Gratitude Attitude

One of the great things about blogging is that your radar is tuned into other writers. Being “snoopy” in the name of learning is sort of okay.   Today I stumbled upon and I am learning and “meeting” http://www.amyinwanderland.com/ .  She seems to be an amazing woman.  I was really privileged to peak into her life.   In the span of a couple minutes this morning, she has sparked a couple ideas for me for the summer.  I am loving her thoughts on “de-crapifying” her life………and I fell head over heels in love with the idea of keeping a public written grateful list.

Yes, Mr. Right and I have been keeping private grateful journals since Lent.  I think simultaneously, getting rid of “crap” in my life and  posting a  grateful list is going to be the perfect Ying and Yang of summer.  Bring on June 1st.  Yep, I am changing the calendar.  So in my corner of the world, Summer (getting rid of “crap” and working on the grateful  list) will begin June 1st and will end August 31st.

What grabbed my attention was a short story she tells about an author Jen Hatmaker.  Now you all know I LOVE, ADORE, am GIDDY over the shoes I have chosen for son number two’s wedding.  Insert picture here, it all its glory (que the angels singing music here):

Here is the story:  Jen and her husband Brandon attended an Easter service in downtown Austin a couple of years ago, and at the end of the service the congregation was asked to leave their shoes and socks at the altar for the homeless people of the city. The Hatmakers were both wearing their brand new cowboy boots they gave each other for Christmas.

And they left those boots right there at the altar. Yes, two Texans actually took the boots off their feet and sacrificed them for the less fortunate. I’m from Texas, and I know what a costly sacrifice this was.

And I honestly don’t think I would’ve done the same. Sure I care about the homeless, but can’t I give them something besides my boots?? So I said as much to Jen Hatmaker last week on Twitter:

Made me think about myself.  Sure I talk a good game.  Yes, we give to the less fortunate.  Yes, we try to clean up and polish the apple so to speak when we walk into church.  Yes, our shoes are polished.  No, we don’t wear the shoes we mow the lawn in.  How hard would it be for me to take off those little gray pretties with the sassy bows?   ….I was lucky to find them, they cost too much, they are the perfect shoe for the occasion, I love them…………………………………………..I can feel the lump in my throat, I can visualize myself leaning down and taking them off, I can “see” the shoes sitting on the red carpet in the church……………………………….I can feel the plush carpet under my feet as I walk back down the aisle to leave………………………………………..

Buckle up, the next three months could be bumpy.   I am going to re-adjust my gratitude attitude.  I am extremely grateful for the abundance that I have.  Now, it’s time to put my words into meaningful action.

Being happy doesn’t always make us grateful, but being grateful will always make us happy.
ps.  the book I have ordered from the library and hope you will join me in reading is by Jen Hatmaker:

Tuesday Treats, stacked with goodness.

While headed home after a relaxing beach vacation, we stopped at a (new to us) place.  Yep, you betcha, we have been to the Rogue brewery in Newport, Oregon.  This time, we planned for and stopped in time for lunch at the Rogue Public House http://www.yelp.com/biz/rogue-ale-public-house-astoria in Astoria, Oregon.

The building itself is pretty darn amazing.  It once was the home of a name brand fish cannery.  Pictures, artifacts and the feeling is still there.  As you walk along the well-worn, squeaky planks of wood, through the aged cracks, your eye catches the water below. You can sort of “feel” the history seeping through to your being.  Then your eyes are brought up to the walls where you find various old photographs.   The women, in their white kerchiefs knotted on their heads, with their hands working full speed ahead, packing can after can of fresh caught fish.  My Grandmother used to work at a fish cannery in Blaine, Washington.  My grandfather had passed away, so to keep her children fed, day after day, back-breaking work, she stood on the lines working to help feed my father and his siblings.  It somehow felt “comfortable” to take a moment to rest and have lunch and remember those folks that worked so hard before machinery took over their painstaking jobs.

