What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Last Saturday of 2023

 Hey! Did you know this was the last Saturday of 2023?  Yep, it sure is!  And the other night I took a picture of the last full moon of 2023:

Yesterday morning hubby wanted pancakes for breakfast. I haven't made pancakes at home in a long time. We usually get pancakes when we go out to breakfast at our church community breakfast once a month, so I really don't need to make them! But we missed the last breakfast a couple of weeks ago because hubby wasn't feeling well, and well, I guess he just had a hankering for them, so here they are:
I also added blueberries from my stash of frozen blueberries from our local blueberry farm from this past summer.  They were pretty doggone good, if I do say so myself!

I also had a cup of "Gingerbread Joy" Christmas tea one afternoon...'tis the season for something a little more interesting than my normal plain black Lipton tea.

Let's see, what else has been going on this week?  Well, today is our sweet daughter in love Rose's birthday! Since our plans for our extended family "Christmas/New Year's gathering" was moved from today to Monday, we still wanted to do something special with Rose.  We left it up to her to decide where she would like to go out to lunch.  At first the plan was we would go to a BBQ restaurant in a neighboring town.  But Rose and Benton both have had a very busy and tiring week at work and neither one was feeling really great this morning, so we opted to just have a simple lunch here at home and have a low-key birthday celebration.  She didn't really want a cake, so I baked an apple crisp, and after a lunch of homemade broccoli cheese soup and deli meat/cheese sandwiches with lettuce and tomato, we had some warm apple crisp with whipped cream for dessert.  Here's the pictures from her birthday "party".

I know it doesn't look like there's very much apple crisp in the bowl. Well, the apples really shrunk when they cooked down, (and the bowl was too big to begin with). But it was plenty for the four of us, and it really was good on this very chilly day.
Yes, Rose has one more year before the big 5-0!  We'll have to plan something much grander for next year.
Her really "exciting" gift was some new "Pioneer Woman" dishtowels and utensils in a nice metal container.  The best gift was in the card/envelope. This was just something to wrap up and open, but I know for myself that I am always needing some new fresh dishtowels in the kitchen. I often use them until they are practically rags.

I thought this one was especially cute: I love you like biscuits and gravy". Here in the south that's a real thing.

In between lunch and dessert some of us took a quick nap as we were pretty tired...and it was nap time, after all!

Someone wanted to sit in Grandma's lap...
I'm sitting here holding Sugar in my lap and looking at the new doggie beds on the floor that were Christmas gifts for the grandpuppies, and thinking so much for that idea! LOL.   (Yes, that's Benton watching football and trying to stay awake).
And looky here:  Rose was napping on the couch and Spice was snuggled up next to her...

She'd peek her head up to look at her sister Sugar with me just to make sure that she wasn't missing anything, and then lay back down where we couldn't see her.

Yeah, they are a little bit spoiled, but we do enjoy them.  And kind of  like grandchildren...we enjoy them and spoil them and then they get to go back home with their "parents".  LOL.

Okay, this morning we took our last walk in the woods for 2023 (most likely).   It was 40 degrees, but at least the wind wasn't blowing so much and the sun was shining, so it wasn't too bad at all. Rather refreshing actually. 

Time for a nature lesson:  I've been noticing lately on our walks these little mounds of dirt spaced out all along the road.  They are too small to be a gopher mound, so I had to look them up to see what could be making these unusual mounds of dirt.

If you look closely in this picture, you will see the little mounds of dirt spaced out:
So I used my "Google Lens" app on my cell phone to take a picture of them and then search for what they could be.  HERE is a link to the story behind these piles of dirt.  And another link: They are the Florida Deepdigger Scarab Beetles.  If you click on those links you will get more information and a picture of what they look like.  Very interesting little critters that do this digging only during the winter months here in North Florida.  I didn't see any beetles on this walk, but I have seen them in the warmer months.  

