Black Friday Shopping on our last full day in TX

How quickly our time has come and gone. We have had a great week. We got up yesterday and headed out by 9:45 a.m. for a breakfast burrito and Black Friday at a favorite shop in Breckenridge that has 50 % off for 2 hours only. Oh my I’m sure some kind of fire code broken (lol) as we were packed. I think George May have been the only male in the place. I had to restrain myself because 50% is a lot. We did this last year too. This wa my view in line at the counter.

Another fun shop in Breckenridge

We also went to some other shops in town. And then headed out for Mineral Wells to help Katy find a deal on King Size bed and mattress. Success there! Hunger set in by 2:00 p.m. and we hit a BBQ restaurant that had a variety of other things on the menu, called The Mesquite Pit.

My view at the Mesquite Pit

I tossed all care aside and ordered fried chicken tenders and honey mustard dressing but – I did order the mesquite grilled veggie skewer which was out of this world delicious. And a side salad. It was so good.

I drove back to the ranch. We got here about 4:30 and took care of doggies. We played on iPads while Katy finished decorating and did things in the house. George helped her set up the new TV in their bedroom. Cody was working- and has been all week. He was off most of Thanksgiving Day but had responsibilities that morning. We always get to see him at night.

I washed a load of darks so we’d have clean jeans and I’d have PJs to get through the weekend. We will be leaving this morning to go to Hot Springs, our halfway point and we have a place we will be eating seafood at tonight. Tomorrow we point toward home.

I am looking forward to our king size bed. It’s been hard with two people and two dogs in a regular size bed. The last two mornings I’ve given up sleep and up before 4. Tonight we will also have a King in our hotel. I’m also looking forward to getting our house decorated for Christmas now.

We have good news…Aunt Martha and Uncle Ken are coming up to spend Christmas and bringing Mom. I’m so excited! Katy and Cody will be coming too but will be staying at his parents. George was very excited also. Tears stung my eyes when I told him the news and he said that would make Christmas extra special this year. So we are excited. The only problem is…..if it snows they won’t. So please weatherman no snow. So looking forward to getting ready for them. George and I will be sleeping on the sofas but we are ok with that. We have really comfy sofas and have no problem with that! I had turned one of our two guest bedrooms into an office. So we only have one now but we can do this easily to be able to have them with us.

And that said I’m going to get more coffee, watch the sun come up, shower, and get the suit cases packed. I have my little bag packed for our overnight in Hot Springs. But here are some Christmas decor pics and pics of the doggies. Prayers please for safe travels over the next couple of days.

Curious what you did on Black Friday????


Thanksgiving Day on the Ranch

It was a wonderful day! Was feeling so blessed to be here, knowing next year might be a bit different. I’m lucky to have been able to come out here over Thanksgiving with the new job situation. And grateful for those that had to work harder this week so I could do this. And it was a blissful day. It was rainy/misty outside, which continues this morning as well on our Black Friday, but it is all cozy inside.

Here are shots of Katy’s pretty decor and of the table from yesterday:

We started the cooking about 9 ish and it continued until about 1:00 when we finally sat down to eat. I made my mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberry salad. I had made the fudge pie the day before and Katy had made her Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie and George made the cornbread the day before as well. The turkey Cody brought in, provided by the ranch owners, was tender and moist and one of the best I’ve ever had.

We had turkey, mashed taters w/gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole from scratch, dressed eggs, broccoli salad, cranberry salad, and a pickle tree, and the fudge pie and apple butter pumpkin pie and sister Schubert’s yeast rolls. I think that is it but I could have missed something. It was heavenly.

The dogs cracked me up during the meal. They were sleeping but then when they woke up they saw we were eating and gathered ’round.

Can you spot Findlay?
Maisy, waiting patiently!
Roger, the last to wake up, took a while to register that a meal was happening!
Katy, George, and me in our Thanksgiving aprons. Cody taking pic.

After dinner, the guys went pig hunting. And George got one. I have pics but I won’t show them on here because I know some of you would not like to see it. These are the wild pigs that the ranch guys are required to monitor and get rid of.

I stayed around and did Christmas cards.

Katy pulled up all the fall decor and began Christmas decorating. And the doggies were loving that, giving me some really good photo opportunities.

The guys came back and everyone watched some Food Network Baking Shows. I played games on my ipad til I used up all the energy and then got stuck. Even George could not figure it out. Oh well.

Then I went to bed a little before everyone else and I’m awake this morning before everyone else.

Today is our last full day here. Our agenda today is:

*Order internet items.

*Go Black Friday Shopping in Breckenridge

*Eat leftovers

*Pack for home

*Do a load of darks for jeans and PJ’s.

Hope you all had a big Thanksgiving. What are your Black Friday plans? Do you go out in it? Do you stay at home and order? Or are you done already? Or are you a last minute person. I know some of you craft your gift items each year and that is an awesome thing. Whatever you do I hope you have a good day today. Be safe and enjoy!

Relaxing Day in Breckenridge

Breakfast at Home Yesterday

We stayed at home for the most part yesterday until the middle of the day. It was nice to relax, drink coffee, blog (me), look up some items for Christmas and so forth.

