Tuesday, September 2, 2014

FALL!!!!!!!!

Y'all...I'm not even kidding. I love fall more than cake and sleep and Chic Fil A ice cream. I love it.  I love the smell of fall. I love the cool mornings and bugless evenings.  I love the leaves changing colors.  I love the frost on the windows. I love bringing the firewood up to the porch.  I love the idea of loving football even though I don't love football at all.  I love boots and sweaters and not even having to think about wearing a swimsuit.

After such a great summer, I'm looking forward to an equally stellar fall. Since I love bullet points and numbered lists. Here are four things I'm working on and really stoked about for Fall!

1.  Eating right.



Starting September 1st, I am embarking on a whole foods/paleo eating plan. I actually started a few days ago. Haven't had any sugar or sugary treat since....hmmmm....can't really remember.  I have had some cream and a half teaspoon of truvia in my coffee, so according to the sticklers, I'm not doing the real Whole30, but it's close.  Also not on the menu is bread, alcohol, any kind of grain, white potatoes, processed food (like bacon! ::commence sobbing::), dairy (except for that tiny splash of cream) (that means no CHEESE!!  ::commence gnashing of teeth::)  I bought Well Fed two weeks ago and have been studying it obsessively (as someone who doesn't cook would).  I'm really excited about this way of eating. I bought a thousand dollars worth of spices (not really that much), some of which I've never even heard of. I even tried out one of the recipes. I'll report more on that later. Even though I'm not going 100% perfect Whole30, I am going to follow their guidance regarding staying away from the scale for the duration.   I'll report back on the 30th about that..unless it's not good and then I'll hope y'all forgot. And y'all should pretend to have forgotten, m'kay?

2.  Bible reading.



I have tried a number of Bible study plans over the years.  For various reasons, it just never worked very well for me.  I see the pictures on IG of the #shereadstruth community with the coffee and their notebooks and their Bibles, and I get kind of depressed because I'm in the elevator almost to my floor where I'll sit at my desk not doing Bible studies for 7 hours.  Or I wake up early enough to do it but get sidetracked by laundry or dishes or I can't get connected to the internet to read the devotional first.  Something is not clicking in my brain or with my time to do those kinds of studies. But I found one that I think even I can do.  Blogging Through the Bible.  It's one chapter per day.  No emails.  No IG.  No fancy notebooks if I don't want to have one.  Just one chapter. I think I can do that.  Will you join me?

3.  Healthy living.




I'm terrible about taking my vitamins, even though I really, really need to take my vitamins.  I need a vitamin that reminds me to take my vitamins.  I'm hoping vitamins will help my failing memory, so I bought these Garden of Life-Raw vitamins that are reported by some healthy-eating friends to be the best. They don't make me sick if I need to take them without eating first, which is why I have sometimes failed to take vitamins.  So far so good!   I'm looking forward to stockpiling some nutrients.

I'm also working on getting better sleep.  I don't really know how long I've been sleep-deprived.  My oldest child is 19, so....um...yeah...nineteen years seems about right.  It has to stop, though. I NEED SLEEP!   This is helping me with my sleep.  A drop rubbed on the feet and a little on the pillow and it is sweet dreams. 



In fact, I'm slowly integrating Young Living Essential Oils into my life and ditching the over-the-counter chemicals I've been consuming.  There's an oil for that!

4.  Creating.



I'm making time for creating too!!  I joined a fun band of cre8ives for a whole Fall season and beyond of creative goodness.  We'll be introducing ourselves and then we'll be sharing our favorite fun and fast cre8ive projects to carry you right to the holidays and beyond.  You can join us by following the blog and joining the Facebook group.

I'm so looking forward to sharing the progress on all these things and hearing your stories if you have them....especially anyone who doesn't cook starting to cook.  I might need some help!


Monday, September 1, 2014

Summertime

Summer 2014 was one of the better ones, I'd say.  Here's a quick review. 

My son came home from a successful first year of college and got a great job. 




A few days after school let out my girl headed off to her Great European Adventure.


