Monday, April 29, 2019

The People You Meet Along the Way - Hannah Mercer

I started scrapbooking in 1998, shortly after my grandson was born.  To this day, I have not scrapbooked all my photos of that little guy's life. (Yeah, he turns 21 this year).  But after the birth of my 2nd grandson many years later, I realized that when I focused on getting those photos, I missed out on moments.  That was more important to me, so I started putting the camera down and enjoying each moment, committing it to memory.  I've never been good with selfies either.  Same reason.

So it wasn't until Leanne at From Chaos Comes Happiness started posting about our trip to Plains, GA that I realized there were so many people I met that made it a memorable trip.  But because I was "in the moment", I failed to get pictures of all of them.  Nonetheless, they made the trip memorable, so I'd like to tell you about some of our new friends in Sumter County. 

Like Hannah Mercer.  Hannah is a Barista Trainer for Cafe Campesino, and she gave us a tour of their facility.  We got to meet some of the workers who roast and package the beans.  The story behind the founding of Cafe Campesino is so heartwarming. It started with a wheelbarrow of dirt that was dumped on a coffee bean plant during a Habitat for Humanity program in Guatemala.  Click on the link to read more.  Let me tell you, you'll have a whole new appreciation for fair trade purchases! 

I love that phrase "inspire conscious consumption"
This is Hannah!


After our tour, Hannah led us in some Latte Art!!  So much fun!  Leanne, the ultimate fearless artist, picked up a brush and jumped right in.

I'm not so much the artist, but I was lovin' the canvas!

Yes, Leanne made sure Frida Kahlo made it to the coffee cup!!
What a fantastic adventure at Cafe Campesino!  Oh, and while staying in Americus, we were right across the street from a Cafe Campesino retail store.  So that's where we had our breakfast and met up with Nicole for our next adventure.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Southbound and Down...On our way to Georgia

As I mentioned in the last post, Leanne over at From Chaos Comes Happiness and I took a road trip to visit our friend Nicole from Destination Unknown.  This trip began last fall, as Leanne, her sister Laura, and I just started talking about the road trip and Laura reached out to Nicole to start the planning.  Shortly after, Laura was diagnosed with a rare, metastatic ovarian cancer and by December, we had lost our dear friend and sister.  But Leanne and I, in our year of healing, have decided to honor the plans that Laura had made.  So on March 31, 2019 we headed out.

Day 1 - On the road nice and early  - 4:15 a.m. CDT
This was the first road trip Leanne and I took together.  We were kind to each other for, I'd say, 45 minutes.  Just kidding.  It was sweet!  And we got to witness an incredible sunrise!

Along with some snow.  South of us.  Still trying to process that!!

Anyway, I will say that Leanne is a top notch navigator, although she did laugh at me for printing out the Google map directions.  "Dear Peg, don't you know that we have maps on our phones?"  But the printout came in handy for those short turns.  (You see, that lady on the phone app can't talk fast enough.)  

After 13-14 hours on the road, we finally met Nicole, our long time blogger friend.  Finally, face-to-face, "damn, you are real" moment.  And we stayed at the Plains Inn.  Talk about quaint!!  Seven rooms, each with its unique and authentic design, based on decades from 1920-1980.  Leanne took 1970, otherwise known as the presidential suite, and I stayed in the 1950s room.  How adorable is this!  And there's so much more history to this building.  I'll save that for another time!!

And there is a community room where we had a continental breakfast, coffee and good chat with other guests.  I had such a wonderful chat with a gentlemen who came into town to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of his long time friend.  And honestly, after talking to so many people in town, we eventually started calling it "the funeral" since everyone in town knew about it!

From the balcony off the community room, you can sit and enjoy the beautiful garden on Main St.  Seriously, if ever there was a place that epitomizes Main Street, this is it!  Captured my heart!!  Want to see more of those adorable rooms?  Check out the Plains Inn website, scroll down and click on each of the decades. Will I go back?  You bet!  I could spend a week in this little town!!  If I was writing a book, this would be my getaway!!  

Did you know you can subscribe to my blog and receive notification whenever there's a new post?  Just click on "Subscribe" on the right and you'll know each time I post!  What better way to keep up with this incredible adventure we had!!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

When a Blogger Meets a Blogger!

