Carrot Cake on a Rainy day, Unfinished Puzzles and Rigors of Being a Student

As I sit here thinking of the list of assignments that I need to complete for the day I sip a cup of strong French roast coffee. As of now, I think West African coffee is perhaps my favorite.

I just love stepping out on my balcony in the brisk morning air with my coffee.

Right now, it’s very strange outside. The clouds are smoky and there’s fog everywhere, literally, blanketing the trees. Very humid too.

I just popped into the oven a carrot cake—because, Friday. Friday’s, I feel like, sometimes just require cake. Haha!

Before
After

Really, though, I think that cakes should set a day in the fridge after frosting for maximum flavor.

Wow, this cake bakes for an hour!

For me, baking, is a form of love. Baking is the perfect way to spread love to others.

I have a long laundry list of assignments I’m working on starting at 8:00, sharp. Unfortunately, knowing myself, that time will probably be not as sharp, as I would like, because sadly I don’t have wedding shoes yet. Honestly, I have tried on so many beautiful “no-go” shoes, so far. Sadly, none of which fit, so, I will persevere in the search. I’m thinking, though, that I will section out some time after lunch for that.

Aaah, psychology, it’s a hound for your time.

Though, I am so happy to be able to go to college and complete a degree. I think, often it is easy for me, to forget about how lucky I am to be able to pursue a degree or any further education at all. I think it is easy to forget how lucky we are to be able to pursue higher education as many people don’t have that option.

I enjoy getting wrapped up in studying the complexities of how the human mind works. How people think.

I am looking forward to putting all I have studied into practice. In my everyday life, I love listening to people.

My assignments for today consist of buckets of reading. I just developed a little office which makes for a good dedicated reading place.

And!! It’s going to rain today, hopefully. I just love watching the rain. And studying with the rain coming down outside my window really helps me.

I find it so mesmerizing.

Coffee, Sunshine, God’s Grace to Perservere, Homily Reflection

       This morning began a little too early for my pleasing. 

The sun beamed through my window at the break of dawn. 

Which would be fine if the windows had curtains. The curtains, however, are not up. 

This morning is gray and rainy as I sit back and enjoy coffee on my balcony this morning the stray drip drip drips off the gutter spot my shirt. 

The sun glistens through my balcony now. 

What a beautiful reminder of God's grace as I persevere today through my studies. 


I'm considering this past Sunday's homily. The priest shared with the congregation that we must live everyday through love and not get to caught up in our own aspirations but awaken to what the Lord has for us to do that day, that hour, that minute. 

This caused me to think about how I am living and how I may not be living up to God's calling in my life. I have been reflecting about this during this chaotic time where every business needs all hands on deck and is hiring everyone and there dog, literally. 


It is a reflection that I am taking to heart.

He also reminded us of the Lord's enduring love. 

Which sometimes can be a struggle for me to embrace that truth, as a sinner. 



The priest reminded us that there is hope through God's grace and we must just follow him and not get caught up in our worldly ways, to the best of our ability. 



Those are powerful words and I can only hope in my little way to follow the Lord and do good. 

Sea-of-Galilee

“God’s grace

is sufficient

for me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Stormy Day American Brownie

When I was young I often licked the brownie beaters.

I still make brownies on those cold, stormy unforgiving weather days.

It brings me joy to bake in my little kitchen. My apron tightly wrapped around me as I gingerly dip my head to examine the brownies rising in the oven.

If you find yourself in a similar rainy day need for brownies.

I love this recipe because it only uses one bowl.

Try my brownie recipe!

MAGGIE’S BEATER LICKIN’ GOOD BROWNIES


  • 1 stick of melted butter
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Nestle Tollhouse 100% pure cocoa)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. gluten free FLOUR (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • CHOCOLATE CHUNKS (ABOUT 3/4 CUP DEPENDING ON HOW YOU LIKE YOUR BROWNIES

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl combine melted butter, cocoa powder and brown sugar. Beat pretty darn well so that there’s no lumps. Add eggs one at a time beating after each egg is added then drip in vanilla and stir well.

Stir in flour and salt. Do not over stir!

Spoon into an 8×8 pan and spread evenly.

Sprinkle chocolate chunks on top of the brownie batter.

Bake 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven and wait a good bit to let the brownies cool enough. Then cut yourself a piece of Maggie’s Beater Lickin’ brownies and enjoy!


I gotta say baking has been such a relief for me during my classes. Wow, brownies give me studying “super-powers”, well, hah-ha, maybe that’s an EGG-ZA-GERATION!

Heehee, I couldn’t resist the terrible pun.

I love baking and am so happy to share my recipes on this blog and hopefully brighten someones day!

Finding Joy: Rainy Dark Day with Meal Planning and Gourds

God has blessed this land with a steady rain today.

Thank God!

The gourds on my dining room table add a cheery thought to my day as I watch the rain dribble down my windows. A Postal truck whizzes down the road as I gaze into my coffee mug ponderously.

The gourds make me happy and remind me of Fall and family. Wow! What a wonderful thing it will be to have two families in just a matter of months!

What a joyous day it will be!

My studies are progressing well. A’s and B’s mostly, thankfully. I believe it might be a good thing if I picked up a little part-time job somewhere. At the same time, I am concerned that, similar to two semesters ago I will wind up being overworked with bad grades. I feel like I HAVE to keep going and pursuing counseling.

This Sunday, the priest had a really provocative homily that really stirred me. The homily was about living each day doing your daily duty and loving others.

This made me think a lot about humility and how hard it is sometimes to be humble. It is quite a blessing to be alive and be working towards your goals, pursuits and dreams. At the same time, I find myself asking, is there something else I could be doing that would lead me closer to God.

In the stillness of this rainy day, as thunder trembles and groans across the sky, I ponder this.

Watching the Gales of MN: Coffee, Lemon Bars, and Chipmunks

I rotate my coffee mug as I look for a place that isn’t covered with lipstick to drink from. I’m sitting in my new place watching in amazement the huge trees and reefs outside billowing with every gale.

I was happy to find that people are starting to wear channels, hurrah, flannel season has begun!

My new woodland friends are grey squirrels and 🐿️ (chipmunks). Sooo cute!! I’m also trying to learn the bird calls.

I did, by mere coincidence, find out what a chipmunk call is….. Wait would it be call… I think there’s probably a better term for that, 😂

What a wonder God has given me to enjoy!

Last night, I made a gluten-free low-fodmap chicken parmesan.

Here’s the recipe:

Low-fodmap Chicken Parmesan

I was able to find FODY NO ONION NO GARLIC premium tomato basil pasta sauce at my grocery store.

Delicioso, basil and tomatoes. It’s so yummy!

So, a note on the recipe

I had a little doozy with not cooking the chicken long enough. After plating it and embarrassing, enough, my fiance trying to cut into the completely raw meat, my face turned six shades darker red, I’m sure.

We decided to just finish it off on the oven.

We also used COTIJA cheese which is part skim milk natural cheese.

After making dinner I wanted to surprise my fiance with a dessert that I knew was one of his favorites. Though I am chagined to say I’ve actually hadn’t made it for him until last night.

Lemon bars. And not your average lemon bar but made with a bit of buckwheat flour. Which I think gave it a nice nutty finish.

Here’s the recipe: https://www.rachelpaulsfood.com/best-low-fodmap-lemon-square-lemon-bar-recipe-gluten-free/

I added more lemon juice as I didn’t have lemon zest. I definitely think the lemon zest would have given it a more robust flavor. I also don’t generally buy cane sugar so I used brown sugar.

They were good!

Also, yesterday, I happened across one of my new favorite MN local brand of coffee. Caribou.

Last time I bought a bag my fiance and u tried the Smore’s blend. It was good coffee but we felt that the coffee taste kinda got swallowed up by the smore‘s flavor.

This time I picked the Caribou coffee French Roast. Key words “smoky” and “sophisticated”.

Life is Short. Stay awake for it.

Haha, I love there branding. Ie. Drink more coffee stay awake for life. I think thatt’s funny. It is delicious coffee.

I’m still finishing up my canister of Folher’s Black Silk, which ya know is pretty good and simple coffee flavor, I like it.

Nellie Gray’s March for Life- Pro-life Advocacy

This post is past the date of Nellie’s passing.

I received an inspirational email from the March for Life President. I find this a very important issue.

When Nellie Gray began the March for Life in 1974, she could never have imagined this gathering in our nation’s capital would become the largest annual human rights demonstration in the world.

On this 9th anniversary of Nellie’s passing, we remember her heroic legacy and stand firm in our promise to continue the great work she began.


When Roe v. Wade was wrongfully decided on January 22, 1973, Nellie gave up her successful career as a U.S. government attorney to fully commit to the fight for life. Within a few months, she organized the first ever March for life on January 22, 1974, uniting over 20,000 pro-life advocates in our nation’s capital. Nellie thought the March of January 22, 1974 would be the first and only March for Life.

But tragically, one march would not be enough. So Nellie vowed to come back year after year until the Supreme Court corrected its wrongful decision. Nellie spent the next 40 years dedicating every waking moment to the defense of human life and to inspiring generations to advocate for life.

Many believed the American people would come to accept abortion and the pro-life movement would eventually fade. However, nearly fifty years later, Nellie’s legacy persists and the March for Life continues to grow. Even now, we are expanding our reach into state capitals across the country!

