Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Cassie Cat Chat

A Few Words From The "New" Cat

Cassie Cat relaxing on her soft bed
Cassie Cat's Book Jacket Photo for Future Reference
"Wait, did you get my best side for the header photo? Is my fur neat? Did you use the side shot I liked? "

Oh, hello there! My name is Cassie and I thought I had better go ahead and introduce myself since no one else around her seemed ready to do it...ahem! I am what you humans would probably call the "new cat" in town and on the blog. Yes, I know, my predecessor was known fur and wide as an, "Ace Cat Reporter." I make no such claim, however. I am simply my own cat self and plan to share a few tails with you every now and again, whenever Love allows me to be on the computer. That's why I plan to call my posts, "Cassie Cat Chat." I like to chat, after all. I spend a great deal of my day chattering away at squirrels, birds, bears and whatever creatures pass by the back door while I am on what Love and Softie call, "my perch." 

Who are Love and Softie, you ask? They are my humans, of course. I own them now, you know. Oh yes, I see what you are thinking. Why am I not referring to them as the "Ace Cat Reporter" did as Fur Mama and Fur Papa? Because, quite simply, I think those are silly names. I certainly have never met a cat who referred to their humans that way. And, I am a cat of the world. I was on my own for over a year before I picked out my two humans. I have seen the world. I wasn't dropped yesterday, you know!

Every cat must name their humans once they get to know them, of course. At first, understandably, I was a bit shy around them. But, then, I noticed that the human woman was very kind to me, gave me food and tried to hold me if I would allow her the privilege. I made her wait a bit. No sense putting all four paws forward at once, you know. Oh yes, I made them both wait quite a long time before allowing them to touch me. I must admit, however, that the woman does have such warm clothing when she holds me and gives me little kisses on my head. I seem to remember feeling this warm and cared for feeling when I was curled close in the litter with my own cat mother. A distant memory to be sure. Anyway, I decided to name the human woman, "Love." 

Softie is another story. I had his number from the first night I spent in this house. He sat for long hours on the floor tossing a silly toy around trying to coax me from behind the couch where I had taken up residence. You observe....I wanted to make certain that I had made the right choice in picking out my humans. It's a very delicate thing, a cat choosing her humans. After awhile, I decided to stay. And that's when I began training them...Love and Softie, I mean. I could tell right away that Love was one of those humans who would probably try to impose rules on me; silly rules like "don't scratch the furniture" and "don't set one paw on the kitchen counter." I soon found that Softie would become my ally in training Love. Oh, she still fusses a bit over scratching the furniture. I will try to give her what she wants......some of the time.....just to keep her happy. I am proud to say, however, that I have conquered the kitchen counter. With Softie's help, of course. Love should never have taken that long trip to West Virginia, heh, heh. I knew Softie would cave on the kitchen counter your humans can take awhile. Sometimes even nine lives...or so I am told. I am a patient cat, however. And, I now know that my choice in choosing my humans was the correct one. 

As this is my first post, I will not tail all my stories at once. And, I have quite a few tails to write about, in fact. Oh yes, I'll be back another day to chat more with you. When I convince Love to allow me to use her computer. If all else fails, I will enlist Softie's help. He has a computer, too, you know. They really are both great humans for a cat to own.

A bit of catly advice for you to take with you from this post: keep alert for anything that may appear out your back door, keep your tail held high no matter what, and run exuberantly throughout your house on all four paws at least once daily for maximum health! (Hint: sliding around corners on your claws makes it more fun.)

Purringly Yours,
Cassie Cat

Linking With: Marilyn's Treats Wonderful Wednesday

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Weekend Inspiration: Dancing In The Second Half of Life

Falling Upward While Dancing

I'm reading a book right now that is very interesting and provides extremely deep and thoughtful reading. If you have never heard of Richard Rohr before, I recommend that you check out his writing. This is my first foray into his writing about spirituality and I must say that his thoughts about falling upward into the second half of life have me doing a lot of thinking about how all of my experiences up to now can lead me into how I live this second half of my life in retirement. 

