Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

sb10069377d-001, Maren Caruso /Photodisc

I bookmarked Sarah’s Chocolate Velvet Sauce recipe a while back and made a batch last week. I jarred up half to give as gifts and the other half I saved for our family to enjoy with ice cream that night. We loved it at dinner- it’s an amazing hot fudge sauce- then got up and headed out to see some Christmas lights. Imagine our surprise when we got home and found that our dog Willow had helped herself to the rest of the sauce. Believe it or not, she didn’t get sick, but I did- what a waste of good sauce! And why did she have to track it back to my bedspread and spread out?! Anyway, a really great recipe for it can be found here on a really great blog-

I’m thinking of giving these a try sometime over the next few days while the kids are at home……I’ll let you know!

What might you put in a moment jar if you could bottle it up and save it?

I may have put the fire bowl up too soon for winter. I’ve got a thing or two I’d like to visually get rid of.

I love the name of her blog, and especially love her description of her recent time at home with family as, “fishing in a stocked pond”. It just struck a chord with me as I am feeling the same way today! Lovely blog- she is a good writer.

Note to self- I want to learn this song, and I want to focus on it next Advent!

I’d like to make an Advent journal with this idea and tuck it away with the decorations so that I find it as a surprise next Christmas.

This is mighty happy! I may try to copy it to add some color back to my living room once the Christmas decorations go back to the attic.

This is a sweet birth story . Welcome to the world Evelyn!

And finallly......

a sweet video: Elderly couple Fran and Marlo walked into the lobby of the Mayo Clinic for a checkup and spotted a piano. They've been married for a whopping 62 years, and Marlo turned 90 this year

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A little link love….

Staircase with Candles by decorology.

There is rarely a day that I don’t find something over at Kind Over Matter that doesn’t just turn around my day. Take this one for example…..

This one makes my heart sing- a tiny house WITH a tub, and not just a tub but a claw foot tub!

I’ve linked to stories about Stephanie Nielson in the past, but this is the best written account of her story. It’s hard to read, but also such a reminder to me of the resilience of a family if they stick together. Stephanie is a hero to me.

Love these banners and admire the amount of time it must have taken to make them!

Too late for this year, but I hope I remember these at Christmas time next year.

This is what my son got for Christmas (he’d been wanting some for months) - can you see why I was hesitant to select for him and opted to just give him the money to choose his own? Read about them though- cool concept.

For each of the kids, I had a pendant made of hammered copper as a reminder of what I most hope for them as they mature- from Micah 6:8- they look like this and simply say Do Justice Love Mercy Walk Humbly.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

My Christmas Pasts often fall into themes- the year of the tree mishaps or the year of the Barbies. If this year had a theme, it would clearly be this for me- the year I fell even more in love with my family.

This post could fall into the 8 Things category, or the edit, add, and appreciate, only it has more than 8 simple thoughts and I would not edit or add to all that I have appreciated over this past week.

On Saturday night we had our neighbors in for a little desert party and I fell asleep thinking of the irony of it all. I was laying down to sleep in what has for years been known as a neighborhood of poverty and here I was, so rich in friends and joy that I could hardly fall asleep for the delight of it all.

On Sunday the children of our church did their annual Christmas pageant and I will never ever ever tire of seeing little angels and tiny Mary’s. C sang an amazing song on Sunday morning at church that didn’t leave many dry eyes in the room. About 35 of us went out after the pageant to a Mexican restaurant together and had such fun. I was smitten with my church family.

The time with the kids has been better than I even hoped it could be. By the time both college kids arrived at the house, I was so anxious I was waiting outside on the porch for them. They have rested well and let me feed them well and they have made me laugh and laugh. We’ve watched movies and played games and each puttered on our own computers and even made a lazy attempt at reading a book together. We had a night out together along with my nephew laughing and seeing tacky Christmas lights and making a memory that we will bring up again and again I’m sure.

Last night we began a new tradition at our family gathering by getting carry out Chinese to take to Mother’s, and to our surprise there seem to be a lot of others who get their Christmas Eve meal at Double Dragon! Everyone was genuinely happy with the thoughtful and generous gifts that we received but more importantly we all just seemed so very happy to all be together. My precious nephew has said several times to me over the weeks before Christmas how much he looked forward to the family all being together and I was so aware of the tender care we all have for each other.

By midnight last night as Christmas Eve slipped into Christmas Day I was so overcome with gratitude and love that I just had to go wake DH up to say so. Poor guy is awakened by a blubbering spouse and of course thinks something terrible has happened, and only this morning did I learn that my girls also heard my muffled sobs and were alarmed. How long have they known me?! Surely by now they should know what to expect!

Today was spent with my extended family on my mother’s side of the family and I don’t think I’ve ever loved those sweet aunts and cousins more than I do on this day. You can count on Christmas lunch being one of the two or three best meals you will eat all year long. The “younger folks” hung out a bit after the two matriarchs left and woven into every story we told was this strong chord of love for our grandmother, each of us adding stories the others may not have heard. My children never knew her, and I was glad for them to hear her spoken of with such love and respect. There have been times when I’ve wondered how long we will still gather on Christmas over the years when our mothers and aunts are no longer with us, and today as we all talked, and as I could hear my kids raucous play in the living room with a younger cousin, I had a strong sense that we will indeed honor our tradition. All of our stories, each and every one of us, have the same beginning and our duty now is to help our children see that their stories start there too .

We stopped by a gathering at my friend and pastor’s house where a number of our friends were gathered and the house was warm and smelled of cider and all our friends were full and cozy and had fallen into that post Christmas dinner laziness.

And alllllllllllllllll of that to say that I am completely and totally besotted with my family- the one of origin and the ones I have chosen – God bless us every one.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

8 Things


This morning I sat right there in that comfy chair with two comfy friends on the couch and had the loveliest of meetings at Mrs. Potter’s Coffee. A down side to having a meeting with me in a public place is that I am too nosey a keen observer of all of the goings on around me. And so today, I share with you-

8 Things I Observed While In A Meeting About a Grant on the Friday Before Christmas

1. Several men were outside that window the entire time we were there painstakingly wrapping every tiny bit of a fairly small tree in front of the coffee shop in white lights. Now, those who know me already know that at this point in the holiday season, I think everything is sweet, and I found it sweet that they were being so meticulous in their work and that they were doing so about 4 weeks after most of the world put lights out. Good for them!

