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Five Things Friday – All the Happy Happy Things

Five Things Friday – All the Happy Happy Things

My happy meter is pretty much pegged out these days, and I thought I would share a few happy things with you guys today!

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1.  We’re camping this weekend!  It’s our first time out this year, and we were READY!  We stayed pretty close to home and don’t have a lot of stuff planned. Maybe a short hike tomorrow. Lots of relaaaaaxing is the primary goal!

 

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2. I recently purchased this awesome, custom necklace from my local Plunder consultant!  I just love it!  It makes me really happy!

 

3.  Gene and I are going to the insanely crazy  St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah next week!  Yikes!  I’m equally excited and terrified!  We purchased tickets from the Savannah Theatre, so we’ll have reserved seats, security, bathrooms, and lots of food.  Hopefully it’ll be a fun experience. Stay tuned!

 

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4.  I’m gearing up for my first homeschool convention of the season!  I’ll be representing Sonlight Curriculum at the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators (MACHE) Convention next month. My team and I are excited to get back in our NEW, BEAUTIFUL booth and talk to families about homeschooling with Sonlight!

5.  We’re getting details nailed down for our trip to Alaska in May!  I’ll be working at three homeschool conventions there and then we’ll get to see our son!  He’s stationed there with the Air Force, and I just can’t wait to see him and explore Alaska together!

Add to this list a visit from my oldest niece (#gabfest #shopping), the new Beauty and the Beast movie, flowers blooming everywhere, gorgeous weather, all kinds of great stuff happening at our church, getting to know new friends, a great Bible study for Lent…the list goes on and on!  I thank God for these opportunities!

What’s something happy going on with YOU today?!?  Leave a comment and let me know!  I’ll be happy to be happy with you!

Kayaking Season Begins!

Kayaking Season Begins!

Last Saturday Gene and I hit the water again, and it was only FEBRUARY, y’all!  What what?!?  The weather here in Coastal Georgia is always…interesting.  But if February wants to hand us temps around 80, we’re going kayaking!

We paddled at George L. Smith State Park last summer and LOVED it!  I nearly had a heat stroke, but I also got some great photos!  You can see those here.  This time the pond looked a lot different because it’s winter (in name only).

I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking!

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Both the cypress and tupelo trees are deciduous, so they’re looking pretty bare right now. Give them a few weeks and they’ll look totally different!

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The tannic acid from the cypress trees turns the water into a mirror! A couple of times I turned a corner and had a moment of vertigo! For a second or two my brain couldn’t figure out which way was up!

 

We sure did have a good time, and we’re looking forward to getting back out there before the heat gets dangerous!

Do YOU like to kayak?  Do cypress trees (or swamps) creep you out?!?  What are YOUR favorite state parks?  Leave me a comment, and let’s chat!

Currently – March 2017

Currently – March 2017

HOORAY for the monthly Currently link up!  Currently I am…

 

Photo from Face Off website.

WATCHING:  Face Off on the SyFy channel.  I’ve watched several seasons of this show and really enjoy it!  Each week the artists have different movie makeup challenges; they create everything from aliens to monsters to snow queens!

 

EATING:  Strawberries!  They’re in season, and I’m a happy girl.  I buy them year ’round, but I like the prices this time of year!

 

SAYING:  “Where’s the sunscreen?” and “When are we going camping?”  We’re pushing 90 degrees today, y’all!  We have to get out there and have some fun before the REAL heat arrives!

 

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WEARING:  The awesome happy camper cap my husband gave me for Valentine’s Day!  YAY!!!

 

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POSTING:  This photo from our recent paddle at George L. Smith State Park near Metter, Georgia.  I asked my sweet man to pretty please snag a few pictures of me while we were on the water.  He did well!!!  I rushed this baby straight to Instagram where my outdoor peeps showed it a little love!  (I’m @outandback.live if you’d like to follow me!)   HERE are more photos from this paddle!

Now it’s time for a big shout out to the hosts of this here link up, Anne and Carrie!  Be sure to pop over to their blogs to see what they’re CURRENTLY up to!  And Leslie’s blog!  She’s a great story teller, so you don’t want to miss hers!

What are YOU currently watching, eating, saying, wearing, and posting?!?  Link up on Anne’s blog or leave me a comment!  I LOVE hearing from folks!  #extrovert #talktome

Travel Tip – Love Notes

Travel Tip – Love Notes

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I’m in Denver for a training conference this week, and my sweet husband hid some notes for me in my suitcase! My mom always did that when I went to summer camp, and I ❤️ that Gene is continuing the tradition!

Whenever your spouse travels, try tucking some notes for them into their suitcase before they leave!  It’ll be meaningful for BOTH of you!

#lovenotes #ilovethismanofmine #tradition #travel #investinginourmarriage

Top Ten Posts of 2016 – My Favorites

Top Ten Posts of 2016 – My Favorites

Yesterday I shared the top ten most viewed posts on OutAndBack in 2016.  Today I took a few minutes to look back through all my posts and picked 10 personal favorites.  I’ve listed them in the order they were published.  ( The Letter R & the Elephant and Currently – December 2016 are favorites, but since they made yesterday’s list, I won’t include them here.)

