My Current Reading List


My initial plans of reading more books this summer has proven to be a more difficult task that I originally thought. One reason: I’ve been really busy. Secondly, I’ve been working my cutie-patootie off in the garden and corn patch in Kentucky, and now I’m packing again for a mission trip to Haiti.

Looking back to the month of June, I was a lazy bum holding the couch down. The month of July has disappeared into thin air and August is literally around the corner. Where did the summer go? What happened to the lazy days of summer reading a book?

Did you have any spectacular plans or intentions for the summer that you didn’t accomplish?

While I was visiting my family in Kentucky, I had the pleasure of attending my Aunt Georgia’s book club meeting. She’s one of the original, founding members of this book club. They have been meeting for 15 years and it’s something I admire, respect, and honestly, envy just a wee bit.

OK, I envy it a lot.

I would love to have a book club like this! This group has structured its monthly gatherings so one person hosts the get-together at their home once a year and provides dinner and drinks. Following dinner, the group discusses the monthly title. Members read 11 books a year and the 12th month (December) is used as a planning session for the next year ~ everybody brings 2-3 titles they “pitch” to the group and after everybody has suggested their recommendations, the group votes on 11. There might be a substitution made in the middle of the year, but for the most part, club members know well in advance the reading schedule and can purchase the titles they’ll be reading. It’s an ingenious concept that’s obviously stood the test of time. Sure, they’ve had people participate and leave to pursue other interests, but there are a dozen steadfast members that meet monthly. It’s not just for women either, there are two men in this book club as well. All in all, this group has built lasting friendships by reading and discussing a book. 

I’m glad to announce that Aunt Georgia’s book club has given me the distinction of Honorary E-Member……..which means if I read the book they are discussing, I can send my notes/thoughts to Aunt Georgia and she’ll share at their discussion! I’m really excited about this invitation. Plus, I’m grateful for their generosity and hospitality. 

I’ve participated in e-book clubs before and I’m doing another in the month of August. I know, like I have nothing going on, right?! Real Simple magazine hosts an online book club, No-Obligation Book Club. In April, I read Room by Emma Donaghue and loved the experience. You can see my discussion posts here, here, and here.

This month (August), I’ll read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain with Real Simple’s No-Obligation Book Club and South of Broad by Pat Conroy. with Aunt Georgia’s club. I have heard lots of good things about both titles, so I’m excited to read them. Plus, I’ll catch up on some of my summertime reading.

So, here’s the million dollar question: (there’s no money involved here, I don’t even have a million Monopoly dollars to give you)

Is it possible for me to create a book club where people read a book and meet to discuss? Would you be interested in joining me?

I can’t do this alone though. I need other book-lovers to commit to meeting once a month AND actually read the selected book title. If it sweetens the deal any, I’m willing to host the first meeting at my house! Are you interested?!

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge ~ BROKEN


I can’t believe it’s Friday again, this week has gone way too fast. I began the week with my folks in Kentucky, returned home in Texas late Wednesday night, and now I’m unpacking only to re-pack early next week for a mission trip to Haiti. Needless to say, it’s a busy time at our place. But, alas, it’s Friday and that means The Daily Post has a new theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s them is BROKEN.

 

A couple of weeks ago, Husband purchased a small bumper-pull trailer for a great price but it needed a new floor. Luckily, his wife is awesome (tee hee hee) and helped him install a new floor. But the pile of wood that remained was a sight for sore eyes. Seriously, the original floor was in bad shape. But a little elbow grease and team work, we successfully installed a new wood floor and it looks so much better.

If you’re looking at the doo-doo-brown grass around the pile of broken wood, that’s what our entire yard looks like. It’s dead. Obviously. I haven’t mowed since the first Saturday of May. The mower has a dead battery and flat tire. I’m in no hurry to repair either. Fortunately, the grass in the pasture is taller because Husband did not shred in the spring. That was a GENIUS moment for him at the time. Because of that, Blue has some sustenance, but we’re searching for hay and will need it within a week or two. We need – desperately – rain but there’s none in sight.

Happy Friday!

