good manners, grace, grateful

300

This past week we received a thank you note in the mail.  It made us both feel over the moon happy.  The letter was written in pencil,  on three hole punch, regular, note-book paper.  The penmanship was clear and perfectly lettered.  The person who wrote the letter was a pre-teen that until last Saturday morning, we had never before met.  Yes, we appreciate receiving a thank you note.  However, how the boy signed the letter and the p.s. was the section that got my mind to swirling.

It was signed, Your Friend, Steven.

p.s. Hope you write back. 

Yes indeed, we all want a friend or two.  As adults we think you have to “build a relationship”, work at the little things, act the right way.  With children, they just automatically decide you are their friend.  Up and until the time when something hurtful or crummy happens, you are their friend.  No judgement, no questions asked, young or old, baggage or not, tall or smart, money or poor, they have decided you are a friend.

The only thing that a child asks is “Hope you write back”.  That is the way they want this simplistic relationship to work.  We dropped off some items at his home.  He wrote a letter.  Now he would like for us to write him a letter.  He would like us to be in his circle of friendship.  It is straightforward and simple.

We always say, we don’t do something to “get” a thank you.  However, what we would like to tell the people in our lives is simply this:  I did not do something or give you something for a thank you note, however, I would appreciate it if you “write back”.  We want to have some type of communication.  We want to build a bigger circle of friends.  We want the circle to continually get bigger and bigger.  We would love to get a letter ( or an email or a phone call or even a text message in return).  We want to feel of value in your life.

No doubt about it, yes, it is very good manners to write a thank you note.  Our new friend has parents who believe in teaching their children the lesson of gratitude.  I have a very strong feeling that he will live a life of gratitude.  His parents are instilling in him good manners.  He shook hands with us when we met him.  He looked us in the eyes while speaking.  He was polite and followed up with a thank you note.  Sure he might waver slightly while having fun in those college years, my guess is,  being grateful will be apart of who he is as well as who he will be.  He will have a full life filled with friends.  He is learning to be one.

Steven is a gentle reminder in my life to “write back”.  He has reminded me to restore my efforts.  I want to have good people in my life, they make me behave and act better.  I want to recognize them and be apart of the fabric of their lives, somehow it elevates us both.  Not just writing a proper thank you note.  I want to write heartfelt notes and letters full of grace and gratitude towards my friends.  That means friends of many moons as well as brand new friends.  By offering a gift, a loaf of bread, a simple card of sympathy or note of get well wishes, I am not only offering my gifts, but I am offering friendship.  By my actions, I am saying I hope you will follow through and be my friend as well.

“Frienship consists in forgetting what one gives and remembering what one receives.” ~a. dumas

ps.  This is my 300 blog post!  Hope you write back.  🙂

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Beauty pageant runway dreams

The three girls peeked through the “curtain” backstage.  There in front of them was a long runway.  Oh the giddy feeling, the excitement and the shoes……..oh the dress up, high-heeled shoes.   The fashion show was almost ready to begin.  With just a few adjustments here and there…………the beautiful girls were ready.  Here we go!  The first one through the curtain, parted it and clicked her high heels on the cement runway.  She was waving and smiling and holding her head high.  The second girl started the walk.  You know the one?  The hips swishing and the serious look, tossing that long blond hair.  Then the older girl made her entrance.  Tall and wearing her mother’s old blue prom dress.  She had to wear her Sunday shoes because even at this young age her feet did not fit into her mother’s size 5 shoes.

It was fun to play Beauty pageant day after day in the summer with my sisters.  Yep, I was the oldest, so I was also the coordinator. Daily my mother would hang the laundry out at the end of a sidewalk that they had put in during the addition remodel to our childhood home. The sidewalk ended at the clothesline.   At the end of the “runway” there are three little handprints with the ages marked under them in the cement.

The other day, I saw grandgirlie number one, learning to balance a plastic lid on top of her head.  I remember, HAVING to practice and walk with books on our heads up and down that runway.  Practicing our good posture while my mother hung the laundry.  She reminded us over and over, nice young ladies always have good posture.  Sometimes we would wear our Sunday shoes to scuff them up a bit on the cement so they would not be too slippery.

Yesterday, I hung our sheets out in the brilliant sunshine.  Nope, I don’t have a clothesline.  The sheets were draped over the lawn chairs and a  drying rack and a ladder.  Not pretty, in a Martha Stewart, white laundry billowing in the breeze sort of way.  However, it got the job done.    When Mr. Right and I slipped between those ironed sheets and nestled our head on the pillowcases perfectly creased smelling all fresh and crisp…..ah, the fresh scent of sunshine encircled us with pure goodness.    Certainly sweet dreams awaited us.  My dreams were of that beauty pageant runway.  I think Mr. Right was dreaming about the greens on a golf course.

sleep perchance to dream……………………………………………….

cooking, good manners

Tuna Cans and L. C.’s Tuesday’s Treats

While growing up, my maternal grandmother would come and visit this time of year and stay for a couple of days. We always went to a nearby town for her to “call on” her friend, Elsie.  It was a love/ hate visit for my little sisters and me.  I loved going there.  Their house was spotless, very few knickknacks, perfectly hung cream-colored drapes and high quality, cream and brown furniture.  There was a small, wooden kitchen table with four chairs surrounding it.  There was not much on the kitchen counters.  I think I remember a plain white toaster.  I do remember a clock on the wall shaped like a teapot.  They had no children of their own, so with no one to play with,  my two sisters and I would sit politely and listen.   So the “hate” part of the visit was there was nothing to do, but be nice young ladies and sit quietly.