The doggies loved having us stick around for a while, and I do believe they are happy here. They know they are loved and are used to it as it’s their 2nd trip here. They do not like the grass though as it has sandburs in it that gets stuck in their feet. Even in the house they are not protected as we track them in. I try to leave my shoes at the door when possible and switch to house shoes, but still…when you see a dog limping you have to pick them up and pull out the sandbur from their paw. Roger had a deep one the first day and bit Katy when she pulled it out – she says he has a powerful bite even though he has not many teeth. He is not a biter unless he feels he is being hurt. But they love it here I think other than that sand bur. They avoid the grass like it is a hot field of tar. lol So yes they prefer to “go” in the driveway or as near to it as possible. Bless their hearts.

My Granddog, Findlay
Small words, Powerful Message

I tried to take in our being here as much as I could yesterday, just enjoying moments of the day. Being away from work, helps you think a bit as your mind has space to do so.

Around lunch time we headed out to a special place Katy wanted to take us, but it was closed. These are Mom and Pop businesses and so since it was the day before a holiday, many businesses were closed. And many of the restaurants close at 2 and re-open at 5. They truly take the siesta here it seems. It’s a ranch town and I guess everyone is working so they open for lunch, close down, and then open back up for a 5 to 8, 9, or 10 stretch, accordingly. So we didn’t get to eat at that one. No one wanted to decide where to eat next. I knew I was BBQ’d out. I’m not even convinced that we were all that hungry. I threw out “Chicken” and George kept mentioning Hamburger and I said “fine hamburger”. He was driving and didn’t know where to go, but we passed Ken’s Chicken so I figured he must rather want a burger and I could live with that with my love of burger. And this week there has been no cap on calories, not much of a consideration of what to eat healthy – although I have made some good substitutions – so we ate a hamburger and I got fries with it. They were homemade after all. 😉 So…..we got a Buckaroo burger. It is the home of the Buckaroo’s after all.

And it might have been BETTER than IN/OUT Burger. Watch out IN/OUT these Buckaroo Burger folks may give you a run for your money! Maybe they would come into the SouthEast where IN/OUT refuses to cross the Mississippi for some reason!

After our Buckaroo Burger we went to Walmart. I went to the clothing section and found 3 garments for purchase right off. I have been needing some warmer sweaters that were not too HOT to wear. And I think these are good and were very inexpensive and so George has several things to wrap up for me and by Christmas I will have forgotten about them til I open them up.

While there, we decided to go ahead and buy Katy and Cody a TV for their bedroom. The one they have now is no longer showing color. And they needed an upgrade. They are buying themselves a King Size bed and mattress for Christmas and so we needed something for their birthdays coming up. So this is it. And we will just leave it here and they can go ahead and hook it up or put a bow on it for later. She has to get a stand also.

We caught the dogs sleeping in Synchronization, lol. Well it reminded me of Synchronized Swimming and cracked me up. Better than sleeping in a pretzel knot for sure.

After Walmart, we came home and Katy turned on Christmas music. I baked my fudge pie and loved every minute of my “holiday baking time” that I really didn’t think I would get much of this season. Then George made his corn bread. I played games on the iPad which I enjoyed. I captured the peaceful moment as best as I could. I think the picture says it all.

I was glad to not go back out again. Rain had set in while we were at Walmart. A nice gentle and misty rain. We were happy to be cozy and inside. I had read up on my drone. And was hoping to get to fly it yesterday but there was not a good window of time as you cannot fly in wind or rain. I will have to find a place at home, I think to do it unless it clears and I give it a shot tomorrow, our last full day here. How sad is that? Tomorrow is our last full day here! Yesterday it seemed so far away.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to some Black Friday shopping. That is quite different from Black Friday anywhere else as we probably won’t get out until about 9:30 or 10. Well except for Walmart is a normal Black Friday situation but we won’t be going there tomorrow. And Walmart is staged already as they have pallets of shrink wrapped items in the aisles already making it hard to get to whatever you need to get to. I like to never have “mazed” my way to the dressing room yesterday. It was like an indoor corn maze. lol But there are shops we will go to. One is my favorite and it’s a 50% off anything in the store – or at least it was last year. Have been looking forward to that again!

Katy cooked dinner for us last night. Sliders, pasta salad, and regular salad.

We got to see Clint, one of the ranchers here that works with Cody and is a friend of his from TN. It’s always fun talking to him. He has met a girl here in town that is Katy’s pet groomer. They have been dating for a few months. It was amazing going anywhere here with Katy and Shelby as they know everyone. Walmart was a reunion center I think. We got to meet Shelby’s parents as we ran into them and were introduced. They told us we needed to move down here. There is some land for sale! But being able to pull it off would be another thing. I could get used to it here. But I’d have to have a storm cellar, lol. And what we would do for work? We’d have to have our own business I guess. We know how to cook. I could run a gift shop. We could dual it up and put it in the same building. I guess we could do a Nashville Hot Chicken thang! George would love to start up a tap room, I bet. ha.

Anyway, fun to dream. I’m not sure we have that much life left to dive into that kind of entrepreneurial activity at this point in our lives, so close to retirement really- what six years away if I retire early around the time that George does (he is older than me by about 3 years). That is the plan anyway.

My nose is about to run away, if you see it jogging by catch it for me. lol

Happy Thanksgiving to you! From the bottom of my heart I hope you have a wonderful holiday if you are reading from the US. I’m thankful and blessed to get to come to Texas two years in a row. It breaks my heart knowing we can’t be here next year due to my job of all things. But who knows, lots of things could change b/w now and then. But it makes it too hard for those that have to do payroll in a short week.