DONATE

It’s impossible for us to know the great difference our little “yes” to defending life can make. On the anniversary of her passing, we thank Nellie for her “yes” that has led us here today.

This email I received today as it is the anniversary of Nellie Gray’s death, God rest her soul. When I attended the March for Life Mrs. Gray was still alive and speaking at the March for Life.

My fiancé and I are planning to attend the March for life again this upcoming year. This will be his first time, too. Which will make it such a fun journey!

Oh Crumb… Let’s Unpack

Jackson darts behind the big oak tree as I rest my coffee mug in my lap, cupping it with my cold hands.

Gripping the tree he shoots up it like an watermelon shoots up in a pool of water.

This is one of my first friends in my new state.

Jackson, the chipmunk 🐿

I cradle my steaming cup of coffee in my lap and watch the rain pummel down on the outskirts of the balcony dripping off like wax from a candle.

The air is hot in the morning here. One of my new friends here, a older farmer, told me that the heat this year had been excruciating for his crops. And it’s no wonder, when I woke up I about thought I was in Florida.

Good gravy!

I have been discovering so many new and wonderful things while here. And I think one of my favorite things so far is my balcony. Oh it’s wonderful to sit out there with my coffee in hand or even sit out there typing looking up every once in a while to see Flopsy nibbling on the dewy grass.

Flopsy’s another new friend of mine a chubby rabbit that like to much on the weeds and now fallen leaves outside.

As I was unpacking yesterday I came across a box of china plates my dear mother had given me. The plates are the most beautiful china, I’ve seen. Oh my!

My mother received this beautiful china plates after she married my father all those years back and had saved them through all these years. I am so honored and grateful that she gave them to me.

In my space I have set up a little office prototype while the “packing room” gets cleared out.

I have my printer. I luckily found my ink for today. Which is going to be so helpful for my grant writing. My two pens, one black, one blue, and several three ring binders, in my attempt to be somewhat more organized this semester. Fingers crossed on that one. Heehee.

The rooster wind chime I bought in PA made the long journey with us too. Haha, it’s blowing in some fresh Minnesota breeze.

There was a pretty big storm last night that blew over my table outside. Maybe a microburst or something. Though I’m not familiar with MN weather.

My fiancé said that where he’s staying he could here the lighting coming down during the early AM hours. Eek!

About the water though. Oh, goodness, I’ve never seen so many ponds… oh I mean lakes. Gotta get my ponds and lakes straight. 😋

Wow, the water is so emerald it’s spellbinding and beautiful. The waters so still, with only the ripple of bugs and hungry fish coming to the surface, every now and then.

It’s a little nervous-wracking walking around in a new town, honestly. I know it’s just nerves and really probably no one is looking at me. It’s just I’m “the new kid on the block”so to say, and it’s a bit embarrassing.

Let me tell you, it’s hotter than Haydee’s out there today.

I’ve been musing over what dessert I should make. I think there’s definitely a celebration to be had with each of us getting jobs (mines volunteer, but still) and a new place. I think all of these are definite celebratory events.

Speaking of celebratory. My dear grandma gave me an instant pot that I’ve just been using the heck out a’. It is incredible folks.

I’ve been eyeing this recipe I found on a new food blog: Imagelicious.com. I’m waiting on tip toe to make this fabulously yummy recipe.

Instant Pot S’mores Latte

Thanks Jenny for having such an awesome cooking blog!

Anyhow, it’s instant pot s’mores latte. Oh my goodness friends. Wow, this sounds so yummy! ☺️

10 Ways I Start a Joyful Day

  • Seeing the sunshine through my window and thanking the Lord for this day.
Sunrise coming over the hills
  • Making my bed always seems to set me straight for having a more organized day.
  • Clearing my of floor so it’s not messy all day.
  • Before I eat or drink anything I brush my teeth.
  • Checking the weather (that farm girl instinct in me just pines for the forecast).
  • The night before making sure all the dishes are done and the downstairs is tidy. It makes me slightly miffed to walk into a dirty kitchen in the morning.
  • Fall asleep with a book. Literally, reading a book before bed leads to a sounder sleep.
Photo by Koshevaya_k on Pexels.com
  • I like putting a vase of fresh flowers in my kitchen; that really adds a wonderful smell and a colorful burst to my mornings.
  • Make Coffee
One of my favorite coffee shop’s and roasters!
  • Sit on my porch and greet the birds.

Signed. Sealed. Move-in-Ready

Munching away at my bagel billowing with creamy PB Fit and my favorite strawberry jam I muse over how hard we’ve both worked to make this move possible. My fiance has certainly really put in buckets of time studying and really making this opportunity possible. And to think he’s been hammering away at his thesis all summer and it remains to be finished.

Ayiyi! I applaud his integrity and dedication, truly!

We signed on our first apartment together– “going to be married” apartment in Minnesota!!!! I will be staying in that apartment and my fiance in another place which has yet to be found.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

So, now, we’re much more relaxed from all the anxiety that’s been humming around us. OMGoodness!!!!

We have to tackle the basement, TODAY. Oh golly, we have been putting that off.

Not really looking forward to going down and working with all the spiders. They’re not very helpful workers 😉

1st Deposit; Summer Wardrobe Change

With all this moving and sweat tears and… ok, not blood but espresso. I’m going to be ready for a pedicure, LORDY-ME!

And maybe a wardrobe update too… No–definitely a wardrobe update. These Minnesota winters sound pretty bitter cold; or if you will, B.C.



Yes, definitely. I enjoy shopping online better than shopping in store. I think that is much easier than walking to a store. And most of the time I’m not a big skanner-shopper. It seems whenever I go to a store I come out with things I really didn’t need and I feel like I wasted a bunch of time on something I could’ve just done online. But I do so enjoy shopping with friends.

Speaking of which, recently I’ve had my eyes on some clothing from Mod Cloth.

Photo by Japheth Mast on Pexels.com

It is a sweater like this! This kitten is soo cute!!!

I bought the cutest pair of shorts with embroidered flowers around the pockets, that I bought last year and wear still.

Mod Cloth is having a summer sale too.

Check it out!

ModCloth: Back to School Styles for $15

We finally secured an apartment. Thank the Good Lord! Oh my!

Packing has been crazy today. I finally started on the basement and I’d say cleared out about 50%. The other half will be easier to load once the moving truck is here.

Through all this stress of locating a new rental—which are far and few between in MN– and packing, finding a new job and praying through it all, I have had a great epiphany, this struggle has seemed to ground me more and help me think good and hard about what really matters.

God seems to reveal to us during our hardest struggles his grace. I have found an abundance of grace in doing all this cleaning not only my closet but also cleaning my heart in preparation for a new life stage that God is guiding me through.

It’s a great consolation to me that God is present throughout this whole packing process. He will be present in our new apartment in November after we are happily married.

Moving Stress

I’m exhausted.

This move is really weighing on me. It’s not that I’m scared to start over with friends with setting up a community, it’s just I’m anxious about getting everything together and making sure everything’s well.

I have everything pretty organized and set up concerning turning off utilities, researching voting for MN, I’ve packed a lot of boxes. But there’s still so much more!! And it’s making me anxious.

I sat on our porch tonight with a hot mug of cocoa and looked out across the yard to the creek past the mailbox.

What a beautiful place this is and will stay in my memory as such a wonderful beginning to my venturing out on my own.

Living here in PA has given me such joy. Walking the trail in the mornings, sharing a beer with my neighbors, and watching movies with my fiancé curled up in the couch we bought together from IKEA.

Wow, and I have been blessed with the kindest neighbors.

Blessing #9: Strife of Packing and Tasty Donuts

The soft murmur of our coffee percolator sounded across the kitchen as I watched contemplating life. It seems a good place to contemplate—in front of a bubbling coffee percolator. It helped me think through everything, at least.

It was a big day ahead of studying, applying for this and that in our new state, checking on my financial aid (foot tapping in expectation), and applying to nearly 5 more scholarships. I think by now I have about 15 that I’ve applied to this month.

It’s been quite a humbling day. The bright sun glinted through my window as I awoke and I have had quite a sunny happy day today.

I’ve been all “wired up“ as I think my fiancé put it because of all the packing that needs done. I find packing fun. So at least that makes the process a little less dreary.

This morning, we ran to our favorite coffee shop (well one of our top favorites at least). The car, which is packed to the gills, literally, is now “toothless” from her front bumper hanging lopsided.

Funny story for another post! 😜

On the way home we stopped at the local grocery store to pick up some bread for our tuna sandwiches we’ll be making tonight. My lovely fiancé added in a donut as a little “don’t stress” treat.

As, we walked out bags in hand, I saw across the street a shining garage sale sign. Heehee, one of my favorite things!

And wowzer, friends, this lady was selling things without prices. Offering whatever price you thought was best for the item. We got a great deal on a car neck pillow brand new and a couple of new phone covers!

God’s Grace during Breakdown

The day was hot as a steaming cup of Folgers coffee. The Kansas winds were drifting over the plains with a brilliant sun glistening down on the road ahead.

Going home seemed like such a peculiarly since I had been gone so long.

Yesterday, when we started off, we had a truly epic beginning to our road trip back to P.A. Packed to the brim with, in retrospect, too many of the boxes filled with books and bagpipes.