In addition to all the freshly brewed beers they are famous for, they offer up a wonderful freshly brewed Root Beer.  Hands down, one of the best I have ever enjoyed. Besides the really friendly wait staff and oodles and oodles of their brand items for sale in the gift shop area, the food is really, really good.  No doubt about it.  Next time you are headed down or up the coastline, make plans to stop in for a bite of lunch.  You will be most grateful that you did.  You will have made a wonderful choice.

I chose a Smoked Salmon salad while Mr. Right chose the Black Bean Couscous salad.   We both made excellent choices.  After our lunch and meandering around the old cannery “grounds”, we headed back on the road.  With paper and pen in hand I tempted the possibility of being car sick by writing down the recipe.  Turns out I did pretty well. I did not get woozy and I captured the flavors of the salad.   Sunday evening we enjoyed Black Bean CousCous salad at home.  We did add a piece of grilled salmon to accompany this wonderful mixture of flavors, however, it was pretty much spot on.

Gather a few ingredients, set the table, “build” your salad, put your napkin in your lap and for the love of a frosty glass of Root beer, Say GRACE and dig in!

Mix together a couple of ears of freshly cooked corn on the cob (cut off the cob, ha), a can of rinsed black beans, finely chop (and wash please) four green onions, a handful of chopped Cilantro,  chop up one tomato, one jalapeno, hit it with some salt and pepper and the juice of one fat lime.  Mix & Set aside.  Peel and thinly and evenly slice one big ol Avocado.  Set aside.  Make up your couscous earlier in the day http://www.cookingquinoa.net/how-to-cook-quinoa-perfectly and use a good vegetable broth to make it with.  Now, grab a plate.  We are going to stack up the goodness.  Start with a big luscious layer of couscous.  Next cover that with a layer of sliced avocado.  Next spoon on generously the “salad” mixture part.

Those flavors will always remind me of such a relaxing and colorful vacation of goodness we were lucky enough to enjoy.

We will remember.

Every year I accompany Mr. Right while he goes to a National Cemetery to remember.  He made a promise.  He is going to keep it.  He will always remember.  Our family will keep his promise.

Over the years, we have taken our boys to cemeteries on US Military Posts, Arlington National Cemetery, Normandy, France, sadly the list goes on and on.   Today, we traveled to Maple Valley, Washington to visit, Tahoma National Cemetery.

Today, it was the two of us.  He was spit shined and polished.  He hair was freshly cut and his medals smartly polished and perfectly in line.  His uniform pressed and “magically” somehow the material makes those US Army soldiers stand a little taller, their posture a bit more straight.

I wore a plaid skirt, black textured jacket and sandals.  I have gotten used to wearing sandals.  As I follow along, behind my husband, the grass is usually dew covered and I can much easier wipe damp feet then repair ruined high heels.  I wore a sparkly pin.  The American Flag.  I love the way the sunshine dances along the red, white and blue crystals.

This was the first time ever, that two different people asked if they could take my husband’s picture.  It felt strange.  I had a lump in my throat.  One was a professional photographer, he offered me his card.  I shook his hand and respectfully declined his card.  What an odd thing to be asked?  I am still thinking it over.

As we continued on to pay our sincere respect to a recently departed, father of a friend, we walked along the Columbiam rows, the closeness of the next row made the scent of the thousands of flowers, sweet and over whelming.  The combination of lilies, roses and carnations blended together, created an aroma that made my head swoon with the scent and brought to mind the memory of sitting in the front row of my own father’s funeral.  Amazing, how sweet smells can transport us back to a particular place and time.

My husband was there because it is the right thing to do.  He was keeping his end of the agreement.  The moment he entered the United States Army, the very moment he raised his hand…..in that split second, he pledged among other things, to have his buddy’s back.  He promised that he would always remember.  He would lift their names up.

He made a promise.  He has led our family in action and deed in keeping and honoring that promise.  Our family will stop for a moment in time, at least once a year.  We will calm our souls, raise our prayers in Grace and Gratefulness.