Anyway, I gotta get going so I can get by creamed potatoes made and my cranberry salad. Time for cup of coffee number 2. I hear that we will eat around Noon although it’s almost 9 now and I doubt everything will be ready by then, lol.

Ya’ll take care! Enjoy your day today.

Hanging out in Graham, TX

Well, a few minutes ago, I heard a pack of coyotes squealing, barking, and howling in their tribal hunt. They were pretty close. I turned the outside light on to the back and the carport area and it stopped immediately. I was thinking “I hope Maisy doesn’t get up right now”. Well, she did. I went to get my coat and told her we were staying very close to the house and she was staying close to me. I felt like we were being watched. Maisy went and I heard “thump thump thump” – which sounded more like an elephant running. I have no idea what that was, but we didn’t stick around to find out. I told her we’d go back out after the sun was up.

We had a great day of shopping yesterday. We started out at The Tattered Pearl on the edge of Graham, TX.

Trying on Clothes at Tattered Pearl, Graham, TX

The prices are affordable and clothes are different. Excuse my messy hair (after trying on clothes). I found several blouses that I gave George to wrap up. Bought some earrings. Had a great time. This is one of two of my favorite shops.

Then we headed on to lunch at 526 Pizza Studio for pizza and a BLT avocado salad. I ordered the Billy Joel pizza which had a white sauce and spinach and chicken and feta and tomato, but my favorite was the Hawaiian pizza which has repeatedly been my favorite pizza anywhere this year it seems. We ordered personal pizzas and shared and ate them all plus the salad which came with orzo pasta. I love orzo and forget about it. It’s great to make a cold salad with.

We shopped around the square in Graham at all the clothing or gift shops. Many of the places had dual roles – like a 2nd hand shop that also had new clothes and purses and accessories as well. And a tanning salon that had a clothing store as well.

On the square in Graham, TX
The Vineyard Branch, Graham, TX

We also stopped at a cute gift shop that is just fun to look through. I took a variety of pics in there, mainly for random Instagram (@backporchwriter) pics, as I like to sneak in positive and or funny sayings in b/w pics here and there. And then we went to a tea shop “NobiliTea and they gave us a little tea tour, explaining flavors and such. An adorable place.

I took pics of the types of teas and what they did for you. It made me want to drink more tea!

Then we headed for the grocery store to buy our Thanksgiving meal items. We each had our list.

Then we came home and when Cody got off work we headed out to Canyon Grill for a steak. It was so good.

Canyon Bar and Grill, b/w Breckenridge and Cisco, TX

We stopped and picked up Shelby, a friend Katy teaches with. Shelby came to see us in TN this year and calls us her “Tennessee Family”. We enjoyed seeing her.

While at Canyon Road, we laughed at these:

Finally got the Banana Bread Baked.
Facebooker shares Corndogs growing out in the wild.

Then we came home, took the dogs out and headed to bed. Sleep was the best so far since we’ve been gone I think. Almost slept all night. Maisy needed water last night and was panting. George got up and gave her water. I woke up then and then again at 6 when George’s phone got a text or alert. I got up and then Maisy got up a few minutes later and that brings us back around to where I started the blog this morning.

I will go ahead and share these pics from this morning already. I could see the glow of the morning sun through the window and ran out for a pic because I knew it was going to be good!

Sunrise, Breckenridge, TX
Doggies think they are going to get a Meat Treat. And they DID!

Katy is fixing breakfast for us and then we are going to hang out here and make a few things for Thanksgiving and have lunch out and we are looking at a few things on line. I am hoping to try out the drone today but not sure the weather will hold out. Can’t use in inclement weather. It’s been windy and will be raining for the next day or two. No rain here yet. Supposed to shoot a gun for the first time also. :-O May work on Thanksgiving cards either today or tomorrow. So not sure what all will happen but I’m happy to hang around here today being that we have been on the road a lot. But we have had a grand time.

Ya’ll have a good day. And a good Thanksgiving. What all are you cooking today in prep for the big day? I’m cooking my chocolate fudge pie today. And I might go ahead and make the potatoes. The cranberry salad can wait til tomorrow since all you do is open it up and pour it in: whole cranberries, mandarin oranges, and pecans.

Ok off to my day! Breakfast is ready soon. I can get used to this! ha.

Abilene and Graham Texas

It’s kinda neat to wake up with a farm view. Sitting here drinking coffee and pondering our day yesterday. We spent the morning drinking coffee and (me) blogging. George and I had a left over hot dog for breakfast from the night before. After showers we headed off for our day to Abilene. But first, we stopped at a donut shop so George could get a Kolache. They are in the left photo at the top shelf and it is a hot dog (some type of sausage or kielbasa) inside the pastry. Many have other things in them like jalepeno. He discovered them and loves them.

The donut shops here are “a thing”. All Mom & Pop around here – no chains. It seems to me that no matter how small a town is- if there is a community at all- there’s a donut shop and they have donuts, kolaches, and breakfast burritos and I think some have tamales. Yesterday I got a cinnamon roll. It was so good and fresh and reminded me of the donuts I had as a kid. I guess it didn’t have preservatives in it b/c I did not feel stuffed after eating it like you do now with the chains. No guilt. Although by habit, I did call it “sin #1 of the day” on my Instagram Story post. It was a good sin and one likely to be repeated, but at least I confessed it, lol. Thank goodness for God and Isagenix. There are shirts that say that. ha. I’ll do a cleanse when I get back and dive into my shakes.

