Stepping into 2018 fit and fifty. #FitBit #MyReasonIs

And so begins my third year with a Fitbit.

I haven’t gotten my official year-end report yet, but I ran some stats all the same and they were a bit disappointing. I knew I didn’t walk as much this year as the past two years. My heart wasn’t in it this year and toward the end of the summer, the ticks freaked me out.

So for the first time in three years, I fell under the 3 million steps milestone.


2016’s stats were definitely better and were the high point so far:


And in 2015 I got a late start since I got my Fitbit for Mother’s Day that year…


Unfortunately, weight wise, I’m exactly where I was when I started walking in May 2015. I guess ya gotta love a challenge, right?

One cool thing is my lifetime total steps so far is 9,990,734 steps. That’s super close to TEN MILLION STEPS!!! And it’s 4,191 miles in three years and THAT’S pretty amazing.

2018 will bring my 50th birthday and the halfway point of my life journey. My ultimate goal is to live to be 100 so I can get my face on that Today Show Smucker’s Jar. I’m looking at you Carson Daly. You’re younger than me. I’ll be expecting you to do the honors when the time comes.




Resolved to The Year of the Squirrel


Artwork by Gary Medley (FIL)


It’s that time of year again where I think big thoughts, make new plans and the year ahead is filled with possibilities. I blame the eleven days of Christmas break for all that.  Being off work somehow makes me dream unrealistic dreams and think I can accomplish far more than is actually humanly possible.

I’ll realize that by January 4.

But until then, here’s my plan for 2017: The Year of the Squirrel.

More on that later.

Last year ended on a down note, with my mom passing away Nov. 10, and my book sales are all but nonexistent. Seriously, I’m making around $150 a month on seven books. It all seems like way too much work for very little reward. I made half the total income last year that I did the year before (which was the all-time high at a whopping $7K).

I’ve been trying to psych myself back up and get back into the groove. I ran some ads (spent $100) to try to respark interest and revenue, but all it really accomplished was brief stint at Amazon #1 FREE and then four new reviews. I even wrote a couple thousand words, but it’s just not happening. The motivation is gone.

I’m not saying I’m quitting writing completely. I am saying I’m going to let it slide and pick it up as I feel like it. I’m sure at least a dozen people in the world will be sad about that, but it is what it is. Ultimately, I’m the only one putting pressure on myself to make it happen. I’ve given it a good go. I’ve pushed hard for the past five and a half years but gained very little financial traction. I’ve proven I’m not a one-book-wonder and now…I’m moving on.

The beginning of a new year seems like a good time to do that. A clean break.

It’s harder than you’d think to wind down, however. Trust me. I’ve tried quitting before. Ideas don’t stop coming and characters don’t stop talking. Once Pandora’s box is opened, it won’t be closed again. I’m going to keep collecting those ideas and conversations and one day–in the future–I’ll give them the attention they deserve. I also have a few events to attend. Fun events like VisionCon in February and Ozarks Indie Book Fest next October.

Until then, I’m going to participate in the Year of the Squirrel. No, the Year of the Squirrel is not one of the Chinese Zodiac signs (I checked). Nor is it an actual thing. It’s my thing. The Year of the Squirrel will be my chance to follow all the little interests and passions that speak to me this year along with the things I must/need to do. Believe me, there are plenty of need-to-do things. Cleaning out Mom’s house is one of the biggest ones right now.

The things I’m passionate about at the moment include: crocheting, FitBit walking, reading and watching the Gilmore Girls. I think that’s a pretty good start.

There is however, actually a Squirrel Appreciation Day if you’re so inclined to participate. For real, it’s Saturday, January 21 this year. Plan accordingly.

One big goal this year is to get back into shape. Last November, I was in a good place and ten pounds from my goal weight. Right now I’m two pounds above my highest weight ever. I have some work to do.

The biggest fun thing on the horizon for 2017 as far as personal entertainment that I’m looking forward to is the Supernatural Convention in Chicago in July. Bryon and Grace gave me that AMAZING gift for Christmas. I still can’t believe it! Front row, baby! And I get to ride the Amtrack there. Bryon and Grace are going to meet me there after the con is over, and then we’ll have a family vacation in the Windy City.

It’s going to be a looooong time until July.

The good news is I have plenty of time to catch up on my review of the eleven seasons of Supernatural before I go. I’ll have a Masters in Supernatural by that time.

As is my way, I’ve started my Year of the Squirrel List so I can store a few of theses nuggets away for later. It will definintely be a work in progress this year.

Year of the Squirrel List

  1. Crochet all the things
  2. Read all the books
  3. Walk 10k+ steps every day
  4. Finish all seasons of The Gilmore Girls (I’m on S3)
  5. Rewatch all 11 seasons of Supernatural
  6. Reacquaint myself with our garden, wait…which way is it?
  7. Read my magazines the day they arrive
  8. Reorganize my recipe boxes
  9. Clean out and reorganize the bath/medicine cabinets
  10. Donate more clothes out of my closet
  11. Empty Mom’s house of contents and sell them
  12. Read, file or delete all the SAVED articles on Facebook I’ve collected
  13. Surf way too much Pinerest
  14. Can and preserve the garden bounty
  15. Make good food
  16. Eat good food

That’s a good beginning, I think.