When I started blogging in 2009 (I can't believe it's been 10 years), I used it as a way to express myself.  My posts have never been mind-altering, deeply insightful writing.  More just everyday, get to know me and my life posts.

But as you get to know fellow bloggers, women (mostly) you've never met face to face, you form friendships.  Virtual, cyber friendships.  But you know a lot about their lives, their struggles, their joys, and their passions.  Blogging served as an outlet and a support system.  Once in a while, you'd get to meet one of your blogger buddies, and it's always so comforting to hug this friend you've just now met in person. 

Fellow blogger and dear friend, Leanne at From Chaos Comes Happiness, and I have decided to go ahead with plans that began in the fall of last year.  We, along with her sister Laura, started making plans to head to Georgia to visit our blogger friend, Nicole of Destination Unknown.  When Laura was sick, those plans got put on hold. Once she passed, Leanne and I thought it would be a great to honor the plans that we had made.  It's what Laura would have wanted.

So next month, we are headed to Plains, GA, home of the 39th President of the U.S.  To learn the history of the area, try some boiled peanuts, catch up with our friend, and make it a "memorial" roadtrip.  Laura will be with us in spirit.

Can't wait to share the awesome adventure with you! 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Looking Forward

So I started 2019 back in December 2018.  As we were caring for my friend, Laura, I ran out of my daily meds and needed to get in to see my doctor for refills.  That's when I found out there were some major changes in my health.  So 2019 started with doctor visits and vows to take care of myself.  Getting to the gym has been difficult this month, since my calendar was filled with doctor appointments, but there's always the treadmill at home. I'm putting this out there for all to see so that I work on accountability.

So here we are on the last day of the first month in this new year and I'm doing well.  A whole lot less doctor appointments and I'm feeling so much better.

Chicagoland is nearing the end of this crazy polar vortex that brought us temperatures of -24.  Most people stayed inside and we endured! I did the same, but since I really, really dislike the cold, my mind was really here:
Atlantic sunrise

Our sub-zero temps really get me thinking about the spring and getting back into the garden.  I'm looking forward to these popping up.

Spring bulbs from Costco and Menard's
And this lady will watch over my garden this year.  She's 4 feet high, and ready to welcome the birds, butterflies and bees.  She will join this one that I found last year.  This little one is about 3 ft. high.

They make me happy.  They fill me with peace.  And when you fill the bird feeders to welcome the birds, and when the milkweeds welcome the monarchs, it feels like all is right with the world.

Yes, I'm ready for spring. And after this polar vortex stuff, I'll bet many of you are as well.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Life

Sometimes, the words you have are the best you'll ever have.  This is a repeat from 2012 and 2013.  Now more than ever, we need this man and what he stood for!

Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday.  He had a dream.  A dream that certainly couldn't be fulfilled overnight.  A dream not just for himself, but for mankind.  "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but the the content of their character."  Isn't that beautiful?    
I'm glad that I've witnessed in my lifetime a shift in how people/races interact with one another.  One man spoke up to voice what others felt in their hearts and moved us to the healing that humankind so sorely needed.  You see, as long as we hold those prejudices and hates, we are not free.  We are shackled by those hates; that anger.  And until we decide that what's on the outside really doesn't matter and that the only thing that matters is what's in someone's heart, we will never be free.  He said it best when he said: 
..."Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring -- when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children -- black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics -- will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Whether or not you have the day off today, have a wonderful day!  And just send a quick note of gratitude to your higher power that we were blessed to have heard the words from Dr. King's heart. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

It's Good (and Healthy) to be Back...Again

Last time I posted was in August 2017.  It's not like I've had nothing to say!  I think it's just making the time to say it on this page.  As the last days of 2018 exited, it was cause for me to say "good riddance."  Those of you who know me know that I lean toward finding the positive in my life.  But last year....whew!!  One for the books.

In April 2018, my middle sister lost her fight with cancer.  Younger sister and I took some trips to see her, aggravate her, care for her.  Y'know...sister things!  As much as we weren't that close, losing her had more of an impact on me than I would have imagined.

Then in November, a very good friend, and sister to Leanne at From Chaos 
Comes Happiness, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive ovarian cancer.  She was gone within a month.  I was grateful that I was able to help in caregiving for her.  But that one took a lot out of her family and friends.