2. Oh, and talk about sweet. I saw a young man schlepping a big fruit tray down Main Street. He was headed, no doubt, to the office holiday luncheon and was bearing that thing up like the gift of the magi and I wanted to call his mother and tell her she had done well with that boy.

3. A group of grown men walked by who had obviously just been on a tour of the Hillerich and Bradsby bat factory in the next block and each of them had one of those miniature souvenir bats you get at the end of the tour. Again, very sweet how cute they were with those little bats.

4. A well dressed man brought a young woman in and sat down to my left where I could see them well and hear them well enough to know that he was offering her a new and special project at work. He launched into a very long pitch for it in spite of the fact that her immediate response at the get go was, “sounds great!”.

5. The efficient girls behind the counter taught us that the darker roasted coffees have less caffeine. That might be helpful to know for future reference. I mean, if I should ever learn to even like coffee.

6. Two people came in and sat behind me- I never saw them- but they were talking about sales and it sounded like one long string of cliché's! Make a note- in my study today I have found that people hanging Christmas lights on a cold windy day seem to have a lot more fun than people in sales.

7. Root beer made with cane sugar is too sweet for me, the queen of sweet.

8. My friend has put together a really great grant proposal.

Meeting Adjourned.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

So, how fun would it be to do a 12 spot canvas and do art in a square per month?! Check out how this one was made..

Speaking of the new year, Andrea at Superhero Journal has some great ideas to help you reflect on 2009 and move into 2010.

Loving this wreath because it steps away from red and green and is bright and happy and unruly.

Isn’t this dreamy?!

A few crafts that have caught my eye- this clock, this sweet angel, and these beautiful felt creations- flowers and ornaments.

And since I’m pretty sure I’ve gone AT LEAST a couple of weeks without a link to anything related to chalkboard-y stuff- here is one fun table.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Music Monday

My son introduced me to Coffey this weekend, and I've spent wayyy too much time checking him out. His voice and range are so much like my son's. Check out some of his other videos, and you can find some of his music up on iTunes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

8 Things


8 Things I hope we do over winter break…..

1. Hope the kids get to hang out with Nan some- and Mother Dear too.

2. All of us go to a movie together and maybe have some home movie nights. Suggestions? Three of us have seen The Blindside, but are willing to see it again as a group……

3. Play games at night like the gold old days at least twice during the break. No matter how many games we have we always gravitate back to Phase Ten and we never ever play all the way through to the end.

4. I hope the kids will humor me and let us read The Help together over the break. The older two complain often about never getting to read any fiction any more, and since all the girls ever read are books with vampires, this might a nice opportunity for them.

5. I hope my kids have some fun times with their cousins and with old friends.

6. I hope to feed them well with all of their favorites. And I hope to be relaxed and totally off duty as a micromanager.

7. Hope we can do a tacky light tour outing at some point. I’m sort of interested in doing that cavern light tour. Anyone been? Worth 20 bucks?

8. I hope we are all still speaking by the end of the break!

I have my own personal list too!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday Link Love


This is my Advent calendar I made last year, and I’ve loved rediscovering it this year. I’ve seen some other cute ideas this year- like this one and this one.

So, I’m all about Christmas and Christmas decorations and such these days. I actually have mine up! But it’s not too late for me to make one of these if I have a spare evening…. I really love the piece that inspired it, but I don’t sew.

I think I”d be the only person in this house who would LOVE this, but I would indeed LOVE it.

If you aren’t a big blog reader, you may have not seen this. It has shown up on several of the ones I read and I think I see some of these in my future…..

Isn’t this a comfy room?

Just in case you, like me, have love dreamy paper lanterns, here is a great source….

I’d be happy with a love tree. The first year I lived out on my own I made all of my ornaments- bread dough rainbows- and a few have survived through all these years and will find their way to my tree next week.

Okay, I am a perfectly happy person who knows how very wealthy I am, having all I need and very few real wants (as opposed to grandiose desires for beach houses and stuff) but one of the reasons I get away with that is I don’t look around too much. But you know I love Amy Powers and this week she blogged her Christmas list and I found myself consumed with desire for some of the things she listed- like THIS- oh how I want every single roll and color!

And then there is this precious tiny house…….I. Love. This. Tiny. House. So much in fact that I spent a huge amount of time a few minutes perusing the internet to find a more affordable option which is how I found THIS which is an even tinier house that I love even more and learned a little of the history of these charms, and then I found one on ebay!! With another several hours few mintues of research, I may even discover a cheap imitation.!

Best to you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Music Monday.......late

Well worth your time to check this guys other hundreds of songs on youtube. Being unable to carry much of a tune myself, I am in awe of those who can pull off acapella music.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Edit, Add, Appreciate

Edit- I did it! I broke through the barrier that has paralyzed me for years as I struggled to get the Halloween decor out of the way before Christmas was truly here. I also did something that I hope I remember to do next year. I took all of the fall stuff down, and left the living room bare for a few days, then began working the Christmas stuff in at a leisurely pace rather than the one all nighter I used to pull switching out the seasons. Gave me lots of time to appreciate the layers and layers of memories that each of my decorations come wrapped with.

Add- I won’t say what, but we did do a little decorating that we’ve never done before. I think we are all just so excited to have the 2 college kids come home that we have had more fun getting things ready for their homecoming.

Appreciate- Our Advent worship has been building on a series- A Light In the Window was the first week. Yesterday was A Knock At the Door. Next week is A Quickening of the Heart, followed by Christmas Sunday when we celebrate A Meal At The Table. I am enjoying the incremental process of preparing my heart for the Christ child.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

8-ish Things

xmaspug.jpg santa pug image by sandradeen

So, I’ve been perusing my extensive iTunes Christmas playlist in the hopes of coming up with a top 8 and it just couldn’t be narrowed down to that, especially since I like each song for different reasons. That being the case, I’m breaking it down a bit.

