Positive conversations with old and new friends. I'd love for you to join me on my back porch.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

I'd like to encourage you to take time today to honor those who have served in the United States Military to give us the freedom we have today. Take time to thank a veteran.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Unofficial Start of Summer

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I've traveled from Wilmore, KY to the coast of North Carolina this weekend, and I've seen veterans and many people showing love for our country and those who sacrificed for our freedom.

Here are just a few flags I've seen.

I hope you have the opportunity to show your pride in our country, and please take time to thank a veteran!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Be Light

We recently attended Kellianne Crouse's graduation from Asbury University. We were all excited to be there, and the gym quickly filled up and grew hot. I'd had a tough week and not slept well for days and when the speaker came up to the podium, I worried I might doze off.

The minute Samuel Rodriguez opened his mouth, I knew I wouldn't be falling asleep. He challenged the graduates and all of us to be light in a dark world.

Matthew 5:15 says, "People don’t hide a lamp under a bowl. They put it on a lamp stand. Then the light shines for everyone in the house."

Have you ever been in a dark house with no electricity? You know lighting one candle can fill a room with light. Pastor Rodriguez says when you have light and dark, light always wins. I was so moved by his talk, I Googled him. I also bought his book, Be Light. I hope to read it and share with you occasionally what I learn from this book. In the meantime, I hope we can all be light and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

I'm going to end with a few pictures of our favorite college graduate.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Fragrance of a Horse Barn

Today's post is from Lillian's Cupboard. She graciously gave me permission to post it here.

One of my favorite bloggers, hensteeth, had a post recently about the smells of different kinds of food and the memories they invoke. (Be sure to read through the other posts on her blog – she writes so well and comes up with unusual topics.)

This made me think of one of my favorite smells, which is not related to food. I love the smell of a horse barn – the combination of straw, horses, dust, even a little manure.

My father spent his childhood in various horse barns since his father was a blacksmith and made part of his living traveling to county fairs to shoe the harness horses that were there for the races. This is a ca. 1914 picture of my grandfather and my father in the doorway of their horse shoeing shop.

My father had been one of the youngest harness horse drivers in the area but gave up working with horses when he married and had two daughters to support. Of course, we always went to the county fairs and spent most of our day hanging around the horse barns, talking to the owners, trainers and drivers. One of my earliest memories is sitting on a big trunk in a barn, collecting pennies from the horsemen for singing, “When I Grow Too Old to Dream”. I loved listening to the conversation as I took in the ambience of the dusty barn with the plaid blankets hanging on the wall, the sharp smell of the Absorbine used on the sore muscles of the animals, and the horses snorting, neighing and kicking their stall doors.

When I was very young, people would ask me what I was going to do when I grew up. I always said I was going to get a job and help Daddy buy a horse. Within months after graduation and getting my first job @ $30.00/week, my father told me he had a horse in mind and was ready for my contribution. This is one of our early horses winning a race in 1955. I made the jacket and cap my father is wearing.

I owned shares of my father’s horses off and on for many years until he was better established and my own expenses with four children didn’t leave enough to support a horse. My father continued to be a top driver/trainer in the southwestern Ohio area. In 1978, at age 66, he was driving a horse called Peter Horn at a track in northern Kentucky. After finishing second in a photo finish, he died of a heart attack. Our family said they knew if he died on a track, he died happy except that he would have wanted to be the winner. This is a winning photo of my father and Peter Horn in 1975.

A few days after his death, I was at work when I suddenly got a whiff of a familiar smell – straw, horse, barn, tobacco – the unforgettable essence of my father in his plaid shirt and twill pants. I turned around quickly, wondering who had come into the office directly from a horse barn and, of course, no one was there. Or maybe someone had been there and walked briskly off, as he always did – always in a hurry to get to some horse or some fairgrounds or some barn.

Thanks, Lillian for allowing me to share your story with my followers!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Armed Forces Day

May has a lot of important days to me.

Tim and I got married on May 27. May also has Mother's Day and the end of the school year. Mrs. Layton's birthday is May 28, and Kelli's birthday is May 19. If you live in Kentucky, Derby Day is a big day.

Today is Armed Forces Day in the United States. We should pay tribute to those who serve the United States' armed forces. If you see somebody today who is either serving or has served our country, please take a moment to thank them.

Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. National Guard and Reserve wherever you serve, I'd like to thank you for your service.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Vacation Plans

When you plan a vacation, do you plan clothes, sunscreen, maps, and a list of places where you have reservations? Once when I was growing up, we went to Florida with extended family. Part of the trip involved Disney World. When we went to check into the resort, the clerk told us we were a day late. There were quite a few unhappy campers after we received that news, but it all worked out.

If I can't find time to read on vacation, I feel like I've been ripped off. I buy books ahead of time to make sure I'll have something good to read. When I went to Spain, I loaded my Kindle so I wouldn't have the added weight and I read on the plane, in airports, and in our down time.

In this picture, my backpack is stuffed with more than my Kindle for a weekend trip to London.