Nicole

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge – WATER


Thanks to Jan over at The Diamond E, I’ve been introduced to another photo blog site, I Heart Faces. Each week, they invite amateur and professional photographers to submit their photos that fit a particular theme. If you’ve been following my blog, you’re sure to have noticed the Weekly Photo Challenge hosted by The Daily Post (a sidebar of WordPress.com). Now, I get to add another one of these to my blogging schedule.

So let’s get to the photo.

This week’s I Heart Faces theme is WATER. I’ve been in Kentucky the last two weeks (returning to Texas tomorrow) and I captured this photo of my dad with Emma (one of the neighbors along Shady Grove Knoblick Road) as they were feeding the fish.

While Emma’s face is hidden, Dad’s is visible – I hope this counts in the contest…..guess I’ll find out if my entry is deleted.

I think it’s a great shot of these two in action, especially the pellets in the air and Emma’s little fingers. It’s definitely turning my maternal clock a bit faster, as I know my parents would love to become grandparents. Besides, my own grandmother is instructing me to “get on it” so she can see her only granddaughter become a mother and embrace another great-grandbaby. Yes, my grandmother is encouraging Husband and I to hurry up.

Anyway……….I hope you enjoy this photo and I look forward to participating in future I Heart Faces events. Check out their site, there are lots of great photos for this theme, as well as others.

Thank you, Jan @ The Diamond E, for introducing me to this site. You’re the best blogging friend a blogger could ask for ~ now if we could just meet in person, considering we live so close to each other!

Home Chef Challenge


I’ve been a lazy bum this morning. Even though I awoke before my alarm went off, I stayed in bed to finish a book I had started. I thought I would check my social status before going outside to begin another’s day work in the garden when I was pleasantly SHOCKED to read an email from the staff at the TODAY show’s Facebook page. I entered the Home Chef Challenge several weeks ago and they’ve selected my entry.

If you remember, I made a peanut butter pie for Husband’s birthday – you can see the post here and get the recipe here. It was, simply, one of the best peanut butter pies I’ve EVER eaten. Super peanut-y, super creamy, and super delicious made for a super dessert.

If you are a Facebook user, I would really appreciate your support in this little contest. All you must do is “like” the TODAY Food page on Facebook. Then, visit the Home Cook Challenge page and vote for my recipe. The photo above is featured on their page too.

This is what their Facebook page looks like:

 

VOTE NOW!

When I took this screen shot, I was in the lead. Please share with your friends and encourage them to vote too. Just think, Husband’s birthday pie could be featured on TODAY.com!!!!!!!

Please vote. Thank you!

Cousins are the BEST


I’ve had a fine day. Really fine.

I left Louisville at the butt-crack-of-dawn early because my Mother said I had to come home and help in the sweet corn patch. No big deal, except I drove at excessive speeds to span the 150-miles under two hours only to get here as the pickers were done picking, the last ears of corn were boiling, and the cutting-off had begun. I did assist in the silking process though, so it wasn’t a total wasted effort on my awesome driving abilities.

If you don’t have a clue about what I just said, just nod your head and smile.

Bless your heart.

Anyway, by early-afternoon I called my cousins in the big city towndot-on-the-map of Onton, located outside of Sebree.

Earlier this week, I promised Lindsey that I would prepare a meal for her birthday if Miss Jill would allow me the pleasure of getting to use her fancy-schmancy kitchen appliances.

Imagine for a moment the commercial with Kelly Ripa and the Electrolux appliances. You know that stove that supposedly boils water in 90 seconds or less. Well, the less part is true. That stove is AHHHHHHH-MAZING. I want one. Problem is, I have a drop-in glass stove top and separate double ovens. I don’t know if those models are available. And, heck, even if they were, I’d have to sell kidney or my ovaries to afford them.

I digress.

Lindsey and I are second cousins. Her mom is Jill, or Miss Jill as I always called her when she drove a school bus. Lindsey’s father, Jim, and my father are first cousins. They all live in Onton and have a fabulous backyard complete with a HUGE swimming pool and gorgeous landscaping.

