Thursday, December 31, 2009

Joy x 2 in 2010

It’s been 2 years to this day that I started blogging. 343 posts later, I can say that I’m amazed at how meaningful blogging has been for me. Here’s an incomplete recap of the impact blogging has made in my life:

1) I’ve made friends literally all over the world and I now have a goal to come visiting. Really – pull out the couch and throw me a pillow because it’s on my “to do” list.

2) Blogging got me back in the habit of writing, which I love to do. I have goals in that area too. Good thing that with LouLou’s genes, I might live to be 100, as my list of hopes and dreams is long. Now that she's moved to heaven, I'm more thankful than ever that she inspired the theme of my blog. (Hoping for a bit of an updated look in 2010... that's on my list too.)

3) Journaling with you has caused me to pay more attention to the significance of seemingly small events. They say that a joy shared is multiplied by 2 and a problem shared is cut in half and I know it’s true.

4) Reading & commenting on blogs led me to contact with Michael Pink, leading to a major career enhancement with becoming a certified Rainforest Business Coach.

How can I say thanks? Every reader, whether you comment or not, is treasured.

I wish you comfort for your past and joy for your future. I am thankful that our future is not in the hands of the economy or dependent on our government. We are held in the hands of a loving God and I’m glad to be walking alongside you as we begin a new year.

“Last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. To make an end is to make a beginning." T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From Our Home to Yours

I received 2 Christmas cards in today's mail, so I decided it's not too late to post our greeting to you. I scanned the card itself and it didn't look too hot, so this is the blog version, less the ribbons and bows.
And in case you have a fabulous photo that you'd like to make into an 8 x 10 canvas, Uncommon Blonde just gave me this link for a $49. picture FREE! The shipping is $14.95 but I am thrilled with the deal.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Last Random Dozen

Linda's 2nd Cup of Coffee is one of the first blogs I ever read and so she's pretty special in my book. She's hosted a meme this year that I've read with interest but haven't joined in. Since this is the last "Random Dozen" of 2009, I decided to jump in. Here we go...

1. Do you find it gross to share drinks with family? Friends? Not a big deal, especially if I’m really thirsty or vica versa. But I don't do it on purpose.

2. What have you learned this year? (You didn't see a question of that weight coming, did you? At least not for #2.)
I’ve learned that prayer is the absolute ingredient for success and my prayers hold as much power as anyone else’s on earth because I am HIS! If you want to read a bit more about this, I was honored to write a guest post about prayer on Michael Pink's blog recently.

3. When do you dismantle the Christmas decorations?
Usually on New Year’s day or thereabouts.

4. Something you wish to accomplish before the end of 2009 is:
Reviewing my goals and refreshing my vision in preparation for an awesome 2010. Dump the fear and doubt.

5. How do you feel about winter (after Christmas)?
Winter is okay. Living in the land of sunshine, one can’t complain! My favorite season of all is spring.

6. Have you participated in after-Christmas sales?
No. My family was so very generous to me that I feel very content and blessed. There was enough consumerism (which I participated in!) in New York City to hold me for awhile.

7. Do you have plans for New Year's Eve?
No, never do. And that’s ok.

8. Is there anything special awaiting you in January?
Yes. New dreams, open doors of opportunity and a beautiful grandchild who changes every day.

9. If your life this year was a movie, what category or genre would it be? (Romance, Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Suspense, Farcical, etc.)
It would be a holiday special. : ) Adventure, lessons, drama and warm feelings with a happy ending.

10. How much time per day do you spend blogging? Please do not lie. I will know.
Not as much in the last 6 months as before. Lots going on. Probably an average of only 30 minutes a day on personal blogging and commenting. I want to spend more - it's fun! I try to catch up by spending more time on weekends. I find I can read blogs from my blackberry while on the move, but I can't leave comments from my mobile for some reason.

11. Who runs your household?
My husband does the outside stuff, I do the inside, I pay the bills and we make decisions together. It’s a partnership!

12. Share one hope/dream for 2010.
I am expecting to schedule 2 paid speaking engagements per month. That’s my passion and my purpose… moving people through meaningful communication and imparting joy and hope into their lives.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saturated in Love. And Butter

Watching “The Sound of Music” on TV tonight brings back memories of watching this movie on Christmas night with my dad. Many times. I think we both loved it equally. This past week has been so special. Rosebud adds so much joy to our family. Like many families, we alternate who goes where for Christmas and this was our year when all our children and my mom and sister were here.