Here's another interesting picture...this is Goldenrod gone to seed. I thought it kind of looked like it was covered in frost because we did have a frost warning this morning, but no, it's just  the was goldenrod looks when it is finished being 'golden'.  

And also there are signs of new growth already on our pine trees in the woods:  These little seed pods are full of pollen too...and so before you know it we will have yellow pine pollen to deal with again...

When I was taking a walk around our own little woods along the shores of Still Waters Pond, I saw some pretty mushrooms:
This one was actually a very pretty shade of purple, but the sun was shining on it so you can't really see how pretty it was.

And then there were these lovely orange colored mushrooms:

And here is an interesting crop of fungi growing on this dead branch which had fallen from a tree.

Funny thing, that evening hubby was asking me if I had any mushrooms to put in a salad. I said no, but I knew where I could find some in the woods, but he declined. LOL.  No, I would never attempt to figure out what kind of mushrooms in the woods are safe to eat.   Maybe if we were starving I might study up on it, but for now I think I will pass on that delicacy that could be deadly!

Safely back inside the house there have been some sweet little moments...Lily Grace (a.k.a. The Adventures of Lily Grace) received some very nice gifts for Christmas from her "Auntie" in S.C., (who is actually kind of like her "fairy godmother" who loves to send her fun things).  This same dear friend also sent me some nice little Christmas gifts as well, and one was that book you see on the left, "The Blessing of Friendship", which is truly a very lovely book between friends. I love it so much.

And also this book, "The Best Loved Doll", which is a very nice story about a little girl who went to a party where the children were told to bring a doll, either a very old doll, or a doll who could do some special things, or a very beautifully dressed doll, and there would be prizes given for the best of each category.  This little girl had several very nice dolls who could easily have won the prize in any of those areas, but she chose to take her favorite sweet old doll that was obviously very well "loved", based on her condition of a rather worn dress and some little bandages on her cheeks, etc.  When the lady who was giving out the prizes saw this doll, she realized that there needed to be a prize for "the Best Loved Doll", and of course this little girl and her doll won that prize. Sorry to be a story spoiler, but well, I couldn't help it.  

As most of you are aware, I have several dolls and they are all special and unique in their own way...and they have been gifted to me by wonderful people throughout the years of my life.  I keep them not because of their rarity or antiquity or particular beauty, but because each one has a history of some kind or another because of where it came from or who it may represent.  I know if you've followed me a long time you most likely already know the story of this doll seen below, "Baby Elva".  Here she is all dressed up in her Christmas outfit...

If you don't know her history, HERE is a link to the history of this sweet doll. and how she was originally sent to me, and by whom. That story in itself is quite amazing.

But HERE is a link to the story of why she is named "Baby Elva", and why her story is so important.  I neglected to write anything this past week on December 27th,  which would have been the 128th birthday of my Grandmother, Elva Sowers Smith Hill Mursch.  I did some extensive genealogical research into my grandmother's history a few years ago, in 2020, during the pandemic, and in honor of what would have been her 125th birthday. Because my grandmother was adopted as an infant, it was quite an interesting and eye-opening search...so if you click on that link just above you can read about that if you wish.  It's quite a story, and I am thankful for Ancestry.com and DNA research for being able to discover the real story behind my Grandmother's birth and life.

Well, it/'s time to wrap this up for tonight.  Tomorrow will be New Year's Eve, the last day of 2023, and the last Sunday as well.  We will be going to church and then plan to come home and rest up before the big gathering of family here on Monday. Our son Scott plans to come home and spend the night with us and maybe bake some more cookies...we shall see if he really wants to do that or not. We still haven't eaten all the cookies he baked last time and I had to put some in the freezer so they will still be good for Monday. 

Some have asked me if I have chosen my "One Word" for 2024 yet.  I think I have narrowed it down, but I was surprised when I went back and checked my words over the past 12 or more years of doing this that I have already used a variation of both words I was thinking seriously about using this year.  Maybe I need to go back and do them over again, because obviously I must not have learned everything I needed to learn if I can't remember that I'd already used them! LOL.  So I am still praying about this and trying to "listen" to God's voice telling me which way to go.

