Sunday, January 24, 2021

How To Wear Shades of Brown with Hints of Blue


I've been on a bit of kick lately of wearing shades of brown. This latest outfit features dark brown, beige and cream with a little blue thrown in for good measure! The dark brown pants are old Basic Editions skinny pants, the cream is a faux turtleneck and the beige sweater is a Poshmark find. We'll get to the shoes later. 

You can just barely see part of my blue addition in the butterfly necklace I'm wearing. This necklace was a retirement gift from the lovely AIG group to me. So, it is definitely a treasured piece. The other blue comes from the navy blue and brown boat shoes I'm wearing. These are Skechers and I ordered them from DSW recently using a Christmas gift card. These shoes are so comfortable and lightweight and I have been wearing them frequently since they arrived. They are also machine washable shoes, which is true for most Skechers shoes. I plan on wearing and enjoying these shoes for a long time! 

This next look comes courtesy of The Appalachian Trail as The Mr. and I enjoyed a hike there on Friday. I'm wearing a champagne color down coat (link is similar) which is oh-so-warm with blue jeans and blue fuzzy gloves. Too bad I didn't have a blue hat to go with those gloves but, alas, I had to make do with my trusty black hat. 

If you look closely, though, you can see a champagne colored fuzzy neck scarf tucked into my coat. This scarf, gifted to me at Christmas, is so soft and warm and I just love it! 

I think that adding touches of blue to outfits that feature shades of brown is a great idea. The color combo seems to work well together and I like the look very much! Brown just appeals to me in all of its shades. 

Interestingly enough, we found shades of brown in things we saw on the hike. Like this trail sign.

And this silo we saw driving toward the trail.

And in this old tobacco barn.

And, even in this beautiful house on the drive back home. This house, by the way, is an original Sears Roebuck house that was ordered from a Sears catalog back in the day. So cool!

Take a moment to look in your closet and see if you have some shades of brown that you can pair with some hints of blue. I think you will really enjoy the combination! Let me know what you find!

Until Next Time,


*not a sponsored post

**photography by William Ross

Thursday, January 21, 2021

How Books and Music Touch Our Lives

 There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry
Emily Dickinson

'Tis you that are the music, not your song...
Amy Lowell

Where would our world be without music and books? I don't ask this question lightly, for both have been a formative part of my life since my childhood. I believe I have already shared my first experience with walking into a public library with my mother to get my very first library card. The smell of the books that day was an intoxicating scent to me. To think that I could come here to this beautiful place and check out books that would, indeed, take me to lands far away was an exciting prospect to my young heart. To this day, the smell of a book gives me joy and the feel of a book in my hands brings an excitement of what adventures lay in its pages. I especially enjoy reading books in a series because the characters become my "friends" and I typically re-read those books over and over again. 

Likewise, music is a part of all that is dear to me. I am told that, as a little baby, I loved to clap and sing along with songs and nursery rhymes that my sisters would sing and recite with me. Later, in elementary school, I auditioned to sing in the school choir and began taking violin lessons offered in our school system. This later led to my playing in school orchestras and bands and even directing the choir at my church while still in high school. It's quite telling that I remember part of an essay I wrote in elementary school about how one would describe rhythm. I said that, "even in the swinging of an umbrella there is rhythm." The teacher seemed impressed that I recognized rhythm in ways that went beyond typical music venues. I have carried music with me throughout my life...into adulthood, into my education, into my teaching and into my serving of God. Now, in retirement, I continue to make time in my life for music as I learn a new instrument (flute) and direct the handbell choir at my church. The Mr. and I have listening sessions with music from different time periods which I really enjoy. And, yes, I sometimes swing an umbrella on my arm and think about the rhythms that I am creating. I can truly say, along with Amy Lowell, that "'tis me that is the music." Where would I be without it? 

Reading and music are not just good for me, though. They are good for all of us. According to reading improves brain connectivity, increases vocabulary and comprehension and increases the ability to empathize to just name a few benefits. Music also touches our souls and emotions in my opinion. In fact, I have to be careful about the music I choose to listen to as it can really affect my mood. Sometimes, I have to change the music if a piece is particularly somber or melancholy as it can bring me to tears. Here is what says about music and its effect on us:

"Music exerts a powerful influence on human beings. It can boost memory, build task endurance, lighten your mood, reduce anxiety and depression, stave off fatigue, improve your response to pain, and help you work out more effectively."Apr 1, 2020 (

As a retiree, I look for things that keep my mind sharp and reading and music are both great avenues for this task. According to Philips Lifeline reading benefits seniors in many ways such as enhancing memory, sharpening decision making skills, delaying onset of Alzheimers and dementia, reducing stress and promoting better sleep. These benefits make me want to grab a book right now! Luckily this is not an issue as I typically read every single day. 

