My Ode to the Mosquito


I am a mosquito magnet.

Photo: howstuffworks.com

 

FINALLY, my beliefs of being a mosquito magnet have been confirmed with this article. This is truly life-changing. I’ve been suffering itchy welps and bumps from these pesky blood-suckers my entire life.

I can now blame my parents for producing a perfectly attractable mosquito-magnet. Afterall, they provided my genetic make-up, right? Of course it’s their fault.

According to this article, mosquitoes are most attracted by their sight and smell. One in five (that’s 20 percent) persons are “high attractors” to mosquitos. I’ll give you one guess as to which side of the fence you think I sit.

I knew mosquitos were active and more likely to strike in their afternoons and early evening, but I didn’t realize the blood-suckers preferred dark-colored clothing. No more dark clothes for me.

OK, so maybe the color of clothing I wear is not my parent’s fault. I will accept responsibility on this one. But my mosquito attractability goes MUCH deeper…let’s continue.

Photo: totalmosquitocontrol.com

The other main attractor is the level of carbon dioxide released when a person exhales. People with high metabolic rates release lots of carbon dioxide, as do larger people and women who are pregnant. Larger people? What is considered large? Are you talking about height or weight or both? 

The article also mentions that body temperature is a big contributor to increased mosquito interest. Interestingly, pregnant women are more likely to get their blood sucked by mosquitos as they have higher-than-normal body temps. People – I’m not pregnant, I’m just hot all the time!

Metabolic rates reference a person’s BMR, or basal metabolic rate. Basically, in idiot’s terms, BMR is the number of calories you burn while at rest, for example, sleeping. Personally, my BMR is 1,950, which means I use this many calories to operate my vital organs and continue being on this Earth – and providing all my blog readers with useless information regarding mosquitos. I’ll admit here too that I consume more than 1,950 calories per day. I know, that was a big surprise for you.

OK, let me get this straight. Mosquitos are attracted to my darker clothing, fat cells, and high body temperature? YIPPEEE!!!!!!

I’m not pregnant. Obviously. Unfortunately, I cannot qualify for that justification. 

I could, however, be considered “large” as I stand nearly 5-12 (inside joke) and tend to sweat, (ahem!) GLOW, when temps dip below 70 degrees. Southern women don’t sweat, we glow. And don’t y’all forget it.

 

So, what have I learned?

  • I need to eat fewer daily calories. That sounds like no fun, whatsoever.
  • Find a way to sweat less and lower my body temperature. Not easy to do when the school’s a/c unit is broken most days.
  • Lower my carbon dioxide exhaust. What? How am I supposed to do this? Stop breathing?

 

Bet you didn’t know this…

  1. Only female mosquitos bite.
  2. Mosquitos don’t bite for food (they actually feed off of plant nectar), but they use proteins in blood to develop their eggs – to produce even more of their annoying offspring. Oh joy!
  3. Skeeters tend to be more attracted to people after they’ve been drinking beer. Bring on the brewskies!
  4. Some mosquitos prefer the smell (and taste?) of ankles, while other tend to stay close to the head, neck, and arms.
  5. The size of the welp left after you’ve been bitten has nothing to do with the amount of blood the skeeter sucked, but rather your immune system’s reaction to their spit. Yes, mosquitos suck your blood and then, so lady-like, spit into your wound. How nice of them. 
  6. Humans tend to become immune to species of mosquitos that bite them more frequently – yay! – unfortunately, there’s more than 3,000 species of mosquitos. Booooo!

 

Did you learn anything today?

 

 

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up close and in focus


This Memorial Day weekend can be summed up in one word.

Lazy.

Kevin and I completed our to-do list Friday, went to an auction in East Texas Saturday and have spent the rest of the holiday being lazy. I went to church and Sunday School yesterday morning, but didn’t step outside again until Kevin fed the horses. I thought it would be a good time to snap some more photos with my new camera. I think they turned out well.

What do you think?

Need your furniture moved? This is how we do it in the country. Actually, Kevin purchased this metal table at the auction and he was unloading it from the flat-bed trailer. FYI: I’m not volunteering myself or my husband if you need movers. Just because we have trucks and trailers, doesn’t mean we want to move your crap.