8 Christmas Songs that Really make me happy and possibly drive too fast

1. This is where the “ish” comes in. The number one choice is, well, two. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t allow Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, and on that great day I wake the kids up with the music blaring and the first two songs are my favorites just because they have been at the top of the wake-up list for years. They are Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by NSync AND Christmas Time’s A Comin’ by Emmylou Harris.

2. I feel so shallow revealing the song that really means Christmas to me. The reason it makes me happy is so simple- the beat is fun and when the girls were little we heard it in the car on the way to a nighttime basketball game and we had such fun grooving to it in the car that it will forever have this happy happy association…..and so my friends- it is Hey Santa by Carnie and Wendy Wilson.

3. Feliz Navidad. Yes, we sing along with Jose’ every time, singing in syllables, not words, having no idea what we are singing.

4. My parents had the classic Bing Crosby Christmas album and I love every single song on it, but Mele Kalikimaka is the one I’m most likely to sing along with.

5. Christmas Don’t Be Late by Alvin and Chipmonks. It is what it is. Just can’t help it. One year in the office I worked in they let us bring in Christmas tapes and they played it while we worked. Let me say that while this one song is fun and brings back fun memories, there really was no good reason for the Chipmonks to have recorded an entire album nor for my coworker to have bought it and brought it in.

6. Just plain fun, good beat and easy to dance to- gotta love Run Rudolph Run by Sheryl Crow

7. While the Beach Boys were fine enough, I prefer Straight No Chaser’s version of Little Saint Nick.

8. This year I have a tie on my newest favs- Christmas Won’t be the Same by the Plain White T’s, and then although we don’t have tv, I’d have to live on another planet to not have heard about Glee, and I’m loving their version of Last Christmas.

And to show you that I love to balance my fun with the bittersweet, I give you my list of songs that make me cry pretty much every time.

1. I’ll Be Home for Christmas- by pretty much anyone EXCEPT Alvin and the Chipmonks.

2. Walking in the Air by George Winston which is from the Snowman soundtrack. That song is so beautiful, but it always reminds me of a sadness that my family experienced on Christmas a good 20 years ago.

3. I love this song in it’s own rite, but also love that C sang it in church and so it’s a double happy cry for me for me when I hear Joseph’s Lullaby by MercyMe.

4. The Magnificat by Down To Earth- This is a very very integral part of my church family Christmas, so I love not only the song and the singer, but the piece of home it grounds me to each year.

5. So mellow and sweet- James Taylor singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

6. Because it stirs me deep inside, All We Like Sheep from Handel’s Messiah.

7. My very dear friend Faye introduced me to Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas. I liked it well enough and always thought of her when I heard it, but it nearly broke my heart the first year after she moved back to Tennessee and I was missing her so much, and still evokes a sad feeling of that loss all these years later.

8. Christmas Canon by Transiberian Orhestra because my sweet K who is so tender and earnest LOVES it, and that alone makes me weepy.

Okay……truth be told, I was a bit hurt tonight when I saw that on facebook there is a group called BAN THE CHRISTMAS SHOES SONG. Am I the only person left in the world who still gets a tad bit weepy over that one? Or how about the one called Christmas Carol about the orphan who gets adopted on her birthday which happens to be Christmas…..and her name is Christmas Carol. Truth be told, I bet you do too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A letter to Geraldine

holding hands

Dear Geraldine- 

Today would have been your 44th birthday.   Ten years ago when two heartbroken little girls came to live with us, their grief counselor taught me to build in as many traditions and rituals to their lives as possible to help them frame up a new normal.

One of those traditions has been to celebrate you every year on your birthday.  Until only a few years ago, the girls baked a red velvet cake every year.  Every year, we have each written a letter to you which S has been the faithful steward of, hiding them away under her bed in a box.  The first year, we lit the candles on your cake and decided to each read the letter we had written to you aloud.  The girls letters were pretty conversational, updating you on the things they were involved in like learning to ride a bike and being on the basketball team.  Mine was a letter of love and thankfulness that you had entrusted these treasures to us.  When I couldn’t read it without crying, DH took it to read….but he couldn’t make it through either, and then we both felt a little silly as the girls seemed bewildered.  You see, they have continued a long and newsy conversation with you all along, so it is less sentimental than practical to them.

Today I place the 10th letter to you into S’s tender care.  It says the same thing this year that it has said every year.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  You could have picked two people who had way more experience at parenting, you could have picked a black mother who would have known better how to do their hair, you could have picked a family with better financial resources.  You could not have picked anyone who would have loved them any more. 

Wednesday Link Love

There are some great ideas here on displaying your Christmas cards. I don’t anticipate a lot of cards this year…..because most of the people who send me cards have probably dropped me off the list after a couple of years of not hearing from me. My goal is to at least send a few- I have a few old friends that I hear from once a year at Christmas and I love hearing about their lives even though we will likely never even see each other again. I used to not care for the old Christmas letters, probably because for about 20 years I think ours surely said, “Sue is still single, still living in the same tiny apartment, and still working in insurance.” But then I had kids…….and I could not resist updating folks on their ages, grades, what sports they were playing, what instruments they were learning, blah blah blah. Hey, I feel a letter coming on.

I am a sucker for a tender blog post, and this one hit the spot.

The latest from Improv Everywhere, and what a fun one it is!

Check out the cool matchbox advent calendar. What a fun swap!

I wouldn’t have to own it- if I could just go there from time to time and take a nap in that white room and get a soda out of the turquoise fridge and then step outside to the beach!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


So, it’s 11:58 and I’m about to say good-night to facebook when a friends status says to run right out and look at the moon, that it would be worth the bracing cold………and I did……and it was……and it looked like this- actually much cooler than this, but this is the closest picture I could find. It looks like the clouds have opened in a perfect circle, a rainbow is around the edges of those clouds, and then smack in the middle is the moon! Anyone know what this is called?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Edit, Add, Appreciate


Edit- Call me a sentimental old sap…..because, well, I am. I loved having three towels hanging on the kids’ towel rack all weekend so much that this morning I couldn’t even bear to take the other two down for the laundry. All day long I felt “homesick”, wishing I were at home and that so were all of my kids for just one more day of bantering. Truth is, after one more day the magic would probably have worn off and we could have easily all been at each other’s throats. Anyway, I miss them.