Then we drove on to Abilene. Katy had told us it was a scenic drive. It was beautiful. I think it took like an hour and 15 minutes.

Wind Turbines near Abilene

On the way there were these incredible wind turbines – just fields and fields of them. It looked like we were on another planet. Just eerie almost. For as many miles as you could see.

We then went shopping at a couple of strip mall that included Old Navy, a store that had everything $5 or less, Kirlands, and Burlingtons, and TJ Maxx. George I bought two matching dog beds for the car for the trip home and we will use them in the car going forward when we travel and at home as well. Going home we will not have as much stuff to make pillows/beds for them and so we decided this would help. And when we have nothing back in the back we can put this back there and they will be comfortable. The beds have sides to make them feel more sturdy.

Successful Shopping

We did have a successful shopping trip by the looks of our trunk area. Then we headed back to Breckenridge. Oh also we ate lunch at a place called the Cotton Patch Cafe in Abilene. I had salad and soup and we ordered an appetizer to split of “country fried bacon” served with both ranch dip and country gravy. Oh it was good. But that was “sin #2”, lol.

Country Fried Bacon at the Cotton Patch Cafe
Sunset behind us, returning from Abilene
Gebo’s, Breckenridge, TX

We stopped at Gebo’s – kinda like a Mom and Pop Tractor Supply Store or a General Store. They have a little bit of everything. George wanted to stop and get Quail Eggs for the pickle tray for Thanksgiving.

Then we headed back to the house for a while and rested til it was time to go to dinner. When Cody got in we headed out, kinda late, after 7 to a town about 45 minutes North, Graham, TX. We at at this place below.

Dos Leone’s, Graham, TX

The food was fabulous. I got a platter that had a taco with fajita meat and the meat was wonderful. It had a spinach enchilada and the spinach was fresh spinach (not from a can) and it had the white cheese sauce on it (o.m. gosh) and it had a beef tamale with chili on it (:-O) and a tostada and mexican rice and beans which was like bean soup. All was excellent. That was a lot of food and I didn’t eat it all. But I got close. I only got part of the tamale and tostada – but scraped all the chili off and the fixin’s on the tostada and mixed it all together with the left over salsa and poured it on the rice. (Sonya’ mexican rice salad, lol). Then I broke the chip part of the tostada which had refried beans on it and scooped up the rice with it and ate it like it was dip. But still didn’t eat all of the tostada chip. Anyway all that to say – I loved that platter and would get it again sometime. But the fajita meat was incredible, so next time if I ever get back there, I will get the fajita plate that has extra veggies – it has all the norm, plus more – like squash and carrots. I almost got it but I’d been craving enchiladas lately.

Katy and I got the cucumber margarita. It was great.

Then we made the 45 minute trip back. We were all about ready for bed by then. Dogs out one more time and Maisy and I got settled in bed and then George and Roger came. We slept pretty good considering the tight squeeze of 2 humans and 2 dogs in a regular size bed, with George snoring up a big one in my ear and dogs layed out across our feet and George kept getting texts or something this morning. People from work have been texting him I think – not regarding work things – just humoring back and forth – telling him it’s quiet without him lol. Or it may be some kind of news or weather alert this morning, and then after that my alarm went off to remind me to get up from work. Tonight we leave the electronic alerts OFF. Well I will anyway if I can remember. That makes sleeping past 4 much easier anyway. I guess I can’t complain about the texts – I often get up and answer people’s texts from the night before early in the morning, so I’m sure I’ve woken people up unintentionally – but it doesn’t change the fact that it did wake me up this morning when sleep was a bit hard to come by with so many of us beings in a tiny bed. 😛 But I think I slept better than the night before. I’m not complaining – just stating the facts. It’s all good, because I’m glad to be here. And some sleep is better than no sleep. I might be a bit grumpy though not having a solid nights sleep. So I get quiet when I’m grumpy – unless I get too grumpy and then I am loud and bear like. lol

And that brings us to this:

That’s the mug I’m drinking from this morning. And I’m going for a 2nd cup. I will leave you with a couple of pics from Kirklands. I loved this print with the winter trees on them. They were by Kate (not my Kate though) but I did think it was neat.

I thought this snow flake ornament was cute.

And this area just made a nice photo. I might use it for my lock screen after Thanksgiving is over.

Hope you all have a good day today. And I’m going for more coffee. George and Roger is up now to join Maisy and me. And once everyone else is up we’ll shower and get ready. I think we are going to Graham for groceries – the town that we went to last night. All the towns around are 45 to an hour and 15 away or so and depending on what you need – you go there. Breckenridge is pretty self sufficient though. Big enough to have a McDonald’s, Sonic, and even a Walmart. It does have another grocery store “United” Supermarkets, but the best/biggest one is in Graham and they carry more items and Katy likes to shop there. Their church is also in Graham so it’s nothing to drive 45 minutes to Graham! Even just to go eat. We thought of Mom and Dad who liked to travel to the Alabama line just to eat catfish at their favorite place and then drive back.

So anyway, we’ll be going to Graham and getting groceries for Thanksgiving today and we’ll be eating at a special steak place tonight and get to see Katy’s friend Shelby that she brought to Nashville. We had told her we hoped to get to see her again over Thanksgiving. We get to meet her family and her kids.

Well I am off of here for more coffee! What are your Thanksgiving plans for this year? You going somewhere or is everyone coming to you?