Breaking down at a Casey’s in Chillicothe, MO, just one State over from where we started.

By God’s grace we had the assistance of many passer-by’s to diagnose and get are car to the Walmart across the way.

But just only there as my fiancé had to keep his foot on the accelerator all the way. If the accelerator wasn’t on the car would stop—dead in its tracks. And the car started going hay-wire right around the curb going into the auto part of the Walmart.

But, by the grace of God, the mechanics helped us find the right part and stayed after hours to fix our car. Oh my goodness friends we were feeling so blessed!!

So, down the road we went new battery in tow and an improved air conditioner humming away.

Luckily, we arrived in one piece. Only to find that the garage had already closed and the mechanics were locking up the place for the night.

The mechanic told us where to find the part and said he’d leave the tools out for us. Low and behold though he stated and put our battery back to humming. Thankfully though not literally humming. That was done by the huge canvas bag strapped to the top of the car that made this raspy humming sound all the trip. 😂

The fact that that mechanic stayed overtime to help us was truly Gods hand in our trip.

Wow, folks God is so good!

So, with intact battery, we began again with ,“Snowball” the car, rolling our way across the prairie. With the cold A/C purring away and our favorite broadcast, Dan Bongino playing.

Pushing through MO at a good pace we began to notice the A/C not working as well as it had been.

Then the clock started blinking.

Then, the seatbelt deactivation sign came in as well as the check engine sign.

Gulp.

Thankfully, we were on a highway with a good wide shoulder and we’re able to safely pull off.

So stuck again.

God’s grace helped us then again with the blessing of my fiancé having AAA. With roadside assistance, thank the good Lord.

This is the real crazy part so far. As Kyril was talking in the phone with AAA a car pulled up behind us. I was thinking wow, AAA is fast!

It was a good Christian person stopping in the road to see if we needed help. Folks, this was truly a beautiful time when a stranger and I bent our heads on the side of the highway and prayed for the road ahead and safety on our trip.

As, he’s leaving, a cop pulls up to see what’s wrong. He asks us if we need help too. Then the county sheriff pulls up behind, apparently the first police officer who’d pulled off to help was out of his county. And they both wanted to stay and help. So we had an incredible and funny conversation with the local police sharing a few jokes and chatting it up about sports, recent happenings and life.

It was truly a surreal experience to have so many people come to our aid.

Then the tow truck pulled up and the police officers stayed until the truck was driving away. I have just been so blown away by the generosity we’ve experienced throughout this town.

The tow truck driver took us to the local hotel where we slept very well after a truly exhausting day.

The tow truck driver was so kind he even came into the hotel to make sure we had a room offering in advance that he’d drive us the 20 min down to the other hotel if this one was full. Wow, what charity!

The local repair shop had their hands full this morning but generously took a diagnostic on our car when we showed up. The alternator was shot. So, after a long day hiking up and down the town even crossing a highway to get to where we needed. We found a Casey’s to get some lunch at.

As we were sitting outside enjoying “lunch” and discussing our situation a woman walked up to us to help. She asked us if we needed anything and gave us directions to the nearest food/rest places. Then she went back to her car and we began heading over to where she’d advised us to go. She then jumped out of her car and came up to us handing my fiancé money saying “This will buy you lunch”. This was just such a true act of Christian charity.

We feel so blessed!

Smoke & God’s Love

As I sat outside guarding the smoker I noticed the smoke spiraling and curling up and out of the wooden pergula above. The day had been a hot one filled with coffee, job applications, house hunting and more. Oh, friends, my bones are weary. After last March, when I was diagnosed with anemia and IBS it has been hard getting up enough energy and stamina to make it through the day.

But God is with me and I shall make it through.

Oh, God is so good!

That smoke I was talking about earlier reminded me of praying.

When I pray about someone or something, the anxiety I’m feeling immediately just spirals up and away like smoke.

I rest in God’s love and trust that he will overcome my fears and anxieties.

Blessing #7: Jesus, Blue Skies, Dry Heat & Trips down Memory Lane

Today, has been a roller coaster of emotions for me.

The day began hot and cloudless the sun bathing down on the front garden like a magnifying glass refracting light, in a most piercing manner.

I started my day with coffee, which was good. I’ve been browsing around for coffee deals as this wedding planning is not nearly done. And ya know for planning and college classes, everyday, sometimes you just need a little perk up! I love African coffee and notes of chocolate, yes please!

Try Our Organic Bali Blue Moon Roast, Coupled With Rich Dark Chocolate Notes & A Spiced Finish

I sure didn’t start the day in a very healthy way, skipping breakfast.

I guess, nowadays, with my IBS it seems harder for me to eat because if I eat something that’s now low-fodmap I sometimes, literally double over in pain.

So, I became overwhelmed about my college financial aid, which, imagine my luck, I was chosen for financial verification. Which is a random selection… Arrgh. Skipping breakfast and having that to deal with that, I was such an emotional mess by 9:30 am. Thankfully, my

dear fiancé held me while I cried. He’s so good and loving!

Then we prayed our morning Novena’s together, which is always such a beautiful and unifying thing for us.

That I think was the change I needed for my day to become brighter.

After we prayed, he went off to work and I was able to sit down and really get down to the nitty-gritty of my college class.

Which, I worked on for much of the afternoon and got a couple of assignments outta’ the way. Which was actually surprisingly successful! To my great relief. I scored a B on my 8 page APA essay, which I was happily surprised with.

I’ve been having some pain in my feet recently which I think is due to the heat, perhaps. I painted my toes for the first time in a coon’s age. I like the color it’s an ESSIE quick dry nail color.

I am absolutely thrilled about my fiance getting a teaching position at a high school. I think he’ll really enjoy that!

The wonderful thing is I have no idea where he’ll get a job and therefore where we’ll be living. I do hope we find out before August though. Being surprised about where you’ll be living is good. But being surprised about where you’ll be moving within a couple of days I think is a bit jarring.

Admittedly, I’m a little anxious about that.

In the early evening, I was able to go through some old boxes of mine in the attic and closets. What a treasure trove of different memories, I found, goodness! I used to be such an artist and I found so much of my art.

I also have this somewhat odd affinity for saving letters and cards that people have sent me. Kind of a bad habit, I guess. I even found my confirmation papers and several Catholic books about finding happiness while being single and prayers for your future husband. Golly gee, those books are all dog-eared and coffee stained. Haha, they sure served a purpose though! So, all in all, the trip down memory lane was one filled with great joy and many tears.

Well, until tomorrow my dear friends, I hope all is well 🙂

Happy 4th of July!!

It’s Independence Day in America hurray!

Tonight, I am going to a festival and firework display.

It’s the best time to cherish what we’ve been given growing up in a country that was as free as this one. I’m feeling very blessed for that privilege.

I hope everyone has an amazing 4th of July celebrating our Founding Fathers signing the declaration and America’s independence as a true Nation founded under God.

Happy 4th of July! 🎉

#1: Trains and Tracks; More than Just That

Trains have become a real symbolic metaphor for me. A train can take you from town to town, state to state, or country to country. Even underwater. They travel hundreds to thousands of miles climbing through mountains and sailing across long endless flat lands or even across the English Channel.

Wood burning or coal rains have become a thing of the past and most have switched to electric three rail trains. Efficiency has triumphed.

So trains have become more efficient. This is true of many things today; no surprise, the world has become a very fast-paced place.

And, dare I say, too fast.

I remember when I was a child traveling to Colorado Springs on an overnight train. I just remember flickers of that trip. It seems my memory of, before the wreck, is similar to a candle, sometimes flickering in so vividly I can almost remember the feel of the train jolting and the fascination I had prancing through the cars.

Then I remember the heat rising from the Springs.

It was a beautiful trip!

 

Smiling Coffee Cup- Positivity with your Morning Joe

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BRB Advice

So… As a new BRB—bride-to-be I have had exceptional amounts of fun, stress, and confusion planning this wedding.

It has been such an epic adventure so far and I have had so many new wonderful wedding decorations and wedding dress fittings. It has been absolutely a ball!

Through this process, I have learned a lot of things about myself, my confidence, and some sage advice from several of my married friends and even strangers that I want to share with you today.

My future mother-in-law provided some fresh and always inspiring advice.



1. You should never go to bed angry



This I think, personally, is very VERY good advice.

She is such a wonderful lady and I can’t wait to be a part of her family!! What an adventure our lives together will be. Golly gee.

My best friend, well, one of my best friends, offered this eloquent advice

Photo by stein egil liland on Pexels.com

Featured

Be Patient in the storm and focus on the sunshine after.



2. To be patient through the toughest storms.



Also, this friend, at my bachelorette party said the kindest things about memories of me. She had arrived at the farm to work her first summer and didn’t know a soul. I saw her drive up and ran out to her with a wide beaming smile on my face to hug and welcome her.


She, of course, said it much more eloquently than I (tried) to summarize in that paragraph. She is such a wonderful friend and I feel very blessed to have her in my life.



This next piece of sage advice was given to me by an older woman in my community, and I think is quite sage advice.



3. To never squabble at the dinner table.


These are all such blessings of good solid advice that I hope to cherish and practice throughout my upcoming marriage. I hope, maybe, that some bride is reading through this and finds this advice encouraging.

