Prepare for Christmas

It’s the last day in November. With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s definitely time to prepare for Christmas.

The stores have been preparing for weeks with decorations, music and displays to entice shoppers to buy. Lights have been strung downtown and candy canes, toy soldiers and bells adorn light posts. I’ve noticed several cars with trees tied to their roofs the last couple of days, and several friends have posted pictures of their homes decorated for the season.

And of course, you can’t turn on the television, radio or computer without hearing about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, door buster deals and predictions about the total sales anticipated during the coming weeks in the busiest shopping time of the year. But it’s not shopping or decorating or baking or addressing cards that I’m suggesting you do to prepare.

The past several years have been filled with campaigns to put CHRIST back into Christmas by those who are appalled by a greeting of Happy Holidays. However, more recently I’ve noticed an effort by a few, to put CHRIST back into Christmas by recognizing Advent, the time to prepare for and anticipate the coming of Christ. I think that’s a much better campaign.

Yesterday was the first day of the Advent season, the time to prepare. It’s a good time to slow down instead of getting caught up in all of the hustle and bustle thrust upon us at this time of year. Slow down and prepare for Christmas by celebrating Advent. If you’re not sure how to do that, I’d like suggest you visit the blog of First United Methodist Church of Ocala where you’ll find daily Bible verses, readings, music or videos that can be a source of inspiration as you prepare for Christmas.




It’s Veterans’ Day: Buy a Wreath

Veterans’ Day, the perfect day to order a Christmas wreath for home and for our National Cemeteries so I’m reposting last year’s blog on Wreaths across America.

Last week I received an email from Meghan encouraging me to purchase a Christmas wreath from Wreaths Across America and decided I should share it today, Veterans’ Day, so others can take advantage of this opportunity. Her message:

I know that every year you all hear me go on and on about how much I love my wreath so I figured I’d share it with you this year. I get the wreath from the organization Wreaths Across America. They collect sponsorships to be able to lay wreaths on the headstones of Vets at military cemeteries across the country. Jon and I attended this event a few years ago at Florida National Cemetery and it was really cool to see wreaths on so many headstones.

Meghan recommends purchasing the Patriot Pair. For $30, a wreath (with a door hanger) will be delivered to your house and a second wreath will be sent to Arlington or another of our National Cemeteries to be laid on a headstone. Another option is to purchase a Personal Remembrance Wreath. For $20, you’ll receive a wreath with a door hanger delivered to your house, however, this option doesn’t provide a second wreath for a headstone.

Meghan insists that the wreaths which are delivered the first weekend of December lasted throughout the holiday season and that their fresh aroma remained until New Year’s Day when she took down her Christmas decorations. (And she was right…we received a beautiful fresh wreath that lasted until January last year.)

Veteran’s Day is the perfect time to order one or more wreaths from Wreaths Across America as a way to say thank you to our country’s veterans, and since this year’s wreath laying will take place on December 12th, you don’t want to delay or you’ll miss out on this opportunity.

Happy Halloween from Dunedin

A bike ride to downtown Dunedin turned into a Halloween celebration. As we approached Main Street we could hear music and the voices of excited children and we soon saw ghosts, skeletons, pirates and trick-or-treaters filling their bags with treats from all of the businesses.


No surprise that a city that caters to cyclists would include decorated bikes


as well as Cinderella’s carriage. People of all ages were in costume, but my favorite was the girl dressed as a rainbow. I wish I could have gotten a picture of her little brother dressed as a pot of gold.


Surprised by the event, we weren’t in costume, but a man let me borrow his parrot so I could get in touch with my inner pirate, and I posed with the skeleton at the photo booth painted on the side of a building housing a local realtor.


Fortune telling and the showing of Hocus Pocus in the park attracted crowds.


And the Dunedin Historical Society got in the spirit with displays representing Halloween through the years with everything from decorations


to black and white scary movies to those wonderful costumes like the ones I wore as a child bought in a box with a plastic mask.


Halloween sure has become a big event and “Funedin” knows how to do it right.



Feeling a lot like Charlie Brown

“Have you come to sing pumpkin carols?” Linus asks, in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.


I can’t say I heard any singing as we rode past a field of pumpkins along the Creeper Trail in Virginia, but I feel a little like Linus looking for pumpkins this fall.


Not the Great Pumpkin, but pumpkins, as well as other gourds to make the house look like fall.


No scarecrows, no ghosts or witches, no ghoulish displays, just pumpkins and gourds


maybe accompanied by a bromeliad, a couple of succulents, or a Christmas cactus. Do you think that will increase the likelihood of hearing those pumpkin carols?




14 Patriotic Quotes: Celebrating the 4th

Happy 4th of July. In honor of our most patriotic of holidays, here are some patriotic quotes:

The United States is the only country with a known birthday. ~James G. Blaine


He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. ~Thomas Paine


You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck


America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and moral fact – the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality. ~Adlai Stevenson


My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy! ~Thomas Jefferson


Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. ~Abraham Lincoln


There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. ~William J. Clinton


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ~Thomas Jefferson


Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country be righteous as well as strong. ~James Bryce


Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. ~John F. Kennedy


This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in. ~Theodore Roosevelt


Patriotism is like charity — it begins at home. ~Henry James


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal’. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.


True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else. ~Charles Darrow

Happy Father’s Day!

On Father’s Day I’d like to say thank you to both my father and the father of my children. I’m lucky to have been raised by a father who put his family first and taught his children that he would always be there for them. The most important lesson learned: what type of man I should marry. Like my dad, John puts his family first and somehow manages to thrive in a house full of girls.IMG_1276

I thought it might be fun to look at their strengths in terms of some of my favorite dads from TV or the movies.

From Eric Camden 7th Heaven (the character, not the actor)

Nobody’s perfect. No family’s perfect. But your imperfect family loves imperfect you.

From Charles “Pa” Ingalls Little House on the Prairie

Hard work is not just for boys. Mary, Laura, and Cary pulled their weight just like Meghan, Emily, and Sarah (and Dee Ann and Carol Jean).

Steven Keaton Family Ties

Your dad will still love you even if your vote cancels his vote or your political views are completely wrong.

Andy Taylor Andy Griffith Show

Going fishing can make everything alright and what better time to get to know you a little better?

Ward Clever Leave it to Beaver

The perfect example of the dad who kicks your butt and saves your butt in the same day. Something good dads do everyday.

I think both my dad and John have a lot of George Banks in them. You remember Mr. Banks from Father of the Bride who hates to see his little girl grow up and get married to some strange guy. I can’t tell you how glad I am that my dad didn’t go all George Banks when he met John’s parents. I’m sure he was checking them out to make sure they were good enough for his daughter, but if he poked through the medicine cabinet or drawers at least he did so stealthily and to this day we’ve never heard about it. As for John, I think we were lucky he wasn’t caught in this situation. I feel certain he could have been cornered by protective dobermans while snooping on future in-laws.

But like George, they just wanted to make sure that their girls are happy. How can that be a bad thing?

Happy Father’s Day to two great dads!

Reposted from Father’s Day, 2013.


Easter Parade

Easter brings a parade of photos, usually with my sister and me wearing matching dresses.


as well as a lot of pictures of baskets, eggs and the Easter Bunny.

Everyone smiling in their Sunday best.

Even an occasional cousin picture taken after a special meal and egg hunt at Grandma and Grandpa’s.

IMG_7520This year promises to be a day of more photos to add to the Easter Parade as we gather at Emily’s for a special celebration.

Shamrock Punch

With a name like McCollum, how can we ignore St. Patrick’s Day? As a teacher I always recognized this fun day by preparing shamrock punch for my students. This easy, tasty treat came at the perfect time during most school years. St.Patrick’s Day frequently fell in the middle of “standardized testing season” so a glass of shamrock punch after testing served as a refreshing change of pace.

Without a classroom full of students, I won’t need to purchase lime sherbert by the gallon this year, but I plan to make some as a reminder that Spring is just around the corner. This super, simple recipe is one I remember from my childhood. My mom made this punch, not for St. Patrick’s Day, but as a cool summer treat.

Shamrock Punch

I make this by the glass instead of in a punch bowl since it’s so much easier in the classroom.

In a small (5 oz.) plastic cup add one scoop of lime sherbert and then slowly pour cold Sprite. (It’s important to pour slowly because the soda will quickly bubble up and can easily spill over the top of the cup.)

That’s it! Make some Shamrock Punch Tuesday and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Shamrock Punch

Originally posted March 17, 2013.






I remember Mr. Hale, my high school math teacher, chuckling every he’d say, “Pie are square. Cake are round.”His attempt at a little math humor.

I’m not sure he’d approve of the cake I baked yesterday for John’s birthday. His joke doesn’t work when cake are square.


However, I do think Mr. Hale would have been excited about celebrating Pi Day this year. Not only is today 3.14, the value of Pi to two decimal places; but it’s 3.14.15 and that’s the value of Pi to four decimal places. That makes this year’s Pi Day a once in a century event!


I’ll be wearing my Pi shirt letting the world know I’m a math geek. Always looking for patterns, especially in dates:

  • Last week 3.5.15 (3×5=15)
  • Last Thursday 3.12.15 (3+12=15)
  • Wishing Emily and Brian could have married three days later on 11.12.13; but Tuesday’s not a good day for a wedding.
  • Family birthdays and anniversaries on 2.4 and 5.10 and 6.12 and 9.18 and 10.20 and 11.22.

And I always wore a uniform with the number 4 or 9 or 16, a perfect square.

So on this uniquely irrational day, play a game of 24 and eat a little pie. Mine will be pizza pie to go with my square cake.


Valentine Flowers

I noticed that many friends posted pictures of the flowers they received from their husbands for Valentine’s Day on Saturday.

Not to brag, but my wonderful husband sent me hundreds of flowers for Valentine’s Day.

Hydrangeas for the coffee table.IMG_6404

Roses, carnations, and baby’s breath for the dining table.


Flowers on the porch.

Flowers in every room of the house.

Even some flowering plants that I can enjoy for years to come.


Flowers on Valentine’s Day…one of the advantages of a wedding.