Little Free Libraries

Have you heard of the Passport to Healthy Living? I first read about this in the AARP magazine, then the library announced they were a sponsor too. It intrigued me, it sounded like fun, plus there were prizes too! I stopped by the library and picked up a couple of the passports.

The descriptor inside said, “The Springfield community has a wealth of free resources that can be your passport to healthy living. Using this passport as your guide, you can learn what’s available in the community.”

There are 26 questions/activities and I must complete 13 to be eligible for prizes. The one activity that intrigued me the most was to visit any Little Free Library in town. It gave a website where five libraries were listed. Here was a perfect activity for Kim and me one afternoon.

In the morning we walked the Nature Center (last week’s slice), and after lunch we set out to find all the Little Free Libraries to deliver books. Using the navigation system on Kim’s phone, we were able to find every one. A picture book was left at each library and we both┬áfound a book to read we wanted to read.


Besides finding the Little Free Libraries we completed four more activities in the Passport to Healthy Living book. Only eight more questions to answer before I turn in my book on August 8.

If you want to know about little free libraries, click here. There are instructions for building your own and a map where you can locate any that might be near you.



My friend arrived for dinner one evening with sly smile and a mischievous glint in her eye. As she is reaching into her purse, she is saying, “I have a present for you and a job.” It is with great apprehension that I take the small brown paper bag from her hands. My mind is swirling, wondering how the gift and the task are related.

I peek into the bag and relief floods through my veins. This is a job I will enjoy. I pull out four strands of beads. She continues to explain how on a recent trip she went to a turquoise mine in Albuquerque. At the end of the tour she was in a room full of beads and the ladies of the tour were snatching up strand after strand of the beads. She goes on to tell me, “I bought you and me a strand, because I knew you could do something with them.”


I love to play with beads, so this was a challenge I relished, if there were no time constraints put upon me. “No rush,” she tells me. Good, I think because soon my work in schools will be finished and I will have time to play with the style of the necklace.

The next week, the bead store puts out their newsletter with classes listed. My eyes light upon the wire wrapped Tree of Life. That might make the perfect pendant for the turquoise necklace. I did this class several years ago, but cannot remember the process, so this would be a perfect refresher course.

Saturday morning I have my stone and wire ready. There are only two of us in the class, I rejoice in that (lots of personal attention at my point of difficulty). Slowly we create a tree from wire. I brought my iPad to record steps in the process for reference later. Two hours fly by and I have a little bit of work left to finish at home.

Start and end of the project with a few steps along the way.

Start and end of the project with a few steps along the way.

Once the tree is complete, I need to figure out how to arrange the turquoise stones to create the necklace. I string a few beads, add some seed beads. It becomes a dance of the beads as I string, remove, restring, remove, until I am satisfied with the results. I bring my nearly completed necklace to my friend for a length check and approval. She loves the pendant and we decide to lengthen it just a bit.

This necklace has been completed.

This necklace has been completed.

It’s back to the playground of beads for me as I try to find complementing beads to create the next necklace.

Maps or GPS?

I trusted Lola (my GPS system) to get Kim and me to the hotel in Warsaw. She had done a fine job the year before, so I had no reason to doubt her abilities this year. I should have known something was not quite right when I could not locate the place I stopped at for lunch last year. The landscape was familiar, but doesn’t one suburb area look much like another especially when you are not from the area? Finally, we gave up and stopped for lunch. I just knew it would be in the next shopping center down the road, but it wasn’t. We never saw the center from my memory. I should have known, she was leading me down a different path.

We did need to take a small detour because of an accident, but Lola recalculated and put us on a road to Warsaw. We arrived just in time to pick up our registration packets and meet up with friends. Once we were in Warsaw, I had a guide to help me navigate the streets, so Lola was put away.

Saturday was going to be a day of exploration. Kim and I planned on driving north into Amish territory to view garden quilts and devour treats not to be missed (according to the natives of the area). With general directions, we set off to find Das Dutchman Essenhaus for breakfast. No help from Lola was needed. It was after breakfast when we encountered our first quandary.

We were able to locate our first garden quilt in the yard behind the Essenhaus. Of course the grass was drenched in dew, so our shoes were soaked walking to view the garden (no path was available ­čśŽ ).

Bowtie garden at Essenhaus

Bowtie garden at Essenhaus

Now on to the next location, but where were we exactly? This garden was in the middle of a triangle on our map and the roads on the map were not labeled. mapWe plunged ahead looking to find something labeled on the map to give us a reference point. After a stop in a small shop, we were able to locate our second garden.