Till later friends.

-I hope you have a joyous day blossoming with goodness!



Blessing #5: Sunday Southern Spread

This evening my fiancé and I are cooking a proper Southern spread for my parents. My dad will I think be very impressed.

My fiancé and I traveling so much have had quite the experience of Southern dinners done right. We went with my fiancé’s family to a lovely restaurant in New Orleans called Galatoire’s once. It was incredible!

Hopefully, I’m making on of his favorites— banana cream pie.

We’ve had a lovely lazy Sunday here at the farm.

Just kinda middlin’ through the day, now.

Mass was wonderful! It’s good to be back in my home parish again. The mass was introduced by a beautiful song in Spanish. The singer had such a beautiful voice!

Afterwards, we went with friends out to lunch at Dairy Queen. It was so good to see old time friends and local community people again.

My pottery also came back from the shop and it looks great! Oh, my goodness, I never thought something I would paint and have fired in a kiln would look this good. 🤗

Check it out!

Cow teacup; COFFEE for me please

Obviously, coffee stains from this morning. Smilingcoffeecup comes with coffee. 😋

After much deliberation my fiancé and I decided on wedding guest gifts! Homemade jam! I’ll begin making jam for my wedding guest gifts. During this summer I need to can at least 175 jars of jam. Ayiyi!

So, excited to continue on this week with my studies and see what happens on the farm. My class, is admittedly, less stressful than the last time I took it.

I am progressing through my class well and I think I’m well enough ahead of schedule to not be stressed. Hurrrah!

Kansas is so beautiful with the golden fields of wheat right now. Oh my goodness!

We’ll friends, I’m off to make dinner, tootles for now!

😊☕️

Friends of KS Reunion

The rain shimmers down the gutter as I leisurely lift my cup to my lips slowly sipping my coffee as I wonder what this summer will bring.

What a wonderful time of year on the Kansas prairie.

I was elated to meet with one of my closest friends this morning for coffee and see all three of her children. What a joy! I was able to hold her second youngest who, in fact, I was the first to hold at the hospital after mom and dad, of course. So it made that doubly joyful!

This friend, in fact, moved several states over to KS after working one summer and falling in love with the farm. Meanwhile, getting married and having several children! Wow, I held her teeny-tiny baby too. She is such a wonderful friend!

We had a good long conversation about ourselves and how our personal lives were as well as dappling in politics and world events. We talked especially about how life was changing so break-neckingly fast under the Biden administration.

On a lighter side we also talked about working out and staying fit which is a goal for the both of us. I have been, recently getting back into the swing of ab workouts, which makes my body feel better and stronger. My friend having just had a baby still is limited to only walking for a couple weeks more. Since, I left my bike in PA I guess I’m somewhat limited to walking as well. :/

And to my surprise and joy, she told me that my bridesmaids had planned a bachelorette party for me! Wow, I am so excited!

I am ahead of schedule for my Child Psychology class and working on submitting and ardently studying all my materials. And looking forward to a trip to the city soon. What a lark! I’ll be helping transport asparagus to one of my dad’s buyers.

Meanwhile, while we’re in the city we’ll be picking up a bagpipe reed that my fiancé needs for a talent show in my little town!

I also just properly identified that this part of the bagpipe is called a GOOSE! The bag is leather and the rest is wood.

The town will be so surprised I think!

Travel #1: New- Orleans-travels

I gingerly sip the rest of my latte and peer out the window at the rolling hills flush with green. What a beautiful creation this world is, honestly who could think twice about not embracing such a beautiful planet and world. The world now is so confused and utterly turned on it’s head, right now, it seems.

Aside from that little bout of thought on today’s world life goes on. Some music to brighten your morning :).

Though truly if someone were to ask me every day is a miracle and quite an extra-ordinary experience. Each day presents a new way to give to others and to impact others in loving ways. Sometimes by just a simple gesture. That is what brings me joy.

I am reflecting this morning on the splendors and beauty I experienced recently on my fiance and I’s roadtrip to New Orleans. What an adventure!! And I got to meet my future in-laws and more of his family too. The second night we were there we went to a Jazz Bar to The Spotted Cat. The first I had ever been to. So Loud! So much Fun!!

Blessing #3: Honeymoon Search, Old Jeans and Sunny Walks

This night is going to sleep with dreams of honeymoon destinations.

What a day we’ve had! A beautiful sunny day woke me up this morning. We left at about 9:30am and returned at roundabouts 7:00. Geesh, long day sleepy fiance. Alotta wine too. Goodness.

So, after arriving at a cute coffee shop we hadn’t visited in Ambridge we ordered our drinks. I got a wonderful cappuccino with two squirts of red velvet flavoring. Which was scrumptious! I also ordered an apricot bagel with fresh cream cheese from a local bakery in Beaver, PA. And after that, two or three hours after that, I ordered a really extraordinary latte! So good.

Check it out!

Then we learned from a flyer that there was a wine fest going on that day! What a stroke of luck my friends. We bought tickets and start our walk to the South side of town hopped on this incredible antique trolly with a trolley driver that said he was a former pilot. I love meeting people and learning there stories!

So, we traveled South to North popping into a rare pet store and a whole cornucopia of unique stores. We even saw a couple rare birds, Macaws, I think.

There were tickets that we could deposit at each store in a ticket jar for a drawing at the end of the day. We submitted a bunch of ticket but I guess in the end not enough! Oh well, we had a rollicking good time. But we were not lucky winners.

This other lady, who apparently was celebrating her birthday today won twice. What a nice birthday surprise, for her.

It was a wonderful day filled with sun and holding hands walking down the sidewalk.

What wonderful sunny memories my fiancé and I have made.

Praise God, Skirts, Sunshine and Hot Coffee

A towhee chirps in the black cherry tree behind me as I sit on the porch sipping hot coffee. It’s a sunny Sunday morning. Mass will be later this afternoon which my fiancé and I go to. Today, since it’s nice weather out I’ll wear a skirt.

Mass is such a beautiful event. I love being Catholic.

Anyway, today has been mostly good. I woke earlier than expected and popped downstairs to make coffee. Which, nonetheless, is an interesting experience/experiment each time I make it in our percolator.

Stove-top Percolators are finicky things.

Now, I’m upstairs honestly really tired—extremely tired.

I’m waiting for my stick buns, new recipe (so EXCITED!!). I think they’ll drive my fiancé crazy, haha. He loves sticky buns.

Done and yummy!

I found the recipe on my Allrecipes app and added a few substitutes. I made my own yellow cake mix and used some leftover streusel topping from a muffin mix box.

My fiancé loved it! He had two slices today!

Though it is a beautiful sunny day after a big rain last night my garden is looking very sad. My petunias look Ike they’ve been battered with a broom and my lilac never bloomed and is a green skinny bud jutting out with yellow tips. Quite dead which is quite disheartening.

Ta-ta for now friends.

Coming to you Live from the Mountains

Today, I hiked a very large mountain—well since I’m a flat lander, I’d call it a mountain, at least. It could’ve been a very large treacherous hill though. 😳

It was a beautiful day and the plants just shined in the dew as we hiked our way up the section of land situated on the mountain.

I love identifying flowers and trees; bugs and arachnids; peat moss and lichens!

I even found a couple plants and trees I knew from my home state KS, including a Linden tree, Rough horsetail, and a flowering Dogwood I once saw in beautiful Atchison, KS.

We even followed a creek that was so beautiful! Not very deep as you could see the water cascading over the rocks clear across. I was so taken with it all and a good hike is something I just so enjoy!

Anyway, it got me to thinkin’, climbing this mountain brought me a lot of challenges especially with my injured foot. I slipped in the boggy mud twice and almost lost my balance hiking through a ravine with a stream with a solid rock bed below.

I was a step away from that fern when I slid

I developed a lot of courage and bravery on that mountain today.

And courage comes out of people in a lot of different ways. Unexpectedly, sometimes.

When you do something courageous you feel a sense of self-esteem and your mood lightens, feeling the happiness of accomplishment.

That’s how I felt like on that mountain coming down when I almost slid into the little stream running down to meet the creek. Then I remembered how strong I was. And that saved me from falling. My self-esteem and courage from climbing all the way up and persevering to the top was such a wonderful boost of morale for me.

So, reader, my friend, I challenge you, step out of your normal day-to-day routine and get your feet wet. Try something new that will challenge you and even make you cry, sweat, grit your teeth with perseverance.

God made you for greatness; climb your mountain!

Blessing #4: BBQ and Jesus

So, tonight I’m making dinner for my honey bbq chicken sandwiches.

Before dinner we save the meal prayer thanking Jesus and blessing the food. This really sets the tone for how we finish our days, I think.

Being grateful is so important in this world. Being grateful to others makes us happier as well as whoever received our thank you.

I kind of threw the recipe together from a couple different sources.

Slow cooker BBQ Chicken sandwiches

  • Chicken (enough to cover the bottom of a slow cooker)
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup ginger ale

Put chicken on the bottom of the crock layer onion slices on top of that. Make sauce with other ingredients and slather over chicken. Put in crockpot on high heat and cook for two hours.