Add- For the last several years I have found myself so far behind on the decorating schedule that I have just surrendered and hung the advent stockings between two jack o’lanterns. This year I have a goal to have at least the fall stuff cleared away and maybe even some Christmas stuff out by the end of the week. Ask me on Sunday how successful I’ve been! The kids made me promise not to decorate the tree until they are home. Are you kidding? I’ve been letting them decorate that tree for years and I stay completely out of it! Why would I start back now? It will be waiting for them when they get home.

Brandon McReynolds

Appreciate- Last week was my nephew’s birthday. Nineteen years ago on the day before Thanksgiving, that sweet baby turned my world upside down. Everything from that point is marked in my heart as before Brandon or after Brandon. I fell in love with that boy in a way I had never loved another person, and my heart was (and is still) completely wrapped around his tiny finger. There is just nothing greater in life than being an aunt. (Well, rumor is that being a grandmother is pretty wonderful!) The down side is that I can name, and flinch when I do it, almost everything that has ever made him sad because it has made me sad too. Recently he has had a major heartbreak, and I’d give everything I have to make him happy again, but I know he will find his own way, and he is already doing a good job at that. I am loving watching the man he is growing into. He loves to help others more than anyone I’ve ever seen. He has big dreams of working in politics someday, and I am excited beyond words that he wants to work to make the world a better place. Never mind that we are not aligned on much politically! I am just so proud of him. It makes me over the moon happy that he is such good friends with my kids. On the day that he was born, the world became so so rich, and I am one wealthy woman to get to be his aunt.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

8 Things


8 Things that have made this one of the best Thanksgivings ever

1. The excitement of having the college kids arriving home.

2. Going out to the movies with C and K. (The Blind Side, which we really enjoyed) It’s always nice to do things with just one or two, and it’s rare that it is C, K, and I.

3. C and my nephew making the road trip to Columbia to pick up S. I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall to see all the fun that the three of them had.

4. The banter around the table on Wednesday night. For a moment I just mentally pulled away and watched the scene from a distance and it made me want to cry it was so sweet. The kids were just so so happy to be together and of course DH and I were happy as could be.

5. Our traditional Thanksgiving meal with our friends and family in the neighborhood. I think this is about the 13th year that we have eaten there at lunch time on Thanksgiving. There is always an interesting collection of folks. I think our neighbors started out doing it to host a place for a number of folks who didn’t have anywhere else to go, but we just elbowed our way up to the table and we have never left. They are able to set up one long table for all of us, even when there have been 35 or more of us. The food just never stops passing, each dish better than the last. The crowning touch is (for me) when the host brings out hot from the oven his persimmon pudding and starts slathering on the homemade whipped cream.

6. Gathering with our family for the dinner meal. My mother’s stewed tomatoes and stuffing and until recent years dumplings. Pure heaven! Last year was our first year without my dad, and the way we chose to honor him and not be so focused on our sadness was to do a family service project, and we continued that this year by all bringing toys to take for the santa shop at the Portland Center that Dad loved so much. The kids had so much fun in the toy department picking out the toys that they bought with their own money to contribute, and we all enjoyed seeing what we each brought.

7. I’ve loved being at home, anchoring the kitchen while the kids are in and out with friends and each other. When they leave on Sunday they will have a stash of homemade goodies to take to tide them over until Christmas.

8. Anticipation of an even longer time together for Christmas in a very few weeks.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

nutella swirly goodness.

So, my friend Suzanne was in Rome this week and in her blog entry made mention of having had Nutella Pie for dinner……and it really didn’t matter what else she said. Off I went on a search for a recipe. Who knew there is a World Nutella Day? I’m writing it in my calendar. February 5- see you there!

I sooooooo want a set of red shutters like these for my Christmas cards! I miss my “junking” days.

There are some fine looking cookie recipes in this Virtual Cookie Exchange.

My good friend Donna has introduced her 7 year old grandson to the world of blogging, and what a lovely perspective he brings! Check him out at Diary of a Coo Coo Kid. Be sure to leave a comment and tell him where you’re from.

The wonderful folks at Kind Over Matter have some nice printables. Check out their Thanksgiving fortune cookies while you’re there.

The one and only redeeming thing about my recent stay at the Dreamland Motel was that they had cable tv so I got to watch all of those fun shows on HGTV. I particularly like the one where they go and look at several houses and then make a choice. So, have a look here- which would you choose?

I always think of this Michael Feldman piece at Thanksgiving time.

If there is a lull in the conversation at your place tomorrow, maybe you would want to pull out this Thanksgiving Trivia game.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

StopMotion Retreat

My very cool friend Dan did a session at the retreat making a stop motion video which I think was pretty fun for the people in it AND for the people who watched it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Edit, Add, Appreciate


Edit-  This is a picture of my sweet church family.  You may not see any gaps, but a few of my very favorite family members are not in the picture.  Of course we can never find a date that works for everyone, but any one of us that doesn’t make it is sorely missed.

I always get a major case of melancholy as we pull away from the retreat.  The kids have grown used to me shedding a few tears as we leave the church retreat, as well as when we used to go to Barrren River ever year.  Like clockwork, we go.  But each time I pull away I am keenly aware of the possibility that it might be the last for any one  of us to be there, or for all of us to be there as we are now.  A lot can happen in a year.  Not all bad things either- I was keenly aware this year of how wounded and sad I was this time last year.  I’m also aware that as a family, this is our one “vacation” together each year, and I keep bracing myself for the year when one of my grown    kids won’t want to or not be able to come.   I will say that this seemingly maudlin perspective also serves to make me appreciate every moment of the times we do have there. 

