Monday, December 22, 2014

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

The following editorial first appeared in the New York Sun in 1897 and was written by the late Mr. Frank P. Church:

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says "If you see it in The Sun it's so." Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge. 
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Embracing Autumn

Autumn at home - photo credit Karen Horn
I've never really cared much for autumn but I'm so looking forward to it this year. After a long, dry summer here in drought stricken far-northern California, the recent bit of rain (and more that we anticipate in the coming week) provides welcome relief. Driving to town yesterday, I noticed that some of the grass along the road has even greened up, which provides a nice contrast to the turning colors of the leaves. And the cooler daytime temperatures, light breeze and crisp-ish night air are sure appreciated.

Then I realized that I am now firmly in autumn in my life seasons, as well. Hmm... How did that happen? Where did summer go?

Two things have happened recently that have made me think more about the seasons of life.

First, I've been spending some time visiting at a rehab hospital that also includes long-term care, which has given me more than a glimpse at life's winter season. Not pretty for many but as with other seasons, each person's experience is largely based on attitude. While some folks choose to continue to live their life despite failing health, others choose to simply exist. When I reach winter, I want to be in the first group.

Secondly, a woman I've known several decades just died unexpectedly at the young age of 71. Although I intend to live to 100, you just never know how much time you really have left. Rather than being depressed by this fact, I'm reminded of how important it is to really live each day.

So... I'm embracing autumn. Care to join me?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Advanced Age at 65?

In researching specific risk factors recently, I discovered that "advanced age" is 65 or older. Say what? I'm less than a decade from entering advanced age? I thought reaching advanced age wouldn't happen until in the 80s. Maybe even the 90s. For some, I guess it could be 75 or so. But 65? This just can't be right! Fortunately, right after making this shocking and horrifying discovery, I happened upon Grandma Gatewood's Walk.

Have you ever heard of Emma Gatewood? A few years before I was even born, this woman hiked the Appalachian Trail...when she was 67! Not only did she thru-hike the whole 2,000+ miles way back in 1955, she did it with just a few items stuffed in a homemade denim bag thrown over her shoulder.

Wearing Keds and packing a change of clothes and a few other necessities (she didn't even have a sleeping bag!), she's the first woman to make the journey and the fifth hiker to walk the trail end to end. And did I mention she was 67?

If that's not impressive enough, she actually thru-hiked the AT three times before she turned 76. Now that's a lot of walking!

A few years ago, I posted about Grace Small, the Hitchhiking Grandmother. These women are such an inspiration! Not that I aspire to follow in their footsteps, mind you. But it sure reinforces that age doesn't have to dictate what you can accomplish and "advanced age" at 65 is just a bunch of BS.

NOTE: Book image is an affiliate link. As I've said before, this is the easiest way I know to include photos in blog posts. If you're signed up with Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free like I did. Otherwise, check your local library.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kindle Unlimited is...NOT

I accidentally signed up for a trial subscription to Kindle Unlimited and was considering continuing on for $9.99 per month after my trial ends in early October but now I'm not so sure. You see, despite the name, "Kindle Unlimited" really isn't unlimited after all. Yep, that's right. NOT unlimited.

What do I mean? Well, as soon as I got my welcome email after my unintentional signup, I quick-like downloaded a novel I've been wanting to read. Then over the next few days, I downloaded some nonfiction that sounded interesting. So far, so good. Then yesterday, I tried to download another title and got the following message:

Sorry if it's a little blurry but you get the idea. If I can only have 10 books at a time, in what universe would this be considered "unlimited"? Hmm. It's making that $9.99 per month for unlimited books way less attractive...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

99 Days Until Christmas Tip-a-Day Action Plan

What? Only 99 days until Christmas? Geez, it didn't take much to get me back to blogging, did it?

Well, anyway, come September 18th, there will only be 99 days until Christmas. Want to join me in getting ready this year?

99 Days Until Christmas is FREE on Amazon right now so go grab a copy. But if you miss the free period, it's part of a 99 Tips for 99 Cents series so will cost less than a dollar when it's full price.

Let's get ready for Christmas!

(BTW - this is an affiliate link beings that's the easiest way I know to get an image to an Amazon item.)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Good-bye Blogging! Final Post at The Best 50 Years

I quit! After nearly six years posting here at The Best 50 Years, I've finally had least for now. Why? Well, blogging just isn't fun anymore and so I've decided not to do it. Duh. Here I am, living my BEST 50 years and yet allowing the big G and all things computer/internet to steal my peace. How stupid is that?