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Currently – December 2016

Currently – December 2016

Hooray for a new Currently link up!  Here’s what I’m currently up to!

Doing:  Visiting new friends in beautiful Thomasville, Georgia!  I met some ladies at the #READSavannah event back in September, and two of them live in Thomasville.  I had been here once before and discovered a delightful downtown area with loads of unique shops and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.  (I’m looking at you, Jonah’s Fish and Grits!)  I’m here now to invest in these fledgling friendships and to eat more great food!  What a joy it’s been!  I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know Julie and Mary Jane better.

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BONUS:  I was also able to meet up with Susie, a “virtual” friend of mine I met on the GYPO Style Challenges.  It was our first time to meet in real life!  Talk about a blessing!  Oh my!  So this friendship, too, has taken great leaps forward this weekend.  I thank God for prompting me to come and spend time with these ladies!

Susie and me in The Book Shelf! I love this book store! It's owned and run by Susie's daughter, Annie.
Susie and me in The Book Shelf! I love this book store! It’s owned and run by Susie’s daughter, Annie.  (Yes, I’m wearing LuLaRoe leggings again!)

Enjoying:  Eating my way through Thomasville!  I had lunch yesterday at Savannah Moon Bakery & Cafe; monster grilled cheese and tomato bisque!  Dinner last night was at Jonah’s.  The hush puppies were JUST as amazing as I remembered!  I nearly wept over them the first time I had them.  For real.  Last night I chose (along with hush puppies) grilled mahi and grits with tasso gravy and a side of collard greens.  Y’all!  I was one happy Michael Ann!  This morning I’m blogging from Grassroots Coffee, and in a minute I’m meeting Mary Jane at the Q Cafe for breakfast.  Lunch plans are to be determined.  I’m not ruling out a return trip to Jonah’s!

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Cooking:  I tried a new pressure cooker recipe for Chicken Cacciatore last week, and it was a hit!  I used this recipe as a starting point and added a couple of cloves of garlic, a tablespoon or so of capers, and about 1/4 cup (maybe less) white wine.  I used chicken thighs and cooked the whole thing for 15 minutes as the recipe said, then served it over brown rice (cooked in my second pressure cooker).

Wrapping:  I’d love to say I’m wrapping up my Christmas shopping, but I’m just getting started!  Thomasville offers some amazing shopping!  Did I mention that already?

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Firefly is one of my favorite shops in Thomasville. ONE of them!

Playing:  Christmas music.  Lots of it!  Jordan Smith’s album is still a frequent flier, and I just located my Christmas in Velvet album.  That was my favorite album when I was growing up (back when it really was a physical LP album!), and I still love it.

Link-up:  Be sure to click over to Anne and Kellie to see what they (and a lot of other fun folks) are CURRENTLY up to!

 

So, what are YOU currently doing, enjoying, cooking, wrapping, and playing?!?  DO tell in the comment section below!

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Chinwag #1: Of Kittens and Wrap Skirts and Recliners

Chinwag #1: Of Kittens and Wrap Skirts and Recliners

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Hey there!  Grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair!  It’s time for a chinwag!

“Chinwag” is one of those fun words we picked up when we lived in England.  It means “a friendly conversation, a chat.”  I contacted one of my English friends (Hi, Mary!) yesterday to make sure I had the definition and connotation right.  She confirmed that it truly does mean just a chat, not a mean-spirited gossip session.  Yay!

First up I have to tell you about my perfect weekend!  Don’t you love those?!?  Last Friday my husband was off work, and the weather was finally feeling slightly autumn-ish, so we headed out to the range to shoot for a while.  He had fun breaking in two new guns, and I had fun watching HIM having fun with that!  I stuck to the pistols.  My accuracy was less than stellar, but I enjoyed the time anyway.  I’m still fighting a flinch when I fire.  I’m working to get past that, but it’s taking time.

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That evening we went to the cinema to see the new Jack Reacher movie.  Okay.  I have to stop right there and ask why in the world did they cast Tom Cruise (for crying out loud) as Jack Reacher?!?  In the books (yes, there are books) Jack Reacher is 6 feet 5 inches tall and 250 pounds!  His sheer size is a HUGE factor in the stories!  ANYWAY.  Back to MY story.  Gene and I went to our local cinema to see the new Jack Reacher movie and discovered that the cinema has upgraded to recliner seating!  WHAT?!?  Seats are now assigned, and/but they are WONDERFUL!  This might not be so great for those of you who go all Sleep Mode as soon as you put your feet up, but we liked them A LOT!

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Saturday was another gorgeous day.  We had been invited to a special party in Jacksonville, Florida (more on that in a minute) for that evening, but we decided to head out early and make a day of it.  We ate lunch at Popeye’s (a guilty pleasure of ours!) on the way down and then headed to the Jacksonville Zoo.  We hadn’t visited it in a few years.  We enjoyed walking around and watching the animals and the kids, none of whom we were responsible for!  (I’ve decided that going to the zoo without kids is both a little sad AND a wonderful, beautiful thing!)

