Thursday, December 31, 2015

Auld Lang Syne and New Year's Eve

One of my traditions on New Year's Eve is to try and get my home and life in order before the year ends. I have yet to be fully successful - but I like to try to start the New Year feeling organized. A year has never ended without me feeling nostalgic, but there is something about a fresh slate that provides the idea of endless possibilities. Like footsteps in the freshly fallen snow, it is fun to make those first strides in a new year.  I like goals better than resolutions, and this year I have quite a few.

Auld Lang Syne

No matter whether a year concludes with a fancy dress party; an early celebration with small children before

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

To you and yours ...

... best wishes 
a wonderful holiday season 
The Most  -  - of Every Moment!

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday Suggestion: Be Present.

Many of us keep our phones and cameras at the ready all through the day. When I saw the cute Santa hats on the geese in the Bozeman airport last night, of course, I took a photo.

My daughter was supposed to arrive at the Helena airport last night at midnight on a connecting flight out of Seattle. She had already spent several hours at the airport when she found out her flight to Montana was

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dear Santa

What's on my list for Christmas? To be more in control of time.

In a blog post last December, I published My (Grown-Up) Letter to Santa.  If I wrote to him again this year, most of what I said last year would still apply. But now, I think I would ask for one more thing. I would ask for the power to be more in control of time

Santa and list and clock

Speed up or slow down

Sometimes, like while waiting for family members to arrive for the holidays, we want time to speed up. Other times, like during the limited days when guests are visiting, we want it to slow down.

More time

Sometimes we just want more moments in our day - so we can get more done. Actually, I could be content without a longer day if I could just become more productive in the hours that I have.

Past and future

Time travel has its appeal as well - wouldn't it be nice to be able to just take a quick trip back in time to remember an event we can't seem to recall?  Or, perhaps travel to the future and catch a glimpse of what consequences there might be for actions we are considering taking now.

Plan better

How many times have you been late getting somewhere, or arrived too early and wasted precious moments that could have been spent doing other things? I'd love to always just get my arrival time exactly right!

Time management

This blog is all about making the most of all of our moments. We can't really acquire more moments than the ones we already have - but we can figure out the best way to make the most of them. Time management skills are valuable to learn, and it is important to prioritize all of the things that demand our attention.

There may be a decreased number of blog posts here the rest of this month.

December is a busy month for all of us. I've been keeping up with my usual publishing schedule so far, but other things are begging for my attention. Rather than risk just churning out quantity without quality, my posts may decrease in frequency for a bit. This is a gift I can give myself, to help me gain just a little bit more control of my time, and to ensure that I am not wasting yours! 

What things can you do to gain more control of time? 
Will you do them?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Question About Holiday Greeting Cards and Letters

This time of year, many of us send out a holiday card or letter to friends and family. Even people who do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah often send a New Year's greeting.

Opinions vary widely about acceptable format for holiday greetings. 

I enjoy catching up with friends and past acquaintances annually at this time of year, and I love getting newsy letters and lots of photos from friends and family. I know, however, that some people roll their eyes and don't understand why others choose to share so much information.   

Today, I'm curious about the majority opinion, and I'm asking you for your thoughts on this topic.

Questions about holiday greetings and letters

What's your opinion?

What is your favorite type of holiday greeting to receive?

  1. A store-bought card.
  2. A custom photo card.
  3. A newsy printed letter.

 When it comes to content, is it true that "less is more"? Do you prefer:

  1. One simple photo of a family or friend.
  2. A variety of photos taken by the sender throughout the year.
  3. A note or letter without photos.

Do you send out holiday greetings? 

  1. No.
  2. Yes. If so, do you:
  • Just sign and send a card.
  • Put a photo in the card or send a photo card.
  • Send a holiday letter with one photo.
  • Send a holiday letter with multiple photos.

4. Do you send your holiday greetings to:

  1. Close friends and family?
  2. Only people that are far away?
  3. All of your friends and family?

 5. If you do send a card or printed letter, do you:

  1. Have it printed and send it without signing or adding a note.
  2. Sign your name but never add a note.
  3. Add a hand-written personal note for each recipient.

Please leave your answers in the comment section. Let's find out how people really feel about the cards and letters we've sent throughout the years!

And by the way ...

Happy Holidays

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday Suggestion: Sometimes it's best to not say anything.

"If you don't have anything good to say, then don't say anything at all." While attempting to write this post last night, that was the phrase that kept running through my head.

I've heard this advice at various times throughout my life, and in most cases I have tried to heed it. I have always understood the word "good" in this context to mean "nice."  But, last night I realized there can be another interpretation of this advice as well. When we speak (or write!) we should strive to ensure that our words have value and meaning.

