good behavior, great marriage, haPPY, happy marriage

love can travel

Several years ago, one morning in church, our pastor asked us to pray for a dearsenior citizen marriage bed lady we all knew.  Her husband had been scheduled for an overnight stay at the hospital for a simple procedure.  Our pastor made a point of asking for prayers for her.  You see, she and her husband had been married over 52 years and she had never once slept a night without him.

Being a well seasoned Army wife, this concept was new to me.  Army guys are not known for being home seven days a week, 30 days a month…you get it.  I most certainly didn’t enjoy it, you somehow figure it out and muddle through it.

By far a big lesson for me in the art of empathy.  I wanted to show I cared and had sincere understanding for this gal.  Who, by the way, had so many visitors and calls that very one day and evening, she laughingly told us later she was exhausted and fell into bed and slept very well.

Of course, we lifted our prayers,  chatted with her and all was well.

However, I really wanted to learn and understand empathy.  Not feel sorry for her.  I wanted to figure out how I could lend an ear or a gentle pat on the shoulder.  Maybe a simple phone call would help?

Last night a friend sent me a note.  Being married around the 16-year mark, her husband was going out-of-town for business, for the first time, EVER.  With two teenagers and several planned activities over the course of the upcoming weekend, I am sure she will do fairly well.  We promised to send messages, call & check on her and the kiddos.  We invited them to our home and for dinner.

I got the call!  This time I was ready.  I had empathy to share. With two teenagers and several planned activities over the course of the upcoming weekend, I am sure she will do fairly well.  We promised to send messages, call & check on her and the kiddos.  We invited them to our home and for dinner.

Mr. Right retired from the Army 17 years ago.  His current job takes him away on business now and then.  It is yucky and I don’t like it one bit.    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not dreadful. I don’t sit and pine for him.  Do people pine?  Do people even use that word anymore?    I do stay busy and over plan.  I  plan trips to craft, gardening, gift, quilt shops and spend oodles of time looking at everything.  I eat food that I really like.  I just miss him something awful.  I always feel at loose ends when he is gone.  I know how nice it is when girlfriends and family check in on you.  I always appreciate those folks in my life that call me and make sure I am distracted for a bit.

So to my friend who will experience something different, awkward, feels odd sleeping alone…….

We are all in your corner.  We are all sending oodles of good karma your way. 

May the weekend slip by uneventful and by Monday morning you will be exhausted from all the worry, fretting and the restless couple of nights you had.  Not to mention you two crazy kids texting, phoning & talking to each other way more than had he been in the same town!

In a rather lovely way, I’m secretly glad it is bothering you.  I am happy for you that your marriage is so strong and steady that having the love of your life not beside you is going to be tricky and feel funny.   The love affair you are having with that man of yours is beautiful to behold.  You two have built something so strong, it will most certainly withstand a two-day business trip.  distance

In this together, friend.

It is going to be okay.

 

 

 

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good behavior, good manners, grace, politeness

two words

After 5 decades of rules, from time to time, you may find me using paper napkins, or wearing jeans to a museum with Mr. Right, or (gasp) serving coffee in a mug.  We all know that a proper young lady or gentleman drinks out of a cup with a saucer.  goodness sakes.

good mannersYou may have figured out by now, that I was raised with a set of strict guidelines.  Call them manners or proper etiquette, they were our rules to live by.  Period.  No questions asked.  Just follow the rules.

It did not matter one bit, if you got up on the wrong side of the bed.  Your good manners should be polished and apparent.

As wild and crazy as I can be sometimes,  those rules are engraved in my brain. I can’t help but do things a certain way.

The one slight problem with having a set of rules that you live by, is when othersgood manners saying don’t understand your passion.  (read that as: never under-estimate how much work my mother went to, to make absolutely sure her three girls would become ladies)

Here is a pet peeve of mine:

While shopping, or dining at a restaurant or interacting with the public in any shape or form  …….. some folks have slid into a bad habit.    It is not wrong, it just rubs ME the wrong way.

I say, “Thank you“.

They say, “no problem“.

URGH, me wanting to pull my hair out.  Me screaming on the inside. Me wanting to jump up and down and teach them a better choice.  A better way to answer my two words.  

