A North Texas Autumn

We aren’t famous for our fall foliage like New England.  People don’t plan trips to see the leaves change colors around here.  And, yet, anywhere you drive right now in the Dallas Metroplex you will see an abundance of color.

autumn 143 autumn 142 autumn 141 Autumn 14

Take a moment and look around – it’s beautiful!

 

 

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WPC – Transitions

Weekly Photo Challenge – Transitions.

Transitioning from ragamuffins to – phew that’s much better! –  my son, Patrick and my dog, Lucy.

Going from shaggy headed  to a buzz cut, my boy probably lost 5 pounds with that haircut.

Patrick - 2013

Patrick - 20131Patrick 20132

My Westie is a pistol and she loves to do things her way.  Rolling in the mud is a good day for her.  Alas, in order to come back inside she had to have a big ole bath.

Lucy 091

Lucy 09

All cleaned up and looking good – both of them of such cuties!

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Reasons to Shop Small Business Saturday

 I originally posted this piece on another blog but it’s a good message and bears repeating.

As you plan your holiday shopping this year don’t forget to frequent your small businesses as much as possible.

After all – we need to feel the love, and we need YOU.

IMG_0139Do you shop small businesses? Whether it is retail, service oriented, an exercise facility or an eating establishment – are you a proponent of helping families support themselves and their employees by supporting their business?

Or do you automatically run to the big guys for your needs and wants?

If you do support small businesses, than thank you! So much! If it’s not something you’ve given much thought to then I implore you….before making your next purchase – whether it is dining, lawn care, working out or shopping for ‘stuff’ – please stop, and take a moment to consider the services and goods your local small business can offer.

You see, I belong to one of those families. My husband, Ronald, and his brother, Gary own a retail store in our town. In fact, we are very proud that it is the oldest business in our city and not too long ago celebrated the 50th anniversary of its humble beginnings. But, in this day and age with the fierce competition of larger national retailers the success of our entrepreneurship is in danger of faltering.

Are you surprised? I’m sure it’s possible. After all, there is a general misconception that people who own long-term businesses that have grown through the years must be rolling in the dough. The reality is we are just like most middle-class families. We have a comfortable life, but we are struggling with a tough economy that continues to throw zingers as we try to get ahead. The ever-increasing and high cost of goods, the ridiculous cost of health insurance today – don’t even get me started on the ‘affordable’ health care act – along with the fierce competition from big box stores is taking a toll on our ability to succeed.

So, what services and goods does our particular business offer? We sell flooring and appliances and have a service department to help you when those items give you fits. They can also help you with a variety of remodel jobs for kitchens. Did you even know that? Are you aware all of this is offered right here in your very own ‘neighborhood’? (And if you don’t live in my area of Texas then apply these words to the small businesses that are also trying to make a buck wherever it is that you live.)

So why are we struggling? It’s a good question and one we are trying to answer and resolve with a variety of new strategies.

A big reason – in our case, at least – is sometimes the population doesn’t realize our business even exists. Sometimes that’s the fault of the owner – lack of or poor advertising certainly won’t help the community appreciate all you have to offer. And, sometimes the reality is people just don’t pay attention. Being located in what used to be the hub of Allen the construction of a new main thoroughfare (many many moons ago) means our physical location is seen by much less traffic. There are tons of people in town who don’t even know we are here. Attempting to overcome that obstacle, we have invested a large amount of income to advertise in and around town. Including in the Allen Eagle stadium as so many people attend Friday night football games.

Another big reason…..people assume our prices are going to be higher, they won’t be able to find a good deal or we won’t offer same-as-cash financing.

But, it’s not true.

At all.

Any extras you find with a large retailer we will also offer. We are quite capable of competing with the big boys on their prices and often, we can even beat them.

Let’s look at the reasons why you should shop with us:

1. Again….first & foremost – Our prices and selections are competitive with the big boys.

2. Our sales team is going to offer you the expertise and a level of service that you will not find at Home Depot, Lowe’s or Nebraska Furniture Mart. Period. Our employee’s knowledge of the merchandise we sell is going to be more extensive, and you will find our sales team is genuinely interested in helping you find the best product to meet your particular situation. Each one of our associates understands that by making you happy and keeping you satisfied we are helping the business to succeed which translates into job security.

3. But, if, God forbid, you have a problem or an issue that has left you dissatisfied then the associate helping you is going to have a direct line to the owner. And, I promise you, Gary and Ronald WILL return your calls and work to resolve any issues that may occur.

4. Being a small, family-owned business, I admit that our hours are not as long or as extensive as a larger retailer. We are not open late and we are not open on Sundays. Again though, because your business is important to us we will work around that obstacle for you. If you cannot come in during regular open times then you can contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your schedule.

5. When you come in – or call – repeat customers can find out when each of their items was purchased and/or repaired. Whatever information you may need on whatever items you bought or work you had done – all of that history is available with the click of a button.

6. We service what we sell. You don’t have to worry about looking around for a third-party repairman if something goes on the fritz. You bought it from us and we will work to get it fixed. Again…..see #2.

7. As a small business, we remain resolved to giving back to our community. Keeping your tax dollars local and buying from ‘mom & pop’ stores helps us to keep paying it forward by employing our neighbors and supporting causes that directly benefit our town.

8. We are also committed to supporting other small businesses in our city. We want them to succeed as much as we want to succeed. After all, small businesses are the backbone of this great country in which we live, right? No matter what the service or dining options being offered or the goods being sold, America has a historically successful middle class because of the small business owner.

So I’m asking you – wherever you live – please look for and shop at the small companies that make up the fabric of your community. Give us a chance to help you and give you a better experience then you’ll get with a large company. Seriously, it doesn’t cost anything to check us out and see what you’ve been missing. And, if we can’t find what you need or get what you want than those big chain stores are just down the road.

