Friday’s Fave Five

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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

Hello again! It’s been a while since I have gone so long without posting – but it has been a busy week! It’s also been a rainy week here but the temperatures have been nice – in the 60s and almost 70! So no snow or ice, thankfully. We even had to turn the AC on as it got up to 75 degrees F in the house. Here are some other favorite parts of the last week:

1. Yard work in short sleeves in February! I had been needing to prune my rose bushes for ages but just hadn’t been able to get to it – either there was no time or it was too cold. I don’t know if this is the right time of year to do it, but I figured it would be better now than when it started budding. Then my two big planters by the front door were still overgrown with dead stuff from last summer, so I got that cut back. It was nice to get done something I had been wanting to do for a long time, plus it was a beautiful day out and felt so good. And! I noticed some bulbs I planted last year from an arrangement someone had given to Jim’s mom were starting to come up. This was the first time I planted bulbs, so that was exciting.

2. Valentine’s Day is a favorite at our house. 🙂 My husband brought me some lovely flowers, my favorite candy, and a beautiful card, and Jason and Mittu and Timothy brought some goodies. I’ll show the cards I made next week. I made our traditional “meat hearts” and cheesy potatoes and salad, peanut butter heart cookies, and heart-shaped chocolate cupcakes.

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And, for a post-Valentine’s bonus – the day after Valentine’s Day, Jim remarked that I had been in the kitchen so much that day, maybe I’d like to get something out for dinner on Thursday. Love that man!

3. Valentines from Timothy.

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4. Encouraging words from a couple of fronts. “A word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23).

5. The Olympics. I don’t watch sports much, but there’s something about the Olympics. 🙂

Happy Friday!

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Friday’s Fave Five

friday fave five 12
It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

It just hit me that Valentine’s Day is less than a week away! I better get busy! Meanwhile, here are some highlights of the last week.

1. The gym is not necessarily a favorite in itself. I don’t usually look forward to going, but I am usually glad I went. I had only been a handful of times since my ablation surgery last August, but I’ve been there more the last few weeks. I need to work up to at least three times a week.

2. Headphones. With a shift in my dear husband’s work responsibilities, he’s working from home more. His mom stays in the room that used to be his office, so he does his work at the dining table. A lot of his work is done on the phone, and since my computer desk is just a few feet from the table, I can’t help but overhear. I generally have it quiet when I am writing – not even any background music on. I found some headphones that don’t block out sound completely, but they muffle it enough that I “can hear myself think” as my mom used to say.

3. Aloe gel. I accidentally sloshed boiling hot liquid on my arm while taking something out of the microwave. I’m thankful it wasn’t any more severe than it was. I was afraid it was going to blister, but now I don’t think it will. We had some aloe gel for sunburns on hand, and that’s been helping.

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You can kind of see the streaks where the hot water ran down my arm. I ran to the sink to run cold water on it, then used an ice pack off and on, then looked online and found out that’s not what you’re supposed to do. :-/ But I do think that helped cool it down.

(Update: In just a day the redness has faded quite a bit, though the area is still sensitive to hot and cold. Yay!)

4. Cobbled together meals that turned out ok. I thought I bought  a bag of shredded cabbage, but when I went to put it in the meal I was preparing, I saw that it was shredded lettuce instead. That wouldn’t work in this meal, and I had already started some parts of it, so I tried to think of what other recipes I had that used these same main ingredients. I came up with one, and then realized I was out of one of the key ingredients it called for, honey. A quick online search told me I could substitute the Karo’s syrup I had on hand for honey and that worked great – in fact, I liked it even better.

5. A restful Sunday. For some reason, last Saturday night I had trouble getting and then staying asleep. I thought I’d be struggling through church, but only got sleepy the last little bit. We got McAllister’s Deli on the way home for lunch, and my dear husband had loaded and started the dishwasher after breakfast, and it was so nice to just eat lunch and then take a good, refreshing nap.

Bonus: The Olympics!

Happy Friday!

P.S.: I’d love for those of you who are Christian fiction fans to share your thoughts on How Christian Do You Like Your Christian Fiction?

