This week I’m reminded of a wedding gift that I had all but forgotten.
My brother David and sister-in-law Janet bought us a brown wicker clothes hamper. I remember it distinctly because Janet asked what we specifically needed following our wedding 40 years ago this year.
Janet had been ill right before we married and didn’t know if she would even be able to attend, but she did.
So a couple weeks after the wedding, they arrived at our home with the hamper and it was perfect. I don’t know what happened to it through the years but two other lesser-quality hampers have filled the void from the demise of the first.
For a couple years now, the more recent hamper was falling apart, the strands of wicker unwinding and even breaking off onto the floor. A new hamper was on my list to buy. How hard would it be to find a sturdy one? Yet I checked one store after another and could not only not find a great new hamper, but not even a lousy inferior one.
Yet I was sure that new hamper lurked around the next aisle in the next store but it never did. There were plenty of college-appropriate collapsibles, and laundry baskets tall as a hamper with a handle on top, perfect for apartment dwellers hauling their dirties to the facilities.
But there was no adult version to be found of a simple clothing hamper.
In his retirement, Brian has become handy with his phone in completing all manner of projects and chores ranging from buying online flights to adeptly using Google Maps.
The mall in our nearest city just folded; the whole mall, not just a few select stores. He predicts that in just a few years,shopping malls will be no more.
So after hearing me lament about the lack of laundry hampers, he hopped onto amazon.com and found many. He landed on a page full of them that looked exactly like the 1978 model my brother and SIL bought us for our wedding. I didn't even have to settle for the one obscure color that a mall store might have and be glad to get it. The online store had the hamper of my dreams in a choice of colors.
I narrowed it down to the chocolate brown that we had 40 years ago, or the “linen” hue that to the less-creative minded, would be off white. It appeared to be a nice match for the “biscuit” (or off white) color of our tub and toilet.
The hamper also arrived, shipped free, in three days.
After this experience, and others I’ve had that I won’t unpack right here, I suspect that Brian may be closer to right than wrong about the future of big malls. The appeal of ordering a perfect product in two minutes that you couldn’t find in two years, combined with a good price, free shipping and no time or gas invested in a futile search certainly has its appeal.
As a young girl and teen, and even years later, I considered a trip to “the mall” a great experience. It was so much fun to go from store to store just looking with my mom, have lunch out at Kresge’s or Woolworth’s, and shop some more.
Sometimes we ordered things from the thick seasonal catalogs from the big-name stores such as Penney’s, Sears or Montgomery-Wards. But usually, those wish books only pointed to the store versions we found on our own Saturdays in the Richmond mall. Mail-order back then meant paying for shipping and handling as well as what would seem today as a long wait.
I haven’t been much of a mall shopper for a long time. While I enjoy shopping in specialty shops and smaller stores in the towns and cities where I live or work, big-city malls long ago lost their appeal to me. I get overwhelmed and then spend too much time looking for something I could have ordered in minutes at home.
What are your thoughts on the future of malls in America?
Finally, the ferns have arrived, and they are looking good. I green-up both porches at our house with ferns each spring. Some years, I'm in such a hurry to rush in the season that I buy the ferns sooner than I should.
This year I used some self-control -- and patience -- and didn't spring for the ferns until not only May 10, as my mother often suggested, but even later just for insurance. More than once I bought the porch plants on a beautiful day only to have storms and winds move in later and beat some of them to where I had to replace them later.
At our front entrance, I changed things up a little. I've often wanted to use this old family wheel barrel, creating seasonal displays, but it was simply too large for my available spaces. Solution? Simply remove the large side panels to open it up. Right now I'm showcasing an asparagus fern and crock I filled with a pot of pink geraniums. The geraniums were a gift.
Every year I pick up a bridal veil for my topiary-styled pot at left. This year, R & R Market in Pendleton had especially nice ones. This plant does fantastic in this space. At the bottom of the pot is a simple solution: fake succulants. That's right. But those taking a closer look will never even realize they are not real. I promise. I got them at Hobby Lobby. You're welcome.
We've talked about getting fancier seating here over our easy-going, inexpensive plastic chairs we've had for years. Brian even mentioned the rockers at Cracker Barrel. Anyone have those? How do they hold up outside?