Waterwheel at Krider Gardens

Waterwheel at Krider Gardens

While studying the garden and our map, a man drove up to take photos of bikers on the trail. We politely asked for help to determine where in the world were we? It was when we mentioned we were seeking the Rise ‘N Roll Bakery, he became friendlier. His eyes lit up knowingly at the treat we were searching for. With his directions, we were on our way to begin our foray into overdosing on sugar.

Cinnamon Caramel donut, their specialty.

Cinnamon Caramel donut, their specialty.


Rise ‘N Roll was a hopping place and many donuts were being consumed. If you are in the neighborhood, this is a treat not to miss. I also bought a quart of pickled baby beets. Yum!

Sugar high set in and we were off to find our next quilt. Now that we had a point of reference, we were good for the rest of the morning.

Dutchman's Puzzle at Menno-Hof

Dutchman’s Puzzle at Menno-Hof

Goldie's Basket at Farmstead Inn

Goldie’s Basket at Farmstead Inn

But it was time to start the trek back to Missouri, and long hours in the car were ahead of us. First, we needed lunch and the locals dictated we must go to the Blue Gate for pie. Once again the recommendation was spot on. I enjoyed the seasonal Key Lime, while Kim savored every bite of the German Chocolate pie.

Lola was called into action as we wanted to head for home. Her idea was go to Chicago, then down Illinois to Missouri. I was not so sure of that, so we began to retrace our steps going back to Warsaw. She was not happy and constantly wanted to guide us away from our route. Finally I unplugged her and we broke out the backup map. (In retrospect, I suppose I should have listened to her.)

Once we were back to Warsaw, we gave her another chance. Her route seemed odd. Kim took out her iPad and used the map app. It seemed a better route. We followed the iPad. As I drove, whisperings in my mind began to tickle my memory. This was the route from the previous year. There was the shopping area I had eaten at last year!

Lola, I wonder if you need to retire. My faith in you has been compromised. Kim warned me that you were not always thinking clearly. I think I will have to analyze your route and the app’s route next time I plan to go somewhere.



Today Kim left. It has been an action packed week of fun, fun, fun. On Saturday, I listed some highlights from each day. There were so many moments worthy of being a true slice, but I don’t have the time or energy to develop them properly. Some of the moments will live deep in my heart as memories to savor. Here are a few more glimpses into my past week.

My one little word this year has been sweet. I have found sweetness in being with friends and family. These people are especially important in difficult times. So it was particularly sweet for Kim to bring me a gift bag with some “sweets” inside.


The first stop on my tour of St. Louis for Kim was the botanical gardens. The Climatron had a special exhibit with Lego sculptures incorporated into the plants.

These strange critters were mostly made of Legos.

These strange critters were mostly made of Legos.

I took lots of picture of flowers and plants. Perhaps these photos may appear in another post, but here are a few to give you a glimpse into the gardens.

These gates had Chihuly glass. There were other places throughout the gardens with more of this glass.

These gates had Chihuly glass. There were other places throughout the gardens with more of this glass.



Elizabethan herb quilt garden.

Elizabethan herb quilt garden.

Not everything was plant based in the gardens. We spotted several geckos wandering about.

Not everything was plant based in the gardens. We spotted several geckos wandering about.

The Arch is a must do for any visitor to the city.

Kim snaps a picture of Cardinal stadium from the top of the Arch.

Kim snaps a picture of Cardinal stadium from the top of the Arch.

Dinner with Slicers and Tweeters and others was a wonderful way to cap off the day.

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Christy is all smiles.




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Tam and Ruth, wonder what they are focusing their attention on.










ruthRuth inspired and filled hearts with her opening message. I wish it had been filmed and saved on You Tube. It would be a video to view over and over.

My day was spent with Mary Helen, Tammy Shultz, Franki Sibberson, and ColbySharp. Each one nudged me to think in a new way.

After the entertaining dinner with Barry Lane, a group of us sat outside visiting. Eventually we had to move our talk inside, but it was fun to visit with new and old

Friday came too early, and once again my thinking was pushed by Martha Horn, Kristin Ziemke, and Kelly Gallagher. This evening had a perfect ending. Dinner at a delightful restaurant with very special friends.

Next week, I will share the adventures of map reading. Stay tuned.





All Right! All Write!