Buns of course. My honey freelance baked those.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1.5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 dashes salt
  • About 1/4 cup milk
  • About 2/3 cup warmed water, with one packet of rapid yeast bloomed in it.
  • Mix dry ingredients together then add what once yeast is properly activated. Then add milk and mix together kneading. Dough will be sticky. Proof dough in oven with towel draped over (not turned on) but with oven light on, until doubled in size. Pour out of bowl onto floured surface knead a little bit until dough is a little dryer, a little less sticky.
  • Cut dough into four equal pieces, form each piece into a ball. Cover again and proof again with light on for second time.
  • Once dough is 1 1/2 to double size take out, to stop proofing. Preheat oven to 350 F. Save time by hearing it with broil setting which heats oven quicker.
  • Prepare a pan of water. Once oven is preheated and set to bake at 350 F. Place buns on upper rack and pan with water on lower rack. Putting the pan of water in a couple minutes before will help the bread form a better crust on the outside.
  • Bake for 15-20minutes or until lightly browned and fluffy feeling.
Toasted to perfection!

Oh my goodness, It’s crazy raining outside friends 😳. PA is sooo rainy, I love it!

#1 My Strong Coffee

I woke this morning to the rain pitter-pattering outside and the sun coming through my window. God is sooo good!

I began learning the Slovenian language last night with this cool new app I found: MEMRISE. It uses speech and repetition to help you learn a new language.

Unfortunately, MEMRISE charges after the first lesson. So, maybe I’ll just skip back on my merry way to DUOLINGO again.

There is so much to learn and so little time!

I’m making coffee now in my pour over kettle.

I added dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg to the top basket and filled the pot with 4 mugs of water. Estimating six T to four mugs. Approximately 36 oz water to 6 T coffee.

Old fashioned coffee pot

I used a combination of 4 T GEVALIA pre-ground French roast and 2 T WESTROCK COFFEE COMPANY KIVU BOLD.

Two of my favorite grocery store coffee’s

I am a huge fan of KIVU blend which roasts as a bold and smoky cup of coffee.

Oh! It’s starting to come up the straw and boil over!!

The water coming up is still clear looks like it’s gonna take a bit more time….

The coffee is bubbling up much more rapidly and the color has changed to a caramel and now dark hazelnut.

I’ll let it boil for another minute then take it off the fire.

It’s best to pour as soon as you can because coffee’s flavor changes as it changes temperature.

Poured into my noble coffee mug! Bought discount at TJMAXX 😁
This is a homemade coffee mug made by my friend in Michoacán.

Well, friends I hope you have a wonderful day and keep your coffee cup warm and full.

Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

#3 Blessing: Birds of a Feather

Good day friends! I woke this morning to a beautiful sunrise. The damp grass glistened across the lawn and the happy chirp of the Eastern Towhee bird. The Towhee bird is one that my fiancé and I discovered on our walk through the woods. “Through the woods”, that sounds so romantic, heehee.


Eastern Towhee bird

It’s quite a beautiful bird!

Also, on our walk I identified several native trees. I have this nifty little app called Picture this!

Picture this! Plant identifier app

Also, I baked these fun yummy cool whip cookies! I cut the recipe in half because I only had 1/2 cup cool whip. These cookies were the simplest to make and like I said yummy. I’d say 7/10.

Cool Whip Cookies

  • 1/2 c. Cool whip
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup devils food cake cake mix

Set oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the cool whip and egg. If your cool whip is too hard, microwave 15 seconds. Sounds crazy but trust me. Mix in the cake mix. Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes. The cookies will be still soft right out of the oven but trust the cooling process to solidify them. Oh my goodness they tasted just like brownies. So good!

My fiancé certainly like them, haha! He ate mine while I wasn’t like looking.

Yesterday, we went to a food truck festival. We stopped at El Gusto Criollo, which was DELICIOUS! I had my first Venezuelan empanada. I had chicken and plantains in mine which I must say was delicious! I love ethnic foods.

It was a wonderful day!

My Larch!

This is a beautiful Larch tree that I found in my neighborhood! It’s so beautiful against the sky. And Lordee me the sky is stunning!

I love how the blues and purples cascade into each other. It’s the perfect montage of colors!

It’s been especially wet and cold these past few days. Every once in awhile I’ve been glancing at the thermostat but have resisted turning on the heat. It’s April for Pete’s sake!

I am almost done with this semester’s psychology courses. Hurrah!!! I’ve decided that I’m treating myself to fresh baked brownies and a mani/pedi after this is all said and done.

Today, my assignment was to read three chapters and write a summary page of two. Oomphf! That’s cramming a lot. And paraphrasing for me is, well, let’s just say, not “in my wheelhouse”.

Well, onward I go back into academics! 😁

Perservere with Happiness through Difficulty

A smile brightens my face as the first rays of sunshine appear above the horizon. What a beautiful dawn it is. I have a decent bit of things on my plate to do this morning but being there to witness the dawn of a new day gives me so much peace. It’s the little things that make life beautiful, I think.

Anyhow, I finished reading two chapters of my psychology book in the dark… Well, in the dark on a lighted porch. I couldn’t sleep and thought I might as well get some homework outta the way. I enjoy doing my homework before the world wakes up.

Today, is Holy Monday which starts the beginning of Holy Week and the lead-up to Easter. I will be writing cards all this next week to friends and family announcing our wedding as well as a little personal note. I think Holy Week is symbolically a wonderful time to get that done.

I confess, this year has been tough on me. I have waffled between keto, gluten-free, vegetarian etc. diets. Which indeed, took a toll on me. I, recently, was diagnosed with anemia.

With any new diagnosis it seems, there’s shock, then disbelief, then anger at the diagnosis. For me at least.

I’m going to start eating a balanced diet and see if that helps as well as B12 supplements.

So, I did a little nutritional research on foods that will help my dificiency:

  • White Bread
  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Fortified Cereal
  • Red meat
  • Kale & Spinach
  • Fortified Orange Juice

It’s not a huge change, just a little, and I’m sure I’ll be fine by-and-by.

Maybe you’ve experienced this diagnosis too. Please share below in how you’re dealing with it.

Persevere even when times get rough… My motto and I’m stickin’ by it.

-Smilingcoffeecup

Building Bridges to Achieve Goals

I can hear the house shuttering against the wind. It’s quiet and the house is filled with peace and tranquility. I still alone and watch the birds flutter from tree to tree outside. The sun glares through my window and I feel the comfort of a warm sunny day inside.

I have been reading, assembling a dresser and organizing this morning. Very quiet activities and not an ounce of anxiety today. Silence does that for me. Getting away from the world in my own house is such a comforting thing for me, sometimes.

When I was young, I’d often run down to Beaver Creek a creek a little way down from my house. My father had built a bridge for me there. Hopefully, soon I will walk that bridge again.

. . .But, can I truly walk a bridge, when another one has developed?

I ponder this as I think of my upcoming wedding.

I’ve built a new bridge and time has passed. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t revisit that bridge of my childhood. I couldn’t now that I’m high past twenty.

As the years have gone by I’ve developed myself and built more bridges through college, friends, hobbies, and different cultures. I have friends from all over the world, now.

As I child and early teenager: I knitted, wrote, played in the creek and played the piano.

Now, as and adult: I organize, do household chores, finances, occasionally watercolor, read (textbooks mostly), and make dinner.

So, time has dragged me on like a minuet, playing softly in triple time.

But all through the years I have kept one thing. One persistent want—-dare I say, need, for myself. And that is writing.

When I was young I built a bridge into a little reporting journalism job. That bridge grew with my every CITY COUNCIL meeting, that dragged on in a grueling way. I worked really hard though and was soon promoted to write freelance articles.

I wrote about local agriculture, farm histories, interest articles spotlighting people or businesses. I once wrote a piece about the local animal shelter and city animal regulations. Fascinating story that I even had to go to the police office for more information. The police office was connected to the pound. I even got to write a couple artist promos where I had the privilege to interview

Building more bridges I took my work to another newspaper that I began writing for in 2018.

Writing brought me such clarity and to share that with others brought me such profound happiness.

I’m like a caged bird and writing sets me free!

Enough of the day- Friday Yay!

My hands trace the old Larch tree’s brunch in my yard. It’s a somber old, very old tree. I love that tree. It reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

I think there’s quite a mysterious reflection there in trees that we take so for granted. Really if you reflect on Noah’s Arc and how that brought all of the animals and all of Noah’s family. All animals going two by two, and certain animals going seven by seven. The arc was built from wood. Wood brought humanity to life. Wood saved us from the flood. And if you want to go deeper into thinking about wood and the religious history. Which I am. Jesus, our Savior, was crucified on wood to sacrifice and give us life everlasting. That, I had never thought of, in that way. Quite an interesting reflection, I think.

Hurrah for new jobs!! Haha, I am so happy its Saturday evening after a trying week of job interviews I finally scored a great job! Hip-hip-hooray.While my job will be part-time I am hoping to stay on track with my college classes, as well.

In this semester my plan is to accomplish 4 classes successfully. I think my academics are at the front of my agenda, in my life, right now. Even though I have the goal of achieving this degree I am doing my best not to let life slip without smelling the roses. I think that’s something that often people overlook in this life, is just slowing down and enjoying nature and life as it is. Life in progress.

The whole point of growth is “pain” or struggle getting there and once you get there, what then?

You enjoy your accomplishment; but, all the struggle of accomplishing is done.

