A Summer Decor/4th ofJuly Find

Lately I’ve been receiving prods to create a blog on decorating.  I think it would be fun – and I just might do it.  But, whether or not that happens, I just have to share this wonderful 4th-of-July/summer decor find, fresh from my morning’s excursion to Goodwill  (which was a self-granted reward for going to the gym two days in a row). 

It’s a 45-year old edition of America the Beautiful – In the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Great red cover!  Glittery gold lettering!  And a star!  Very 4th of July-ish, don’t you think? 

Perched atop a stack of vintage suitcases and a road atlas seemed to be the perfect spot for it.  






And I will read it.




Savoring Summer




It feels as if it’s been two years since we’ve had summer.  Last June ushered in devastating floods here in Iowa and the remainder of the summer was swallowed up in coping with crises.  Though Cedar Rapids is far from a full recovery, God has smiled on our area by granting lovely summer weather…perfect for growing corn. 





And perfect for those of us – like me – who savor summer.  I love summer!  The top photo is a shot of one of my favorite roads for walking at sunrise. 


Day’s end is equally captivating, with glittering fireflies and breathtaking sunsets.  




I cannot thank God enough for granting us these lovely days.  Every single one is a gift.  If  I could, I would hug summer.  I’m doing my best by cherishing every moment.  And tenderly touching summer’s beauty.


Oh Lord, thank you for thinking up Hollyhocks!

Oh Lord, thank you for thinking up Hollyhocks!


In a world so fraught with strife and pain, these are the things which center me. 


God is still with us.  He is still Love.  My prayer is that may you see Him today, too.



Six-day Riddle Solved


Though I flew home Monday, I’ve still been flying by the seat of my pants since we arrived.  I am not yet unpacked.  But, there are priorities, after all, so here’s the solution  to the Six-day Riddle (good guesses, by the way):


The photo was taken in Embera Drua, located on the Upper Chagres River in the Panama rainforest.  We reached the village by motorized canoe. 





I was captivated by the accounts of Miguel Flaco, the botanical doctor, who described the medicinal properties of local vegetation.  




In the mystery photo, Miguel shows the scars left by the bite of a venomous Bushmaster snake, the largest pit viper in the world (which reaches a length of from eight to twelve feet).   When asked if I could photograph his scars, he obliged by hastily picking a leaf  to display which type of plant saved his life.  Look how far apart those fang marks are!  




He said that normally a medicine is made from the plant but he was alone when the snake attacked so all he had time to do was pluck leaves and eat them before he passed out from the poison.  (Added: He also noted that the leaf is shaped like a heart…apparently a clue as to its healing properties.)


Needless to say, it was the trip of a lifetime.  I could post dozens of photos, and pages of copy about the amazing adventure, which I took in the summer of 2005.  It was in the Embera village where I had my first taste of Tilapia (fish), prepared by the local women.  Delicious! 



 It is perfectly okay to laugh at this photo.  Everyday in the Panama rainforest was a bad hair day for me.  Never had my tresses experienced such humidity.  Donning the cap was the only way to prevent a mega-fro, which, as you can see, was escaping anyway. 


Okay, enough.  Riddle solved.



Six-day Riddle



As I wrote in my last post, I’ll be traveling for the next several days.  So, I thought I’d leave you with a riddle to work on til I get back around the 2nd. 


I took this photo.  It’s untouched.  It’s the real deal.  Where is it?  What is it? 



Perfect Conditions for An Air Show


US Army Golden Knights Parachute Team - 50th Anniversary

US Army Golden Knights Parachute Team - 50th Anniversary

          Couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions.  The “Wings Over Wayne” (county) Air Show was spectacular.  Sky was clear.  Temp was high 80s, sweat-soaked-clothing weather.  And the UVA/UVB rays served up a mess o’ southern vitamin D. 

          We did indeed slather on the SPF 30, over and over.  It worked great wherever we put it.  I ended up with a spot of bad sunburn on my elbow and on one ear, which was most humbling since I’d repeatedly harped on Hero and Handsome Son # 2 to make sure they put it on their ears. 


Working on a left-ear sunburn.

Working on a left-ear sunburn.







Even though I applied it over and over on my feet too, I also now have strips of sunburn between the straps of my sandals.  Documented that with my camera but after proofing the photos, decided…Hmmmm, nuh–uh…not posting this one.

