14 entries categorized "traveling"

North Carolina

Guess where we are?  Okay, I sort of told you in the title.  We're in North Carolina, where most of my immediate family migrated within the last decade or two. 

Here's what it looked like in June, when we last came (that's our two oldest kids)...

image from www.flickr.com

...and today, when three of our kids went with Nana & Popo to the mountains, they played in snow.  White, flaky, wet, cold snow.  

For the first time.


At ages 13, 11, and 7.

Can you believe that? 

It's true. 

But they aren't deprived.  Some kids never see our Coastal version of snow, like this stuff and this stuff.

I like all 3 types of snow, don't you?

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In the Middle

image from www.flickr.com
When I flew from Chicago to our home on the coast last week, there was an amazing sunset in the sky over Atlanta, complete with the brightest of stars, the planet Venus, I think. 

I've been mulling over this photo for the past week, along with a vertical one taken out of my airplane window a few minutes before...

image from www.flickr.com

...and I've been trying to come up with a brilliantly written post.

Sunsets like that should be accompanied by words about beginnings or endings or final days or some such, but.

We're just in the middle.

In the middle of our marriage.

In the middle of childrearing.

In the middle of our lives.

In the middle of making our million. 

...wait, no, actually, we're not even close to that.  Not a fraction of close to that.  I meant,we're..

In the middle of our dreams for the future.

In the middle of maturity.

So a sunset over Atlanta means, to me, that it's simply the middle of my journey from Chicago to Florida. 

There's nothing spectacular about the middle. 

It's not a fresh beginning.

It's not a satisfying ending.

The days can be ho-hum.

A moment is often the same as the last.

There aren't awards for being in the middle.

There aren't ribbons to cut.

But it's where we are. 

I like it here, in the middle.

It feels just right, for now.

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I'm Pretty Crazy About Cowboys

Fort Worth Stockyards, Texas

Yesterday I posted a photo of a cowboy I found in Texas.  Kami, my Texan cousin, commented that it's not easy to find cowboys in Texas.   She's right.  If you think a cowboy is a fella dressed in chaps and riding a horse, it's not as easy as you might think to locate one, even in Texas. We had to go to Fort Worth to find these...

Stockyards Station, Fort Worth, Texas

Yes, these cowboys (including a cowgirl!) are totally in a touristy area, doing a fake touristy "longhorn stampede" but we loved it all the same.  Besides, you cannot tell me that this fella is not a real cowboy, even if he is geared up for the tourists...

 Cowboy at the longhorn cattle drive in Fort Worth, Texas by you.

He  just can't look that tough without being a real cowboy, don't you think?  See, I think being a cowboy is more an attitude and a demeanor than clothing and cows.  I like to think of even my man as a "cowboy," even though he hasn't been on a horse more than a handful of times in his life.  He works hard, loves freedom, and he'd fight for his family and his country and his good old American rights as sure and as strong as any other tough fella out there.  

For me, that's what a cowboy is, and the reason I'm pretty crazy about them him. ;)

Home from Texas

I'm home from Texas!  We've been back a few days, but I haven't been online much.  You know how it goes after traveling:  laundry, unpacking, petting the animals to make up for a week's worth of not petting them...that sort of stuff.

It's late and I'm heading to bed before all of my photos upload, but I thought I'd pop in, say hello, and post one of my favorite cowboy shots from Fort Worth.

Goodnight! ~ L


Dad's Old Schoolhouse

My Dad's Old Schoolhouse in Gold Hill, Idaho by you.

Near the top of a hill, across a gravel road from a little church, in a farming community in Idaho with not even a convenience store or gas station, is this old schoolhouse.  My dad attended it as a boy in the 1950's.  His was one of the - I think the - last group of kids to enter the already-then-old building as students. Dad and other farmer's sons and daughters would walk from their farms to this schoolhouse on Gold Hill, going uphill both ways in several feet of snow, of course. 

Behind the old schoolhouse is a working outhouse.  I say "working," because you can use it if you like - it's simply a hole in a piece of plywood over a hole in the ground. 

This place makes me positively dreamy.

Wishing I could save it,

22 (or so) Things I Learned at Blissdom '09

I learned or realized 22 or so things at Blissdom '09 (a blogging conference in Nashville this past weekend)...