Sooooo I’d like to take my editing tools tonight and photo shop in the friends who weren’t there, and I’d like to have one more year to look forward to.


Add-  I went to a session on mandala making this morning and now I really want to add mandala making  into my routine.

Appreciate-  My sweet DH and kiddos gave me a netbook for my birthday!  Yay!  It’s so cute.    It’s so helpful!  I loved being able to skype my mom at the usual time last night, just in a different location.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

8 Things

Since we are headed out in the morning for the annual church retreat, I am thinking tonight of 8 Things I Look Most Forward to At Retreat.

1.  This is something I used to look forward to- we have historically had a two night retreat that began on Friday evening.  I LOVED getting out there early before others arrive and getting settled in my room.  I loved laying on my bed with the door or the window cracked and listening to my friends arrive.  I loved every detail- the crunching of the gravel, the family jumping out excited to find out their room assignment, getting settled in their rooms.  I sort of visualized gathering them all in.  Due to financial constraints, we have to have a one night retreat, at least for a while.  Getting there early on a Saturday morning doesn’t appeal so much to me!

2.  My very precious friend Terri and her family come in from Mars Hill, NC most years.  Ours is the kind of friendship where she hops out of the car, we hug, and we pick up where we left off.  I always say that with a good friend like Terri,  we can go a year without talking to each other but when she gets out of the car we just pick up in the middle of the sentence we left dangling when we parted.  “ So then………”

3.  Alone time-  my kids scatter like the wind the moment we arrive.  I may catch  sight of them in the dining hall, but no real contact until they return to our room exhausted late at night.

4.  My rituals.  I always take some art supplies and make a little journal of some sorts for retreat and work on that in my room during free times.   I like to have soft music playing in the room at night, even when I go to sleep.

5.  Free time- We try to have a very loose schedule of things, and really do “retreat”.   Especially when the kids were younger, I loved knowing that I had this nice big chunk of time to take a nap confident that they were having a blast and were out of harms way.

6.  The talent show (and talent is not a prerequisite. ) There are generally a few really funny skits done by the adults, and then a showcase of talent by our kiddos –piano solos, jokes,    etc.

7.  Getting to know people better in such a relaxed place.

8.  The fire in the fireplace that burns from the time we arrive until we leave. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The prognosis is poor……

Thankfully, I have found a huge and amazing support group…..


by Sharon Olds

One Secret Thing) --

By the time I was six months old, she knew something
was wrong with me. I got looks on my face
she had not seen on any child
in the family, or the extended family,
or the neighborhood. My mother took me in
to the pediatrician with the kind hands,
a doctor with a name like a suit size for a wheel:
Hub Long. My mom did not tell him
what she thought in truth, that I was Possessed.
It was just these strange looks on my face—
he held me, and conversed with me,
chatting as one does with a baby, and my mother
said, She’s doing it now! Look!
She’s doing it now! and the doctor said,
What your daughter has
is called a sense
of humor. Ohhh, she said, and took me
back to the house where that sense would be tested
and found to be incurable.

"Diagnosis" by Sharon Olds, from One Secret Thing. © Random House, Inc., 2009. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Wednesday Link Love

Something happened this week and I became paralyzed and just could not  put fingers to keys to update my blog or do much of anything but play Bejeweled and watch As The World Turns.  I’m back.  If anyone is even still checking my blog…….

So, first off, how about these Christmas trees from old felted sweaters?!  And I’d love to make an art kit in one of these cans for the service project our family is doing for Thanksgiving.

This looks simple enough…..

I think it would be great fun to do this with a friends, or a group of teens, or a Mother/Daughter get together.

How about this beautiful advent calendar?!

What fun! 

A good read for the upcoming holidays.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cover your right eye…..


Oh, can’t we have some fun with this little custom eye chart maker!

This would POSSIBLY make me consider taking up coffee….

I run with a tough crowd.  There are a group of us who get together as often as we can make it happen and we call ourselves the Mean Moms.  I’m seeing some potential to do something fun for one of our rumbles with some of this.

Ohhhhhhh I love these journals!!

And I’ll leave you with two great reads- The first is a sweet word from our student intern at church…..

and the second is a wonderful essay written by my friend Suzanne about her dad who was every bit the great man that she says he was.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Edit, Add, Appreciate


Edit-  My old friend Faye called on Thursday night and we had such a nice time catching up.  For years, she and I talked every night at 11.  We were both single, both living in town.  After we married, DH was very respectful of that 11:00 standing phone call- he knew I was a better person for that time processing my day with Faye.  I’m not sure where it fell off- she moved to Nashville, I became a mom, she became a wife and then a grandmother, we converted over to email.  And emails are great, and amazing, and so fast and so available when I have a quick minute to jot a note……but nothing can compare with hearing the voice of a friend.   I need to make a point of hearing the sweet voices of friends who have been my touchstones over the years more often. 

Add-  Kashmir, Kashmir….where have you been all my life?  I’ve seen Kashmir a zillion times as it’s right in the middle of my primary routes to many things, but for some reason had never had a meal there.   I ate there last week for the first time, and then again today.   I’m not sure whether or not it’s great, or if it was just the wonderful company I was in each time, but it sure has seemed mighty great to me! Hoping to make more good memories there.

Appreciate-  S. was nominated for homecoming queen at her college, so I made the trek there to take her dress and be present when they announced who had made the court.  First of all, I thought since it was a beautiful day and I wasn’t pushed for time that I would take the scenic route.  It was a bit more scenic than I bargained for, and I got hopelessly lost in Marion County, as the road became more and more narrow and not a soul in sight.  I soooooo appreciated the great timing of a call from C.  Something about having him on the phone made me feel so much less alone, and I was struck with the sweetness of one of my children providing comfort to me. 

What should have been a two hour drive became four, but worth it because S was at the other end of the line.  I loved seeing her among her peers and the ease and poise she exhibits.  She was truly the prettiest girl there, and I’m pretty sure that even people who weren’t her mother thought so.  She was just happy to be there, and although she was not chosen, she was completely cool with that.  Her escort was the cutest boy there, I’m sure of that too.  He was kind and fun and they both made me feel so happy that I floated back to my motel.  (The motel…….another day, another story.)  