I was busy baking in the kitchen on Thurs. afternoon when my sister kept calling me to come open a present. I needed to get the chocolate sheath cake in the oven but she was insistent and persistent so I finally relented. I was totally surprised when I opened a Kitchen Aid Mix Master from my mom!! WooHoo! I’ve always wanted one! We set it up and I used it to make the cake. Other than my one mishap with adding the powdered sugar and turning it to Speed 4 instead of “stir”, it was amazing. (I won’t make that mistake again. Trust me.)

Thanks for everything, Mom!

Uncommon Blonde gave me Pioneer Woman’s cookbook, so I’m sensing continuing temptation in the food department. Sigh.

I am altogether blessed. Hope your Christmas was saturated in love. And butter.

Two Roses in the Kitchen (They share the middle name "Rose")

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Forecast was for Fun - Never Mind the Rain

I'm thankful that the only moisture we experienced in New York last week was a bit of rain. This week it’s ice and snow… a little harder to maneuver in, I daresay. (That is theoretical and speculative as I have very little actual experience in the matter.)

When we hit the streets on Day 2, we realized the rain forecast was accurate. Our Broadway Show tickets were for the evening of Day 3, but we knew about the Ticket Booth in Times Square where you could stand in line to buy half price tickets to shows for that day. I had really wanted to take in 2 shows on our trip so here was the opportunity. We got matinee tickets to see Chicago - way to multiply our travel dollars.
The girls were excited to learn that Ashlee Simpson (Jessica’s sister) is starring in the show. She did a great job. I loved the jazz music and the dancing - it was well done theater. Quite different from the show we saw the next day and I love variety.

We met up with one of the girls’ friends who’s a model in New York. It was fun going to her apartment – a walk-up – and seeing how New Yorkers live. When we walked out of the Mexican restaurant after a fun and delicious meal, the rain had stopped, making it a perfect time to go to Rockefeller Plaza. We did a little window shopping along the way. No problem that these stores were closed. I think a necklace cost more than my car.
Empire State Building at Night

Across from Rockefeller Square, I was captivated by Saks Fifth Avenue’s “singing building”. Every 15 minutes, the building came to life with flashing snowflakes, dancing to a brilliant arrangement of “Ring Christmas Bells” that resonated in the crisp, freshly washed air. I had to watch it three times!!
I’ve always heard about the energy in New York and it was so much fun experiencing the city that never sleeps. I’ll wrap up the trip on my next post with some of my very favorite photos from the trip.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

4 Fabulous Days

My face hurts from smiling. My feet hurt from walking miles and miles of city streets in boots. My heart is warm from treasured moments travelling with 2 of my beautiful daughters.

The sounds of a lonely sax playing Christmas carols from a doorway, the rush of holiday crowds, the ice skaters at Rockefeller Plaza, the amazing window displays at Macy’s and Saks and the love of family have contributed to submerging me in Christmas happiness.

I’ve been asked, “what was the best thing?” I can’t answer that, as it was ALL good. Planes even ran early – is that not a miracle??

My plan is to give you 4 Fabulous Days in 4 installments.… did I say 4 days in a row? no promises. : )
Day 1. Checked in to the Affinia Manhattan at noon. Hop on the subway and head to the southern point of Manhattan to work our way North.

Memorial wreaths placed at Baattery Park in memory of those who died in 9/11 and soldiers who've given thier lives for our country in the war against terrorism.

The fraternity of the Fire Department. We visited New York's finest and got t-shirts for our guys.

Ice Skaters at Bryant Park. We ate at a wonderful spot overlooking the ice rink & wandered through the boutiques.

The ads in Times Square are BIG!
I had wanted to see these my first day (windows at Macy's) and we walked right by them on the way back to the hotel. Location was a key in choosing the hotel we did. It worked out well for us. And this was just the first day!! We made every moment count.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Up There

I haven't packed and leave in 2 hours but wanted to say, "See Ya Next Week!" I'm off to New York.
I'll be seeing all the sights that are in the funniest Christmas movie ever made, "Elf".
I'll take lots of pictures!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Gift of Love

I don't know who authored this, but it brought peace and a smile to me today so I thought I'd share:

First Corinthians 13, The Christmas Version

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shining balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crystal snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust.

But giving the gift of love will endure.

My note: We can only freely give that which we have received. Have you stopped to absorb the magnificence of His great love for you today? Maybe that's why you stopped by here - for the gentle reminder - God loves YOU!!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chicken Little Grows Tail Feathers

Back in May, my only knowledge of chickens came from the cartoon that featured Foghorn Leghorn. I don't know much more to date, but I do know I like the eggs that this hen is producing at the rate of one or two a day. We have 14 more hens that are expected to start laying in January, at which point I'll have more eggs than I know what to do with. I may talk to the owner of my favorite vegetable stand and start selling them. Who knew?