The time we got our car into line outside the A.F. base to get into the air show, park, then walk at least a mile across part of the flightline, go through security, etc., until we found a spot to place our folding chairs, took a little over two hours. 


Hundreds found shade under the wings of giant aircraft.  Not us!

Hundreds found shade under the wings of giant aircraft. Not us!







The sights, sounds, smells, and displays – on the ground and in the sky – had us on sensory overload. I tried to capture some of them but almost never got a sharp focus.  Just try photographing an F-15e Strike Eagle in flight!  I attempted it over and over.  Here’s my favorite shot. 

The jaw-dropping F-15e Strike Eagle

The jaw-dropping F-15e Strike Eagle




Hero & H.S. #2, waiting for up-close view of Strike Eagle cockpit.

Hero & H.S. #2, waiting for up-close view of Strike Eagle cockpit.



Mission accomplished - count the legs.

Mission accomplished - count the legs.

The highlights are way more than I can document now – since I need to get into the kitchen to start Parmesan Chicken – so I’ll sum it up by confessing that I want to go again next year.  Reeeeally want to! 

 Oh, alright.  Here you go: 


Sunny Souvenirs

The Most Yummy-Smelling Candles Ever! (First in my Cheerleading Series)

Here.  Smell this!

Pink Lemonade

Pink Lemonade

I really wish you could.  It is the most scrumptious-smelling soy candle ever!  Ever, ever!   It’s from the White Lights Soy Candle Company in Norway, Iowa.  Population 601.   (2000 census).  Who would ever guess something so

delightful would be tucked away in this little railroad town?   This is what Hero and I see when we make our trek for candles.

Believe me, it is worth the trip.   Don’t underestimate them just because they’re hand-poured in an off-the-beaten-track little spot in the middle of Corn Country.

This is the Heartland.  This is where virtue and morals and families still thrive.   This is where fireflies sparkle over fields in the summer, and where one can still breathe fresh, clean air.

These candles are the best of the best.  (They’re even sold in upscale, tourist-y places like antiques-laden Galena, Illinois.)   White Lights has an extensive scent list.  All winter I burn their Northwood Pine.  In the fall it’s Carrot Cake…oh the spicy aroma!  But listen to these:  Blackberry Fig, Carmel Rum Swirl, Cinnamon Buns, Cup O’ Joe, Lemon Drop, Pumpkin Spice, Raspberry Chocolate Drizzle… just too many to list…and new fragrances often…

Right now, my favorite is Pink Lemonade.  It’s pretty, it’s pink,  it’s perfect for spring…and it’s a little intoxicating…just can’t seem to get enough of it…   I constantly get compliments from guests when these candles are burning in my home.

So, have I convinced you to check them out?  (Not getting paid for this, BTW;  I’m just a believer in cheering for stuff I like.)   Here, take another whiff  and then check out their website.  http://www.mywhitelights.com/

They’ll even custom-pour candles if you have specific containers you’d like used…such as vintage tea cups.

If you want quality and yummy-smelling candles which waft their fragrance throughout your home, get acquainted with White Lights Soy Candles Company, 128 Railroad Street, Norway, Iowa.  (Don’t you love that address?)  Toll free number: 877-227-3055.

Raleigh Highlights


By necessity, our tour of Raleigh was condensed into a couple hours.  So we parked near City Market and walked the cobblestone streets, which  highlight its history.  What texture!    I felt a sense of wonder as I walked them. After all, North Carolina is one of the original 13 colonies.   How old are those streets?  What have those coblestones seen and heard?




  We had been encouraged to check out Big Ed’s for breakfast.             


And we were not disappointed.   The atmosphere, food and friendly service were pure southern delight. 




As he studied the menu, Hero asked what “fat back” was.  They responded by bringing him a sample.  


I have no photos of our meal; we were too busy devouring eggs, bacon, home fries, a dinner plate-sized flapjack, and the best biscuits with rich, dark molasses! 


Afterward, we walked off the calories with a quick tour of the Capitol, only a few blocks away.   











And slipped in a few minutes to visit the History Museum across the street.  A statue on the steps directly outside greeted us, and honestly, the minute I saw it, the first thing that popped into my head was, “Can you hear me now?” 



So we slipped him Hero’s Blackberry for a closeup. 








Too soon, it was time to say our goodbyes as Handsome Son # 1 had to return to the base.  But we’ll be back.  This little tour was merely an appetizer.  I can’t wait to return for more of all Raleigh offers.  Y’all who live there are blessed!