If I had used those words, my mother would correct me and say……the proper answer should be “You are welcome“.

I discovered a more up to date, friendly, positive, lovely answer.  I use it on all my business correspondence/invoices.

It was my pleasure to bake for you today. 

Last night, we chose to indulge in a new restaurant in town, employing very young servers and wait staff.  The person taking our order, Alexandra, still had her braces on and was learning the fine art of “small talk”.  She did a very good job.

The owner has taught each of his employees how to answer when a customer says “thank you”.

Two words:

My Pleasure. 

I overheard, “My pleasure, sir”.  “Oh, it was my pleasure”.  “Certainly, it was my pleasure”.

In place of a causal & almost disrespectful sounding, off the cuff  “no problem”, the owner of the restaurant has quickly taught several young employees a new to them, twist. In the blink of an eye, the young servers went from casual teenagers to polished employees.

Same short two-word answer. Efficient and polite.

However, the customer receiving it, feels delighted that they chose to spend their money in this establishment.  The person feels of value.

Good Manners go a long way in making others feel at their best.

“Good Manners are just a way of showing other people that we have respect for them.” B. Kelly

Was the food good at the new restaurant?  Indeed.  Was the establishment clean and tidy?  5 star.  Were the employees professional and polished?  Yes.

Will we visit again?

It will be our pleasure.

good behavior, good manners, grace, great marriage secrets, haPPY

choices

The Thank You note is in the mail this morning.

For the second time in 34 years, Mr. Right and I went out to dinner on Valentine’s Day.

We went out one time, while dating.  To be honest, I don’t really remember the dinner out.  I am guessing I had googly eyes for my date and was worried I would spill.   I was always worried I would spill.  Heck, I still worry if I might spill.  Now that I think about it, I don’t think anyone ever broke up with someone because they spilled?

Dining out on Saturday was a treat.

 

We dressed for the occasion.  Mr. Right washed & detailed the car.  It was a real date.  We talked about it and anticipated it all day long.

There was a special holiday menu.  The restaurant had been closed for a couple of hours that day to prepare and decorate. They brought in festive table cloths, made a special printed menu, strung hearts above and rose petals were tossed about.  Silver trays of chocolate dipped strawberries were there to greet you and were brought to each table.

It was a meal that was over the top scrumptious.  lady and the trampWhile we could have chosen spaghetti served with one meatball on top and two loose ends of pasta draped over either side of the plate to share……….. I chose lasagna.  I have not had it for a long, long time.  Let me just say, that the word lasagna was elevated to a new level.  Hand made paper-thin pasta with caramelized onions and mushrooms and spinach all tucked in and somehow dressed with a magical sauce that danced with my taste buds and made beautiful savory music.

The service was top of the line.  They were attentive and took their time with each patron.  Somehow on one of the busiest days in the life of a the restaurateur,  we were made to feel as though were of utmost importance to them.  One of the owners came to our table and asked if all was well.  He was kind and calm, didn’t appear to be rushed at all.   Somehow, in all the things swirling in his head….. food, turning over tables, reservations, extra wait staff, and more that we will never know……….he seemed genuinely pleased we chose his establishment to celebrate the day.

When out to a fine meal, I try my hardest to stay focused.  We focus on each other.  The meal.  The atmosphere.   Sure, a quick glance around the room, and we saw a family with three little girls all dressed up, using their best manners and their tights had hearts fluttering all over them.  Of course extra tables for two were the main focus, two tables of four right near us as well.  Not a romantic meal for the four, more of a fun celebration.  One table for two, with a pretty young girl looking anxious.

After 20 minutes her date did indeed arrive.  Although most likely my imagination, a collective sigh when her date showed up.  All is well.   They were over my right shoulder, so I did not follow them.  Until Mr. Right said to me, in a whisper, she deserves better.  I took a quick look.  She was leaning forward, smiling, all dressed up and gazing into his face.  He was looking at and texting on his cell phone.  She was smiling.  He was busy.

Once a very crass radio talk show host, on several occasions, said something like, if your dinner date takes out their phone, they are looking for something better.  Do yourself a favor and leave.