Isaiah 30:21 says: 
Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,”

The Bible tells us to Ask, Seek, and Knock...and "to him who knocks, it will be opened."
Matthew 7:7-8 says:
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

(based on Revelation 3:6-8)

And so, as we await the beginning of another new year, the "opening of doors that no man can shut"...I pray for God's direction in many things...not just the choosing of a new word for the year...as that may seem a bit trivial in light of all the things that are most important in life,  but I seek His direction in how He wants me to live my life in the new  year...what things are most important to Him that He wants me to do?  Are there new steps of faith that I may be asked to take? Will there be challenges to my mind, my body, my life that will require me to walk even closer with the Lord each day than I have been doing?  No one knows what the future may hold.  Every day is a new day, every week a new week...etc....and all I know right now is that I must be willing to accept God's will and follow Him wherever He may lead me. I do not fear the unknown, because I know Who is leading the way.  So every day will be a new adventure with God.  Nothing can be better than that.

Okay, my friends, it's definitely time to close this post on this last Saturday of 2023. If I don't get around to writing again tomorrow, I will see you next year!  Until then, be at peace and be blessed. Amen.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Thursday Thankfulness and Friday Foto Friends

 It's that week in between Christmas and New Years Day, when we try to play catch up on the "normal stuff" after the Christmas rush and activities, and prepare our minds and hearts and bodies for whatever may lie ahead in the New Year.  2023 is soon becoming a "Closed Door", and 2024 is now an "Open Window", with a brand new blank slate waiting to be filled with whatever adventures God has in store for us.  Peering through the window right now I can't see too far ahead.  There's still a kind of a veil between now and then...

Scenes from my walk to the shore of Still Waters Pond through the woodsy veil.

But soon the veil will begin to open and we will be able to see what new adventures await us...

(I enjoyed a little walk down through the woods to the pond...the foliage is dying out and it is easier to get through now without having so many branches and vines in the way)

Still a little challenging, but isn't that the way life is?  There will always be challenges in our pathway, but "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
Much better view!
Looking around in another direction, toward the little island in Still Waters Pond:

 One of my favorite Scripture passages for the New Year:

Isaiah 43: 18-19
18 "Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."

Today was rather cloudy all day, with intermittent bouts of light rain. It was in the low 60's most of the day, but cooler weather is on its way. The next few days will see lows in the low 40's/high 30's and highs in the 50's and low 60's.  So for us here in Florida, winter is upon us.  It seems as though the birds are well aware that change is on the way. There was a LOT of bird activity out on the feeders and in the trees around us. Here's a few of the visitors we had today:

Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird stop by periodically to check on things at "their spring and summer home".  They seem to still lay claim to this house even though they are not staying in it during the winter.  But whenever any other bird shows any interest in it they somehow swoop in from somewhere and drive them off...

Like this unsuspecting Carolina Chickadee. He likes to poke his head in the house and look around once in a while,
 but the Bluebirds always manage to drive him away pretty quick...
It's like they are standing guard over the house from somewhere in the treetops even though they don't need it right now...but they are not about to rent it out to "strangers".

I don't know if you can see him or not, but there is a "Yellow-Rumped Warbler" in that tree below. How do I know? Because I can see the yellow spot on his rump!  Look very closely:

Mr. Bluebird is checking things out in the house...making sure there are no squatters inside.

Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird are having a conversation about their house...
After a while they took off for wherever they are roosting in the trees in the meantime.

Sometime later there was another visitor coming by to check out the house:

A female Red-Bellied Woodpecker must have heard the news that this house was vacant and came to see for herself:

She seemed to like the roof top patio...
But soon she noticed there were some juicy bugs on that pine tree just beyond, so she decided to go check that out:
She inspected the trunk up and down and I am sure she found some good afternoon snacks...

After her snack she also took off for other trees in other places around the pond...