I’m sniffling this morning after several big sneezes so I am hoping I’m not getting sick. The weather to blame if it is – hot and cold. We went from 30’s to 70’s in just about 3 hours. And it was a beautiful 70 degree day yesterday. Have a great day. Gone now for that 2nd cup!

Ranch Arrival: Breckenridge, TX

Wow it is a struggle to get a blog post done! But determination helps. First of all getting the photos uploaded is always a struggle. The fact that I use Instagram and add all sorts of things to the photos at times for the “stories” and those photos are on there when I upload, those photos make it stop and not want to finish the upload. But I’m not the type of person to just give up using Instagram b/c this software b/w my phone and laptop struggles. So I struggle with it, fight with it and finally get my way. That is how I roll. I don’t give up til it’s time. The iMac is looking real good. In the future, my photos will just already be there when I go to blog b/c it will be integrated. Yes, I could buy the full GOOGLE so much a month thing and have it all integrated via Google drive – and do it that way but I have refused to do that. I already have so much on Google through blogging as it is and pay fees for this blog to have my own domain and fees for music and audible and I’m not adding fees to keep storing my photos. Hopefully in January with Apple products integrated, it’ll be easier and already synced. Of course I won’t be taking the iMac with me when I travel, lol. I will have to use the phone. The phone worked great yesterday but takes some additional time as I have to type into the phone and I am much faster typing on the laptop. So go figure – either I’m taking the time typing or taking the time fighting to get pics uploaded – it takes a while.

So I blogged as George drove us out of Hot Springs area and toward Texarkana and Dallas. That kept me occupied at least.

The drive coming out of Hot Springs and around, I believe it was Lake Hamilton, was breathtakingly beautiful in the fog. George drove slow enough. It was the thickest fog I’ve ever seen I guess. These shots do not do it justice as the sun shone down along the fog over the lake. It was like you were on a different planet.

What the photo do not capture is the fog moving and the surrounding view continues with lake and fog on both sides and the sun doing a light dance through the fog. It was so pretty. The dogs slept and we stopped at a McDonald’s briefly for a bathroom break for all – we are not sure where we stopped, as neither of us recall exactly what town or exit. But we were back on the road and our next stop would be somewhere b/w Dallas and Fort Worth for burgers. The doggies did a great run. Roger slept back there with Maisy for much of the trip in the back and all were happy.

Dallas, TX

We drove thru Dallas with a bit of congestion from a wreck. And we began to come through towns we recognized as being “closer to Katy” coming out of Fort Worth. Somewhere on the other side of Mineral Wells, and on the final stretch, something hit our car out of the blue. I’m thinking we must have ran over something that the car kicked up to the side of my car and it made a huge dent in the side of my car.

I knew something would be denting my car at some point. I’ve been trying trying to protect it from door dings and such. I never expected it to get a big ding from “who knows what” just going down the road, but the evil spirits just couldn’t contain themselves I guess. At least with this big of a ding, it’ll get fixed. I told George I was NOT just going to live with this for the duration of my ownership of the car like I did with the front end of the RAV 4 the day the tire exploded in front of me and hit my front bumper. NO this will be fixed. That’s too big of a dent. I don’t do dents. lol


We had a warm welcome at Katy and Cody’s.

We swapped our gifts to each other – I brought a few things for Katy and George brought Cody a few things (liquor). Katy and Cody had a few things for us. She bought us all aprons to wear on Thanksgiving day and had house shoes for our stay.

We had our little happy hour with snacks and then headed out for a sunset walk on the ranch (my idea) so we could have some photo opportunities. Then we came back and had a hot dog bar, BBQ beans, and sweet tater tots. So here are the photos I took. I love the sunsets here.

This might be my favorite shot!

The dogs immediately got into sand burrs and Roger had to be carried. I got it off of his foot but it was tender and so George carried him.

Each one of these pictures deserves to have it’s own solo spot as a big picture, but I just don’t have the time. When I get back perhaps I will use them over the next year during blog posts on days I don’t have anything else to share and they will be like little souvenir photos dropped across the year. Be sure to go back and read the captions though if there is one.

Took this sunset shot for Cliff and Donna 🙂

We also played a game last night and then we all headed to bed pretty early. Slept pretty good. We are in a regular bed so it’s a tight fit. But we DO FIT. It’s like a puzzle piece, and when ANY one of us turns over or moves – we ALL do. We must look like pieces of a clock, lol.

I think today we will be going to Abilene. We are about to get our showers and have had loads of coffee. I switched to decaf and we’ve put a big dent in Katy’s k-cup stash. Note to self – buy more.

Oh we did get our Thanksgiving meal planned. I am making my cranberry (walnut, mandarin) salad, mashed taters and gravy, and fudge pie. Everyone has their dish they are making. I don’t think the ranch guys will be here this time as everyone is going home that doesn’t have a family.

So anyway, I’m going head out now and get organized and get ready for our travels. Keep us in your prayers of course as we continue to travel all around these parts each day. Leaving you with this one. I love all the photos I get to take on vacay. I think I love that as much as I love blogging and sharing them.

Hot Springs on a Cold Day

Wow it was cold one! We gathered our swim suits and flip flops and headed on into downtown Hot Springs for our Steam Cave and Mineral Bath appointment. We were early and cold. We popped into a little cafe for coffee while waiting. One more cup of coffee with an an added bowl of grits even though we’d had free hotel breakfast already suited me fine as opposed to standing in the windy cold.

