Day 273: DIY Facial Mask

DIY face mask ingredients

Today’s first was inspired by the fact that September 30 is National Mud Pack Day, according to I opted out of using mud, and instead browsed through a variety of Do It Yourself facials online until I found one I wanted to try.

There is an abundance of DIY facials available, most using ingredients I already have in my kitchen. I love making my own beauty and bath products. I haven’t tried a face mask yet so I was excited to pamper my skin this evening. This recipe came from the Woman’s Day website, where I found DIY face masks for all skin types. I selected one for dry skin that soothes, heals and moisturizes. It was so easy to make!

Honey & Apple Cider Vinegar Face Mask for Dry Skin

Whisk together in a small bowl:

2 Tablespoons of honey

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (can use lemon juice instead)

Smooth over clean dry face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rise off with tepid water followed by a cool rinse. This facial can be done three times a week.

Honey is a humectant and a natural antibiotic and heals and moisturizes. Apple cider vinegar helps to balance the pH of skin and soothes damaged skin. I whisked the ingredients together while a cup of green tea was brewing. After the liquid cooled slightly, I soaked two cotton squares in the tea. Green tea tones, refreshes and “de-puffs” the delicate under eye skin.

DIY face mask e

I gathered my iPhone and ear buds and prepared to be soothed for 20 minutes. After dabbing on the face mask, I got comfortable on the bed and covered my eyes with the green tea soaked cotton squares. I snapped a pic, which wasn’t easy with my eyes covered! I like to document what I am doing though. And then I relaxed and listened to Audible on my phone while the face mask did its magic. Alright, I really fell asleep a few minutes into the Audible book, but that’s okay. Apparently, that’s what my body needed. The time stretched to 40 minutes before I stirred and sat up.

The facial washed off easily. My skin felt smooth, soft and toned. I was pleased! The concoction smelled pleasant to me, although if one doesn’t like the smell of apple cider vinegar, this wouldn’t be the facial for her. The mixture was sticky enough to cling to my skin, and fingers when I reached up to touch my cheek, yet rinsed away cleanly. I will definitely use this facial again and try some others.

Most importantly, I took time tonight to do something good for myself. And when I do that, even in a small way, it makes me feel great all over. That’s a great return for such a simple project.

DIY face mask results e

Day 272: The Fault in Our Stars

the fault in our stars poster

Tonight was movie night! In keeping with my desire to not shy away from movies that tug at my heart and provoke my tear ducts, I selected a film I wanted to see, but would have avoided before this year. I’ve missed so many sad movies during my life. I’ve yet to have a “keep a box of tissues nearby” movie marathon, but I’ve stopped shying away from my emotions. I’m glad. I don’t want to miss any more great movies.

The Fault in Our Stars features Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell and Willem Dafoe. It was directed by Josh Boone and is based on the novel by the same name, written by John Green. This drama romance is rated PG-13, for the theme, brief sexuality and minor strong language, and has a run time of 2 hours and 6 minutes.

Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) are teenagers who have fallen in love for the first time. Yet they are anything but typical teenagers. Hazel’s constant companion is an oxygen bottle, while Gus walks with a slight limp, due to a prosthetic leg. And they met at a cancer support group for youth. Their journeys have sharpened their wit and given them a stark perspective on life. Although both have been in treatment and are currently stable, they know, with a solemn certainty beyond their tender years, that their days are numbered.

Hazel shares her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, with Gus. The main character, Anna, has leukemia and the story ends, mid-sentence, when Anna dies. Hazel and Gus want closure to the story, needing to know what happened to the other characters in the novel, and embark on an adventure to Amsterdam, to meet the reclusive author, Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe). Although the alcoholic writer is rude and cryptic in his responses to the teens, the trip ignites the love building between Gus and Hazel. In the midst of their blossoming romance, Gus reveals that his cancer has returned.