If you’re going to live or work in the country, you gotta be properly dressed. In these parts, jeans are semi-tucked inside your work boots. Anything else is too dressy, and Lord knows we don’t get dolled-up around here. The last time my husband wore a suit was four and a half years ago. It was our wedding day.

I’m trying to add greenery around our porch, but these ferns are getting beaten and battered by the excessively high winds. Yesterday’s sustained winds were above 30 mph. I’ve already had to put one fern in the trash because it fell off the hook and out of its container. I have four ferns left to survive but I took them off the hooks and they’re sitting on the concrete instead.

If this silly horse would pay attention, he’d know that his supper is being served in the main dining stall of the barn. It looks like he’s starving too, don’t you feel sorry for him?!

Doesn’t this look tasty? Believe me, it was. I made homemade seasoned ciabetta croutons yesterday and topped my chopped salad with them. The white crumbled stuff is goat’s milk cheese. This salad was dee-lish.

Let’s just say this piece of metal and a lawnmower blade don’t mix. Kevin was using the weed-eater around the house and came across this piece of pipe he had cut-off while we were building fence a few weeks ago. I’m glad he found it before the lawnmower blade did. That should destroy a mower, knock out a window, or worse if it was to hit someone. Another reason it’s not a good idea to walk around barefoot…besides the fire ants would get you.

This is my favorite photo yet. It was pure luck though. I was looking at Blue but the camera decided the fence and rain gauge looked better. I like this camera. It’s smarter than me.

I whine and complain all the time about bugs and other creepy crawly things, but I love caterpillars. When I was younger, I used to collect them off the weeping willow tree in our backyard and keep them in a cookie tin. One summer, I released several caterpillars back to the tree and weeks later I saw their cocoons. I can only assume they released themselves as pretty butterflies, I hope they did at least. This little guy was eating away at a fern leaf. I graciously moved him to another plant I didn’t care about. There’s plenty of weeds around here for his little appetite.

Whatever you do, don’t touch this fence. I wouldn’t recommend peeing on it either.

Wind chimes have been busy lately. Winds have been high all week and there’s no end in the immediate future.

That white “blob” is actually Blue. I guess all the photo-takin’ wore the boy out. He’s sound asleep.

Take it easy, Blue.

Tryin’ to keep it all in focus,

Nicole

GIVEAWAY – ends 06.11.11


 Drum roll please…

 

Margaret Feinberg has graciously offered TWO copies of her recently published Hungry For God to my blog readers. I hope you will participate, and invite your friends, family, neighbors, and the stranger on the street.

C’mon, the more the merrier!

 

 

To enter, leave a comment on this post – be sure to include your email address or contact information. If you win, I have to notify you. Duh!

Sorry, comments posted on Facebook and Twitter are NOT counted as entries – but please post so your friends can participate! All entries must be posted to this blog post.

Hey Mom, you don’t need a WordPress account to post a comment. It’s very simple and completely painless to leave a comment. Go ahead – add your comment at the bottom of this post. Then, give yourself a hug ‘cuz I love you. 🙂

 

Everybody can earn up to 8 entries if you:

1. Leave a comment (with your name and contact info, please!)
2. Tweet about the giveaway and tell me about it
3. Follow @nmhutch on Twitter and tell me about it
4. Follow @mafeinberg on Twitter and tell me about it
5. Post about the giveaway on Facebook and tell me about it
6. Follow Margaret Feinberg on Facebook and tell me about it
7. Follow my blog by clicking the SUBSCRIBE button and tell me about it
8. Blog about the giveaway and tell me about it

 

The giveaway starts now and ends Saturday, June 11 at midnight.

TWO winners will be selected at random and announced Sunday, June 12.

 

EXTRA INCENTIVE

In honor of an upcoming blog milestone (my 100th post), if there are 100 comments (or more) on this giveaway post, I will include a special thank-you gift to BOTH winners. 

 

A BIG SHOUT OUT TO

Thank you, Margaret Feinberg, for sponsoring this giveaway – you’re so generous. Thank you for being you!

 

THE RULES

Post a comment (up to eight) on this blog post by Saturday, June 11 at 11:59 pm.

Share/Post/Tweet/Blog about this giveaway and encourage others to participate too.

