Monday, November 30, 2009

A Chance to be Profound

The storefront glittered and gleamed with holiday lights, artificial snowflakes, and glittering figures.  The four of us looked at each other; eyes big . . "Okay, just remember . . . no touching," we reminded the kids.  "Now let's go have fun!"

As we entered the Christmas shop, we were overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, and even smells of Christmas.  I was initially drawn to the Fontanini nativity figures.  My son, however, beckoned for us all to "Come here!"  He was enamored with a newest Christmas village (or so it seemed to us), the neighborhood from "A Christmas Story."  Yep, there was Ralphie in his pink bunny suit, there was the house bedecked with Christmas lights, the Chinese restaurant, Scut Farkus & his toadie, all of it.  Well, not all of it.  We longed for the school and the flagpole.  I'm sure that will be along soon.  Such fun we all had looking at all the vignettes. 

Soon we moved on . . .

There were Christmas villages and ornaments in every hue and genre and nightlights and nutcrackers and candles and flags and music boxes and table clothes and advent calendars and tree skirts and cookie jars and perfume bottles and anything else you can imagine.  Chocolates?  Yes, even chocolates. 

We had such fun picking things out for here and for there.  It's not every day I find a glittery tree ornament in the perfect shade of lavender for my powder room!

I had spied a few things the kids should have -- from Santa Claus, of course, so my husband,  ever-the-helpful elf, ushered the kids outside while I paid for our picks along with a few more things "Santa" picked out.  As the shopkeeper rang up my order, he picked up two things and asked, "Are these for your children?"

"Yes," I said, "they are."

He put them on the table next to him without ringing them.  "Free," he said.  "I've never had such nice children in my store.  Consider these my gifts to them."

How very kind and unexpected.  I thanked him and hurried out to the kids, eager to share the kindness with them.  They were so excited to receive their surprise hologram-Christmas glasses (I'll have to get a picture.).  Imagine how cute they looked sporting their new 3-D glasses as they re-entered the store and thanked the shopkeeper.  Such a sweet and proud moment for me as well as them.

Simple kindness profoundly affects a wanting heart.

It has been a long road with my daughter.  Most days bring struggle, sometimes smiles are scarce; sometimes my heart struggles to see progress.  This kindness from the shopkeeper was the nod of encouragement my husband and I so desperately needed on that day, at that moment.

This holiday season, I have no advice on dressing your mantle or sprucing up your tree.  But I do implore you:  Show a kindness when the spirit moves you.  Do not let that moment pass.  Don't let that person leave without the thing they may so deeply need.  We so often have no idea the weight of our actions . . . good and bad, expressed and still.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Do that thing that crosses your mind.

Simple kindness feels profound in trying days.

My heartfelt thanks to Demory's Christmas Memories.  



Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

 Our view, Thanksgiving morning, 2008, NYC, USA

Blessings abound,
Today and always,

Happy Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Free Pie

If the budget is tight, this pie is practically free to make as it calls for nothing you don't already have.  It isn't much in the looks department, but tastes wonderful . . . this is one of those old-fashioned recipes fashioned by capable, creative women who knew what hard times were and how to make something out of nothing.  Bless them all. 

Cinnamon Pie

1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch salt
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
1 (10 inch) unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add the beaten egg, butter, and vanilla.

Mix well and add the milk.

Pour mixture into an unbaked 10 inch pie crust (glass pie plate is best).

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Let cool and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

My Cranberry Recipe

This is a delicious condiment full of chunky apples, zesty ginger, chewy raisins, and, of course, tart cranberries. Wonderful served on either hot or cold turkey."

Spicy Cranberry Chutney

 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup water
3 cups fresh cranberries (1 bag)
1 Granny Smith apple - peeled, cored and chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, raisins and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir while simmering for 5 minutes. Stir in cranberries, apple and lemon zest; simmer for 10 minutes more.

Stir lemon juice, ginger and pepper flakes into the mixture before removing from heat. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Music celebrates,
Music grieves.

A Joyful Noise

Music incites,
Music relieves.

Music quells,
Music achieves.


Music confesses,
Music deceives.

Gracious gratitude for all, through music, one receives.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pink Saturday -- A Thanksgiving Poem

T’was the night of Thanksgiving,
But I just couldn’t sleep.
I tried counting backwards,
I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned,
The dark meat and white.
But I fought the temptation,
With all of my might.

Tossing and turning,
with anticipation.
The thought of a snack
became infatuation.


So I raced to the kitchen,
Flung open the door,
And gazed at the fridge,
Full of goodies galore.

I gobbled up turkey,
And buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots,
Beans and tomatoes.

I felt myself swelling,
So plump and so round.
‘til all of a sudden,
I rose off the ground.

I crashed through the ceiling,
Floating into the sky,
With a mouthful of pudding,
And a handful of pie.