...about me:

  • It takes a good 48 hours or so for me to feel comfortable around strangers
  • Blissdom was only about that long, so I was....yes... The Wallflower
  • I'm a country girl, so although I think I'm WYSIWYG*, I realized I'm vain enough to notice that my thumbnails are crooked.  And so I opted for looking like I don't have thumbs all weekend, tucking them in under my hand like that.

  • I'm uncomfortable small-talking  for hours, so after a while I tend to find a wall to lean on (WallFlower), or go to the room for a bit
  • When I go to the room for a bit, I find myself wondering what is happening below, and wishing I wasn't hiding out in the room, but I don't know how to break into a group.
  • It pains me to think I may be boring someone, so if her left eye wanders even once, or she mutters a second, "hmm," I find a way to be the first to leave the conversation. I definitely don't want to be last.
  • there is always a moment when in a crowd that I think, "I wish we were texting each other," instead of talking.  My mouth could use a Backspace key.

...about the business of blogging.  From the panelists, I learned a few things I didn't already know:

  • Put keywords in your post titles.  Instead of cutesy titles like, "Looky here!" use a Google-friendly title such as "10 Reasons You Should Look Harder for Good Grocery Deals."  (That one was totally off the top of my head.  You may have it. You're welcome.)
  • Stop writing to gain readers; write for yourself.  Okay, I already knew this one, but it's always worth reminding myself of it.
  • Posting frequency:  Any amount of posting is fine - once a week, a few times a day -  but there needs to be a rhythm, so readers know when to come back.
  • DivineCaroline.com is a place to syndicate your content.
  • Don't write for free unless it benefits you.  Don't give away your content and readers to a column or guest post (my note:  Sometimes it's worth it to write for free just to see where it will lead.  I started writing for Precious Moments for free in late 2007 just to see what might come of it, and in April 2008 I was flown to an all-expense-paid-VIP trip to DisneyWorld as a direct result of my Precious Moms blog).
  • Don't take reviews for items you can't seemlessly weave into your blog's voice already (I should post a list of reviews I've declined for this blog - it could be funny if it weren't sad that a company actually thinks we women want that junk.)
  • Show your warts (cellulite, dandruff...) when you write.  It keeps you real.  People want to ineract with someone real.
  • Opportunites will open up if you let those locally - in your community - find you on social media (eg. Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • I learned of a couple affiliate sites I didn't know of, like Logical Media and ShareASale.com
  • Add a Disclosure Policy to your blogs
  • Consider asking for compensation for giveaways (I have never done this on this blog, Just Pure Lovely or on FreelyEducate.com, and I don't know that I ever will here, but am considering doing so for FreelyEducate, which has become a reviews and giveaway time-hogging monster)
  • Create a Media Kit for dealing with marketing companies and other advertising opportunities

...about this blog, Just Pure Lovely...

  • Even though money is tight and as much as I'd love to help my man out with making a little, I remembered, while at Blissdom, that I want Just Pure Lovely to be happy and pretty  - a just, pure, lovely - place for me and for anyone who stumbles upon it. 
  • I don't want to have to worry about this blog making money, or about its ads being relevant.
  • So, I pulled the ads (did you notice?) and will only keep up affiliate links like the Books I'm Reading Next list, if they enhance the blog and what it is about, instead of detract from it
  • Just Pure Lovely is an inspiration and creativity blog, I decided while away, not an advice blog or a memoir blog. Before Blissdom, I didn't really know exactly how to define it.

When I got back home, my man asked, "Did you have a good time?"  My first answer, was "I'm...not... sure yet."  I was overwhelmed still with the speed at which things happened, with the how cool is this Crocs $50 gift certificate and with the I-was-a-Wallflower, never-really-fit-in feeling.   I've also been stuck between Holy-Smokes-that-was-expensive-and-we-couldn't-afford-it and it's-nice-to-fly-like-an-important-gal-and-stay-in-a-nice-hotel-room.

