Friday, January 18, 2019

First Leg of our #LeapFrog Journey

Now that the house is packed up - everything was either given away or put into storage - we're on the road. (In case you missed the news, see the last two posts here and here.) A friend gifted us with one night in hotel, so we could recover from all that packing and moving - and we collapsed!

Then, before we left town, we took care of final things like refilling prescriptions and arranging for mail. Oh, that was another question someone asked as we began packing up and I forgot to answer in my last post. For almost a decade, our mail delivery has come to a mailbox, rather than to our home. Because we receive packages on occasion, we needed a mailbox with a street address, and The UPS Store provides just that. But they also provide so much more.

They offer mail forwarding services as part of our box rental. Even though we're on the road, our mailing address remains the same. Whenever we want or need our physical mail, we call them and arrange for them to ship it to us wherever we happen to be.

Our first stop was my Mom's and sister's house for a short visit. This stop gave us time to reassess our car packing by how easy it was to load and unload what we needed quickly. We've purged a few things and picked up some other things that we forgot before we left home.

This first leg provided a wonderful surprise and taught me a great lesson.

For my entire life, we've traveled the same roads from Alabama to Georgia to visit grandparents, and then each other as we grew up and lived in one or the other state. This time, when we left Rome, Georgia, Waze took us a different way, and I let her because I was honestly too exhausted to figure out where she was taking us. (Our Waze is named Jane, and Tim talks to her just like he talks to me. I'm glad she doesn't talk back to him like Siri seems to do, or I'd never have any peace and quiet.)

This trip, Jane took us across a portion of Weiss Lake in Centre, Alabama, that I'd never seen before. Totally surprised me to see how beautiful that side of the lake was compared to where we normally traveled, and then we discovered something else so fun, I quickly turned around and stopped to take pictures.

The Bluegill has always been my favorite fish to catch and to eat. Good thing my car was packed or I might have wanted to take this beauty home with me! Aren't the colors stunning?

My dad loved catching large-mouth bass more than anything! He would have loved this monster!

My grandad loved catching crappie (that he pronounced like crappy and the rest of us pronounced like croppy). 

I was delighted by the fish and loved learning that they sit in front of Weiss Lake Lodge, so I'm sure there's a stay there somewhere in my distant future!

The lesson learned on this leg of the journey - take the road less traveled. You may find something delightful!

Family and friends have asked for ways to help us and participate in our journey. I've set up two buttons in the right column to do just that: the Feed the Frogs button is for Paypal donations, and the Wish / Needs List is our "registry" on Amazon. If you'd love to be part of the journey, we'd love to have you along. We greatly appreciate your support!

Recent Posts:

Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip
The Beginning of a Dream Realized
Do You Have Vivid Dreams? Do You Record Them?

Recent Posts from TMP Books:

Get your #LeapFrogs Merchandise here:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip

When we decided to take this journey as #LeapFrogs (see previous post here), friends and family began asking lots of great questions. I decided to create a blog post with the questions and answers in case anyone else wondered the same things. If you have other questions, please send them to me by e-mail, and I'll be happy to answer them as time permits.

How are you traveling?

Amazon's Car Top Carrier
We have our trusty SUV, nicknamed the RS Minnow (Roadship) and a tent, which I call the Palace, because it's quite large. The SUV is loaded with totes filled with everything we could possibly need (and that would fit). We also have a soft car top carrier, similar to the one pictured, but we may one day switch to a hard-sided one. This one seems quite adaptable and easy to use, but I wonder if a hard-sided one would be easier to pack. (I'd love your input if you have any experience using one or the other.) Eventually, we may add a cargo carrier on the back, but for now we're just stuffed to the gills.
Ozark Trail Tent

You don't have an RV! Where will you sleep?

We've always had tents, so tent camping is not new to us. We've given away all our tents the last few years, so this time, Tim gave me a wish list of what to look for, and we found this tent. Easy to set up was my top requirement, and room to stand up and move around were Tim's top requirements, and this fits all our requirements.

We were concerned about Tim being able to get up and down off the ground, and he normally sleeps in his recliner anyway, so we found this awesome folding recliner camping chair that he uses for his bed. It's comfortable and easy to use. It also seems to be well-made, too.

