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August 28, 2015

Ch... Ch.... Changes...

For the first time in 22 years I have been home alone during the day this week.

Our youngest started sixth grade at the school where his father teaches.

That would mean that I am no longer a homeschooling mother.

Our days start each morning around 5:30 am.

It was also this week a year ago that our oldest left home to become a Marine.

Seems life never slows...  it is always in flux and changing

It is one of those times in life where one might feel like they are starting over.

It is a new experience for me because, before I had our oldest nearly 22 years ago, I was in graduate school and teaching fifth grade at an intermediate school in Lake Worth, TX... just north of Ft. Worth.  Dan was in SWBTS in Ft. Worth studying to become a pastor and working a landscaping job.  
I was pregnant with our oldest my last year of teaching and I walked the stage to receive my master's degree two months before he was born so I had two months at home tidying the house and preparing for his birth.  Since that time I have never been alone.  I have had children home with me while Dan went to work each day... until this past Monday.  

It has been a strange and quiet week.

I am forging new routines and ways to spend each new day.  

I can assure you I am not bored.  The last thing I ever am is bored.  

It is quite possible that the changes in our life this past week have brought on a Lupus flare.  It has been a true Godsend to be able to rest through it in a way I never would have been able to before this week.  It was as if God knew it was coming at just this moment and that I would need this time to rest and think and plan and recover.  I am grateful it did not come one day sooner.  

I shared, not too long ago, that I read a book by Gretchen Rubin on Habits.  The timing on that read was perfect as well.  I am monitoring my days to see where I can work through habits, schedules and routines to be more efficient and productive with the times when I feel better and have more energy. Mornings seem to be the most productive time of day for me and I am craving earlier bedtimes with the early morning starts.  

So, with our first week coming to a close there will be a football game night for the teens and a weekend full of homework.  I leave you with some first week pictures... and the promise that there will be much more musing on habits and newness and change and routines and cleaning out the house, etc... because this is my new reality and I plan to thrive in it.  Bring on the change... I am ready!

Nineteenth year teaching for Dan and the others are... 
Senior year... Sophomore year... and 6th grade.... here we go!

August 18, 2015

1000 Posts...

What do you say for the 1,000th post?

I have no idea but...



I have gone for long periods of time without posting on the blog over the years and I have had months where I far exceeded the number of days in the month with multiple posts each day.  

I started this blog on July 4, 2006 and have been sharing recipes, books, life's ups and downs and so much more since that time.  

Today... 9 years later, we hit 1,000 posts.  

If I had blogged every single day since I started, this would have happened so much sooner but I did not.  

So, here we are... looking back at what was... looking forward to what might be
 and in my own life there is a great deal of change on the horizon but this blog will stay.  

I am certainly not looking to become famous here or break records.  Writing a book of memories and recipes would be nice but I don't anticipate that this blog will bring that about either.  LOL

In the days, months and years to come I hope to continue to share with you and it will look different than in the past because my life is different and I am not the same person I was the day I started here.  

I hope you will stay and share with me on this journey.  Life is never dull in the Richardson home and I suspect it is not in your home either.  

So, as we move forward I keep this in mind daily...

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:14

Let us press on together my friends!

Heaven awaits and while we are pressing forward here on earth in anticipation of that day we will be with Him, just remember, that some days there's pie along the way!

August 12, 2015

Book Review: Among the Fair Magnolias by four authors

The authors that shared stories here are Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser.


I don't often request fiction but this particular one has the appeal of being a collection of stories by four authors in the genre of historical fiction so I jumped at the chance to read it.

I am glad that I did!

Quick Summary 
(no spoilers!)

The historical time period for all four stories in this collection are set around the time of the Civil War.  Each story takes us to a different location and tells stories of strength in the face of some very hard circumstances.  They are all romantic stories and each has it's own unique twist.  There is faith and redemption in each story as each heroine takes her own journey to navigate the threat of and/or the consequences of a hard war and time in our nation's history.  Each story is about 80 to 90 pages in length and gives a beautiful sampling of each author's writing and story telling style as well as individual pictures of this time in our history.  

My Reactions

I have often felt like Christian fiction was predictable and slow but if I had any doubts about this collection I was quickly proven wrong.  The stories are beautiful and drew me along nicely through interesting scenarios as I enjoyed each one.  I loved the historical aspect and the places I could find on a map as I read about each setting.