Why not stop and enjoy the roses of struggle that are planted right in your home, your being, your mind, right now.

Go back to school, go to therapy for your disability, read books to improve your memory. You have endurance, you can achieve your goals.

Maybe, I’m just talking to myself, but I think this could be a sliver of hope for someone else. Maybe just the push they needed to keep persevering, to keep hope in their abilities, to stop and smell the flowers.

Struggle is life and we are all strong enough to fight our own struggles.

Believe in yourself and what you can achieve. You can fight the struggle. You can fight the pain. You can succeed.

Believe you can achieve!

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

-Saint Catherine of Sienna

Musings: Little House

As I lay back watching one of my favorite childhood books made into a movie, Little house on the Prairie. Honestly, this is one of the most relaxing times of the week for me.

Honestly digging the bonnet!

We are so blessed now a days to have modern day technology and amenities. Good golly, molly could you imagine traveling to your parents, who lived in another state, and it taking three days?!!

I’m to the part where the Ingall’s are fording the river.

Right now, in my life, I’m fording a river too.

An academic one, that started in 2014 when I began my freshman year in college. Many years later after failing many classes and having to withdraw from several, I am proud to say I’m a junior.

I have fought tooth and nail to get to where I am now. It’s been like plowing a road through a mountain.

This semester I’m taking three classes, five credits all together: social psychology, majors and career class, and a psychology careers class.

Pretty beginner level psych courses. Admittedly, I haven’t been the most decisive in majors..

English…. .

Geology..

Modern Languages… ..

I have finally solidified my degree as a bachelor of general studies with an emphasis in psychology.

I’m excited about this major because I enjoy helping others. I know that’s a pretty hum-drum answer that just about anybody could say about their perfect major.

In the beginning of this major discernment. I knew I wanted to be a counselor. Which honestly would be wonderful! Kyril and I have talked about each other’s academic futures. He is so supportive of my psychology endeavors!

I want to help people with their psychological and emotional problems. Currently, I’m interested and studying the career of a forensic interviewer. Mixing law and psychology peaks my interest.

I’m also interested in the occupational therapist assistant and physical therapist assistant career. I think these are so close to my heart because I need to give back to people struggling with what I went through after my wreck. Not that I’ve altogether stopped therapy.

But when it all boils down, like I said, my dream career is to become a clinical counselor. My clinical counselor has played such a huge role in my life. Sometimes taking on the role of being one of my closest friends. My counselor stayed with me through the muddled mess of teenage-hood to my adult years. I am so grateful to have my counselor to talk to about life pressures and difficult situations I’m facing. I hope I can make a difference like this in someone’s life too!

Inspirational helps life go on beautifully!

So Little House on the Prairie continues to inspire me and the little dog Jack with his cute little bark!

Inspirational helps life go on beautifully!

-Little House on the Prairie

Onward I study with courage and perseverance.

My Funny Valentine

So My Funny Valentine took me to a delightful and quaint new little coffee shop, called Urban Coffee 304. The coffee shop is located in Weirton, WV and has the most charming interior and kind baristas!

And such wonderful pastries!!! Oh my goodness, my fiancé and I split a cinnamon roll. . . !!!

Here’s the link.

https://www.facebook.com/Urbancoffee304-105351554675588/

Also shout out to http://barkingdogshoes for recommending these incredibly comfortable Barbery boots!

Link here: https://www.barkingdogshoes.com

https://www.barkingdogshoes.com/chaco-boots-barbary-review/

Thanks Kristin for posting such awesome content!

I think Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to reflect on all you’ve loved in the past year.

A good reflection for today is

To cherish the love you’ve received from others and the love you kindled this past year. Practicing this gratitude meditation makes you aware of how much you’re loved and matter in this world.

To cherish the love you’ve received from others and the love you kindled this past year.

Maggie Kuhn

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Dogman’s Beach- Planning Ensues

A lovely little email popped in this morning from United Airlines:

Airline deal: As low as $50.

Thoughts of Kyril and I’s upcoming honeymoon clouded my head, immediately.

Ahhhh… relaxing on a beach 🏖

We both would like to go to Puerto Rico. I’ve only been once and Kyril hasn’t been at all.

That’s what we’ve decided will be best. We had help deciding this factor based on Alietta Ford’s mail coupon .

My vacation, when I was a child, to Dog-man’s Beach, Puerto Rico was fabulous!

I remember walking along the beach. The sand is so soft to walk barefoot in. One day I mistakenly decided to cover my body completely up in sand, for a photo shot. BAD IDEA. Eek 😬

Though kinda comical for a KS girl to be unaware of sand fleas!!! Yeah, not one of my brighter moments.

( embarassed blush, shoulder shiver)

The photo was great though! 😜

One night, we had a personal chef come to our “vacation home“ and make us rainbow trout and a bread fruit dish. That was awesome!

Bread fruit tastes almost like a mixture between sweet potatoes and corn tortillas. Yeah blan flavor, for sure. Despite this, the chef cooked an incredible dish with it!

Bread fruit

One beautiful day, my family went scuba diving. Totally cool! I’ve never been and currently with my conditions I won’t be able to. Having a VP Shunt requires that you avoid scuba diving, martial arts (I was actually interested in learning Ju-Jitsu, so I guess that’s out), gymnastics and dance, and you’re not gonna believe this one—-GOLF!

So I carry that burden that I can’t dance or play golf. I really don’t give two cents about playing golf though, so that’s good. I am upset to learn that dancing is out. I think I’ll research that more because I REALLY want to dance at my wedding!

Back to beautiful PR…

My family and I also went out to a German restaurant in the main square that was INCREDIBLE!!

Here’s the link:

Casa Bavaria

Also the AVOCADOS.

Holy GUACAMOLE 🥑

The avocados in Puerto Rico are HUGE! Like the size of a baby kitten.

Kyril and I have always wanted to go on a cruise. And after doing some research I found a cruise ship leaving from Florida to Puerto Rico. How perfect!

I’m a little tenuous about getting out there on a ship. But I think it will be good for me. Lol I’ll probably pack an extra life-jacket in my bag 😂😂

It’s going to be incredible! Puerto Rico is so beautiful. And the weather there is sooo balmy!

Here’s a good travel guide I’ll be use to plan our trip.


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Urban Coffee- A Real City Cup

This morning we headed into our beautiful little college town against the fury of a snow storm! It was mad snowy and coming down like faster than a “bore on corncobs.”

This is a shot outside my window. After tromping outside to drop of my rent payment I now have my feet cozied up under my plaid blanket my dearest fiancé bought me for Christmas!

As, I had mentioned we drove into the city this morning to see if classes were still going besides I had volunteered to babysit another student’s kids. Well, after fourteen arduous miles of patchy black ice and five feet of barely plowed over snow a notification popped up that said classes were cancelled.

Hurrah for cancelled classes! But too bad for not babysitting.

On our way out of town my fiancé treated me to coffee at one of our new favorite coffee shops, recently opened, Urban Coffee 304. Where you can get incredible coffee that is perfectly balanced. Not too acidic not to “tame.” Lol.

Here’s their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Urbancoffee304-105351554675588/

I had a muffin too; that was la-tee-da, SCRUMPTOUS! It was a sticky roll muffin that was incredibly moist and had a sugary crunch to finish. The bottom of the muffin had caramelized spots of buttery cinnamon. It was divine, truly.

The inside of this coffee shop is really cute too; it has a row of lights hanging from the ceiling that are bunched up, creating a really cool spread of light across the floor.

And just because todays kinda a funny relaxing stay in bed and watch cat videos day. Here is one I watched this morning that really cheered up the gloomy weather melancholy day for me:

I can totally relate to the black cat jumping and sliding through the snow!!

Well, it looks like my fiancé and me have the day to ourselves inside. I think we might make bread. That would be fun!

Speaking of bread here’s a picture of our latest!

It was a delicious recipe I found on https://kirbiecravings.com/no-yeast-bread/

Well, I’m off to go bake, ta-ta! Friends!

Fresh Mountain Air

Well, friends, if you’ve been reading my posts you’ll see that I once dreamed of living in Vermont. What a lofty dream I thought at the time. Well, I ended up on the East coast indeed! I’m here, hurrah! And it only took me about a year. Wow.

I do miss the farm but am absolutely loving my new home! Of course being a farm girl I notice things that other people don’t. So, I’ve been collecting pictures of new plants, trees, and animals. Here are some:

European Larch Tree
Larch

Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an incredible book that I’ve thought a lot about since I moved. I love books I need to get more into the peace of reading them again.

Anyway, back to the European Larch tree. What an incredible tree that apparently had widespread cultivation in the 17th century and many Dukes advocated for their planting! And, interestingly enough, the wood of the Larch tree is used for BUILDING YACHTS!

CRAZY STUFF!!

Tree-of-Heaven
Tree of Heaven

So, I came across this beauty while wandering around this Appalachian country. This tree has been deemed many names all of which are quizzically attributed. This tree is also very invasive.

I’m sure you’re wondering why the such oppugnant names for this stinky tree. Well, in fact, with a long history in China. This was one of the first trees from China to be brought to the western countries. When it was first brought to Europe and the Americas it was glorified as a beautiful garden plant with its ornate leaves, which lead to its name, Tree of Heaven.

