FOLLOWERS - BLOG BUDDIES!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

# 575 - First Blogging, then BOOKS! What have I done?

Before I add my usual blog post, I want to let everyone know that I've been blogging for ages and will continue doing so...it's in my blood, but I've also enjoyed a long career that's included writing, but I'm now holding my own reins by publishing creative fiction books.

I've got several eBooks set for release, a novella series is the first on the schedule, and Book I was released a couple of days ago. It's a scary, spooky story balanced with humor, faith, and love. You can read it on any device...iPhone, iPad, Computer, Mac, or Kindle. You don't have to own a Kindle to read it! When you order, there will be a choice of where you want to have the eBook sent, and it's magic...it sends it to you with ease!

The button for choosing the place for the story to land will appear just below the purchase button on Amazon. It's easy and allows us to enjoy additional reading choices. You can read the eBook on the device you're using right now to read this latest blog post, it's super simple.

And here's summary of this first book...

Shelby, an energetic teenager, has recently returned from Scotland to America after living abroad with her family for a couple of years. They find a home in the Greater Houston area, close to her father's job and next door to a church, but Shelby doesn't like the house. From the moment she steps beyond the threshold of living room, into the heart of the home, she notices a dark presence, but she's the only one who senses it.

After moving in and experiencing terrifying encounters with an indescribable entity, she starts to question if her mind is the culprit. Perhaps her imagination is the source of terror...maybe her eyes are playing tricks on her, but she can't deny the blood. Circumstances spiral out of her control, preventing her from rationalizing all that she hears and sees. She can't escape the shadowed presence that targets her, but she'll find a way to fight back.

She won't give up or give in as she searches for a way to protect her family and herself from what lies in the middle.

Shelby's family includes a disabled mother, a workaholic father, and two siblings...Brother and Dovey. Brother keeps the humor coming as Shelby utilizes faith and bravery to accumulate useful knowledge to battle dark spirits, and she searches for a way to survive the necessity of sharing a home with a terrorizing presence. She refuses to live in terror, not in her own home, but how can she live with and battle the dark shadow that lurks around the corner from her bedroom, just beyond the threshold?

***

I hope you're able to gather the bravery to read this character-driven storyline of relatable people confronting irregular hurdles. This is the first book of the series titled "What Lies in the Middle."

I hope to discuss a few topics inspired by the book along with some personal experiences of my readers. I've made posts in the past of eerie experiences and reader-comments revealed many of us have experienced discomforting things that can't be explained. And even though this book is a fictionalized storyline, I know a lot of people have tried to explore strange happenings that might never find rational answers.

And to clear up any confusion...we decided to combine the book's title with a subtitle that is also the name of the series, rooting the two together; that's only for this first book. I'll let you know when the next book is due for pre-release with a definitive launch date.

There's a new Group on Facebook that I'd love for my blog buddies to join, and that link is at the bottom of this post

If you join the group, please let me know you're from our blog-sphere. And if you buy the eBook, especially let me know so I can thank you!

Just as I've written my blog and enjoyed a long-lasting fantastic interaction with my readers and fellow bloggers, I intend to maintain the same path with readers of my books, whether they are in the form of an eBook or paperback print...I want to stay in touch with you, give you behind-the-scenes details, and get your feedback along the way...hopefully you guys will be some of the first readers of this series.

***

As for building the never-ending farmhouse...it's still under construction. The long-time blog readers already know that we are slug-slow with finishing our house. We've had rains for months that have made the land a mucky mess. It can get quite depressing to be surrounded by mud, but I'm thankful we've not flooded. So many family and friends this last year were devastated by flooding in the Greater Houston area.

Despite the dreariness of the weather, we managed to work on the laundry room. I'll write a separate post about that experience. I LOVE my laundry room!



We used leftover tile to create a nice design in the floor, and I gave the bead-board a "weathered barn" paint treatment that I concocted on my own, which took me three days to paint.



The room is quite nice...mostly finished, but it still requires finishing touches, such as the trim around the windows and a window ledge for my little plants. I'll write a post about the laundry room because it deserves its own shining spot on the blog!

What can I say? I'm a thrilling woman who enjoys a great laundry room. After we finished this room to a certain point, I stood inside it to re-enact that scene from the Sound of Music as she spins around at the top of a pastured mountaintop with joy...yeah, that was me.

Of course, I wasn't escaping Nazis with a pack of children in tow; regardless, I spun around while surrounded by dirty clothes and stinky dog towels, and it was beautiful.

Aside from my laundry-room-moment, our family has also had some difficult and exciting things happening, which I'll share in my next few posts. With my new laptop, getting back to blogging is easier than sitting at my desktop. I don't know why, but for me, sitting at the desktop is a little claustrophobic. Blah.