Magellan Outdoor Recliner
One feature we made sure it had, that we were surprised other models did not have, is the option to raise and lower the foot, exactly like a recliner. Other models don't offer that option - the foot stays raised the entire time. But this Magellan model from Academy works the way Tim needs it to work to get the most use of it. He sleeps well in it and has a blanket for cool nights and a -40 degree rated sleeping bag for cold nights.

I, on the other hand, can't sleep sitting up, so I have a sleeping bag rated at 0-20 degrees, so I should stay toasty warm most of the time. (Again, our plan is to avoid cold weather as much as possible, but we're prepared if it can't be helped!)

What will you do about the Internet since you have to stay connected for work?

We have numerous options, including hot spots with our phones. I've also traveled enough in the past that we've learned how to find public wi-fi from libraries, businesses, restaurants, and individual cities. I'm honestly hoping to limit my connection times on some days - trying to work offline when I can, and also learning how to disconnect for a few hours to get my eyes off the screen and onto the sights around me. I'm ready to experience nature again, explore towns first hand, connect with people face-to-face.

What about water for drinking purposes?

We have a 6-gallon water jug that we carry with us, and we seem to always have bottles of water and cups of coffee. I don't expect us to be isolated for long periods of time, but once we get out west, I may need to address that situation a little more.

What about the bathroom? 

Campgrounds have bath houses, and there are plenty of public facilities along the road. But I was concerned about night time bathroom use, so I purchased one of those foldable portable toilets. The one we got was a piece of junk - so we returned it before we ever left the house. The video provided by the company made the toilet seem perfect, but in use, the legs didn't fold like they were supposed to, and there was entirely too much handling of the whole thing. I hate cleaning bathrooms because of all the germs - why would I want to manhandle the toilet every time we made and packed up camp?

We'll probably still get a night time urinal but we'll figure out our needs as we move along.

What about bathing and showers?

Since I'm hoping to take advantage of many free camping sites, I knew showers would not always be available, so I did a quick search and learned several ways we could get showers on the road. (I'm not a bath person, so not having a bathtub is a plus!) I learned in my search that we can get showers at truck stops, campgrounds (even if we don't camp there, some campgrounds will let us use showers and laundry for a nominal fee), gyms (we're researching nationwide gym memberships now, to see which would be the most available, practical, and affordable), YMCAs, and community swimming pools. I loved knowing all of that was available.

Tim insists he's brave enough for outdoor showers in the woods, but I'm not quite there yet.

How will you cook?

Coleman Camp Stove
Camp cooking is something we've both done regularly, and we love to do it. We have a full tote with all our cooking gear, and we brought three of our iron skillets with us, so I expect we'll use those and the grill grate more than anything else.

We also have a camp stove that operates with propane cylinders.

We also brought along our French Press and electric water kettle - not as a splurge, although it does seem like a huge luxury. But we have an electric plug in our car, so if it's pouring rain or we can't make a campfire for some other reason (like fire bans), we can still have hot water for coffee, soups, cooking, or cleaning needs.

What about laundry?

We've culled our clothing quite a bit - giving away bags and bags of clothing before we left the house, then culling more once we got to Mom's and began rearranging the car. Public laundromats are in every town and almost every campground, so dirty clothes should never be a major issue.

What about safety? Are you afraid to travel?

Bear Spray
The world does seem to be getting more dangerous by the day, but hopefully we'll stay aware of our surroundings and remove ourselves before we are compromised. But we do
carry a variety of options to protect ourselves, and I blog after-the-fact, rather than in advance, so some wacko won't be waiting for us anywhere.

We also stay in touch with family and friends, so that someone knows our basic whereabouts most of the time.

It's winter time! How will you stay warm?

Our goal on this trip is to avoid the cold! Sorry, all you snow people, I am not one.

Unfortunately, right at the moment, the cold seems determined to find us. My son recommended this Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater that works with a small propane cylinder and is safe for indoor/tent use, so we got one of those.

We're also keeping a "#LeapFrogs Wish List" on Amazon to keep family and friends in the loop on our current needs and wants as we travel. I love Amazon's option to ship to us wherever we are!

Right now, I'm planning to post updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That may change a little due to internet connections, but for now, that's my plan. Next post, I'll begin talking travel plans.