As our appointment time approached we headed into Quapaw Baths and there was a line. I was very nervous as I didn’t know what to expect or what to do. Would the Steam cave be too hot? What do I do? Where do I go? We had to separate to get our suits on of course. The folks there were very helpful and guided us through every step.

We were given a key, a robe, and a towel. The key had a stretchy band so it would go on your wrist. The key went to a locker. We had a shower and changing stall and were required to shower off and change and wear flip flops too. Purses and clothes left in locker. So George was waiting for me and had us a lounge chair. We were told they would come get us when it was time for our Steam cave appointment.

They had a variety of pools at varying degrees of temperature. We noted the younger ones went for the hottest and the older ones preferred the cooler one which was around body temp. I preferred the middle! I wanted to take the phone to take pics for the blog but was not the place. lol

But here is where we were….

Quapaw Baths

They came and had us dry off a bit before heading down to the Steam cave. They led us downstairs to a man made cave area with Wooden benches. Two people per bench and each person had a wooden bowl of ice water and ladle beside them. We were given a cold towel with eucalyptus essential oil on them and they asked if we’d like that in our Steam and all yes. She said if you got too hot you could leave at any time and pour ice water on your head if needed to. I was prepared to leave and told George to expect me not to stay long. I don’t do heat well. However the rag and ice water worked! I kept the cold towel on my face and nose and neck. We had water and cups as well. After 30 minutes the attendant came to get us and we cooled off with fresh towels in the cooling area. She gave us coffee candy – her own personal purchase that she shares with guests. I loved it and found the candy store later and got a bunch for my desk.

George was happy I made it through. I was too. Keeping my face/head cool was my key to success. After that we went back to the pools and stayed another hour. Then went to the Bathhouse Brewery nearby for a flight and a cup of chili.

Chili at Superior Bathhouse Brewery

We shopped around a bit and checked out the Arlington Hotel- old hotel there with a lot of history.

Gift shop at the Arlington, Hot Springs AR
Arlington Hotel Lobby, Hot Springs

Starbucks inside the Arlington Hotel, Hot Springs
Ornate elevators at the Arlington, Hot Springs AR
George messing around while shopping

We headed out to a late lunch at a place George has been wanting to go!

McClard’s BBQ.

In business since 1928!

It was great! We went back to the hotel to get dogs and back out to the Hot Springs National Park.

It was such a cold and windy day we didn’t stay outside long.High was around 41 but a cold blustery wind. I did have to get some pics of the good view!

We went to visit the tower.

Then we headed back to hotel for rest and to wait for hunger so we could go out for dinner. I watched the sunset while sipping a glass of wine.

Hunger never came but we had to go out for dinner as we are foodies and didn’t want to miss the experience of another new restaurant while in Hot Springs!

So…. I could only think of maybe a taco or chips and salsa or a salad or maybe just a dessert. So I picked a place. Capo’s Taco’s. Such a cute place.

The bar changes colors. Capo’s Tacos, Hot Springs
My “small” Tostado Salad (Monstrous)

I loved the mango that was in this salad. I could not eat it all!

We headed back to the room and got some good sleep. The dogs needed water in the middle of the night. George took care if it. Dogs lasted til almost six!

We are headed on the road now to Texas. Please continue your prayers for us. What a nice weekend we had in Hot Springs. Pretty pics for you tomorrow from our morning already. So stay tuned! Have a great day today!

Playing in Hot Springs

Rainy Travel Day to Hot Springs

We left about 5:30 a.m. and had a rainy travel day, with heavy rain coming out of Nashville and until about Jackson. At first it was hard to see the roads coming out of Nashville. I also was driving and went on autopilot taking the exit that we use to go to Mom’s instead of staying on I-440 and going West. Ooops. However, even with that little 8 minute detour – we were back on our route and missed a chunk of the Friday morning rush hour. We also made it to Memphis after their rush hour so that timing worked great. Things began to dry up or at least just be a mist by Jackson and Memphis. We hit a second batch of moderate rain as we went further into Arkansas but it got lighter as we reached the destination of Hot Springs.

The doggies were antsy at about 2.5 hours. Humans could go about 3 to 3.5 but of course we tried to honor their schedule. Once they start getting antsy, it’s just time to start looking for a place b/c everyone gets miserable when the pets won’t sit still, in fear the worst will happen and no one wants that. Maisy was happy sitting in the area behind us as the seats were down and it gave her a good bed. Roger curled up in our laps but prefers George. If he is in my lap he has to be faced to see George or he is not happy. lol

We got an executive suite so they would have a sofa and it feel more like home.

Then George and I set about to get some play time in. We hung out on Bath House row, got a flight at the Bath House Brewery, walked around, toured Fordyce Bath House which is a museum of sorts, giving you a window of the past.

The snack below was so good and very welcome. We had not had a proper lunch but we had McDonald’s for breakfast at some point. That held us as did a thermos of coffee and I got some iced tea at Wendy’s in Arkansas somewhere, where the staff just loved the doggies. They came out to see them in the parking lot, lol. Anyway, we were ready for the snack below.

We even had our picture taken in a tub. lol

Bath time in Hot Springs

George had heard a lot about the Ohio Club – a lot of history here where some of the gangsters in the past had been. It adds to the mystique of the place.

We shopped around a bit and here are a few random pics here and there.

Lots of fun hanging out there and walking around until about time we thought the dogs should go out again and be fed, before heading out again for dinner. George let me choose dinner and I chose to have steak and salad and baked potato at Bone’s Chop House.