But I managed to yell
As I soared past the trees
Happy eating to all,
Pass the cranberries, please!!

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.

May your yams be delicious,
May your pies take the prize
And May your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off of your thighs!

Big thanks, of course, to Beverly at How Sweet the Sound for hosting this fun tradition -- can't imagine how much work this must be.  

Participating in Pink Saturday is such a great way to find more blogs to enjoy.  This week, I recommend stopping by Ginger's blog, Glitter and Roses, just lovely. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009


What's in a name?  Sares is exploring that very question in her blog, LoveLeigh Treasures and others.  She is hosting a most interesting "blog party today.  Stop by, the story of her nickname is charming and I can relate as I have a nickname only my grandfather calls me, but I choose not to discuss it today because I could never, ever figure out how it is spelled . . . it is heavy with Polish sounds and entanglements . . . bit I do love it so. 

What's in a name?  I have long hoped that spirit and power can be in a name.  That is what inspired us to name our daughter, Sarah Caroline.

Sarah is a common enough name and that commonness, itself, may have put us off that name normally.  But we knew from the start that our daughter would need the power and the spirit of her new family and we tried to vest that within her by giving her this name.

Sarah was the name of my great-grandmother, a saint of a woman, feminine as the most delicate lace, but strong as a mule.  She came here, on her own, from Poland, as a teenage girl, not knowing a soul in this new world.  She set about making a life for herself . . . and she did . . . and she also created the most beautiful woman I have ever known, my grandmother who, in turn, created my mother.  How could I not link my daughter to my great grandmother's incredible legacy?

Caroline was my husband's mother, the happiest soul I was ever lucky enough to know.  I only knew her for a short time, for she died rather abruptly before my husband and I were married.  I grieved as if she were my own mother because she had been such a spiritual mother to me.  I miss her laughing spirit each and every day, but am grateful for the time I did know her and especially for the man she raised, the man who is now my husband and the best father I could have ever dreamed of for my children.  We made "Caroline" my daughter's middle name for we wanted to link my daughter with her grandmother forevermore despite Sarah never having spoken with her.

So my daughter carries with her the name of her brave, immigrant great-great grandmother who came to this country from her eastern European country in search of a better life.  Despite being separated by several generations, they share that bond.  My daughter, too, came here from an eastern European country when we adopted her and brought her home to be part of our family.  She, too, comes to the new world in search of a better life.

And we paired her first name with a middle name of a woman whom she should have met, had fate not been quite so cruel.  With this middle name, our daughter will be ever mindful of the wonderful woman who would have been her "grandma." 

My daughter is six years old now, but oh so old and oh so young for the time she spent as an orphan.  I pray that she has the power and the spirit to continue in the legacy of strength and love for which she has been named.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Would It Hurt Him!

I have always suspected . . . and now I know for sure . . .

If it were up to my husband, my kids would never eat lunch.

Honestly . . .

Football, Yes, Football!

Yes, football!  (My husband will be so shocked to read about my appreciation of football!)

I am not a die-hard fan; my interest waxes and wanes depending on what else I have to do that Sunday, that year, that phase of life.  I was a big, involved fan back when my husband and I were "single," i.e., before having children.  But babies don't watch football and I got busy and lost interest during those years.  I am working my way back to football as the kids get older now.  I like the dimension it adds it my relationship with my husband.  And I know my husband likes to talk football with anyone who knows anything about it, and I like to be counted in that group.

I also love football for the hours of fun and excitement it brings my husband.  Men seem united in some way when they like football.  They are lucky.  Though they may have never met and may know nothing else of each other, if they are both into football, they can converse easily for quite a while.  I often wish women had as unifying an interest.

Football also lends itself to lazy Sunday afternoons, something I seem to savor more them most in my family.  All summer long, we are outside doing or planting or putting . . . all the while, I feel the call of a lounge chair on Sunday afternoons.  Fall football seems to finally send that call through all of us in the family.

So, today, I spotlight football as something I am grateful for.  (Surprise, Honey!)  I love the commaradarie it brings to my family and to all men who watch.  I love the repose it brings to fall Sundays. 

And dare I say, the season is too short?  Just about the time that the holiday hoopla is over and winter Sundays begin to get a bit dull, it's over . . . that never quite makes sense to me. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.  ~ Thomas Merton

I received this painting from Sadee Schilling the other day ~ it pays to enter those giveaways!  Isn't it beautiful?

I love it's subtle, off-beat colors and the sweetness of the image as well as the way it sets me about thinking what kind of music those birds are hearing.

Despite what all the art critics might say, I believe art to be anything that can take you outside of yourself -- your worries, your joys, your realities, your fantasies -- and bring you a moment of suspension, of newness.  High art, "low" art, crafts . . . almost anything, by this definition, may be art; it depends on the viewer, and I like the empowerment of that philosophy.