Meanwhile, I'll enjoy my laundry room while wrapping up the second book to this series, so if anyone reads "BEYOND the THRESHOLD: What lies in the middle?" by Lana R. Black, then be sure to let me know, then get prepared for Part II of the series! The novella takes about two hours to read...it's an easy-read of about 100 pages, so it's an enjoyable commitment. Feel free to go onto the given Amazon link and stay in close touch by FOLLOWING my author page...there's a button below the book info on Amazon to follow the author. Please give me a review on Amazon after reading and be sure to use the highlight feature that Amazon gives its customers while reading an eBook...then share your favorite parts with me.

***
I've included the Amazon link that takes you to the first couple of chapters, then it will prompt you to buy it for $3.99 --- and that's cheaper than coffee! Isn't that the old line?

https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B07MYTBL9B&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_-JwsCb7GFYWPT

Facebook Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/768805986830396/

As always, I'll be reading your comments. Happy reading to my blog-buddies!


Thursday, October 25, 2018

# 574 - We're on Country Time

There's no doubt about it, we are slow, slow, slow with finishing the interior of our house. We finished building the shell with the garage at the end of 2015, then moved forward with the mechanicals, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and such throughout 2016.

When I say "country," I mean it on several levels. Our house reflects a country lifestyle - we're smack in the middle of rural countryside. Our views are spectacular since we live on the edge of The Big Thicket forest. We're also country in that our area is sparsely populated. And it's still very country when it comes to trying to get any kind of worker to come to the house.


Our contractor finished building the house and the detached garage with overhead loft, then we took it from there. We have a long series of hit and misses, such as sheetrocking an area, then having to take it down due to an electrical oversight, then re-sheetrock, then having to take it down again because of a new change in the framing, the start all over again.

We had framed-out doorways changed to regular wall framing, and regular wall framing changed to add a doorway. We installed windows to then take them out and also cut into the side of the house to add windows that weren't originally planned. Then there were the doors that were installed, found to be warped, then replaced with new doors. I cannot tell you the number of changes we've had to confront because of a defect or oversight.


If we had built this house in Houston...in Harris County, each of those changes would've cost approximately $2,200. due to required changes to the architectural drawings, permit changes, etc., Here in the country, it's easy to confront last minute changes or kinks in the construction process since the day-to-day temperament of your contractor is all that is at risk when you're covering the costs. And things usually go pretty well, if you keep changes to a minimum and they make sense, especially if your contractor is well-paid from the start. A builder in Houston would absorb construction issues caused by their own mistakes, but here in the country, builders know their craft, but they aren't continually barraged with as many options and variations that city-builders come across, so they stay rather open-minded. And let me be mindful of staying aware that the person paying for the construction process is the person who gets it the way they want it. Those who build homes are usually eager to make their clients happy, unless they are unwilling or unable to budge on design because of ridiculous constraints.


The good and the bad side of building this country house is that it isn't small enough to be considered cozy and it isn't big enough to be considered a sprawling mansion, but it is somewhere in between the two. We wanted our house to be large enough to accommodate the family that continues to expand with our grown kids, with our love-in-laws, grandkids, dogs, and friends who wonder if we'll ever live to see our house completed. Believe me, we share their concern.

This country house has introduced us to the concept of country time, and we've somehow gone from city people who existed in a perpetual state of rushing to country dwellers moving in slow motion...the kind of people who require one year to sheetrock one room. It's the Rip Van Winkle end of country time for us.


We nearly go into a full-blown celebration after each small accomplishment. We installed a new faucet, so it's time to celebrate at Thai Cottage! We sealed the wrap-around porch, it's time to hit The Seafood Kitchen! Then it'll be ribs or chicken fried steak for doing a bit of landscaping.

And that's how we roll around here these days. Do a little, eat a lot.

After working nonstop so hard and for so long on this house...we got burned out. But lately, we've been trying to work at least two full days on some goal in the house while also doing the ordinary day-to-day chores and acreage upkeep that is demanded. I must say that we've become quite the team. These days, when we tackle a job, we have the knowledge and ability to work faster and to do the job well.



For example, with sheetrocking...you should see the two of us. I can listen to music while wearing earbuds as he listens to a game. We work together without needing to overstep or supervise one another. We have even learned to do a light Sante Fe texturing technique that requires both of us to work simultaneously while the mud is still soft. The finish of the wall texture is subtle, yet attractive...natural in appearance instead of the ordinary splattered on texture. This technique goes beyond the orange peel look that I loved for so long. Of course, our choices of finishes demand techniques that are more labor intensive, but what the heck...we've got nothing but COUNTRY TIME on our hands. If this is going to be the never-ending house build, we might as well have fun with the details.




