{Friday Foto Friends} Catch Up

I skipped last week's post...I just didn't get around to it, but this week is break, so I've got a little time to catch up!
I'm joining Debra at Breathing in Grace for Friday Foto Friends.

This is an afternoon moon that I happened to see when I let the dogs out one afternoon. That is the actual color of the sky.
A couple of weekends ago, CH & I went to Asheville to see OS. We took time to walk around downtown for the first time. The view from the upper parking deck: 
Another moon shot before the sun went down. I don't know what this building is, but the architecture is really pretty.
Asheville happens to have a Basilica, so we walked down to it and had a sneak-peek inside. It was absolutely gorgeous! The Basilica was built without using any wood...only tiles and stone. It rivals the European Churches I've seen.
We went into this building for a quick beer (and to warm up a bit). The website says that this building was built in 1907, and has been a lumber supplier, automotive supply company, and a bluegrass/barbecue place. More historically significant, there is a door in the basement that allowed people during prohibition to travel the passageway to obtain their illegal liquor.
 When we got back to the car, we were in the middle of a Santa Party. And I mean, "party"! They were having a really good time! There were Santas all over town while we were there.
This guy is visiting while OS is on the West Coast. He looked a little cold, so I covered him up. 
 This is a Tea Ring that was given to me. My mom used to make these for our teachers when we were in school. I've never tried to make one on my own since it involves yeast.
 Our Christmas Tree this year. I think it's time to get new lights! I didn't bother putting up all of the ornaments, but there are still plenty on there.
My new ornaments for this year: the Santa is from our trip to Edisto; the other Santa (below right) is actually from our Charleston trip a couple of years ago (oops!). Top right angel and rocking horse below are a little piece of Denmark for this year (from CH's uncle). Under the horse is an ornament from Steamboat Springs, Co., where we camped for a few days. Under that one is an ornament from Mt. Rushmore; to the left of that is a SD ornaments, and the one to the left of that is from Edisto.
We have a couple of bushes in front of our house that doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason as to when it blooms. It seems to bloom all through the year, and it's blooming now:

Here's wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

A Surprising Hodgepodge

1. What's left to be done on your Christmas to-do list? 
I have to make a couple of batches of Texas Millionaires; 1 for our neighbors & 1 for us, and then cook Christmas Eve Dinner & Christmas Brunch, and that's it. I've really scaled down my preparations this year. It's been totally stress-free and very relaxing.

2. The Hodgepodge lands on the first day of winter this year. What's your favorite thing about winter? 
Some people are going to think this is crazy, but I love that it gets dark so early, especially if I don't have anywhere I need to be after work. I love getting into my jammies right after supper and hopping into bed to watch a movie.

3. In what area of your life are you immature? Feel free to elaborate or not. 
Oh, my! I think the better question would be "in what area am I mature?"! 

4. What was the most (or one of the most) important lessons you learned in 2016? 
God knows everything. He knows what we're going to do, how we're going to mess up, and how we're going to fix it, so there's no need to worry. He's got it.

5. It's Fried Shrimp Day...are you a fan? What's your favorite way to eat shrimp? Will there be shrimp somewhere in your holiday feastings? 
I absolutely love shrimp! Favorite way: marinate in Italian Dressing and grill. There will most certainly be shrimp in my very near future!

6. What sound lulls you to sleep? 
I can't believe I'm saying this, but...silence. I've always had to have some background noise to sleep, but during Lent I started going to sleep without the tv or radio on. 

7. What one word best describes your 2016? 
Rollercoaster. It started off kind of sucky, we had fantastic trips to Edisto & SD, and then the fires in the area. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I was ready for a very quiet Christmas with just my daddy, CH, and YS. OS is out on the West Coast with his girlfriend, and MS decided to stay at school. There was an incident with his car and the university bus, so he was without a car. I had resigned myself to maybe seeing him next week for a day or two. BUT...one of his friends let him borrow his truck, and he surprised me! CH & YS didn't say anything to me, and I was totally surprised! 
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Merry Christmas! See y'all next year!

{Friday Foto Friends} A Little Bit of This...

Joining Deb at Breathing in Grace for Friday Foto Friends!
I finally remembered to snap a picture of the moutain behind the school's gym last Friday. As you can see, there are no signs that there was a fire from where I was standing.
If you look closely (I helped you out by putting an arrow in the picture!), you can see the charred trees at the top of the hill.
1st batch of Texas Millionaires for 2016 is in the books. This went to the ladies who clean my house, and my daddy's house.
This little girl was enjoying some neck scratches! She's just a tad bit spoiled!
That's it for this week! It was a busy week with not a lot of pictures (obviously!). Hope you had a good week!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like the Hodgepodge

1. Let's talk holiday decorating. On a scale of 1-10 where do you fall? (1=Scrooge and 10= Clark Griswold). What's your favorite corner-room-table-space to decorate? Is it done?
I'm probably about a 5. My living room bears the brunt of the decorating; I've never gotten into decorating the rest of the house. I haven't even started yet. I used to have to wait until after football season, which ended  the first weekend of December. I'm sure I'll get around to it at some point. My decorations stay up until Epiphany, but I found out that they can stay up until the Baptism of Jesus...so, YAY! The tree can stay up a few more days than it usually does!