We will remember.  Always.

“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”                                                                                                                  – Benjamin Disraeli

I come to the sea to breathe.

“If you are lucky enough to be at the beach, you are lucky enough.”

After a few hectic weeks, it is time for a little break.  We are headed to the ocean to breathe for a few days.  Just be.  Time to gather our thoughts, slow down, cling to what is important and let all the other “stuff” fall gently away.  We may have over done our lives in the last few weeks.  Quiet, calm, peace, time……….taking time to breathe is what we are in need of.

Mr. Right, the dog, and I are headed to the beach today.  We are going to walk on the beach, swim in the pool, lounge in the hot tub, play Cribbage on the deck of our hotel room, we are going to wear fleece sweatshirts that are stretched out and comfy, we are going to wear beach shoes and not give a hoot if we have beach hair (you know, not picture pretty, wild and crazy and tangled and jumbled).  Our plans include dinner at a small pub one night, breakfast at a favorite tucked away gem of a place, lunch at a seafood market.

Almost always, I plan ahead and bake and cook and prepare and pack all our food.  This time, we are taking a small cooler and gathering on our way.

We crave time to untangle our thoughts and smooth out the rough edges.  We need to pamper each other and spend the days filling our hearts and souls with the roar of the ocean.

When the fireplace is glowing and we are sitting in front of it tonight, playing Scrabble or Cribbage and wearing glow bracelets for fun, bare feet because we can, phones and computers turned off,  we will remember to be grateful.  Simply grateful for the time away.  We will be gracing ourselves with time to breathe.

“It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire.” robert louis stevenson

Grace in the form of a thank you

Mr. Right and I have been following/using/reading and learning from a book called The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor .  It is a five-star book, so much so that I almost want to develop a new “star” scale to spill over to the 6 star category!  A couple of lessons that we are learning from and working on is gratitude.  How being grateful makes our lives better and happier and more full.  Daily we write down things we are grateful for.  Daily we try to write a thank you note to a friend or a company or co-worker.  Another book that makes this point crystal clear is  A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life by John Kralik .  By taking a moment each day to share our thanks, instantly we feel happier and more full as a person.
Yesterday I wrote a thank you note.  I don’t usually use names in my blog however, in this case, thought I would include them to make the little note make sense.  The thing about writing a thank you note, you do feel good.  However, sometimes, the person you wrote it to, writes you back and GRACES you with yet, even more goodness.  It is a pretty neat-oh system.  Everyone feels bathed in grace, just by a few simple words.   I highly recommend treating yourself with this form of goodness.  It makes you feel lovely.
Hi there Miss Rhonda, today I was lucky enough to watch over our two grandgirlies.  Sweet Adelaide went down for her nap.  Then Miss Zoe was on the bed, listening to a story about a magical quilter……I covered her with a cozy, lovely blanket.  She too fell asleep.  You my dear, crocheted that blanket 30 years ago for Dustin.  Then when Gabe was a little babe, he too used the blanket.  Today, the blanket you made so well and with such fine handiwork was used to comfort our grandgirlie, Sweet Zoe Carina Wilson.  Thank you for being apart of our children’s lives for 30 years.  Please know your wonderful workmanship has brought much joy and comfort to our lives.  Thank you, simply thank you. Daleen
I received this note in reply:  WOW! Thank you sooooo much for sharing! I had no idea…..what a blessing to know! btw, I love seeing the pics of your sweet grand babies, they are so beautiful!

hostess gifts

I try to come up with lovely little thoughtful gifts to take when I am invited to someone’s home.  Either for a formal dinner, a Sweet and Greet or a Saturday casual “let me peek into your greenhouse” sort of occasion.  Yes, it is proper and good manners (yes our mothers taught us this lesson) to bring a hostess gift when someone has invited you to their home.  It is your tangible way of showing your gratitude and grace.  It is your way of gracing the person with thanks , before the event even takes place.  You are telling the host and hostess, I know how much work has gone into this occasion, thank you for including me on your guest list.   (yes, it is an old-fashioned custom, yes, it is polite, yes we should be teaching our young adult children this simple yet powerful expression of GRACE, yes, you are to do it every single time, yes it is a reflection of who you are, and yes, you might just be invited back because of little niceties and your good manners.)