Unfortunately, all too often caregivers forget to take care of themselves.

That changes this year.  This year, I take care of myself.  So that I can better take care of others when they need me.  So I'll be blogging more, and sharing my insights into this 365 day journey around the sun that we call "Life".  It's good to be back.  I leave you with this sunrise.
Daytona Beach Sunrise
Peace and Love to you!  It's good to be back!!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Let's try this blogging thing again!!

Yes, it's been awhile.  I've posted once in 2017!  I don't have a good reason, either.  So let's catch up...
I retired from East Leyden High School in January.  So many times you hear people who have retired tell you that you know when it's time.  And so many things in my life were changing that it became very clear to me over the holidays.  So it was an incredible goodbye that started as a little conversation in the dean's office and quickly grew to epic proportions.  But it was an amazingly emotional day!  I have been extremely blessed to work with wonderful people at Leyden, and as they say, you don't miss the job, you miss the people.

So with that free time, I first planned a trip to see my Texas Sisters!  Long overdue and desperately needed!  Oh, how I love these girls!!  Laughs throughout the week!!
Yep, the pic is a bit dated!  The laughs are not!
Then there was a trip to Arkansas to visit PG's daughter and the love of her life!  Went fishing on the Little Red River and caught my first fish.  Life on the river...pretty much outstanding!!!
Yeah, I'm not touchin' it!!
Jill, Steve, and my PG
Next up was a trip to Florida to spend a few days with my middle sister.  She's dealing with some health issues and my youngest sister and I decided we needed to make it a road trip.  And because I'm an early riser and middle sister lives 15 minutes from the ocean, I drove down to take in a few sunrises.'s been a while since we've returned, but I'm haunted by the beauty and peace I feel watching the sun rise!  Even if it was behind clouds.
Road Trip!!
Atlantic Sunrise!
And I have resurrected the Cubs fan in me.  Long ago, I put it to sleep because I was convinced that I was a jinx.  When I watched, they lost.  I've decided it's not on my shoulders.  As a result, I have enjoyed each and every game (win or lose, but flying the W is so much sweeter).  And I took in a game with my BFF and Susu!!  A great W, great seats, and just a holler from my guy, Rizzo!!    
Hanging with these two is so fun!!
See all those seats behind us?  Yeah, our seats were AWESOME!
Then, of course, there was the solar eclipse on August 21st.  So when you have the time and can make some last minute decisions to travel south to the path of totality, why wouldn't you?  Okay, so it wasn't last minute, but I found out we were incredibly lucky to have stopped where we were because we actually experienced a cloudless totality.  I wish I could find the words to describe the feeling I had during that.  All I've got is a picture or two.
Totality 8/21/17
Grassy area minutes before totality
Grassy area during totality (zoomed in)
So what's next?  Well, a short trip to Switzerland with my BFF, Murph.  We'll be living like the locals while we visit Murph's OTHER BFF, Andrea!   Ohhhh....this will be epic!!!
Looking forward to a few days of living like a local in Switzerland!
And during this time, I've been volunteering for The Unity in Community Foundation. I've been using my talents to get letters out to sponsors, work on the foundation's website, and other behind-the-scenes things to get ready for their annual fundraiser/food drive on September 9th.  Yeah, I'm not going to let those skills I excelled in while working get rusty!  Anyway, this year we are raising funds to help a local resident in need of a kidney transplant.  You can get more information here.  There's even an online auction that will end at 3 p.m. on the day of the event.

So, if you are looking for a date night on Saturday, September 9th from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., show up at the Underpass Lounge in Franklin Park.  Tickets are $20 and that gets you entry into the door prize as well as great food by Chef Armando, served by some of the best Advanced Catering students you'll ever meet!  You'll also have an opportunity to bid on the silent auction items, enter raffles for things like wine, gift cards, services, as well as enjoy the music and laughter of hanging with those who come out for our community.  C'mon out and support our community.  Hope to see you there!!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Celebrating a Birthday!

38 years ago today was the first day of the most important job I have ever held.  It's a job I hold to this very day.  I've had other jobs during this time, but those weren't full time jobs.  I only worked 40-50 hours a week at those jobs.  But this most important was 24/7.  38 years ago, I became a Mom.