This rooster is not my friend. In fact, he's on the Naughty list. Everytime I go out to collect an egg, he comes charging at me like he's guarding the hen house. Why is it that I feel threatened by something that is a fraction of my size? Builderman says he just wants to be fed crackers (he's trained him!). I like the hens just fine but I've politely suggested that her beau may be Sunday dinner if he's not nice.
On another note, I'm putting the "word verification" feature on my comment settings today to try to get rid of the nuisance of spam comments that started in the last week. I'm getting two a day now and want to stop them, so bear with me while I see if this works. Hopefully they'll stop and comments can be faster again in a week or so. I do appreciate you stopping by!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Her Taste is All in Her Mouth

Our grown children have had a playful battle ever since I can remember over favored ornaments vs. ugly ornaments. They constantly move the ornaments they don’t like to the back of the tree and strategically place their favorites front and center.

To me, there is no such thing as an ugly ornament and my tree bears witness to that. I admire themed trees that glisten with all gold or all silver or Victorian pieces or whatever. But as “eclectic” describes my house, so it describes my tree. A generous mix of old and new, silly and elegant.

I’m attending an ornament exchange party this week and in my quest for a distinctive ornament I visited a local gift shop. I was delighted to find birds and butterflies that I thought were fabulous. I bought extras for additional gifts.

I proudly showed them to my daughters who tried to be polite but burst into laughter. Cupcake’s comment was “those are the ugliest ornaments I’ve ever seen.” In order not to embarrass myself, I exchanged them. I had to keep a butterfly as I still think it’s beautiful. Aren’t ornaments supposed to be sparkly and fanciful?

My mom has always had an expression, “her taste is all in her mouth.” It took me until I was an adult to “get” that. Personal preferences are influenced by an indeterminate number of things and I think when it comes to admiring Christmas decorations, I will always be 5 years old. Growing older is inavoidable, growing up is optional.

I’m not going for a run this morning. I’m going to skip the whole way.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Blind Side

My annual movie outings are usually during the holidays with my girls. Thanksgiving evening seems to be a consistent time to get out of the house - I’ve usually been cooking for the previous 24 hours like everyone else.

Last Thursday, we saw The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock. It was the best movie I’ve seen in a good while. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me think. To top it off, it had a happy ending. It’s based on a true story and brought to mind the family story of one of my favorite bloggers, Lysa TerKeurst .

If you get a chance to see it, I'm thinking you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sugarplums in the Big Apple

Once again, parental duty has catapulted me into an exciting place. (Oh the tales I could tell!) Cupcake had set aside money last year when she graduated from high school for a trip to New York City. She’s wanted to go for years and I advised her to do something significant and memorable with her gift money. She has talked about it constantly since then and decided the ideal time to go is during December to see the Christmas displays while experiencing the city. She desperately needed someone to go with her and I got elected! WooHoo!! Daughter-in-love is coming too - we’ve been planning this for months and we’re going next week!

I bought a new coat this week and am making final preparations. We’re going to see Mary Poppins on Broadway and have an itinerary sketched out. We’re discussing the hop on hop off double-decker bus ticket for 2 days, 1 day or not at all. Let me know if you have any thoughts on that or anything else.

Life is a grand adventure!

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Heart is 2 Sizes Bigger

What a wonderful week I enjoyed last week! I usually write and post on my blog in the early mornings and that time was reallocated. Rosebud is the world’s cutest alarm clock and was here for a full week. I had the joy of being the one to peek in on her first thing (like 5 am!) as she giggled and cooed until the crescendo to happy shrieks could wake up the household if you don’t get her. When you go to pick her up, the reward is a smile so big it’s like the sun coming out. Did I mention I’m smitten with this little girl?
We played…
We cooked….
We shopped…And decorated the house for Christmas…
Yesterday was precious LouLou’s memorial service and it was truly a celebration of her life. I was reminded that I not only LOVE my family, but I really LIKE them and enjoy being with them. LouLou’s sweet church (she was older than the church itself!) prepared an amazing luncheon for about 50 of the family members (a small representation) It was so special. The church was resplendent with garlands and twinkly lights and gold and green Christmas decorations that were breathtaking. I felt LouLou’s smile as we talked about her. Our final stop was at Traveler’s Rest, the country cemetery that holds amazing history lessons and was actually a comforting place to be on a stunningly beautiful afternoon.

I’ve more to tell but I have about 800 emails to sift through. : ) Joy to you as we enter this special season.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

There's a Celebration in Heaven

The bells are ringing, the angels are singing and those greeting LouLou in heaven are no doubt a loud bunch. We celebrate a life well-lived.

