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.  🙂

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……………………………………………….

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!!

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.

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.

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

skipped lunch

One of the nicest surprises of this life are the unexpected snippets of pure goodness and happiness.

A long time friend and I met for coffee first, then we had plans for lunch.  Here’s what happened, we talked and listened and talked and connected and imagine this, we SKIPPED lunch.

I want to write more about this.  It deserves a whole page of spilling and gushing about how dang fortunate I really am.  However, for now, I needed to get this out there.  She is such a great friend.  She needed to vent or talk or ramble on and on ………………but somehow I felt like she was there to listen to me!  She puts you first.  You feel important when you are in her presence.  She leans across the table and follows what you are saying.  She looks at your jewelry and scarf and the color of your shirt, and she remembers what you are saying.  She follows the conversation and has interesting comments.  She makes you feel like you are the only really important thing in her life at that moment in time.   Needless to say, she is busy with a life and husband and dog and two adult children and studying and working and her brain swirls with artistic ideas constantly and  on and on… Yes, she is well-educated and a women of substance.  Yes, she has a cell phone…….a real fancy schmancy one at that.  I never saw it or heard it once.  NOPE.  She turns her full and undivided attention to the person in front of her.  She has good social graces and makes sure you feel enveloped in that grace.

So for me, I was all set to have a cup of coffee, listen to her issues, meander onto some lunch and politely say goodbye until next time.  What I ended up getting was a moment in time, where I felt loved and important and of value.  Oh my goodness she brings out the very best in me.  She makes me bring my “A” game to the table.  She is honest and forthright and you feel honored to offer her the same.

I bathed in the grace of pure and true friendship.  I want to remember this feeling and always, always behave just like I am treated every single time we connect.

“Charm: the quality in others that makes us more satisfied with ourselves.”

touched a nerve

Today, I am not interested in politics.  For some reason the idea lately just rubs me the wrong way.  Yes, I worked the telephones for John Anderson ( a few years ago, say maybe 30+). For a while, I was curious and very interested in the process.  I have so much I want to say for most of their behavior towards one another.  I do not want to see professional politicians that serve for years and years.  I want folks to take a turn, do their service and go back to their home states.  No long-term perks and benefits.  I have a million and one ideas in that arena.

I have not found a candidate that I want to endorse for the November presidential election.  I guess you are supposed to choose the person who bugs you the least?

Anyway, a reporter touched a nerve with me……………………….”Mrs. Romney hasn’t worked a day in her life”.  Oh you know, the blood started boiling.  I was gripping my hands and biting my tongue.  Now, I am quite sure Mrs. Romney can speak for herself.  She doesn’t need my help.  Yes, I am well aware that they are fortunate to be financially well off.  Here is my beef,

since when is raising FIVE BOYS, (to become valuable and productive citizens), including all their friends and school mates, and then spouses and also now grandchildren and taking care of her husband,  never working a day in her life?????????????????????????????????????? 

I want that reporter at my home.  Please scrub my kitchen floor and while you are on your knees, clean out the bottom drawers of both my refrigerators and by the by, I have invited my boys and their spouses and grandchildren and their friends over for dinner.  Can you whip something up that is tasty and nutritious and set a beautiful table and then clean up after? I have a few things I would like to share with you.  Say a prayer and buckle up baby, it might get bumpy. ….but then again, this isn’t work.  It will be a breeze.

 

wrong side of the bed

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Boy, did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed?  I was grumpy even after I rode my bike four miles and had a delicious cup of coffee.  I was just having a little pity party.  urgh, not the best side of me that is for sure.  I woke up tired and my leg hurts and I just want to be difficult.  I thought maybe typing, I could type it out?  I have split peas that have soaked over night and are ready to be made into a delicious soup. Have I ever mentioned that Mr. Right HATES soup?  He doesn’t mind for a little starter course, he just hates it when served as a meal.  Me?  I could eat soup every single solitary day of my life!   My new hair color and highlights are lovely.  I have sewing projects that await me and are ready to go.  I am in the middle of planning a birthday trip for myself.  I am so looking forward to son number two getting married in the fall and having another daughter in law in our family.  I am secretly (well now, not so much) anticipating working in a trip to visit family in Vermont in the late fall.  I have tons of books to read and dogs that love my dog biscuits.  Two very sweet Grandgirlies pictures are plastered all over my refrigerator (one of two that I have the luxury of having).

I have a great life.  For some strange reason, I am grumpy and feel needy and goofy.  I want to spend a day just lolligagging (LOVE that word and yes it IS a word) in a coffee shop or a gift shop or a great bakery.  I want to wear cute clothes and shoes that make me smile.  I want to hang out with a friend, in a slow-paced fashion.  For no reason other than to goof off.  No serious problem to solve or issue to tackle.  No clock to watch or store to “have” to go to or errand to run.  I guess by the sheer fact that I could take a day to “lolligag” means I live a very good life?  I don’t have to work in the fields all day.  I don’t have to climb a ladder in the orchard all day.  I don’t have to beg for money to feed my kids or grandgirlies. I don’t have to wear ugly combat boots and carry a gun for my job.   I don’t have to be to work at 3 in the morning to start baking bread and goodies for others.  I can bake at 10 in the morning.

Yes, I probably will.  I love to bake and cook.  It makes me happy.  I love the fact that when I do step into the kitchen I try to make two of what ever.  I either make two batches of spaghetti sauce and freeze one to use another night, or I might make two loaves of bread to share with another family.  I try to make two batches of English Muffins so we can have some and have some to share.  I think everyone should do that.  Think how much happiness could be shared and spread if every single one of us shared some part of what we made?  It just became who we are as humans.  We make say, Split Pea soup and we share some with a neighbor we hardly know or a friend we would go to the ends of the earth for.  Think if every single one of us were to almost on a daily basis, share something we made.  If you can’t cook well, you would share a dish cloth you embrodiered.  If you can embrodier, after mowing your lawn, you are still in your grubby clothes you would mow the neighbors’ yard.    The interesing part of this would be YOU would be the recipient of pure goodness and sharing on a daily basis as well.  It certainly is “food” for thought.  So if out of 365 days in a year, you are let’s say happy and uplifting 361 of those days……the other four days some other human would help you through the tough days.  Maybe, just maybe I need to be more mindful to decide to be happy on the great days and the “tough” days?  Then just live, today.

This devotional book is written from the point of view of Jesus.  I could certainly learn a whole bunch from a “kids” book.

Just Today

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

I press on toward the goal to win the prize

for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

I have made this day for you.  Be careful not to complain about anything in it ~ not your English test, not your frizzy hair, not even the weather ~ because I am the Creator of this day.  Instead, decide to be happy today.  Open your eyes, and choose to look for all the blessings I have hidden in this day.

Then live today ~ just today.  Don’t think about mistakes you’ve made in the past.  Don’t worry about what will happen tomorrow.  You will only end up wasting today.  I want you to enjoy abundant Life in My Presence ~ today!

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