I won't do justice to trying to explain his writing in detail. I can, however, offer some quotes from the book to whet your appetite for the delectable style of his writing. For instance, he begins Chapter 1 entitled, "The Two Halves of Life," with the following quote from Carl Jung:

"One cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life's morning; for what was great in the morning will be of little importance in the evening, and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie." (Carl Jung, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche)

He goes on to explain that while the first half of life is more about creating our life "container" by learning what makes us significant, finding community and learning how we will support ourselves, the second half of life is more about finding the actual contents that our life container was truly meant to hold. He writes that all of the life experiences in the first half of our lives can help us to find out what our "container" should truly be holding. He quotes Mary Oliver who said, "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" And he says that many people continue to work on filling their life container with things that end up needing repaired rather than following the scripture from John 21 where Jesus instructs his disciples to, "throw their nets into the deep," and bring in the huge catch that is waiting for them. 

I have to admit that much of what Richard Rohr writes is so deep that I find myself reading small bits at a time, thinking for awhile, and then coming back to read more. And, I don't completely subscribe to everything he says. However, there is much in this book that has touched me deeply. Throughout the book, Richard connects what he is writing with various scriptures and quotes from other sources. One thing that I read this past week has really imprinted itself on my mind. Richard writes: 

"When you are young, you define yourself by differentiating yourself; now you look for the things we all share in common. You find happiness in alikeness, which has become much more obvious to you now; and you do not need to dwell on the differences between people and exaggerate the problems. Creating dramas has become boring. In the second half of life, it is good just to be a part of the general dance. We do not have to stand out, make defining moves, or be better than anyone else on the dance floor. Life is more participatory than assertive, and there is no need for strong or further self-definition. God has taken care of all of that, much better than we ever expected. The brightness comes from within now, and it is usually more than enough. The dance has a seriousness to it, but also an unself-conscious freedom of form that makes it bright and shining."
(Richard Rohr, Falling Upward, Chapter 10, page 120)

I love thinking of my time of life now-this second half of my life-as a dance. And my dance doesn't have to look like anyone else's dance. This not a competition! I can dance without being self conscious or needing to copy someone else's moves. Free form is OK! I wonder if this is how David felt when he danced before the Lord with all his might in 2 Samuel 6:14?  I just know that whatever form my dance takes, I want it to be authentically Debbie and I want it to offer praise to the Lord. 

"Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory." Psalm 149:3-4

How is your dance coming along? Are you falling upward into the second half of your life? Have you read writing by Richard Rohr? Hope you will take a moment to share.


Linking With: Becoming Press (this will appear on my Where I Party page in future.)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Polka Dot Valentine Tablescape

Red and White Polka Dots For  Valentine's Day

red and white theme for Valentine's Day

I'm sharing a simple Valentine's Day tablescape today. I always enjoy the look of red and white on the table and the polka dots add an extra cheerful note, I think!

To create this tablescape for two, I used what I already had on hand combined with a few inexpensive items I purchased at A.C. Moore. The polka dot placemats are actually paper for scrap booking. The other side has red/white stripes that could be used for a different tablescape look. 

The white napkins are folded and tied with red yarn and a polka dot heart sticker. 

red and white candle wreath, polka dots and snowglobe for Valentine's Day

For the centerpiece I used my "with all my heart" wooden sign with a flame free candle flanked by a red/white ball and clear snowflake candle wreath. In addition, I found a sweet musical heart shaped snow globe that plays, "Some Enchanted Evening," that made a great addition to the centerpiece. 

There are butterflies inside the heart snow globe! I couldn't believe my luck when I found this snow globe at Goodwill a few months ago. I just knew this would find its way onto my Valentine's table!

These red and white picks look great in a vase and carry through with the polka dot themed tablescape. 

I love the red and white all over my table! This cheerful and whimsical tablescape is just what I need to get into the Valentine's Day decorating mood. How about you? Are you decorating for Valentine's Day yet? Do you like red and white on your table? Hope you'll leave me a comment and let me know. 