Surprisingly this tree also has a huge environmental protection value! It conserves soil and water, greening saline-alkali land, and purifying the air. Pretty incredible to think that such a stink tree could be so good for the environment.

As, I’ve been writing this I’ve been in one of my favorite coffee shops, The Crazy Mocha Coffee Shop in Sewickley, PA. Incredible lattes with my favorite a shot of pistachio. Crazy Mocha has the funniest logo of a goat with a coffee mug in hand… (I mean in mug in hoof)

In my latest coffee shop BUZZ, I recently visited a Generosta Coffee. This was quite an ethnic place with extraordinarily good coffee. Very bold flavors.

I must say though my favorite coffee shop in my tour a’ cafe has been at a wonderful little coffee shop in Monaca, PA, called The Fountainhead Cafe. I was blown away here by the extraordinary and unique coffee menu. After waxing poetic on all the funny names. I chose the Greek style Frappe. Which was quite a diversion for me as I am a strong advocate for HOT coffee.

No regrets.

It was incredible. For all the coffee enthusiasts this is a must for your coffee shop BUZZ.

Coffee, I believe is like humanity always unique and changing.

The Coffee Shop BUZZ

                   So, my friends, I have been searching the cities and towns of the Eastern U.S. for the best coffee shops. And I have found many many coffee shops with excellent coffee. This has been one of my favorite hobbies since I moved to the Ohio Valley area.

Coffee is wonderful.

The best roast is better than wonderful, even, prize gold. Teehee, so let’s start at

Leonardo’sSteubenville, OH

Great coffee shop also with art from local artists and an ice cream shop. A great hangout for university students. The building is perched in the City of Murals. The coffee is good. Slightly acidic and crisp in flavor. The barista is always fun to talk to. 

The Coffee Tree RoastersPittsburgh, PA

Excellent coffee. Brighter and more acidic; but good. When I went to this coffee shop, I went “out on a limb” and tried their Costa Rica el Indio roast. Quite exotic and full-bodied but definitely acidic.

https://coffeetree.store/coffee-beans/costa-rica-el-indio-1

The Coffee Bean
Weirton, WV 

Loved by many for not only coffee but also Casino. I, accidentally found this out by walking in, and seeing all their casino chips and slot machines. This is PRIMARILY a drive-through coffee shop. 
The coffee here is delicious and my favorite is The Scrap Iron. It’s a dark roasted with a slightly acidic twang at the finish. If you like sweet the “20 below with Shot” as my fiancé calls it is best. The name is 20 degrees Below Zero. The drink actually already has an espresso shot. 2 is better than 1 😉

Next up we have, my all-time favorite,

The Crazy Mocha Coffee Company Sewickly, PA

Excellent service and astounding coffee! This coffee shop is nestled in the cutest little Hallmark cozy town. While there I had a latte with a very small pump of pistachio. Oh, wowzer! It was so good. And the coffee from that roaster, I tried the Sumatran blend, ha such a dark taste, start to finish, hardly any acidity whatsoever. I loved it!
Surprisingly, the business has been in operation since 1994! Previously “The Dancing Goat”.

tempImageJmFVf0

Here’s a link to the coffee I strongly recommend for all dark coffee lovers. This coffee is limited time bag which is directly sourced:

https://crazymocha.com/shopucts/ev9kaaws3r5s8g1g7wjtsjmtre3gm7-24yrb-n3z9r

Anyway, my mugs empty literally and physically, so friends toot-ta-loo!

Blessings Abound

I am feeling super blessed! I have had the most wonderful and adventurous move and am now living in a beautiful place. It is abounding with trees of all different varieties. My house has a big yard yeah! I’m just close enough to a coffee shop to walk there and write, sip coffee in the mornings. Although, my friends, I have sadly not done this, humble act. Well, I have time.

This move has proved one thing to me that I can do it! I love the bravery that’s been sparked from this move. It has been an adventure of adventures friends.

And let me tell you I’ve been killing’ it with finding deals. Thriftstores and IKEA, my friends. Recently, at my place I’ve been on kind of a DIY-mania. Trying to figure out how to make different things that I don’t want to spend money on. LOL, my momma raised me a penny pincher, haha. That’s not such a bad trait in this day and age.

-I bought a toaster for $5 yesterday.

-A floor lamp for $12

-A full 5 piece dishes set for $14 or so.

-A $10 coffee pot– Gevalia–works like a charm to replace my broken Hamilton Beach (6 yrs old)

And friends, it gets even better, I’m passing my college class and I have a job lined up that I interviewed for and am now just wading through the papers to completely seal the deal to begin working.

God is so GOOD!! He gave my the confidence to do all this the strength to move and love passionately all my new friends here, including my honey.

Aside from this I’ve been so blessed to been able to get a new neurologist. Oh boy!! But literally, I couldn’t make it without one so I’m feeling very blessed for that. And not only that but friends originally I scheduled my botox injections for my dystonia in December but I asked–might’ve been slightly pleading, to call me and schedule sooner if anyone dropped there appointment. This was about a month ago. Today I looked on my hospital online calendar and I got into an appointment on Friday!!! I am so thankful.

So, I’ve had a little decompression time in the kitchen, ooh let me tell you I’ve discovered some incredible recipes. Here’s a butternut squash recipe I found on one of my new favorite cooking blogs, from Kelly, eatthegains.com/kale-beef-stuffed-butternut-squash. Kelly did a fantastic job with this site only reminding me how much work blogging really takes. Thanks to Kelly I have a lot more tasty recipes and awesome blog to add to my reading list!

So that’s my beautiful stuffed butternut squash on one of my new plates!! Both look beautiful, I think.

And I think that’s a beautiful note to end this post on. To butternut squash and happy days!

Updates on Education


my-type-of-coffee
My Type of Coffee

As I sip a steaming cup of strong dark Sumatran coffee I muse over my new e-textbook, “Mental Health and Case Management”.

Before I get into that, pigeons make the coolest noises. There’s a nest of them outside my window and I love hearing them while I’m writing. I think they’re rooting… or rather cooing, for me to finish my degree ;).

I am reading this book as a prerequisite for my degree in psychology. I intend to use this degree to pursue a Master’s in Counseling. I am thrilled to be pursuing this as I have always been intrigued with the counseling career, though, have struggled with self-confidence. By a stroke of coincidence, I began living in a household with a counseling student for a roomie. And thus gained the confidence I needed.

Back to the textbook. So far I’ve learned that case management is no 9-5, walk-in-the-park, kinda job. The time you need to dedicate to your clients is, as I’m guessing, quite exhausting. Case managers are essential to the psychiatric rehabilitation of an individual and are fundamental to their recovery.

The really wonderful part about this job, that I think is so in-line with my thinking, is respecting and empowering individuals. Celebrating small successes to give your clients hope and courage to strive to become better. This career is about giving your clients compassion and empathy everyday. Not to be overly BOLD in saying this but that is literally my calling card. I love loving people.

I haven’t finished the textbook yet, so more later. Next up I’m delving into a chapter on “Medications and Managing Psychotic Disorders”.

Good gravy this’ll be quite a coo.

The Revisiting of Old Friendships and Pecan Pancakes

To rekindle with a friend from long ago is such a blessing.

This morning I awoke to the sun streaming in my window. Kind of a shock when your so used to waking before the sun. But all in all I feel very blessed today. I visited the church which I unfortunately missed mass this morning due to changing mass times.

This morning being Sunday and since I’m trying to up my protein intake I made pecan brown sugar pancakes.

img_20190915_092805_1657900308691296429295.jpg

I used a recipe I found online from a food blog yummy recipes

However, I took some liberties with the recipe including adding brown sugar and replacing the milk with water and adding pecans as a topping. It turned out pleasantly sweet with a nutty finish.

And I was so delighted to enjoy fresh plums that my dad gave me! I ate two today. Absolutely delicious!

With pecan pancakes, plums, biking, church, and coffee for the Sabbath feast who could be unhappy?

God is good!

Magnificient27

Thankful for L.I.F.E.

I’ve been reflecting on life as it is for me. I was talking with one of my good friends the other day saying how I felt in a rut. But after reflecting on this I’ve accomplished so many of my goals in these past few months!

One of my goals was to become a barista which I am happily doing at this adorable little coffee company startup. It is amazing, the shop is fantastic. The couple that started it have a large family and the spouse, who’s a carpenter, made all the furniture inside! The neat thing about the shop is that the owners have their own personal roaster who goes down to Mexico and works with the people who grow the coffee. I am so impressed with there business and beyond happy to be working there!

I finally published an Ebook on Amazon. It’s called Falling to Daughter Zion.

Another of my goals was to start a blog. Well, ta–daa! Readers, I’ve been blogging to you for quite a while.

And last but not least I fell in love.

Perhaps that has been the spark for many of those goals aforementioned.

Hurrah, to accomplishments!

So, my dear readers stay tuned for my next list of goals.

OPA!

Changes, Biking, setting My World on Fire

As my bike skidded to a stop in front of the library I felt the chill rain against my face. Rain is such a beautiful thing that cleanses away all the dirt and griminess. I see it as a refresh from what happens on a day to day basis. And Lord knows we all need to have a refresh. Eek.