Louise Brooks Rushing
Nov. 8, 1906 - Nov. 21, 2009
"We can only be said to be truly alive in those moments when our hearts are concious of our treasures." ~Thornton Wilder

She lives on in 3 children, 9 granchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren. I can not find the words to describe the rich treasure she leaves for all who knew her. She invested her life in the truly important things. My heart is full.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

My holidays officially begin tonight with the arrival of Rosebud and company for a whole week! Woo HOO!
The whole gang will be here this weekend for my birthday celebration. The presence of all of our children is the greatest present of all and I’m totally excited.

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
-- Dr. Seuss
These 2 photos are circa 1961 or so.

A Big P.S. I want to introduce you to my cousin, a member of the infamous Bosom Bottom Buddy Club, who has just started her own blog. She writes beautifully and I love her. Visit her at If Stones Could Talk

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ever Seen a Ring Tailed Tooter?

Let me tell you, we had some wild night life around here this weekend. The coyotes started with their yipping and yapping and the next thing you know, every dog within 3 miles was howling. Then our chief rooster started up. This was at 2 o’clock in the morning. Next thing, Builderman is headed outside with his shotgun. He didn’t shoot anything (I would have – and it may have been that rooster!). Yep, I talk tough but my family knows it’s all bluster and bluff. I got back to sleep and then the rooster started up again at 4 am. I was wide awake and thinking, “why is it so cold in here?” Turns out that Builderman had wanted to sleep with the window open and it got down to 46 degrees. Sheesh.

Have I mentioned we live in the country?
I enjoyed it immensely when a pair of bald eagles stopped by for a visit this past week. I walked outside to see one of them actually on the ground by what was the garden. Then I saw the other one take off out of a nearby oak tree. I stood and watched them for awhile as they rode the breeze. I've been reflecting on an eagle's perspective since then and I'd prefer learning from the eagles rather than chickens!

A totally different creature, the Ring Tailed Tooter, was the object of laughter when we went to see Lou Lou yesterday. One of my cousins mentioned that there still must be some purpose that is yet to be fulfilled since God is keeping Lou Lou here on earth. I responded, “that sounds lovely, but I think her will is so strong and her spirit so indomitable that she just won’t let go.” My aunt told the story that when she and my mom (they’re identical twins) were small and acting stubborn, which was often, Lou Lou would call them Ring Tailed Tooters. I leaned over and told Lou Lou she had just been called a Ring Tailed Tooter and she laughed out loud.

Laughter is a such good medicine. Smiles work nicely too. So give me a grin and go enjoy your day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just 4 Today

Busy weeks and super-busy weeks seem to be the two choices that most people I know operate with. To-do lists, appointments, work, errands, paying bills, care-giving, running a house….need I continue?

That’s why I like the concept of Just 4 Today. Sometimes the lists get rather overwhelming. That’s when it’s time to break it down – especially the least favorite tasks. It brings to mind Mary Poppins and her famous ability to “Snap” and make the job a game.

So today, I decided to revive my Just 4 Today list. 4 actions that I can take that will move me toward a bigger goal… just one day at a time. Here’s my list:
1) Exercise at least 30 minutes
2) Count points and record everything I eat. (The little things add up, Beverly, remember that concept??)
3) Write 2 notes of appreciation and mail them.
4) Accomplish 1 task from my list for my ministry leadership position.

A little of this and a little of that, some for them and some for me. Reminds me of the best boutique name I’ve ever seen, “Two for me and One for You”. Have a terrific weekend. Hope you get lots done... or not!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Uncommon Hours... Uncommon Years

"If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ~Thoreau

Uncommon Blonde's birthday is today and this quote is among her favorites.
I marvel at God's faithfulness, from the 18 hour labor that brought her into this world 29 years ago to the labor she experienced as she brought Rosebud to us in July.

God is faithful in the minute, in the hours, in the days and through the years. Since I've given this day a banner quote, I'm going to name Sara Groves' He's Always Been Faithful to Me as the theme song. I don't believe I've shared these photos of my baby as a mother. Happy Birthday, cherished one!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

I’m thankful this morning that Hurricane Ida downgraded to a tropical storm before she came to see us. The thrashing of trees and relentless noise of sideways rain hitting the windowpanes throughout the night was enough action for me. It’s interesting that it’s always harder when storms come ashore in the night. You can hear the chaos but you can’t see it, and somehow that makes it more unsettling.

On another note, this past weekend, we went to the National Peanut Festival in Alabama. Fireman and Daughter-In-Love wanted to go (she’s never had that unique experience) so over the rivers and through the woods we went. This event is like a state fair with a strong agricultural emphasis. Somehow, it feels cleaner than a local fair, which is a good thing. We ate our standard fare of boiled peanuts and kettle korn. Pretty healthy fair food in my opinion.

