Monday, January 31, 2011

Photo of the Week - Week 5

January 29, 2011 - Not the best picture I've ever taken of Lady.... in fact, it was kinda crappy but I love her chewing on the bone that Jeff and I brought back from Old Boys Brewery for her. The brewery has really cool dog theme!!! ♥ We had to bring our baby girl a present back! Anyways, the picture was crappy so I played with a couple different actions (can't remember which ones).... not great but it was fun playing! Sometimes that's all that counts! ♥

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Amish Letters

Many of you know how intrigued I am with the Amish and their culture. So much so, that a friend nicknamed me "Shamish" (Shannon+Amish=Shamish). Although I had read tons of books and internet articles on the Amish, I hadn't experienced anything Amish (except for a van full of Amish at a gas station back in the early 2000's). So back in 2007, I met a friend and co-worker who works at another one of our hospitals which is right smack dab in the middle of a huge Amish community. She immediately said we had to fix my dilemma and she invited Michael, Grace and I to spend the day with her and her son. She said she'd drive and I could take pictures and she'd show me "Amish". I was BEYOND excited!!!! Seriously, the first time I saw a buggy, I was like a kid in a candy store! I was so giddy that my very first picture of a buggy turned out very crappy(and this is even after I re-edited it in photoshop elements)! :) But none-the-less, I love it.Throughout the day, I got to see many more buggies, Amish homes and Amish folks. It was amazing day and I'll be ever so grateful to my friend who took me on this trip of a lifetime!

One of the other photos I got was of this house. Little did I know that I would come to know this house so very well! We stopped at this home because we had heard how amazing the baked goods were that are for sale at the little bakery here (named M's Bakery after the mom). There I would meet a girl named "V" (I will use initials in place of names) who would become a great friend. As we were paying for our baked goods, I asked the girl who was helping us if she was M, and she said no, that she was M's daughter V. She was the SWEETEST! I loved talking to her and her accent was fabulous! I took one of the business cards and we were on our way.On the way home, I got an idea. After reading some of Beverly Lewis' books about the Amish and in particular one series about an Amish girl and an English girl who were pen pals, I got the idea to write to V. I fully expected to not hear back from her because I knew that the Amish really weren't allowed to correspond with the English. But I thought I'd take the chance and try anyways! It took me about a month after that trip before I actually wrote a letter. I didn't get a letter back so I kinda just forgot about it. Then about three or four weeks later, I got a letter... from V! I was SO excited I could hardly open the envelope! This was the start of an amazing friendship! I absolutely adore V. Today, 4 1/2 years later, V and I are still friends. She calls me on her neighbors phone to chat, we still write letters and I go visit her every couple of months! I am truly blessed to know such a sweet woman!

The reason I share all this background information with you is because I got an idea while I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep the other night. I decided to start blogging bits and pieces of my letter's from V! I won't share any intimate details or details that would reveal her identity, but I thought it would be fun to share some of the lighthearted, sweet things. I think you'll enjoy their accent that is apparent in the letters and see just how sweet V is. I hope you enjoy the journey!
My first letter from V:

July 23, 2007

Dear Friends,

Greetings of Love and Cheer! This finds it Monday morning. I just got done doing Laundry. Is such a beautiful day and a special day! :) Today 18 years ago my parents were blessed with a baby girl named "V". She weighed 9 lbs. 2 oz.

So how is health treating you and your family? Hope very well. Sorry, I haven't wrote to you sooner. I felt bad as you did so well of sending me such a joyful letter. I feel so special and hope to be forever. But if you stop by again sometime, make sure and ask for me if I'm not in the store as I probably won't recognize you as we get so many customers. Enough it's hard to keep track of em all but yes lets keep writing. How wonderful it is to have friends like you!! :) Well I'm supposed to be making cashew crunch candy and lots more work and here I sit. But I figured if I don't sit down and write to you it'll go another week. Didn't want that to happen. Well I hope to write more next time. Keep writing and also hope to see ya soon.