2. Is there a nativity scene in your decorating somewhere? Post a picture or, if it's special to you in some way, tell us why. Or do both-it's Christmas!
I have one that I put on the front hallway table; it's not really special, just one that I picked up at Belk after Christmas.

3.  Do you live in a social neighborhood? If so are you glad? If not do you wish you did?
We don't live in a subdivision, but we did in SC...and Ga. We have great neighbors, but we definitely don't socialize with them like we did in our other houses.

4.  As the saying goes, 'there's no time like the present'. How does that ring true in your life right now?
It doesn't. I'm just trying to get through the next week and a half (until Christmas Break!)

5. Do you dread Mondays? Why or why not?

Not really. It's just another day.

6.  Poinsettia, Christmas Cactus, Amaryllis-which on the list is your favorite holiday plant? Are any of these on display in your home right now?
I love Christmas Cacti; they remind me of my mom. I received one last year from a student, and it started blooming.

Something must be going right, because, even though my hibiscus looks like it's not doing well, it's blooming...something it didn't do this summer when I repotted it.
7. Share a favorite quote from a Christmas movie.
You're supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God's sake! (Iris Simpkins....The Holiday)

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I made my first batch of Texas Millionaires on Sunday to give away as a gift. I don't know how much baking I'll actually do this year...it seems every year I tone it down a bit. Hopefully I'll get more in the spirit by the time break rolls around. It just doesn't seem like the holidays...too much going on in this part of the country!
(Donations can be made by clicking on the picture)

{Friday Foto Friends} Thanksgiving Hangover

Time for another Friday Foto Friends hosted by Deb at Breathing in Grace.  As I said last week, I use this as an opportunity to summarize my week and events that are going on in the Small Town.
Sunday between Masses, our parish held a "Harvest of Blessings" in the Parish Hall. Different ministries set up tables to give parishioners information and a chance to donate to the different ministries. So, yeah; it's a fundraiser. The Council of Catholic Women (CCW) did a table with Cookies and baked goods, Crafts, and What-nots. The baked goods sold very well; the other things were a bit iffy. 
The firefighters are continuing to get the fires near my mountain school under control. There has been no school there since last Thursday; the whole system had Wednesday off for the Thanksgiving Holiday. On Tuesday, I was blowing the driveway off when I heard a helicopter. I didn't think to take my phone out of my pocket to snap a picture, which was really too bad because the one that flew over had a bucket hanging from it and it would have been a great picture! I snapped this one flying over (minus the bucket) on Wednesday. All of us who have anything to do with that community will be forever grateful to the firefighters...no structures were lost.
Wednesday, I had a haircut & pedi scheduled. This is my girl, Charity. She does an amazing job with my giant "peasant" feet! We have a good time during that hour catching up and chatting. 💕 her!
I finished my pie-making and was very pleased with how my pies turned out. They were both new recipes, and were absolutely amazing!
 Mass on Thanksgiving: There were quite a few people there, which is great for that day to not be a Holy Day of Obligation (a day when it is required for us to attend Mass). The picture above is a blanket that was blessed by the Priest. This will go to someone who is ill. Father does this during a Weekday Mass as needed. As we go to receive the Eucharist in Communion, we are invited to lay our hand on the blanket and say a short prayer for the person receiving it.
I didn't get to this table in time, but this table was directly behind the blanket table. People brought their Thanksgiving Bread in and put it on the table to be blessed during Mass. A couple of youth baked small loaves of bread to be given away. The table was completely full (and overflowing) during Mass. I love this tradition that our current Priest started a few years ago.
Last picture! This was our Thanksgiving Table. I completely forgot to get a picture of the "food table" before everyone dug in. On the menu: turkey (duh!), ham, Tipsy Sweet Potatoes (using Tennessee Honey...delish!), Dressing (another new recipe because I couldn't find the one I usually use...CH thought it was his granny's recipe, so I'd say it turned out well!), garlic green beans, Holy Bread (see bread picture above!), orange cranberry salad (thank you, Publix!), deviled eggs, and a couple of fruit/cool whip salads. Oh, and pies for dessert, which no one ate until much later. 2 of the 3 boys were here; MS is too far away to justify coming home for a long weekend. My dad and 1 of YS' friends also joined us.
It was nice to have Thanksgiving at my own house, and to cook the whole dinner by myself. YS helped out by clearing the dishes & loading the dishwasher for me. OS left for his house after a few hours; his roommates aren't home, so I think he was looking forward to some peace & quiet for a while. 
I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

{Thankful Thursday} Thanksgiving Edition

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving...I'll try to keep it to just a few things!

🏈 1 more Thanksgiving with my daddy. 

🏈 Firefighters that saved the school and many houses.
🏈 Not only firefighters, but the forestry service. And the National Guard.