Family and friends have asked for ways to help us and participate in our journey. I've set up two buttons in the right column to do just that: the Feed the Frogs button is for Paypal donations, and the Wish / Needs List is our "registry" on Amazon. If you'd love to be part of the journey, we'd love to have you along. We greatly appreciate your support!

Recent Posts:

The Beginning of a Dream Realized
Do You Have Vivid Dreams? Do You Record Them?

Recent Posts from TMP Books:

Get your #LeapFrogs Merchandise here:

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Beginning of a Dream Realized

The day after Christmas, Tim and I received some news that could have been devastating, but after a few hours of shock, we decided to view the information from a different perspective. Once that took hold, we realized a life-changing opportunity presented itself, and we had an immediate decision to make - continue on as things were or take a chance and do something different.

So we leaped!

Have you ever heard the acronym for F.R.O.G.? Fully Relying on God? Well, when we decided to take this route, a friend suggested adding the word LEAP - Leaving Everything Always Praying Fully Reliant on God.

Tim and I are now #LeapFrogs!

Today, we begin the journey of a lifetime. We're taking a cross-country road trip of an indefinite length - hopefully for at least a year, perhaps even two. We'll explore locations, take photos, meet people, and journal our trip here on the blog so you can travel along with us. Perhaps we'll even meet some of you along the way.

Our purpose for the trip is to experience as much as we possibly can. Time is short - so very short - and there's so much to see. So much we haven't seen.

To make it easier to follow along, we've adopted the hashtag #LeapFrogs to use on social media. We'll share our journey through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Patreon, and on my TMPixArt page, too, so I invite you to join us wherever you can and to  help spread the word of our travels.

Tim is retired, but I am not so I will continue working, continue running my businesses online and on the road, publishing books for clients and for myself, consulting, creating art with my photography, and writing. I've even created a few products with our new #LeapFrogs logo! A few books are already in the works, too, so watch for details of that in the coming days.

We're not wealthy, and Publisher's Clearinghouse was taking too long to find us, so we're setting out in our SUV with a tent. (And a heater, and so much more stuff our car is overflowing.)

In the coming days, I'll share how we prepped for the trip and I'll share some checklists to help others thinking about taking a similar journey. This is a dream come true, and we're surprised to learn that it's a dream many other people have, too.

We'd love to hear from you as we move from place to place. Tell us about your favorite "must-sees" that are off the the beaten path. Can't promise we'll get to see them all, but we'll try to fit in as many as we can.

Some of our interests include: art, architecture, nature, western/cowboy stuff, and funky/fun/unusual. We're also foodies, but we are on a limited budget, so we'll be cooking a lot of our food as we camp, but travel days, we're going to try to find local favorites.

Next post, I'll share our general route as we begin. We're already learning that flexibility is key on this journey, and honestly, we have to learn how to just relax a bit, and meander, savoring every step of the journey, rather than pushing from destination to destination.

Have you ever leaped into something new and exciting? We'd love to hear about it!

Family and friends have asked for ways to help us and participate in our journey. I've set up two buttons in the right column to do just that: the Feed the Frogs button is for Paypal donations, and the Wish / Needs List is our "registry" on Amazon. If you'd love to be part of the journey, we'd love to have you along. We greatly appreciate your support!

Recent posts:

Recent Posts from TMP Books:

Monday, December 10, 2018

Do You Have Vivid Dreams? Do You Record Them?

I am a vivid dreamer, almost always in color. As a Christian, I believe God can speak to us through dreams, though not always. I trust the Holy Spirit to guide me when my dreams are vivid enough that I remember them when I wake up.

Today, I have a new release! My Dream Journal: A Notebook for Tracking and Interpreting Dreams is a journal to keep at your bedside to record those dreams. If you're anything like me, once your brain kicks into gear for the day, the dreams vanish. I keep a notebook beside the bed to write down my dreams (and any book ideas that pop into my head just as I'm falling asleep). My Dream Journal now gives you space to explore those dreams, hunt for symbols, seek for meanings, and interpret the dreams.

I'll share a recent dream so you can see how I use My Dream Journal.