Although they could wallow in self pity and rail against the unfairness of life, Gus and Hazel instead live all the days that are given to them. Hazel, who is the narrator of the tale, says they didn’t always hang onto their courage and humor, but for the most part, the young adults lived with grace and dignity and purpose. Hazel, for much of her young life, felt a responsibility to remain alive for her parents’ sake (Laura Dern and Sam Trammell). She feels a sense of release when she realizes her mom and dad will feel pain at her loss, but they will live with that pain, much as she has lived with the pain of her cancer.

This was a well done, powerful movie. Shailene and Ansel, who starred together in the movie Divergent, perform wonderfully, playing old souls living short but significant lives. Gus, when asked during the support group to share his fears, says he wants to live an extraordinary life and not slip into oblivion. He wants to be remembered. As his life proves, sometimes embracing the life we are given creates the extraordinary. And being remembered by a few, or even one, is enough. He and Hazel found a way to create a forever, in a limited number of days. He is grateful. She is grateful. I watch a film like this that questions the fairness of life and realize again that life is what it is and by accepting what is, I allow freedom and peace to flow to me, through me. Whether our lives are numbered in days or months or years….many years or a few… we are given that gift of life. We live it. We cherish it. We are grateful to share it and enjoy it.

The film opens with Hazel saying, “I believe we have a choice in this world about how to tell sad stories.” I was struck by that. I rewound and replayed that segment several times and let the words sink in. I have not wanted to hear sad stories. I have been afraid of sad stories because of the emotional upheaval they brought into my life. I have a choice as well about whether to receive sad stories. They can undo me, emotionally, without unraveling the fabric of who I am. I choose to hear. And be impacted by them. Gus says, “You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world. But you do have some say in who hurts you.” Like him, and Hazel, I am okay with that.

the fault in our stars quote

Day 271: A Limerick to Close Tolkien Week…and Happy Birthday Greg

Limerick Contest

Today brings to a close Tolkien Week. What fun I have had with this week. It is amazing that it has been observed since 1978 and I only became aware of it this year, during my year of firsts. To finish the week on a strong Tolkien/Lord of the Rings note, I wrote a limerick and entered it into the Middle Earth News Limerick Contest.

I check in often on this informative and fun page on Facebook. Being Tolkien Week, I’ve been especially mindful of the news and fun trivia contests Middle Earth News has posted. When I saw the Limerick Contest, I knew I wanted to finish the week by entering the contest, which is over at midnight tonight.

It’s been years since I wrote a limerick, which is a fun poem with five lines. The first, second and fifth lines rhyme and consist of eight or nine syllables. And the third and fourth lines rhyme and have five or six syllables each. They often begin, “There once was a….” but don’t have to include that opening phrase, which is good, because those words use up four of the nine syllables available! It honestly took me just a few minutes to write a limerick, featuring Aragorn, known early in the Lord of the Rings story and movie as Strider. He came immediately to mind, and so I went with that impression. My first limerick had too many syllables. I mistook syllables for words and then looked up the correct structure again on the contest site. That was an easy fix. I simply removed some of the words.

Here is my entry into the Middle Earth News Limerick Contest:

Strider was reluctant to be king.

His sword guarded bearer of the ring.

He came into his own

On the way to the throne.

At the coronation he did sing.

Today was also Greg’s birthday! The kids were all working or out of town, so I joined him for a birthday dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, El Vaquero on Main Street in Joplin. We enjoyed Mexican food and a drink. Afterwards, we stopped by Baskin Robbins for a birthday ice cream cone.

Greg and I have journeyed together for many years….since we were young uns. Our families had been connected for two generations before we met. His grandmother hosted a baby shower for my grandmother, when she was expecting my mother. So interesting the way life’s flow brings people together. We have had an interesting journey, to say the least! The last few years, we have come to understand more and more about the bigness, the expansiveness, of life and the richness of relationships. We also have come to appreciate that we are each a teacher in the life of the other.

Greg has been and continues to be a vital part of my life. He is a wonderful dad to our three kids and a fun papa to the grandkids. He is resourceful, able to “MacGyverize” his way through busted gadgets and challenging projects. I am so grateful for all the work he has done to bring about the backyard renovation. The fence, the brick patio, the Peace Gate, which so ingeniously transformed a door from a tornado damaged house into a beautiful sliding gate, were all his contributions. He has furthered my dreams, of seeing Rivendell brought to life in the backyard, and of traveling to Scotland, knowing that the trip was more than a vacation for me.