Friday’s Fave Five

friday fave five 12
It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

I hope your end-of-January, beginning-of-February week has been a good one! I have many more than five good happenings his week, but I’ll try to squeeze in as many as I can!

1. Fun family time. I mentioned in an earlier post that we went to the Chocolatefest in town,  but it ended up having lots of booths for clothes and jewelry with just a handful featuring chocolate, unless you paid extra for the section where they were doling out chocolate treats. But it was fun to do something together as a family and go out for lunch afterward. And then one night Jim and I rented a movie to watch together, which is unusual – usually we rent movies to watch as a family. There are a few TV shows we watch together, but it was fun to have our own “movie night.”

2. Dinner. It’s so nice to get a text mid-afternoon from Jason and Mittu asking if they can come over and make dinner. They brought over chili and cornbread. Then Timothy starting playing multiple things with all the throw pillows in the house – piling them up as high as he could, and exultantly knocking them down, making an island, making a puzzle, covering Daddy with them, and I don’t remember what all else.

3. New clothes. Some of my clothes had reached at-home-only status, and sometimes I have a hard time finding things I like that fit well that are a decent price and meet all my other requirements. 🙂 A few things I ordered came in the mail this week, so now I am sufficiently covered (ha!) for a while longer.

4. Lunch with Melanie and a belated Christmas gift exchange. For various reasons we hadn’t seen each other since November, so it was fun to catch up.

5. My first experiment with an Instant Pot. My son had gotten one of these for Christmas and really enjoyed it, and I kept hearing online friends rave about it. So I used my Amazon points* to get a free one for myself. But it sat on the counter for a few weeks until I got brave enough to try it. 🙂 I’ve been collecting recipes on Pinterest and finally last night ventured forth with about four different chicken and dumplings recipes and cobbled them together. I ended up using pretty much the same ingredients as this one, a stove-top recipe I had used before, and the Instant Pot instructions for this one. Some of the others called for milk or heavy cream to make the broth creamier or for a lot of other spices, but I liked the simpler, traditional version. Some also called for rolling out the dumpling dough and using a pizza cutter to make little rectangular shaped ones, like Cracker Barrel, but what few times I’ve had it before, other than CB, I’ve had the round, fluffy dumplings. And it’s a lot easier to drop the dough into the broth by spoonful than to roll it out. Anyway – I loved how it came out! Comfort food!

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I was also excited to find that you can put frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot and have them “fork-tender” in 12 minutes!

Happy Friday!

(* Just a note that the Amazon points had nothing to do with an affiliate program. I am not a part of their affiliate program, though I have thought about it. These were reward points for using their credit card. I tend to save them up to buy a bigger item I probably wouldn’t otherwise get for myself.)

 

Friday’s Fave Five


It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends
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The last Friday of January – we’re almost 1/12 of the way through 2018 already! Last week I wasn’t sure if I could come up with five faves for the week – but there are always things to be thankful for, even if it requires more thought some weeks than others. This week, I have the opposite problem – more than five things to share! So maybe I’ll save a couple for next time. Here are some favorite parts of the last week:

1. A family outing. We went to Ripley’s Mirror Maze in Gatlinburg last Saturday and then had a great lunch at No Way Jose’s Cantina. We had been to the maze once before, about a year ago. In fact, when it was proposed this time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go – it’s a pretty short maze, and I wasn’t excited about driving all the way to Gatlinburg. But I am so glad we did. Timothy enjoyed it last time, but this time he was super-excited and vocal about it. When we quickly got to the end, we decided we didn’t want it to be over yet, so we trekked back through – I think confusing some who were going the other way. 🙂 All in all a fun morning. Afterwards we crashed at home for an afternoon nap (it’s nice that a child’s schedule coordinates with a grandma’s 🙂 ) and got Five Guys burgers for dinner. 🙂

2. An understanding caregiver. On our way home Saturday we realized we weren’t going to make it by the time my mother-in-law’s caregiver usually left, so we texted her to let her know and apologize. She said it was no problem at all.