We watched as they rode the giant Ferris Wheel and I decided that if I were to define myself as something at the fair, it would be the Ferris Wheel. I’m up, I’m down, I’m all around, but I’m steady.

Here's a tidbit from history:
The original Ferris wheel (also known as an observation wheel or big wheel) was designed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., as a landmark for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The term Ferris wheel later came to be used generically for all such rides.

If you had to define yourself as an amusement ride, what would you be? The Gravitron? The Carousel? How about the Fun House or the House of Mirrors? Or the Big Slide? I’m laughing thinking about all the metaphors.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

103 Years- That's Alot of Living!

Happy Birthday dear LouLou, Happy Birthday to you!

I feel like LouLou is one of the great inspirational forces in my life; she loves God, people and good conversation with the same gusto I do. Most of you know I dance with the daffodils because of her. She was born on November 8, 1906. It stretches my mind to reflect on the staggering changes she's witnessed in her lifetime.

Today, as I reflected on what to tell you about her that I haven't already shared, hundreds of memories flitted through my mind. I must get them on paper and that is among my more pressing goals.

In these last few months as her hold on this world has become more tenuous, there are two things that have consistently penetrated the fog enveloping her. One thing is the hymns that she has loved for a hundred years. The other thing is the words of her favorite poems, like L'Envoi by Rudyard Kipling. Up until September, she could recite these words with very little prompting:

When Earth's last picture is painted, and the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded, and the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and, faith we shall need it--lie down for an aeon or two,
'Til the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew!

And those that were good will be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comet's hair;They shall find real saints to draw from--Magdalene, Peter and Paul;They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame;And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame;But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are!

I love you LouLou.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Attention Shoppers: God is at Cash Register #10

I saw the video below last week and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It stirs so much in me... memories of when I first awakened to the fact that God is still in the miracle business but more important, it stirs my faith.

I found out yesterday that a dear friend, who happens to be my age, was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. She fell on Tuesday and hit her head – a severe enough injury to send her to the emergency room. That started the round of tests that revealed the mass in her brain. Reminiscent of precious Andrew who is waiting for his miracle. Last week, I heard of another cancer diagnosis in a beautiful 26-year-old young lady.

Last night, as I prayed for these needs, two things came to mind. Almost 25 years ago, I was on a prayer chain at our small Methodist church and got a call to pray for a teen who had been critically injured when she was thrown head-first through the windshield in a terrible car accident. I awakened all through the night after that call with a severe headache and would pray for her (her name was Kelly), the headache would go away and I would go back to sleep for awhile. Then the cycle would repeat.

The next morning, I felt absolutely compelled to go to the hospital and tell the parents Kelly was going to be okay. I had no clue what I was doing – this was a totally unfamiliar experience to me. But I couldn’t shake the feeling, so off I went. I found her parents in the waiting room for neurological intensive care and delivered the message. Two days later, when I got the call that Kelly had awakened from her coma with no brain damage, my life was forever changed.

I’ll tell you more about that journey later. For now, I am full of faith for these three friends in particular, to be wholly restored. I declare a cancer-free zone. It can happen anywhere and anytime….even on cash register #10.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Color of White

Profound. Thought-provoking. Inspiring.

If that’s what you were hoping to read here today, you’re on the wrong blog. Sorry.

However, I am up for a chat. I feel like I’ve been wearing lots of hats lately, which is really not anything new. Last weekend, Cupcake was home for the weekend and it was fun to hang-out with her. I was seeing photos on some blogs of snow and we were walking on the beach. Guess you didn’t want to know that if that was you in the overcoat.

Busy week, meeting with some really interesting people and working on multiple businesses. I don’t think I recall what it feels like to be bored. I think I used to get bored when I was a child, maybe?

Just enjoyed another good weekend and we were once again graced with stellar weather. I was asked to do a musical program for a church a couple of hours from here. Not my usual thing as they wanted at least 30 minutes of music. It was a delight to prepare and then to share with these very precious people. The scenic drive took us through countryside where the cotton fields were gorgeous with the full bolls ready for harvest. Truly a beautiful sight.

After the service and lunch, we went to see LouLou. Her birthday is coming Sunday the 8th- she’ll be 103. Yes, you read that right. Our visit was sweet, though she didn’t know who I was for the first time. Her physical health is remarkable, but my vivid impression is that she is on the threshold of heaven. I feel selfish that it makes me sad – she is so ready and so tired. When I sang “I’ll Fly Away” and she clapped in delight, I almost came undone.

She seemed really pleased when I told her that her second great, great grandchild arrived this week and is named Eloise in her honor. Since we’re on the subject of babies, I’ll just wrap this by leaving you with images of the joy of my heart. Rosebud is 14 weeks old!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Flavor Edition: The Cracker Chronicles

I'm joining Linda, who's doing Fall into Flavor on Mondays before the holidays begin.