Since these were shorter stories in a collection there was not a lot of deep character development one would get over a longer novel but the stories were intriguing and the heroines were realistic and dynamic as they moved through their stories.  The characters were not perfect and plastic-like.  The dialogue seemed natural and historically accurate.  The stories were inspiring with a spiritual aspect that I enjoyed.  The mention of God was not "in your face" but was naturally approached in the daily lives of characters within the stories.

Of course, as with any collection, I enjoyed some stories more than others but all were nice reads.

This book was the perfect vacation read!  I love a book of short stories when I am on the road because you can read a story quickly as you are riding along in a vehicle or take to the beach or cabin for some quiet reading on a lazy day.  I am so glad I requested this book and I would certainly read more by these authors.

Oh, and there are recipes that go with each story in the back of the book to enjoy, too!

I would give this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it if you are an historical fiction fan.


This book came to me free of charge through Booklook Blogger Review Program courtesy of Harper Collins and all they ask in return from me is an honest unbiased review of the book based on my reactions and opinions.  




August 09, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Austen in August Participants - Fan Fiction Book Giveaway

Welcome to my blog all you Jane Austen fans!  I hope your reading is going well as we celebrate Jane this month.  I have a treat for you!

You can enter for a chance to win this book...



This is a much loved book in our circle of family and friends!  It happens to be one of my daughter's favorite reads and her friends all attest to it's loveliness.  (16-18 year olds who have read lots of Jane Austen and Austen fan fiction)

We have a hard back copy and one on each e-reading device in the house because we love it that much.

This particular copy is one that I just ordered for this giveaway and it is a "gently used" copy but it is in excellent condition with the book jacket intact, too!

The author is Lara S. Ormiston and you can read more about and by her here.

Check out the reviews on Amazon here.

Like her on Facebook on her book page.

Here is some more background and some reviews on her Goodreads page.

The author just happens to be my husband's first cousin, too!  We are so proud of Lara!!!

She has written many short stories but this is her first full length published book and she is an authority on all things Jane Austen.  It is a beautiful book and so well written!

To enter to win this copy you must...

*  Be signed up at the Roof Beam Reader site for the Austen in August challenge.

*  Leave a comment below telling me who one of your favorite fan fiction authors is and a favorite book by that person.  
OR...  
If you don't have any fan fiction recommendations then you can share a favorite biography or movie for us about Miss Austen and her works.  
I know you all love Jane but I love hearing about other writers in this genre, too!

Note the following information regarding this giveaway

*  You must be living at an address within the United States for shipping purposes.

*  This book is excellent for young and old alike so you can be 13+ to sign up to win with parental/guardian permission if under 18.

*  The giveaway will run August 9, 2015 through August 15, 2015 (11:59pm central time)

*  The winner will be chosen at random (names on paper drawn from a hat most likely)  LOL  I will notify you by e-mail so make sure you leave that for me where it asks for an e-mail in the comments section (this will be private - please do not put it in the body of the e-mail for privacy purposes)

*  The winner will have 48 hours to respond and if the winner does not respond I will choose another random name from the list of participants.

Happy Reading!

~Leann at Some Days There's Pie


None of these links give Lara or me any monetary compensation so click away and know that I share all of this just because I love Lara and her beautiful book!

What are you waiting for?  Go leave a comment!  :)

THIS GIVEAWAY IS OFFICIALLY ENDED

AND OUR WINNER IS....

Kym Thorpe (KymPossible)

Congratulations to you 
and thank you all for joining in the fun!






August 01, 2015

Thirty One Days of Jane Austen

August 1, 2015 begins a month of Jane Austen... Austen in August officially.

I plan on spending my month reading, watching, learning and exploring more about the life, times and works of Jane Austen.  She is well loved in our home.  My daughter is an avid fan and has drawn me into this world, too.


I thought I would start by putting a few official links up for us to explore as we go through this month.

JaneAusten.org is a great resource to get us started.

There is also an Austen.com with lists of fiction and fan fiction for you to enjoy.

There are several Jane Austen Society sites worldwide




and there are more if you look and there may be one in your particular neck of the woods.

There is an official Facebook Page, too.

PBS Masterpiece has several pages worth exploring with slide shows and if you can get your hands on them you can watch their productions of her works and biographical videos.

Susan Branch has part of her website devoted to her love for all things Jane, too!  She has great photos from her visit to see Jane's home at Chawton.


