Sunday, October 16, 2016


In a thrifted outfit at a work event
For over a year now, I've been trying to buy used items whenever possible, including clothes, and I've pretty much stuck to this goal. These are some of the exceptions that I've found to buying used clothes:

  • Pants. I rarely find any, especially jeans, that fit my needs so this year I bought 3 pair of new jeans
  • Underwear. Nope, I'm not going there
  • Shoes. At first I thought I' have to buy shoes new since I wear a hard-to-find size. However, I did buy a few pair that were clean and like new - and comfortable. I also bought a new pair of knee-high boots to wear with jeans (I got these on ebay - does that count as used?) and a pair of amazingly comfortable dress sandals that I bought to wear for walking on our vacation (this turned out to be a smart move as I walked miles in them without a single blister)

Otherwise, I ended up purchasing an entire work and casual wardrobe from thrift and consignment stores this year. I did make a few mistakes, but for the amount spent, I'm not crying about wasted money.

I'm keeping my commitment to used as it's a winning proposition - acquiring nice but very inexpensive clothes, nixing support of sweatshop labor, and keeping clothes out of landfill.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Busy getting ready for an out-of-town work event, so I thought I'd share some interior photos of the chateau in Arc-en-Barrois where I spent the night last month. Keep in mind, a total of only eight people were staying there during my visit (this includes me and my husband). One of the highlights of my trip! (I'll share more photos later.)

Duke's Hall


Sunday, October 2, 2016


After 12 years, I was finally able to return to France this past summer! My first two trips were nice and I enjoyed the sites and culture, but didn't have time to savor my time as I would have liked to. I had two children with me both times and, as a mother, I was focused on their happiness and well being. This time it was just me and my husband for two blissful weeks!

One of the highlights of the trip? Discovering this chateau in Arc en Barrois on AirBnB and spending an amazing night there:

While it's not for everyone (there are no services there and the town is extremely small), we enjoyed the grandeur and solitude as we were only two of eight people staying there - and we only briefly saw two of them! A evening in the study, just off the library, sipping local wine and reading? Bliss!

More about my trip another time!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Good Beginning

tick tock 24
Looking to start the day on a positive note? A Harvard professor recommends stretching for a few minutes before you get out of bed in the morning. You can learn more here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


So, for my one or two readers out there, I'm back from an unscheduled two month blogging hiatus! It was completely unplanned. Life just happened and next thing I knew it was already autumn.

I took the first real vacation I've had in 12 years and went to France! More about that later.

During my blogging break, I tried to focus on things that are simple and beautiful. Out went Facebook (or most of it) and any draining activities and people. One reason I have all but abandoned Facebook is because as "friends" shared ugly and negative posts, I simply told Facebook I didn't want to see those types of things. Before I knew it, my feed rarely had posts from people I actually knew! So I started limited my reading (and rare commenting) to groups I belong to that are only focused on the positive.

After reading a bit about positivity and gratitude, I now know that what you focus tends to be what you find in life. And that's what I want to share with and spread to my readers. Tune in for more later!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Inspiring Quote

"When the flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower."
~Alexander Den Heijer

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


I didn't mean to go so long without posting! Life just became busy and I kept putting off tending to my blog. I went out of town for four days so between preparing for the trip, being on the trip, then returning from the trip, I ended up with little time to even think about my blog.

This Sunday I'll be taking some me time - time to plan, organize, prepare - and making space to blog will something I'll be considering. In the meantime, enjoy this photo of Fabs - don't you wish you could be that relaxed and confident?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Inspirational Thought

 “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
~George Eliot

Saturday, July 2, 2016


I haven't been posting lately because I've been enjoying walks in the evening, sunsets, good food, etc. This is my favorite time of the year. Although we have amazing sunsets every evening, this was an especially beautiful sunset:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Spring Harvest

We had an abundance of Swiss chard this week so I found a couple of delicious recipes to make: Swiss chard pesto and lentil and Swiss chard soup. Bill and I are both very cold natured so have no problem eating soup in during warm weather. I like the simplicity of a one-pot meal this time of year, too. I froze the pesto in an ice cube tray. Once it has frozen, I'll pop out the little cubes and store them in a container in the freezer for quick meals throughout the year. (I know your skin can take on an orange cast from eating too many carrots; can it turn green from too much Swiss chard, kale, etc.?)

I didn't take photos of the food, but I did get a picture of one of the hollyhocks that has returned this year:

Thursday, June 9, 2016


For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be able to speak French. But it's not in the cards for me as 1) spoken language isn't my strong suit - even English; 2) I would rarely have the opportunity to use it and thus would probably loose it if I did acquire the skill; and 3) I don't have the discipline it takes.