Why I'm quitting - at least for now...

The final straw is what appears to be my total inability to renew my domain name (not this least not yet!) through Google. Way back in the day, I purchased this domain and one other when I started blogs through Blogger. It was super easy, there was no problem with getting the right custom domain name attached to the right blog - what could be better? Well, over the years, the big G has made what to me are incomprehensible and inexplicable changes and I can't keep up. Nor do I want to. So I quit. I have so many better things to do with my time.

Now what?

For the time being, The Best 50 Years will remain as is. I'm just walking away but I'm not taking it down. After all, one of the reasons I posted here was so that I had an easy way to find certain info again. Anyway, this domain name is good until September so maybe by then, I can figure out where to go to renew. As for the one that expires in a few days? Well, I've decided I don't even care. I think it's served its purpose and I'm ok with letting it go.

9/10/14 UPDATE - Beings the domain successfully auto-renewed and I've been away long enough I don't hate it anymore AND I have a few things to say again, I'm back to blogging...

At least for today...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Another Custom Memorial Quilt Finished!

This quilt is finally finished! After several design changes, I got  the depth I wanted and now it's forever in fabric instead of just being in my head or on paper. 

For a young widow and her toddler son, it will lay across her bed until he's older, which is why she requested a size and orientation appropriate for a twin bed.

You may notice the clothes pins running down the left side in the first pic. Well, I have no place to hang a quilt this size right side up for photos, so we hung it sideways and then rotated the photo. See? 
Beings the backing was regular-width fabric, I matched the pattern when I sewed it together. Then I quilted it by sewing around the squares and rectangles. I'm really happy with the way this quilt turned out. As usual, it is now my favorite!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Recycle, Reuse and Repurpose!

Had to share another gem  from Morna McEver Golletz. I get her email newsletter regularly and always find some pearls therein. The question she posed today is this:

Morna McEver Golletz is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Are You Actually Enjoying Your Life?

Enjoy your life!
Just read a post by Shelagh Cummins, a business trainer & consultant for Mom Entrepreneurs and co-founder of, and had to share a nugget of wisdom that applies to any area of life. In her Overcome Potential Obstacles post, Shelagh suggests creating a chart that lists potential obstacles you may need to overcome and your solution. The one that really hit home with me is this:
You realize halfway through the year that you’re not enjoying what you’re doing / You’re the boss… you get to close shop or hire someone.
Think about it - you really ARE the boss. While Shelagh is talking specifically about business, I want to go one step further and ask, "Are you enjoying your life?" If not, what can you do about it? What changes can you make to quit doing or make easier the things you don't enjoy?

Then over at Clear Voice Branding, Heather Poduska (personal branding strategist for female entrepreneurs) shares what to do when you don't see results. Again, this advice is aimed at business, but it applies to all areas of life. What specifically hit home with me is this:
You may not be focusing on the right activities...being busy and being productive are not the same thing...(what) activities...are a) absolutely necessary to run your business b) which ones have historically led to the kinds of results you are looking for. If an activity doesn’t fall into one of those two categories, either cut back on it or ditch it completely.
Beings it's the first day of Spring (yippee!!!) and time to do some spring cleaning, I think I'll focus on some life areas to spruce up in addition to those home areas that need attention. How about you? Is how you're spending your time either necessary or leading to the results you desire? If not, what can you do about it?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Are YOU Grateful?

I just spent a few days in the hospital - as a visitor - and it's made me even more grateful for my health. I'm not getting any younger and all things physical aren't as easy and I often experience some level of discomfort or pain, but I'm upright and independently mobile so I'm way ahead of the game compared to a good percentage of folks I've seen lately.

Then I got home and found 5 Reasons Not To Be An Ungrateful Bastard over at Ending the Grind. The post is really good and well worth reading but what hit closest to home for me was one of the comments where Adrienne said:
"Until you’ve been around death and sickness a LOT, you just won’t get it. I’m grateful to be healthy and given a chance to have another day on this earth."

It's so easy to take health for granted. How often do you actually stop and think about your health when it's good? Poor health demands your attention, but good health is much quieter.