Don't forget to head over to Roof Beam Reader to sign up to join us as we read Austen all month and check out the Master Post that just went up yesterday, too.

Here is where I am starting...

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817)

Happy Reading!!!



July 31, 2015

New Habits and Looking Ahead...

The book I just finished (and reviewed) has sparked some changes.  


Here are some things I have learned about myself in the process of reading this book.... Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, The following is from my notes:

There are four basic tendencies that most people fit into.  To get a full explanation of all of what I am about to share you should totally just get the book and read, by the way.  LOL  

Four Basic Tendencies

1.  Upholder - meets outer and inner expectations (this is my husband)
2.  Questioner - resists outer expectations but meets inner expectations
3.  Obliger - meets outer expectations but resists inner expectations
4.  Rebel - resists outer and inner expectations (this is my oldest son...  LOL no, seriously, it is!)

I am clearly a Questioner with a little Rebel tendency but Questioner wins out over Rebel if there is a question in my mind between the two.  I always go with my inner expectations.  That tendency of meeting inner expectations for me includes what I feel God is leading me toward in my life.  God and His word are part of my inner expectations.  That is how it works out for me but other people don't phase me... I am great at saying no.  My husband is not so great at saying no and loads his plate to overflowing a lot.  He is drawn toward keeping everyone and everything in balance.  I am willing to let go of a rope if I need to if it is not life threatening... he hangs on with dear life because he is expected to.  It explains a lot about our relationship!  LOL

Once I realized that about myself it has made some other areas of my life make more sense.  As I worked through the next chapter on Different Solutions for Different People I began to see some clear cut lines, too.  My husband and I are often opposites in these areas but here is my list.

*   I am a Lark - I tend to lean toward morning person when allowed to follow my own patterns.  My husband is an Owl but forces himself to work in both zones to get it all done.  I am working on working with my natural tendencies more over this coming semester.  I have already implemented an "earlier to bed, early to rise" policy for me.  I am now telling him that he can stay up if he would like but I need to go to bed.  

*  I am a procrastinator who is working toward being a Marathoner instead of a Sprinter.  Now, this has nothing to do with running... because I don't do that anymore!  Ha!  It has everything to do with how we approach a task.  I tend to put things off but, for me, the most helpful would be to spread out a larger task and eat the elephant one bite at a time.  I have been moving more and more toward this approach over the last several years but I also have an explanation for the procrastination now.  That is coming shortly in this list.... hold on.  

*  I am an underbuyer... I tend to only buy something when I need it and delay spending well (except with books sometimes).  My husband is an overbuyer and hangs onto things he thinks he might need later.  If I don't need it or have not used it then I am totally willing to let it go ASAP.  My husband has been known to hold onto things for the entire duration of our marriage whether he needs it or not.  It is just the difference in our approach.
  
*  I am a simplicity lover.... the simpler the better.  I don't love an abundance of anything except maybe books but even those are getting culled in the reality of knowing that I cannot read everything so I want to read my favorites.  Less is more for me... I love bare surfaces and empty uncluttered rooms.  I have not been convinced that any of my children are like me in this regard.  It wears me out!  

Ok, are you ready for why I procrastinate? 

*  I am a finisher and not a starter.  I have the hardest time starting a project and often get overwhelmed at the thought of it but once I get started I will finish ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING I HAVE STARTED!  I cannot NOT finish!!!  It is not in me! (with the exception of a book I am hating... I won't waste my time finishing those anymore but I cannot, honestly, say it does not haunt me a little at first) LOL  I love the feeling of finishing... closing a book... getting a drawer cleaned out... finishing a project or term paper... the end of a semester is totally my favorite and so on and so on!  Dan is a starter with a shelf full of started project lists and notebooks but none of them are finished.  God is so funny pairing us together like that.  LOL  There have been times he has had to push me to start and I have had to push him to finish something.  We are a funny pair.  

*  I love familiarity.... this is where Dan and I agree.  We could both watch the same movies, eat the same food, read the same books over and over and over.  New is nice but familiar is our favorite.

*  I am also prevention focused as opposed to promotion focused... I try to make life as comfortable as possible for me and for those around me.  I see the big picture and the problems before they happen.  I love a good well thought out plan where I have contemplated all the fathomable possibilities of what could go wrong along the way.  I sometimes miss things but it is not from lack of trying to catch it all before we start.  