Likewise, music is healthful for seniors, as well. The Vault reports that, according to Johns Hopkins, music is medicine for the mind and that listening to or playing music is like a total brain workout. So, as a senior, I definitely want to keep music in my life! 

How does reading books and listening to and/or playing music fit into your life? Be sure to let me know in the comments. 

The thing is; you don't have to read Moby Dick or be a concert violinist in order to enjoy reading and music. My preferred reading is typically light in nature and incorporates gentle fiction and cats if possible. Mysteries are a huge favorite but nothing gory for me thank you. Likewise, I have always enjoyed an eclectic mix of music from disco to classical and much in between. Although I usually don't go in for country, I was always a huge fan of The Judds back in the day. I still have some of their CD's. (Yes, CD's. I know....old school). 

Over the years, I have realized that many times things can happen in life that may make us feel "less than" in some way when it comes to reading or making music. Life experiences are not always rosy. 

For instance, as a musician, I have struggled over the years with not being "good enough" and suffering from crippling stage fright when performing. I am working hard, in retirement, to simply enjoy music for myself and not be controlled by it or the expectations of others. Majoring in music gave me lots of pleasure, but also opened the door for lots of criticism. It simply comes with the territory because music involves auditions and juried performances and the ever present "attitudes" that are present in the arts. Although many musicians handle this with no problem, my highly sensitive personality got a bit bruised by it all and it has literally taken me years to understand that all of the angst of music really had very little to do with me personally. This realization had allowed me to set my inner musician free and to come to a peaceful understanding and acceptance of some of the pain that was caused by the competition aspect of it all. Something as wonderful and beneficial as music should not cause painful emotions and I am happy to count myself among those who call themselves "musicians." 

Another example of a less than rosy experience occurred with reading when I was in the first grade. I was sick a lot that year and missed school frequently. Those were the "Dick and Jane" years of sitting in little chairs in a semi-circle and reading aloud for the teacher. My teacher that year thought it a good idea to rank the students in the semi-circle from poorest reader to best reader. When I was able to be in school I would be at the top chair in the group. But, after missing for several days, my teacher thought it would be good to place me in the very last seat, have all the children read aloud and, "see how long it takes Debbie to rise to the top seat." While I don't wish to sit in judgement of my teacher, I can't believe that this activity was good for ANY of us small and impressionable children. And for me....well...not good at all. This goes a long way in explaining why I threw up many mornings in first grade and couldn't go to school. Yeah, not a rosy experience at all. But, surprisingly, this never stopped me from loving reading just as the competition and attitudes I experienced in music groups never stopped me from loving music. I wonder why? 

Have you heard of "Multiple Intelligences?"  These intelligences were coined by Howard Gardner and speak to the different ways that people are born to learn and interact with the world. Gardner's multiple intelligences theory has been hotly debated over the years but I, along with many other educators, feel it has merit. It is generally believed that everyone has all of the intelligences but that two or three tend to dominate. Thus, a person relies on the dominant intelligences for their learning and interaction in the world. It was no great surprise to me that my two dominant intelligences are verbal/linguistic and musical. These intelligences "call to me" and help me to define, understand, learn and live in the world. They always have and, I'm sure, they always will-even in the face of less than rosy experiences like the ones I shared above. 

So, I ask again.  How do music and books touch your life?  I surely know how important they are in my life. 

Until Next Time,

*Not a sponsored post. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Why I Love Long Cardigans

 What I Wore At The Drive-Thru

I couldn't resist adding the title about what I wore at the drive-thru to this post. Getting even a little dressed up right now is a big deal and I wanted to style my long cardigan with this outfit and tell you why I love long cardigans in general. 

Underneath the cardigan I wore my tan tunic/dress over brown skinny pants that, to me, are more like leggings anyway. It's a bit of a monochromatic look with different shades of brown being used in the styling. Every time I wear brown I am reminded of how much I like the color. 

For added warmth I layered my long southwestern style cardigan over the outfit. Shades of brown again with a background of cream. I really like adding long cardigans to my outfits because they bring added warmth. The length keeps my legs extra warm. Long cardigans can also double as a coat on days that aren't freezing. Today was that kind of day so this was all I needed to run my errands....including going through the drive-thru! (wink) These cardigans are less bulky than many coats and I love them for wearing as a coat in Fall and Spring, as well. 

You can also add a bit of extra style, like I did here, with the addition of a belt. The belt defines my waist and adds one more layer of brown. This outfit is built on layers which can be added or subtracted depending on temperature and styling desires. Short cardigans can be belted as well so check out your own closet for sweaters, belts and outfits that can be layered and have some fun creating new looks. I think you will enjoy the versatility that sweaters/cardigans can give to your own stylings. 
Hope you'll leave a comment!
Until Next Time,

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Fresh Cut Flowers Add Cheer to Winter Months

 Creating Vignettes With Fresh Flowers

I'm always looking for ways to bring cheerfulness to the winter months and one way I have found to do that is to bring fresh cut flowers into my home. I picked out these gorgeous blooms during a trip to the grocery store and aren't they beautiful and vibrant colors?!

I knew that I wanted to find some unique containers to use for arranging these flowers. So, I went through my cabinets and found a clear, rectangular short vase and a pretty small ceramic teapot that is itself covered in flowers. Because these containers were small and short I had to cut the long stems of my flowers in order to make them fit well. 

I just love to get not one but two flower arrangements from one bouquet of flowers and that was exactly what I was able to do! I tried to divide the colors equally between the clear vase and the teapot for the best color effect. If anyone knows what those little salmon colored tomato-like flowers are in the teapot let me know. I haven't seen them in bouquets before and they are unique and pretty. 

I was able to display my flower arrangements in two different locations in my living room. This one is on the side table and adds a colorful touch to the snowmen, snowglobe and other decor on the table. 

And my little teapot arrangement fits right in with the eclectic items on our mantel. You can see we like to display items that are either from nature or reflect nature so flowers are just perfect with everything else. 

Studies have shown that flowers have a positive effect on both mood and emotional health. So, I am not surprised that bringing fresh flowers into my home is a true spirit lifter for me. Perhaps it can be for you, as well. Stopping to smell the roses (or carnations or....) can bring a bright spot to any day. Take a look at the fresh flowers the next time you are out at the grocery store or another place that sells fresh flowers and indulge yourself. Let me know if it lifts your spirits and if you like my arrangements today. 

Until Next Time,


Monday, January 11, 2021

In Praise of Being Introverted in A Pandemic World

 In Praise Of Introversion

A great book to read about being an introvert

Is it possible that being introverted has helped me through this time of a world-wide pandemic? I believe it has. As an introvert, needing to stay at home more has not seemed as daunting to me as it has to friends and family who are more extroverted by nature. But, even being introverted, I am looking forward to the time when life will become more normal again. Still, staying home to stay safe has given me ample time to read more, reflect more and write more-all things that introverts tend to value. 

I didn't know until recently that there is a World Introvert Day and it is each year on January 2nd. So, I'm a week late in celebrating but that's ok. I've known for a long time that I'm an introvert and have many of the textbook traits of introverts such as getting tired-out from social interaction and needing time to recharge by being alone. I'm also not a fan of big parties and prefer smaller groups of friends when I socialize. If I am in a new situation I tend to stand back and observe before joining in or speaking out and that has caused many folks over the years to misunderstand me, thinking I was being snobby or overly quiet or just not much fun to be around. And I much prefer to work alone than in groups. Now that I'm retired this isn't such an issue anymore although groups can't be avoided entirely. The world tends to value extroverted traits such as being social, talking a lot and group problem solving rather than an individual working alone. 

I began to learn more about my introverted self when I was taking courses to add on the academically-intellectually-gifted certification that allowed me to become an AIG Specialist. More recently, I have enjoyed getting articles from which offers a lot of info about what being an introvert means. Click on the link and you will find a plethora of articles including this one on the definition of being an introvert. Learning about introversion came to me later in my career and I found learning more about myself very helpful. I had always been described as "quiet" and always knew I liked time to myself. I found it life affirming to learn more about what introversion means. 

For any extroverts reading this post, please understand that being an introvert is not "better" than being an extrovert and vice-versa. Psychologists believe that we are born as either an introvert or an extrovert and we have our particular introvert/extrovert traits for life. Those traits do impact how each of us like to live our lives both personally and professionally. So, in my opinion, it's very helpful to understand our introverted or extroverted selves. And since many of the extroverted traits-such as being social and outgoing and enjoying working in groups-is valued in the school and workplace, it is important to celebrate and value introverts as well. 

Even as a child I can remember being introverted. Which makes sense as I was born with particular introverted traits. I fully remember coming home exhausted from all of the social interaction at school and needing to eat a snack, sit by myself and think over the events and interactions of the day in seclusion. Although I had friends and fully enjoyed being with them, I always needed alone time to recharge from these social times. As a small child I loved playing alone outside or in my bedroom and invented all sorts of imaginary friends and adventures. I loved reading at an early age and was always content to sit quietly and read. When I was a teenager I enjoyed participating in all of the usual teenage activities with friends but found that I needed time alone afterward to recharge from all the social interaction. 