K stayed home to help DH sell the pottery that he and his clients made at an arts and crafts fair.  They work very well together, and I don’t work particularly well with either of them, so it was a truly good set-up.  I am sure though that there were many more fun things she could have been doing on her two days out of school. 

So, tonight my heart is full of love and admiration for the amazing big folks that my little ones have grown into.  I’m sort of crazy about those three!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

Not sure why, but you’ve probably noticed that these beds built into the wall really call to me.  Hey…..I had a bed built into the wall as a teen.  Wonder if it’s some nostalgia thing? Anyway, cool farmhouse here.

I go back and forth between knitting and crocheting, and mostly it’s all about something to do with my hands and not about a finished product.  Come to think about it, what have I ever finished?  Well, if I DID finish something, there are a couple of things I would like that to be…….a rainbow scarf looks easy enough.  And then there’s this little cutie……

If you’re not counting Weight Watchers points and if you aren’t afraid of a little     butter, you might want to give these rolls  and this bread a try.

Try serving these cupcakes in the same meal…….

Continuing in the fattening food category, here’s a lovely substitute…..

And since it’s been at least a couple of weeks since I referenced this site, and since it made me laugh out loud……

This gave me a good chuckle too……

So,  I’d love to get together with a group of friends to make some of these.

I think I would like an adult sized  one of these  to go into to read a book .

And finally, how cute is Shelby in her Halloween costume?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Music Monday

Please tell me why Kina is not a full out star? I think she's just great!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Edit, Add, Appreciate

Edit-  Could it be Saturday morning again, please?  The whole day was so delicious, I’d like to have it one more time!  Time with a good friend over Indian food was just what my soul needed.  Book group with the best of the best and a good book to chat about.  Seeing This Is It with friends and family.  Oh, that dancing!  That singing!  Neighborhood kids trick or treating and taking the annual photos on my front porch.  A night with an extra hour!  Now, that’s what I call one great day.

Add-  What would I need to do to add some of those same elements into every Saturday? !  Must do!

Appreciate-  Today we celebrated All Saints Day, taking time to celebrate Saints of THE church, Saints of OUR church, and Saints who have passed on.  I was blessed to be asked to honor one of our church Saints, my friend and our church visionary Mike who has coaxed us away from the familiar on many occasions, and whose passion it is to bring hope into hopeless situations.  Thanks be to God for the Saints who forged our way, and the ones among us.  May we have eyes to recognize them.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

8 Things


Sort of a joke around our house is my “need” to become friends with people I encounter regularly.  When we “stop at the store” the kids will ask if we are really just stopping or if I’m going to have a relationship while I’m in there. 

I met my friend Charlotte several years ago.  She works in the deli at the grocery where I shop every Sunday night of my life barring illness or out of town trips.  Charlotte has quite a following- much because she gives out cookies to the kids, but also because she takes care of her regulars.   Often she sees me in the produce section before I get back to her and by the time I get there, she already has my standing order waiting- a pound of Private Selection mesquite turkey cut on number 3.  

We’ve always chatted- Charlotte is a chatter just like me- and our Sunday night visits have resulted in my knowing some very interesting facts about Charlotte. 

1.  She has over 200 pen pals.  Has had for years and years.  She limits “pals” now, only taking on a new one if they are her “birthday twin” (having the exact same birthday) but she made an exception and took on my youngest daughter for a while, she being way more faithful than my daughter.

2.  Charlotte was reunited with a man who was her teenage sweetheart , and married him several years ago. They each seem to try to outdo the other in doing thoughtful things for each other. 

3.  Charlotte has never driven, and one of the things she loves so much about Tony is that he is such a cheerful and obliging chauffeur. 

4.  Charlotte and Tony like to travel.  Not to just anywhere though- they target certain places.  Like any town named Charlotte or Louisville, and there are way more of those than I ever dreamed.  They’ve been to Hell, Purgatory, and Perdition.  Last week they went to a town in Mississippi to see a cemetery that Charlotte had read about where someone had built a small playhouse on their daughter’s grave.  She has had her hair cut at Floyd’s barber shop in Mayberry, NC.

5.  When they travel, Charlotte gets her picture made in front of the post office of every town they stop in. 

6.  Charlotte buys a Christmas gift for every single one of her pen pals and for every single one of her favorite customers, and usually has them all wrapped long before Thanksgiving.

7.  Her brother died of AIDS years ago, and she has heard that there is a square on the AIDS quilt in his memory, and she dreams of getting to see it.

8.  Charlotte and Tony spent weeks recently making a Monopoly game for our family using family pictures on the board and money.

Charlotte had a birthday recently.  She has asked many times if we could get together for lunch sometime, so I finally got myself in gear, and took her out today for her birthday.  Of course, her chauffeur came along!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

Loving these colors for fall

And isn’t this great fun?!

Oh my, I have a love affair with paper dolls.  Aren’t these wonderful?!

Anybody tried this?  I think I must!

Great idea for an invitation.

Add this to the list of things I would make if I sewed.

I made one of these tonight! Very easy, very fun.

This picture just cracks me up!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Music Monday

I love this video because it shows a lot of footage of Lyle as a baby and as a child and of his parents. Of course, there are also shots of he and his girlfriend.........

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Edit, Add, Appreciate


Edit-  On top of Sunday nights being a historically blue point in my week,  I’ve just come back from dropping S back off at college.   I get so so excited when my kids are coming home for the weekend.  I think of it all week long, planning what to cook to send back with them,  thinking of all the things I want to hear about, and it’s all I can do to not sit on the porch waiting (which I actually did this week!!).   DH is usually the one to bring them home, and I get the sad job of taking them back.  This is my second year of doing this, and I STILL feel sad all the way back home.  Will that ever change?  Next year I won’t even have one of them to ride back with me as K will be gone too.  I’d like to find a cure for those Sunday night blues.