I’ve watched Greg’s personal journey the past few years and have seen him go inward to discover, at a deep level, who he is. He has introduced me to some amazing authors that inspired and encouraged him, including Byron Katie, Michael A Singer and Thich Nhat Hanh. We enjoy lively conversations around what we are reading and about life itself. And his current journey with his aging father has been very precious. Greg’s dad gave much of himself to his son, when Greg was a youth and young man, in particular. Greg is now giving back to his dad, caring for him with dignity, tender concern and a good sense of humor. How honoring it is to his dad, to be so present with him.

I appreciate having Greg as a traveling companion. May he have many more years to continue exploring life, the world and his place in it! Happy, happy birthday, Greg!


It’s not too late to enter the Middle Earth News Limerick Contest, if you enjoy this fun form of poetry and all things Tolkien! Contest closes at midnight tonight.

Middle Earth News Limerick Contest

Day 270: MSSU Football

MSSU football field e

Last spring, my sister Linda and I attended a MSSU basketball game for one of my first experiences. We had a fun afternoon, cheering on the team. At that time, I made a mental note to attend a MSSU football game this fall, as I have never been to a college level football game before.

Wednesday of this past week, I said aloud that I should check MSSU’s football schedule and check into getting tickets for a home game. The very next day, Thursday, I received an email from the office. One of our Joplin Globe sales reps had tickets for today’s Lion home game that she was giving away. I contacted her immediately to see if the tickets were still available. She dropped them by the office yesterday. I LOVE how things work out. Today I attended my first ever college football game. Greg accompanied me.

MSSU football team runs in e

It was a beautiful evening for a football game. As we arrived at the MSSU football stadium, the sun was sinking into the west. Temps were in the 70’s. It was perfect short sleeve weather. Our seats were great….on the 50 yard line and up high enough to clearly see the entire field. We settled into our fold out stadium seats just as the MSSU Lions charged onto the field. Tonight’s game was with the Washburn Ichabods.

I’m glad we had a few minutes before kick off. My eyes were busy taking in my surroundings. Cheerleaders and the Lions dance team warmed up the crowd. The team mascot, a lion of course, moved into place near the cheer leaders. The band, clad casually in jeans, T-shirts and ball caps, filled a section of the bleachers. And fans were finding their seats and chatting merrily with each other. I’m a people watcher. It was fun, during time outs, to watch the fans, watching the game.

MSSU football mascot e

The game got off to a quick start, with Southern and Washburn both scoring touchdowns in their first possessions. The game shifted rapidly however, with the Green and Gold dominating the field. It was a fast paced and fun game. I think I could get “into” football, if I watched often enough! The man sitting in front of us was friendly and turned around often to comment on the plays and the game in general. While there were a few others nearby who felt it necessary to criticize the players, the coaches, the plays, this nice guy primarily made statements about what was actually going on.

The Lion’s Pride Marching Band was great to listen to during time outs and the MSSU fight song was played each time the Lions made a touchdown. I enjoyed their half time performance as well. Tonight was a Hall of Fame Game and also Band Alumni Night so past band members joined in on the first half time song after several athletes were inducted into Southern’s Hall of Fame. There were other fun activities during the game, including a chariot race among several of the fraternities/sororities, a pass for cash contest, in which a guy won $250, and T-shirts and footballs were tossed into the crowd, much to the delight of the fans.

MSSU football lions pride marching band e

MSSU has a spacious and updated stadium, although their scoreboard could use an upgrade. Renovations are ongoing in the sports complex with a new building under construction to house locker rooms and coaches’ offices, and a practice field is being created as well. The fans were in a grand mood, and almost as interesting to watch as the game. The Lions played well, with several amazing plays including an 80 yard pass play for a touchdown, and a tough defense that stopped the Ichabods on the goal line more than once.