If there are more than 100 comments, I’ll add a gift. I reserve the right to choose my own thank-you gift to the winners. I promise, you’ll be happy if you win.

 

FYI

This giveaway is sponsored by Margaret Feinberg, author of Hungry For God. If you are selected as the winner, I will forward your name and email address to Margaret. From there, she’ll contact you for a mailing address, autograph your book, and promptly put it in an envelope. Viola! You’ll receive the package within a couple of days.

Good luck!

Hungry For God (a review)


It’s not every day you read a book that’s so easy to read or pertinent to the times. It’s not every day you meet an author whose personality resonates joy and hospitality, and is passionate in their pursuit to know and love God.

It’s not every day you get both.

Margaret Feinberg has written a new book, Hungry For God, that is beautifully written and easy to read, yet it challenges readers to examine their spiritual appetite in a fresh, new way.

Every time I sit down to read one of Margaret’s books, it is like she’s in the room with me and we’re having a conversation about life, love, food, relationships, and the Divine. Her language is simple, yet captivating. Her tone is pleasant, yet direct and challenging. 

What does it mean to hunger for God?

I don’t know real hunger. I’m blessed beyond measure. My cabinets and pantry overflow with consumable goods. I cannot fathom the reality of so many who wake up hungry, their stomachs aching for food, and go to bed more hungry than when the day began.

Hunger reminds us that in order to have strength, we must have sustenance. When we are physically hungry, we search for food. When we are spiritually hungry, as Margaret suggests, we should seek our Creator. Our physical hunger aches can be temporarily relieved, but the hunger (relationship) between us and God should never be quenched. Rather, we should never stop growing, discovering or developing in our pursuit to know and love God.

.001 An Incredible Invitation

In Hungry For God, readers are led to listen for God’s whispers instead of loud blasts or trumpeting horns. God is real, active and engaged, but if I’m focused on the excessive noise of life or pageantry of impressing God, I’m likely to miss his whispers. I don’t need to be flamboyant to impress God, I just need to be me and genuinely seek him.

Mystery and marvel abound in Hungry For God. We don’t know when or how God speaks, but it’s transforming IF we’re willing to listen.

Imagine whispering to someone across the room. Impossible, right? Imagine trying to hear God’s whispers amongst the noise and busyness of life. If your connection to God is more like a long-distance relationship, His whispers won’t be heard.

.002 Kairos Moments

Kairos means quality over quantity. If time is a gift and meant to be savored, Feinberg inspires readers to redirect their focus, challenge their attitude, and encourage forgiveness in order for God to light the dark times and remind them they’re never alone.

Kairos Moments call us to do things and be people we would not otherwise do and be. They mark our lives by changing our perspective. Though I long for fireworks displays of God’s power and thunderous demonstrations of his presence, Kairos Moments often appear in the mundane details of everyday life. Jesus used our hair to remind us of God’s intimate knowledge of us, the lilies of the field to teach of provision, and the birds of the air to instruct us in his love.

.003 Shaped by God’s Voice

While reading Hungry For God, I was intentional about staying focused on the material. I did well until I got to the third chapter. Margaret describes a pastor who welcomes a homeless man into his church and the stench of the man is unbearable. Then, she explains a local church she often visits in Colorado, named the Scum of the Earth Church, where all welcome – the pierced, the tattooed, the Goths, the homeless, the addicts. I couldn’t help but think of the times an unpleasant odor or difficult situation has caused me to turn away from a divine opportunity. It was in these times, Margaret says, that God whisperes,

This is the smell of the world I died for.

How can you NOT be impacted by this simple, yet profound, statement?

I already have a new perspective for my mission trip to Haiti this summer. I know my comfort levels will be tested. I know I will be exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually, but I will certainly remember this:

It’s not about me.

.004 Readiness

God tucks himself into life experiences and reminds us to look for him in the everyday. When we look for God, we are hungry for God. This hunger requires us to seek him. In seeking Him, we please Him. When we please God, we strengthen our relationship.

The search for God is not about the location or even the destination. Rather, seeking God (hungering for Him) increases our dependence on him and deepens our relationship with the Divine. Seeking God is as unique as the individual, but the most important factor for all of us is CONSISTENCY.