I had a few ideas of topics for this post, but I lacked the energy to develop them fully this week. Rather than waste your time reading something that is not "good," today I am simply going to share this quote and wish you a happy weekend.

And I'll leave you with this thought: Think how much better we would all get along if we all only ever said things that are "good."

Do you agree with this advice?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ideas for the Holidays: My List of Fabulous Finds (Week #24)

The holiday season is upon us. Here are a few links to articles previously published on this blog, which might make your life even merrier and brighter. I really hope they do!

Sugared Cranberries

~ ~ Decorate

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Coding Lesson from Khan Academy and a Christmas Poem

Have you heard of Khan Academy®? It is a free learning resource for people of all ages, offering on-line instruction on a huge variety of topics. The website is and it is well worth taking a few moments to check it out.

Yesterday, I received an email about an "Hour of Code" opportunity offered by Khan Academy®, and I decided to take a peek. Before I knew it, I was deep into the "Hour of Webpages" tutorial, learning some basic HTML and CSS coding and having a really good time! One of the assignments was to write a poem, using the HTML skills that had just been taught.

I am not a poet. In fact, I think a poem of mine has only ever appeared on this website once, and it was really just a few rhyming lines.  The challenge of writing poetry was actually more daunting for me than trying to use computer code, but I wanted to complete the assignment. I took some inspiration from our recently decorated Christmas tree, and I gave it a try.

Christmas lights on a tree

I am sharing my little poem here, as an example of how easy it is to learn a bit of basic coding from Khan Academy® in just an hour or so.

Using my newly acquired skills, I was able to write text in several colors, make a title heading, and create line breaks. By googling "centering lines of text using CSS" (a skill not taught in this introductory lesson),  I even figured out how to format my poem to appear in the shape of a tree:

Tree Lights

red & white.
Simple strands
placed happily there, by
several sets of willing hands.
Green strings full of pretty lights,
wound round fragrant pine boughs,
the festive 

I should probably stick to writing prose, not poems, but I can now do so using a little computer jargon! I even learned how to include the photo of our tree in this post without using the Blogger "insert image" tool, but by actually writing the correct code.

Of course, on the Blogger platform I have always been able to do all of this without knowing how to code, just by using the available tools. But, I have learned that some understanding of computer coding can really be helpful - when something goes wrong, or when you just want to make some changes that are not otherwise possible.

I can't wait to see what else I can learn from Khan Academy®. Can you?

NOTE: All Khan Academy® content is available for free at I did not receive any compensation for mentioning their website, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Have you ever taken a Khan Academy Course or visited their website?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Our house shook for a couple of seconds at 9:30 pm on Sunday night. 


It almost felt as though there had been an explosion nearby, but we immediately realized it must have been an earthquake. The Christmas tree did not topple and nothing fell off the walls or shelves, but there was no mistaking that we had just felt the ground shake.  I wondered if there would be any type of an aftershock, but we felt nothing.

Earthquakes do happen here in Montana once in a while, but I have only ever felt one or two of them, and those just felt like more of a bump. Curious, I got on Facebook and saw that other people we knew had experienced the shaking as well. According to the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program, it was a 3.4 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter not too many miles from where we live. Not strong enough to do any damage, but significant enough that it did not go unnoticed.

map of eathquake activity
This is a screenshot of the map on the USGS web page of recent earthquake activity.
Just hours after I had this experience, there was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Tajikistan. That news prompted me to refresh my memory on how to prepare for an earthquake, and how to respond if one occurs. While our house was shaking, I had been too surprised to even move from the couch. When it ended, I simply went to find my family in other parts of the house to confirm that they had felt the quaking as well. Had the earthquake been more severe, I definitely should have acted differently.

The Earthquake County Alliance web page offers a lot of helpful information on how to prepare, survive, and recover from an earthquake. An earthquake can happen anywhere although some places have a higher percentage of seismic activity than others. It is always best to be prepared, so I encourage you click this link and educate yourself in case you ever feel the ground begin to rock and roll!

What to do in an eathquake

Have you ever experienced an earthquake?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday Suggestion: SnowMan - First the Song and Now A Novel.

How many times have you sung the song "Frosty the Snowman" or made a snow person?

I think I loved this snowman as much as my daughter did!

Have you ever thought about how snowmen and the song originated? I really hadn't - but my friend Diane Stringam Tolley has. A lot.

Diane has written several books, and I finally had time to read one of them during my Thanksgiving travels. I have always loved snowmen, so naturally I chose SnowMan as the first of her books to read. It is a fairly short story - only 134 pages, but I am still thinking about it a week after I finished it. It made me both smile and cry, and I will never build another snowman without remembering Diane's inspiring story. Diane's engaging writing style and her account of the life of John Benjamin Frosst will transport you to a snowy winter decades ago, and leave you with a warm feeling. I highly recommend you treat yourself and read this book.