Last year I jumped into the pool of the All Write conference. It was better than I’d ever hoped. The sessions were great, but that wasn’t the real reason I wanted to go.

I’d been sitting on the sidelines dangling my feet into the water by reading the posts of those who attended, in years past. I thought, someday I want to go. So many slicers are there, I love meeting the person behind the words.

At first I’d discussed with my husband that perhaps we could go and then travel on to bike the trails of Michigan. That sounded okay to him, until I started talking about all the people I’d get to meet. He knew that I’d be torn, spending time with him vs. slicers. The decision was made, no biking (we’ll do that another time), go and be with the slicers.

I dived right into that water, even though it meant, 587 miles by myself in the car. I checked out a few audio books, had some music ready, and snacks to munch. The GPS guided me every mile. In no time I was in Warsaw and meeting the people who write the words I love to read.

It was the best of times and one I wanted to repeat this year. Several weeks ago I got an email from the conference saying registration was open. Could I? Should I? Would I? Absolutely! I’m ready to dive back into the water and splash about.

Sunday, I called and made my reservations at the hotel. Quickly followed by the on-line registration, and writing the check to put in the mail. Only one thing left to do, convince another slicer that she wants to go too.

I sent my email outlining possible travel plans. I got a response back saying I’ll think about it. Soon my email announced: ┬á*****News Flash!***** I’m in, who do I make the check out to? Woohoo!┬áMy email begging her to come east worked. I am not spending time alone in the car this year. Kim of the Learning Tour Writing Stop will be joining me.

For the last two years we have met up in California, this year we will meet up in the midwest. I am so excited to have her coming with me!

Have you thought about attending? If not, what’s stopping you? Come on join the fun! Here’s a link to the flyer┬áthat you can download. Let’s make this a year to remember!

Time to Celebrate

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

Another day, another challenge to share a bit of my life through writing. This time the focus is to revisit moments of celebration from the past week. I look forward to sharing these moments with you. Today I have three moments of celebration to share.

This past week I’ve been observing teachers in their shared reading block. It has been a joy to watch students tackling some challenging texts with no hesitancy. Their voices strong as they chime in reading with their teacher.

While away from home, I love to try new restaurants. The Blue Duck recently opened so my father-in-law and I went to check it out. It was a lovely late afternoon so we opted for the patio. We had a view of the Missouri River flowing by and marveled how the trees were still so green. He ordered a Merlot, I ordered Trivento Torrentes, a white wine similar to a Pinot Grigio (so the waitress said), but when she reappeared she was carrying two reds. “If you don’t like this we will get you something else,” she said. “I don’t know if the bartender poured the wrong glass or if I put it in wrong.”┬áThe next thing I knew, she was bringing another glass of white wine to the table, my original order. A celebration of a free glass of wine was shared.

The red is a Malbec, quite tasty! Really enjoyed the price today. :-)

The red is a Malbec, quite tasty! Really enjoyed the price today. ­čÖé

The final celebration was meeting up with my best gal pals for coffee this morning. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together, so we treasure the chances we have to get together and savor each other’s company. One pal had just completed a 10K and she got first place in her age group. Truly a reason to celebrate this morning!

Two friends I can count on for any and every thing.

Two friends I can count on for any and every thing.

What have you celebrated this week?

Fun Times (part 2)

On this trip to the west coast, time was on our side. There was nothing pressing (other than a lawn to mow) that demanded we return home immediately. So a plan was set in motion, visit family for a week, then head north to view the magnificent redwoods.

We decided to take the scenic route and travel the famed Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1). As luck would have it, I had just gotten a Living magazine and there was an article called “Eating Up the Road.” Several of the stops sounded interesting, so they were added to our travel agenda.

Unfortunately we did not see the exit for the Santa Barbara Pistachio Company, so we kept on driving. We stopped in Buellton for marzipan filled almond bearclaws. They were not on our list, but we needed gas and a mid-morning snack. Yes, they were as tasty as they sound, but also very crumbly.

There were several possible stops in Paso Robles. Our first would be Pasolivio Oil Company. We found the exit and we drove and drove and drove down a road that seemed to get narrower with each twist and turn. As we passed many wineries, I made a mental note that this may be a place I’d like to explore more. Finally we found Pasolivo. Inside we were introduced to a table of seasonings, salts, olive oils, and flavored┬ávinegar. Can I say “YUM!” What a fun place! They had not seen the article in the magazine yet, so they made copies of my pages. Of course I walked out with some new flavors of olive oil and some seasoning.