Lindsey’s engaged to Josh. He’s super-tall and a cutie-patootie who FINALLY proposed a while back…..their wedding is September 24. I’m planning to attend the wedding – plus, it’s another reason to come to Kentucky.

*Photo courtesy of Rachel Mathew Photography*

After swimming, Super-Tall-Josh and I began dinner. He grilled the pork tenderloin while I tended to the fresh green beans, homestyle mashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, and bread. Josh and I made a great team! Supper was dee-lish.

I couldn’t eat the dessert options, but I know they had to be tasty and Lord knows there were enough candles on that darn thing. Geesh, Lindz, you’re old! Actually, Jill put about 8 packages of candles on the cake, I guess she was going for ambiance in the dining room.

Yes, there’s a chunk of dessert missing. Obviously, somebody did NOT wait for the candle-lighting ceremony.

Want more proof we’re a crazy bunch?

Who has a swim party, birthday dinner, AND spa session?!?!

WE DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is Jill’s mom, Granny Jane, getting beauty-fied. All of the girls got pampered tortured with a brow wax before the festivities concluded for the evening.

If I go missing or am unresponsive for an excessive period, check the whereabouts of this crew because I know they’re going to whip me for putting this picture on my blog ~ but I don’t care!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Simply put, this afternoon was splendid. We swam, we ate, and we laughed out loud.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, some photos I took of the gorgeous flowers around their pool and deck. Jim is a part-time beekeeper as well, but several hives have been swarming lately and I didn’t want to take any chances getting stung – so I stayed clear of the bee area.

Hummingbirds were all over the place……until I got my camera ready.

This cardinal bird stayed perfectly still while I took his picture.

tehehe

I have a thing for dragonflies now.

delicate pink flower

I love this picture. You can see the tiny little fibers, or hairs, on the leaves and petals.

Kentucky has seen plenty of rain this year, which means the grass is green and lush. But growing along the perimeter of the deck and pool areas are these striped grasses. I think they look really cool. It’s as if somebody took a brush and painted white spots on the grass!

working on my camera’s “aperture” settings here – notice one petal is in focus while the other is not…….I’m trying my best to figure out this camera!

definitely have the subject in focus and the background blurred here….pretty nice shot

butterfly in the grass ~ told you the grass was really green here!

WPC: Colorful


This week’s photo challenge theme is COLORFUL…..and I think I have a great photo to submit. Thanks WordPress for hosting the Weekly Photo Challenge!

Also, if you have a moment, please visit my earlier post in honor of our beloved Curtis, one of Husband’s team-roping horses. We’re gonna greatly miss The Ol’Man. He was an oldie but a goodie!

~nicole~

R.I.P. Curtis (aka The Ol’Man)


I’ll make this short and sweet…….

 

Curtis is no longer with us. God bless my husband who’s taking care of this by himself.

Curtis turned 27 on July 2 and lived a great life. He’s going to be missed…by Husband and I (obviously), but Blue too. It’s going to be interesting to see how Blue handles being alone.

 

I’m gonna miss The Ol’Man, especially when he’d “sneak” out of the pasture and into the yard around the house. I’ll never forget standing at the kitchen sink looking outside when Curtis walked by the window. Instead of walking around the house, he took the short-cut via our large covered porch. When he saw me inside the window, he stopped and stared, then went on about his tour. He also loved his ears and forehead to be scratched.

R.I.P. Ol’Man

Sunday Celebrations


Mom and I went to church yesterday morning at Webb Memorial UMC in Clay, Kentucky ~ the church where I spent the majority of my teens and young adult life, as well as the spot where I married Husband. I always love going back to Clay and seeing the people who mean so much. Going back, though, makes me miss home even more AND it reminds me just how old and grown up I’m supposed to be. Bummer!

