Decorating HOME for the Holidays

Last night I drove out to Bellview to Hands of Mercy Everywhere (HOME), an 11-bedroom home where teen mothers and their babies can live and receive valuable care as the mothers continue their high school education.

A group of my Junior League of Ocala friends and I arrived around 6 p.m. to decorate the Victorian home for the holidays with the young women and children who live there.

HOME Bellview

We came with lights, ornaments, decorations and bags full of clothes for the moms and their children.

And snacks!!!

One of the young women I met and I bonded over our love for peppermint bark! That stuff is addicting and so perfectly festive. Someone also brought a chocolate bark made with caramel and pretzels that I am hoping to recreate. It was a hit! 

The time we spent at HOME was incredible and I loved talking with the young moms and meeting their adorable children.


This morning started out extra early.

Ryan and I usually wake up around 5 a.m. to workout on weekdays, but today we were up at 4:40 a.m. I know that is only 20 minutes earlier than usual, but anything in the 4 a.m. hour is simply not normal for this girl. Brutal!

Ryan had a super-early meeting at work and wanted to get his workout done before 6 a.m. so we pulled into the gym parking lot right when it opened at 5 a.m. I thought about sleeping in and working out at lunchtime, but I was oddly alert when the alarm went off and knew I’d toss and turn if I tried to go back to sleep. I am feeling oddly energetic right now, but that’s probably the coffee talking.

Today’s workout began with 20 minutes on the elliptical before I headed into the weight room to follow Workout B from Tina’s Best Body Boot Camp program. The workout included a strength circuit with bursts of cardio. I left out the cardio portion of the circuit since I wasn’t really feeling it and wanted to be sure I had enough time to do all of the strength exercises before we had to leave.


Breakfast this morning was enjoyed in the dark.

pancakes with sweet potato butter 017

I made a batch of my honey whole wheat pumpkin pancakes but used sweet potato butter in place of the pumpkin and loved the added spice!

Sweet Potato Butter Pancakes


Question of the Morning

  • What is one of the most memorable volunteer experiences you’ve had in your life?


  1. Rache says

    That sounds like great volunteer work 🙂 Erm, if you get up at 4:40 (shuddering), what time do you go to bed??! I struggle to get out the door for my 6 a.m. run 🙂


  2. says

    Our local news did a mini telethon last night for people to call in and “Adopt a Family” for Salvation Army. When you call they ask you what size of family you wold like to adopt. I chose a family of four. I love to do this and know that I am making a Christmas morning better for a family. They actually send you a list of the families ages and sizes and a bit of a wish list. You deliver the gifts to Salvation Army and they deliver them to the family. I always wish I could meet the family, but I understand the anonymity and respect it. Several years ago I adopted a family of 12 through my job, and my company paid for the gifts while my daughter and I did all the shopping. That’s my favorite volunteer experience! Wish I could have been a fly on the wall in their house that Christmas morning.


  3. says

    Most of the times I’ve volunteered, I’ve worked with people and children, and to be completely honest, they weren’t the best of experiences. People were a little on the mean side, including some snotty kids. I wish the experiences had been nice and memorable in a good way, but they weren’t. Maybe I should volunteer with a Siberian Husky rescue here in Omaha. I like dogs more than people, I think. 🙂


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