I took a moment out of my fine meal and ESP’ed to that pretty young woman, YOU ARE WORTH MORE.  Yes, it is Valentine’s Day.  YOU CAN DO BETTER. You alone are better.   Stand up, politely lay your napkin down, thank the owner for the meal and walk out with your head up.   This would make a great blog post if she did what I was secretly urging her to do…….……….She didn’t hear me.  She decided that being with someone, even though that person was not WITH HER, was more important than her self-worth.   It is all about our choices.

I cannot show you a picture of our food or the perfect little hearts cut out of beets that were tucked onto our salad plates.  I cannot show you the heart-shaped ravioli that was placed perfectly along side Mr. Right’s main course choice.

Why?

Because our cell phones were left, locked in the glove compartment of our car.  We chose to be with each other.  There was nothing more important to either of us.

It is a family owned business.  A business.  Simply put, they offer a service and product and we pay.  Mr. Right paid the bill and left a very generous tip.  We said our thank you’s to the waitress and the owner.  We asked that they thank the chef for us.   We each held up and completed the business portion of the evening.

thank youThen, GASP, we wrote a thank you note and it was mailed this morning. 

Yes, believe it or not, you can actually write a thank you note for a fine service/product you received.  Sending a proper thank you note is not part of the business deal.

We chose to make it part of our fine meal.

The perfect way to bathe ourselves and others in Grace.

A lovely way to end a celebration.

 

 

 

book review, books, good behavior, good manners, grace, grateful, great marriage secrets, haPPY

rules

Within a year of being a newly wed, we moved from one side of the country to the other.   From Washington state to North Carolina.  To say it was a drastic change would be the understatement of the year.

New life, new baby, new husband, new roads to learn, new stores to learn……….and no friends, no mom, no mother in law, no funny Aunt’s living near by.  Back in the dark ages, no computers, no cell phones, basically no contact.  To make a phone call was extremely expensive and you had to wait until the weekend or after certain times.

We were alone.  period.  Two young kids and a baby.  Culture shock is the perfect way to describe it.

Rules of being newly married, um?  I was clueless.  Honest.  In no way am I putting myself down.  I just didn’t have a clue.  I was the person that could barely remember “my turn” to clean the bathroom once a week while in college.  I kind of don’t even remember if we had a vacuum?

Back in the day, we stumbled upon a little book, not too expensive, and was a whole lot easier to read and remember than a 5 pound Emily Post Etiquette book I had.

I needed help.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I left home with oodles of knowledge.  How to set a table for a formal tea.  How to send a proper thank you note, sympathy note (what color ink to use), what to say in a get well card and house-warming card.  How to send a proper invitation to a dinner party.  How to set the table with good china and crystal.  What to wear to a funeral.  When to wear gloves or not to wear gloves to any occasion.  The proper title and how to address any envelope.  I know the proper direction to pass food at a dining room table.   The proper shoes to wear with the proper purse.   If you had an etiquette or good manners question, I had the proper answer.

By all means, good manners have gotten me through many a situations.  I lived in a very structured and proper world.

Real life, um, not so much.  I needed, I craved a list of rules.  What to do, how to do it.  I just wanted a list that would help me live my life.   Yes, I had/have several etiquette books, we have several Bibles, Mr. Right had volumes of books on proper behavior for an Army guy.  Heck, we even had a copy of Dr. Spock’s book on how to raise a child.

Big thick books that really are a bit overwhelming at times.

I/we needed help.  Fast, quick, black & white rules to live by.

Oh yes, I came armed with oodles of etiquette and proper behavior knowledge.   I just didn’t know about “life rules”.

20150129_084948The book that helped us over the rough spots was written by a Dad .

H. Jackson Brown Jr.  is the author and his son Adam was leaving home for his freshman year in college.   He wrote the book for his son.  He wanted to send him off into the world with a little help.

It is really a collection of advise, rules, observations and reminders on how to live a happy and rewarding life.  They totaled 511.

Our book’s spine is broken.  That is how much we used it.

Learn CPR.

Keep a tight rein on your temper.

Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.

Over tip breakfast waitresses.

Give thanks before every meal.

Take a brisk 30 minutes walk each day.

Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.

Plant flowers every spring.

NEVER criticize the person who signs your paycheck.  If you are unhappy with your job, resign.

Every day look for some small way to improve your marriage.

Lie on your back and look at the stars.

Give yourself a year and read the Bible cover to cover.

Learn your representatives in Washington DC.

Let your children overhear you saying complementary things about them to other adults.

Learn 3 clean jokes.

Don’t postpone joy.

Plant a tree on your birthday.

Be forgiving of yourself and others.

The list goes on and on.

You would be amazed at how many of the 511 things we do every single day of our lives.  They were/are our rules.  We read them and we memorized them and we put them into practice.

Give little surprise  WRAPPED gifts to your spouse for no apparent reason.  Not a birthday, or anniversary, just because.  Make sure you take the time to wrap them.

20150128_135710Last night when Mr. Right pulled out his chair to sit down to dinner, there was a wrapped surprise gift just for him.

 

 

gift giving, good behavior, good manners, sewing

Oh, Happy Day!

Look around you.  Yes, right this moment.  Do you see any living human being in your general area?  If you are at work (are you really suppose to be reading someone’s blog while the boss is paying you?)  do you see a co-worker?  If you are at home, do you see family?  Ask yourself, what can I do to spread a little HAPPY?

I keep repeating myself over and over……….didn’t their mom ever teach them?  Okay, so if your mom was teaching you and you were tuning her out, I am happy to share a couple of words of wisdom.

You are an amazing person, we all are.  We just need to polish the apple, so to speak.  We need to think of others a bit more often.

One of the reasons you were put on this earth was to lift spirits.  Yes, you read that correctly.  No, you are not in charge of others happiness.  You are in charge of your own.  One of the ways to make yourself a bit more happy is to share that HAPPY with others.

“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself. ” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Back in 1979, I gave an outdoor speech to about 200 people.  I used Ralph’s line.  Thanks Ralph!  What the heck did I know about sharing happiness with others?  I was flying through my speech and remembering planned gestures, I am not sure I really understood what I was spouting.  Okay, so maybe I did get “it” slightly.  I had figured out that being nice to others makes us happy and it is the right thing to do.

Everyone reminds me that they are “busy”.  They work.  Okay, heads up sweet friends, once and for all………..we ALL WORK!  Each one of us.  We cook and bake gourmet dog treats and type and sing and mow lawns and push papers around and fix boo boos ( with a kiss and a band-aid or with surgical instruments and stitches), we put squiggly lines and splashes of color on canvas.  We all work.   There that is said and done.

Now, for the extra hours in our lives.   Yes, do the math.  If we each work 40 hours a week, plus 56 hours of sleeping time…………. um, that leaves………72 hours to do with what you please.  Oh sure, some of you are going to tell me you commute or you have to volunteer 4 hours a week or you have to grocery shop for 2 hours a week………………….What are you doing with the other 51 hours a week????????????

Do yourself a favor and make someone happy.  Make yourself happy.  Do something for your better half.  Make him or her a loaf of home-made bread. (heads up, the recipe makes two loaves, give the other loaf to a neighbor or co-worker)  Iron one of their shirts while you are ironing yours.  Leave the car full of gas next time you use it.  Buy one fresh grapefruit and cut it up ready to go for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Let me ask you, just how happy would you be if you started off the day with a fresh 1/2 a grapefruit already cut and ready to eat?

While the potatoes are cooking for dinner, you have time to think of someone else.  While you wait for the laundry to finish drying, you can make a card.

You can start a batch of cookies to share with your family and a little plate full for the co-worker in the cubical next to you.

20150115_155922You can sew a Happy bib for the newly expectant parents that you know.