3. A good visit with the cardiologist. “Everything looks great, come back in six months.”

4. Sorting, organizing, purging files. I have a two-drawer (pink!) filing cabinet in my sewing/craft room with pattern booklets, leaflets, and pulled-from-magazine instructions for several crafts. I hadn’t tended to it in some time, and there were some things out of place, new things that needed a home, out-of-date items that needed to be thrown out, other things needing to be set aside to give away (one nice thing about getting to “a certain age” is becoming more realistic about what I might actually get to). I’ve been working on that here and there this week, for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or so at a time, and it’s been gratifying both to get it in order and get reacquainted with what I had in there.

5. A new can opener might seem like an odd thing to be thankful for. But my old one was giving me fits, leaving gaps where it didn’t cut through a lid and tearing paper off the side of the can in the meantime. I bought another one, but it wasn’t a whole lot better. My husband got me this one. The blade doesn’t come in contact with the food inside, and the lid doesn’t fall into or dip into the can – and it works great! It took me a few tries to get the hang of it, but now I love it.

And that’s it for this week. Happy Friday!

Friday’s Fave Five


It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends
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I’m late with FFF today. I had some errands to run this morning, so I didn’t have time for a post, but I was thinking of not posting today anyway. It hasn’t been a bad week, generally, but I could only come up with 2-3 things to mention. And…I confess I was out of sorts from two nights in a row of waking up during the night and then not being able to get back to sleep for two hours. But one thing I appreciate about this exercise is that, if you stop and think for a bit, there are always things to be thankful for. So here’s an abbreviated FFF for the past week:

1. Sunshine. We’ve had some bitter cold, but at least the sun has been shining more than last week, when we had several overcast days in a row. That makes such a difference to my general outlook on life.

2. Warmth. I know I have mentioned this before, but it’s still been so cold that I have really appreciated a snug house that keeps us toasty.

3. Help. We had a bit of snow this week, and since we don’t have it enough for TN to justify buying all kinds of equipment to deal with it, a lot of people don’t make it in to work. The main roads were fine, but neighborhoods and subdivisions were still icy. The helper we have for my mother-in-law doesn’t live far from us, but her neighborhood is on a hill that’s hard to maneuver when it’s icy. I thought she wouldn’t be in on Tuesday, but she was only a couple of hours late.

4. A new CD, Great Things He Hath Done by Sacred Music Services.

5. A Timothy funny. My son, d-i-l, and grandson Timothy (3 1/2) were attending a church potluck, and they told Timothy he needed to stand in line. He took them literally. 🙂

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Happy Friday!

Friday’s Fave Five


It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends
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We’ve been blessed with a break in our cold snap and enjoyed temperatures in the 50s this week. But we’re back to 17 this weekend and more cold next week, so I’ll enjoy the moderation while I can. Meanwhile, here are some other great parts of the last week:

1. Hot oil treatment for hair. I have dry skin anyway, exacerbated by having the heater drying out the air in the winter. My scalp has been a particular problem, and using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner didn’t help a whole lot. Years ago I used to occasionally use VO5’s Hot Oil Treatment for Hair, so I looked for it again – couldn’t find it in stores, but found it online. That and an occasional application of Scalpicin brought blessed relief.

2. Rearranging books and other tasks. Last fall I got rid of some books in my sewing/craft room, which opened up some space on those shelves. I had books I’d read in the last year or so stacked up sideways in front of the regular books on my bedroom bookshelves, so I took some time one afternoon to rearrange my books. The bookshelves in the family room are pretty well organized, but the ones in the sewing room and bedroom had some of the same categories of books in each, so I got a workout carrying armloads of books back and forth, getting books on the same subject matter together, and finding a place for the newer ones. I even culled a few more to give away. I was extremely satisfied with the results.

During December, some tasks that can wait get pushed lower and lower on the to-do list while the holiday activities are going on. This week it was good to get some of them taken care of, like hand-washing a few items that needed that care, setting up files for some card-making ideas I had printed out and torn out of magazines, etc.