The Wedge Salad at Bones Chophouse in Hot Springs

Our steak was good and big and thick and came with creamy horseradish sauce and au jus. The salad was incredible and the loaded baked potato was excellent and I could not say no to Creme Brulee.

As with anything while good things are happening in the world, horrible things are also happening. George could see from where he was sitting a LOT of police activity nearby on the street beside us. It was behind me but he mentioned it a couple of times. The waiter said that someone who was heavily intoxicated walked in front of a car and unfortunately the situation was not good and he was deceased so a lot of investigations/markings/pics and such were being done and keeping everyone away from the area. That was sad. All the folks sitting around us began ordering the same thing we did and they had run out of the strip steak we ordered. We all ended up in conversation a bit. And they told us to enjoy our stay. Wasn’t a long conversation but I thought it was neat b/c that wouldn’t happen a lot in Nashville – everyone does their own thing. So everyone seems friendly here.

We headed back to the room for a “food coma” sleep. All was well, until about 11:30 Maisy woke me up panting. She does that when she either needs to go out or is thirsty. Our room is really hot. It was 40 outside but we had the a/c on and it’s dry – very dry here. Feels like Arizona. We were all thirsty. I had 3 glasses of water overnight myself. So I tried water first for the dogs. And both dogs seemed grateful to have some water brought to bed to them. They better NOT get used to that. That said….. lol George did the 3:00 a.m. water shift. And by 4:50 a.m. they needed to go out. Well of course they did! We both took them and got hot coffee from the welcome center thermos (probably yesterday’s but it was still hot and good). You should have seen us coming on and off the elevators “before coffee”. We were a ball of confusion – leashes tied up and wrapped around us, dogs going every which way but on the elevator, and us trying to get them on so one person not holding the leash and the elevator take off w/o the dog in it with the person holding it. So trying to get dogs on elevator in a hurry while all tied up was interesting.

Anyway coffee sorted the situation out so we could get back to the room and with a more alert attempt at the elevator on the way back.

So today we will do our free hotel breakfast and we will go to the bath house for our steam cave tour. And I’m leaving the do not disturb sign on the door. I am afraid the dogs will go running out the door if the maids come in. So best to just get any needs or towels at the desk than have no dogs in the room when we come back.

The sun is coming up and I better get ready. We are going to the National park here today as well and George has some places he wants to eat. But we sure picked good last night. That steak place was close to the hotel and very good.

Better go. What all you all doing this weekend? Wish you were here – you could go join us at the Bath House, lol! This should be interesting for sure.

Vacation Emotions

We have had a good week getting organized for the next week ahead. And have organized everything that we can until it’s time to head out. House sitters set, security cams set, and so forth. Also lucky to have neighbors that keep a close eye on things and one has agreed to hang out and also take care of Little Bit – the cat. I love having our Nest too where we can see what is going on. Peace of mind.

And getting things ready for work so the person doing payroll has everything they need for a successful payroll run. That said, today will be extremely busy doing today’s things and as much of tomorrow’s as I can. I have spent a majority of my week feeling guilty about going on vacation and then when I really step back and analyze it, I ask myself why would I feel guilty about taking much earned and deserved vacation time spent with family? Then at that point I get mad at myself over the fact that I feel guilty considering all the hours of my personal time that I sacrificed in the last few months. I remember at that point (as one thought always leads to another) that EVERY time I do this it is NEVER convenient. It is a growing but smaller company in the big scheme of things with much of us in the office busting at the seams with responsibility (some have extra help and some don’t- payroll does not) and so it’s just never convenient for anyone to be off. A day here and there squeaks by and is recovered quickly – two – eh – it’s doable but when you start taking 3 or more days off – especially in conjunction with a holiday – it’s not only inconveniencing yourself but others too and the impact of that just implodes. So…yeah…here I sit going through all these emotions. And I’m so appreciative that I was approved to go, regardless of the hardship. And absolutely adore the person that is making this possible for me, and no doubt getting a hard time because of it. But in the wee small hours of the morning when you wake up and go through all these thoughts you realize that…….at the end of the day, my family and my daughter is NOT replaceable. We live states apart. We rarely get to spend time together unless we sacrifice time and expense. One is easier than the other, but neither ideal. George and I hardly ever get time to go anywhere together anymore outside our area. And to be quite honest this was planned very early in the year when we pondered this date so that it WOULD be over the holidays and everyone partially off already – thinking it would be less of a burden to be off fewer days rather than more days. Go figure. See, it’s just never convenient for anyone to be gone regardless of a short week or a long week. Yes jobs changed. Still early on this was arranged and approved. And we are elated. WE will enjoy the time together. It is a difficulty not just for others but for me as well as I get to work twice the week next week – long hours and crazy long hours for much of Dec and January. And in reality, NO time is ever a good time so I have decided it IS what it IS and to not feel guilty anymore. I am questioning why this is even a pattern with me? And why I go through these emotions in the first place when it’s been assigned, planned, and approved. I never used to do this before. And I am not going to let anyone make me feel guilty either. Done. Bam. Grateful. We are going. We are off and gone in the morning – bright and early hoping to escape as much of the Nashville traffic as we can and it’s probably going to be a rainy travel day. And there is one dang thing for sure – I won’t have to review resumes while I am gone. lol (Remembering vacations in the past couple of years that were not really vacations as I sat working in the background over emails and keeping the work flow going instead of getting to listen to the conferences I paid good money for). Ok my guilt is feeling much better now after I think/write all this through. I’m going to take the time and enjoy it. It’s been a long tough year and we deserve it and we’ll end up working twice over to make up for the time and work missed -so no more guilt for me.