I really enjoyed the tips that Living a Luxurious Life gave on learning French (or any other language for that matter). Maybe there's hope for me. Or maybe I need to be satisfied with studying on my Duolingo app - which by the way recently told me I was "8% fluent" in French.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


This is a great article about bad habits that interfere with happiness. Below, I've reframed the points in the article into a list of things you should do to make yourself happier:

Be in awe of life
Engage with the world
Accept responsibility for yourself
Know that you can't control others
Eliminate judgment and criticism of others
Stop complaining
Do things to impress yourself
Adopt a positive attitude
Cultivate friendships with positive people
Ignore the illusion in social media
Face your fear and take some risks
Live in the moment, not the past or the future

I'm going to print the article and my list to read every day as part of my morning routine.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Good Life

Yesterday was a beautiful day. I booked our hotel in Paris on the recommendation of a friend who stays there regularly. And after dinner, we walked down to my mother-in-law's house and watched the hummingbirds at her feeders as the sun set.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Sign of the Season

I know the seasons have changed when I put away the flannel sheets and bring out the smooth cotton ones. (Sorry no photo.) I'm very cold natured - I attribute that to never having lived in cold weather until I moved to Virginia - so flannel sheets are a must for half the year here. Now that iit seems that the weather has decided to stay warm, it was time for the change. Ah, the simple luxuries in life...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Airplane at Sunset

Although I live out in the country, far from any airport, I recently started noticing planes flying high overhead. And if I listen very carefully, I can hear the very faint roar of engines. This one I spotted high above the clouds looking out my garage around 8:30 tonight. You know all those wide open places you fly over when going from point A to point B? That's us.

Monday, May 30, 2016


We took our usual after dinner paseo today. On the way back to the house I couldn't resist picking some wild flowers. When I turned the corner by our garage, I decided to pair them with some daylilies:

Saturday, May 28, 2016


We had a great day at the farmers' market today. The market has changed so much since I first started selling there in 2005. One thing that I noticed today - and probably an important reason the market has evolved so much - is the diversity of the customers.

During the course of the morning, I had conversations with people from the following countries:

The Netherlands
The Philippines
Hong Kong
New Zealand

This is in a small southern city with a population of around 50,000. We're fortunate to have such diversity as it's making our community a better place. A few years ago we had an intern who was from Saudi Arabia. She told us how shocked she was when she moved to the US and discovered that, although the food in the grocery stores was beautiful, it had neither scent nor flavor. Our friends and customers from other parts of the world feel the same way - so they seek out local food that is tasty and flavorful (and also chemical-free).

I have discovered another beautiful reason to love where I've been planted.

Friday, May 27, 2016

What We Really Want


This article explores the idea of what we think we want and what we really want. Behind every desire is actually the feeling - we don't want the thing, we want the idea or the longing for the thing, the anticipation of the thing. Getting that thing that you've yearned for is usually anticlimactic. The author points out that "[w]hat we want is the experience of ease and unfettered enjoyment that is promised, falsely, by the thought of acquiring the thing—the restaurant meal, the cruise, the raise, the loving relationship—even though everything comes with its own pains and complications and regrets."

As the old saw goes, be careful what you wish for. It is often not the experience you expected. Instead of living for that moment when [fill in the blank], enjoy the process - your imagination is often richer than reality. In our minds, there are never flaws in diamonds.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Inspiring Thought

"Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all."
~Nathan W. Morris

Friday, May 13, 2016

Blooming Spring

Love the flowers of spring. Despite my severe neglect, my nasturtiums and sage are blooming:
It has been a strange spring. April behaved like May; May is behaving like April. As long as it continues to warm, I'll take it! I do wish I had a full time gardener who would surround my house with flowering plants and herbs - as long as it was organic, of course!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Learning to Love Where You Live

I admit I've had a tough time loving the community I moved to over 13 year ago. It was difficult finding people who had similar interests to mine. And it's the kind of place where, if you can, you leave. There's a brain drain here as young people go off to college and don't return. Yet over time the community has grown on me - I've found my place here.

Change is also in the air - whereas 10 or 11 years ago no one here seemed to understand the importance of healthy living or caring for the environment, our farmers' market now has a number of vendors who grow or make healthy products - and shoppers seek them out.

There are also some hidden cultural gems here. Last night I enjoyed a chamber music concert with some extremely gifted musicians. They've traveled the world, playing in some impressive venues, yet they've chosen to settle in our small community. If you think your community has nothing to offer, I suggest digging a little and you might be surprised with what turns up.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A European State of Mind

Although I've only experienced a small part of Europe and just as a traveler, not a resident, I've come to embrace a few of the habits and practices I encountered there. One of my favorites I discovered in Spain when we stayed with a friend and his Spanish wife. It's the paseo, a casual walk taken after the evening meal. While in Spain, we joined an entire community taking a paseo late at night, just after dinner.