.005 The Language of God

In Hungry For God, Feinberg describes 11 languages of God, including: Scripture, Liturgy, Visions and Dreams, Journaling, Counsel, Media, and Nature.

How does God get your attention? Which language stirs your heart and hunger to know God more?

For me, I feel God’s omnipresence most when I’m experiencing a liturgical church service and journaling. All filters are removed when I’m putting my deepest, most personal thoughts on paper.

.006 Have You Heard?

As humans, we all experience stumbling blocks and missteps. In our quest for a deeper relationship, we cannot be discouraged or stop hungering for God. In this chapter, Margaret explains some of her own missteps that, in my opinion, make her even more honest and approachable.

In the midst of failure and disappointment, we must continue to hunger for the One that reminds we are never alone. Life lessons and God Whispers are available to those that have their eyes, ears, and heart open to the opportunity.

Hungry Still

Once again, Margaret Feinberg challenges her readers’ daily schedule and priorities by asking difficult questions:

Where is God in the mundane and miniscule? Where is your focus? Where do you spend time? Have you lost your way? Have you replaced God’s plan with the world’s plan? Are you hungry for God?

Nicole & Margaret

Just as Margaret shared in Hungry For God, and said these words to me during our brief meeting, I extend this heartful prayer:

May the hunger for God stir in your heart.

Weekly Review


I’m sitting on the couch looking at the ottoman with clothes hanging out of a duffel bag from my trip to Austin last weekend.

I can also see the remains of a bug I squished. Husband went around the house with that Home Defense stuff and I swear it attracts all the bugs inside instead of keeping them outside. Go figure. We’ve also had severe weather this week, so I’m sure some of the creepy crawlies were looking for a safe and dry place. Unfortunately, Nicole and creepy crawlies don’t mix.

I can’t see the kitchen sink from where I’m sitting, but I know the dishes in the dishwasher are clean and both sinks (and most of the counter too) are full of dirty ones ready to be loaded. OK, I felt really bad admitting that so I unloaded the dishwasher only to re-load again.

There’s a science experiment growing in a bowl next to the stove top. Under normal circumstances, I’d be one million-percent likely to toss the bowl rather than wash it. I felt guilty again. A little bleach and de-greaser, plus hot water and elbow grease, eliminated whatever was growing and “cleaned” the bowl enough to put it in the sanitation cycle of the dishwasher.

In the TV’s reflection, I can see a large flower arrangement on the buffet and three mini-bouquets on the dining room table, made especially for the recipe swap I hosted two weeks ago. Let’s just say the flowers are past their prime.

Husband announced (twice last tonight) we had no bread or Dr. Pepper in the pantry. “Woman,” he said, “we need groceries!”  The universe might have escaped the Rapture last Saturday, but in Kevin’s world Hell is defined by no bread or Dr.Pepper. His loving and adoring wife went to the grocery – after getting her hair cut this morning – and all is well in Kevin Land. He’s got bread, Dr. Pepper, and a few other essentials, including deodorant and toilet paper.

There’s no doubt my house is a wreck and pretty much a disaster area, but I’ve been REALLY busy! I went to Austin last weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday and this week I’ve attended an Annual Conference meeting at church, created the church’s newsletter, and met Margaret Feinberg, my favorite author and speaker. She was in the Metroplex earlier this week and invited me to the taping of a Christian television show and sit in the studio audience. It was a spectacular experience!

Margaret just released her book, Hungry For God. It’s another wonderful, and beautifully written, book that reminds readers their spiritual hunger is unceasing and the pursuit of an intimate relationship with God is continuous. 

 

Stay tuned to 27 & Counting for the next GIVEAWAY…..it’s going to be spectacular and that’s all I’m telling you.

Guess what else happened this week?!

Santa Clause came early this year and look what he brought me:

Nikon D5000 and lenses

Wow, the older I get the better I like the guy!

Blue

I’m smart enough to turn it on, switch lenses, and even snap some pictures of the horses. Blue is very photogenic. Curtis, on the other hand, doesn’t want to be bothered by the nonsense. However, if you’re going to stand next to Curtis, he’d like you to get the winter coat off his back.