All that said – PLEASE say a prayer for us now while you are reading this – over travel safety. It is a total of maybe 13 or 14 hours? Some of it in possible heavy rain? Broken up with a stay in Hot Springs each way. I will try to post as often as I can. I’m taking my laptop so I can blog and shop.

Oh I finally got the dogs a trim set up for February. We have one in Dec but you have to set them up months in advance to get a Saturday.

The new planner I bought is working great. I absolutely love everything about it. It fits in my back pack and is flexible, and works great to use for work and personal both since life seems to be a big ole blend of time with not many lines of separation b/w the two. So why not have the calendar for both. Not two separate ones.

And I guess I will end here soon. But I do want to say that I am looking forward to this week and also looking forward to the things we will do when we get back. It will be a harried time getting fall decor up and Christmas decor out and finishing the shopping and the wrapping with a heavy work load upcoming and no more vacay days to get anything done with. I’ll be catching up from being off too – you know, you don’t ever really get the days off free and clear- you work the hours double time when you get back, lol. Anyway I’ll have a lot of weekend work coming up in the holidays and then I hear that January is bad (month end, quarter end, and year end hitting all the same time). So I will enjoy the week guilt free. When vacay is over, both work and our personal time will be busy as well and the two will have to fight it out to get things done across the board. Work will win as it’s never a balance b/w work and personal anyway, since man’s fall from God’s grace and the curse of having to work instead of living in paradise. Although God has a plan for our salvation, it didn’t remove the work curse, lol. Work always gets the best and creative part of your day, the most of your day and week and personal time is meant to be an afterthought that has to fight to get through. So it helps if you love what you do. And that is why I switched jobs, because I do love what I do now. And I’m going to love the time off that we are given and not feel guilty over it because it is long over due after all we have been through to get to this point. So… WEEEEEEE Doggies! Here we go!

Feeling Accomplished and Refreshed

Almost Turkey Time

Ahhh, it feels good sitting here drinking a cup of coffee coming off of a very productive weekend. Sometimes I laugh at the irony of the Less Hustle and More Coffee title on this blog. It should be Hurry Up and Hope to Get Some Coffee. But, everyone can dream. Three day weekends “are the bomb” as the young ones would say. It brings so much more balance to your life. Of course the devil and “the curse” of sin keeps us working and toiling – whether at work or at home. But oh the joy of that 3 days to bring balance to the home time.

Yesterday I cleaned the kitchen (twice), did laundry, more ironing, continued packing, updated the new planner (love it), caught up on all the You Tube shows and checked out some new ones, played games on my iPad til I was sick of it, and read some. It was a grand day and felt like a “snow day” to me in a way. I needed this day so badly.

I checked in with Katebug yesterday. I always used to call her my Katebug. And she had a sinus infection with fever. She didn’t ache so no flu. So hopefully she will feel better soon. She was worried about getting ready for us, but she will have most of the weekend I suppose.

It feels good going into this week knowing that we have a chunk of Christmas behind us. Enough so that the rest should be pretty easy. Once we come back, I’ll gather up all the fall decor, dust, and then put out the Christmas decor – at least a bit of it. And bring all the Christmas wrapping stuff up.

I’m pleased there are not a lot of things planned in December and pretty much think it needs to stay that way. We have dog trims on the first Saturday and a friend has a party on the 2nd one, I think. And the rest we will need for finalizing Christmas shopping, wrapping, and seeing family and doing payroll. I will have to work some of the weekends getting payroll done, so there is not much time really. I won’t be getting any PTO time in Dec and I’m used to getting about 4 days. So all of that time will be crunched up into the other days as far as prep time. However, good or bad, we just don’t have as many to buy for as we did at one time. And the ones we do – we at least have a head start or know what we are getting.

I have the Pre- Vacation Jitters I guess you could say. Excited to go, a bit worried over the travel. Mainly worry about those that cannot drive or won’t get off their phone or intoxicated. I will always worry about that. So I ask for your travel prayers/blessings and that everyone be well and happy over our trip and that the dogs do well. It is long long journey to have an antsy dog riding in your lap for 6 hours. We’ll do two 6 hour days. I just don’t think any of us can do the full 12 hours journey anymore in one day EVER. Just no. So we will be staying in Hot Springs to break it up.

I will be trying to blog some during our journey but might not be able to do so every single day – depending on the situation. I’m on word press now and I think it’s easier to blog on the go. They at least seem to update their software and pay attention to it unlike the blogger account.

I can’t think of anything else to share this morning and I guess I’ll get ready and go on in. Since I was off on Friday I think I’ll have a lot of PTO forms to print off and code. I have to code their average pay with their incentive based off of the prior week’s average pay. So it takes a while. Lately it seems like there have been lots of PTO time. Like 30 people or so taking little 2 to 3 hour chunks of personal/sick time. I think maybe hours have been cut or something. I don’t really know but it seems that way. So I’m entering a lot of PTO time every week now.

Getting my nails done tonight so they will be ready for our trip and I’m having a cleanse day today. I am happy to say that my pants are back to normal now. Not as tight and today will help too. I will reign it in until Hot Springs – and will try to do my shakes this week and salads and lean lunches.

I better get at it so I can get on it! Have a great week ahead!