Add-  My sweet sweet sister-in-law and her equally sweet daughter came for a visit from Ohio yesterday.  For the greater part of their childhood, she was the chord that held DH’s  fragile life together.  Now that they are adults and even though we don’t see her nearly enough, she remains his anchor.  I am grateful beyond words for her, and for her whole precious family.  Why, oh why,  do we go so long without seeing them?  We need to add in some Ohio time soon.

Appreciate-  Tuesday marks the end of another Farmer’s Market year.  My admiration for the farmers who bring such goodness to that market just grows and grows.   Theirs is hard and honest labor, and the slightest variations of weather can completely set them back.   I am grateful for the life lessons that they, in their resilience, have taught me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Eight Things

I’ve mostly been absent this week because I’ve been enjoying my evenings around my fire bowl.  The crackle and the smells have brought back some good memories- so today’s 8 things are 8 fires I have made memories around.

1.  Camping as a child- my mother could throw down a mighty fine meal cooked over the fire.

2.  Hayrides at Mr. Stoltz’ farm as a youth.   When I look now at the size of that farm, I realize that he must have just gone in circles to go as long as he did before we got to the campfire, but we never noticed. 

3.  The campfire at Camp Shanituk, my Girl Scout camp.  It was there we could put our hand crafted situpons to good use, and make those foil packets of campfire stew!

4.  Burning the Christmas tree every New Years Eve at Suzanne’s house.

5.  Church retreat at Camp Kavanaugh.   This one is full of traditions.  It follows the talent show.  Earle always goes ahead and gets it ready and has it blazing.  No one ever remembers to look for marshmallow sticks in they daylight so there is a lot of blind searching in the dark for those.  The adults always try to get away with singing Pass It On and KumByYah, just to mortify the kids.

6.  The barrels spewing fire at the haymarket at night when we would go down to pick out a Christmas tree.

7.  Of course,  Camp Loucon.

8.  And now in my own backyard.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

Orange rind votives

A table or a mantle of these for the dark fall nights, or the Thanksgiving table would be nice.

And one or two (or seven or eight) of these just about any time would be nice.

Oh my! Does this wall spark my interest!

Love love love the vintage bathing suits, especially for a beach house!

While it would be a pretty small collection at our house, this would be fun to have/do.

Ackkkkkkkkk- I love this so much! When my girls were 7 and 8 we came out on Valentines Day to a wonderful huge colorful heart on the sidewalk and a message from our very thoughtful friends Kate and Paul, and I bet they never ever forget that day.

I’m not saying my age, but if I were to pick up this idea this year on my November birthday , I’d be celebrating well into the new year……..

I loved having puppet and finger puppet shows as a child. This looks easy (hah) and fun!

Gotta box? Here are some very fun Halloween costume ideas….

I predict that there may be a bit of booing going on around my neighborhood sometime soon……

Oh, I wish I had done this 10 years ago!

Sorry to give you such an overload, but I couldn’t figure out what to cut. One final thing- I’ve been a blog lover for a very long time, and have followed some of the better known blogs (including Julie’s from Julie and Julia). One that I loved was Stpehanie’s because I love to read about other people’s lives especially other moms. I was following this one when this sweet family went through a horrible ordeal and am watching this amazing woman re-craft a life. It’s worth taking a few moments to have a look. Be sure to watch the video linked in the article.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Music Monday


So, tomorrow is the day!  The release date for Lyle’s latest. 

You can hear a sampling of each song here

Monday morning


Half Life - Stephen Levine

We walk through half our life
as if it were a fever dream
barely touching the ground
our eyes half open
our heart half closed.
Not half knowing who we are
we watch the ghost of us drift
from room to room
through friends and lovers
never quite as real as advertised.
Not saying half we mean
or meaning half we say
we dream ourselves
from birth to birth
seeking some true self.
Until the fever breaks
and the heart can not abide
a moment longer
as the rest of us awakens,
summoned from the dream,
not half caring for anything but love.
~ Stephen Levine ~
(Breaking the Drought)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Link Love

In case you want to make some of the felted acorns for me to enjoy, here’s a great little tutorial.

Oh, I always loved scavenger hunts! Here we have an indoor and an outdoor list. Have fun!

Enjoyed this list. What would you add?

Thought this made for a cool house…

I did sun prints as a child and have loved them ever since. This is a fun twist.

Look at the amazing detail included in this tender story.

Isn’t this beautiful?!

And this! Can you tell I have a soft spot for leaf garlands?!

Love these tender paintings by Kat Hannah

Check out this fun story about my friends Suzanne and Joe.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Music Monday

Carla Gover is a Kentucky treasure, and I never tire of her music. The first time I heard Apples in June it made me weep, and it has never failed to do so in the times I've heard it since.

Music Monday #2

The Urban Goatwalker is an open mic coffee house that happens on the second Saturday night of every month at our church. We run a van to pick up folks from all of the local homeless shelters, and we have quite a following of community folks. Homemade deserts and fresh coffee are served by servers to folks seated at candlelit tables and you never really know at any given table who is homeless, who has mental illness, who lives down the street, who drove in from the suburbs. Can't tell from the stage much either. For those few hours each month we are all just one big happy group. Watch this one all the way through and you will spot all three of my kids- 1 performer and 2 kitchen workers/servers.

Edit, Add, Appreciate

Edit- I can’t think of one thing I would change about this weekend. I could wish it had lasted longer, but had it been longer, things might have started to decline a bit. I could wish I had felt better, but had I felt better, I would have cooked all weekend and been busy doing things that kept me from just hanging out with my kids. I wouldn’t change a thing- it was that dear to me.

Add- The added bonus of this weekend was a more extended family gathering with my sister’s family. There was a moment when I was sitting at the table watching my big kids and her big kids and my mom all watching a youtube video and it just made me so so so happy!