There are four hanging ferns on our back porch. We have an all-weather sofa back there, but these are traditional wicker rockers -- both bought second-hand and painted. I redid all the back porch cushions in the winter of 2017. Thought I'd never get done!
Happy summer everyone! Remember the Americans who died so we may enjoy it -- and every day.
Gay captured Brian and me in Grant Park in Galena, Illinois Saturday. Here, we stand in front of the Galena River that runs through the heart of the town. Behind the river is downtown Galena. This is the adopted hometown of President and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. The river feeds into the mighty Mississippi, just a few miles away.
Less than a year ago, Gay Kirkton and I took our annual summer girlfriend getaway to the unique and beautiful Galena, Illinois, situated in northwest Illinois, a hop and skip from both Wisconsin and Iowa. Next to Chicago, this is the most visited destination in the great state of Illinois, with Springfield third.
With a population of 3,800, this small city has more than 50 restaurants in its vibrant downtown alone, and several blocks packed with one-of-a-kind shops that sell everything from trendy housewares to kitchen goods, gourmet food, fashionable (and affordable) clothing, and costume jewelry.
So the shopping is certainly a draw -- let's be honest -- for women especially. The food? For everyone!
For the Cronks of Pendleton and our friends Rick and Gay Kirkton of Angola (but proud Illinois natives), history got us there.
When you think of Illinois and U.S. presidents, perhaps Abraham Lincoln comes first to mind. He certainly does for me. Springfield, Illinois boasts a number of tributes to his life and times that you can visit from his presidential library to the only home he ever owned, to a visit inside his law office, the cemetery where he was laid to rest, and more.
But don't forget the other presidents who called Illinois their home. Consider this one.
Do you remember that President, California Governor and actor Ronald Reagan came from Illinois and spent from age 9 to adulthood in Dixon, Illinois? Here we are in front of the home his family rented for a few years which is a tour-able landmark in the town.
I'll do a separate post later on the home, as it is worthy of its own essay. It was a fantastic stop, and glimpse into an iconic man of humble roots. Our fellas stand next to a life-size cardboard version of the 1980s president. It appears accurate in stature as President Reagan was 6'1" and our guys measure up to prove that about right.
After a stop in Dixon, it was on to Galena. The drive was exceedingly charming as we rode in Rick's comfortable pick-up truck chatting away the hours and looking out for miles and miles over tidy fields and farms in our friends' treasured home state.
You can have your majestic mountains, and while I love looking out over water, my personal eye candy consists of massive green fields of Midwestern crops. You've got the best view of those in Illinois and Iowa.
In Galena, it was like checking in with an old friend as Brierwreath Bed & Breakfast owner Joe Cook greeted us. His inn is perfectly located in this hilly city because it's an easy walk downhill to the downtown where we had our choice and then some of dining options. We went for a repeat of last year's trip as we sat outside at Vinny's for an Italian meal.
On Saturday at breakfast, that uncanny thing that always happens to Gay and me happened again. At the first of two fine breakfasts served by Joe, we met B & B guests with a connection to Gay. One worked in public relations for the community college where Gay's father serves as a trustee. The guest could not believe it! She knows Gay's dad and the two had a lot to discuss about the college and their connections.
Then it was on to catch our trolley where we got a splendid overview of Galena's history from a lead-mining and steamboat hub in the 1800s to the home of a future and then post-U.S. president in the form of U.S. Grant and family in the mid-to-late 1800s to a town that celebrates commerce, history and architecture in the city it is today.
We had a wonderful tour of the home of U.S. Grant and family, above. More than 90 percent of the home's contents are original. Grant had lived in Ohio and St. Louis, Missouri but after marrying a wealthy farmer's daughter and being gifted with land, Grant found that he was not cut out for farming.
He brought his family to Galena, Illinois where his family owned a tannery. It is there he worked, living in a small, humble home to suit his means until his true talents as a West Point-educated soldier were recognized and he became the key figure in saving the union and will forevermore be recognized in that remarkable way.
To thank him for his war contributions, some wealthy men in Galena gifted the Grants with this home. It never left the family until the Grant children gifted the home to the state of Illinois in the early 1900s as a permanent tribute to their parents.