Seriously, I timed myself.  Yesterday,  took me 41 minutes to cut out and sew a bib.  I wrapped it up and tied a tag on it .  No, you don’t have to spend $4.00 on a card.  A happy little polka dot tag with the words, “CONGRATULATIONS on your HAPPY” will do nicely.   Secret:  I keep fusible fleece on hand.  I cut out two at a time, always.  I keep a steady supply of HAPPY fabrics to make a bib.  So no, I don’t have to drive to the store every time I want to share a sweet bit of happy.  20150115_163714

It made me happy to sew the bib.  It will make the parents to be, silly with happy.  It will make them happy one day when they actually use the bib.  It will make someone happy to see the little babe in the bib, maybe in a picture.  That folks, is a WHOLE LOT of HAPPY for 41 minutes of time and a few pieces of fabric. 20150115_163959

May I gently suggest, you do yourself a favor?  Look for ways to make someone else happy.  It doesn’t have to cost oodles.  It can be quick and easy.

It is the right thing to do.   Getting a little happy on yourself?  Well, that just happens to be a happy by-product.

Go ahead, YOU ARE WORTH HAPPY!

Your mother did indeed teach you to think of others every single day.  Maybe you had head phones on and missed it?

You deserve to be happy.  We each thrive on it.

Get out there kind people and make your day sweeter.

OH, Happy Day!

gift giving, good behavior, grace, haPPY, pure goodness, thankful

do you hear what I hear?

Do you hear that sound?  It is a droning, whirling sound in the background.

I am smiling.  That is our ice cream maker.  It is helping me to make Rosemary infused Pear Sorbet for dessert tonight!

When the electricity goes out, don’t you just praise heaven when you hear that distinctive sound of the refrigerator.  You miss it when it is not humming away. At this moment in time, there is molasses, gluten-free cookie dough chilling in our refrigerator.   You can’t decorate a gingerbread house without having something to nibble on?  gee whiz.

I love the sound of my kitchen aid.   Good things always happen in that machine.

20141219_082618Here’s is the behind the scenes magic of said gingerbread house.  Been like this since last night.  The “glue” read that as royal icing is hardening.  Tonight it will be ready for us to decorate it up, real fancy.  ha ha

I have dog cookies cooling on the counter.  I adore how I can get the dog to bark on command.  Oh, and Mr. Right taught her how to whisper bark, too.  It is adorable and worthy of a fresh cookie.

The hum of the dryer is on going in the background.  Even the sound of the vacuum.  We have a real tree on the deck and artificial trees indoors.  Yep, you even have to vacuum up artificial pine needles.  How’s that for realistic?  ha

Is it me, or does everyone just love listening to the movie “Elf”?  I just sort of fell in love with Buddy and he makes me feel better about life.  No, we don’t own movies.  I just love catching it on television when I flip through now and then.

20141218_113959I love plotting and planning and gift giving.  I am trying out a gift wrapping idea for next year.  Instead of making to: and from: tags, I want to use initials.  I like it.  I think everyone knows  who they are.   When Mr. Right wraps gifts he uses a knife to cut the paper exactly.  That tearing sound gives me the shivers.

Hang on…… okay, that is better, Muppet’s Christmas music is blaring from Spotify.  Gee, don’t you kind of wish you invented Spotify?.  Oh, if you did and you are one of my followers, tip of the Santa hat to ya!  Love Spotify.

I adore the sound of the letter opener, slicing open the envelopes that arrive each day.  I just know there is a happy greeting card or picture inside those colorful, sometimes glittery envelopes.

I am knitting.  What was a Christmas gift has gently morphed into a Happy New Year gift.  Read that as knitting is not my forte.  I can still remember the sound of my mother in law’s knitting needles.  She was an accomplished knitter and boy could those needles fly.  click, click, click, click.

I am madly in love with the sound of a full dishwasher, swishing away.  Not having to wash all those Christmas dishes is a dream.  I hope it was a woman who invented the dishwasher.  Geesh, love that thing.  I fancy my Christmas dishes.  I think every single new bride should choose Christmas dishes.  That way everyone can give the happy couple a piece to use every single year.  One month of happy, cheerful, delightful dishes.  Yep, if I was in charge of the world, I would gently suggest everyone have a couple of Christmas dishes.  No, not paper.  Something nice and happy and uplifting.  Look at me, changing the world one dish at a time.  hachristmas dishes

When I am done typing, yes, I can hear the keys tapping out a rhythm, I am headed over to plug-in the iron.