3. Not cooking all weekend. Friday afternoon my son and d-i-l came over and brought take-out from a favorite BBQ place. Then Saturday night, my husband asked if I wanted to get pizza. Well, I am not going to turn down that offer! Then Sunday after church he suggested takeout from McAlister’s Deli. I enjoyed the food as well as the break. Then one warm afternoon this week, my son and d-i-l asked if we could could get out a Christmas gift we’d been holding back for Timothy – an outside riding toy that it had just been too cold to use (he knew there was a big box covered up in the garage but didn’t know it was for him. 🙂 ) They offered to make dinner, so I had one more evening “off.” That came in especially handy that night because I had pulled something the wrong way in my shoulder and had spent much of the day with Tylenol and a heating pad. (The shoulder is still tender but much better, and Timothy loved his new toy!)

4. A running gas fireplace. We hadn’t been able to use ours most of the time we’ve lived here because it emitted a terrible odor. We haven’t really needed it, so it hasn’t been a priority. My husband has tinkered with it sometimes, and recently cleaned it all out thoroughly, but it still smelled too bad to use. Then it occurred to him maybe the smell was coming from a build-up of residue on the fake logs in it, so he pulled those out and started it up – and it ran fine! He found some new logs online, and now we have a working fireplace! Even though we probably still won’t use it much – it gets the family and dining areas toasty, but then the warmth keeps the thermostat from coming on, so the rest of the house gets cold. But it will be especially helpful if we have a power outage and also if we ever need to sell the house.

5. Jesse receiving a grant. Jesse (youngest son) has been pursuing his Bachelor’s degree online for several months now. There was a small snafu that just recently came to light in his filling out his financial paperwork, so he corrected it, and he just received word that he not only received a grant for this semester, but they also gave him the one he should have received last semester as well. He was thinking he would have to obtain a loan to finish, but with these grants, the money he had saved, and a new part-time job, it looks like he will probably be able to finish without taking out a loan, or if he needs one, it won’t be much.

It’s been a week full of blessings large and small, and I am thankful to God.

Happy Friday!

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

The first Friday of 2018! We’re almost a week into the new year already. Monday, when my oldest son left to go back to his home, seems so long ago already! Taking the Christmas decorations down isn’t a favorite per se, but, though I miss them, it’s nice to have things back in order and change gears to start making plans for the new year. I love putting up the brand new  calendars. Here are some of the best parts of the last week.

1. Wonderful family time. I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad visit, but this time just seemed especially good. Jason only had Christmas Day off, but everyone else was off more, and we had some fun outings as well as some quiet times just hanging out at home together. As I walked past the hallway while my oldest son was here, I heard him and my youngest son talking together in their rooms, and thought, “Just like old times!”

2. A bowling outing. Saturday we visited a really neat new-to-us old bowling alley in downtown Knoxville. My husband had been there for someone’s retirement party and suggested we try it. Instead of one big, open room, there were smaller spaces with four lanes each and nice couches with pillows.

It was in a really cool old building downtown. And they served really good food, a waitress taking orders and then bringing it out to the lanes.

I don’t think I’d go there at night – they emphasize alcohol and go “adults only” at 9 p.m. But on a Saturday morning it was just families. Afterward we walked around downtown a bit and ended up at a dessert/coffee place.

3. Chocolate Pretzel pie and more games! Jeremy had made this pie for us once before, so it was requested again this visit.

4. Lollipop cough drops. We ended the time together with half the family catching colds. Timothy was particularly pitiful. I remarked one night that it was too bad kids couldn’t use cough drops, but they’d probably try to crunch them instead of letting them dissolve, and it would probably be a choking hazard. Then either Jim or I remembered that they used to make cough drops for kids on lollipop sticks. I hadn’t seen them in years, but then I hadn’t looked for them in years either, and I didn’t know if they still made them. Jason went to the store, and they do still make them! Mittu said they helped immediately. He’s doing better now with just a bit of a lingering cough.

5. Warmth. We’ve had temperatures in the teens and single digits this week, so I have especially loved central heat, a snug house, sweaters, throw blankets, and coffee to keep warm.