Hailey, Hunter (with his eyes closed!), "MaCo" and Hilary

Hilary, Hailey, and Hunter were three-years-old when I started babysitting them. At the time, they were the only set of triplets in Clay ~ there are now two sets and I kept both of them! In a couple of weeks, the Fords will be SENIORS in high school. Oh my, “MaCo” is getting old. (*my babies are all grown up*) (*tear down cheek*)

This is how we spend a Sunday afternoon at home on the countryside……

BAHAHAHAHA – as I was taking photos of Mom and Dad and their gardens, I couldn’t help but think of the photo with the Farmer and His Wife. Well, I found it and just had to have some fun. Before I leave, I’m going to recreate the scene but until then…..I love you Mom and Dad!

Mom and Dad

Dad says this is some of the best looking – and tallest! – corn he’s ever had in the garden….I’m sure it’ll taste awesome too!

Dragonflies are becoming a new interest of mine when I’m taking pictures. They fly all around but if they land and stay still for a second, you can capture a great shot.

Here’s a sneak peek at the sweet corn. It’s not ready, but it will be in another week or two. After I took this picture, I ate the evidence. It’s good, but it’ll be better later.

For the longest time, Benjamin thought his name was Been Ben because Dad would always ask, “Where have you been, Ben?!” Benjamin loves to get eye-level to everybody, even if that means jumping on the hood or roof of a vehicle. I love this dog. He was saved from the pound and he is so grateful to be alive. When he runs, his ears flop and he has a grin on his furry face.

Ben also enjoys riding on The Mule….and he’ll stick his tongue out at you if you try to take his picture.

Across the road from Mom and Dad is Kaleb, Heather, and Adalee. They’re on vacation this week, so Mom and Dad have the “task” of feeding the fish in the lake. Another neighbor, Lil’ Miss Emma, likes to supervise and make sure the fish are fed correctly. There’s an art to fish-feeding, didn’t you know?!

It’s all in the wrist action, as Emma demonstrates!

These are some seriously BIG catfish.

Here’s the lake house, complete with a fully stocked beverage center.

Supporting “International Harvester” of course. Go Big Red!

After Emma fed the fish, she drove herself home….she also introduced me to the Sutton Bloodhounds.

I don’t know who’s who, but the crew includes Scooby, J.R., Daisy, and Ella-Mae. Of course, one of the four decided they didn’t want their picture taken. I don’t know why not….with a face like that, I’d be showing it off!

That’s about the cutest darn thing I’ve ever seen…..kissin’ hounds.

I made the mistake of challenging Dad to another round at the Shootin’ Shed. He accepted.

And gladly beat me with an awesome four-shot round.

I did better……

but I can’t beat Ol’ Dad with at the target range. My four-shot round turned into six. I kept getting closer and FINALLY on the sixth shot I hit the bulls-eye. Finally!!!!

 

Just another day in paradise.

If you’re worried about Husband home alone in Texas, I talked to him yesterday and he’s just fine. He’s got plenty of food left and lots of clean clothes too. He’ll survive….and I’ll keep checking on him!

Annie Oakley ~ GET YOUR GUN!!!!


Welcome to the Shootin’ Shed!

This is how sophisticated folks living in the country with a passion for big guns entertain themselves.

Before we continue, put your ear plugs in!

Growing up, my Dad was always a big hunter, specifically birds (i.e. quail, pheasant, chuckar and dove) and I’d go bird hunting with him. Occasionally, we’d also challenge each other at the Skeet Range. I never won fair and square, but I tried my best to beat the Ol’ Man.

Within the past several years, Dad has transitioned his love and passion for firearms from hunting rifles to some of the best high-powered target rifles available to civilians. Yes, I said civilians. A couple of these rifles are military-issued to Snipers.

Don’t ask me to name or describe what I shot today, all I know is that they’re BIG and REALLY LOUD! Just look at the ammunition I fired…..holy smokes!

It’s taken me several years to get the nerve (ahem, the kahoonies!!!!) to shoot these guns. I did really well my first time out of the gate.

I have a terrible time trying to keep my left-eye shut and it takes me forever to get the target in focus. By the time I do, I’m worn out and my hands are shaking. But with more practice, I’m sure I’ll be fine. Look at me, the One Eyed Shooter. BAHAHA!!!!

Today was a lot of fun. It was loud, but it was fun.