I also enjoy visiting bookstores when I'm on vacation. You never know what treasures you'll find like a local author who has written stories on the area.

This year Tim and I are heading back to Holden Beach, NC after years of visiting other places. I've already picked my books out and they are packed along with my travel Bible and devotional book. I even bought two books for Tim in case he wants to read. So, I'm ready and counting down the days.

Tim likes to take sports stuff like bocce ball and Kadima. It's good that we balance each other out. I encourage him to relax, and he encourages me to exercise.

I'd love to hear what you enjoy taking on vacation.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Anthony Robinson, United States Veteran and Entrapreneur

On Monday I shared with you about Chrisman Mills Farms and Anthony Robinson. Today I'd like to introduce you to Tony. I asked him about his time in the service.

It was an honor to serve our country. My service actually started in the Army Reserves but the majority of my time in, was USAF and left as a Staff Sergeant.

In today's economy it's not easy to start a new business, so I asked Tony to share a little about how he got started.

During the spring of 2013, I experimented with several designs for a carpenter bee trap to combat an increasingly persistent problem with the damage these pests were inflicting on my neighbors and my property. We had been told by a major pest control company that there wasn’t much they could do to eliminate our carpenter bee problem with chemical sprays or powders. Upon the very first day of hanging these traps I knew I had stumbled on a product that is highly successful for controlling and eliminating these bees. The following week I designed methods and jigs for mass production.

Chrisman Mill Farms Limited Liability Company was formed in the late spring of 2013 due in full to the huge success of the Wood Bee GoneTM carpenter bee trap with state government and retail store customers for ease of business dealings. Because of the seasonal nature of carpenter bees, other avenues of income were sought out… mainly cordless power tool Ni-Cad battery pack rebuilding (a short lived venture) and Black Walnut sales.

In the spring of 2014, online sales spiked so dramatically that it was necessary to hire a temporary employee to help manufacture the Wood Bee GoneTM traps. Peter Adams was hired and trained as the shop wood worker the first week of April. Together, Peter and I implemented new production methods and new equipment was purchased to increase productivity and quality. Peter’s temporary employment with CMF lasted until the first week of June. During the latter half of 2014 new products were added to our product line. Built in shop is a pine children’s picnic table. CMF also acquired a rather large inventory of premade children’s time out benches which are housed in a local warehouse. These benches are sold online and marketed as a multitude of different products. CMF also started online sales of hedge apples during the fall season along with Black Walnuts. Winter was spent opening up new online markets and updating internet and social media sites.

I truly believe that our philosophy of dealing with our customer’s on a personal level, and name recognition generated our early trap sales this past February 2015. By mid-March it was necessary to rehire Peter full time. March also found us defending our traps against our only major competitor who for a solid week hijacked our product page on Amazon. At the end of the ordeal we were rewarded with brand registration and our competitor being band from that site. There was such a high demand for our Wood Bee GoneTM traps with our online market places, that it was necessary to increase the unit price and hire another two temporary employees. Spring of 2015 saw our traps being sold in 17 retail stores verses the 5 we had during 2014. It was at this point we realized the necessity of building traps year around to satisfy demand rather than hiring and training temp workers each season. It was also necessary at this point to hire office/shipping help. Through research in 2015, we found our Wood Bee GoneTM traps, with a slight modification, are also effective at catching hornets, wasps and other stinging insects. Our traps are now being sold in online market places as the Hornet Hotel and has brought us additional sales. Chrisman Mill Farms has also added diatomaceous earth to its product list.

This past December I was made aware that our carpenter bee traps were infringing on a US Patent held by Brian Blazer from Heflin, Alabama. I promptly visited Mr. Blazer to apologize for my ignorance of his patent and became very good friends with him. In January we secured a license to manufacture and sell our traps under his patent... one of the only two companies legally authorized in the United States.

This year Chrisman Mill Farms employees eight full time employees and manufactures nearly 300 carpenter bee traps per day. Also new this year is a contract with corporate Southern States Co-Op to supply their stores nationally.

Here's a picture of Tony and Brian Blazer. I hope you find Tony's story as inspiring as I did. If you'd like to learn more about Tony and Chrisman Mills Farms, here's the link.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Made in the USA by Veterans

We've had a problem with bees this spring on our back deck. They are not honey bees, but wood bees. I actually never knew they existed until we moved into our current home. We discovered the best way to swat at them was with a tennis racket, but that gets tiresome.

Yesterday Tim went to Southern States and bought a Wood Bee Gone Trap. I was so excited to see it was made by veterans right here in Jessamine County.

The traps are made at Chrisman Mill Farms.

I visited their website and discovered they make picnic tables and benches for children. The men who started this company are veterans. They sacrificed their lives for us. It was a privilege to support their business, and I wish them luck in the future.

Chrisman Mills Farms is a company created by veterans, and they have my support! Thank you gentleman for serving our country, and thank you for giving us an option to buy products Made in the USA!

Join me on Thursday to learn more about Anthony Robinson.


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