With sincere best wishes,
A Friend Forever,

Friday, January 28, 2011

25th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

This is one of those moments you will never forget. One of those "I remember what I was doing when this happened" kind of moments. I remember being so excited because teacher Christa McAuliffe was going into space as the first space teacher. I was 10 years old and this was a huge topic of conversation for us while I was in class in elementary school.
And then just 73 seconds after liftoff, the Challenger exploded for all the world to see and claimed the lives of 7 astronauts, including Christa. Tragic day in America and in the space industry. And I remember seeing this on the television, now an infamous photo all over the web.
(Photos courtesy of

Monday, January 24, 2011

Photo of the Week - Week 4

Grace and her sweet friend, Jayda! We absolutely adore this girl! So excited she gets to spend the week with us!! First a picture of them looking beautiful, followed by a crazy pic! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Photo of the Week - Week 3

Couldn't decide which photo to use for week 3, so I'm using both! The birds were crazy wild yesterday morning! I was zoomed in 200mm so the birds aren't the clearest, but I love the contrast of the blah winter weather and the birds!

Photo of the Week - Week 2

I did take the photo, just didn't have the chance to post it last week since I started two classes!!!! Here's my baby girl! :) You'll probably find that she is the subject of my photos quite often! :) I took this picture with my new flash diffuser and used an action called "Hot Cocoa" from CoffeeShop!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Fake Album cover - from Facebook

1 - Go to wikipedia and hit random. The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to and hit random. The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first ...album.

3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days” Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use photoshop or similar ( is a free online photo editor) to put it all together.

5 - Post it with this text in the “caption” and reblog.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Death of Bear

This was just minutes AFTER I performed surgery on the poor thing. Bear had a broken leg and broken arm that I successfully repaired while Lady waited patiently.... now half of his "fat" and his "heart" (a.k.a squeaker) are removed from his poor body.

Being reunited with Bear!

Oh how I've missed you.....

Oh no.... you caught me!

Poor Bear!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Amish in the Winter

Grace and I took an impromptu trip to see my Amish friend, V, today! It was an absolutely stunning, gorgeous day! The skies were such a beautiful blue, the sun was shining and the snow was crisp and white! We had a nice visit with Verna and her family. I even got to snuggle with her new little nephew who is only 3 months old! He was absolutely adorable in his cute little Amish outfit. He has the cutest little cheeks and sweet dimples. It was so nice to catch up with Verna as well. And I couldn't leave without my normal purchases (her mom owns a bakery) of white bread, pecan caramel rolls and cinnamon rolls. We left making plans with Verna to visit again in February or March when there is more snow so she can give us a one-horse open sleigh ride! I adore buggy rides and I absolutely cannot wait for a sleigh ride!

I thought I'd share a few of the photos I snapped out my car window! :) Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Reading Challenge

I've joined the 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge!!!

In 2009, I read 26 books.
In 2010, I read 29 books.

My goal for 2011 is.......
40 books!!!!!

Think I can do it???? :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Book Report: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

(Image from Barnes and Noble)

I cannot believe it!!! Two books in a row made it into my top favorite books ever!!! THE KITCHEN HOUSE by Kathleen Grissom was absolutely phenomenal! I’ve had it on my “to read” list for quite awhile but a friend of mind recommended I read it ASAP after she read it and THE HELP. She liked THE KITCHEN HOUSE even better than THE HELP! Honestly, I didn’t think anything could top THE HELP when it pertains to the subject of black slaves working for white masters. I can’t decide which I like best, because I think I like them equally. While THE KITCHEN HOUSE is about black slaves like THE HELP, they are two very different books with two very different storylines. If I were to be quite honest, I would say that THE HELP is very fluffy compared to THE KITCHEN HOUSES’ deep and detailed content. Actually, this book’s main character is a white indentured servant who works WITH the black slaves working FOR the white masters which really gives it a totally different twist.