After processing the trip, I decided that Blissdom was really good for me. It reminded me of who I am:  a wife and mama first - this is a season of helping the family through these tough financial times, whether that means clipping coupons (ick) or making a bit off my other blog.  I smiled my way across the Bay as I thought of my family waiting so eagerly for me to arrive.  And I decided that, at least until things get easier (or someone sponsors my trip away), I need to stay home with them, keeping my priorities straight.

Going to Blissdom also reminded me of what Just Pure Lovely is and why the blog started in the first place, and what I want it to stay - a blog of peace and pretty and, well, the just, pure, and lovely things in life.  This blog doesn't need to make money.  It needs to help whoever God sends this way, and if that's nobody, that's fine, because it's helping me.

Which leads me to the best thing I was reminded of at Blissdom and as a result of Blissdom, while in my room thinking or reading Blog Blazers, a book given to us in our swag bag...

We all have influence.  It may be to just that one regular reader, or it may be to hundreds of readers, but we all have influence on someone (we mamas already know this to be true, as our influence over our children is so staggering it's often prayer-causing).

That influence should be handled with care and integrityBe true to your voice.  You are the only you there is; you have something to offer others that nobody else can ever offer.  Don't imitate. Don't copycat others, not even the ones you perceive as the "bigger" bloggers (or other people).  Learn from them, but don't try to be them.  Be  true to yourself, follow your passions, and don't be discouraged over numbers.  Isn't influencing just one quite a success?

Again, write about the things you're passionate about; write in your unique voice.  Everything will fall into place once you've done that.  There are readers who need what you have to say, and readers who will not find anything they need on your pages.  While exchanging favorite blogs, I was amazed at how few blogs mentioned are the same.  And how nobody else seemed to know my favorites: Blue Yonder, Angry Chicken, Posie Gets Cozy, All SortsWee Wonderfuls....to mention a few.  With that came the panicky-lost feeling I get when I wonder if I opened the wrong door.  As in, oh, crud, am I in the wrong room?!  But then I'd realized that I don't know their favorites, either.   We find the writing we need to read.  

I'm glad to be home and I'm glad to remember what Just Pure Lovely is all about.  I'm energized and ready to find more creativity and inspiration to share with you, as I first take care of my top priority, my family (which, today, is a sick little boy).

*WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get (pronounced: whiz-ee-whig)

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Peak Fall Foliage

North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains October 2008

The North Carolina mountains, which we visited a week or so ago, look like they are the result of a master painter's pallette, don't you think?  Well, I suppose they are, but real life and big and with God as the Master Painter Extraordinaire. 

It was truly breathtaking to visit them while the trees were so colorful. 

That's my brother, his wife, and two of their children in the canoe, on their way to drop a couple of them off and let me ride with our little guy. 

Our little gal was also waiting with us...

little ballerina on the shore

...and practicing her ballet poses on the shore, but she decided not to canoe. There's plenty of that to be had at home; she chose to enjoy running over the mountain trails on the way back to camp instead of using the canoe to get there.   The walk back to camp was definitely not mountainous, but anything bigger than a fire ant hill is a mountain to our little gal, who is Coastal born and bred.

I'm missing those crisp  fall mountains today, while at the same time enjoying our 75 degree weather and blue skies here at home.  Oh, if only I could be two places at once; I could enjoy it all!

Apple Picking


Oh, we had such a fun time apple picking in North Carolina last week!  Surrounded by hundreds of apple trees, cool weather, and scenery the likes of which this Coastal girl never sees  at home (there are no hills!), we were content for hours picking - and eating - apples. 

apple picking in north carolina by you.

We put all ages to work.  My two-year-old neice, above, might have run away from manual labor, and the seven and eight-year-old cousins played quite a bit before filling their shared bucket...

apple picking in north carolina 259 by you.

but we certainly know how to work five year olds...

Oh, come on now, you know I'm kidding.  They didn't have to push too hard. 

Everyone pitched in to help.

Apple Picking in North Carolina by you.

Yes, of course.  Even me.  I kept busy photographing.  A day like this one

needs to be documented, so we won't forget even the smallest of details.

apple orchard in north carolina

Sigh.  I do believe I need to buy an apple orchard. 

While I'm lost in that unreality dream, do you have any apple recipes to share

I brought back two huge cardboard boxes full of apples and need to do something with the abundance!