I had a wonderful time, chowing down on a hotdog, cheering, clapping, and watching it all. The Lions won with a final score of 42 to 21. I’d enjoy attending another game sometime. This weekend I caught part of a Carl Junction high school football game, watched Joey’s third grade team win this afternoon and finished the day with my first college game. I think I’ll check into a pro football game next…the KC Chiefs perhaps!

MSSU football e

Day 269: Afternoon Tea with a Friend


What a special afternoon as my friend Cate joined me for the first time in my backyard garden, for tea. The day was gorgeous and the temperature mild. It was perfect for turning the bistro table into a tea table.

I’ve shared afternoon tea with family and enjoyed the experiences. What a treat to invite a dear friend to share a pot of Scottish Highland tea and all the goodies. I’ve told Cate about my work in progress in the backyard. I wanted her to see how the plants and flowers have grown and filled in the borders.

When she arrived we walked around the garden, Phase One, and I had the opportunity to share what the next phases will be.

The sun was still warming the brick patio, so we opted to move the table and two chairs into the meditation area, which was shaded. I dressed the glass and metal bistro table with a paisley shawl, in fall colors, and added rust colored cloth napkins.

While the tea brewed in the white porcelain pot, I brought out white tea cups and saucers, a small pitcher of milk, plates and silverware, and platters for the tiered serving set. We enjoyed cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, Elven Lembas bread, another first…serving it with afternoon tea…butter and strawberry jam, pumpkin spice cupcakes and Walker’s shortbread cookies. It was a simple tea, made more special because it was served in the garden, and shared with a friend.

Cate and I spent an relaxed afternoon chatting over tea. I value her friendship and her wisdom, and appreciate her views of the world. What a privilege to have such an amazing traveling companion. I look forward to the continuing journey and more afternoons in the garden, savoring cups of Scottish tea!


Day 268: Happy Birthday Mom


The September birthday month continued with a celebration today of the matriarch of the family, my mom. It was a small party…my mom and stepdad, my sister Linda and me, at one of my mom’s favorite restaurants, Golden Corral, located at 2415 S Range Line in Joplin. But we partied big with an all you can eat buffet, wonderful conversation, and an abundance of laughter.

It’s always fun when any members of my family get together. We just know how to make the most of that time, whether we are dining, playing or partying. Birthdays are especially meaningful. It is a time to honor and celebrate the one marking the passage of another year. And for me, a time of reflection on the life of that person.

I am so grateful for my mom! So many of my best traits are a refection of her. She raised my sisters and me to be strong, independent women with “can do” attitudes. My mom is one of the strongest women I know. I’ve watched her throughout my life, more than she realizes.

From the example of her life I’ve learned resourcefulness and how to accomplish much, sometimes with little more than determination and creativity. I’ve learned to go after what I want and to enjoy what I do have, along the way. Mom has owned and operated several businesses, including a video store and a pizza restaurant. My children loved how their Mimi had the biggest selection of movies imaginable when they visited! I learned how much hard work goes into being the boss and how important customer service is. I also learned to make a mean pizza with my mom’s secret recipes!

My desire to travel has to flow from my mom to me. She’s a seasoned traveler, visiting all 50 of the states in the US, and many countries around the world. I have a ways to go to catch up with this adventurous lady! She gardens, sews, creates amazing treasures from ordinary items, makes her own laundry soap. She has a soft heart for abandoned dogs, teaches toddlers in Sunday School, bakes treats when family visits. I participate in Zumba because she encouraged me to join her in class. She understands how to live life to the fullest and I so humbly follow in her footsteps, seeking the same.

Most of her life, my mom has been a teacher, to her daughters and to others, an artist, a writer. She was a storyteller first. We three girls would lie awake in our beds at night, after lights out, and listen as my mom spun fantastic stories that sparked our own imaginations. Her grandchildren received written stories from her when they were small and she lived for a time in Yuma, AZ. Each child received stories, with themselves as the central characters, thinly disguised as other people in other lands and eras. The kids grew up yet Mom kept writing. She’s published numerous stories in well known books, such as the Chicken Soup series, and three children’s chapter books. My desire to create stories, and write, is a gift from her as well.