We've been taking paseos for years now. We try to do it every evening after dinner. Although sometimes we have to take a break due to weather, it is a regular habit for us. During this evening's paseo, I discovered:

Shiitake mushrooms on our logs
Honeysuckle vines growing next to our chicken house
While the word paseo is supposed to be pronounced "pä-sāˈō," we've southernized it to "passˈ-ee-ō." It's our habit so we can call it whatever works for us!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


This afternoon I returned from a business trip that had me out of town for almost a week. I was supposed to return yesterday but storms in the east resulted in the cancellation of almost all evening flights out of Charlotte Douglas International. My co-worker was able to make it to her final destination but I wasn't so lucky. Fortunately, I was able to get on a flight this morning (the airline originally re-booked me on a 10:30 p.m. flight!). And I was so glad to be home! It was a stressful, yet successful week, with my organization exceeding the fundraising goal that was set. This money will, among other things, help refugees in the Middle East and human trafficking victims in India and Thailand. I'm still amazed that I can be part of such important work.

I really enjoyed the sky this evening after yet another storm. I took several shots of the sunset and couldn't decide which was the best, so settled on this one (those faint white dots next to the barn are some of the goats settling down for the night):

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Simple Centerpiece

I love this time of year when the flowers start blooming. One of my favorite things to do is to make a bouquet from flowers growing on our farm - either wild or cultivated. These flowers - crimson clover - were actually planted as a cover crop. They're so beautiful that I brought a few into the house to brighten up our meals.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Getting Things Done

I've only recently come to embrace the goodness of smartphones. I'm a paper and pencil person but since returning to work full time, I've had to adapt to technology. As a result, I've discovered a few apps that I've come to depend on to help me make life better.

One of my favorite apps is Productive. This is a habit tracker app has helped me make some changes in my life. With this app, you set up the habits you want to adopt and you get reminders on your phone. I'm using the free version right now and it's perfect for me. It allows me to set up to five new habits, which is the most I'd want to tackle at a time. Since I'm going to France later this year, one habit I've added is to use another app - Duolingo - to practice my French (more about this app at another time). Productive has endless uses.

Once I find a habit has become routine, I delete it and add a new one. I recommend you give this app a try - it's a perfect way to help establish new habits and routines.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Inspirational Thought

"Just like moons and like suns,
with the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I rise."
~Maya Angelou

Friday, April 15, 2016


Sometimes we're our own worst enemy. Happiness seems like an elusive goal but sometimes it's just a matter of getting out of our own way. According to Elephant Journal, making the following changes will put you the path to a happier life:

Stop procrastinating
Get outside
Reduce clutter and take care of chores
Avoid reality television shows
Live in the present
Say "no" more
Stop frivolous spending
Stop gossiping
Don't compare your life to others
Focus on what is important to you

Monday, April 11, 2016

Elegant Cook

I love this illustration - but very impractical! 
Source unknown
I actually make and sell aprons that are both practical and feminine. I love wearing them at home for all sorts of chores (housework, gardening, cooking) and they have pockets that are perfect for holding my phone and ipod. But I don't wear high-heeled shoes around the house!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Evening Walk

This time of year I try to always take a walk after dinner. It helps with digestion and makes me keep in touch with nature. Since I'm at a desk most of the day, it's something I often miss out on despite owning a farm. A shot from this evening's walk:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It's Official!! (And exploring more of France.) Our airline tickets have been purchased and now I need to start planning!

This will be our third trip there but I know I will enjoy this one the most. The first two times I had small children in tow. While I'm glad my children (and I) got the experience, as a mother I was always busy assuring that the children were happy and safe so really didn't have the opportunity to savor it. On our first trip, we blitzed the city in about 4 days (and I was severely jet lagged the first day or so), then spent most of the rest of the time in Brittany. The next trip, we bypassed Paris when we arrived and headed for Normandy. At the end of the trip, the children wanted to see the Eiffel Tower again so we spent a stressful evening trying to get there and back from our hotel. I'm grateful that I've visited before but am especially looking forward to this trip.

Monday, April 4, 2016

More on the Blog

My intention with this new blog is to make it as simple as possible. I've eliminated any side bars, etc. and will sometimes only share a quick bit of inspiration or tip. With the additional duties I've taken on this year, I'm all about simplifying and streamlining.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Inspirational Thought

"It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it."
~W. Somerset Maugham

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Welcome to my new blog! Some of you have been following me on my old blog, while others are just now discovering me. While I loved blogging and connecting on that blog, changes in my life and mindset have led me to create this one. I hope you enjoy what you read over the coming days, weeks, months, and even years. Maybe my posts will make you pause and think about making changes to your life, to choose a more simple, beautiful life!