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26 02, 2024

Swimming and Books

By |2024-02-25T14:54:57-06:00February 26th, 2024|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

 There’s a new feature at the gym where I swim. A book table is now in the hallway to the indoor pool.

That’s right, a free books table and it warms the heart of this writer/reader.  

You can leave a book or simply choose from the selection available. Sometimes the books are fiction and non-fiction. Sometimes how-to and biographies.

SOURCE: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383017143282395248/

It’s like one of those Little Free Libraries on a stand that neighborhoods have only this free library is on a table.

I leave the gym after my early morning swim refreshed in body and a brand-new or slightly used book tucked inside my swim bag.

 Life is good for this writer who is also an avid reader.

19 02, 2024

A Smile

By |2024-02-16T16:18:37-06:00February 19th, 2024|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Smiles are powerful.

Smiles breed trust, make you happier, and help you to live longer because “smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

We smile when our pictures are taken.

We smile at babies and puppies.

We smile politely at friends or strangers.

How do we tell which smiles are genuine and which smiles are fake?

SOURCE: The Science of Smiling: A Guide to The World’s Most Powerful Gesture

The key to recognizing a genuine smile is to check the eyes. True smiles are called the Duchenne smiles, named after the scientist who identified two types of smiles as the “mouth corners”-only smile and the “eye socket” one.

Crinkly eyes = a real smile.

No wrinkles around the eyes, the smile’s a fake, or the result of too much Botox.

Intense fake smiles can sometimes produce lines around the eyes. If the cheeks bunch up, making it look as if the eyes are contracting, then the smile is genuine.

Experts agree when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold – the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid – moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.

Isn’t that a genuine smile if you ever saw one?

Fake or genuine smiles are powerful. They spread optimism, happiness, and joy. Most of all smiles are contagious.

Leo F. Buscaglia says it best:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Give someone a genuine smile today.

16 02, 2024

Self-Control

By |2024-02-15T19:31:55-06:00February 16th, 2024|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


I went to TMEA last weekend (Texas Music Educators Association) conference. It is the largest music conference in the country.

There were over five hundred workshops to choose from and that was only the elementary and general sessions. There were also vocal, orchestral, and band sessions.

To top it off, the exhibit hall is amazing.

Our oldest daughter was working at a booth there so I would stop by to check on her regularly.

 

I told myself I would not spend all my money on materials for my classes. I needed to buy kazoos for my 3rd and 4th grade classes, things for my music store, and bulletin board materials.

I did very well. The only extra thing I bought was a wolf puppet. There is a game involved and I had promised my students I would learn new games to teach them.

I’m impressed with my self-control!

Not so sure about how good it will be at the upcoming Bookfair😉.

12 02, 2024

Valentines Say I Love You

By |2024-02-10T07:59:52-06:00February 12th, 2024|A Writer's Life, Holidays, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Valentine cards say the words we sometimes find difficult to voice.

When I was in grade school – not Little House of the Prairie days, but close – we had Valentine’s Day parties at school and gave our friends homemade cards. We made mailboxes from shoe boxes or decorated envelopes to collect our cards.

Those years helped form my love of Valentine cards and began my Valentine card collection. And, yes, I still have a few cards from that era. For sure, I’ve collected cards from those days.

Vintage valentines can be very valuable, especially Victorian-era pop-up honeycomb ones. Value varies and can range from the hundreds of dollars up to thousands. Check Kovels Valentine’s Day collectibles Pinterest board for examples and values.

Interested in becoming a Valentine card collector, here are some tips on how to start.

What to look for

  1. Cards that relate to the news of the day
  2. Valentines signed by someone known
  3. Older homemade cards
  4. Victorian three-dimensional valentines
  5. Postcard valentines
  6. Die-cut school-type valentines from the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s
  7. Mechanical valentines with moving parts

Hairstyles, clothes, cars, or trains pictured in older valentines will help date the card.

Where should you look?

  1. Old scrapbooks
  2. Keepsake boxes for sentimental ephemera
  3. Old heart-shaped candy boxes
  4. Flea markets or ephemera shows
  5. House sales, garage/yard sales, and thrift shops

Are contemporary valentines worth collecting?

The simple answer is yes. According to Terry Kovel of Kovel’s Antiques, Inc., look for cards with certain characteristics:

  1. Current news, pop culture, and/or historical events.
  2. Cards depicting characters from Disney, children’s books, cartoons, movies, and television shows.
  3. Be cautious about modern technology cards. Those record-your-own-voice cards will stop talking as they age.

Learn more about Valentine collecting from these sites:

The Ephemera Society on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TheEphemeraSociety

National Valentine Collectors Association on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/126503137423748/posts/412749768799082/

National Valentine Collectors Association. Marketplace on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1411386215859744

Here’s a peek at some from my collection. I love displaying them for Valentine’s Day each February.

9 02, 2024

Google Eyes

By |2024-02-08T17:14:09-06:00February 9th, 2024|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


Google eyes are magical. They turn ordinary objects into whimsical characters. I bought a giant set of Google eyes to go with my collection.

I’m using them in my classroom this year since I have a room to decorate.

In December, I tried to put a Rudolph on my door. The wind kept blowing him off.

For January, I put a snowman on my bulletin board. The students loved it!

This month I have put a giant heart.

5 02, 2024

The Nana Block

By |2024-02-04T14:14:02-06:00February 5th, 2024|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

At one time our son and his family lived next door. Having four grandchildren right next door was great fun.

The children would slip next door any time they wanted. Especially the oldest grandson and often his brother. Their momma was a late sleeper, and he knew his Nana was an early bird.

Just about every morning, he’d come across the driveway over to where the Captain Crunch cereal and Pop Tarts were and spend the day.

I’d ask, “Does your mother know you’re here?”His answer was always yes.

This was long before cell phone texting, back when phones with long stretchy chords hung on the kitchen wall. My wee hour calls to verify they had permission always woke their whole household.

Because that didn’t work so well, we devised what we called the Nana block, a wooden block from their bucket of blocks with Nana written on it. If they had that, then I was to let them in for Nana time.

No Nana block. No entrance.

This worked nicely until I discovered our clever little grandson who was tall and resourceful was snitching the block.

He’d climb from a chair to the counter to get the block from the refrigerator or stand on an upside-down pot on the counter to reach it from the top of the kitchen cabinets. Totally bypassing the ask mommy part.

We went back to confirmation calls.

Fast forward to now. I get up at 4:30 a.m. most mornings to go swim at the gym. Before I leave I take the dog out. Sometimes when I walk Finnegan that early, he takes care of business. Other times he doesn’t.

We needed a way for hubby-dear to know if he should walk our Finnegan. One that didn’t involve sticky notes, which never seem to stick.

He made a new sorta of Nana Block from a keychain disk. I set it beside his coffee station.

Works like a charm. No wake-up texts or phone calls are needed.

2 02, 2024

Music Sweater

By |2024-01-26T10:49:26-06:00February 2nd, 2024|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


When I was in college, my parents bought me a music sweater for Christmas.  It is a cardigan, so I wear it every winter as my coat.  Living in Texas it is usually all I need.

I have never seen another one like it at all the music conventions I have been to through the years.

Over time, the button holes stretched out and it no longer stayed buttoned.  This year I decided to remedy that situation by replacing the buttons.

While I was working on it, I decided to remove the shoulder pads that had been popular when I got it in the 80s but now just got in the way.

Now my sweater stays buttoned, and I am not fighting the shoulder pads.

I’m ready for another 35 years of Texas winters!

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