Come see us. We need YOUR business to stay in business. Oh – and tell your friends too. 🙂

Thanksgiving Eve Sunset

On this warm and windy Thanksgiving Eve my house smelled of  cinnamon and spice and everything nice as two loaves of pumpkin bread baked in the oven.  It evoked a feeling of coziness and safety.

And yet another reminder of how much I have to be thankful for.

Inevitably – as it always is in nice weather – the back door was open and I wandered to the back yard so I could enjoy a few relaxing minutes.  In addition to the delectable aromas wafting outside I noticed a red tinge to the sky.

Another one of God’s beautiful pieces of art was evident for all to see.  The sun was setting and the sky was lit up with those brilliant colors that make you want to stand still in wonder at the majesty of it all.

The colors were changing by the second and within ten minutes the brilliance had dissipated.

Another reminder to savor the little moments when and while you can.

On this, the last night of the amazing hues of autumn, (before the Christmas colors take center stage) I couldn’t help but grab my camera so I could remember the moment.

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

 

 

WPC – A Trio of Characters

My grandson, Kolbe, provides a trio of characters to keep our days interesting.

Kolbe Batman

Sometimes Batman is our fierce protector – after he finishes his breakfast.

Kolbe Captain America

Often, Captain America shows up to watch over all the children playing soccer.

Kolbe Darth Vader

But, then again, we all have those days when our dark side shows.

And, finally, a trio of Frozen characters.  The cutest little girls in this whole big wide world. (I can say that because they are my granddaughters :))

Frozen Halloween

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Holiday Double Standard

I saw a meme on Facebook today titled “The Dirty Dozen” and it listed twelve retail stores that will be open for shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

It stated: “These twelve stores will start Black Friday on Thursday, rather than give their employees a day off to spend with family and friends.”

What are your feelings about this trend? Will you shop on Thanksgiving Day or not?  I don’t think I will.  I want the day to be about the four ‘F’s’.  Family. Friends. Food. Football.

And therein lies the double standard.

I love football on Thanksgiving.  Without fail I will watch my Cowboys play on Thanksgiving Day.  I’ve even had the pleasure of seeing a game in person on this holiday.

But, if the reason we are against shopping on Thanksgiving is because it forces employees to work, rather than be with their loved ones, then why doesn’t the same standard hold true for the entertainment/service industry? (And, to be clear – I’m not talking about medical professionals or those in law enforcement or emergency services. There are many jobs that must continue 24/7 and don’t have the luxury of shutting down for a day.)

Anyway, what about the families of those who will work the countless jobs associated with a professional football game?  How about the movies?  Or restaurant workers?  Shouldn’t we be all riled up over them having to work, too?

It’s a holiday double standard if we see no issue with eating out, going to the movies or a professional sporting event but feel indignant over stores being open.

It’s something to think about.

However you spend Thanksgiving Day I pray that it is a happy and blessed one for you.

Gobble Gobble.

A Whole Lotta Sauce

Spaghetti sauce, that is.

Nov 19 sauce

When you’re hosting lunch for a crowd you need to have a lot of whatever you are serving.  For Saturday’s feast I chose spaghetti and today I made this huge pan of sauce.

Yum.

I won’t have time to make it on Saturday so I’ve stayed ahead of the game by getting it ready early.  My house smelled delicious as the ingredients came together and it simmered on the cooktop.

Why am I hosting a big crowd for Saturday lunch?  To celebrate Ben’s Confirmation and Gianna’s 3rd birthday.

Three years ago today my beautiful granddaughter arrived and she has been keeping us on our toes ever since.  My daughter said it best on Instagram when she stated, “She brings laughter, joy and many moments to practice holiness everyday!”

That’s my girl and I sure do love her. 🙂

Ben is being confirmed on Saturday.  He is growing up so fast and he has grown into a wonderful and handsome young man.  I am so proud of him.

Nov 14 Ben

It’s going to be a great big celebratory, happy, family weekend.

I love these moments.

Romans 12:10

Love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.

 

 

 

Rainy Tennessee

A last minute trip to Ohio to visit my daughter, Krista, at college resulted in a Tennessee stopover to see my sister and her family.

There are so many places that are stunningly beautiful in this world, and Tennessee ranks right up there.

The Smoky Mountains are less than a hop and a skip from my sister’s house but even outside of the mountain ranges there are endless trails and wondrous hikes.

On a rainy Friday in late October we stumbled across these gems, and I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

TennesseeTennessee1

WPC – Victory

2008 Before pic

I’m down 50 pounds from my heaviest weight.  I am not the thinnest that I’ve ever been but these days, as a 50-something, I am trying to focus on being healthy as opposed to being skinny.

Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased with my progress.

 

Jan-Jul 2013 Iphone 203

At my heaviest I couldn’t run one minute without getting completely winded.  Starting out slow and using a a couch-to-5K program I completed my first race six months after I began losing weight.

IMG_4584

Then a Title Boxing Club opened in my hometown.  I was invited to try a free class by a friend and I was hooked. The trainer pictured with me pushes me to try my hardest and do my best.  As all the trainers do.

Nov 14 Endu Chall

This past Saturday I participated in a 3 Hour Endurance Challenge.  Our team of 5 ranged in age from 52 years-old to 14 years-old.  We didn’t win but we got it done and had fun doing it.  I am second from the right.  The young man to my right is my 14 year-old son, Ben.

Losing 50 pounds before I turned 50 – Jubilance!

Keeping it off – Triumph!

Connecting with my son through working out – Joy & Pride!

Being physically healthy and fit – VICTORY!

 

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