That evening we enjoyed a great anniversary party for friends of ours!  Michael and Sheila were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, and Sheila’s parents were celebrating their 50th!   They renewed their vows, committing to keeping up the hard work that marriage requires.  Yes, I got a little choked up!  This marriage thing is something special, something to treasure, for sure!  I LOVE dressing up, and Gene, bless his heart, was a really good sport about it!  You can read more about the party on Sheila’s blog!

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My handsome Gene and me!
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Me and my glamorous friend, Sheila!

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We spent the night at a great hotel in Jacksonville then nipped back up I-95 to take up our posts as greeters at our church and to celebrate our church’s 16th birthday!  God stories and worship abounded!

Then came Monday!  Ah, Monday!  LOL!  I present for your entertainment the condensed version of my leaving for work Monday morning!

  • I decided to wear my amazing, upcycled sari, wrap skirt.  Since it is a wrap skirt, it has long ties.
  • Our kitten repeatedly jumped up, grabbed the ties, and pulled on them, slightly loosening my skirt.
  • I ignored said kitten and focused on gathering my Tervis of tea and travel cup of coffee.
  • The kitten tried to scamper out the front door with me, but my mad ninja skills kicked in and I blocked her escape.  Victory!
  • Also, my skirt got caught in the door.
  • Oh, did I mention I had just touched up my fingernail polish on my right (dominant) hand?
  • I managed to get my skirt out of the door and noticed that it was even more loose now.  (Yeah.  Wait for it!)
  • I juggled my purse and beverages to the car, opened the door, leaned in to put my coffee in a cup holder so I wouldn’t spill it, and poured copious amounts of tea from my Tervis onto the front seat.
  • Simultaneously my skirt…well…let’s just say I had a *slight* wardrobe malfunction at this point!  Thankfully Gene had backed my car into the driveway the night before, so I was shielded from the world by my car door, my car, his truck, and multiple layers of clothing (since it was a brisk 50 degrees, and this is Georgia, so we must bundle up).  I just cracked up laughing!
  • A frantic search for napkins or paper towels then ensued whilst I was trying to get my skirt wrapped again AND trying not to mess up my fingernail polish!  HA!  It really was hysterical!

Oh, goodness!  Sometimes all you can do is laugh!  To close this out I’ll share a photo of the kitten (Mattie) and the sari wrap skirt.

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Thanks for stopping by!  What’s been going on in YOUR world lately?!?  Leave me a comment, and we’ll keep the chinwag going!

 

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Currently…

Currently…

It’s time for Currently!  Here we go!  I am currently…

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Discovering:  Well, REdiscovering just how clever the movie Alice Through the Looking Glass is!  I posted a review of the movie when it was in theaters, and now it’s out on Blu-Ray.  This is an excellent movie on every level.  It’s a feast for your eyes, your ears, and your heart!

 

Celebrating:  Meeting a big goal!  I signed up for the Write 31 Days blogging challenge, and I did it!  I wrote my series, Michael Ann’s Kitchen, and posted every single day of October!  As is typical when we push ourselves to do something hard, I learned a LOT!  I learned tons about blogging in general, WordPress, and the powerful tools available to me via remarkable apps like Canva and Pic Monkey.  I’m exhausted, and I’m exhilarated!

 

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From my birthdaypalooza last week!  More about the cake here.

Starting:  Well, REstarting a concerted effort to make wise food choices and to exercise.  I’ve been off my game for a while, and then Hurricane Matthew threw me for a loop emotionally (even though we made it through just fine).  That emotional exhaustion plus two birthdaypaloozas (mine and my daughter’s) plus the Write 31 Days challenge totally upset my apple cart!  It’s time to right the cart and get back on the wagon.  (Oh dear!  My tired is showing!  Moving on…)

 

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My daughter and me on Sunday, October 30.

Wearing:  Let’s talk about what I’m NOT wearing.  The temperatures here in Coastal Georgia are STILL pushing 90 degrees.  In November.  Ugh.  So I’m NOT wearing my beloved hoodies, boots, or jackets.  It’s sad really.

(Well, there WAS that weekend camping trip last month near Chattanooga, Tennessee when the temps dipped to just shy of freezing!  Bliss, I tell you!  And, yes, we tent camp.  Stay tuned for more about that trip!)

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Googling:  More electric pressure cooker recipes and charts.  I wrote about how much I’m enjoying my pressure cooker several weeks ago, and I’m still loving it.  I’m considering buying an Instant Pot because (1) I’d like to see how it compares to my Farberware pressure cooker, and (2) some days I’d like to have TWO of them to use!

That’s what *I* am up to these days!  How about you?  Let me know in the comment section!

I’m linking up today with Anne of In Residence and Catherine of A Short Blonde.  Be sure to see what THEY are currently up to as well!

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A Table Treasure

A Table Treasure

A couple of you have asked about my dining table, and I’m excited to tell you about it!

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My great-grandfather built this table in the late 1960s or early 1970s!  He was a great man and a talented carpenter. My dad stopped by Great-Granddaddy’s farm one day and found him in his shop building this very table.  

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