As I pondered which recipe to share, I started thinking about my Aunt Bill’s Potato Casserole. Which reminded me that I haven’t written a Cracker Chronicle post in forever.

Aunt Bill was my great-great aunt. As in, she was my great grandmother’s youngest sister. But she was about the same age as my grandmother. I’m sure there’s a real story behind that which I’ll research another day. I have many memories of her, as she had a house right next to my great-grandmother’s house at Ft. Walton Beach where we spent our summers.

She was outspoken and expressive, like all the women in our family. Another steel magnolia. She was colorful, sturdy and long-lasting, however she lacked the sweet smelling bloom. We all loved her dearly.

My earliest memories of Aunt Bill are of the bird she owned. It was a loud parrot that demanded crackers that I was delighted to provide. He lived on the porch of her beach house and attracted the children like bees to honey. She played on that to get us to do her chores. She paid us, but it was so cheap, it makes me feel like a dinosaur to think what a dollar could buy back then. I’m going to hope that one of my cousins can correct me on this, but it seems to me she would take us to the Five and Dime Store and give us each a quarter to shop with. We could actually buy something with that! Sure, it was cheap and broke after a day but the thrill of going to the store with my cousins was great. We would stay in the store making our selections for at least an hour. Now I realize that the greatest gift Aunt Bill gave us was the wonderful memories.

I have a piece of furniture that I love that belonged to Aunt Bill. I got it from my grandmother. I call it a “library table” but it folds out and becomes a “game table” when you pull up the drop-down piece. I may be sentimental, but it evokes warm memories of my great-great aunts and their love of games like Pinochle, Scrabble and Bridge.

This story started with a recipe, and it’s time for me to take this dish out of the oven and eat, so here’s the “rest of the story”….

The women in our family laugh when we call it “Aunt Bill’s Potato Casserole” because as the story goes, she got it from the back of the hash brown potato bag and claimed it as her own. I think good recipes were the currency of friends back in that day.

You may have this recipe already, but let it be known, in the South, this is proclaimed to be:

Aunt Bill’s Potato Casserole

2 lb. bag frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
¼ cup softened butter
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
2 Cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 cups sour cream
½ cups chopped onion

Mix all of the above ingredients.
Place in a shallow casserole dish. Mix topping in a small bowl and spread over top.

2 cups crushed cornflakes (Put the cornflakes in a large baggie and crush with a rolling pin)
¼ cup softened butter

I work the butter and cornflakes together with my hands. Bake 45 min- 1 hour at 350 degress.

For more recipes, check out 2nd Cup of Coffee

**Added Note - As a result of Uncommon Blonde's question, I found out Aunt Bill's real name was Lilly! I never heard that. She obviously didn't like it. That fits too.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday - Time for Fun!

My friend over at Piles of Smiles has been doing Friday Funnies for some time and I finally decided to join in. If you want some help starting your weekend right - check out Friday Funnies. Here's my smiles:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fear Is Just a Bad Dream

I’ve had my share of bad dreams. As a child, I remember having dreams of a steamroller overtaking me - leaving me flat as Wile E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons. (No doubt that’s where that dream originated!) Later my bad dreams were not of falling or monsters or things that go BUMP in the night. Oddly enough, my recurring bad dream was that I was on a sailboat on a silent, flat ocean. Not a puff of wind to take me anywhere. No compass - no destination. Stillness – just suffocating stillness. I remember waking from that dream with a feeling of listlessness and loneliness.

I sometimes wonder if that dream was the predecessor of my greatest fear, which is best described as “missing the boat”. My mind knows that we are human beings, not human doings. However, my heart hasn’t fully absorbed the message that my life is not performance-based. I used to blithely quote “what you are is God’s gift to you and what you become is your gift to God.” I’ve quit reciting that as it really adds to the performance pressure. What if I miss an opportunity or don’t become all that God intended for me? What if I die with the music still in me? What if? What if? Just STOP!

The only way I know to combat fear is with faith. And even when I don’t FEEL full of faith, I can be assured that faith is not based on feelings. In fact, God spoke to my heart years ago with the assurance that the shield of faith has a safety catch on it. Especially handy for me. Fear may be a bad dream, but that doesn’t make it a reality.