Curtis

The transition between winter and spring/summer is difficult for Curtis, because of his long hair. On windy days such as this, clumps of hair literally FLY off of him! The birds and varmints like it though, it makes for great nesting materials. Last spring, Kevin found a bird’s nest in the barn made with grass, small twigs, and Curtis’s hair. This, my friends, is what makes the world go round!

Curtis

 

I already love my new camera – thank you, Santa (ahem, Husband) – and I know I have a LOT to learn. I’ve added a couple of things to my Bucket List, specifically learn camera techniques and Photoshop tricks. I think my summer suddenly got busy!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend everybody, stay safe and apply that sunscreen!

Love,

Me

the importance of self-exams


I’m going out of my comfort zone today to bring you some information that I think is pertinent, relevant and potentially life-saving. As bad as I hate to admit this, it’s the truth and the purpose for this post:

I did not wear sunscreen when I was younger.

Summer is right around the corner and I doubt there’s anybody more excited than me to see this school year conclude…it’s been one helluva ride! Nonetheless, summertime usually involves reading a book on the porch, mowing the yard, watching the Husband team rope, trips to the pool or river, and hours picking corn and other produce from my parent’s garden in Kentucky. That’s a lot of time outdoors.

I played competitive junior golf for 12 years, including junior high and high school in Kentucky and collegiate golf in Texas. I spent countless hours on the golf course year-round. During the summer, I’d be on the course from dusk to dark. Before I was old enough to drive a car, Mom would drop me off at the country club on her way to work and she or Dad (or I’d bum a ride with somebody else) would pick me up after dark. During the competitive season, I’d stay on the driving range and practice green during the cool morning hours and then walk (yeah, the kind of golf that requires you to walk and carry your clubs) 36+ holes during the hottest part of the day. Stupid? Yes. Strange? Of course. Beneficial? You betcha.

Photo: The Journal Enterprise

If you saw my skin tone now, you’d think I was lying about my past. I’m fair-skinned and I’m perfectly satisfied with this. Being tanned is NOT a priority anymore. Honestly, the moment the dermatologist said she was “concerned” about a couple of places on my face, arm, and leg I immediately had this wave of regret rush over me. I used to have this great tan (the infamous “golfer’s tan” with the bright white feet) but the price I had to pay later was high. Before my 25th birthday, I had a skin cancer scare.

At 24, I had a mole removed from my back. This was eye-opening for me because my back did not get tanned, it rarely got exposed to the sun. Fortunately, the spot was lab-tested and the results were negative for melanoma.

Thank you, Lord.

However, my parents have had their own scares in recent years and two of my Dad’s tested positive. Luckily, they were removed and he had successful treatment procedures.

Thank you, Lord.

The days of being happy-go-lucky and going outside without ample amounts of sunscreen are over. DONE. I don’t play nearly as much golf as I used to and that has definitely influenced my lighter skin tone and skin-care regimen. I apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 daily under my makeup, my powder foundation includes SPF 15, I constantly apply SPF 30 lip balm, and my sunglasses are always with me and they have UVB protection as well.

The invention of spray sunscreen is wonderful. I especially love Neutrogena’s Ultimate Sport with Helioplex. The SPF is really high and it definitely provides coverage. I first used this sunscreen when I went to Mexico two years ago. I was very satisfied. I’m terrible about reapplying sunscreen, but the spray can is very convenient and useful. Plus, your hands stay clean and dry. This has proven useful when I’m outside with Kevin and he’s got me working in all kinds of dirty conditions (i.e. building/welding a fence, mowing, etc).

I’m definitely not a doctor, but I’m familiar with the ABC’s of skin-care self-exams. You should familiarize yourself with them too:

  • Is it asymmetrical?

  • Is the border irregular?

  • Is there any color variation?

  • Is it larger than 6 millimeters in diameter?

  • Is it evolving?

If you’re curious or suspicious about a blemish, mole, bump, or other skin spot, don’t hesitate to be overly cautious or concerned. Get it checked out by a doctor. I’m sure you’ve heard before, “better safe than sorry.”

For more information, check out these articles recently published on MSN.com. They have additional tips and resources for skin self-checks and dermatology.

Scan Your Skin

Will I Look Like a Monster?

Birthday Party ~ Rapture-Style!!!!