Appreciate- I am so enjoying watching my kids as their sibling relationships are “growing” and changing. I sometimes wish they kept in closer touch, but it was clear that they are still very deeply connected. I was especially appreciative of the individual attention C took the time to give each of the girls. They have what I always thought would be cool- a big brother- and he takes his responsibility very seriously!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

8 Things


8 Things you can count on happening when we’re all together

1. K will relate most every topic in some way to a movie she’s seen.

2. We will all discuss our latest itune acquisitions.

3. We will all discuss the latest viral videos we’ve seen.

4. We will have some discussion about American politics- sometimes branching out into the larger world.

5. We will have some discussion about news “oddities” of late, some little semi-Natl Inquirer type thing

6. We will all poke fun at ourselves and at each other.

7. At least one family funny story will be repeated, and we’ll laugh as though it just happened, and we’ve told the same stories for years.

8. No dinner is complete until we’ve talked about something so gross or so personal that someone will finally say, “it wouldn’t be dinner without some discussion of (insert gross or personal info)." Welcome Home!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday Link Love


This is such an amazing idea!  Keep an eye out for their next project if you are a crafter!

Here’s a cool art project.  Wish it were here!

To the embarrassment of my children, I am quite the small talker with strangers.  This is a great article that affirms my gift of gab.

Lovin this candy corn bunting!

Got the jars, got the tissue paper, can’t find the mod podge……

And ANOTHER thing I could do with those tiny jars, and aren’t they just the cutest?!

Try NOT to smile, just try, when you watch this……

I love crowns, and these in particular strike my fancy

These candies have been popping up on several of the sites I frequent and I love them!  I have heard that it takes a bit of practice to get them shiny and smooth, but aren’t they adorable?!!

Oh, I’d love a big bowl of felted acorns!  Or a small bowl.  Or a couple…..

Hard though it may be to believe, I actually have a home management notebook.  I put it together in…….like 1999.  Not a current bit of info in that thing!  But it’s still such a good idea.  At the time I had it, I had young kids and if anything had happened to me, all the info about everything was in one spot.  It’s still there actually.  It’s just that we no longer need a pediatrician or a babysitter or many of the things noted there.  Here are some nice  templates though if you’re interested.

Music Monday really late

I've been captivated by Amy and the Beckoning of Lovely since 080808, and you bet I want my two bucks to give her wings! Check out the original event of 080808 as well as 090909 at

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Edit, Add, Appreciate

sr nite 1

Edit-  Thursday night was Senior Night for the volleyball team.  The tradition is for the senior’s parents to escort their daughter out onto the floor where she is greeted by the principal, her coach, and the rest of the team.   Last year, just as DH and I were about to step out onto the floor with S, I had this keen awareness that we were standing at the top of a sliding board, and that graduation was at the bottom- and out we stepped.  It seemed like only weeks later that we were watching her accept her diploma.  That said, this walk across that floor was all the more bittersweet for us as we stood and seemed to push K and then slid in behind her for the ride.  This year I know enough to really pay attention to these days, these moments.    This morning in church K had been asked to share about someone who has taught her something, and she chose to talk about me.  It was as precious as a moment could be.  She was gracious enough to not mention any of the horrible things I’ve taught her!   I have wanted for years to have these words painted on one of my walls-  “The days are long but the years are short. “ May I be fully present for these days.

Add-  We popped corn over the fire bowl tonight!  That’s going to be added into a regular rotation!  Brought back memories of having popped corn in the fireplace growing up, and over campfires. 

Appreciate-  Today was World Communion Sunday and it was such great joy to hear stories from folks in my church family about special communion services they have been a part of all around the world, and for different members to bring to the table some memento from that time.   I appreciated the visible reminders of hands held around the world. 

Tell the truth…..


So, I found this picture at the thrift store today.   Or it found me.  Anyway, it brought back this huge sweet memory of a picture by the same artist that used to hang in my Aunt Betty’s dining room.  I loved that picture and her home, and just the sight of this picture made me feel loved and happy and back in Aunt Betty’s house.  It followed me home.   So, my question is- is it just too cheesy for my kitchen?  I’m sure it will not evoke a special warm memory for everyone!  I was surprised, but K and DH gave it thumbs up. 


Saturday, October 3, 2009

8 Things Worth Remembering From This Week

1. Underneath the brightest of full moons, K and I had our own Mid Autumn Moon Festival observance by eating moon pies and talking of people we are thankful for. The list was long and star-studded, with many of you on the list!

2. Ah, that fire bowl! I had wanted one for over a year, and I have not been disappointed. After having used it several times this week I’m catching on to how to lay a fire that will be warm and will snap and pop and smell good, and that will go out after an hour or so. The first one continued to burn long after I came inside! I’ve had good chats with DH, lots of good time for thinking and dreaming and praying, and tonight K and I even roasted marshmallows. So worth the wait.

3. DH picked me up from work a couple of days this week in his convertible. There are generally only about 11 days per year that I care a thing about riding with the top down, and they all pretty much happen in the fall. I prefer to ride in it at night and among trees where the occasional leaf falls into my lap.

4. Butternut squash. DH has always been the winter squash cook around here, and I don’t even care how much butter or pure maple syrup he must be using. Divine. And what a nice week of overlaps at the farmer’s market- the same meal with the butternut squash also included a huge pan of roasted cherry tomatoes, orange and red peppers, onions, shallots. The summer garden blending into fall.

5. I hate Wednesdays. It's a day of meetings at work, and hump day of course, and just is not my favorite day of the week. This Wednesday however, before the work day even started, I had the sweetest text from my son just saying he hoped my Wednesday went okay and that he loved me. It totally changed my outlook on the day!

6. K had her senior night this week, a volleyball tradition. They make a big deal over the seniors including calling out their names and having the parents walk them out across the gym floor. Dear friends showed up to cheer her on. She got flowers. Team dinner afterwards. A great night for all of us.

7. My hibiscus plants are putting on one grand finale this week. They were so beautiful as I walked out the door the other day for work that I clipped three huge blooms and took them to work. They showed off all day long and got lots of attention, and when I returned to work the next day they had vanished, leaving only their stems behind.

8. I clearly have a love affair with fall! I am my best self in spring and fall. I pretty much missed last fall, having fallen into a deep hole that I didn’t crawl out of until mid-winter. I think that makes this fall all the more wonderful. I am so aware of God’s big extravagant love and tender care for me.