Need a little more Valentine's Day Inspiration? Check out these pics from previous posts.

red foods for Valentine's Day

lace doily and red hearts for foyer table

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Formal and Casual Turtleneck Styling

Creative Stylings With Turtlenecks

(Not a gifted, sponsored or paid post. All writing and opinions are my own.)

formal turtleneck with white skirt

There is nothing more basic than having a black turtleneck in your closet. I've been a fan of wearing turtlenecks for years and own a variety in several colors. The wonderful thing about them is they can be dressed up or down making them a versatile choice for either formal or casual styling. Let's look at formal styling first.

I paired my black turtleneck with this pleated white skirt which you saw previously on the blog styled with a colorful ruffled top. I'm also wearing my comfy black Abella pumps which lend a hand toward creating a dressier, formal look. 

classic pearl necklace

And, let us not forget how the right jewelry can dress up a look. By "right" I don't mean super expensive, either. Pearls always say "dressy" to me whether they are paired with a skirt or jeans. Here, I am wearing a multi-strand of pearls interspersed with gold beads. The gold ties in well with the dangle earrings, a Christmas gift from one of my sisters. Sometimes less is more with jewelry, so I'm limiting this formal look to the necklace and earrings only. 

simple styling with corduroy pants and black turtleneck

Now, let's talk casual. Same turtleneck as before only paired, this time, with tan corduroys and black Skecher booties. Have I mentioned that black is also a very slimming color? 

Rather than a necklace, I accessorized with a blue/tan print scarf and a couple of bracelets. The scarf is another Christmas gift from one of my sisters. The tan color in the scarf coordinates well with the tan corduroys. I enjoy making sure that the colors I wear together blend, coordinate or compliment each other well. 

stretchy bead bracelets

You can see that the bracelets all carry the tan/black theme colors. The "dream" bracelet was a gift to me years ago from one of my fourth grade students. The bracelet actually has three words on it; dream, believe and achieve. I love it for the memories it brings me of a very sweet former student and for the inspirational word reminders. The black/gold bead stretch bracelet is from A.C. Moore. If you have one of these stores in your area, be sure to check out their jewelry section. They typically have a large bin of colorful bracelets priced around 3 for $9.00! They make great gifts, also. 

casual looks with corduroy pants

Turtlenecks are an inexpensive article of clothing that can be dressed up or down, making them a very versatile piece to have in your closet. I bought most of mine at Walmart, where they are regularly available at a low price. If you don't like clothing around your neck, you could also achieve these looks easily with a black scooped long sleeve tee-type top, also available for inexpensive prices. Now, go shop your closet and see if you have a black turtleneck. Don't worry if you don't have black. How about navy blue or another color? Think of how you could style similar looks with red (great for Valentines styling) or green or brown? I could have basically worn the same outfit and accessories with blue, green, tan or brown tops. Have fun shopping your closet! And make sure you pin the photos for later reference. 

Until Next Time,

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Weekend Inspiration for the Week Ahead

Being Yourself

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. 
Romans 12:9-10 (The Message)

When you look in the mirror what do you see?  Do you see a beautiful, intelligent woman with her own unique personality who is beloved of God?  Or, do you see a face with wrinkles, lack of confidence and everything that you think is wrong with you? Perhaps, it varies from day to day, what you see in the mirror? One day you are confident in your abilities and how you see yourself in the mirror and the next you're not? You are not alone, you know. I think most women vary in what they see in the mirror from time to time.

Today, when you look in the mirror, I want you to do two things. The first thing I want you to do is to notice at least one thing you see that you really, really like about yourself. Say out loud to yourself what that is. You might notice the beautiful color of your eyes, or the shape of your lips or your hair or cheekbones. You get the idea. Tell yourself what you see in the mirror that you like. Appreciate the fact that your face was uniquely created by God as the face He wanted you to have in this life. There is no one else in the world like you. You are beautiful in the eyes of God. 