I’m still here. All of my friends and family are here too. The horses were in the pasture when I got home this afternoon and Husband was snoozing (and snoring) when I walked in the house. Obviously, the idiots (c’mon, they are) that tried to persuade everybody that the world would end yesterday were wrong.

Nonetheless, while in Austin for Kimberly’s belated birthday celebration, we lived it up as best we knew how and made fun of everything worth making fun at. If you haven’t figured it out yet, anytime Kim and I are together we’re laughing and misbehaving. We’re cool like that. After watching Bridesmaids – which, by the way, is a GREAT movie and very, VERY funny – we took a quick trip to Wal-Mart; and, as usual, Wally World did not fail to entertain. As we were leaving the parking lot, we saw this:

We went out of our way to get a better look at this piece of spectacular-ness. We’re curius: does the canoe come with the car? or is that extra? 

Kim and I decided the ONLY thing better than a canoe strapped to the hood of your car would be a mattress, because you never know when you need a nap or the extra protection during a hail storm. We live in Texas, after all. Long-distance travel is a given here and the weather (especially hail storms) can be so unpredictable.

Moving on to the good stuff…

If you’re in Austin and looking for a nice place to meet friends for good food and wine, check out Apothecary Cafe & Wine Bar. The location is great (and easy to find, even for an out-of-towner like me!), the drink selection is extensive, the food is amazing, and the ambiance is wonderful for an evening with friends. Did I mention the food is amazing?

Take a look at some of the menu items we devoured:

Tapas Trio: olives, red pepper hummus, tomato brushetta with assorted breads & crackers

House Salad with Grilled Chicken

Nutella Crepe with Mixed Berry Compote

Wow, I’m hungry just looking at these plates of food. Believe me, the food tastes as amazing as it looks!

No doubt, it was a wonderful evening with Kimberly and her friends and co-workers. I’m looking forward to future get-togethers and any excuse to get in the car and go to Austin. I’m really starting to love the Capital City of Texas.

I’m all for keeping the city weird too. I met a particularly WEIRD resident of Austin this weekend, his name is Bob, or so he said.

Smiling Bob

This was the conversation between Bob and I….it was rather extensive:

(Bob enters Nicole’s personal space and sits on the stool next to her.)

Bob: Hi!!!!!!!

Nicole: Umm, hi?

Bob: I’m Bob!!!!!!!! Who are you?

Nicole: I’m not interested.

(Bob quickly exits, searching for his next conversation.)

Gotta love Bob.

Blessings abound


When I started this online journal six months ago, I never dreamt it would be this fun, interactive, or rewarding. I also never imagined how much I would enjoy sharing life’s struggles and celebrations with my blog readers.

To every visitor: I’m grateful. To every visitor: I appreciate your time. To every visitor who’s left a comment: I appreciate your kind words.

To all of you, whether a first-time visitor or a long-time friend (or my parents – hi Mom and Dad!), I’m glad you’re here. Thanks for visiting and I hope you’ll come back again. Share the link with your friends, invite them to my little place in Blog-land.

I created this blog without a distinct purpose or theme. I had a similar blog going at Blogger, but to be honest, I was bored. Someone once asked me which blogging platform I preferred (Blogger or WordPress) and I responded with WordPress for one reason: its streamlined simplicity. I have nothing against Blogger (still have an account there), but I felt disconnected with other bloggers and longed for a sense of community. I feel connected within the WordPress family. I especially love browsing through Freshly Pressed and participating in blog groups, such as the weekly photo challenge. I’d love to be “freshly pressed” someday….hint hint, WordPress people!!!

Feeling that sense of community and connectedness with fellow bloggers is just one of the many reasons I love sharing my rants and raves in a public forum. My friend, Lisa, introduced me to WordPress through her personal blog, but she also has a fashion blog at Blogger, which I love and follow religiously. Funny thing about Lisa and I: we’ve never met face-to-face. We used to work for the same transportation consulting firm. Lisa was in the Norfolk, VA office and I was in Dallas/Fort Worth. We both worked in marketing and business development. I can’t tell you the number of times I’d call her in a panic for a project code or photo or project manager’s bio hours before a deadline. She’d laugh, provide the information, and then we’d talk for 30 minutes as if deadlines were nonexistent. I miss the phone ringing and seeing her name on the caller ID. I always knew a treat awaited on the other end of the line. Nowadays, she’s still doing her thing in marketing (but with a different, more friendly company) and I’m spending my days with cranky teenagers as a middle school teacher. Not much as changed in my world….except three things every teacher loves: June, July, and August.