20141206_164813 (1)Date night is tomorrow!!!  I am ironing my dress today.  I am laying out my jewelry, stockings, shoes, beautiful black velvet shawl.    We have been plotting and planning and looking at the tickets for some time now.  The Messiah concert production at the breathtaking Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle, will indeed be full of sounds.  Such a treat and we are so looking forward to it.

My all time favorite  sound of the season is……….. the rustling of dresses, shoes hitting the floor, ladies and gents uncrossing their legs, people using the hand rests to push themselves out of the seats, men readjusting their belts and ties, the sound of an entire room full of people getting from a sitting position to a standing position.   The standing for the Hallelujah chorus.

Hallelujah!

 

fresh, good behavior, good manners, grace, great marriage secrets, haPPY, recipe

what a crock!

You know that moment, when you hear and smell before you even open your eyes for the day?

I could hear the shower.  I could hear our sweet dog, next to our bed, snoring softly.

I could smell something amazing.  So good, I twisted around in the sheets and got all snug and cozy under the duvet.  My toes were scrunching and stretching.  Then I started to stretch like a cat after a long, satisfying nap.

The aroma was warm and sweet and with a touch of spicy cinnamon.   There was just enough of a chill in the air that I grabbed a sweater and put it on over my pajamas.  I followed the scent.  I padded out to the kitchen.  It sort of smelled like a Grandma’s kitchen……….WAIT, I am a grandma.  ha…………..  Yeah, this grandma’s kitchen smells like heaven on earth.

First, last night we toasted fresh coconut.  That was amazing and worthy of an entire blog post all by its self.  However, the toasty coconut”y” goodness aroma still lingered in the kitchen.

crock pot apple sauceSecond, I followed my nose over to the crock pot.  I guess a real lady, would call it a fancy slow cooker.  Let’s get real people.  I am standing here in my pajama’s with a sweater on, “joyful” hair & bare feet.  Nothin’ fancy to see here.  It’s a crock pot.

Okay, last night I peeled and rough chopped some apples.  A five or six Galas, a couple Grannies and three apples from the neighbor’s yard.  apple 1Not sure the kind, love the color and flavor so in they go.  I added 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/2 cup filtered water, a huge teaspoon, heaping with cinnamon and a couple of shakes of Apple Pie spice (gotta love Penzey’s spices) & a dash of real salt .  Put the lid on and turned it on.  I walked away.  Oh sure, couple times last evening, I opened the lid to see what was going on, not much really.

I adore my apple sauce a bit chunky and rough.  However, if it is a texture thing with you or your kiddos, grab the immersion blender and puree til your heart’s content.

However, this morning………….oh la la…………… thick, dark, rich, heavy with scent and flavor was the most amazing, wonderful, old fashion, Apple Sauce you ever did see.  Somehow, throughout the night, the apples blended and melded and morphed into this substantial, worthy of a blue ribbon, sauce that you would be proud to serve to anyone.  Grands would love this stuff.  Mr. Right, smiled and made the yum sound.  apple sauce four

Me?  I filled my bowl with hot brown rice cereal, topped it with raisins and sunflower seeds.  Then I used a ladle to scoop on enough to cover every part of the cereal.  Then I liberally sprinkled with fresh toasted coconut.

In a very unlady like fashion, I reached for the spoon…………woah! Nellie……………said Grace and then took that first amazing bite.

I made up a new word.  If we all jump on board and use the word over and over……..somehow, it get’s put into the dictionary.  The word for today:  Yum-tastic.  Yes, that is now an official word.  Let’s all say it together………..not with our mouths full………..heavens no.  1.2.3 …… Yum-tastic. crock pot apple sauce 2

Tough to get the morning going?  Hard to get your Mr. Right out of bed or the kiddies moving for school? Let’s be honest, hard some mornings to get yourself moving…………………

Here’s the way to make your marriage better, your kids love you more, the dog wag his tail more, put a bigger smile on your face…………………yes, really that good.

Fresh, warm, gourmet, lush, rich, thick home-made Apple Sauce is waiting for you!

Here’s to your very Good Morning indeed!