harry, are speaking out about their mother recently and honoring her memory. There are also TV specials airing this week about her life. So, I thought I would do my own tribute to this beautiful lady.
I own several books and magazines that I enjoy looking at about Princess Diana and I am equally besotted now with Catherine, Prince William's wife, and their sweet children, George and Charlotte. So any news about them always catches my eye. 

My interest in Diana goes waaaay back to when she and Prince Charles were first engaged. I can remember getting up at 5:00 a.m. on their wedding day and my Mom and I watched all of the wedding ceremony and festivities on television. It was so exciting! I thought she was the most beautiful bride ever! Of course, the 1980's found many brides trying to emulate her wedding style. When the Mr. and I were married in 1983 I had visions of looking just like Princess Diana in my wedding gown. What do you think?
Other than the fact that I didn't have the poofy sleeves, my train wasn't 25 feet long, I wasn't wearing a tiara and I wasn't holding flowers that looked like a shrub I think we were practically twins, don't you?! (Wink) Of course the Mr. and I weren't married at St.Paul's Cathedral in London, either. But, I do think I married a true prince. (Awwww....) We did have children as part of our wedding party just like Princess Diana, though. So, we did have that in common with our weddings. 

Diana's sense of style was gorgeous. She was always impeccably dressed in my opinion. And, of course, I admired her beautiful engagement ring which is now worn by Catherine. When Avon offered a look alike ring, I had to have one! I still enjoy wearing it.
Diana was beloved by many, but most of all by her boys, William and Harry. My heart broke for them when their mother died. They were so very young to lose her! I'm happy that they keep their mother's memory alive and that little Princess Charlotte has "Diana" as one of her names. I think sometimes of all that Diana missed out on in dying at such a young age. We never got to see a Diana in her 40's or 50's or a "Grandma" Diana. Her life, and early death, remind me that aging is a true privilege which not all get to enjoy. The night we learned she had passed in that tragic car accident, I was awake all night grieving. And, on the day of her funeral, I was up at the crack of dawn, just as I had been for her wedding day, determined to be "with her" just as I had been for her wedding. Diana was called a "people's princess" for a reason. She had a way of connecting with people through her eyes, her smile, her style....even when the people she connected with had never actually met her. I believe that is called, charisma. There has been lots written, and said, about Diana and what went on behind the scenes in her life in the palace. But, what I choose to remember is a beautiful young woman who, when thrust into the limelight, did her best to live her life with style and with love for her two sons. I know I'll be watching those television specials this week about Diana's life. Her life continues to give me hope that, just maybe, there's a little bit of princess in all of us ladies. 

Until Next Time,
Debbie 👑

Monday, August 7, 2017

Little Black Dress Semi-Casual Look #2

Semi-Casual Little Black Dress

(Not a sponsored post)
Photography by: William Ross

Are you ready to see how I took my little black dress to a semi-casual look? In my last fashion post, I showed you how I styled my LBD as a formal look. Today, stroll with me through Historic Biltmore Village in Asheville, NC as I share this second look of my series with you. We'll go by some shops first. 

For a semi-casual look, I decided to pair my LBD with a pair of polka dot ankle pants. The beauty of this little black dress is that it can also act as a tunic top. For comfort in strolling around, I wore comfortable flats. 

I rounded out the look with some fun Paparazzi jewelry; necklace/earring set in blue and a wrap bracelet. 

I got tickled posing for Mr.thisandthat who was my photographer for this photo shoot. He can always make me laugh!

I have to tell you how comfortable this entire outfit is to wear! As I shared earlier, my LBD was purchased at Stein Mart and is by Premise. I can tell you it traveled very well when the Mr. and I had to make an unexpectedly quick trip to Colorado recently. The ankle pants are Basic Editions brand purchased at K-Mart and the flats are Faded Glory brand from Walmart. So, the outfit overall is economical. 

The shoes are called a buckle toe flat which adds some unique style to this semi-casual look. The ankle pants have a flat waistband which is not only comfortable but also doesn't show through on the dress front like pants that have front zippers and buttons would. More and more I am moving to flat front pants whenever possible because I hate seeing the zipper/buttons showing through on my tops!

It was fun taking photos in front of the beautiful and historic All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village. This is the church where Cornelia Vanderbilt was married in 1924. Her father was George Vanderbilt who built the famous Biltmore Estate located here in Asheville. The Mr. is a good photographer, isn't he?! He catches all the right angles. 