We enjoyed lunch outside at Gobbie's and then it was back to our B & B to rest up in our rooms before heading out to dinner downtown at Fried Green Tomatoes. We had a lovely meal including Harvest salads, pesto and tomato brushetta and crab cakes.
When it was time to leave, we discovered a drenching rain outside the restaurant. We waited in the entryway for it to clear but before it did, the restaurant owner, Fred, graciously appeared and asked where we were staying. He sent for his personal vehicle to transport us to our doorstep at the inn! Talk about above and beyond!
I promised Fred (he said to think of his name as Fried without the i) that I would mention this in my blog. So this is for you, Fred! I also would recommend your food and staff to anyone!
Gay and I enjoy attending church services in the towns we visit. We took the United Methodist Church up on its offer, via a display board out front, to sit in Grant's pew. On Sunday morning we all went to church a short walk down the street from our B & B to the former Methodist Episcopal Church where the Grant family pew is distinctively and tastefully marked with a small American flag. We got the photo shortly after services.
A couple special moments for me from the weekend were during the meet-and-greet portion of the church service, turning around to shake hands with a woman who formerly lived in Shirley, Indiana. That's a tiny town in the circulation area of the newspaper where I work.
Also, in the Grant home, upstairs a framed picture depicts key figures in the Civil War and in the group photo is included one Gen Ambrose Burnside -- who happens to hail from my hometown of Liberty, Indiana.
When you think of Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, remember that four U.S. presidents called this beautiful Midwestern state home -- Lincoln, Grant, Reagan and Barack Obama.
We'll certainly never forget.
Donna Cronk is a blogger, newspaper journalist and author of two novels: Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast and That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland, available from the author , at specialty venues and on Amazon.com.
I have an old iron bell from my folks' farm where I grew up, and where my paternal grandparents lived before that. There's no reason I would need a farm bell. There are no men in the field awaiting its ring to dinner 'round the threshing table.
But I like it because it reminds me of such scenes from farms of old.
For years after it left Dad's barn, it sat in first one garage, then another, until finally I asked our friend Monty Foust to post it in our backyard. I like it there and wonder why we didn't raise it sooner. It does require a bit of maintenance. It had been painted silver once, for what reason I can't guess, and I painted it black. Now it needs a good touching up a couple times a year, most notably, after the winter months. Most notably, now.
But its fresh coat will have to wait a while. Things are pretty busy inside that bell. A few weeks ago I noticed that a family called Robin had claimed squatters' rights by building a nice little home there, sheltered sweetly by the protective shell of iron. I've stayed out of Mrs. Robin's way, observing from the window that she's been spending a lot of time maintaining her new digs which she decorated beautifully with found bits of dried grass and straw.
Some years robins nest in ferns on our back porch, but I don't have the plants up yet. One year a front-door wreath hosted a family. When the family sets up housekeeping in an eye-level fern or on my front door, I take the liberty of carefully peeking into the nest. Never touching, mind you.
Sometimes the tiny birds mistook me for their mother and opened their mouths wide, only to be briefly disappointed that I couldn't deliver a juicy worm. But soon, their mother swooped in and picked up the tab for lunch.
This bell is too high and I might do great damage to the family dynamic if I got out a ladder. So I watch from afar and was rewarded while ago when I saw a tiny head lift toward the heavens and a mouth eagerly await a to-go order.
Soon enough, the cozy nest will no longer suffice, and the birds will wing away, as birds and boys do, and their mother will do something else with her time besides deliver lunch and cuddle with them.
Meanwhile, here's to you, Mrs. Robin. Enjoy your family. Stop by again next year if you want.
In fall of 2014 I had the thrill of spending 10 days in Israel. I have never been the same since. I will never be the same in the future.
Today, Israel is on my mind and in my heart in a special way. It's the 70th anniversary today in terms of world governments and recognition. But it is the eternal city of God. And today, the U.S. Embassy is newly located in Israel's capital, Jerusalem.
So many moments, images, sights and sites, sounds and sound bites come to mind when I think of this most unique country of Israel and its Holy City and capital of Jerusalem. Here's one moment. Our group, about 35 of us with my Ovid Community Church, walked along together toward our next stop in Jerusalem. In the opposite direction some Jewish men walked by. One man's eyes met mine and with neither of us stopping or even slowing down, he called out, "Where you from?" I said "U.S.A." His response?