I've been so thrilled to finally finish sheetrocking the first room upstairs. We've done some sheetrocking in each room upstairs, but no room has been finished, until now! It has multiple edges as the angled ceiling splits into two different directions. There's a small regular ceiling in one area that leads to the dormer window and another ceiling area that slopes with the angle of the roof. This room was a booger to sheetrock, tape, float, sand, then texture. There were many extra lines, angles and joints because of all the cuts that were needed. I even did some tricky sheetrocking while lying on my back beneath the lowest portion of the sloped ceiling. Things got crazy in there.

But I enjoyed finishing the floating and taping because it led us to enjoy ourselves at Cracker Barrel.

Floating and Taping - No makeup, humidity-sticken hair, but
I'm thrilled the room is moving forward.

Today, I was so happy to pick out the paint for this corner room. I opted for a soft, buttery yellow that was in the "chill-out and enjoy the tranquility" kind of paint selection. With the two windows in the room (once they're cleaned) it will be bright and sunny in that space, so we want it to be a cheery feel-good room.

I'd love to begin painting tomorrow, but I'm not sure that will be possible because it has been raining for days in our part of Texas, and more rain is expected. It's a mess out here folks.

This room, once finished...which that might take another year...will be my writing room. It'll also be a soft place to land for reading, chilling out or for having a quiet talk with riotous laughter. This room might even be a place to do limited Yoga since I restrict my movements to coincide with my motto of being an "exercise minimalist."

Regardless...the room will be awesome.


I hope to post pictures of it painted by the end of this weekend...or maybe after Christmas. I'm on country-time. All. The. Way.

* Time frames listed are never concise, y'all.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

# 573 - Rooster Love

Our roosters are kind of adorable, even when mean-mugging me.


They are big, healthy boys who get along and wake us every morning to their crowing.


Sometimes it seems they are posing for me, literally strutting their stuff. Roosters can look quite regal. This is Pavarotti; he's got a beautiful voice.


I love the classic rooster stance with one foot in the air. The roos look great when shaking their tail feathers.


I think I heard him whisper under his breath, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."


Thursday, July 6, 2017

#572 - Gardening for Bountiful, Beautiful, Tasty Delights

For nearly all of my adult life I've had a vegetable garden, on some level. Even during my worst years as my green thumb withered, I still grew some sort of vegetables, most often tomatoes, bell peppers, and other kitchen staples.

There's no doubt that I'm addicted to homegrown tomatoes, but this season I tried growing potatoes...again.

In the past I've tried and not enjoyed much success. This year I bought GMO-Free Adirondack Seed Potatoes, and I planted five. All were fantastically successful; it was interesting to see the potato vines and leaves grow to a bluish color, and this is beneficial as you'll always know which potato variety is the Adirondack Blue.

As you can see in the photo below, the potatoes have a purplish skin and the flesh is bright purple. Unlike other purple potatoes, these maintain their beautiful purple flesh after being cooked and are VERY high in antioxidants! You can see how large these got by looking at the upper middle photo of the collage where I'm holding one of the potatoes; they're such big beauties!

I prepared oven-roasted potatoes for dinner one night, mixing Adirondack Blues with regular Russets, and the purple color made cooking feel more delightful and cheery, but the purple roasted potatoes on the plate made dining seem more fun and exciting.


From now on, every year I'll do my BEST to plant Adirondack Blue potato seeds in our garden because an abundant harvest allows me to give these beautiful potatoes as gifts to family and friends who are creative home-style chefs, but who might not have the space to have their own vegetable garden.

Later, I'll write about my growing techniques because my potato crop was a success; my harvest was quite handsome; I feel like a proud momma! However, potatoes are a crop that can be planted three separate times throughout the year, so I'll be making sure these potatoes keep going in our garden, and I'll write more details for potato lovers in a post that's soon to come.

This season, so far, my Walla Walla onions, sown from real seeds, tiny seeds, didn't seem to germinate. That was disappointing because I was eagerly anticipating two rows of onions being at our disposal for a long period of time...I wanted to walk out and pull up a couple of onions for meals whenever I wanted, but my want, want, want turned to nada, nada, nada for onions. I had doubted the health of those seeds, but went against my gun instinct when planting those seeds...shoulda, woulda, coulda.

However, my scallions were comfy at home in the garden and grew nicely. Same with the carrots; they love their growing spot. I love to pick baby carrots when they're tender and sweet, plus the chickens love the carrot tops as a treat. The below photo even shows a couple of pitiful potatoes that had been accidentally left behind in the garden, the tiny runts that simply struggled to keep up with the pack...I'll not let them go to waste.