I remember she was short and had a very hearty laugh.  She drove a HUGE brand new (every year) Cadillac.  She could hardly see over the steering wheel.  She was the first woman I met who did not have children and told us to call her Elsie (for years and years, even when I hand wrote down her recipe, I wrote “L.C.”, as I thought that was her name!) .  Just imagine my mother cringing when we said “L.C. may we please have a cookie?”  not saying Mrs…….?    She worked for a living.  Yes, you read that right, she made money and travelled all over the place.  She was a professional lady golfer.    She didn’t decorate much, nor did she do crafts or garden much.  A few plants here and there.  Actually, I have growing today in my flower bed, some pinks that were from a start from her flower beds that my mother and grandmother kept going.  I love thinking about her.  She was articulate, funny, nice, kind and I didn’t know what it was then, but I do know, she had a zest for life-like no other.  She had a passion for her love of golf that spilled over onto anyone that was in her presence.

One year, for some reason we visited her & her husband at Christmas time.  In the center of their picture front window was a Christmas tree.  It was somehow made by stacking/welding 15 empty Tuna cans (both bottom and top lids removed) to form the tree, the entire “tree” spray painted gold and each can had a colored light glowing in the center.  That was it!  That was all of their decorations!  We asked my mother if they were poor and could not buy a tree and a wreath and jars full of candy and cookies?  Nope, they were far from poor.  They chose the tuna can tree as their decor.  Imagine that? ~ sometimes, when I go a bit “overboard” with boughs of evergreen and three trees and holly and lemons and tree skirts and candles and angels ….I think, I could just do a Tuna Can tree and it would be done.  ha

Our visits to L.C.’s were always planned.  Never in a million years would my mother nor grandmother do the “pop in”.  There was always, always a plate of L.C.’s cookies waiting for three little girls.  Always on a white plate, the cookies had a pale golden color to them.  We always got to take two on our little plates and we each were given a cloth napkin.  I can still “see” little crystals of sugar all over our napkins.  When we got home, we all had to sit at the table and write our proper thank you notes.  For some reason, I always, always wrote about the cookies.

L.C.’s Cookies

1 cup of butter, 1.5 cups of sugar, 2 cups flour, 3 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon Vanilla.

Mix well the butter, sugar and eggs.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Roll balls of dough into the size of a golf ball.  Bake at 325* for 12-15 minutes.

Say Grace and Dig In!!

grace

rubies

I do love scoring a great coupon.  I love saving up change and using it for vacation.  I am a happy girl when I make my own laundry soap.  Cooking a huge batch of beans then freezing them in portioned freezer bags make me giggle with the money I save.  We use envelopes and yes we budget into those envelopes monthly and check up on things half way through the month.  The idea of forging ahead, not using “saving the almighty” dollar first and foremost is a bit uncomfortable and foreign.

So sometimes guilt creeps in when I splurge a little or a lot.  While purchasing airline tickets last night, for the first time in ….well ever…it wasn’t about the money.   Sure that is still important and it is a concern.  However, for the first time, we looked at how long I would be on the plane, comfort, safety, seat assignments and on and on.  It was not the cheapest way to go.  It took me a couple of seconds to wrap my brain around it and make the final decision.  done.

Yesterday, as well as today, I am sitting.  Yes, you read that right.  Sitting with my leg elevated and taking care of my health. For me, that is a difficult task.  My mind swirls and ideas pop in and I want to jump up and do this or that.  Thinking how my good health effects my family and our dog and our circle of friends, helps to keep me still.  Making the effort to take care of myself when needed, so that I can be ready to help others or be there for a friend, go back to cooking meals or even deliver a bike to a young boy this coming weekend.  Stupid side note: his bike was stolen from his yard behind a fence.  boo hiss!  I want to be able to be healthy and strong and walk up to the boy and say, there are good people in the world.

“the circle of wellness is supported by (both) movement and stillness”.   The same author (I happily stumbled upon once while in Oregon)  who wrote that quote also made a poster that is hanging in a physical-therapy office that reads:  “Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”  m.a. radmacher

It is rather easy for me to pray for others, help others, bake for others, sew and make gifts for others.  I find it easy to work on other people’s issues or concerns rather than myself.  Taking the time, to slow down and listen to what I need is a complicated trick to me.  Focusing and really making an effort to treat myself well is happening, albeit at a very slow, one day at a time kind of pace, it is happening.