The second thing I want you to do is to repeat the scripture verse from Romans 12:9-10 three times to yourself as you look in the mirror. Say it slowly and really think about it as you say it each time. Not only did God create your face uniquely, but also your personality uniquely. There is no one else in this whole world who has your unique personality. Sure, there are others with similar talents, perhaps, or similar personalities. But none exactly like yours. You are uniquely you....the woman God created and loves. Now, think of at least one thing about your personality that you really like. Tell yourself what this one thing is. Really allow this to sink in to your thinking. 

Take these positive thoughts with you as you go throughout your day. Love others and yourself from the center of who you are in this day. You don't have to fake it, trying to look like someone else, or acting like someone else. You are enough just as you are. You were uniquely created by God, both inside and out, and you are a beloved child of God. 

Now, I ask you again.....what do you see when you look in the mirror?

Blessings in the week ahead,

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Easy DIY Heart Wreath

Crafting A DIY Heart Wreath

Valentine's Day is less than one month away. And if you're looking for an easy peasy heart craft to do, today's post is for you! It doesn't get much easier than using an old clothes hanger, foam hearts, glue and red ribbon for a do it yourself Valentine's decoration!

I began by bending an old clothes hanger into a circle shape leaving the curved hook intact at the top. I had hoped to bend the hanger into a heart shape, but couldn't do it so went for a circle shape instead. I then wound some old wide red ribbon around the hanger, tied it off at the hook and began gluing foam hearts all around the ribbon. You can see the foam hearts are shades of pink and lavender and vary in size. 

I finished the craft by pinching the hook together to form a circle for hanging and then used the last of the red ribbon to tie a pretty bow at the top. And that's it! See, I told you it was an easy peasy craft! Are you doing any crafts for Valentine's Day? I look forward to hearing from you! And, don't forget to pin this craft so you can refer to it again later! 

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Playing With Tablescapes on A Snowy Day

Tablescapes for Winter

A red plaid scarf with faux lantern on the kitchen table.

Seeing as how we have yet another snowstorm in our area today, I decided to play with creating some tablescapes on our kitchen table. Boredom can bring out my creativity, it seems. 

Folded red plaid scarf with lantern.

I decided to try folding this red plaid throw different ways to see what looked better on our round wooden table. 

The "old fashioned" oil lamp actually runs on batteries. The flame is a piece of plastic that flickers like an actual flame. We found this lamp at Ace Hardware and I really like it on our table. It's great for when the power goes off!

I decided to switch to a more winter-like theme on the table. This is certainly befitting the outdoor white stuff we got today!

White lace scarf, white flowers, candles and clear snowflakes

I filled a clear glass square vase with white foam balls (i.e. snowballs) and added white flowers. Clear, icy plastic snowflakes are propped up against the vase and the little glass light holders. Again, the lights are small flame free candles. 

Alternative uses for scarves.

You may recall seeing this lacy scarf when I wore it last winter for a post about wearing a white dress in winter. That post remains one of my favorite style posts that I have done, by the way. I scattered a few clear snowflakes on the lace scarf for good measure.

The truth about creating tablescapes on our kitchen table, however, is that our table is the repository for everything we bring into the house. So, when I create a beautiful arrangement, it typically ends up surrounded by coats on the chairs, my husband's wallet, keys and phone and, yes, my purse. The truth hurts....our house is a home and not a museum. 

Plastic snowflakes, flowers, snowglobes and flameless candles.

So, I moved most of the tablescape items, sans the scarves and oil lamp, to the side table in our living room. Mixed in with the polar bear snow globe, a larger flameless candle and the leftover flowers from my blossoms of joy post, they look pretty next to the snowy scene out our front window. 

And, here, my playtime ends as I decide this is where the tablescape will stay. Here, it will be undisturbed by the other debris of our lives, and can offer pleasure and a little respite from the snowy outside world as I gaze at its beauty.

Which of my tablescapes did you like best?  And, tell me, do you ever play with tablescapes?  Please take a moment to respond. Your comments make me happy!

Did you remember to sign up to receive my posts through email or bloglovin' so you never miss a post? Just look for the sign ups at the top of my sidebar. 