So if your health is good, show some gratitude, ok? And if it's not so good, do whatever you can to improve your condition.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

YOU Can Help Fund Kristy's Quilt

I ran across a neat opportunity that I had to share. If you're looking for a heartwarming quilt-related gift for a child or grandchild, look no further! Brandy Lynn Maslowski, the host of CanadianQuilt Talk, is making a move to get her children’s picture book, Kristy’s Quilt, published and in the hands and hearts of quilters and children everywhere.  

Kristy's Quilt, perfect for ages 2-92, is a heartwarming quilt adventure based on a true story about 10-year-old Kristy, a spunky little quilter who blossoms at the In Stitches Quilting Retreat.

You can help fund Kristy's Quilt through the Kristy’s Quilt Kickstarter campaign, which runs February 14 through March 14, 2014. And just what is Kickstarter? Well, it's a site that allows supporters of the project (like you) to fund the book in exchange for early bird copies and other fantastic rewards. Basically, if you back the project for $20 or more you’ll be one of the first people on earth to get a copy of the book in your hands this spring. You can choose any level of funding from $5 and up for all kinds of great rewards including bookmarks, softcover or hardcover copies, a doll quilt made by Brandy herself, and more. And most importantly, once the book is in your hands, you’ll be able to share your love of quilting with a child.

So why don't you join me in helping fund Kristy's Quilt? Simply visit KRISTY’S QUILT PROJECT. I know I'm looking forward to my early bird copy! And thanks for sharing the heritage of quilting with a child. Also, you can connect with Brandy Lynn at 

Friday, February 14, 2014

How to Have a Full Life

I so enjoy the email newsletter I get from Morna McEver Golletz each week. She always has helpful info and an interesting story to share. A recent newsletter contained the following food for thought:

Morna McEver Golletz is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ManageWP Helps Make Life Simpler!

Over the years, I've acquired a bit of online real estate. In addition to this blog, I have several more and also several websites. It's gotten to the point that I often can't even remember what all I have and it's become such a confusing mess that I'm desperate for a solution that will actually simplify my life rather than just add yet another layer of complexity. there an answer? Well, maybe there is.

I've long yearned for a simple way to manage my various WordPress blogs/sites, each of which has distinct login info to keep track of and type in every time I want to post or do maintenance. With just one or two, no problem - get three or more and it starts to be an annoying, time-sucking hassle. I like the way Blogger has a single dashboard with all my blogs hosted here available in one spot. Imagine my delight when I found out last week that there are options available to similarly manage multiple WordPress sites, too.

WordPress Multisite

Apparently, newer WordPress versions include a feature called Multisite. According to the glossary at

"Multisite is a feature of WordPress 3.0 and later versions that allows multiple virtual sites to share a single WordPress installation. When the multisite feature is activated, the original WordPress site can be converted to support a network of sites."

Sounds great for the techies out there but not for me - I want simpler and just thinking about creating a network of sites supported by one site gives me a headache.

Finding Other WordPress Management Options

In my quest for a simple WordPress management solution, I typed "manage wordpress blogs" into a search engine and came up with lots of options! Why didn't I think of this years ago? Well, in my defense, these solutions are relatively new so wouldn't have been available back then... but still...

Instead of trying to figure out all the details of each option myself, I read some comparison posts, such as:

and a few reviews, such as:

In the end, I settled on the free account at ManageWP, which allows me to manage up to five WordPress blogs/sites at no cost (scroll down - there really is a no-cost option). And why did I choose ManageWP over the others? Mostly because my research indicated it was the one I was least likely to find frustrating. And so far, so good! I now have one dashboard from which I can access each blog and there are even things I can do to any or all of them from that single location. I'm loving the simplicity and am now a happy camper!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Truth About Closed Doors

"When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."
 ~ Alexander Graham Bell

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Book Sales Happy Dance!

Last Thursday night at about 8 o'clock, the UPS truck rolled up in front of our cottage in town and finally delivered our 50-book order of Impossible Beyond This Point! We were anxiously awaiting his arrival - in fact I had been checking and rechecking the tracking info online. Now that it's actually published, we wanted copies for family and friends, and a few to leave on consignment at the local book store. The books should have arrived days before but an addressing issue (PO box vs street address) caused a 6-day delay and nearly got the whole order returned to the sender!