With that philosophy comes the responsibility of the individual to see art, to find art, to experience a moment of newness.  Perhaps it is more than a responsibility, but an inspiration.



Art is not a thing; it is a way.  ~ Elbert Hubbard

Friday, November 13, 2009


According to the dictionary, loyalty means faithfulness to commitments or obligations.  According to my own heart, it means a friend 'til the end, no matter what, rain or shine, happy or sad . . . or mad, always there; and next to my definition, the one in my heart, you'll find a picture of my dog. 

Is there anyone more loyal than your dog?

Our little guy has been such a faithful companion and loyal family member; our family wouldn't feel complete without him.

We rescued him from a high-kill shelter when he was a puppy, and he has repaid us each and every day with his happy demeanor, reassuring presence, and, if I may say, charming good looks.

Our home would surely not be as welcoming if not for the wagging tail and smiling-eyes welcome of our dog, as sure as the door opens when the key is inserted, there stands our dog, welcoming us home with his whole heart.  No questions about where we've been, why so late . . . just happiness and love  

Cold?  Down?  Nothing warmed me inside and out as well as spreading out the blanket next to me and inviting him up for a snuggle.  His warm, gentle nuzzling settles me right in.

The other night, he broke from his usual calm nature and woke the entire household with his incessant barking.  It was 2am.  Very unusual for him, unheard of, really.  Turns out, a raccoon had squeezed into the coop through the egg door . . . one more minute and our chickens would have been savagely killed by the intruder.  Alerted by our dog, we chased the raccoon out and secured the tiny door.  All safe and sound, our little hero and already settled back down to sleep.  I hate to think of the devastation our family would have felt had that raccoon not been stopped.

He protects us with all he has and he loves us with all he is.

And all this in exchange for a warm home and regular meals and an occasional nuzzle.  He is loyalty.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


God Bless Our Veterans

Knitters:  Here's a way to do a small bit:  Handmade Afghans to Thank Our Military (HAP)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Laughter is the best medicine.

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.  ~ E.E. Cummings

What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.  ~ Yiddish Proverb

With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die.  ~ Abraham Lincoln

Laughter gives us distance.  It allows us from step back from an event, deal with it and move on.  ~ Bob Newhart

So much has been said of laughter; so much has been made of it.  It is so solemnly important.  Thank God we can laugh, and blessed be those who cultivate the most precious harvest of a genuine laugh.

My favorite among those who make me laugh is Bob Newhart.  Have you watched an episode of The Bob Newhart Show lately?  Probably not unless you're a die hard fan like my husband and me.  We can't watch it and not laugh.  I hereby dare you.

We were fortunate enough to meet Bob Newhart, briefly, last year.  What a gracious man.  Very quiet, reserved, and humble.  I don't get all a'flutter over many people these days, but meeting him was quite a thrill and, bless him, he didn't let us down.



There he is, in the middle.  We took this picture while we were waiting to meet him . . . why no picture of US meeting him ourselves?  Why??  Because his driver, while perfectly adept at driving a luxury vehicle, could not seem to operate a simple camera.  Don't bring it up . . . I'm still trying to laugh at that one.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Entry 5: Prayer




I have witnessed prayers answered, 
and I am awed, humbled, inspired, comforted,

long before my gratitude even awakens.



Saturday, November 7, 2009

Entry 4: Sweet

We can all use a little something sweet in our lives sometimes.

And candy certainly fits the bill.  Candy canes at Christmas, jelly beans at Easter, candy corn at Halloween, licorice for watching awards shows.  What?  You don't have licorice each and every time you watch the Oscars?  I thought that was required.  Well, try it sometime.  What are your candy-rituals, any?  Anyway, I'm thankful for the momentary pleasure a little sweetness can bring.

Here's a fun twist . . . Gail over at Delightfully Diva-ish is hosting a worldwide candy exchange.  Each participant will be matched with a partner in the opposite hemisphere and you will exchange your favorite home-country candies.  Go here for all the details and to sign up -- but, hurry, you must register by Sunday, 11/8!  I'm in; I think it will be fun.

So tell me your candy ritual, if you have one, and have a sweet Saturday!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Entry 3: Thankful For Those Who Keep Us Safe

My heart swells with pride, awe, and gratitude for all members of the armed services.

Their sacrifice is so great; their bravery, awesome.  I am humbled by the willingness, courage, and honor with which they do their jobs.  Without them, life, as most of us know it, would not be possible.

And today, I add prayers for their peace and healing . . .

To my prayer for their success and their safety every night.

Sleep well, sweet prince.

About the photo:  This little girl's entire Iraqi family was executed. The insurgents intended to execute the little girl also, and shot her in the head, but she miraculously survived. She was cared for in John Gebhardt's hospital (above).  As she healed, she cried and moaned continuously and could not settle down to sleep. According to the nurses, John was the only one who could calm her, so John spent his nights holding her in his arms while they both slept in a chair.
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