There is much in the world to make us afraid. There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.
~Frederick W. Cropp

This post was the result of some “mulling” I’ve done since Michelle over at Scribbit put out the October writing challenge on the subject of Fear. I also entered a post from my business blog. Have I ever mentioned I love words?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Can't Burn This

Fall makes me think of raking & burning leaves. My kitchen often has the smell of burning too and it's not limited to Fall. That's just one thing that's great about this recipe - you can't burn it. I racked my brains to come up with the right recipe to share for Linda’s Fall Into Flavor kickoff because I really need the apron she’s giving away. I really didn't want to put my mind on sweets and butter just yet. Because where my mind goes, my mouth is sure to follow. Sometimes my mouth doesn't even wait for my mind. ; )

I used to heartily dislike meatloaf. On the other hand, Builderman, being the meat and potatoes kind of guy that he is, loved it. So I would try to plan it for his dinner when I was going to be gone and just leave it in the crock pot. Then a friend told me about her special sauce that magically transforms meat loaf into something rather tasty. I combined her sauce with my brother-in-law’s meatloaf and voila… this is a very tasty dinner. Since it’s hearty and filling, it seems perfect for fall.

¾ cup milk
2/3 cup crushed saltines
2 eggs
1 ½ lbs ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
Salt & pepper
Dash of sage

½ cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcstershire sauce
1 tsp yellow mustard

Crush crackers and put them in the milk to soften. Mix all ingredients together. I add a generous dollop of the sauce to the meat mixture and form into a crock-pot-shaped loaf. Place in crockpot and cover with sauce. Cook on low all day or on high for 5 hours. Enjoy!

Go on over to Linda's for more yummy recipes and please tell her to rig the contest and pick me. ; ) Just kidding. Kind of.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hope is the Anchor of My Soul

I'm wrapped in the warmth of a happy weekend on the first frosty morning of the new season. I'm lovin' it! I'm believing for a season of miracles...

Builderman and I had the amazing opportunity to meet Melanie’s son Andrew and pray for him Friday. Andrew has the most beautiful eyes. The words I am impressed with concerning relentless prayer for Andrew are from the story of David and his pursuit of the enemy. In this case, the Amalekites had taken all the women and children captive and carried off all their stuff. (see 1 Samuel 30) David prayed and God said,
Recover All

And he did. An inspiration and a lesson. It makes all the difference that there are many of us in this battle with Melanie and Dan. We are committed to pursue, overtake and recover all!

Saturday was a glorious day in Sarasota. The weather was beautiful and we strolled through Bayfront Park and enjoyed a picnic. Then on to Selby Botanical Gardens where I worked after school and during the summers of my high school years. At that time, an incredible private estate had just been dontaed and was being developed into the Gardens. I remember the artist’s rendering as the process of building and planting began. I could not imagine the lush beauty that is there now. It’s a testimony to the power of a dream.

The sound of the wind rattling the bamboo was really memorable. However, that wasn’t nearly as special as sound of Rosebud's coos and her priceless smiles. She’s owns my heart.

I've seen enough miracles to know there's more on the way. Hope is the anchor of my soul!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Still Crazy After All These Years

Hillary is hosting a “crazy” blog carnival. (That’s the theme.) If there was ever a blog carnival that had my name on it – this is it. Here’s just a few pieces of evidence:

My sister and I can still sing every single word of the Joni Mitchell Song “ Twisted” without accompaniment and perfectly together. We love it. Oh mercy- some of you probably don't know this title as it was popular in the 70's. I was barely born then. ; ) Never mind that the title of this post is an Eagle’s song from the same era. Era- that word sounds old - but of course, I'm not. Call me delusional, but don't call me old.

I'll dance as if no one is watching, even if they are. My youngest child has been known to scold me and say “don’t EVER do that again”. Party pooper.

I call it “The Drama Gene”, which dictates that I’m not easily embarrassed. This doesn’t bode well for those shy people in my company. I love to laugh and do so too loudly, I’m pretty sure.

My mind can be like a Lazy Susan. It's full of good stuff. If I can't reach it at the moment, it will come back around.

One of my favorite cards, given to me by Uncommon Blonde several years ago, has the photo below with the inscription: Happy Mother’s Day to my very glamorous, sometimes goofy, always glorious Mom. I love it.
For lots of versions of crazy, visit Hillary’s place… you’ll meet some of my friends over there. My mama always said “you’re known by the company you keep” and “birds of a feather flock together.”

By the way, did you know that Joie de vivre is a lovely translation for “she’s a little crazy”?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Peace Be Steel

I have a daughter (Cupcake) and a sister who do stand-up comedy.

Oh, I don't mean in a club or anything like that, they are simply hilarious. And I must say, I'm an ideal audience since I laugh in all the right places. However, I may get a little loud sometimes. In fact, this is a given. People always want to be at our table to see what in the world is going on.

