Photography Contest

I entered a local photography contest last month (Clinch River Days Festival) and figured I hadn’t won anything and had kind of forgotten about it.  It was the first photography contest I’ve ever entered so I didn’t expect much.

I received an email Wednesday saying that I had won first place with one of my photos!  I won first in the Flora/Fauna category!

20150618_135115I’m surprised and very pleased!  I’ve decided that I will do a couple of entries in our county fair as well.



I’ve always been interested in painting but I had never had the chance to take a class on it.  Even in high school I didn’t take art.  I don’t consider myself to be very artistic.  I know what I like but I’m not exactly on the “cutting edge” of things.  Stepping out and doing this has really fit with my goals of doing things I wouldn’t normally do.

The vineyard in my hometown has been offering one session painting classes on the weekends.  It is a simple class where you recreate a painting along with the teacher.  She was super nice and a lot of fun!  She was really good about calming any irrational painting fears and helping you to have confidence to really go for it.

I signed up with my friend Tammie (she had done it twice) and I talked my aunt into doing it too.  In this particular one we will be painting two canvases of tulips.  I figured this would give me enough of an experience to see if it is something that I would be interested in pursuing further.


I didn’t get a picture of us all with our pink tulips.  I wish I had.  Here we are though with our purple tulips.  I think they look pretty good!

I am so glad I did it.  I had a lot of fun!  It was nice to focus on painting and not having my mind go in a million different directions.  It forced me to slow down.

Since I enjoyed it so much I told Jason it would be something I would like to do at home so he bought me some painting supplies Sunday after the class.  (Yes….he’s so sweet!)

These two I painted at my house on my own.  I’m really enjoying it.  I don’t care if I ever get “good” at it as long as I have fun doing it!  I like the break it gives my mind from everyday craziness and the way I have to use my mind to envision and see things differently.




I’m so glad I had the opportunity to do this class.  I’ll be signing up for some more when they start back in the fall.


Comfort Zone


Y’all, I have a confession to make: I’ve been living in my comfort zone for too long.  I’ve been doing just fine but I’ve not been growing.  I’ve not been exploring.  I’ve not been pushing myself.

This year I’m working on getting out of my comfort zone more and more.  I’ve traveled by myself, began taking Zumba classes, starting a Youtube channel and now I’ve taken an acrylic painting class (I’ll post about it later).  I know that probably doesn’t sound like much to other people but for me it is huge!  I also want to take a cooking class, a knitting and crochet class and maybe a writing class if I can find one close by.

I know I’ve touched on this before but after my knee injury I became a little lost.  I was in pain all the time so that was terrible.  I couldn’t really ride horses anymore, I began to gain so much weight and my self esteem really suffered.  I just wasn’t “me”.  It is taking a long time to get back to where I was physically but I want to be an even better “me”.  I just don’t believe in going backward when it comes to being the real you.  I know I was brought through all of that for a reason and I don’t want to ignore it.

I don’t want to be old one day and have a long list of “I wish I had”, or “why didn’t I’s”.

Now, you probably won’t see my skydiving (I’m not hating on it though…I just don’t think I could do it right now) but I plan on pushing myself harder.  I want to really see what I’m made of.  I want to push myself as far as I can.  I want to try a lot of things.  Things that I don’t necessarily think would be “me”.  Anything different.

Why, you may ask?  Well, why not?

I want to be the best me I can be for my family.  I want to show my son that he can do anything that he sets his mind to.  I don’t want him to be afraid of challenges (whether real or in his own head).

I’ll leave you with a quote I absolutely love:

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller


10 Tips for Traveling by Yourself



  1. Research where you are going.  You can usually find out the neighborhoods to avoid and which ones you don’t want to miss.  There is so much information out there.  Google and Tripadvisor are both good places to start your research.
  2. The Google Maps app is invaluable.  It helps to make you look like less of a tourist.  If you start pulling out a map every time you turn a corner or go a few blocks anyone watching could see that you don’t know where you are but if you are just looking at your phone for all they know you could have just gotten a text or were checking the weather.
  3. If you have a condition that requires medication make sure to have a couple of copies of your medication list along with your doctors information and other emergency contact information.  Put one in your wallet/purse and another in your luggage at your hotel.
  4. Leave a copy of your documentation (itinerary, reservations, tickets, confirmation numbers, passport, driver’s license, etc.) at home with someone you trust.
  5. Make sure to have a hard copy of phone numbers.  What if your phone goes dead and you have to buy a new one?  What if you lose it?  Anything can happen and it is nice to have those numbers handy.
  6. Have a plan for each day but don’t get upset if you can’t do it all.  Also, make sure to have some alternatives in case something doesn’t pan out.  Weather can change, tours can be canceled, there could be unscheduled construction in a building you might want to see.  You never know what will happen so it is nice to have a back up plan just in case.
  7. Skype or Face Time with loved ones.  This helps keep any homesickness at bay.
  8. Take an umbrella and (at least) a light jacket with you.  Weather can be unpredictable…why be miserable?
  9. Keep everything organized in a folder.  I use a 5 Star pocket and prong folder that is water resistant and very sturdy.  I put everything (reservation confirmations, booking numbers, tickets, etc.) in sheet protectors with extra sheet protectors in the back.  I keep it organized by putting everything in order as I come to it on my vacation.  I keep extra sheet protectors in the back to keep up with receipts, brochures, used tickets and small mementoes.
  10. Always be aware of your surroundings.  This is pretty much common sense but on occasion anyone can get distracted and not focus on what is going on around them.


I hope these tips help you if you’re traveling by yourself or even with someone!


NYC Part 3 – April 5th

Sunday  I woke up and ate a granola bar and drank some water for breakfast.


I was feeling so ready to see as much as I could!

I caught a cab to The American Museum of Natural History.



This place is so big!  I could only do the first two floors.  My legs were still tired from the day before and after two floors of this and the amount of walking I still wanted to do I knew I had better stop there.


There’s something creepy behind me, isn’t there?



OMG…these bears though!

I would go through and post a bunch of other pictures of the museum but they just don’t do the exhibits justice.  Just go visit.  Seriously.  It will be better than any pictures anyone has ever taken there.  The dioramas are so good!  All of the exhibits are top notch.  If you’re a museum freak like me it is worth your time.  The next time I go to NYC I’ll probably go back just so I can see the two levels I had to miss.

After the museum I was starving but I didn’t want to eat too much.  I used the Central Park West exit (the same one I came in) and there were food trucks everywhere.  I picked one and grabbed a hot dog and a doctor pepper.  It was delicious!


I ate on the go venturing just a little way into Central Park then back onto the sidewalk along Central Park West.





I couldn’t resist a Central Park Selfie!

I saw some beautiful buildings and had fun people watching.

I also saw Trump International.


This was the best picture I could get of it….c’est la vie…

There were horses and carriages everywhere doing Central Park carriage rides.


I headed west in search of 5th Avenue.


I found the Apple Store.



And FAO Schwarz.


I loved this camel at FAO!!!  I wish now I had gotten him for Rylan.



Does anyone remember this giant keyboard from the movie “Big”?  I so wanted to play it but my legs were tired…and there was a line…aaaannnndddd it looked like only kids were doing it, so you know.

I ended up buying Rylan a Lego Race Car but failed to get a picture of it.  (Where’s my brain at y’all?)

I checked out Tiffany’s, Coach, Michael Kors, etc.  I didn’t find anything I wanted to buy but kept looking.  I guess I wasn’t really in a shopping mood.  I did make it to Madison Avenue and Park Avenue.  I looked around and then I decided to find Texas de Brazil (I had reservations for 4pm) and there was a candy store next door (Dylan’s Candy Bar).  Of course I had to go in and see what I could find.  I ended up with some chocolate covered espresso beans and several bags of loose candy.  I made it to my reservation on time.  I didn’t get any pictures of the food or the restaurant though.  I was so tired by this point I was ready to eat, relax and rest my mind.  I had smoked salmon, small salad with their delicious ranch dressing, filet, garlic mashed potatoes and fried bananas.  It was so good!  I sat and ate and people watched.

After leaving there I thought I might walk back over to 5th Avenue but I was just too tired.  I got probably halfway there and hailed a cab to go back to the hotel.