The author wrote this book so amazingly that I had everything vividly pictured in my mind! My attention was grabbed with the first chapter… and hasn’t ended even though I am done reading the book. The characters are extremely captivating, the storyline so believable and detailed you almost think you are truly experiencing all of your five senses. The book is fast moving and ever changing and definitely was not predictable at all. There are a lot of characters in this book… so many, that I had to go back and re-read spots in the first couple chapters to make sure I had everyone straight, but as you go through the book, each character is absolutely necessary and you will enjoy them all in different ways.

Per a Q&A on, Kathleen Grissom shared that every time one of the slaves, Belle, would bake molasses cake in the kitchen house, she would crave it. Using old recipes as a baseline, the author and her duaghter came up with the following recipe which she has shared with her readers. I am definitely going to try it!!

Simple Molasses Cake
½ cup butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup milk
1 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 dashes ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inchsquare baking pan. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and the molasses. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Add each of these alternately to the butter mixture, beating well between additions. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

My bookclub picked THE HELP and THE KITCHEN HOUSE for our next meeting. We will be comparing and contrasting these two books. They are sure to bring us a lot of conversation. Can’t wait! In fact, I think I am going to make the molasses cake for the meeting.

I highly recommend this book. I had to wait a few days to write a review because I was speechless at first. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a long, long time. Lawd, I don’t need to say anything more except HURRY UP AND READ THIS BOOK (and THE HELP too)!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dog Praying

Too cute not to share! Enjoy!

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My baby girl loves snow!

Lady Isabelle is a true snow dog!!! She loves biting at the snow when it's thrown at her and she loves to zoom around the yard! She's a crazy dog! I love her.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Photo of the Week - Week 1

I've been inspired in the past to try to take a photo a day for an entire year, but I know that is impossible for me. I'll try a photo a week..... Actually, I think I've tried this in the past unsuccessfully. 2011 is a new year!

Week 1/52 - January 2, 2011 - Photo taken from our back deck towards the West. AMAZING colors.... Lasted only a few minutes. Thankfully, my camera was handy and I was able to capture it!

Book Report: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

(Image from Barnes and Noble)

Good Law, I have to say this was one of thee BEST books I have EVER read! So much so that it earned the a place in my top favorite books. To date, only six books have made into that spot... THE HELP joins REDEEMING LOVE by Francine Rivers, SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN by Lisa See, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA by Arthur Golden, THE GIVER by Lois Lowry and THOSE WHO SAVE US by Jenna Blum. Stiff competition, in my opinion!

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett was recommended to me over a year ago and I finally read it last month! Seriously, I don't know why I waited so long!!!! I even had it on my book shelf, loaned it to a few friends... and still hadn't read it. Maybe it's because the cover didn't appeal to me. I admit it, I totally judge books by their covers. And to be quite honest, even though I read the synopsis, I didn't realize what THE HELP meant. Oh, how ignorant I was....

Speaking of ignorance.... it is prevalent throughout this book. It's set back in the 1960's in Jackson, Mississippi when black women worked for white families... cooking, cleaning, raising white babies. The title simply signifies these amazing women.... they are THE HELP. Everything they(and blacks in general) went through, how they were treated is upsetting.... reality, upsetting reality. It baffles me how ignorant the white folk were back in the day... and it wasn't even that long ago. Thank God, the world has come a long way since then.

You will fall in love with the characters. You will love their stories! You will love the chances that they take. And you will love the hope that is created for these amazing people in the decades to come! I know it's fiction... but I can't help but believe this very story occurred over and over and over.... which is so disheartening.

I also want to share with you that I read this book in print. But a friend shared with me that she actually "read" it via audiobook. I decided to reserve it from the library and am now "re-reading" it. Wow... what a treat!!! The publisher did a great job choosing four different readers. "Hearing" the accents brings the characters even more to life. And I am excited to go through this journey again.... won't you take the journey too?