My most recent dream was a couple of days ago. I was in a huge, white room with florescent lights overhead. Lots of tables, lots of mess around, and I was trying to get it all organized. I had help: Alan Alda and Richard Schiff (we're currently re-watching The West Wing, but we're not yet to Alan Alan's time there, so his presence surprised me.) Richard Schiff was flustered and agitated, pacing all over the place - in perfect Toby character. Alan Alda came in with a briefcase inside box. The briefcase couldn't close all the way because it was overflowing with papers spilling out everywhere, so he was using the box to hold it all together. He brought it to the one table I'd just cleared, and dumped it for me to fix. Toby just kept pacing around. Then I woke up.

In My Dream Journal, I first write down an account on the dream on the journal pages - just tell the story as I remember it, recording it as quickly as I can without thinking about it too much. Then, on the Key Elements page, I record the celebrities, the white lights, the room, the pacing, the briefcase, the box, the mess, and the tables. Those things stood out to me most, so each one gets its own box for interpreting. On the interpretation page, I record the date, the mood I was in when I fell asleep and then again when I woke up, and the last foods I ate before sleeping. (Sounds stereotypical, but you may see patterns develop). My Dream Journal also has sketch pages, in case I need to sketch out anything. I can't draw stick figures, so those pages are used for any questions that form as I research or for any shape or design I might see in the dream that words can't describe.

When I'm awake and have a few moments of spare time, I research the symbolism from each one. Please use caution and utmost discernment in your research. Let the Holy Spirit guide you.

I use the dictionary at DreamMoods to help me. This is not a site that I wholeheartedly recommend, but it is one that I use and it has proved useful in the past. Again, use caution and discernment as you explore the site. I pray as I read over each item, asking the Holy Spirit to alert me to anything He wants me to see, and to blind me to anything He doesn't.

From my findings there on this dream:

The briefcase seems to represent my current state of preparedness, and since we're currently in the middle of a family crisis, this resonates with our current situation. I'm trying to make order out of the chaos. The mess represents the chaos and suggests I need to get my life in order.

Right below the word briefcase, I notice the word bright, and the Holy Spirit nudges me. The room in my dream was exceptionally bright. Bright white. In the dictionary, bright represents Divinity, and that resonates with me, too. Even in the midst of chaos, God is right there with me, surrounding me, enveloping me with His peace (represented by the white.)

The celebrities are interesting for a couple of different reasons. We're in the season of The West Wing where Toby is highly agitated and angry, frustrated with the direction of his work and his personal life. He's ready to blow a gasket, and that's honestly the way I've felt the last few months as we've dealt with one crisis after another.

At some point in the last couple of weeks, I thought about Alan Alda's Hawkeye character in the final episodes of M*A*S*H and how he had a mental breakdown from seeing all that he has seen and experienced during the war, and then the final danger than triggered his break.

We're dealing with a loved one's mental illness. Every day is like a roller coaster - we never know what to expect from one day to the next. We walk on eggshells, never knowing what any of us might say or do that could serve as a trigger that could send our loved one over the edge. (The day after I had this dream, the trigger was pulled. Our loved one is now in the hospital.)

Our dreams can serve as warnings or instruction or prophecy - and we usually don't realize it until after the fact. Writing down our dreams - recording details in a journal - helps us track the dreams and make sense of them as a whole.

My Dream Journal is now available on Amazon.

Recent posts:

Recent Posts from TMP Books:

Thank you for supporting authors, small businesses, and artists during the busy holiday season! We are truly grateful for your business!

Come visit my TMPix Art Shop on Zazzle!
Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Holiday Recipes Master List

We're wrapping up the Holiday Recipes Blog Hop today. We hope you've had fun and found a few new recipes to try. If you're just joining us, here's a handy list so you can find them all.

Holiday Appetizers – Tracy Ruckman

Holiday Beverages – Rachel Hartsfield

International Holiday Foods – Peggy Cunningham

Holiday Breakfasts & Brunches – Betty Thomason Owens

Holiday Main Courses – Sheryl Holmes

Holiday Sweets – Rachel Hartsfield

Holiday Recipes Master List – Tracy Ruckman

I want to thank all my precious friends for participating during this busy time of  year. I loved reading your stories and I'm looking forward to trying all your food!

A huge thank you to all our readers, clients, and customers - we do what we do for YOU. We appreciate your support, your encouragement, your purchases of our books, products, and services. All of us are "small business" and we depend on readers and clients like you to continue doing our work.