🏈 Friends who allow me to use their pictures (see above).

🏈 A husband who didn't ask me to fix the usual banana pudding for the office Thanksgiving Dinner because he thought I was too busy. (Since I didn't have to go to school on Tuesday because of the fire, I went to the store, bought the ingredients, made it, and had it to him about 30 minutes before they ate.)

I hope you have a very wonderful Thanksgiving!

I'm linking up with Rebecca Jo  at Knit by God's Hand for Thankful Thursday.

{Friday Foto Friends} Leaves, Smoke, & Just What I Needed

Foto with Friends is my way of summarizing what's going on in the Small Town during the week through pictures. Deb at Breathing in Grace is gracious enough to host this every week!
The leaves are still pretty spectacular.  This was taken during our camping trip last weekend.
Another picture from last weekend. Love the leaves against the blue sky!
Leaves in the creek near the campground. Pretty cool reflections, too!
CH snapped this picture as we were finishing up a hike.
Fast forward to Thursday: Around 1:00, there was an announcement over the school intercom for everyone to come inside. I thought maybe there was a bear-sighting (I was at my mountain school), so I looked outside. I saw the SRO (School Resource Officer) walking toward the gym, so I knew it wasn't a bear. Then, the fire alarm went off. We all went out to our normal spots, but then we were evacuated to the ballfield across the street.  The mountain in back of the school caught fire. We've had virtually no rain in a long time, so it's extremely dry. This was taken when we were walking down to the field:
The church is next to the school.
The buses came and took the kids home, and some parents came to get their kids. All of the teachers stayed calm and calmed down the students who needed it. This is what the fire looked like after about 90 minutes:
We were allowed 3 minutes to grab what we needed out of our rooms, get our cars, and leave. When I got home, 13 miles away, I saw this:
It was an exhausting day, and I wasn't even one of the ones in charge! I just checked on kids and did what someone told me to do. When I got home and checked the mail, this was in it:
My Blessed is She Advent Journal! I wasn't sure if I was going to get it in time for Sunday (1st Sunday of Advent) because I never received a confirmation email, but there it was! It was exactly what I needed at that specific time!
Please pray for the community where the school is, as well as for the firefighters. The fire has spread to 500 acres, and we're expecting winds tonight. There may be some rain, but it's not going to be the amount we need. As I write this, no homes have been lost, and the school is okay. 
There was no school there today, but since I split Fridays with my mountain school and my other school, I went on to school this morning. There was a hint of smoke in the building all day; they're about 10 miles apart from each other. Here's what it looked like outside of my window:

You hear about fires in Colorado all the time. Then there are the fires in NC, which is close, but this hits home. The fire chief said "we've been living on the edge, and we know that, and every day we wake up and thank the good Lord that it didn't happen, but today it happened." 
Probably the dumbest question was when a newscaster asked the chief what it looked like in the fire. He just kind of looked at her, and said, "It looks like a mountain is on fire. It's smoky." Wow. 
Hopefully we'll get the rain and it will be more than expected. And hopefully things will get back to normal soon. The beautiful mountain behind the school won't look the same for a long time, but, eventually it will. And this will be something we'll all be talking about for a long time to come.

{Weekend Wrap-up} Some Chilly Camping

 I hadn't been camping since July. JULY! We decided to go back to a State Park that we hadn't been to in a couple of years. The last time, renovations were just about to start. One of the things we like about this campground is the trails that are all around. This kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?
We walked, relaxed, and got away from some craziness. It was a little chilly, so I built my first fire:
At one point when I was sitting around the fire, I looked down & saw my boot smoking. I like my fires blazing! Check out this picture:
Doesn't it look like there's a face in the coals? (You may have to click on the picture to enlarge to see it.)
While we were sitting around the fire, I kept hearing leaves crunching. It was a raccoon...at first. Then, we saw a skunk. I'm okay with raccoons...you can make a lot of noise and they'll go away, but a skunk!  I may have hid behind CH & told him I wasn't okay with a skunk! Luckily, Laika was already in the trailer since it was dark. That could have been all kinds of bad! The skunk didn't hang around, so we were able to go on about our evening.
The moon was big and beautiful. It was a perfect night for moon-watching.
Surprisingly, the leaves are still very pretty. Since it's been so dry, I thought they would already be off of the trees. Some pictures from one of our walks:

These leaves were incredibly yellow:
I thought these trees were interesting how one of them wraps around the other:
It was a little cold when we got up on Sunday:
On the way home, a deer ran out in front of the truck that was in front of us. It appeared to just clip it; the deer jumped a couple of times and then laid in the median. It just made me sick to my stomach. The truck pulled over, and when we passed it I took a quick look back but didn't see any damage. CH said it's possible that the deer was just stunned and may have gotten up, but I think he was saying that to make me feel better!
We spent the rest of the day relaxing (after showers) and went to our favorite Mexican place for dinner.
1 full week of school, then a 2-day week...I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving! Don't you just love this time of year?

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