*  I take everything in small steps... EV.ER.Y.THING!!!  Big steps freak me out!

All of this works together to help me figure out how to approach habits old and new.  Knowing that I am a finisher and not a starter helps me to see why I am procrastinating and then I am able to make a marathon plan because I like smaller steps and not one giant big step of sprinting to attack bigger projects and habits in my life.  I do my best work in the mornings so I need to put the harder stuff up front and plan for some downtime and familiarity later in the day.  Since I am a prevention focused person I rely heavily on calendar/bullet journals, list making and planning charts to work out what needs to be done.  Also, since I am an underbuyer, menu planning and list making are my best friends when it comes to getting only what we need for the week ahead for meals or for a shopping trip for a project.  I will locate things off the list I already have around the house so I will not double buy things I don't need.  See... they work together!  It makes me feel less insane for my choices knowing these things and then seeing how the rest of my family works helps us to work together better, too.  

So, today... I am making some plans for August... writing in my Bullet Journal, lists of the books I need to get read... menus that need to be made... planning some bigger cleaning and clearing projects to make my life more simple and familiar.  I am implementing some new habits for a new school year and planning for the kids to have what they need to get back to school in an organized fashion.  

What are you planning for August? Is your mind on the "back-to-school" planning?  Are you changing jobs or going back to school yourself?  What does August look like for you?


Also, do not forget the Austen in August Challenge I shared a few days ago!  I am on the list for hosting a giveaway and if you are not signed up for the challenge on the official post on their website you will not be eligible so go... NOW... and sign up so you can enter my giveaway around the middle of August!  You have to be registered to win any of the giveaways.  Even if you don't read much just enter for the fun that comes with the challenge... but I hope you read, too!  :)




July 25, 2015

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin



I am a nonfiction junkie so this book was right up my ally.

Rubin takes a look at habits in this book.  She begins by helping us to see more about our own habits and tendencies.  She lays out four basic tendencies that most people fit into and discusses each one.  There is a quiz at the back of the book to help you figure out where you fall.  She elaborates on each one to help you understand them and yourself better.  

From there she takes us through several "opposites" to determine how we approach situations in our lives... for example, are you are marathoner when it comes to a project you must complete, a sprinter, or a procrastinator?  There is a whole chapter with these listed for you to work out your personal style and preference.  She gives valuable tips to use each one to your advantage.  

The second section takes us through some basic pillars of habits that most people experience.   It is a section of "strategies" that are valuable in understanding more about how we should approach a habit.  One example here that really spoke to me was the chapter on "abstaining" or "moderation".  I learned that I do better with particular habits when I just abstain completely from something instead of trying an 80/20 approach.  There are some things that I cannot do 80% of the time and let myself slide 20% of the time.  For me, it is often all or nothing.  Other people can do things in moderation but I find I am not one of those people.  I loved this section because it made me work through paying attention to the things I do on a daily basis.  Once one starts to see their patterns they can hone or change them to become more useful in one's everyday life. 

She leaves no stone unturned as she talks us through our motives and excuses that prevent us from becoming better at forming good habits.  It was very convicting to me to work through this section. She talks about how we interact with others and our environments.  She talks about rewards and treats and how they can help us or hurt us as we work through habit formation. 

This book is loaded with great information and practical help!  Her information is well researched and her presentation of information is very friendly and encouraging.  She also shares a great list of resources at the back of the book for further research and reading.

This book is for anyone who wants to change how they do life.  If you are struggling with forming good habits or breaking bad habits this will show you just where to focus.

I, honestly, cannot think of one thing I did not like about this book.  I guess if I am pressed I would wish this book was more from a Christian perspective but it is full of truth and truth is truth.  

I have never read anything else by her but I will seek out some of her other books to try because I love her research based approach and friendly writing style very much.

This is a book I have written in as I went through each chapter.  It will be one I reference again and again as I work through my own habits in the coming days.  If I could give one word of advice it would be to read it while you are young and working through college, maybe, or an early career/family lifestyle.  I wish I had found this book 25 years ago.  It would have changed how I do most of my life I suspect.

Great read!  I would give it 5 out of 5 for writing style, ease of understanding, educated research, and practicality.  


Find out more about Gretchen Rubin and her books at GretchenRubin.com 
or head over to her Facebook page

Want to see one of my favorite pages from her website?  It's all about her Pie Policy and you know how I LOVE PIE!!!


I was given this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review by Blogging for Books.

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