"God bless the U.S.A. and Israel, together."
And that is where we are in a special way today.
We don't get too far into the Bible before we read this in Genesis 12:3: "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." NIV
Indeed, Jesus came through the Jewish people ... the whole earth blessed by Him.
Is there any place on planet earth more important to so many as this spot? It is calledThe Wailing Wall, the Western Wall, the Temple Mount. This wall is part of the mount, or platform, that once held two Jewish Temples before they were destroyed. Jews pray here and leave notes in the wall. See the temporary fence at left with the women looking over it? This is where many Jewish boys have their Bar Mitzvah.
Psalms 132:13-14: For the LORD has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, "This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it." NIV.
Israel is the size of New Jersey. Everywhere (EVERY-WHERE) you step, you are walking on history. In fact, I best describe this experience as one where someone dropped me into a Bible and allowed me to walk around there. Events of both Old and New Testaments merge and mingle.
Whereas the Bible was once in black and white, it is now in living color.
Psalm 122:6: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
"May those who love you be secure. (NIV).
As the man said in the crowd in the heart of Jerusalem,
"God bless the U.S.A. and Israel, together."
The past week has been my May Blitz, so named for the cluster of author-related gigs scheduled through tomorrow. I can't remember when I've had such a concentrated period of responsibilities but also, it's been great fun.
A week ago today I spoke at the Foster Grandparents banquet in New Castle and then scurried to Warm Glow to sign and sit with the Kids at Heart bookshop. Then Sunday came a trip to my daughter-in-law Allison's church for the annual Mother-Daughter Banquet. So many memories have been made in this elegant downtown Indy church, Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ.
Sam and Allison were married there, had a lovely family-and-friend shower there and there have been sweet annual Mother-Daughter banquets, often organized by Allison and her mother, Carla. This year I was honored to be the banquet speaker as I was four years ago. I am grateful to Carla, Allison, the committee and to everyone who laughed at my jokes and offered kind words afterward.
Monday I drove 130 miles north to Angola where I had another treat in this Blitz. Bestie Gay Kirkton invited me to give a program to her Psi Oates Chapter. Gay chose an interview format whereby she asked me a variety of questions about life, writing inspirations and books. It was so much fun!
I am grateful to her and to each of the friendly women who made me feel completely at home from the moment I got there. I thank them for being such an attentive audience and for buying so many books! And then if I asked if I might trouble them for a photo, they said yes, and let's go outside for a better shot! We got this ...
So home late Monday, work Tuesday, and on Wednesday, it was off to give the Lunch & Learn program for Shelby Senior Services in Shelbyville. Director Kathy Nolting invited me, and I thank her. The delicious meal included chicken casserole and this green Jell-O with the carrots in it. Took me back to Methodist suppers of old that my mom's United Methodist Women used to prepare. Yum!
I'm more grateful than you know to everyone I've met and all the invitations that took me on a whirlwind tour of Indiana this past week! Tomorrow I'm headed to Brookville for one more round. Have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend, everyone.
When I was a girl, I loved few things more than the Mother-Daughter Banquet in the Brownsville United Methodist Church. No grand big-city hall could hold a candle to the loveliness in that church basement that brimmed with tiny plastic floral favors set at every table and squares of orange - studded Jell-O with shredded carrots.
We wore our Easter finest and patent-leather shoes. Then someone sang. It was a delightful evening sitting next to my favorite person in the world, my mother. Our church didn't have these every year or even, I don't think, very often. But I remember one evening before a childhood banquet sitting in the apple tree in the pony lot. The tree was in full-explosion mode with pinkish white blossoms covering every inch. I was in a fantasy-land tree, only it was real life and I was going to the banquet!
April and May are when we have banquets here in Indiana. Maybe it's so everywhere, a time to celebrate academic and sports awards, install honor society members and women's club officers. It's when organizations recognize their members and hand out certificates. It's mother-daughter season.
Something I've enjoyed immensely about being a local author these recent years is that about now, my plate is full. And I do mean the one with the chicken salad and chiffon pies as well as the metaphorical one found on various pages of my planner. People still ask me to speak at their banquets this time of year.