And Mr. Carolina Chickadee flew back in for a short visit before he took off again also...
There were other birds flying in and out all afternoon, like Cardinals and Doves and Tufted Titmouse, but these were the only ones that I managed to get pictures of. Otherwise I wouldn't have gotten anything else done today!  

So, what else did I do? Not really a whole lot.  Well, this morning we drove into town to Walmart so I could do some shopping for our upcoming weekend family Christmas event here on Saturday. Just as I was finishing up our shopping I got a text from my sister that if at all possible it would be better for everyone else there if we could do it on Monday, New Year's Day, instead of Saturday.  So I checked with our family members on this end, and it appears that will be okay for them, so the "party" has been moved to Monday!  Thankfully the food I bought will keep until then.  We will be doing mostly things like finger foods and veggie and/or fruit platters, Charcuterie style, if you know what that means.  It's a new term that I've been learning about in the past year.  I am anxious to use one of my Christmas gifts:

"Bless the food before us, the family beside us, & the love between us".

Isn't it beautiful?  It was a gift from Benton and Rose, and no, they didn't make it. (I asked that question right off, LOL). It really is amazing, and it will be such a joy to use! I intend to put crackers around the edges in that indented area, and cheeses/sliced summer sausage in the middle. 

And now that we will be gathering on New Year's Day I guess we will have to have some black-eyed peas too...it's a southern tradition.  So I will probably make the usual "Hoppin' John"., which has the black eyed peas and rice combined. Now that I think of it, we probably need some Collard Greens and Cornbread as well. Might as well do it up right.  LOL.  So much for simple "finger food" and platters,  etc.  But it will all be fun and good...it always is when family and friends gather in love and harmony.

We will also be celebrating Rose's birthday on Saturday, but that will just be the immediate family. We plan to go out to eat...Rose's choice...so we shall see what she decides!

I guess that's enough for today's Thursday Thankfulness post, which is also for tomorrow's Friday Foto Friends. Maybe I didn't say what all I was thankful for...but if you read between the lines I think you can see that I am very thankful for all of the above events and people and God's creation all around us. I am also thankful that our family has made it safely through 2023, even with a few health issues here and there, but we are arriving on the doorstep of 2024 with renewed health and strength and so much to be thankful for! God has been very kind and good to us and we are very thankful indeed.

I'll try to check back in after our Saturday event and then again after our Monday event.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! 

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Tuesday 4~ After Christmas

Dec 31, 1949 Mary Petty's art

 Tuesday 4...per our Hostess Annie: 

"Hello! I am Annie. I write the Cottage by the SeaToni Taddeo, the original author of Tuesday 4, was a good friend for many years. This blog is dedicated to keeping Tuesday 4 alive in her memory."

After Christmas...

Hello Friends and Happy Holidays to you all.

1. What are you doing New Years Eve and New Year's Day?

To be honest, I haven't even thought about it yet!  We will be having another extended family "Christmas gathering" and also wishing a Happy Birthday to our daughter in law Rose this coming weekend, so that will probably be it for us as far as doing anything else before the New Year.  
Normally we don't stay up late on New Year's Eve anyway. We go to bed around 10 and if we hear noise at midnight outside we might wake up and say Happy New Year to each other and hopefully go back to sleep!. LOL.  Yes, we're that old! LOL.

2. Do you have any New Year traditions? Rose Parade? Mummers? Football games or parties?
As far as traditions go, we may be eating black eyed peas and ham or what we call "Hopping John", which is a black eyed peas and rice dish.  Hubby will be watching football I am sure. Maybe the kids will be here...I really don't know at this point. One day at a time right now.  