We celebrated my son's birthday yesterday, and I was trying to tell my kids that even though we are celebrating THEIR birthdays, it's still a bit of a celebration for me.  Every year, I walked down memory lane thinking about the 24 hours prior, labor, and birth.  It doesn't stop there.  I think about the fun times throughout their lives.  I think about whether there were times I would have handled things differently, knowing what I now know.  I think about whether they are living their passion. Whether there is still something I could do for them to help them live life more fully.

Yes, my son is 38.  One would think I can stop being a Mom.  And to that I would say, "Never."  Can any mother really say that you get over wanting what's best for your kids?

And then they go and have kids of their own.  So you also want to see the grandkids live life to the fullest.  Yeah, this job never ends.  But it's been the most important and rewarding job of my life. And I'm so glad I decided to say yes to the job offer!!

Happy Birthday, Jim!  
I love you with all my heart!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

One Little Word - 2017

Since 2009, with the exception of two years, I found One Little Word that would be part of my guidance system for the year.  It all started with a blog post by Ali Edwards in 2007 in which she said, "A single word can be a powerful thing.  It can be a ripple in a pond that changes everything.  It can be sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow."  Usually, my word finds me.

In the past, I've had Gratitude, Serenity, Simplify, Truth, Create, and Curiosity.  Some have carried me through the year and others didn't play a big part.  For 2017, I'm looking forward to the guidance of my word. I'm looking forward to how things will be affected in my life when I practice and embrace
Image from
pa·tience  /pāSHəns/   noun

  1. the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
  2. the ability to continue doing something for a long time without losing interest, especially something difficult.   

2017 will also be the year I retire from a pretty neat job.  I've been incredibly lucky to have good bosses throughout my working career, and the one I have now is the best!  But it's time.  Everyone who willingly retires will tell you that you know when it's time.  And the time for me is now.  I've got a lot of things that are pulling at me right now.  Things that just might let me use my one little word this year.

One last thing before I go...I purchased an amethyst necklace from my friend Liz' Etsy shop.  It just spoke to me. And for some reason, I thought the amythest was my birthstone so why wouldn't I buy it.  Turns out that it's not my birthstone, but when I researched what the amethyst helps with, impatience was one thing mentioned.  See how that word you choose keeps coming up?  This happens to me every year.

So, I shall keep you posted on how I'm doing with my patience practices!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

I started this post after right after the Cubs won the NLCS games.  I'm posting it after they won the World Series, but I like where the message was going.
Generally speaking, I don't spend a lot of time watching sports.  I used to say that I was bad luck for the Chicago Bears.  Every time I watched, they lost.  I didn't have a lot of patience to sit and watch a whole Cubs game, so I didn't.  Believe it or not, it never dawned on me to watch highlights.  (Yeah, I really need to talk more about the Cubs with my BFF and die-hard Cubs fan, Murph).
White Sox?  Well, I grew up on the Nort' side so being a Sox fan was never something that was even considered.  Hockey?  Loved it when I was much younger, once my ex-husband taught me about the game.  Then I lost interest when there were too many fights.  Found my love for the game again after watching one of our students, Brody Roybal, as part of the gold medal winning team in the Sochi Paralympics Sledge Hockey games.

I bring all this up because I have reduced my already shortened sleep schedule by getting totally hooked on the Cubs.  Some may call me a bandwagoner.  I'm fine with that.  But here's the thing. This team has an energy that is beyond anything we've seen before.  And you can feel it!!  And it feels like it all stems from their manager.  I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Joe Maddon meditates every morning.  He's just so calm.  And c'mon, what kind of manager would just tell one of his players, when asked for any more advice, "Try not to suck."  He's just so ... great!  I get the feeling he meditates.  He's just so calming.  Watching the way these guys interacted was fun.  I think it was what we needed during this ugly election season.
So here we are after their come-from-behind World Series win, after the parade honoring them, after a week of not too much sleep for what is probably half the Chicagoland, no make that nation's population (cuz there's Cubs fans everywhere).  BFF got to see them win in game 7.  I couldn't have wished anything more for her.  I just may get back into baseball next spring!!  And I might even start watching the Bears.  God knows they couldn't be doing any worse.