“She knew that she was worth far more than rubies.”    The ruby-red tulips on my table will remind me of that every time I glance in their direction today.

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Tuesday’s Treats

This is a super healthy and yet over the moon flavorful dip.  You can whip it together quick as a wink and have something ready for your Mr. Right when he walks in tonight.  Those red peppers are so good and healthy.  This is the perfect way to grab some of those mighty, mighty vitamins.  Being healthy is pretty darn easy.  Pop these veggies in the oven and hop on the exercise bike.  Four miles will fly by and you will be making a wonderful dip (from Ina Garten and me!)   Say Grace and dip in!

    • 1 medium eggplant
    • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
    • 1 red onion, peeled
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly. Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve with toast or crackers or pita bread.

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If I knew you were coming, I’d a baked a cake……….baked a cake……….

We have a friend who is under thirty and just setting up housekeeping.  She is way smarter than I ever was at her age.  She is asking for tips and tricks and recipes to help create an inviting home in which to honor her new budding family.  Her open mind is thirsty for tricks and ideas and do it yourself projects.  She has the privilege of staying home right now while she searches for the perfect job fit for her.  So needless to say, she is interested in building a nice home life, utilizing her time wisely and she doesn’t want to “clean house” everyday nor does she want to sit and do nothing.  I have written several paragraphs to her in how I manage my time and volunteer time vs. work time, a tip here or there and a recipe or two.

Here is the twist in today’s blog. ….. I am asking for YOUR HELP!  Please send me a comment or a private e-mail whatever you feel more comfortable in doing.  I want to reach out to this young gal.  I want to share not only my (great and wonderful) tips but other people as well.  Okay, one of my favorite tips, I save all my cheese rinds in a freezer zip lock bag in the freezer.  When I am making a pot of soup, I toss one in and use up all that heavenly flavor that has been trapped in those little pockets of cheesy goodness.   Tip two, I put a brand new (every 6 months or so) sponge wet and slightly damp, in my vegetable bins.  Keeps my produce fresher longer.    Tip three is my blog today, outdoor space.  Please bring on your tips or recipes or ideas for a young one just setting up housekeeping.  Let’s admit it, it is a lost art and I bet we have tons of wonderful ideas that will help her on her begin her new journey.

My tip for the day, clean up a little outdoor space for you and your Mr. Right to have a cup of coffee or lemonade in the early morning or evening.  Maybe it will be big enough to have game night with some friends.  It doesn’t have to be very expensive or a great big pool, just a place that you have taken the time to carve out just for some relaxing time in the out doors.

Over the weekend we purchased two new lounge chairs.  Last night, in the dark, around 9:45 pm we sat in them.  They are comfortable, oh my.  It was indeed a bit cold to sit outside in Washington state in the middle of April, but we wanted to try them out.  We had remarkably sunny weather all weekend.  I guess we were some how wishing and thinking that today, would be the same.  Raining pretty hard actually.  We looked and looked last year and didn’t find what we wanted.  We decided we would purchase some this year, now.  Then when we find the ones we want, that will be great and we can purchase those.  For now, these are good and comfortable and will work.   We want to have the outdoor area set up and in working order.

I have been known to be a bit frugal.  Yes, I have repainted our outdoor furniture a couple of times.  Yes, I have recovered our old outdoor cushions, I think four times now.  The foam/filling inside them are shall we say flat and limp?  It was time.  We purchased new.  The new color is vibrant and happy and uplifting.  Actually, I saw on another blog a gal had used the back cushions as bed pillows.  So great.  Anyway, we are working on preparing our outdoor space for friends and family.  I don’t like being caught off guard.  I like having some things prepared and ready to go.   Taking the time to prepare the space and items needed for outdoors makes it more inviting and friendly and welcoming.  One year I had an outdoor carpet under the table, think I will look for another one for this year.  It made it nice on the toes and brought the space together.

Having some recipes already listed in the quiet of early spring, having some nice drink options and glasses or ways to serve them, finding some great spring/ summer napkins now, will make entertaining a bit more manageable and fun and happy.   Scrubbing off outdoor furniture, cleaning up the BBQ, buying some new outdoor candles really will go a long way in the host/hostess department.  When I have things all in order and ready to go, we more freely invite folks over for game night or dessert in the gazebo or even a bbq dinner with all the fixin’s.  Taking the time to prepare and be ready sure takes out all the last-minute frustrations.  So by looking for fabric now to make a couple throw pillows, picking up great colored plastic glasses or little drink umbrellas, finding a soft and plush matching throw on sale now, will go a long way in making the outdoor space warm and welcoming.  Our circle of friends is supposed to grow bigger and bigger and it gets easier and easier to entertain in a relaxing way outdoors.  It is supposed to be fun and happy and not at all stuffy.

You will be so happy that you made the effort to create a little space for a pot or two of flowers and a place to sit and just be.  It will bring goodness to those who gather round and share what the day held.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Heb. 13:2