This YouTube video makes me laugh really hard. I wanted to post it last week when I saw it but it's not embeddable so I didn't. Today, ADHD was looking for a "Feel Good" guest for her scheduled Tuesday post and I decided to share a special guest to make her laugh. So this one's for you, my friend. I've never seen Madea before this.

Peace Be Steel YouTube Video

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some May Tweet, but There’s a Cuckoo in Me

I was on the phone the other day making plans to see a wonderful friend when I heard a cuckoo clock in the background. I was immediately transported back in time to my Grandmother Sue’s hallway in the big family home in Carrabelle. It was as if I could smell the old house, and sense the suffocating quiet that was broken by the cheerful chime of the little bird greeting the hour from his minature bird house. I was captivated then and I am captivated now. I asked “isn’t that a cuckoo clock I hear?” She replied that her grandmother used to have one and it brings back such good memoires she decided she needed one.

As I was visiting with her later, I was cocooned in her couch that literally envelopes you when I heard the first chime. I leapt up and raced to the kitchen, nearly injuring myself in my hurry, just in time to catch that little bird on his last chirp. I was ridiculously pleased.

My mom tells me that the particular clock I remember was sent to my grandmother from Germany when her daughter (my aunt) was working over there. The history of the clocks made first in the Black Forest of Germany in the 1730’s is very romantic. (Of course now, most are probably made in China!) I’m pretty sure the clock is still in the vacant house and there’s a remote possibility I could even get that particular clock.

So now the question is, do I really want a cuckoo clock? I think it would be fun to continue the tradition. But do I want to hear it all the time? Can you disable the chime at night? I haven’t researched all this yet, so if you have any thoughts, I’m all ears.

“… and up in the nursery an absurd little bird, is popping out to say cuckoo!”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shopping Cart Voyeur

I like to shop at Sam’s Club, which is rather surprising considering we are down from 5 to 2 people in the house. I like to eye other people’s carts to see what they buy and have discovered some good deals that way. I have no problem doing this as the social gene I got from my mom is quite dominant.

I learned over at Works for me Wednesday about Alice, an online shopping service that's a discount buying club without leaving your house. Interesting. There's a give-away for $25 on the WWW post today.

But back to Sam's- I buy almonds now after seeing them in someone’s cart at check-out.
These other finds are the result of sampling. I’ve been making chicken salad with this canned chicken and it’s really good and wonderfully easy. $8 for 5 cans!
This is my mom’s chicken salad recipe:

Simply Divine Chicken Salad
Chicken, cut in bite size pieces
Enough mayo for your taste
Lots of red seedless grapes, cut in small pieces
Chopped pecans
Salt & pepper

I used to despise recipes like this, but sometimes it’s all you get. It’s delicious.
I put it on these Pita Bites from Sam’s and they are the perfect accompaniment.For dessert, try the Atlanta Bread company mini-pumpkin muffins that just came in for the fall. They are really delicious.

This would be a great luncheon or brunch menu if you’re having your friends over anytime soon and are feeling lazy or just too busy efficient.

After I wrote this post, I saw that the theme today at WWW is cleaning tips. So my tip is to keep disenfectant wipes in your car. It keeps your car clean and always take one in with you to the store to clean the shopping cart handle. This is much safer than the flu vaccine. : ) You're welcome.

CLICK HERE for ideas for a really clean house. Of course, this knowledge in my hands might be as effective as watching an exercise video while eating ice cream. My favorite tip over there is to "hire someone".

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Of Politics and Pacifiers

I suffer from occasional bouts of insanity. Thank God I seem to recover quickly.

Take for instance, my consideration of applying to be a community blogger. This is a position advertised by our local paper whereby you agree to post 3 times a week regarding current issues, reply to comments and submit to being a public whipping post. For FREE! Oh yes, sign me right up.

Granted, the reason I considered it is that it galls me that politics has become so political. I know, I know, I’m the eternal optimist who thinks it’s supposed to be about the thoughtful, intelligent exchange of ideas to lead government and formulate laws that are in the best interest of the people and in line with our constitution. How old-fashioned of me.

My passion to speak up is fueled when I read the words of Abraham Lincoln,
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

I love America. I find great comfort in the fact that I’ve read the last chapter of the book and righteousness wins. But it can get awfully messy between here and there.

The continous direction of our government in controlling more and more aspects of our personal lives alarms me on many levels. Did you hear that the FTC has issued a new law governing bloggers that takes effect December 1? Oh yes, it’s true. Michelle at Scribbit has an excellent summary of the 81-page document.

Lest I come across as harsh, I’ll leave you with a picture of goodness, peace and love. She brings joy and hope to my heart. She looks a little concerned about my conversation too, so we'll just have to fix our eyes on the promise in Jeremiah 29:11. And sing a bit- that always helps.