Banquet season kicked off for me yesterday at the Foster Grandparents Program recognition banquet for seniors who serve community children from Rush, Hancock and Henry counties. There are 48 in the program that send seniors to day care centers, Head Start classrooms and other schools where they read to and with children, rock babies and show our young'uns how much they care. Those babies and children may still be talking about these Grandparents 90 or close to a hundred years from now to their great-grandchildren. Imagine that!
So ICAP Senior Services Director Mary Ellen Brausa invited me to be the speaker. It was the carnation corsage that got to me. How many times in life do we get to sport a corsage? Aside from high school Christmas dances and spring proms and the days our kids get married, well, none. Except I got to wear one yesterday. And can you believe it was the color of my fingernails?
The theme? Share Today, Shape Tomorrow. That sounds about right. But the day also took me back many moons, the distinctive scent of the carnation to a time when I sat in an apple tree on a farm and dreamed of attending a banquet that very night with my mother. I didn't think life could possibly get any sweeter.
Thank you Grandparents, and thank you, Mary Ellen, for allowing me the honor.
It was oh-so tempting to stop yesterday and pick up the HUGE $12.99 Boston ferns that I like on our porches. Likewise, in a drive-by looking over one of those pop-up greenhouses, I noticed pots lavishly brimming with red geraniums.
But what I know is that it's still too early. It's still way too windy. To buy plants now would be a mistake. I know, because I've done it before and the ferns were beaten so violently by the wind that they self-destructed before June. I know, because the warmth of sunny May days is intoxicating and we want to think that we've turned the corner into something close to summer.
But most of all, I know because so many times, my mother's words have come back to me and prove true. Don't plant anything until May 10. Some say May 1, others go with Mother's Day. But Mom was always right to allow those few extra cushion days.
So, I'm enjoying plant life -- the fake kind. I adore wreaths and it's been a while since I bought a new one. How do you like this summer beauty I found at Cracker Barrel? I repurposed a Christmas decoration, this painted Ball jar from my friend Rita, by taking off the bulbs and greenery on top and added a bundle of white tulips I've had for a few years. The square (fake) magnolia-leaf wreath recently relocated to the family room from the master bedroom.
A few years ago there was a decorating war on fake flowers and arrangements. But I admit to using them and I even think they're becoming more realistic all the time. In fact, there are more choices in this genre out there than ever. So yes, it's May, but I'm faking it until I'm making it with the real McCoys.
Meanwhile ... I'm gearing up for quite a busy weekend. Friday morning I'll be speaking at the Rush and Henry County Foster Grandparents banquet in New Castle at 11 a.m. As soon as it's over, I'll point the HHR east and be hosting at the Kids at Heart bookshop at Warm Glow from 2-7 p.m. I'll also be selling and signing my books there. It's the Warm Glow complex's spring open house all weekend.
If you've never been to Warm Glow, this is a fantastic weekend to check it out. I'll be in the Artisans & Java Building.
On Sunday, I have the privilege of providing the program for the annual mother-daughter banquet at my daughter-in-law Allison's church in Indy. Looking forward to making another wonderful memory in the church where Allison and our son Sam were married.
When do you plant your flowers and put out your porch plants?
It took Brian and me almost 40 years to get it done, but we did it! On my husband’s 65th birthday, no less, we got ourselves a signed, sealed, and witnessed last will and testament with all the trimmings. Who knew you needed that much paperwork that doesn’t even apply until ... then.
It’s not that we didn’t plan to do this a long time ago, 30-plus years to be exact. For most of those years, if not all, at least once a year one of us would say, “You know we really do need to get a will.”
We knew. It was the only responsible, adult thing to do; particularly with a baby turned little boy, then another baby turned little boy, and now two adult men as our offspring.
Age. Not only are we no longer spring chickens, we aren’t summer ones either. Tye Hill of Richmond, a woman who cuts to the chase with her frank observations, told me recently, “I’m in the winter of my life. You are probably in the fall of yours.”
Yes, the years pile high without us half realizing it until one day we wake up and the Medicare card is in my husband’s wallet and I’m not only admitting to be a senior myself but proudly declaring it at the drive-through window in order to claim a 5-percent discount.
We got right in to the attorney, and here we are, all legal. A weird way to spend Brian’s 65th birthday? Seems kind of appropriate, really.