I’m sure there will be much more to add during the year because…SQUIRREL!

What does your 2017 look like from here? Do you make resolutions?




The year I forgot to blog


The year is winding down. It’s been a busy one in the Big Cedars, but you’d never know that from this blog. I blame Facebook.

Every year, for the past seven years, I’ve blogged about my entertaining family and life in the Big Cedars, then turned it into a blog book. I knew I was behind, but gosh! A year? I’ve microblogged on Facebook, and I could turn those posts into a book, which is exactly what I am going to do. The prospect of updating the past year’s worth of posts is just too daunting. You can also follow me on Facebook if you’d like. I only friend people I actually know in real life, but most of my posts are public if you want to just follow here:

What I will do for my blog is start now and promise to do better in the coming year.

As the master once said…



Uptown Cafe makes you regular…

New owners Jackie & Shaun Coltrane

There’s something to be said about being regular.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to launch into an Activia commercial. I’m talking about being a regular, which also, strangely enough, makes you feel sort of good inside.

Most of the time, I would just as soon be anonymous in my eating and shopping. I like to just go about my day and not necessarily see people I know. Strangers become a part of the scenery and background noise. Most of the day, I am content to just stay inside my head and listen to the internal chatter. Trust me, it’s plenty noisy and entertaining in there.

One time in particular that I most wished to be anonymous was when I was teaching school at Fair Play. The closest Walmart was in Bolivar so that was the shopping mecca for everyone who didn’t want to travel to Springfield. I used to have this really funny t-shirt of a cartoon dog humping a fire hydrant. It said, “Safe Sex” on it. I found it hilarious. I wore it often.

One day I wore it to Walmart. That day, I saw three different student parents. I strategically crossed my arms over the tag line and humping dog. No one said anything, but if I could have slipped into invisibility from embarrassment, I would have.  Sometimes, it’s best if you are anonymous. Otherwise, you should at least turn your inappropriately funny shirt inside out.

There is one place I visit often enough that I have become a ‘regular’.

Bryon and I started going to Uptown Cafe, as soon as we moved to Niangua. On the weekends while we were building our house, we spent every morning there. Once the house was complete, we just kept on going. Twelve years later, I see lots of other familiar faces when I am there. Like Norm at Cheers, they know my name.

Uptown Cafe is where you can find one or more of us nearly every weekend. Grandpa has become such a regular they call him Hoppy because he hops from table to table visiting and socializing many mornings. Grace has been going since she was in my belly.


When Grandpa missed several days one week for sickness, the staff tried to find out where he lived so they could take him his senior breakfast order of biscuits and gravy. Bryon represents the Medley clan a day or so during the week as well since he works three twelve hour days. I like to go every Saturday and Sunday.

We are so regular at Uptown that we’ve exchanged Christmas cards. Grace’s card hung behind the register for months after the holiday and several of my published books line the knickknack shelf as well.

My favorite dish is the stuffed French toast.


One of my teenage Facebook friends posted in his status that one of his life goals is to become a regular somewhere. There are many definite benefits and really only a one disadvantages to being a regular.

1. You can NOT read a book. People will greet you, engage you, quiz you and if you are alone … join you, because obviously you do not WANT to be alone. Otherwise you would not have come to the restaurant. That’s crazy talk.

1. The waitress’ know what you want and orders for you. Every time. They are correct.
2. You get to see the same other regulars who have now, over the course of many years, become your real and actual friends. You don’t see them usually outside of the restaurant. It’s a special club.
3. The owner gives your kid special holiday gifts.
4. The owner hangs your father-in-law’s art on her walls.
5. People buy that art.
6. You are pretty sure your seven going-on-sixteen year old daughter has a secure part-time job prospect hinging solely upon getting a drivers license at some point.
7. A famous person occasionally stops by to schmooze with the locals.
8. You can catch up on all of the town happenings on the bulletin board in the breezeway. It’s better than the local paper.
9. Cream cheese stuffed strawberry French toast.
10. Breakfast all day no matter how late you sleep in.

Are you regular?

Books and such

I launched my first self-published book, Haunt My Heart, on January 5.

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I had a little launch party at Hebrew’s Coffee in Springfield simultaneously with my online Facebook party.

It was a blast! Hectic but fun.

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I even got to enjoy a delicious coffee treat.

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If you’d like to get your own copy of Haunt My Heart, you can find it on AMAZON here in ebook and print.

Haunt 3D small jpgA Civil War soldier dies to save his men. Can he find true love to live again?

Sarah Knight has a job she’s good at, a quirky BFF, and a boyfriend who’s bad for her. When Sarah unearths a Civil War artifact on a ghost hunt at Chatham Manor, she brings home more than a souvenir

Lieutenant James “Tanner” Dawson fought for the Union, working as a supernatural liaison for his Major General in a secret Masonic offset called the Brothers of Peril. When he’s hexed by a witch, he learns the only way to save his men is to die himself. But death is not the end. Awakening 150 years later, he knows if he wants to be corporeal again, he has to find true love to break the hex—a task no easier in 21st century than it was in the 19th.

Pinterest book board here

A long winter’s night…

We’ve had some below zero nights this winter, I’ve been trying to take care of the domestic and wildlife. I hate leaving the dogs out in the cold, even though they have a cozy crate in the garage and Rosie (the little one) prefers outside to inside. Rosie came to us as a stray and has never lost her independent ways. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy a good belly rub…when it’s her idea.


We let them in to warm up several nights and even sleep inside. It’s just too nerve wracking having them inside for long periods though.

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I finally put a sheet over the chair so it didn’t start smelling like their kennel.

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A rare moment of snuggling with Rosie on the couch. She was pretty insistent this night for that belly rub.

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I think they mostly wanted Bryon out of their chair.

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Bring on Spring!

Rest In Peace, Eileen Ruth Fellows

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After a long battle with COPD, Bryon’s mother passed away a few days after Christmas. It was and was not a surprise. Since we’d just visited her in Tennessee for Thanksgiving, she’d actually been doing a bit better, although still mostly homebound and tethered to a perpetual oxygen machine.

COPD is a horrible illness, but Bryon’s mother was tough and a real fighter from way back.

She’d had to be.

We made the long journey back to Tennessee a couple of days after her passing to be with family, have her cremated and hold a small memorial service. Then it was home for one night (New Year’s Eve) and off to Nebraska for another small service and to bury her remains.

While it was a sad time, seeing all of Bryon’s family on both sides was good. Eileen would have enjoyed that, and I’m sure she was there in spirit. Her name was invoked in many happy remembrances throughout the trip.

Here’s how it all went down.

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Bryon’s sister, Precious arranged for a truly beautiful little service.

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We worked in a bit of sightseeing along the Ocoee River.

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We had a pizza dinner with most of the family one evening.

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We went over to visit with Precious and her family the last night.

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Somehow we ended up with lots of pics of Jackson (the dog) and none of Precious and the kids. Doh!

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The next day we were on the road again and but spent one night at home, carrying out our New Year’s Eve tradition of crab legs.

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Then it was on the road again. To Nebraska.

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We did have a few pit stops along the way. And way, way more than Bryon wanted. I had to explain to him he was travelling cross country with two women. Things were never going to get better on that front.

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We arrived at long last, exhausted but happy to be fulfilling Eileen’s final wishes.

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We spent some quality time with Bryon’s sister and her family.

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The next day we had a lovely graveside service with Eileen’s remaining sister and extended family.

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Gary, Bryon’s dad, officiated.

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Bryon’s Aunt Jan and Uncle Kelly opened their home after the service for food and a reception.

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On the way back, we got to meet the newest addition to the family, baby Saleen, for the first time.

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Seven days and 2,600 miles later, we were home at last and making chicken noodle soup.

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Rest in Peace in your home, Eileen.

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Christmas Day Carnage


Another Christmas has come and gone. We were sad to miss visiting with my dad this year, but he had a hip replacement and was recuperating. Luckily, all went very well for him, and he’ll be back running strong in no time.

Meanwhile, someone else was excited to have the largest package under the tree.

20141225_000752319_iOS (800x600)Others were more chillaxed.

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Some may have been too chillaxed. Yeah, that’s my novel that put her to sleep.

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As usual Grace got waaaaay too much stuff. That’s the hazard of having an only child, I think. Trust me, this was only the tip of the iceburg.

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She also got One Direction concert tickets for the summer for her and two friends. That’s the gift that will keep on giving all year.

Bryon made a FANTASTIC dinner for us. His Christmas dinners have become something of a legendary tradition.

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We also had a few hors d’oeuvres like this…

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And one thing about our family, we all love shrimp. Without consulting, everyone brought a platter of cocktail shrimp to share. That didn’t even include the shrimp in the main dish!

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Another ‘given’ is Grace’s love for sparkling grape juice. I bought two of these bottles. The family brought the rest.

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Bryon finally got to open his giant gifts.

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An archery target and a new hunting blind. Grace shopped online and for them both, all by herself. I just paid with the credit card and picked them up.

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I had a few awesome surprises of my own under the tree.

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The next morning, Santa had left a few more surprises for Grace (paint and miscellaneous decor to redo her playroom upstairs)…but no elves to do the work.

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A new papasan chair


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New bookcases with storage

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The paint had to wait for another day because there were games to play!

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Let’s do it all again next year! #scaryselfie