Oh Bell Peppers...how I love thee! This is vegetable that can truly be expensive at the grocery store and is an ingredient we love to cook with. It's wonderful to grow fragrant, tasty bell peppers on our acreage. I love making several foods with bell peppers...stuffed bell peppers, chicken fajitas that do NOT taste nearly as good if cooked without bell pepper slices, king ranch chicken where I mince the bell pepper so my youngest daughter doesn't pick through her plate, grilled chicken or beef shish-k-bobs that include bell pepper chunks, and so many other delicious meals.


I've been thrilled to get corn from our garden this season. Now, corn is an incredible food to have on hand. You can take one ear of corn and cut off the kernels for a meal variation, grill it on the pit or it can be cooked several other ways, but corn is a great food to add to a meal. Corn is a continuous crop, so if you like eating it often or consistently, then you need to plant new seeds every two weeks for the entire planting season. I'll have to improve my gardening skills and time-table to get into a good groove for corn, but I DID grow some corn this year!


Jalapeno Peppers are my husband's delight. Well, ANYTHING hot and spicy suits his palate. I prefer the milder extra large jalapenos, and I stuff them with cheese, wrap in bacon and cook...one of my all-time favorites. The jalapenos I grow at home are smaller and HOT. But, it's great to have them on hand to prepare home-made salsa or pico de gallo, along with other dishes.


The Texas heat is now battering the best out of my precious tomato plants, but they've been producing quite an impressive bounty of tomatoes. From seed, I grew several varieties...of course my garden is completely Heirloom or GMO-Free plants, so I grew Black Krim, Beefsteak, Old German, Yellow Pear and my Bootcreek Green Beefsteak...some tomatoes get up to TWO POUNDS in weight! The smell and taste of our homegrown tomatoes is something that cannot be replicated in an ordinary grocery store full of produce that's grown as rapidly as possible to make as much money as possible...our home-grown, heirloom varieties are allowed to linger in the garden, to grow at their natural pace and be free of any kind of growth stimulates or chemicals, and they are allowed to hang out on the vine for as long as it suits them, then they're savored.


The harvest we get from our home-grown vegetable garden brings tremendous joy and value to our lives, home, kitchen, meals, wallet, self-esteem, and to our tastebuds. Not only do we find fulfillment from gardening, we learn and utilize real-world skills that are priceless because there's MUCH MORE to gardening than just sticking some seeds in the soil. Each lesson is treasured and no matter how much I read, study and research, there just isn't the same level of absorption for a topic than to just dig in and do it. Every year I gain more knowledge by doing some level of gardening, whether it be in containers, or a very limited garden or a more extensive garden where I'm taking things to a new level.


One thing is for sure, gardening can bring out the introspective side of me. After the rains we've had last week, the weeds can be an unrelenting beast, but gardening teaches and re-teaches me life lessons. This week, I'm reminded that life always has bad things trying to creep in, but we must be diligent and watchful, always eager and energetic to halt unhealthy intruders before they attempt to ruin all that we've worked so hard to enjoy. Life is like that...from destructive thoughts to destructive behaviors and destructive people, we need to weed as much of it out of our life as possible. Then, we should focus on the beautiful parts that will give back to us. Our hard work DOES come back around, and there is such amazing joy when we reap the fruits of our labor.

I'm celebrating!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

# 571 - A Country House and Back to Blogging

Years ago I began blogging. So much happened over those years. We went through our house being destroyed by Hurricane Ike, getting our kids through high school and then college, selling our house in Greater Houston, then moving to our acreage in the country and living in an RV for nearly three years as we built a house.


Weather conditions were difficult as we got started. It took much longer to clear the site for the house because of constant rains. It was awful. The large equipment couldn't maneuver in the muddy ground, so we had to simply practice PATIENCE.


It was difficult to imagine a house standing on the acreage we'd owned since our kids were young. David was determined to get his wrap-around porch...that was his non-negotiable feature. Mine was to have large rooms, especially nice sized bathrooms. We've owned homes with TINY bedrooms and this house wouldn't have tiny accommodations.


Another feature we both longed to have in our country house was dormer windows, and we got them...three of them. I love that they are well balanced with the size of the house because sometimes a dormer window can end up to look like an afterthought. Our builder did a fantastic job.


The house is just over 3,000 square feet with over 2,000 square feet of wrap-around porch. Crazy porch space, but that is David's dream.


We kept the forested landscape all around the house. Of course, that's not difficult to do since we live in the Big Thicket.