We laughed over some of our amusing mom stories, over dinner. I won’t share those. There are lots of humorous tales around Mom because she doesn’t mind laughing, especially at herself. Just mention a certain bachelorette party that my mom attended and rather enjoyed and my whole family will dissolve into laughter. She created good memories that evening.

Actually, she’s created good memories all my life, with an energy that can make me tired, and a mother’s love that knows no bounds. I am who I am, because of her, and that deep love. I am thankful, and challenged to keep living large. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you so much!

Day 267: Elven Lembas Bread

Lembas Bread

For my first today, I tried out a fun recipe for Elven Lembas Bread. I was delighted to find the recipe while browsing online for ideas to celebrate Tolkien Week. This one caught my interest.

In the Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship rests and is restored in Lothlorien, the home of the Lady Galadriel, one of the high elves in Middle Earth during the Third Age. When the Fellowship departs, Galadriel gives each member of the party a gift and an elven cloak, along with boats and supplies. Among the supplies, wrapped in Mallorn leaves, is Lembas Bread. A closely guarded secret, the bread is to be eaten a little at a time and only during times of great need. The cake like bread stayed fresh for many days and a single bite was said to keep a tall man on his feet for a day of long labor.

Of course, this Lembas Bread won’t really do that, but I was intrigued and made a batch this evening. The recipe was simple to follow and the results were excellent! A subtly spicy aroma filled my kitchen, as the soundtrack from Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring played softly on my iPod. In a very short time, I had Lembas Bread cooling on racks. A cross between scones and bar cookies, these will definitely grace my afternoon teas!

The recipe, from The Nifty Nerd:

2 ½ cups of flour

1 T of baking powder

¼ t of salt

8 T cold butter (I used real butter)

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1 t of cinnamon

1 t of honey

1 cup of heavy cream (or more if needed. Dough should stick together but not be too sticky. I used exactly 1 cup)

½ t of vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and mix with fork or pastry cutter until mixture resembles fine granules. Add sugar and cinnamon. Add cream, honey and vanilla and stir with fork until a nice thick dough forms. Pat out into a rectangle on lightly floured surface until about ½ inch thick. Cut into 3 inch squares and transfer to cookie sheet sprayed with Pam. Criss-cross each square from corner to corner with a knife, being careful not to cut all the way through. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until the bread is lightly golden and set. Depending on thickness of bread, makes 12 – 20 pieces.

I brewed a cup of tea and settled down to sample a piece of the bread. Delicious! Light textured, slightly sweet with a hint of cinnamon, I enjoyed the Lembas Bread with a dap of strawberry preserves. I can’t wait to include them with afternoon tea. After all, I’m as fond of tea time as Hobbits are!

Lembas Bread with tea

Day 266: Hobbit Jigsaw Puzzle


Continuing in the spirit of Tolkien Week, today for my first I started on a new jigsaw puzzle. After a long day, getting into my comfy clothes and engaging in this quiet activity, with a fresh cup of tea nearby, was the perfect end to the day.

Greg bought me this 550 piece puzzle for Christmas last year. I love it! It features characters from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I’ve been saving the puzzle for the right moment.

I often work puzzles during the cold winter months when the evenings are long. It quiets my body, while freeing my mind. I love the challenge of creating the picture, piece by piece, moving from chair to chair around the small table, to keep a fresh perspective.

Rather than save this puzzle for later in the year, Tolkien Week seemed the perfect time to dump out the pieces and begin. My favorite characters from the first Hobbit movie are all there, in interesting shapes and colorful bits. My intention is to complete the puzzle by Sunday, which signals the end of a week that celebrated Hobbits and the creator of Middle Earth, JRR Tolkien.

Here are the straight edges linked together to form the frame. Tomorrow, on to the middle!