When I got there I started getting ready for my early flight.  I laid out everything I needed for in the morning.  I packed everything else that wasn’t needed and had it all organized and ready to go.  I double checked that I had my alarm set and I took a shower.  Then I piled up in the king sized bed, Skyped with Jason and Rylan for a while and then read until the premier of Mad Men.

Speaking of Mad Men…


These were on the cabs everywhere.  I had to take a pic and send it to the Husband.

Oh, and a picture of Madison Avenue of course!

20150405_144334Jason and I texted while Mad Men was on (talking about the show) and then I was pretty much asleep right after it went off.


NYC Part 1 – Friday, April 3, 2015


travel quote

This spoke volumes to me about this trip.  I have never traveled by myself before so this was all new to me.  I had been through New York but had never spent time there.  Everything was unknown and exciting!


Rylan taking Mama to the airport.  He’s so cute it hurts!


My first flight wasn’t crowded at all so I had three seats to myself!  It was great!



This was probably the smoothest flight I’ve ever had.  We didn’t have any turbulence at all.  The sky was gorgeous!


Hello Atlanta!  I’ve never gotten a good picture of the Atlanta skyline from a plane before.  I’ve always either had someone in the way or it has been bad weather/foggy.


Lunch time!  I don’t eat a lot during travel.  It seems to just weigh me down if I do and I get really groggy.

I wish I had been able to get pictures coming into Newark airport or when I was driving into the city but it was dark and foggy in spots.

I had a car waiting for me at the airport to take me to my hotel.  I used Dial 7 car service and I highly recommend them!

I stayed at the New York Marriott Downtown.  It was only a couple minutes walk from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the room was wonderful!  The staff was extremely friendly and helpful as well.

20150403_225620Walking into my room.



20150403_225647The bed was so comfy!



NYC for My Birthday Weekend!

The Husband got me the best gift ever this year: a solo trip to New York City!  This has been one of the best gifts he’s ever given me and it was a total surprise.  I have wanted to go to NYC for a long time now and now I’m going! I am so excited!  This will be my first big trip by myself as well as my first trip to NYC and I’m so looking forward to it!

the big apple

I have to take a minute to brag on my Hubby…he really is great!   He’s so good to me and I could say it a million times a day and it wouldn’t be enough.  The best husband and father ever!  The Lord has really blessed me with him.

I have the plane tickets, the hotel and my museum tickets ready.  Everything is packed with the exception of my clothes (still gotta check the weather closer to the departure date).  I can’t wait!

Now, I also want to say I’m a bit anxious about this trip.  I have never traveled this distance or flown by myself.  It is a little intimidating because of the unknown but I’m up for the challenge.  My motto right now is “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”  I think it is always important to keep stretching yourself and always be ready for a new challenge.  It is good to get out of your comfort zone when you can because this is when you really grow.

I’m up for doing a trip that is just all about what I want to do.  That sounds so selfish as I read it back…I don’t mean it that way, I really don’t.  The Husband is really a good travel buddy and we always have a great time together.  It will just be nice to not have to take anyone else’s feelings, tastes, wake up times, etc. into consideration.  In some ways I’m not sure how I will do.  I’m so used to asking everyone else what they want and need that it will be weird to rely solely on what I want.  I had never really thought about it before.

I’m really going to miss the Husband and my Little Man.  As much as I am looking forward to going and enjoying myself I’m looking forward to getting back to them more.



A friend of mine texted me this past weekend to see if I wanted to start going to a Zumba class with her at our local YMCA.  Of course I was interested!  This is something I have been thinking about for months but, I am embarrassed to say, I was afraid to go by myself.  I had anxiety.  I didn’t want anyone to see my fat jiggle and wonder why I couldn’t keep up.  Having a friend go really helped me get over that.

Last night was our first class and I was not disappointed!  It was great!  The teacher was fun and she explained things thoroughly.  She was also very encouraging.  All of the staff and members we met were just wonderful.  They were all very sweet.  I am officially a member of the YMCA now and I am excited to see how well it works out for me as time goes on.

We ended up taking half of a cycling class after our Zumba class was over and we plan on doing it after Zumba every Monday.  It felt so good to work out again!  I am definitely feeling good this morning and I’m ready to do it again.

Our next class is Wednesday and I can’t wait!