Our detached garage became a huge construction project in itself. We decided to go all out. On a solid, re-enforced foundation, we built an oversized two-car garage with extra space aside, a four-car carport, and a loft overhead that's over 900 square feet that we use as "attic" space for the time being. We build a full staircase inside the garage to lead up to the loft. I had intended that space to serve as part attic space with a separated area to be used as my art studio. However, this house is such a huge undertaking that it will probably take another two years to wrap up the main house, so the loft continues to serve as an attic storage space. I must say it's wonderful to walk into the attic and to not be cramped.


We now have our garage and attic full of many of our belongings and many things of all size...furnishings, boxes, appliances, etc., that our oldest daughter has stored there for the time being. We are ALL looking forward to the day when they can move their big ticket items out of these spaces so we can use the garage as the wood workshop David truly needs to utilize since we must do many projects to finish this house. For now, we look like true Rednecks with far too many things on our wrap-around porch because they will not fit in this huge garage that's stuffed with everyone's things. We will be working that out this year or me and my daughter will be having a garage sale!


Our builder had been waiting for the bad weather to clear out so he could start construction on our house. It was a miracle, but once he began building from the floor to the metal roof...we did not have ONE rainstorm. The weather remained dry and hot while they built the shell of the house, which pleased me immensely. This was indeed a huge and unusual blessing!

I have loads to catch up with on this blog. I had a problem with pictures, but it seems that issue is resolved, so perhaps my loaded pictures will no longer disappear and that's a great motivator to return to regular blogging!

As for construction on this new home...we have a long way to go to finish, but we are thrilled to be fortunate enough to live a dream. Each day is a challenge and a learning experience, but the rewards of doing so much of the work ourselves is beautiful.

Today I'll be putting up a couple more shelves in the closet of a the downstairs guest bedroom. Each small step puts us closer toward enjoying the house of our dreams.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

#570 The Family GROWS!

We're still building the country house, dubbed "Bootcreek Farmhouse." I predict that we have another two years of details to confront before this house is finished. It's a BIG project.

If you have followed this blog, you might know that we sold our home in Greater Houston, in 2013, then moved to the acreage we've owned since our kids were young. We didn't have a house on the property, so we bought a nice, new and shiny RV, but NEVER expecting to live in it for THREE YEARS. Selecting the spot for constructing our new home wasn't an easy task.

The goal was live on the property for a minimum of one year so we could see how weather patterns and seasons affected the land itself. Since our acreage is in a heavily forested, rural region, we couldn't just refer to the opinions of others in the area or upon documented issues because there has been no one living here to record anything whatsoever.

I'll be sharing some of our progress as I catch up with some posts.

But, the best change over the past few months has been the wedding of our youngest daughter, Stefie. It's hard to believe she's 26 years old now. Finally, she married Brice...a young man we love and welcomed with open arms into our family.

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Our oldest daughter, Heather, is in the maroon dress and our
daughter, Stefanie, is the Bride. Me and Sarge are flanking Stefie.
My dad is standing next to me and my in-laws are next to him.
This is our growing family. Our sons by law are handsome,
my two grand-babies (the smallest girl and boy in arms) while
my cute niece stepped into the shot!
But, we do have more pictures with the entire clan.

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Stefie's wedding was a fairy tale event.

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She was a truly beautiful bride. And she actually wore my veil...the veil that survived over 30 years in storage. I must say, it looked as if it were made just for her.

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The family heirloom she wore for her
wedding...the veil. There is a 30 year gap
from the time I wore it on my wedding
day to marry her daddy, until the day
Stefie wore it for her own wedding.

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Stefie with her niece and our grand-daughter, Coraline.

Here is Sgt. Dave during the father and daughter dance to Butterfly Kisses.

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Their wedding will always be remembered.

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And I'm so proud of my daughters. They are sisters who are always there for each other.

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The wedding has been a sacred event that started out 2017 with a beautiful BANG! The wedding was January 14th, and it turned out to be a BEAUTIFUL day in Texas with temperatures in the 70's. It couldn't have been more perfect.

I'll post more about the wedding and details with the decorating later.

I'm glad to be back. Happy posting everyone!

*******

There's still no answer to why my pictures disappeared from old posts...still searching for an answer and a possible move to a blog domain that won't be subjected to such severe blogger issues. Wordpress seems too expensive and analytics only come with the $20+ per month subscription. No thanks. In this blog, I've mostly copied and pasted all photos from my own photo supply, not using a third party, such as Picasso. I've never had an issue, until the past few months...it seems. If anyone has a suggestion of how to blog without such issues, I'm open to advice.