I started a new part-time job at a hospital. It’s not a glamorous hospital job but it’s a job that pays, so I am very thankful. The position is as a dietary aid and my work involves a lot of dirty dishes. Which is a bit symbolic of my life right now. Erk, it is all kind of up in the air. Thankfully I have my hobbies that have proven great antidotes to my slight anxiety.

This week and last there’s been increased flooding in the Central Plains. It rained all of Memorial weekend. This Memorial weekend brought a lot of new changes in my life including a new love.

I jumped into painting again as a hobby which is a nice break from my work. My current medium of choice is watercolor. I haven’t done that many paintings, yet. I’m sure looking at one of my paintings you couldn’t tell the difference between them and chicken scratches. But through time, they will change and I’m sure I will get better.

Lately, I have been biking a whole lot as my mode of transportation. Pedal biking that is. Burn calories and get places; what better way to get places. Hopefully, that will change someday after I get my license. Someday in a blue moon. Haha.

Since my relocation, I have been writing and reading more. A whole montage of different books.

I currently have on my desk Get a Financial Life- Personal Finance in your Twenties and Thirties. It’s proven to be quite informative. Hopefully, this will cause a change in my life sooner the better.

I dappled around in Diana Galbadon’s Voyager book which proved a bit too explicit for my reading tastes. Though I am a huge fan of Galbadon’s work and think she is truly a genius.

Also, I am working on getting my application in for a volunteer program abroad that I hope to do this Fall.

Currently, I am WiFi-less at my house and hopefully will be getting that set up on Thursday. Which is going to be such a relief.

Bom dia, cafe por favor

To know a second language is to enter another world. 

 

My morning began with coffee, faux apple pie oatmeal, and some hard-core Portuguese lesson.

So, for all my lovely oatmeal connoisseurs.

Date Inspired Apple Pie Oatmeal:

1/2 c. oatmeal

1 c. water

dash salt

1/2 chopped apple (I used Gala, but any other sweet apple would do)

5 dates

handful walnuts

honey

First set a pot of 1 cup water with a dash of salt on the stove. Once this comes to a boil, follow usual oatmeal procedure, add 1/2 c. oatmeal. Boil, till desired thickness. Add chopped apple, diced dates, chopped toasted walnuts, honey, and spices.

 

What a rip-roaring beginning to an amazing day!

First, an amazing bowl of oatmeal, let’s be honest, any bowl of oatmeal with toasted walnuts is quite the coup de grace, in my opinion. Besides, I admit, I’m a little bit of an oatmeal fanatic.

Now, vamos estudar!

I became interested in learning Portuguese in college when I was good friends with several Portuguese exchange students and the mostly Brazillian soccer team. It was an amazingly exciting time in my life! Growing up around Spanish speakers it’s easier for me to understand Portuguese. Both Portuguese and Spanish are romantic languages I’d say it’s pretty easy to figure out grammatically and I’m learning the sounds.

The way that I learn languages best is by communication and repetition. I know this to be true of a lot of language learners as well. I will share with you some ways I am learning languages.

One of my solemn favorites is Duolingo, which is available online and as an app. A solid first for conversation is Babble, a free online conversation platform with tons of different languages learners and natives ready to exchange languages. Listening to languages also helps a lot. Coincidentally, Spotify has a lot of resources for learning languages! Currently, I’m listening to “Learning Portuguese with Bruno and Thieme.” Which is a great conversational way to learn a language.

eventually I would very much like to have a real conversation with a Portuguese speaker.

But until then my friends I will just practice. And write for my real job–the newspaper.

So, as always, friends,

Bom dia

-Magnificent7

 

Blazing Heat of Summer and Black Coffee Philosophy

As the coffee perks, I am swallowed in music. The banjo, my favorite stringed instrument strums across the bright kitchen. The echoed picking gets me to thinking about how our lives echo across the fine line of existence. How every decision we make is shattered into our livelihood and shapes us into our own unique individuals. Carved from the roots of our birth, we must find our own way. Like a ship sailing the ragged sea of life with all its dangers and precautions, we must stand fast at the wheel and follow our compass.

It’s majestic outside the snow veiling the ground but bitterly cold. Perfect for coffee AND researching. I’m working on an article about the Pawnee Indians that were indigenous to my area. Sadly enough I see the current political climate of the United States in rather the same light. Immigrants who’ve called America their home pushed out. Atrociously sad.

Spices blending and percolating in the filter slip into the pot, like late party guests slipping in quietly, unnoticed. The wind bouts the house as the tree limbs shake above like marionettes, the wind their puppeteer. The clouds, framed by the hills, stoop and scoot along the highest limbs, pretending to be foliage. But alas, the dead of winter freezes everything in its chilled and mesmerizing trance.

As I gingerly sip steaming coffee I philosophize about the summer. The sun coming in blazing and the hills covered in green followed effortlessly by its breaking and scattering across the hills, slowly extinguished in the black velvet night. This black velvet night adorned by the diamonds of the sky every star lighting just enough space to the next, as if in communication. The stars communicating with one another, like every person in our country, free to raise their voice and be heard. So be a star and raise your voice.

That’s how I imagine summer; coming in on the thrusts of natures finest, on the voices of the brave.

Hopefully, by summer, I will have completed a couple more short stories. I finally got up the courage, when I was completely bedridden, to publish two short stories on Amazon. I had to muster up a lot of courage to publish those. Courage is a hard thing to achieve but I’m so glad I published. Even if no one reads my works, at least I’ll have done it and it will go down in history; hehe maybe not a very long history, but wishful thinking, you know ;).

Wishful thinking is like black coffee it gets me up in the morning.

Hope your day is studded with awesomeness, you’re amazing, be brave and you WILL conquer.

Cheers!

-Smiling Coffee Cup

 

Putting up Vegetables, Catholicism and Relaxing on a Grey Day

I sip Earl Grey tea and think of what a beautiful grey day it is. Pun on the grey.

Yellow juice squirted out of the tomato as I sliced delicately across its belly. I have been putting up a lot of vegetables in our freezer this fall hoping that we will have a healthy veggie filled winter. My gosh, it’s going to be Halloween before we know it. Goodness.

Here’s the tomato soup I’m making tonight.

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/creamy-tomato-soup-buttery-croutons

The sunrise this morning was breath-taking as I prayed over the mass readings today. I don’t have access to going to a mass everyday but I’ve taken up praying over the daily mass readings. I also discovered that you can bless yourself with holy water, yourself, at home. Previously, I had been under the intuition that you could only bless yourself with holy water in a Catholic Church.

Also this morning, in my mass readings I learned that it is Saint Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brebuef and companions Feast day, today.

These saints were the first martyrs of the North American continent. Saint Isaac Jogues had several fingers chewed, burnt and chopped off on his first mission to evangelize. He returned to France, his home. Later deciding that his mission was not done he returned to evangelize and was tomahawked and beheaded.

I only mentioned one of these saints please read more from this detailed article provided by Franciscan Media.

Please read more about these saints here: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saints-isaac-jogues-jean-de-brebeuf-and-companions

Drinking an Albatross while Studying

Albatross- N. animal. A very large oceanic bird, related to the shear waters, with long narrow wings.

Funny enough, my new favorite coffee shop’s Albatross is the name of their three shot espresso drink with white chocolate drizzles and a good inch of delicious foamy goodness.

This is quickly becoming my favorite espresso drink.



As I sit looking out over a golf course at the sedum, also called stonecrop, and ditch lilies (well that’s what we used to call them in my part of KS but they’re actually day lilies) outside.

They’re such pretty flowers I don’t know who originally came up with that name.



Yesterday, I went to my fiance’s school for a class day. He is an incredible teacher, honestly, that’s his jam. Which is really awesome!

There has been a power outage in much of this county this morning and it’s been a big problem for my studies. Urrrgh… the negatives of being a virtual student.

Thankfully, my neighbor got an update from the power company that service should be back on at 3:30 pm. So, that’s a relief. I’ll be able to get home and make dinner.



Corinthians and Enchiladas, after a Long Day

I peep into the oven to see the enchiladas I just made glistening from the glow of the oven light.

I am drinking a glass of layer cake wine as I wait for the enchiladas to finish baking. One of my new favorite wines. The wafts of smoky cheese on top of freshly made enchilada sauce are cheering for me after a long exhausting day.

I think enchiladas are one of my favorite foods.

Yesterday, was Sunday and I went to my churches synod meeting.

Our mass reading, 1 Corinthians:12, yesterday was about how everyone is important and how we should accept others.

The gospels message was describing the body as a metaphor for others. With your eyes you’d be able to see but without your ears you wouldn’t be able to hear. So, as, if the body had a mouth but no tongue it wouldn’t be able to taste.

Because everyone has something to contribute in this world from the smallest baby to the oldest woman and everyone should be included and loved.

Everyone has a purpose like every part of our body.

It was a beautiful comparison and a wonderful reminder that everyone has a place and contribution to this world and we need to be patient and kind to everyone.

It takes a lot of us to make a world.

We must be kind, compassionate and patient to everyone even if we don’t agree with them .

A great reflection for me as I wait for the enchiladas to finish baking.

Inspirational Quotes After a Long Taxing Day

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long difficult words but rather short easy words like what about lunch?

⁃ A.A Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

If the person you were talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.

-A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

“The Lord has loved me so much, we must love everyone, we must be compassionate!

-St. Josephine Bakhita