If you ever visit Asheville, be sure to walk around Biltmore Village. The church and the shops are all right there. And it's especially pretty at Christmas time when Biltmore Village does a special "Dickens in the Village" celebration with roving musical groups, actors in costume from "A Christmas Carol," roasted chestnuts for sale and beautiful lights. 

So, to recap: How did I take my little black dress to a semi-casual style?

  • I used the dress as a tunic pairing it with polka dot ankle pants.
  • I wore flats rather than heels. However, the flats had a unique feature that took them to a level above casual with the addition of the buckle toe look.
  • I wore simple jewelry in colors that complimented the look. 
  • I wore my hair down rather than in an updo.
Join me next time for my final post of this three part series in which I will show you how I take my little black dress to a very casual style. Can't wait to see what you think!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Saturday Scriptures # 27 Listening Before Speaking


Post this at all the intersections, dear friends. Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.  
James 1:19 (The Message)

How often do you find yourself speaking first, reacting with some type of emotional response second and then either not bothering to listen at all or listening only as a last resort? If you are like me, this order of communication can happen sometimes. 

I believe that, as humans, we all have a desire to be heard by those around us. Whether we are communicating with co-workers, family, friends or acquaintances, we all have the desire to make our thoughts and feelings known to others. But, I also know how easy it is to have miscommunication happen during a conversation. I know that there are times when someone is speaking, rather than my listening carefully to what they are saying, I am already formulating my response. My full attention is not being given to the speaker. And, often, my emotions can get in the way and cloud my ability to really "hear" what someone is actually saying. That means I might take offense when no offense is meant. I might become angry, even though the speaker is not trying to anger me. I might "hear" something, because of my emotional response, that was not meant to be interpreted in a negative way. Listening first, rather than last, is very important according to today's scripture.

As I think about this scripture from James, however, I not only think about human communications that I take part in, but also my communication with God. And I pause to ask myself some questions:

  • How often during my prayer time do I sit quietly to listen for God's voice rather than launching into my usual litany of requests and petitions?
  • And when I hear the voice of God speaking to me, how often do I act on what I hear? 
If you read on in this first chapter of James, the scriptures are quite clear on these points.

"Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear!"

These words are important food for thought for me as I go forward in the days to come. I'm definitely posting these words at all of the intersections of my life. How about you? 


Thursday, August 3, 2017

How To Take A Little Black Dress To A Formal Style #1

(Not a Sponsored Post )

We hear so much about the importance of every woman having a "little black dress" in their closet. Recently, I had occasion to wear such a dress and guess who didn't have one? I had a winter black dress and  a black dress with white patterns on it and a couple of black skirts and black tops. But, a plain summer little black dress? Nah...not one to be found in my closet. 

So, to Stein Mart I headed figuring I could find something I needed there. And voila.....I brought home this perfect for me little black dress in a swing style. 

Since every woman has need of a little black dress at some point, I decided to style this dress three different ways for you. So, this post is #1 in the series and portrays a formal look for this dress. In future posts I'll show how to wear it semi-casual and very casual. 

These heels take this dress to a formal level in my opinion. You have seen these shoes on the blog before when I did my "killer shoes" post. These shoes wrap around my foot and zip in back of the heel, so they actually provide good support. I am considering having the heels cut down a bit as they are a little higher than I prefer. But, I do like the look at this height. 

I added to the formal look by wearing my hair in an updo using another of my hair pieces. You first saw one of my hair pieces in this earlier post about creating an updo
This hairpiece is longer and curlier than the previous one I showed you and attaches with a claw clip.
As I've mentioned before, hair pieces are an easy way to create updos and add hair and volume to your look very quickly. Bad hair days can become good hair days if you have a few of these babies on hand!

I added dressier jewelry with a black/silver tassel necklace, silver earrings, and my favorite double strand black bracelets on one arm and my white crystal studded bangle bracelet from Katherine's Corner on the other arm. 

When I went to Stein Mart, I probably tried on seven or eight little black dresses before I found the one that worked for me. If you check out Stein Mart's website, you will find several little black dresses in various styles. This is not a sponsored or gifted post. But, I figure there may be other ladies out there, like me, who suddenly find themselves in need of a little black dress and don't have one! So, perhaps the Stein Mart site will give you some ideas. 

So, to recap for this #1 post in my series. How did I take this little black dress to the formal level? 
  • Hair in an updo
  • Dressier jewelry
  • Dressy heels
  • Evening style clutch bag (see first image)
It's your turn! Do you have a little black dress in your closet? How do you take your dresses to a more formal level? Hope you will leave a comment. I look forward to showing you this dress again in future posts in a semi-casual and casual style.

Until Next Time,

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