I hope your New Year is getting off to a good start as well! And if not, well, we have 360 days to make it better.

 

Friday’s Fave Five

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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

The last Friday’s Fave Five of 2017! I’m hoping to do a retrospective post before the year runs out. Meanwhile, here are some favorite happenings of the last week.

1. Christmas, of course. It was a fun day of showing love, giving gifts, and eating!

2. Time with family. My oldest son is here from out of state, my husband has been off since last Thursday, and my youngest son has been off since Tuesday, along with Christmas Day. Once all the stuff for Christmas was done, the rest of the week has been like vacation. I don’t take for granted having all the family together for this time: we’ve had two Christmases where one was missing, and that may happen again in the future, but I am enjoying it to the hilt while I have it.

3. Games. We really don’t play games much unless everyone is here, so we’ve been catching up this week. Fun!

4. Ham! The ham I got for Christmas was on sale, but they didn’t have any big ones. We had enough for Christmas and a few sandwiches, leftover plates, and breakfasts, but not enough for a couple of other things I usually make with ham leftovers, like Swiss Ham Ring Around. So after Christmas we got another one about the same size, marked down even lower than the first one was.

5. Air Fryers. My oldest son and I both got one of these for Christmas, so we broke mine out Thursday morning to experiment a bit before trying it for a full meal. As it turned out, it was more than sufficient for lunch. This recipe for empanadas was what made me want an air fryer in the first place, and my son had seen and wanted to try that recipe, too. We had to adapt it a bit – we couldn’t find empanada dough, so we used puff pastry. The empanada dough comes in five-inch circles, and in looking for something that size to use as a guide, we discovered an unused CD fit the bill! We washed it over beforehand and after, so we’ll probably keep it as a guide until we can find the empanada dough. For filling I browned ground beef and flavored it as for tacos – salt, pepper, onion, garlic powder, and chili powder – and then added a bit of tomato sauce and topped the mixture with cheddar cheese. Jeremy did the dough work. They turned out great! I think next time I’d leave out the tomato sauce, but I loved the texture of the air “fried” puff pastry. While we had it going, I tossed in some frozen French fries, and they came out good, too.

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We were trying to use tongs to take them out, which dented them a bit, so we switched to a spatula, and that turned out better.

Happy Friday and Happy New Year! My wish for you all is that whatever 2018 brings, it will draw you ever closer to our Savior.

Friday’s Fave Five

christmas FFF

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

The last Friday’s Fave Five before Christmas! And the next to last one before the end of the year! I hope you have a quiet moment in the midst of all the Christmas activities to count the blessings of the last week.

1. A Christmas potluck lunch. A small church we visited a couple of weeks ago announced they were having a Christmas potluck last Sunday. Normally, due to needing to get home so Great-grandma’s caregiver can get off on time, we can’t stay for things like that, but this church meets a little earlier than usual, so we thought it would work out ok, and we explained to the pastor that we might have to leave before everything was over. The timing turned out to be just fine, and it was quite an enjoyable time. We don’t know yet if this church is “the one,” but I really enjoy the people. Updated to add: I forgot to mention, the pastor and his wife are from South Africa and brought everyone one of those crackers – the wrapped gift you pull on and it makes a loud pop and opens to reveal a small gift. These contained little gifts – a bouncy ball, a small top, a miniature skateboard key ring, etc. – and a paper crown and joke or riddle. It was fun to see what everyone got and to read the jokes and riddles to the others at the table. But what was most fun for me was that I had heard and read of those but had never actually seen or received one, so I particularly enjoyed that!

2. A salvaged meal. I generally make a chicken/potato/carrots crockpot meal for potlucks and company, and got up early to assemble it for the dinner last Sunday. But I miscalculated the time, and half an hour before time to leave, the chicken was almost as raw as it was when I started. It would only have a little over an hour in the crockpot once we got there, which wouldn’t be enough time at all for it to get done. I resigned myself to not being able to take it, figuring I would just turn it on low and we’d have it as a family later. But Jim suggested putting the inner pot in the microwave – so we tried it, and it worked! We put it in for five minutes increments, stirring in-between until time to leave, then did so a couple of times there. Though some of the potatoes weren’t quite as done as normal, overall it was ok, and I was glad to have been able to contribute. One boy in his early teens asked the pastor’s wife who made it because he really liked it and wanted the recipe. That touched my heart!