Until Next Time,

Monday, January 15, 2018

How Blogs Influence You and Learning To Be Yourself

Influencer...or Not?

Wearing my new all weather coat purchased at Stein Mart.

Do you ever feel like you are influenced by bloggers to buy things? Even when you really hadn't really thought of purchasing a particular product or item until you see someone else with it on a blog? And you think, "hmm... maybe I would look good wearing that." Blogger influence is my topic today and a case in point of how I have been influenced is the coat you see me wearing in today's post. Luckily, even though I was influenced....I think I ended up buying what I truly needed.

Wearing a stylish all weather waterproof coat.

The past couple of months, I've been noticing some bloggers I follow modeling what I call "classic" coats. These are dressier coats that you would wear with nice slacks or a dress. I have several cold weather coats to choose from, but it's been several years since I have purchased a "dress" type coat. By several years I mean...oh....probably 20? 

A fun musical scarf worn with a stylish all weather coat.

I had thought a few times over the last couple years of getting a dressier coat, but deemed it not really necessary. I had a dressier coat in the downstairs closet. I just never got it out to wear. It kind of slipped my mind until a couple things reminded me. During one of my closet clean outs this past year, I took out my "old" dressy coat and discovered it had become mildewed from hanging in an unheated closet. I decided it was past saving and chucked it out. And then, I started seeing these really nice coats on the bloggers and...well....I was influenced. Guess that's why many of these bloggers are called "influencers!"

I kind of half heartedly would check for dress coats in some stores I frequent, but didn't see what I was looking for. Until last week, when I was running errands and found myself close to Stein Mart. I figured they would have dress coats. And they did. And, even better, they were 30% off. Yes! 

But, this is when things got a bit tricky for me.  The "classic" coat I tried on was beautiful, but the style fit really tightly against me and showed off every unflattering curve. I tried it on again and again, trying to convince myself it was for me. I almost talked myself into it, but finally,  I left the store and came home. There, I proceeded to look up the coat online, reading reviews about it and, again, trying to convince myself it was for me. After all, the bloggers were wearing this style. I was under the spell of being "mega-influenced!"

An all weather coat with both zippers and buttons for extra warmth.

I actually made up my mind to return to the store that afternoon and buy that "classic" coat. I convinced myself that I had only imagined that it hugged my curves unflatteringly. After all, I have a very vivid imagination! So back I went, where I proceeded to put the coat on....and off....and on....and off....over and over. Finally, I gave up, disgustedly hanging the coat on the rack for the final time. And that's when I turned and saw the coat I'm wearing in these pictures. I took it off the hanger to try on thinking, "but this is not a "classic" coat like the bloggers were wearing."  Maybe not...but, it was the perfect coat for me. The first thing I noticed was how it was hanging perfectly on my body, not hugging me in an unflattering way. It is basically an "all weather" type coat which both zips and then buttons and has a removable liner, making it perfect for year round use!  I remember owning such a coat years ago and I loved it! Although not a "classic" coat, it is still dressy enough to wear with nice slacks and dresses when occasions call for such a coat. I can tell you that so far, I have worn it in downpours of rain and very cold weather and it is a winner! And that trumps being "classic" in my opinion! 

So here's the moral of this story. I need to be careful about being too influenced by things I see on the blogs. I need to really consider, first of all, whether I need something or not and, secondly, I need to choose things that fit me and my body and not someone else's body. One reason I try to encourage folks to "shop their closets" is that I know I have made some splurge choices in fashion just because of blogger influence. Some of those fashions have worked for me, but some have not. I'm trying to be much more particular about what I buy these days, making certain that it truly "fits me" and not someone else. And, sometimes, if I just shop my own closet, I realize that I truly have all the style I need at this time. Other times, as with this coat, I find that I need to let go of pre-conceived ideas of what is in fashion and just shop for what fits Debbie. 

How about you?  Do you ever try to "convince" yourself to buy something that doesn't really fit your style?  And what do you think? Am I an influencer?

Until Next Time,

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weekend Inspiration: Blossoms of Joy

Blossoms of Joy in January

"Wilderness and desert will sing joyously,
the badlands will celebrate and flower--
Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom,
a symphony of song and color. 
Mountain glories of Lebanon--a gift,
Awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon--gifts.
God's resplendent glory, fully on display,
God awesome, God majestic.  
(Isaiah 35:1-2 The Message)

The days of January drag on for me.  Filled with cold, wind, ice and snow, I long for warmer days, sunshine and soft breezes.  I always get a little down in these winter months and the dreariness of recent days has not helped. On a recent trip to the store, I saw some lovely blooms and they called to me to take them home and arrange them in a pretty vase. The blossoms cheer me and give me hope that winter is not forever. Like the winters of our lives, the days of frigid snow and icy blasts will pass. Sunshine and warmth will come again. The dry deserts will burst forth and flower. I realize in my wilderness journey of winter....of life.....that there can be no spring without winter, no blossoming without sunshine without clouds. There is joy to be found, even in the dark times, if I but look for it. Blossoms in January remind me of that. 


Linking With:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A New Magical Cats Book Review

A Tale of Two Kitties

Looking for a good book to read? I've got a great recommendation for you today! Sofie Kelly's latest book in her Magical Cat Series is a great way to spend some reading hours!

I tried really hard to convince myself to wait until,  "A Tale of Two Kitties," comes out in paperback. But, I just couldn't wait and so "Santa" gave it to me for Christmas. The usual cast of characters are in this book, the usual mysterious death occurs, which Kathleen and her cute detective boyfriend, Marcus, work together to solve, and you also learn more about the history of how those two magical felines, who walk through doors and disappear at will, Owen and Hercules, came to live with Kathleen. To be honest, I'm still reading the book but enjoying it so much I wanted to go ahead and share it with you!

Sophie Kelly's Magical Cat Series is the right mix of mystery, interesting characters that reappear in each book and "gentle" romance (i.e. no gratuitous bedroom scenes) that I enjoy. I was a little surprised at the hardback edition. I'm fairly sure that her other books have always printed first in paperback. I don't recall seeing them in hardback before, at least. How cute is this hot pad that one of my sisters gave me as part of a "tea theme" Christmas present?! The C.S. Lewis quote sums up exactly how I feel about tea and reading!

And, look at the material on this darling tote bag that my friend, Sharon, made for me!  Books and cats....she knows me well!  I just love it.  Now, you are reading Sharon's blog right??? (I know you are!)

What are you reading right now? Have you read any of the Magical Cat Series yet?  Hope you'll take a moment to share!

Until Next Time,

Linking With:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Weekend Inspiration: A Scripture for 2018

Contentment In Your Place

"Where you are right now is God's place for you."
I Corinthians 7:17 (The Message)

First of all, I realize I'm late with my weekend devotional. I try to get it posted by Saturday evening at the latest. But sometimes time gets away from me and/or inspiration doesn't come. So, better late than never! I have decided to give a different name to my devotionals in 2018. This year they will be called, "Weekend Inspiration" and may appear on either Saturday or Sunday. I have so appreciated all of you who have read and commented on the Saturday Scripture posts this past year and I hope you will continue to read and post in the upcoming year!

Those of you who follow me regularly already know that I choose one (or more) words to focus on throughout the year. This year I'm surprised to have chosen four words and they are thankful, music, commitment and risk. I have never thought, however, of choosing a particular scripture to focus on throughout the year....until this year. I was having my daily devotional about a month or so ago and read I Corinthians 7:17. It really spoke to my heart and I found myself meditating on this scripture and returning to it again and again. I truly feel that the Lord is speaking to me at this time of my life with this scripture. So, I have chosen it as a focus scripture for 2018. All scripture has something to teach us. Sometimes, however, a particular scripture stands out and speaks to us at a particular time. This scripture is calling to me and I am prayerfully asking God to help me to fully understand its meaning for my life. Perhaps you would like to consider choosing a "focus scripture" for 2018. If you do, I would love for you to share! Blessings in the week ahead!