One of the fun parts of hosting a little “do” is that with all the planning, and yard work (yes, people look out there), cleaning, baking, cooking, napkin, cups and ingredient buying……..once that door bell rings and people start coming in……..you sort of forget that people will offer YOU hostess gifts.  So when you get a sweetly wrapped package or a bouquet of posies, your heart does a little dance.  A happy dance of pure fun and goodness.

Today I am writing thank you notes for our thoughtful and kind host/hostess gifts.  We received: a jaunty yellow mum plant, a purple stained glass star fish, a charming little book, fresh-baked cookies tied up in little bags with stars on them, seven hand embroidered dish towels, hard cider (a favorite of ours), sweet enclosure cards and a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans from the town the guests are from.

Let’s take a detour from the “manners” post to talk coffee?  Joe, Mud, Go Juice………..whatever you call it, we love our coffee here in the Pacific Northwest.  “Road Trip, Blue Spirits” coffee freshly roasted from Lake Chelan, Washington is mighty, mighty good.  We received the “dark roast”.  Now, not as dark and strong as you would think.  Not the kind of Joe you would drink before your boots hit the ground running at oh dark thirty…………….this blend is the ideal coffee for after a lovely evening meal.

Now back to the manners part of our show……………………………..yes, you will most likely be invited back even if you don’t bring a sweet and charming hostess gift.  It is the proper thing to do.  However, when we all look at it as a part of grace and gratitude, it somehow changes the game just a bit.  It is a reflection of who you are.  By bringing a small token of thanks, you are revealing your kind heart and soul.  You are sharing your good graces with others.  As each guests leaves our home, from every single event or simple dinner we host, we send them on their way with a little favor.  We thank them for coming.  We are sending them out into the sometimes harsh and unkind world with a little token of our gratitude.  We are bathing them in grace, the very same way they did to us, by honoring us with their presence.  Being kind and gentle is sometimes just what we all need.

PB treats for Tuesday

 A huge chocolate fan girl, I am not.  I know, weird, huh?  However, peanut butter in all it’s gooey, roasted nuttiness (yes, a word), homemade by Mr. Right……makes me swoon.  When I stumbled upon this recipe, I sort of got all jumpy and excited.  I prepared them for a little “do” we had on Sunday.  A “Sweet and Greet” to introduce our latest grandgirlie to our friends and to enjoy some sweets.  So while there were plenty of sweets to go around, I might have had 4 OKAY maybe 5 of these babies!  They are small so you don’t feel like you are indulging to the point of no return, however, the flavor and the texture are over the moon delightful.  I want to start a company that makes these.  I know just how the marketing meeting is going to go……………….”let’s add some chocolate, let’s dip it in colored fake chocolate, let’s add raisins”………………  um NO.  I like it plain just the way it is in all it’s peanut buttery goodness.

Say GRACE and grab a napkin………..these are little orbs of pure goodness.   They are officially called “Fluffernutter Bites” (I like Glorious Peanut Butter Bites) myself.

1/2 cup fresh ground peanut butter

1/2 raw honey

1 cup dry milk

36 mini marshmallows

1 cup chopped peanuts

combine, peanut butter, honey, dry milk.  Stir until well combined and resembles cookie dough.  Take 1/2 Tablespoon

of dough and wrap around each mini marshmallow.  Creating a ball.  Roll each ball in finely chopped peanuts.

Bagna Cauda, sumptuous in all it’s golden glory

Once I landed in California, I was whisked away to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Graumann’s Chinese Theater, Kodak Theater, architecture, shops, hand prints & foot prints and more.  My tummy was grumbling……………..it was talking to me.  Son #2 asked if I wanted to go to one more tourist place or go get dinner.  We both said “DINNER” at the same time.