My treasures from Pasolivo.

My treasures from Pasolivo.

We asked directions to a creamery that had sheep’s milk ice cream. The salesperson at Pasolivio called for directions, but this creamery was closed. How sad, no ice cream for us. Next stop, Taco Temple in Morro Bay. The article said, “Grab a quick bite of the highest quality fish tacos and Mexican food.” They had me at fish tacos.┬áMore twisting and turning roads led us to Taco Temple for a late lunch.

OMG! There are only 2 tacos here. I was more than stuffed.

OMG! There are only 2 tacos here. I was more than stuffed.

We probably would have never stopped here if we were just driving past. Does that tell you anything? But we are not afraid of trying something new, when it has a recommendation. It had all the qualities of a local dive. Our waitress was something to behold. I wish I’d gotten a picture, but I didn’t, so my words will have to do. I would guess she was in her early sixties, a large woman, big boned, with her bleached blonde curly locks tied up with a head scarf like Lucy Ball wore in the ’50’s. Her arms were completely covered with colorful tattoos which did not really match with the orthopedic shoes on her feet. We were addressed as hon as she highly recommended the carnita tacos. So I had a fish and a carnita. The fish would have been plenty. It was a filling and entertaining spot to stop.

Journeying on down the road the next stop was near Cambria to see the elephant seals. They looked like giant sardines as they laid on the beach. Occasionally you would see sand flying as they flipped the sand onto themselves.


Back into the car to journey up the coast, stopping to take in the breathtaking views along the way. Our goal was to get past San Francisco so we would not have to deal with the city traffic in the morning. We arrived at San Rafael around 9:30, tired and hungry. I’m glad we’d had a late lunch that was filling. Nothing seemed to be open near our hotel, plus we didn’t want much since it was so late. We ended up at the grocery store. I had a small pita and hummus package and my husband had a deli sandwich. Not exactly gourmet dining.

Monday morning found us back hugging the Pacific coastline. Slowly we made our way up the coast. The scenery reminded me of the Amalfi coast in Italy. Maybe not quite as high of cliffs, but just as spectacular. We didn’t cover a lot of miles that day, but every moment was had something unique to see.

Unfortunately, the fog drifted in and out all day long.

Unfortunately, the fog drifted in and out all day long.

Late afternoon, we drove the Avenue of the Giants. The redwood trees take your breath away with their size. There were several stops along the Avenue where you could follow a path through the forest. I had a moment of panic because all the trees began to look alike and I didn’t know if we’d find our way out. As you can tell, we did find our way, but it was a scary moment for me.┬áDinner was in Eureka at a micro brewery before we ended the day in Arcata.

That's me next to a fallen redwood. I'm 5'8".

That’s me next to a fallen redwood. I’m 5’8″.

Photos just can't capture the sheer size of these trees.

Photos just can’t capture the sheer size of these trees.

Tuesday we visited more redwoods, then said good-bye to the giant trees.

Signs warned elk were in the area, but I didn't expect a greeting party of young elk watching the world drive by.

Signs warned elk were in the area, but I didn’t expect a greeting party of young elk watching the world drive by.

This is called Big Tree. It is 304' tall, 21.6' in diameter, 68' circumference, and estimated to be 1500 years old

This is called Big Tree. It is 304′ tall, 21.6′ in diameter, 68′ circumference, and estimated to be 1500 years old

One last scenic view before we head for home.

One last scenic view before we head for home.

My husband had made a plan for a route home, but he wasn’t too comfortable with it, so he did a quick check with Google Maps. Hmmm, they suggested another route. We decide to go with Google Maps suggestion. It is more populated and a better road. Green River, Wyoming is the stopping point for this day.

How far will we go on Thursday? It is 1064 miles to home, that’s a lot of miles for one day I think. Let’s just see how we feel and we can decide as we go is the decision made. Late afternoon we get a call from our credit card company. “Did you just make a $100 purchase of gas?” Our hearts drop, yes we did get gas, no it was not $100. What about here, here, and here? They are all $100 purchases. No, no, and no. Someone must have read our card from a gas station. This card is no longer working. The fraud department is on the case. This has left us unsettled and feeling violated. We want to be back home. So at 1:30 a.m. we pull into our garage, unload the car, and collapse into bed.

The adventure is over (for now). Many great sights and memories now reside in our minds. It’s nice to be home, but I know we will soon be looking for the next adventure.