3. Is the day after Christmas a bit of a let down or do you continue to be merry and bright?
Well, I am still "merry and bright", but it is a tired kind of "merry and bright".  I think with all of the hype leading up to Christmas for the past several weeks...shopping, wrapping, cleaning house, writing cards, attending church functions and practicing for the choir cantata and singing in the cantata on Christmas Eve day,  and then having a lovely gathering of family and dear friends at our house on Christmas day for a delicious lasagna dinner...well today I just kind of "decompressed" all day.  Didn't do anything I didn't have to do...but we did do some laundry of all the new things we got for Christmas...new underwear and socks (yes!! a tradition!) and hubby got some clothing that needed to be washed with extra care to make sure it didn't shrink...flannel shirt and some pullover knit shirts, etc., so we did that today so he could put them away and wear them as needed.

4. Do you have anything in mind for the new year and do you start off the new year with high hopes and expectations?

I always start off the New Year with high hopes in what God can and will be doing in the new year; a time of new beginnings and prayers for special things to happen for loved ones and friends.  Remember what the angel told Mary in Luke 1:37  "For with God nothing will be impossible.” 
We had a wonderful Christmas blessing last night in that our grandson called us and we had a nice long conversation with him after several months of no communication at all. It was like a Christmas miracle to us.  If you recall, our grandson and his fiancee' had spent some time with us this past spring, and then they went back home to Maine when things didn't work out here as expected for them. When they left, things were not going really well for the whole situation, and sadly they left with some hard feelings toward us.  Although I had been trying to keep the lines of communication open, it was not being reciprocated.  But finally there was a breakthrough of sorts, and our grandson has finally responded back to us with much love and appreciation for all that we had done for them. He also let us know that their engagement is now "off", which explained a lot of things...and so it was a blessed reunion to be able to talk freely once again with our only grandson, the son of our dear son who is in heaven...so you can see why he is very close to our hearts. Therefore, we do have some "high hopes and expectations" for him, and pray that God will guide and lead him in the way he should be going. He does finally have a good job and seems very excited about that...so we are very thankful to God for answering some special prayers on his behalf.

Another thing that I do each new year is select a "One Word" for the  year. This past year my word has been "Listen".   I would like to say that I've been learning to listen better and be more in tune with what God is saying to me...but lately I've had some situations where I have acted upon what I thought was God's leading, and things haven't gone the way I thought they would.  The situation with our grandson was one area where I feared that we had stood too strongly on certain points and maybe not enough on others, but now I believe God is showing me that we were right to do what we did at the time, and that He is honoring that faith now.  In another situation that is in regard to another special person, I now am concerned that I may have stepped out of line because things were not received in the way I thought they would be and it has caused some heartache for another...but again, I believed I was following God's leading after "listening" to His voice...and so, like in the case with my grandson, my prayer is that in time it will work out the way I believed it would...it just may take some time and patience to see how God is going to work things out for the good of all concerned.

Romans 8:28 tells us:  "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."   It just may take some time for everything to come together so that others can see what God is doing.

So far I have not decided upon the new "One Word" for 2024.  There are some words that have been floating around in my mind and heart for a little while, but it isn't usually until the last few days of the year that the word becomes a solid choice after a lot of thought and prayer.  So stay tuned for further "developments". 

Here's a few pictures from today on Still Water's Pond, if you'd like to see what's happening here:

The Ring Necked Ducks are enjoying swimming around and round and diving down and popping back up again.

They never seem to tire from this activity, which for them is gathering food for survival...

But to us it just looks like they are enjoying a delightful day on the pond!

After watching them swim for awhile, I noticed the skies were changing and we had a lovely sunset...

I know you think I post too many pictures, but when things change every minute I have to keep snapping the pictures, and it is so difficult to decide which ones to show you and which ones to delete...

So I hope you don't mind that I try to show you only the best ones...

But it is so hard to decide which ones are the best...

It keeps changing from every angle...

Also there was some smoke in the air from a fire someplace for a while, and that kind of changed the colors of the skies for a while (and I also had to go back inside until the air cleared as it was very smoky!)

Okay, we are getting close to the end...

The grand finale...

And then there was the full moon...

Okay, that's all folks!  I hope you have a joyous rest of your week as we close out 2023 and look forward to what God is going to do in 2024.

Good Night and God bless you richly.