Some mothers and sons may bond over a certain book or poignant movie and particularly good church service or any number of volunteer things or sporting events……………….this mother and this son……….have the bond of GARLIC.  I for one celebrate and am very grateful.

I have heard of this restaurant.  One of his favorites in California.  They have two locals.  Beverly Hills and San Francisco.  It is called the Stinking Rose. http://www.thestinkingrose.com/about.htm Yep, you guessed correctly, garlic, garlic and yet more garlic.  Actually, between the two restaurants they go through 3,000+ pounds of garlic a month.   Oh my.  Between my youngest and I we easily ate 2 pounds or more in one sitting.  We had two appetizers, and we shared a heaven-sent  Crab and Shrimp garlic platter.  We even made room for garlic ice cream to share.  It was all so over the top yummy good.  You want to know just how good?  The wait staff (which by the way is super attentive and helpful and so friendly) brings you two or three full wash cloth sized towelettes to clean up.  You are dripping and licking and more dripping and smiling and laughing and over indulging and the towelettes come in mighty handy if I do say so myself, and indeed I do.

One of the appetizers was raw garlic chopped finely with parsley and mixed with olive oil.  Yep, we ate it.  We wondered aloud why even bother with the little pieces of bread we should have just used spoons.  The main appetizer was golden in all it’s aroma and flavorful glory.  I loved it.  He loved it.  We ate and ate and dabbled during dinner and ate some more and we both were sad-faced when they cleared the table and there was a piece or two left.  😦

I needed that recipe.  I must find it.  I was on a mission.  A mission really for my son (of course).  I should try it out before I share the recipe with him. 

Last night was the night……………………  it was so good…………………tonight we are having it again…………….making another batch.  Day two……………..I need this stuff.  It is just divine.  Pure goodness in the most lovely, creamy, spreadable, salty, mouth-watering, suptuous, golden goodness.

Now, if we all eat it together……………….no one will even notice how much we smell like the stinking rose!  Say Grace, dip in, dig in, spread on, lick off, spoon in and for Pete sake enjoy every single sumptuous mouth full.

From The Stinking  Rose restaurant in San Francisco. This is an Italian appetizer dish and the name  translates as ‘hot bath’.

1 1/2  to 2 cups peeled garlic cloves

  • 1 1/2 cups lextra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1 (2  ounce) can anchovies

Place all ingredients in an oven casserole, cover and bake at  275F for 1 1/2 hours.

Serve with bread and/or vegetables or just eat it with a spoon.

tickled by of all things, snakes

In Greek Mythology,  Medusa (Greek  Μέδουσα (Médousa), “guardian, protectress” was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster.  We all know that her hair was made up of snakes and she was beheaded.  Many, many great artist of years gone by have painted and sculpted and created what they thought to be a depiction of her likeness.  Her head was sculpted and painted on many shields to ward off enemies.

Fast forward hundreds of years……………………………………  hello, 1980’s and 1990’s!  Our boys were home schooled as well as attended public school.  They were introduced to, learned and totally fascinated by Greek mythology reading story after story.    As many of you know, I have thick, wild, mind of its’ own, curly, sometimes uncontrollable, wouldn’t trade it for the world, hair.  Little boys turn into teenagers with silly senses of humor.  Of course the name MedusaMom was invented to describe, me.  Yep, when getting out of bed in the morning, my hair is a bit “loud” and I may not have the sweetest personality early in the day.  Quite possibly similar traits to that of Medusa.