3. Christmas cards. Though we receive fewer every year, I’m glad a number of people still send Christmas cards. I love both sending and receiving them and I especially love the family newsletters and catching up with loved ones.

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4. Our 38th anniversary! Jim and I celebrated 38 years of marriage this week by going out for breakfast and then for dinner. It’s almost the only time we go out for an evening meal, since we have to pay extra for someone to stay with Jim’s mom, so it was a treat in many ways.

5. Time to talk. Of course, my husband and I do talk every day, but at our anniversary breakfast we had a more extensive time than usual, and it was good to have that time to talk more in depth. He had started his Christmas break that day, and though we both had things to do, we also weren’t rushed and were able to enjoy the time.

We’re looking forward to having the family all together as our oldest comes home this weekend, and then we’re highly anticipating Christmas, especially with a three-year-old! I hope you all have a wonderful time with family celebrating the birth of our Savior!

Friday’s Fave Five

christmas FFF

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

In this busy season, I love the opportunity to pause and reflect over the best parts of the previous week.

1. Sleep. A couple of nights in a row, I woke up during the night and then couldn’t get back to sleep for a couple of hours. Sometimes when that happens I pray, most often I turn on some soft music. I want to keep everything conducive to going back to sleep, so I don’t get up except to use the bathroom. I was particularly frustrated when this happened on a Saturday night (as it too often does), afraid I’d be sleepy, draggy, or irritable all through church, but thankfully that didn’t happen. I took a long nap Sunday afternoon, but when the same wakefulness happened that night, I set my timer for a short nap Monday. And Monday night and following I went right to sleep and didn’t wake up til morning.

2. Rest. It’s a busy season, and I pushed myself more than normal a couple of days. I always look forward to evenings – I try not to be on the computer or working on a project at night when my husband’s home. Even if we’re not doing anything directly together, I enjoy being in the same room while we read our tablets. But those couple of days, I especially looked forward to getting the day’s work done and sitting with my feet up for a while.

3. Getting Christmasy things done: packages mailed and Christmas cards sent this week.

4. New Christmas decorations. I’m not sure why I’ve felt inclined to add to our Christmas decor this year – a combination of half-price sales and Hobby Lobby gift cards, I guess. 🙂 I decided to look for a very small tree for what I call the spare or front bathroom, and found this:

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Though this bathroom is a lot smaller (we don’t have much more counter space than that), it’s also less messy and cluttered, so this fits well there whereas in the others it would be just one more item. And this is the bathroom guests usually use.

Then, I saw this neat idea on a friend’s Facebook page: using oversized balls outside on plant hangers. I put one where we usually have the hummingbird feeder, outside my kitchen window:

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And this one is by the front door (amidst my sadly overgrown rose bushes that need cutting back):

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The flowers are a circlet that I usually put around the globe of the sconces in the family room, but just hadn’t done it yet this year. But the hole in the middle fit the ornaments perfectly. I think I’ll take them off, though, and replace them with a bow lest the sunlight fade the flowers. I don’t usually do much red – we have some red in the Christmas decorations, but no red in the house otherwise. I got silver at first, but returned them. The red shows up outside so much better. I have a few plant hangers outside the window by my computer and I am thinking of adding some there…:) But then, I don’t know if these are meant for outside, so I might wait a bit and see how they hold up in the weather.

5. A sweet exchange between Timothy (my grandson, 3 1/2) and Mittu (my daughter-in-law). Mittu has been recovering from an infection and not feeling well. She was drinking some tea, which Timothy thought was coffee.

Timothy: Coffee make you feel better?
Mittu: Coffee makes everything better. But you know what always makes me feel better?
Timothy: Me! Me! Me!

Happy Friday!