Anyway, I’m really proud of Lisa and consider it a privilege to call her my friend. She is constantly sharing tidbits of her life, whether it’s a to-do list gone wrong or tips on how to effectively (and fashionably) pack for a vacation. You’d be surprised how much she can fold inside a carry-on luggage piece! Her blog expectations continue to exceed her imagination and I’m so glad to share in her journey. Most recently, she received a pair of Costa Islamorada sunglasses to review. Not only is that a wonderful opportunity, but it’s a compliment that speaks volumes to Lisa and her blog.

Lisa – thanks for the digital camera suggestions and discount links…..YOU ARE THE BEST!!!

Another blog “connection” I’ve made in the virtual world is with Jan, over at The Diamond E. If you’re a regular visitor here, you might recognize her name because she was the winner of my giveaway last week. Jan and I met through a WordPress group. I read her post about working in a hay meadow and pulling a truck and trailer through the pasture. Since I’m permanently banned from operating any automobile or piece of equipment with an attached trailer, I instantly considered Jan a hero. Our blog-ship (blogging relationship) blossomed even more when we realized that we lived within 30 minutes of each other. What are the chances?!

I bet Stefanie Gordon never imagined her transformation from just another passenger on a Delta flight bound for Florida to an instantly famous snapshot-taker of the Space Shuttle Endeavor as it launched from Cape Canaveral, FL headed to the International Space Center early Monday morning.

Space Shuttle Endeavor from Delta Flight 2285 ~ Photo courtesy of Stefanie Gordon

I saw this photo on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and knew I had to share it with my students as we were discussing the beginnings of NASA and the construction of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. I even assigned a current event article summary based on the current Endeavor mission. I never imagined I would “connect” with the actual photographer via WordPress when I saw Stefanie had been “freshly pressed.”. Again, this blog thing is crazy.

Congratulations, Stefanie, on being Freshly Pressed and taking such a memorable photograph during your flight!!!!

I’m constantly impressed with the opportunities that present themselves through unconventional channels. A few years ago, my Aunt Georgia gave me a book that she had read with her book club and wanted me to have it for my own collection. That moment changed my life forever. The book was The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg. Fast forward to today and I have Sacred Echo, Scouting the DivineTwentysomething and Margaret’s most recent publication, Hungry for God.

"Hungry for God" ~ Photo courtesy of Margaret Feinberg

I’m always excited when I receive a piece of mail from Colorado, as I know it’s from Margaret or her assistant, Jade. Those ladies know how to make me smile….send me a book and my soul is happy. Send me an autographed copy of Hungry For God (released THIS WEEK) and I scream, shout, and dance around the dining room table.

Next Tuesday (May 24), I will get an opportunity that I’ve been looking forward to since the moment I opened Organic God: I will meet Margaret Feinberg. She is taping a segment on LIVE Today and Margaret has invited me to be in the live audience at the studio located in Euless (a suburb of Fort Worth). Excited doesn’t even come close to my emotions right now.

To celebrate two milestones here at my blog,  27 & Counting, Margaret has graciously offered to host a giveaway and I’m including some surprise gifts of my own too. Please check for updates on this exciting event, I’ll be celebrating my 100th post soon and more than 5,000 site visitors.

I couldn’t do any of this without YOU, my visitors, so thank you. Again. From the bottom of my heart.

In the meantime, visit Margaret Feinberg or her Facebook Fan Page and Twitter @mafeinberg.

Check it out: http://mar.cta.gs/00y

A Royal Prayer


I did not watch the wedding or invest lots of time and energy dwelling into the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge). I didn’t lose sleep to watch their pomp and pageantry in the wee hours of Friday, April 29, 2011 either.

What I can’t get untangled from the web of my mind’s thoughts is the poignant and simple prayer the royal couple wrote for their ceremony at the majestic Westminster Abbey. The prayer was read by the Right Rev. Richard Charters, Lord Bishop of London, during his sermon:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I think this is one of the best compositions ever.