We love reading your reviews and testimonials, and we love chatting with you when given the opportunity. We are also incredibly grateful for and honored by your prayers for us all.

I'd like to add one additional recipe to our week's event. I shared the recipe and story a few years ago, but now there's an addition.

My paternal grandmother, Nanny, made the best divinity in the world. When I became an adult, I tried to make it every year. Some years I was successful, other years I was not. Just before Nanny went to Heaven, she told me the secret - it all had to do with the humidity. (I guess you see the importance of family recipes here, can't you?) If the humidity was too high, the divinity wouldn't set properly; if it was too low, the candy would be dry.

For several years, I followed this guideline - 57% humidity seemed to be perfect for candy-making. (In the South, those percentages don't get that low very often, so we watched the weather gauges carefully once Thanksgiving came.)

Then my husband Tim entered the picture with his mother's divinity recipe. The ingredients were almost identical, but the cooking methods were different - and Edie's recipe did not rely on the weather. Since Edie's recipe is top secret, I’ve combine recipes and tips to ensure success every time! It helps to have two or more people making this together, and having a stand mixer is especially helpful. It’s a great recipe to make with generations in the kitchen at the same time.

Nanny's & Edie's Divinity

5 cups white, granulated sugar
1 cup Karo Light corn syrup
1 cup water
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans, optional
Maraschino cherries, optional

Mix sugar, water, syrup together in large saucepan. Bring to boil, then boil until the liquid "spins a thread," stirring constantly. While the mixture is boiling, separate eggs and put the whites in a large mixing bowl. When the sugar mixture spins a thread, pour half of boiling liquid into the egg whites, beating with mixer as you pour. The mixture will begin to expand. Put the remaining liquid back on the stove and bring it back to a rolling boil. Then pour all of it into the expanding egg white mixture while continuing to beat.

Beat until the mixture a minute more, then use a large spoon to stir the mixture several times, until it gets a dull finish. Then, add nuts or chopped cherries if you wish, then very quickly, drop by rounded teaspoons on large sheets of waxed paper. Immediately top with cherry halves or pecan halves, as you wish. Let cool. Store on waxed paper layers in air tight containers.

Divinity makes great gifts, and it's easy enough to mix and match different kinds. Some batches we leave out all nuts and cherries, topping only with one or the other. Some batches are deluxe, and have a little of all of it. The fun part is that each kind tastes very different. Even though you make a large batch, it will disappear very quickly - at least it does in our family.

The same year I took the photo above, I took several others of the divinity in different containers. One of my favorites was with this ceramic bowl.

When I started tinkering with all the artwork and designs, I took this image and turned it into some fun pop art that's now on dozens of different products.

I think Nanny and Edie would get tickled over these!

You'll find these in my Christmas Collection on Zazzle.

May God fill your hearts and homes with His love and peace this holiday season. May the birth of Jesus always be a significant event in our lives, and may we never take His sacrifice for granted.

Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you!

Please help me thank all the Holiday Recipes Blog Hop Participants:

Peggy Cunningham is an author of children's books and women's devotionals. She and her husband serve as missionaries in Bolivia. 

Really Rare Rabbits Series


Peggy's website:

Rachel Hartsfield is a small business owner, representing Senegence, a line of beauty and skin care products. Join her closed Facebook group for health & beauty tips, encouragement, and inspiration.

Rachel's website: Real Life with Rachel

Betty Thomason Owens is a speaker and author of several fiction series.

Betty's website:

Sheryl Holmes is an author, speaker, mental health & addiction advocate, and cancer survivor.

Sheryl's website:

Fay Lamb is an author, editor, writing coach and teacher.

Find all of Fay's books on her Amazon Author Page.

Tracy Ruckman is an author, screenwriter, and artist. Her latest books include The Young Storyteller's Prompt and Draw Series and the Fishing Journal. Her latest artwork can be found at and in her Zazzle store.



Recent posts:

Recent Posts from TMP Books:

Thank you for supporting authors, small businesses, and artists during the busy holiday season! We are truly grateful for your business!

Come visit my TMPix Art Shop on Zazzle!
Original Photography Turned into Art
Some funky, some beautiful.
Some bold, some gentle.
Some playful, some romantic.