I think of other milestone birthdays. The year Brian turned 40 I gave him a set of luggage. I remember him being too exhausted to react. Travel was not something on our radar just then beyond trips back and forth to our parents’ homes. GOOD GRIEF! Sam was in Little League then. Yet 40 seemed so ... adult. Shouldn't adults have matching luggage?
The year Brian was 50, we were at our friends’ house, Rick and Gay Kirkton’s. They had family there to mark the occasion of their son and our godson Thomas’ Lutheran Church confirmation. That Sunday Ben was playing in a baseball tournament and we got a phone call that Ben hit a walk-off home run for the tourney win. I think we floated home!
That was 15 years ago. I even remember what I wore that day. It sure doesn’t seem so long ago. I think of 15 years from now and while I certainly can’t count on seeing that date, as no one can, I would be 74 and Brian would be – 80!
The attorney suggested that we go ahead and make our funeral arrangements. I think we’ll give that one some more time.
Originally published in Sunday's New Castle Courier-Times.
Some women complain that their husbands have no opinions when it comes to home decor. And their problem is?
When Mrs. Noah suggested a new wallcovering for her floatable abode, I imagine that Noah told her to go ahead and pick it out. Why rock the ark? he probably thought.
For most of our marriage, Brian has had what I consider a perfectly appropriate response when I ask for his preference in paint colors or carpeting textures. He says, “I don’t care, Honey. You decide.”
Now that he’s retired, however, Brian’s interest in all-things-home has taken a turn.
For the most part, this is good. I have no problem with his weekly vacuum-cleaning routine. He’s fond of showing me the canister containing the week’s collection of assorted lint and grime, similar to a cat bringing in a prize catch from the woods.
“Oh wow, Honey, that’s a lot of dirt,” I encourage. “Good job!”
I also don’t mind when he does laundry. “You do such a great job,” I tell him. I leave out the part where I hide my whites and delicates to do later on my own.
But his hands-on-household help has resulted in something to which I’m still trying to adjust: He has opinions on things; things he didn’t used to care about.
Recently I moved a large wreath from the bedroom to the living room. Before I could swap out something to replace the bare space in the bedroom, Brian swept in with his own offering: a circa 1980s print depicting an old-fashioned classroom. I must have bought it for his school office back in the day at one of the home-decor parties so popular then – and forgot about it. Then he retired and it returned home with him.
“I always liked that picture,” he said wistfully when he showed it off to me hanging in its new place of honor, no less than the first thing you see as you approach our bedroom.
I wanted to ask if he noticed that it was not only dated, but sun-faded, and inquire as to how the inside of the glass covering the print could have possibly gotten that peculiar odd blemish. But I didn’t. Instead, I closed my mouth and bit my tongue.
I’m also not a fan of the stuff he leaves on top of his dresser. Mine has only a jar filled with eucalyptus situated on a doily. I like the sparseness. He has a basket on his dresser that I put there as a hint to fill it with his dresser dressings. The idea is to round up all those vitamins, change, glasses cleaner, calendar, pen and other unrelated sundries and corral them in the basket.
He doesn’t see the point. I’ve even tried to move these things to the basket myself but that seemed to violate his personal space. He asked me to leave his belongings right where he left them and in exchange he'll do the same with mine.
Except, he generally leaves a T-shirt and pair of shorts on top of my dresser. Whaaaat?
He doesn’t like the pole lamp that I moved next to the bedroom recliner. I think it’s a huge upgrade from the low-light lamp on the table next to the chair.
I think his closet needs a makeover.
He doesn’t like the way I wear socks to bed only to kick them off in the night and leave them wadded at the foot of the bed.
True, we have our petty grievances.
Back when Oprah had a weekday talk show, whenever she had a counselor on the program, she seemed to always work in her viewpoint about relationships. Oprah would say that if a couple argues about “the socks,” it’s not really about “the socks.”
She’s right. It’s also about the pole lamp, the dresser clutter and the faded picture.
But then, marriage is also about knowing when to make allowances for each other’s preferences – and then carry on.
So we carry on. But I don’t think I’ll suggest any new decorating projects just now.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. She blogs twice a week and enjoys encouraging other women through programs for a variety of women's groups and organizations.