Later, as an adult, I carried these same traits into first college life and then the professional settings of teaching. As you might imagine, the educational setting of public school greatly valued teachers working together in "teams" writing curriculum in groups, planning lessons together and encouraging our students to work together in the classroom in groups to problem solve. Early on in my career I noticed students who, like me, shied away from group work and preferred to learn on their own as individuals. While I learned many ways over my career to work and teach in extroverted settings, I also valued my own individualism as a teacher and also tried to respect the students who preferred working alone, as well. It was always a bit of a tightrope walk to get through my professional life as an introvert and most days I came home exhausted from all of the interaction that was required during the work day that went beyond simply teaching my students. Due to this, I tried to keep my evenings and weekends free from lots of social engagements because that time was needed for me to unwind and recharge for the coming week of work. I watched other friends teach all day and then go to meetings or social events in the evenings and feel energized by those events. But not me. Going to more things in the evenings that called on me to be social after a long day at work was very draining. Now, in retirement, I have more free time and am better able to cope and, before Covid, I even found myself looking for more opportunities for social interaction. But during my work life those down times were truly necessary and precious. 

Introverts tend to be given many labels such as being "quiet" or "shy." The thing is, as an introvert it takes me longer to feel comfortable letting my true self show when I first meet someone. That means I may stand back and just observe for awhile. I may not speak out as much for awhile. But, once I get to know someone I can be just as loud and talkative as an extroverted person. It just takes awhile. And, I have to feel very safe in a social situation before I share lots of information about myself. Introverts tend to prefer a close group of a few friends rather than a large group of lots of friends. And that pretty much describes me throughout my whole life. 

Introverts can be quieter, thoughtful people who seek meaning in their lives. They tend to be problem solvers who think long and hard before expressing themselves to others. They can have rich inner lives that are full of creative and meaningful ideas. Introverts have so much to offer the world. So do extroverts. But often times it is the extroverts who get noticed over the introverts because extroverts tend to talk more and be louder in what they voice. Because extroverts tend to be more assertive and frequently are first to offer ideas and opinions they are often more "heard" than introverts who take time to think and ponder before offering ideas and opinions. Both groups are important to our world. But I must say that as an introvert, I am happy to find that I am not alone since it is believed that 30-50% of the population are introverts. So, how can we not celebrate?!

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What has been your experience as an introvert or an extrovert? If you are an introvert, can you relate to the definitions? Do leave a comment. I love hearing from my readers!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Living In A Snow Globe World

 Life Outside My Window

The view outside my window is very snowy today. In fact, it is like living inside a snow globe! We have at least four inches with more expected before midnight, so my world today is inside where it is warm and cozy. After experiencing a long and busy week, this kind of day is most welcome.

Living inside a snow globe basically gives you one view of the world. It is easy to think that this is the view everyone is experiencing. But, that is not the case. 

There are snow people of all shapes and sizes outside the snow globe. Some have brooms which makes sweeping their paths easier. But others do not. Hopefully, the snow people who own brooms will help out the others. 

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater" Isaiah 55:10

Until Next Time,


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Sunday Drive To Burnsville North Carolina

A Quiet And Quaint Little Town

Welcome to the quaint and lovely town of Burnsville, North Carolina. This is where we took our Sunday drive today and enjoyed snapping some photos on the village green. The Christmas decorations were still up and I'm so glad as it added to the photos and also our enjoyment. 

I'm always reminded of the fictional villages of Fairacre and Thrush Green whenever I visit little towns like this. Dora Saint (Miss Read) structured those villages around a green area in the middle of town and all of the houses and businesses fanned out in every direction just like they do here in Burnsville. You can see the Nu-Wray Inn in this picture which is an historic inn that I would love to go into some day. I have read that Thomas Wolfe, Christopher Reeves and Elvis Presley all stayed at this inn

Like many towns of similar size, this one is filled with beautiful old buildings which are no longer used for their original intent. This is the old Yancey County Public Library building. It reminds me of the old Carnegie Library in my hometown which now sits unused. These buildings are so historic and beautiful and I wish they could still be used as libraries. I guess that I am not of the opinion that newer is better!

I really like the wreaths and red ribbon on the lamp posts on the green. If it hadn't been so cold today, I wouldn't have minded just sitting on the green and taking it all in. But, it was bitter today and after snapping several photos I headed back to the warmth of the car while The Mr. continued his photography without me. Guess I'm a wimp!

This is a statue of Otway Burns for whom the town of Burnsville is named. He was a soldier in the War of 1812. 

A view of the main street of downtown. Several years ago I would travel here every week to play in a local orchestra. It was a long drive to make in all types of weather and I was still teaching school at the time, as well, so I eventually gave up the orchestra. It was always fun to come to this little town, though. 

I'll close this post with a final picture of the pretty lights on this tree on the green facing The Nu-Wray Inn. We didn't get to see the lights at night but I'm sure they are beautiful! It was a lovely Sunday drive and I enjoyed getting to see the sights of Burnsville once again. 

Until Next Time,