The same day, the man and I left for a second honeymoon in Maine. 


I set up for my first Artwalk and got caught in an epic hailstorm.






We had our annual front yard July 4th fireworks display. 



We had a fun time on our family vacation to Red River. 






We completed The Great Backyard Makeover. 







We got an early start and got the boy all moved in to his new school.  



Then, the night before school started, we joined 100,000 squealing girls at Cowboy Stadium for a One Direction concert. 





I look back and I'm so very grateful for this memorable summer of being together and working together, big adventures, reaching new goals, and watching some dreams come true.  So very thankful.

The days are getting shorter.  It's getting a little cooler.  School has started, and I'm looking forward to fall, my most favorite time of the year!  Fire pits, boots, sweaters, stew and soup, the color, the cool--so many things to LOVE about fall.  I love to hear what you are most looking forward to this fall.

Coming soon to the blog....my big plans for fall.

<3 Lori

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Heaven

I've been thinking about Heaven a lot lately.  It's not because of all the movies about it because I haven't seen any of those.  I also haven't read any of the books about it. Well, I have read one book about it. :)

I'm not sure what I think about whether God allows people to see glimpses of Heaven.  How could we possibly know for sure He doesn't?  And if it entices people to read about it, that's good, right?

I've been thinking a lot about the people in Heaven.  Until recently, I've only been thinking about the people I miss.

Like my dad.



And my grandparents.


And I've thought about people who other people miss--their parents and grandparents, husbands and wives, beautiful daughters, little boys, brothers and sisters, beloved aunts and treasured uncles, precious preborns who were already cherished children. And all those millions who were not cherished.

Only recently, though, I have realized that Heaven will also be an opportunity to meet those who because of time or distance I didn't get to know on Earth.  With the advent of the internet, we learn so much more about our fellow travelers here. So, I'm looking forward to seeing Roscoe Wackerly, Ryan Cruz Saldana and Micah Brown, three little boys I met online who were called home.  I'll meet people who were just characters in my parents' stories.  There will be people I've read about in books there like CS Lewis and Corrie ten Boom.  And so many people with amazing stories of faith who few people knew and no one remembers now, people whose treasures were laid up in Heaven rather than on Earth.

Oh, won't it be wonderful there?!

<3 Lori

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Next Big Makeover

Now that #thegreatbackyardmakeover is complete, it's time to officially start on another makeover. Me.

See?  Here's the deal.  I like food.  I really really really really do, and I especially like sugary food.    Especially cake.

Allie Brosh:  Hyperbole and a Half


I had a birthday last week. I got up thinking I was 48 because 8 plus 6 is 14, then I realized I wasn't born in '66. I was born in '67, so I'm only 47 and I felt a lot better about that. Anyway, birthdays = cake, so I'm a big fan.  I'm an especially big fan of this cake (see what I did there?):


McKay's Bakery White Chocolate Cake. It has cream cheese icing.  Had..it had cream cheese icing.  I approach eating cake very much the same way I approach hard work.  The faster you do it, the sooner you can quit.  You'll be happy to know this cake has been neutralized, as they say in law enforcement. It can no longer cause anyone any harm. 

So, I'm one year closer to fifty, even with my bad math, and I need to get these extra pounds off.  There's a whole year between me and my next obligatory birthday cake, so what better time to start?  My Fitbit is plugged in.  The cake is gone.  I'm ready.  

It's blog official.  I can't turn back now.  Y'all all know.  You'll be wondering if I'm following through.  I'll need to report back and all that stuff.  This time it's going to work.

Details to follow.  As soon as I figure them out. So far I have:

1.  No more cake.

2.

In the meantime, hit me with your very best advice, tips, tricks, whatever keeps you on track and living healthy!

Thanks in advance!

<3 Lori



Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Great Backyard Makeover





May 27 was the last time I wrote a blog post. That was a few days before school let out for the summer.  My goodness!  So much has happened since then.  I'll have to cover all that later (and I will), but I wanted to show y'all the promised progress on our yard, which on Instagram I have hashtagged #thegreatbackyardmakeover.