Day 265: Hobbit Day

Hobbit Day Lego Bilbo and Frodo e

What a fun week for me! Yesterday launched the start of Tolkien Week. And today, September 22, is Hobbit Day. I am a huge Tolkien fan, appreciating all of his literary works including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Until this year, I didn’t realize these special celebrations existed, and yet both events have been recognized since 1978. My increased awareness of experiencing first things has brought all kinds of interesting firsts to me. I am delighted.

For my first today, I celebrated Hobbit Day, which is the birthday of both Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins, fictional characters in Tolkien’s Middle Earth saga. Bilbo is Frodo’s uncle and both are Hobbits, residing in Hobbiton in the Shire. Although I read Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit years ago, the stories really captivated me when Peter Jackson fleshed out the characters and brought them to life on the big screen.

The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Rings begins with a party. It is Bilbo’s eleventy first birthday. According to Tolkien, Bilbo was born in the year 2890 and Frodo in the year 2968 in the Third Age. While Frodo, the ring bearer, is featured in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with Bilbo playing a minor role, it is Bilbo who reaches unlikely hero status while on an adventure in The Hobbit. The recent releases of Jackson’s Hobbit movies, starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo, has brought Bilbo’s story back into popularity.

Hobbit Day e

I am a fan of both Hobbits. Although I favored Frodo until I followed Biblo’s dragon fighting adventure in The Hobbit movies. Hobbits are gentle, peace loving folk from the Shire, who never cease to surprise those who encounter them. The courage of Hobbits is central, and crucial, to both stories.

What fun to celebrate this day. Because it is also National Ice Cream Cone Day, I enjoyed a fun scoop of Icing on the Cake ice cream on a sugar cone, to wish both Hobbits a Happy Birthday. I also spent time in Middle Earth lore, reading about both Hobbits and looking up some of my favorite quotes. In my quest for pictures and quotes, I came across several great ideas for celebrating Tolkien week, which will be featured as firsts during this week. I even found a great photo contest to enter called My Own Shire Photo Contest. There are three categories that I can enter, including a Garden Category. So perfect for me!

Hobbit Day and National Ice Cream Cone Day e

It is going to be a special week of celebrating, Middle Earth style. I look forward to firsts around the stories and characters that have been life changing for me. Here are two of my favorite quotes, one from each Hobbit, in honor of them and their day:

“He often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river; its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.’” Frodo Baggins, speaking of Bilbo

“All this is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.” Poem in honor of Aragorn by Bilbo Baggins

Hobbit Day Bilbo and Frodo e

Day 264: The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest Challenge 3 #HobbitFanContest

Hobbit released e

Yes! For my first today, I completed Challenge 3, the making of the video, and thus also completed the contest. I finished Challenge 4 a few days ago, and struggled with the making of the video.

Today, however, the creating of the video flowed more smoothly. Oh, I still had plenty of outtakes and flubs. But I ended up with eight acceptable videos. It was amazing, sitting in the beauty of my backyard garden, to realize how noisy it actually is in my neighborhood. I battled the sunshine and a stiff breeze today. And I had to stop several recordings due to motorcycles and an ambulance going by, a train blaring its horn, a noisy car and finally, the neighbor’s weedeater. However, with time running short, I persevered, and I feel a huge sense of accomplishment to have completed the video and submitted it.

Although I would absolutely love to be declared a winner in this contest, winning a trip to beautiful New Zealand, this contest became about moving past this particular challenge. At first I thought I was having trouble with it because I was recording myself. I discovered that the real issue was being timed. The video had to come in at two minutes or less. I was reacting to the time element. Once I realized what was creating a problem for me, I was able to move past it. My finished video came in at 1 minute, 56 seconds.

I am happy with myself for finishing the contest. I actually loved that I was challenged on several levels while completing the contest and that I spent time reflecting on how the Hobbit movies have impacted me. And, today was a great day to complete the contest for another reason. Today marks the anniversary of The Hobbit’s release, in book form. On September 21, 1937, this amazing story hit the bookshelves for the first time. Today also launches Tolkien Week, and tomorrow, September 22, is both Hobbit Day and Bilbo and Frodo Baggins birthdays. It seems an auspicious time to post my video!