I think William and Kate’s words are beautiful, timeless, and filled with thoughtfulness for the human race. I’m guilty of allowing the busyness of life to get in the way of the things (people) that matter most to me. As I’m preparing for the mission trip to Haiti in August, the ways I share my love and consume my time and energy are becoming painfully obvious.

My hope – in Haiti and everywhere I go – is that I will love, comfort, serve, and nurture those that suffer with the blessings I’ve been given while on this earth. 

to whom much is given, much is required — Luke 12:48 

This is my prayer. What’s yours?

my marriage debacle


My marriage is in trouble. The deep doo-doo kind of trouble.

Kevin and I don’t have arguments or fights and we can have a thorough conversation without communicating a single word to each other. It’s a gift we have. We might toss around the idea that one of us is completely insane for being with the other (the jury’s still out on that one), but overall we have an extremely (ir)rational relationship.

Kevin calls me crazy. All. The. Time. My usual response,

I’m crazy in love with you!

He rolls his eyes.

Kevin farts. All. The. Time. My usual response,

Eww! Put a plug in it.

His response,

Do you want me to blow up?

He has a point.

You can often find me running to the bathroom like a crazy buffoon about to pee my pants and when I reach the porcelain throne and realize the toilet seat is up, I start to panic. That 0.4 seconds it takes for me to put the lid down is critical. I could have an accident.

Fortunately, hasn’t happened. Yet.

I say the toilet seat goes down. Kevin says the toilet seat stays up. I’m always putting it down. He’s always putting it up. One of the many things I love about marriage. And living with a man.

While we’re in the bathroom and still on similar topic, we occassionally have an issue with the toilet paper. Kevin could give a hill of beans (a.k.a. he doesn’t care) if the T.P. goes over or under the roll, he just simply puts a fresh roll on the thingamabobber and goes on about his business.

When we remodeled our bathroom we installed the toilet tissue holders that have the little arm thingy that the T.P. slides on, instead of the roller-springy-thingy you have to take apart, remove empty roll, insert new T.P. roll, and squeeze back on.

Did you get that? I’m not sure I did either. Moving on…

What else do I love about my husband?

The man will cut the balls (ahem, testicles – sorry Mom) out of a bull calf, but he simply REFUSES to touch a dirty dish. He’ll be knee-deep in horse poop, up to his elbows and eyeballs in grease, or weld a metal pipe fence, but don’t expect him to touch anything in a sink of soapy water. Oh. Em. Gee.

Where am I going with this post?

(waiting for the light bulb)

Oh, I remember!

Kevin thinks I’m crazy (he’s right), I think he’s crazy (I’m right), but one thing we both agree on: I drive him absolutely bananas when I leave the light on in the garage. I don’t think it would be an issue if I didn’t do it all the freakin’ time.

We have two doors in our utility room. One goes outside and the other into the garage. There is a light switch near the door to the garage with two lights: one for the outside security lights and the other one for the lights inside the garage. It’s taken me four years, but I’ve memorized which switch works for which light. What I have NOT memorized is to turn the lights OFF upon my re-entry inside the house.

Take last night for example…..

6:30 – Kevin had already gotten home from work and left with Blue for the roping pen

7:45 – About dark, I turn the OUTSIDE lights on. A nice gesture on my part, right?!

8:30 – I turn on the INSIDE garage light because I’m getting my school bag out of my car. I retrieve the bag, return to the living room.

9:00 – Kevin gets home and turns off all the lights.

9:05 – I return to the garage for my cell phone. (lights remain ON)

9:15 – Kevin goes outside to the barn to check on horses. Turns OFF all lights.

9:30 – I go to the garage to get my wallet. (lights ON again)

10:00 – Kevin goes to bed.

Guess what’s on all night?!?!?!

7:00 am – I head into the utility room to retrieve clothes I’m going to wear and wouldn’t you know…

HOLY CRAP

Sweet Baby Jesus, thank the Good Lord, that I found it BEFORE my sweet, loving, caring, and compassionate hubby-dearest found it. Ohhh, that was a close one.

For the record: when I left the house this morning, I checked, double-checked, and triple-checked that ALL the lights (inside and out) were turned OFF.

If I were a cat, I’d be down a life or two right now.

Have a great day, Y’all!!!!!!

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