I should preface this post.  We are in the midst of a very long drought. Very. Long.  In 2011, we had over 100 days of over 100 degree weather.  What little grass we had in the backyard burned up.  Completely.  Since then we have been fighting to try to keep the dirt off the porch, out of the pool, and out of the house. It was impossible. With nothing to hold the dirt down and our typical west Texas wind, we created our very own dust bowl.  The house was filthy.  The pool was a mudhole, and our allergies have been out of control.  We needed to do something, but it had to be something that would reduce the amount of water we would consume significantly because around the same time our rural water supplier increased the cost of water almost two fold.

We considered covering the whole thing with rocks, but if we ever decide to sell, we don't think that would be very appealing. We also researched fake grass.  We were concerned that although the current versions of "artificial turf" are far superior to what I remember for the 80's,  and it's probably great for small areas, we needed to cover a larger plot and it's not tested enough for us to invest that much money for what might be a shorter term investment.  The costs are significant and professionals have to do it. 

We decided the most cost effective thing we could do ourselves would be to lay sod. We opted for a type that is said to be both drought tolerant and works in shade, St. Augustin Palmetto.  We also opted to significantly reduce the amount of grass and water we'd need by creating large gravel and rock covered areas: a fire pit, plant beds along the edges, a drive way for the shop, and a little patio under the trees where it's shady.  These areas, as well as covering the entire side yard with gravel, allowed us to cap almost half our sprinkler heads. Additionally we used a product called Hydretain.  Once we get the grass watered in, it should reduce the amount we need to use to keep it healthy.  The website says it will reduce water usage by 50%.  We have to reapply every 3 months.

So without further adieu and in the interest of keeping it real, I'm going to show you some real, honest befores and afters. I know some folks keep the befores to a minimum because it will all look prettier on Pinterest, but you need to know how far we've come to really appreciate the work that went into this.  My family of four spent about 30 hours total on this project, with my mom supplying much needed support in some shoveling, grocery delivery, water and Gatorade provisions and pleas to "come in and take a break".  The project included a load of caliche, 2 loads of gravel, a load of top soil, three and a half pallets of sod, one flat tire complete with stranding on the side of the road for 4 hours, 2 amazingly generous friends who saved us in our hours of need (thanks Paige and Robert!), two other great friends who loaned us their trailer (thanks Jennifer and Lee!), one Bobcat rental, at least 6 trips to Lowe's, at least 4 trips to Home Depot, a concrete cutter rental, 4 bad backs, innumerable blisters, copious amounts of sweat, some tears and a lot of pride for a DIY that actually sort of worked.

Before:

There was literally NO GRASS AT ALL on this side. Nothing.  So no pesky weeding or anything over here. 



During:


After:


We reduced the size of the yard by adding a 2 ft border along the retaining wall and adding a fire pit on the back corner.  The chairs and red trellis are from Lowe's.  The fire pit is from Sam's Club.




Before:



The pool was greenish from recent rain and a part that needed replacing.  And it was full of dirt as well.


After:


It still looks a little dry on this side.  It's been a week of some of the hottest summer weather.  But it's coming a long nicely. 



Before:

During:


After:




This is my favorite.  This patio was a real challenge. We thought these formed concrete pavers from Lowe's were cool. Getting them in the right order was not cool at all.  We finally found this .pdf on line and got it to work.  Since there was no grass there, we weren't worried about grass coming through, so we just built the border, added gravel, then some sand, placed the pavers and swept in more sand. We had to rent a concrete saw for the edges, but I think it turned out great.

Before:

After:


 Before:


After:

If you're looking for me, I'll be hanging around here.

 


Thanks for reading and for following along on Instagram.  If you have any questions about anything we did or used, feel free to leave a comment and then follow for a response and I'll answer as best I can.

I'll be getting back to making art and fun stuff like that soon!  Some friends and I are cooking up a really fun project for the fall. Stay tuned!

<3 Lori