Dad and his friends have built a great place to shoot their guns and have quite the set-up to do so. The targets are located between 50 and 400 yards, plus each target has a mound of dirt behind it. Safety first, ALWAYS!

Now that I know how these guns shoot, I’m ready to do it again. Besides the loud noise, the recoil isn’t bad at all. In idiot’s terms, recoil means kick-back. I was afraid some of these guns would break my jaw, but I survived and I was not harmed in the production of this blog post.

I’m changing my name to Annie Oakley.

Perspective


This is how I know I’m a better writer than photographer…the following is from the journal I had with me today and both events occurred during my travels today from Texas to Kentucky. My camera was in its bag easily accessible, but at the particular moment I had to write my emotions, instead of capturing it in a picture. I hope you enjoy. I’ll post pictures for the Weekly Photo Challenge and other nonsense later; this is too important NOT to share.

 

Flight from Austin to Dallas/Fort Worth

While standing in line to proceed through TEA security, I noticed a uniformed man standing next to a woman holding a very small baby. Once I boarded the plane, I saw the man again. He was sitting in first class. Prior to take-off, the pilot announced the military man’s presence on our flight and the entire cabin erupted in cheers and applause. He was returning to Iraq to continue his second tour of duty. He had come to Texas to be with his wife as they welcomed the birth of their first child, a baby girl. This soldier left the war zone in the Middle East to meet his daughter, born on the Fourth of July.

The lump in my throat has NOT gone away.

How did you celebrate the holiday? I think I moaned and complained about the weather. My experience today provided a brand new perspective to freedom, independence, and priorities.

God bless the men and woman in uniform ~ every single one of them. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a political person and I don’t give much thought to the multitude of reasons or causes of the war in the Middle East. I don’t try to understand the political-ness of the situation. However, the human-ness of the reality is that there are men and women away from their loved ones fighting for the freedom I take for granted. While I’m grateful to be a citizen of the U.S., it comes at a high price. The soldier I saw today got to spend 12 days with his baby girl, he won’t be home again until her first birthday.

To all of the men and women in uniform, all I can say is thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

An Act of Kindness

I arrived at DFW from Austin (yes, I drove south to fly north again – long story…) and had 40 minutes until the flight to Nashville departed. I grabbed a smoothie (peach sunset made with peaches, banana, strawberry, and orange juice – pretty tasty) and found a seat next to the window to people watch, one of my favorite things to do. Anyway, when I sat down there was another flight that had landed and passengers were beginning to walk into the gate area. An older gentleman, whom I immediately recognized as blind, was assisted by an airline employee. They stopped at the ticket counter so the employee could telephone a shuttle-cart to take the man to his connecting flight, departing from another terminal.

Now, I’m not blind and certainly able to transport myself through an airport, but DFW can be tricky, especially if your connecting flight is in a different terminal. Obviously, this man needed assistance. I was close enough to the ticket counter that I could hear them talking. I heard the blind man say,

I would prefer to walk instead of sit here and wait for someone to pick me up. You know, my eyes don’t work but my legs are fine.

While the employee was on the telephone, a woman approached the counter and offered to assist the blind man. I could hear her explain that her flight had been delayed and she had plenty of time to take the man wherever he needed to go. Of course, he jumped at the opportunity and was very appreciative. His face lit with joy and it warmed my heart.

These two strangers left the gate area as new friends. The woman was slightly ahead of the man but stayed closed enough so the man could keep his hand on her shoulder. He carried a white cane with his free hand. As they walked away from me, he stood so tall and proud, I’m sure he had a huge grin on his face. His joy was radiant, I couldn’t help but smile too.

 

My mom and I had made tentative plans after she picked me up from the Nashville Airport, but because of a delayed departure from DFW and a late arrival to Nashville, those plans were squashed. You know, that’s OK. We’ll have other opportunities…….it will be OK.

 

To top off the evening, I’ve already seen good friends and shared a delicious meal at one of my favorite places with Mom and Dad. We’ve told stories and laughed until we’ve cried. This is going to be a great visit, looking forward to what the next 14 days will bring.

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