sneak peek for upcoming holiday fun

We have started working on some new additions for the 2016 holiday decorating season.DSCN1491

Because  the “photo op” was incredibly fun last Christmas, he is adding one for Halloween this year as well.

I kept watching the book of face to find pictures, but I never spotted any. Yet there were “new footprints” by the Santa photo booth several times daily, and we did spot it in use many different times.

While new outdoor Christmas decorations are easy to find, Thanksgiving is always giving us a challenge to find new outdoor decorations. From what we can see, the more common practice is to go directly from Halloween to Christmas in outdoor decorations. We take down the outside Halloween display when we close our Trick-or-Treat for the night, and then on the next available day, we put up Thanksgiving for November. We do not light the Christmas decorations until after the turkey is eaten, but it does take the entire month of November to get  them all set up! We actually begin setting up all of the Christmas lights as soon as we turn on the turkey lights!

Since it is so hard for us to find the Thanksgiving decorations to fit our theme, I have been talking for several years about the need to paint one.

This is finally the year to begin that project!


We primed the wood on both sides to help protect it from the weather. Outside décor in North Dakota needs to stand up to the elements!

From a single 4×8 sheet of plywood, we were able to make two Thanksgiving-themed characters. If we made  them any smaller than that, they would not be easily visible for people driving past. Anything larger than that would be too heavy for me to maneuver for the painting — I seem to spend as much time picking it up and moving it as I do actually painting. I have to keep turning it, or else I would be putting my arm into wet paint.




After he cut it out, I was able to start painting!



I am not a speedy painter, but I am enjoying the process!



As it is an outdoor decoration, it requires using exterior paint. So I paint a bit here and I paint a bit there  and then I have to let it dry. While this might not be the world’s largest paint-by-number project, it is certainly the biggest one that **I** have ever attempted!


Two Books Worth Reading

Summertime is a great time to visit the local public library and bring home a stack of new books to read. Grab a big stack, so if one does not catch your fancy, it is easy to put it aside and grab the next book! If it is more interesting when you come back to it later, great. If not, that was why you grabbed a big stack of books in the first place.

Two winners I will recommend:

Shepherd’s Crook by Sheila Webster Boneham and An Amish Year by Beth Wiseman

Very different books indeed, but I loved them both.

An Amish Year by Beth Wiseman

An Amish Year is a collection of four stories – they call them novellas. I am pretty sure that the publishing world has a great long list of rules for each of their categories, but here in redneckville, they are all called stories. There is one story for each of the four seasons of the year, different characters in each one, but a similar locale.

I was surprised? shocked? amazed? to discover that the Amish teens are really no different than my own kids. In my brain, I always picture the Amish teens as being part of the same Walton’s Mountain Norman Rockwell picture perfect world my mom grew up in, where never is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.

Not a bit. These kids (and the adults) are real and honest and human — and it was very hard to put this book down.

Shepherd’s Crook by Sheila Webster Boneham

Shepherd’s Crook is a mystery. It seems to be the second book in a series, so now I will need to hunt down the first book. It is set in a world filled with dog training competitions and agility trials, sophisticated adults, protesters, questionable politicians and messy puppy antics  — aside from the hilarious displays of brattiness on the part of the puppy, the world shown in this book is just as foreign to my life as the Amish culture in the first book. Bratty puppies that  destroy a full week’s work, however — **THAT** is something that I have experienced.

Two thumbs up.


travel notes – Iowa state capitol

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While we were in Des Moines for the 65th National Square Dance Convention, we visited the Iowa State Capitol. Iowa has the most beautiful capitol building!




The library is clearly an occasion of sin, because it certainly made me covet!

I think that Belle and the Beast just might sneak in here to visit after hours…

The spiral staircases leading up to the bookshelves are incredibly tempting. Even a firmly-professed “non-reader” would have their mind changed about loving books, if they could use such a wonderful library!








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I spent half of the tour looking up, as the ceilings in here are amazing, but even the floors in the capitol building have intricate detailing.


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The walls that appear to be wallpapered are actually stenciled with paint, our tour guide explained. They just renovated the Supreme Court room, and put everything back to the way it looked originally. It is no longer actually used for Supreme Court proceedings — they do that someplace else now. While I did not see the “someplace else” the Supreme Court meets now, I am positive it is not nearly as pretty!

The woodwork is hand carved – she said one single carver had made all of those carvings on the front of the Supreme Court bench.









As a doll collector, the display of the Iowa first ladies dressed in their inaugural ball gowns captured my eye.

I had to keep my hands pushed firmly into my pockets to resist the urge to touch!

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I was greatly amused by the idea that all of the dolls were made with the same face mold — modeled after the first lady who had commissioned the original project.




The picture of the “doggy bags” on the sidewalk post was because I have never seen such a thing before, and I found it to be a wonderful idea. While I was not personally walking a dog, I did see others walking along with puppydogs on a leash, and having those bags and trash cans readily available is a brilliant idea!