Category Archives: for fun

Winter Decorating to Banish the After Christmas Letdown


Winter white mantle with natural elements including cypress, pine cones and branches.


My little side table carried the cypress theme over. I’ve read the clippings will stay fresh several weeks, if I can remember to change the water!


Have you seen those pins for sweater vases? This was crazy easy to make. Snipped off the sleeve of an old sweater and sewed a little circle at the bottom- like a draw string. It took 5 minutes, tops!


I had never noticed how my wedding china was so wintery! It was fun to display a piece of it along with a gravy boat full of clippings and a little silver box I’ve had since my teenage years.


For the kitchen table I pulled in cookie cutters with a winter but not Christmas feel. Mason jars are very Tennessee, so I added them, and there’s the rest of the sweater that was used on the vases!

Did you know today is officially known as “blue Monday”? The first Monday after New Year’s is statiscally one of the most “down” days of the year. So, while I am not one who personally struggles with depression (anxiety is more my little albatross) I decided to tackle a little decorating project I’ve been mulling around in my mind as a proactive measure against the winter blues. It is true that after my Christmas decor comes down, the house feels a little blah. So, Pinterest and I have been collaborating, eyeing others’ creative displays, and today I “shopped” my house and backyard exclusively, because my bank account has not been interested in collaborating on this endevour.

Here are the results! I had so much fun and nearly froze my fingers off clipping cypress and finding pinecones on the coldest day Tennessee has seen in 20 years!


My 40th Birthday Gift-Away Challenge

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago I mentioned I was looking for some new-to-me, never-tried-before type adventure to celebrate turning 40 this October and round out my bookend year with a little pomp and circumstance. But nothing was satisfying my quest. I heard suggestions of “go skydiving” (shudder) and “eat someplace new” (yawn) and “learn a new language” (um, in 3 months?! I’m not that kind of genius). My family and friends were tiring of giving me helpful suggestions when a crafty type friend of mine mentioned looking at Pinterest for Birthday Challenges based on the number of years you are turning and………


I was delighted to read all the meaningful ways people were using their birthday’s to bless others. My hamster wheel, lava lamp brain has been a flutter with ideas ever since, and now I am pleased as punch to unveil my invitation to join me in Celebrating 40 Years of God’s Blessings!

(drum roll and trumpets as your read this, and if you can manage, in a proper British accent)

“Hear Ye! Hear Ye! As a result of abundant blessing, ridiculous amounts of love and overwhelming grace, Debi Russell has arrived at her 40th Birthday a blessed and joy-filled woman. In honor of the many who have inspired her, loved her and led her over these past 40 years, she has decided to spend the week of her birth giving back to others in need. She would like to invite 39 other friends to commit to do the same during the week leading up to October 29, 2014. You may choose to do one act of charity, donate time or resources to a ministry or non-profit, write a check to a missionary overseas- the possibilities are endless. She only asks that you let her know what you did as a part of this celebration. Your gift to her is to give to others that week!”

So, there it is. If you’re reading this, you are invited to join! I’m hoping to have at least 39 friends who participate in honor of the 39 wonderful years I have lived. Pinterest does have tons of ideas, but if you need a few suggestions here are some I’m passionate about in my city: Greenhouse Ministries, Pregnancy Support Center, Doors of Hope and Branches (where I work). All are on facebook and you can contact them to find out what kind of donations or service they might need. (And I happen to know they all take cash!)

Bathing Suit Support Groups- An Idea Whose Time Has Come

I have ventured into the abyss of Lycra and under wires and tropical prints twice this year already. Twice. There were drones of other women, all desperately looking for the last suit in a size 10, or something that will hide all the flaws while simultaneously revealing a slimmer figure. It was not madness exactly. More like resigned fortitude.
I swear I heard some muffled sobs coming from one dressing room followed by an expletive or two. One woman almost called 9-1-1 after being unable to extract herself from the contraption she had wriggled into (that may or may not have been me.)

Yes, ladies, Bathing Suit Shopping Season is upon us, unless you were lucky enough to find a decent suit in the past year to tide yourself over. My current swimsuit situation is as follows: one very cute brown tankini that mostly contains me, but is also incredibly faded  AND one maroon one piece with a bandeau style halter top that causes a searing headache from the halter being tied too tight, which is needed for, you guessed it, containment. So, in light of my current dilemma, I will once again venture into the abyss to search for a suit next week.

Here is my proposal, and I am telling you, Dillards or Target or whatever retailer decides to catch on would rake in a fortune if they followed my idea:

What we need is Bathing Suit Shopping Support Groups! For real. Group women together based on sizes and life stages. The “never given births” have differing issues than the “had 2 babies and over 40’s” but let’s face it- ALL women could use a cheering section while going through this yearly ordeal.They could turn off all the overhead fluorescent lighting, which as we all know makes the most lovely complexion look garish, and replace them with lamps. Also, offering an assortment of snacks and perhaps a little wine, to take the edge off, would be delightful.