SnowMan is available in both paperback and Kindle format. You can learn more about it or even purchase it, just by clicking here. (As always, if you do make a purchase after visiting Amazon from one of my links, I will receive a small commission, but the price you pay will not be affected.)

Diane also writes the blog Across the Border where she tells fascinating stories of growing up on a ranch in Southern Alberta. I am keeping this post short today, so you have time to read some of her words instead of mine!

What sort of things have you used to build a snowman?
Have you ever given one an old silk hat, a corncob pipe, a button nose, and two eyes made out of coal?

Friday, December 4, 2015

I'm Glad to be Back: My List of Fabulous Finds (Week #23)

While taking a mini-blog vacation, I was only publishing here on Saturdays for the past few weeks so this is my first "Fabulous Finds" post in a while. During my blogging absence, I didn't get my photo collection as organized as I had hoped, but I did make a good dent in the project. 

Quite a bit happened while I was gone, however.  I managed to get our holiday lights up outside, took my son to get his cast off and his wisdom teeth out, and we went to Arizona for Thanksgiving.

In all, it was a busy couple of weeks, but I did miss blogging and I'm glad to be back.

I hope these "fabulous finds" I came across in the past few weeks will interest you.


This Week's Fabulous Finds:

~ ~ Roasted Garlic

I am definitely going to try roasting garlic this way!


~ ~  Perfect Pie Crust

A beautiful pie is like a work of art. This video from King Arthur Flour takes all the mystery out of how to crimp the edges, and make a really pretty crust.

~ ~ A detector of Gluten

For people with Celiac Disease, ingesting even a small amount of gluten can be very harmful. I just read about a device that can test foods instantly to see if they are gluten-free. It should be available soon - and seems like it would be a wonderful tool.

~ ~ Still Missing

When Malaysia airline MH370 went down in March 2014, I could not believe that it could just disappear. A year and a half later, sadly, it has still not been found. I just came across this update.

~ ~  Holiday Lights

I managed to get our holiday lights up just before the weather turned really cold and snowy this year. If you haven't put yours up yet, you might find reading my article from last year helpful:
Christmas lights
I was glad I got these lights up before Thanksgiving. It snowed and temperatures dropped to subzero just before we left for Arizona.


~ ~ A possible step forward in the fight against MS

A recent study looks at a promising approach to helping patients with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease which affects millions of people. While more work needs to be done, it would be wonderful if this research leads towards developing a cure.

Have you ever tried roasting garlic using the method linked above?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!
In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of them, the price you pay will not be affected but I may receive some small compensation. All opinions expressed, however, are entirely honest and my own.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Christmas Tree and a Menorah

It's time for another chapter of "The Mindy Story!"  I haven't written one for a while, so this week I took on the added challenge of incorporating all the options offered in the last two Words for Wednesday word prompt challenges. I used a total of 18 words and two phrases, supplied by two different bloggers - and it was a lot of fun to see what I could do with them all!

I hope you enjoy this segment ... Mindy certainly can get herself worked up!

Christmas and Hanukkah

~ ~ * ~ ~

If you missed some of the story so far, or just need a refresher, here are the links to all of the previous chapters so far:

Another chapter in the unpredictable life of Mindy ...

~ ~ * ~ ~

A Christmas Tree and a Menorah

"Mindy!! Only you could extrapolate so poorly," Barb said, admonished Mindy gently. "Why on earth do you choose to jump to these unfounded conclusions?"

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Countdown to Christmas: December Always Sneaks Up on Me!

December 1st.  This month always sort of sneaks up on me and I am seldom ready to begin the Christmas season.

Advent Calendar wall hanging
The color scheme in my home is well-suited to autumn decorations - perhaps that is the reason I am never in a hurry to put those fall-colored things away. It is usually at least a day or two into December when I pack up the last of the pumpkins and the pilgrims, and remember to put up the Advent Calendar.

When my children were very young, I purchased a felt wall-hanging of a Nativity scene. Small cloth camels, stars, sheep, Wise Men, and so forth reside in numbered pockets at the bottom of it all year long.  For each of the first 24 days of December, one of these is supposed to be adhered to a Velcro spot in or near the stable, creating a complete Nativity scene by Christmas day. The task of placing these figures used to be taken very seriously by my kids - so much so, that at the end of the holiday season I would record whose turn it would be the following year to place baby Jesus in the manger.  Every parent knows how important it is to be sure that life is fair!