Fast forward to May 6, 2012.  MedusaMom turned 50.  Young son number two, turned into a Graphic Designer, an artist.  Time to open Birthday gifts.  Wait for it…………………wait………………wait…………………..the shocking pink gift bag with swirls of flowers and design was filled to overflowing with bright pink and pale pink tissue.  Nestled down in amongst all that fluff and goodness was a wrapped box (among other gifts).  I tore at the paper.  I was laughing and happy and giddy and so proud of the art work and just down right tickled.  I have a brand new, custom designed MedusaMom bike helmet!!!!!!!!!!!!!  In all its GLORIOUS swirls of pink (happy and not frightening) snakes, slither over lime green and yellow background.  My name was artfully added  & then the whole kit and caboodle was covered in girly girl glitter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Glitter and artwork and clear coats and designs that took more than twenty hours to create and complete. 

This weekend, I get to ride my bike for the first time since way before my knee replacement.  I am so excited and thrilled and my stomach has butterflies fluttering around in happy circles. Mr. Right has to go with me for a few weeks.  I am still working on and regaining my balance.  (Hopefully, I won’t need to try out the helmet to test its sturdiness!)

On my return flight home, I carried my new helmet.  Oh, I could have sold 50 of them on the spot.  However, no one but me would have the custom design with my nick name in mind.  It’s all mine.  In all its glory and glitter and pinkness (yes, that is a word)………..just looking at it, makes me happy and excited to ride my bike again.

I love that my son and future daughter in law gave such a thoughtful, kind and inspiring gift.  I love that my son designed it just for me.

Oh my, have I mentioned today how lucky I am? Just how grateful I am?  I am one lucky, swirly, curly haired MedusaMom.  ps.  I feel sorry for Moms that have helmets that are plain and boring and that don’t have a silly nick name.  Or a matching bike bell.

no lazy days

Yesterday while shopping at Trader Joe’s,  I found a new “favorite”. Sort of like a treasure hunt, I FOUND something delightful.  Yes, even after trying it only once it can become a new “favorite”.  Simple and to the point.

 Take apple cut up.  Dip into the HEAVENLY, salty sweet caramel.  Say GRACE and dig in.  The end!  ps. lick your fingers.  🙂    Did you just fall in love with that recipe?  I did.  I love the idea of “shampoo, rinse, repeat”………………cut apple, dip in caramel, pop in mouth, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Yesterday, was a fun “lunch out with a girlfriend” kind of day.  My mind is still a bit fuzzy from my whirlwind mini vacation to California and my leg is swollen something awful, however, to take the day and goof off and eat lunch with a girlfriend sort of makes you forget all that silly stuff.

I believe the more you do the more you can get done.  I don’t do “lazy days”.  So even taking the day to relax and visit with a friend, the day sort of fills up with baking fresh cookies for her arrival, a quick vacuum throughout the homestead, brush the dog before she gets here, go to lunch, trip through 5 or 6 gift shops, stop for coffee, go to another store, hug goodbye, then drive to the grocery store with Mr. Right and pick up “a few” things.  Never in my life have I picked up just “a few things”.  ha, ha.  Come home, make dinner, clean up, …….

While meandering through one gift shop with such diverse offerings, I stumbled upon some sweet yellow (golden in my mind) thank you notes.  I treated myself to them.  So cheerful and happy and folded so lovely.  They will be perfect for my birthday thank you notes.    As the older sales gal was picking at the price tag and trying to scrap it off, she asked if these notes were a gift.  I said nope.  They are for me to say thank you for all my birthday gifts!  She paused and said, I guess we were all taught to send thank you notes, we just don’t do it anymore.  I said, I do.  She just smiled at me like, sure you are going to buy these and then go home and fill them out and find a stamp and mail them?  Yes, I am .  Today, I am writing my thank you notes.   I am going to sit in the sunshine, with a favorite pen in hand and write out each note.  Yep, I already have stamps, I am excited to use my new notes and I want to take my time and write heartfelt thanks for all the thoughtful and delightful items people gave me.   Why on earth would fancy, schmancy, over priced gift shops carry a variety of note cards if people didn’t purchase & use them?

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal.  It’s a way to live.

Today, I am grateful for my friends and family remembering and marking my 50th birthday.  I in turn will spend part of my day, graciously telling those people how much I appreciate their kindness.  I like myself when I live a life of grace.