But here is where I think my idea goes from clever to genius: when we emerge from a dressing room in a potential suit, and ask “does this make my thighs looks fat/my butt look big/my middle look too roly poly?” the resounding answer from your own personal support group is “WHO CARES?” Because you know what we don’t need? A bunch of false compliments, or distorted reality. We don’t need to find the One Suit to Rule Them All. (yep, Lord of the Rings reference. apologies.) We don’t need to believe better things about our bodies- we need to believe different things about our bodies. We need an altered perspective on the importance we place on how we look! So let me say it to you sisters- YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR BODY! Your worth is not based on how well you rock a bikini! I don’t care what society, your husband, your boyfriend or your friends think- God created you as he wanted you to be. He gave you a body to take care of, to use for loving and serving others and to enjoy. None of us are perfect stewards of any gift God gives us, and if you haven’t taken care of your body in the way you think is responsible, then you can work on that, but you don’t have to hide in shame! And let’s face it, a lot of what we aren’t happy with are parts we can’t change anyway, and represent no failure on our parts.

So if you need to go shopping over the next week, grab a couple of women friends, invade the dressing room and tell each other the truth: how you look is not all that important- who you ARE in Christ is what matters. And you are lovely- really, you are. It is impossible for a creation of the King to not contain some piece of His image, some reflection of His love and goodness. And that makes you more beautiful to behold than “a perfect 10” will ever be.

Happy December!

So in no particular order here are the wonderful things I love about December:
real Christmas tree in my living room
the non-stop carols on the radio
apple cider
The Grinch and Charlie Brown and Rudolph movies
real cards in the mail
shopping for my kids
candles everywhere in my house
holiday comfort food
Santa collection in the hallway
my Grandmother’s nativity on my mantle
decorating my Branches office
Murfreesboro Christmas Parade
picking out Christmas-y outfits for me and Emma
pulling out years of decorations and the memories that go with them
hot cocoa
scarves and mittens
candy canes
Starbucks christmas-y drinks
our Square for shopping
visiting with friends and family
reading the story of the birth of Christ all month
school parties
paper snowflakes
wrapping gifts
decorating our tree
going light looking
It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street
using my Christmas china
school being out
the potential for snow and the ensuing excitement from my kids
Christmas cookies- sugar, macaroons, peanut butter hershey kisses
homemade candies
ABC Family 25 days of Christmas
advent calendars
Opry Hotel Lights
glitter and sparkle and bows and ribbons
angels, which remind me of my grandmother
Christmas mugs for coffee and cocoa
wearing Christmas jammies
light poles around town all decorated
Christmas stamps and mailing packages
Angels We Have Heard on High and Joy to the World- my favorite carols
Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra and Perry Como CD’s
wearing Santa hats
snowmen and gingerbread men
my kids old Santa photos lining my mirror
Southern Living Christmas cookbooks
Christmas Eve
Christmas service at church
mocha punch and yummy Christmas morning breakfast
watching the kids open gifts
Christmas dinner
Christmas day phone calls from family far and wide

Hope your December is full of the wonder and beauty that comes with celebrating Jesus!

Happy Trick or Treat Day!

2012- the Fox and the Bat(girl)

Just for fun, I’ve been reminiscing about Halloween’s past and remembering some of my favorite kid’s costumes of yester-year…..

when I only had two babies….

happy ladybug girl


he was a great ninja
being goofy, literally and figuratively

Zorro, no costume and ladybug

Look at her sweet smile…

this one just looks awkward all the way around….

another sweet face- and no I cannot figure out how to turn this!
“a blessing in disguise”

Elfeba from Wicked

Morning Chats with Myself

Here is the conversation I’m having with myself at 5:17am about going to work out in 10 minutes:

Why can’t I just work out later? oh yeah, because I won’t as evidenced by several years.
But it’s so early. This is awful. No, awful is being a prisoner of war. This is just uncomfortable.
But I have cramps and a headache. And my work out shorts don’t fit right. And isn’t there something about modesty to be considered here? I mean, if the shorts are too tight….. stop it. you’re just stalling.
Fine, but they ARE too tight. Agreed, and perhaps the working out will help in that problem.
Why can’t I just accept the need to exercise like a normal person!? Other people seem to work out with no real internal conflict over it. Relax. One step at a time. You’ve never cared about being normal anyway. True. I just want to quit hating it so much. I’m sure there’s a spiritual principal here but I’m too cranky to care. It’s okay. Just go work out and then you’ll be less cranky and maybe figure out what God wants you to know. 

There you have it. The whole back and forth over getting on an elliptical machine at 5:26 am.