On Friday morning, we dropped six off at Tammie's Books and she called Saturday morning to ask for six more. She hadn't sold all the original six yet but wanted to make sure she didn't run out beings there was quite a bit of interest just in the first day. And she gave Joel the best compliment ever when we dropped off the Saturday batch - she said she'd read a couple of chapters and could feel how "real" the story is. That's exactly what he was going for so it was gratifying to hear that he'd hit the mark.

We also dropped a copy off Friday with one of the reporters at the Trinity Journal and she may just write a review. How cool would that be? And we left one at the Jake Jackson Museum for possible placement in the gift shop. So that's what's going on locally.

And online? They're selling slowly but steadily there, as well. Amazon has cut the price several times, up to 22% off at one point. Right now I think Impossible Beyond This Point is listed for $12.70, which is 15% off the $14.99 list price. I don't know how Amazon decides what to discount and by how much but if folks can get the book for less than full price, I'm good with that!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Manage the Easy, Small Things NOW!

The following comes from Special Delivery, an eZine I receive from Stacey Curnow:

Lao Tzu reminds us that if you can manage the easy, small things now, you'll save yourself the time and effort of having to do the difficult things later.

Moreover, those small successes teach us how success feels, so we're more attuned to that feeling. Also, with the small things managed, we free our lives of clutter – and create more space for the truth to break in and show us the way.

Reprinted with permission from the author, Stacey Curnow. If you like this article and you want to give birth to your BIG dreams, sign up to receive her FRE*E eZine, Special Delivery, at

Friday, January 10, 2014

My New Declutter Secret Weapon

You know how they say one man's trash is another man's treasure? Well, it's also true for women! And I've found Etsy to be a great secret weapon in my decluttering quest. Ok, so it's not so secret. But who knew there were so many people looking to acquire what I'm looking to pass along?

For instance, do you know anyone who wants Vintage 1990 Special Edition Skippy Beaver 100th Birthday of Peanut Butter Glass Jar Banks? Me neither - but someone did! And she wanted all three and was willing to pay $5 each plus shipping to get them. I guess I shouldn't be surprised - I've been hanging onto the cute little buggers for over 23 years!

But let me back up a bit...

My SIL opened an Etsy store a few months ago (September 29, 2013 to be exact). At about the same time she was removing barbed wire that had been strung between trees about 100 years ago, she noticed that folks were buying rusty barbed wire for craft and decor projects. So she figured she might as well sell it instead of hauling it to the dump. But you don't want an Etsy store with just barbed wire, right? So after some brainstorming and looking around to see what else might be saleable here on the old homestead, she settled on the name Rough and Rustic and began amassing a variety of items for her shop.

Then I got an idea. Why not join forces and add my decluttered treasures? She's a photographer and I'm a writer. You need pictures and descriptions of each item. It was the perfect pairing! So I jumped right in and have turned my unwanted items into $61 during the last quarter of 2013! I know it's not a windfall and is only about 10% of her sales but still...I'm generating a little cash from things I no longer need that other people want.

And what else have I sold?

So why don't you pop on over to Rough and Rustic and see if we've got anything you can't live without?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Impossible Beyond This Point is Published!

Yes, they lived in this shack...
My hubby's book about his family's struggle and triumph creating a self-sufficient life in the wilderness is finally published! While I hope there are no errors remaining, I realized that I will probably always find something I'd like to change and decided to quit obsessing about it. So I hit the go button and now folks can actually buy it on CreateSpace and Amazon!

I'm a little disappointed that ordering it through the CreateSpace eStore is slightly cumbersome (you have to sign in) but I was pleased that the book was available there immediately. For anyone considering ordering through CreateSpace but curious about shipping costs before they sign in and all, the shipping for one book was $3.59 when I checked.

Now, for those who'd like a little preview, here's a peek at the beginning:

My hubby's dad: Virgil Horn 1924-1990

First few paragraphs of Impossible Beyond This Point

Impossible Beyond This Point will also be available on our websites and but that takes a few days. This is so exciting!

Cute Hooks for Beach Cottage Bathroom Decor

For Christmas, my sweet SIL got me a trio of cute hooks for my upcoming bathroom redo. Won't these look great with the beach cottage theme? Now I just have to decide whether to scatter them about the room or hang them in a group. Hmm...

At this point, I have pine walls so I think I'll audition them. Once I have freshly painted drywall, I'll certainly want to know exactly where to make the holes to hang them!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Opportunities!

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day."
~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce