Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year ! ! !

We will hold a little celebration tonight to welcome in the new year. Toast 2008 at the stroke of midnight with a glass of my favorite Champagne, (Veuve Clicquot) a special gift from that gentle man of mine. He does spoil me...
It is my deepest wish that your new year be filled with great love, meaningful friendships, prosperity, gratitude, freedom from want of the things you need and simplicity that allows you to embrace life in its fullness. May God bless each and every one of you !

Black and White Winter Day

A wander around our land today, camera in hand, seeing the results of old man winter stirring things up a bit. I love the contrast that black and white provides, it makes you look beyond the obvious. So much like life. We so often get caught up in the obvious, muse over the blatant and miss the subtle, miss the delicate shades of contrast right before our eyes.

My environment. . .
A scented candle filling the house with the smells of winter, glistening snow on a balsam tree.
On my back, clothes of gray and black which makes me smile, was there some unconscious connection to the photos of the day ?
music playing... The sound track from Lagaan The music played at Melanie and Casimirs wedding

New Years Eve

I have never been much for going out on New Years Eve. We are staying in this year as well. I will share some pictures tonight from our celebration. Honestly I am not much of a party person anyway. I can remember a couple times in my 20's heading out to celebrate the changing of the year, but they seemed a waste of time to me, it seems like just another day on the calendar, but one where people make a big deal of setting goals that probably should have been daily goals all along. My goals this year are that, goals I should have been keeping every day.
I can tell you that tonight on my table will be something I put on my dream board for the year 2007 and believed it would be there. In the year 2007, each and ever single dream I had listed on my dream board came true. So not only am I making a list of goals, but I am making a new list of dreams. They are different. For my dream board, I print out pictures of the things I want, or the places I want to go. Some I print out on magnetic paper and just put them all over the fridge so I see them every single day.
I have a list of 10 goals, not so much because its new years eve, but because I know deep inside myself I want these things to become part of me.
Here are 10 goals I have made, there are smaller ones too, I am keeping the objectives to myself : )
1. Keep searching for my lifes meaning, with an open mind. Embracing the joy in life.
Unless you know why you are here on earth, nothing much seems to fit or feel right. I want to fulfill my purpose, see no limits. This will cover all spiritual searching too.
2. Believe that I am more than what I can make or bake. Quit measuring my worth by what I can make, and see the deeper meaning of my life. Life with a legacy in mind.
3. Take more time away from the computer, it is not my only voice !
4. See my eating habits in their true light, understand that overeating can kill, maybe slowly but it can steal years, flexibility, energy, and take from you, forward movement.
5. Stop running from money...yeah this sounds silly, but I attract money and I have always ran from it. Afraid of what it can turn me into. I want to stop running from it.
6. Balance simple living with technology and keep up with the new things in life. Stop combining negative behaviors of people with modern life. People choose the behaviors, not that technology makes them act a certain way. Its all free choice.
7. Take care of myself, dress better, hold my head up. Style my hair at least twice a week.
8. Reach 134 lbs unless I look like bones covered in skin. Doubtful I will, but its permission for myself to not get there if it isn't going to look good.
9. Hold tight to the dreams I have on my dream board on the fridge
10. Work on my book and resume speaking engagements

The glass is filled with plain water !

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Grandpa is a happy man tonight !

Emery and I had the blessing of watching Mei-Ling for a couple hours tonight and that wee little one made her Grandpa smile from ear to ear when she said, "Grandpa" as clear as can be. She grabbed his beard as she said his name. I am kinda jealous, she hasn't said Grammie yet !
Mei-Ling just loves Emery, she waved hi to him before she waved to anyone else and now said his name ! There is one happy man in this house tonight.
Mei-Ling is steadily gaining weight and according to my scale tonight, she is just a bit over 17 lbs. What a blessing ! Just looking at her, you just can't imagine she has so many health issues. I honestly believe all the prayers and good thoughts have brought this baby through so many critical situations. We feel so blessed. Mei-Ling just celebrated turning 8 months old a couple days ago.

A Re-post.... I need to listen to myself

This is a bit humbling to me to re-post something I wrote on Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I need to re-read my own words, inspire myself with some "right in the face" observations that I made a year and a half ago but lost my way. Life is a journey and sometimes we get a bit lost on the trail and end up going around in circles until we find our way. Yes, I can make excuses for myself saying that the past year has been more than difficult for me, but in honesty, it would just be one more excuse .

For well over a year now I have been for the most part following the way of life as described in the book, French Women Don't Get Fat by Its changed so many thought patterns that I held on to that didn't serve me very well. I have been slowly loosing weight and feeling good.
Yesterday in doing a bit more reading about the way French women take care of themselves and I came across the books of Anne Barone. Her web site is filled with great information too
Its no secret to the world that the French folks have lower incidence of heart disease and are much slimmer than Americans, yet they eat so well.In reading through the web site of Anne Barone, some things just really hit home. The closet and clothes for one. I made changes this morning in that direction. Two huge trash bags full of things to go to Goodwill.
To be really honest, when I see a woman all put together, there is this thought pattern that pops up each time. The dialog in my mind is something like this...." she looks so nice, but she must have money and time, and I am fatter than her anyway, and could I dress like that and weed the garden ? Oh well, I seem to like tee shirts and pants with elastic waist, (no, I am never really that honest to think about the elastic waist at that moment)." Thoughts to justify my laziness in my appearance. Its not about vanity, although I use that one too. You know, "oh she must be so vain" . I don't think the women in my family were vain, just meticulous and careful. So it goes. When in honesty what I really mean is...."Wow she looks great, I am jealous, wish I was disciplined enough to get dressed nicely to go the store. I am lazy about my clothes. At Goodwill I could have pretty dresses to wear in the garden that cost less than new tee shirts and those elastic waist pants that never let me know when I have gained a few extra pounds or eat too much.....Oh yeah, those moments of "modest equates frumpy" moods where the clothing styles mimic sacks of potatoes. Wait a minute, Orthodox Jewish woman are modest to the hilt but gorgeous, guess no excuse then. Time to dump all those jumpers that were the rage among homeschoolers a decade back. Oh the fabric we all used (groan). Where did the laziness enter my life regarding how I look ? I really like that Emery dresses so nice all the time and it makes me feel good to be out with him, why don't I dress nicer for him ?" So the mind goes. I just need to figure out the shoe thing. Comfort and chic might be hard to find.
I love that the women in my family were so well appointed and cared for how they looked. The old pictures are a joy to look at . It wasn't just vanity, its good mental health to feel good about yourself.
I read these things from Anne Barones web site and see wisdom there.
From the web site regarding her latest book, " Armoire, Boudoir, Cuisine & Savvy"
The Slim Armoire Technique
Chic French women have small, carefully-planned wardrobes that fit into one small armoire. With only a few pieces, they are always appropriately dressed. They always look marvelously chic.
American women have huge closets stuffed with clothes. They frequently complain that they have “nothing to wear.” They do not always appear appropriately dressed. They do not always look chic.This technique will help you rid your closets of the excess and design a small, basic wardrobe so you will look attractive and be appropriately dressed for all your lifestyle activities. You may find, as many women have, that getting rid of the excess in your closet will help you get rid of excess fat on your body. A slim armoire can help you achieve and keep a slim body.
The Boudoir Technique
When a chic French woman feels stressed and exhausted, she often retires to her boudoir. A boudoir helps a French woman look chic and stay slim.When an American woman feels stressed and exhausted, she will often push herself to keep going. She may eat a high sugar/high carbohydrate snack for a quick energy. Stress and exhaustion plus eating for energy and comfort adds calories that make it difficult for her to stay slim.
This technique will show you how women, in the past, have used a French style boudoir to be chic and stay slim. It will also guide you in designing your own boudoir, or boudoir space, so that you too can enjoy great boudoir benefits.
The Slim Pantry Technique
Chic French women shop daily or almost-daily for food that will be consumed at meals that day or the next. They do not keep large quantities of food on hand. Little food is available snacking.Americans buy far more food than their household could possibly consume. Much of this excess is high-calorie convenience food whose overconsumption contributes to excess weight and obesity.
This technique guides you in reducing the amount of food you keep on hand, especially junk food that can make you fat. Then, it guides you in designing a Slim Pantry of good food to keep you chic and slim.
The Savvy Technique
Chic French women are savvy about making their lives happy, pleasure-filled and successful.Some American women, though intelligent and well-educated, often are not savvy in the way they set about working toward their life goals.This technique is designed to help you develop chic French savvy so that you can have a life that is happy, pleasure-filled and successful."
Pretty impressive ideas and I plan on implementing them right away.
Here is a quote for the day....."True elegance is always new —it calls for rediscovery and reinvention of one’s individuality". Véronique Vienne French Style

A nice breakfast complete with french cafe music !
After going through the closet and my dresser, this is the stack of things to go to Goodwill. Good-bye un-chic clothes !

A New Look

Long before Christmas, Emery took me to Ikea and let me pick out whatever I wanted for our bedroom. I had to promise to wait until Christmas to have the things he purchased for me.
Since I love red, I chose a pattern with red in it so my accents could be red. I loved the crewel embroidery pillow and lamp shade that went with it. Found drapes that just sort of bring it all together. Once the construction aspect of the remodelling is complete, making our room nearly twice as large as it is now, and the walls are painted and papered, I will feel like we have a new room altogether.
I am happy with how it looks, pretty but not too feminine. I just read a decorating book that said to make sure the master bedroom is not too girlie when its a shared room !

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Life Sure Is Good

The bed felt so good this morning, too good to leave, so I lingered. Emery was off to work, I had nothing pressing. I was enjoying that nearly buried feeling that comes from sleeping on a feather bed covered in soft flannel sheets. Piles of quilts and blankets over me. I pulled Emery's pillow under my head propping me up so I could look out the window at the bird feeders. One single chickadee ate hastily. The faintest scent of Emery's cologne hung onto his pillow, it made me smile. Love is like that.
I never can stay in bed very long after I am awake. I get antsy feeling. Things to do, a world to explore, discoveries to be made. New drapes to hang in my bedroom, Christmas decorations to come down, music to listen to, coffee to drink and laughter to picked up and embraced.
I put on make-up, not much but just enough to make me feel good. To feel like I am taking care of myself. New clothes to wear, hair to style and a decision to wear real shoes and not just my sneakers. There is a joke in much of the world that you can always tell an American woman by her shoes, they are sneakers. So in putting on my leather shoes that actually match my outfit, I feel a bit continental ! That makes me smile just writing that.
I hop in the car to see the man I love, if only for a brief moment, I stop at his office just to show him how I look all put together and to tell him I love him. He has a wonderful smile for me and says those three words that make life good.

I shop at the market, fresh yogurt, cheese, salad greens, Italian mineral water and some freshly baked croissants. Lunch. I pass by the donuts, the candy, the chips and even the diet soda. I swing my little basket filled with good things for my afternoon meal. Life sure is good.

Lunch just under 400 calories. It was so yummy !

Friday, December 28, 2007

Inspiration for achieving

The new year is right around the corner and I have very specific goals for myself in the coming year. One is to, no excuses allowed, reach 134 lbs. In order for me to reach that goal I need to set things up for myself. Motivation needs to be nurtured, maintained, and cultivated. I know what it takes for me and I know in the past year, with all that went on with Melanie and Mei-Ling, their needs took priority as it should have, but now, I need to work on myself. In the past year I can probably count on my fingers and toes how many times I really had a good run. I went to the gym sporadically at best and the treadmill got dusty once or twice. My eating was not well planned and certainly did not receive the attention it needed. Lovely meals in settings conducive to pleasurable eating were just not the norm.
The holidays are over and I feel like my body is made of sweets. Its not a feeling I like any more. I find myself anxious for my hot water and lemon in the morning, and a nice fresh salad as if these things will chase away the over indulgence of the holidays and believe me, we did not even have the amount usually made for Christmas time. But still, it seemed we over indulged.
Today, the first steps of inspiration were taken. A new hair style. Feels good. Tomorrow I will try to have someone take a picture for you all to see. I started wearing my jeans that are just a tad tight in the waist. Not painfully so, or requiring me to lay on the bed to zip them, but just tight enough that eating more than I should results in less comfort than I am willing to put up with. So I don't overeat when I am wearing them. Next, my wonderful amazing husband handed me the checkbook to buy new clothes to make me feel good about myself. Being the bargain hunter that I am, my dear gentle man could relax knowing I would not clean out the checkbook. I headed to Goodwill and as if providence was smiling down on me, there was a new rack waiting to be put out that had all my size clothes, good names, Lauren, Liz, Lands End and more. All things that I liked, it was as if they were meant for me. I came home with two huge shopping bags filled with clothes for under $60. Complete with a new suit for a new years party ! All the clothes were so gently used, I wondered if they were ever worn at all.
So now, the sloppy tee shirts and elastic waist pants/skirts that crept back into my closet will be passed on.
I took out my "French Women Don't Get Fat" books and have been pouring over the pages. I want to be inspired to get out of the dumpy slump that sneaked in while I wasn't watching.
The stereo is playing wonderful Turkish music, transporting me back to my days of youth where I frequented a Turkish Coffee House in Harvard Square, solving world problems over tiny cups filled with thick black coffee. The music makes me feel more alive, a touch of youth from decades ago stirring my blood with idealism and no thought of things being beyond my reach.
This weekend I will dress up, put on a touch of make-up, and go on a date to a tiny cafe with the love of my life. We will whisper to one another while sipping frothy cappuccino, unaware that any one else exists. Inspiration.... all inspirations to fulfil my aspirations for the new year. We all need a nudge once in a while to motivate us. For me, its stepping into that place where the quote I love so well, becomes my reality.
""You have to live Spherically, in many directions and never loose your childish enthusiasm and then things will come your way"
Staying true to living simply, but always peppered with a bit of fun !
a good goal setting page Personal Goal Setting

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thinking About Christmas

I slept late today and it felt good. It seems like the month of December has flown by and I hardly got to notice the days being checked off on the calendar. I don't mind though, each and every day was fun, full of blessings that filled me to the core with gratitude for the life I have.
Now that Christmas is over, I would be perfectly happy to take all decorations down, tree included and get back to the normal, pre- Christmas life. I think part of the reason I feel this way, is my love of no clutter and after the holiday, the decorations feel a bit like clutter to me. All the anticipation associated with them is over. I want my corner back for my rocking chair where the tree now sits, that sort of thing.
I have been thinking about what I want to see for myself in the new year. Been making a mental list of goals and objectives and by weekend they will meet with paper and pen and become a commitment of sorts. Its good to write down what you want to see happen, and better yet if you can share them with someone. No doubt you will all get to see my list....not many secrets in my life : )
The city park, with all the lights
and the gazebo all lit up is where Melissa and James and Melanie and Casi both got married, a special place indeed !

The Day After Christmas

Melissa flew in the day before Christmas and flew out the day after Christmas. Such a short visit but we were grateful to have her for any length of time. James and Melissa celebrated their 3rd anniversary on the 26th and it was just as cold yesterday as it was on their wedding day and they had the ceremony outside !!!
Melissa, Melanie, Mei-Ling and I got up nice and early on the 26th and headed out shopping for bargains. We had some coffee at Starbucks, yes a real treat ! This day had been in the plans for a long time.
Elizabeth is quite sick so Priscilla and the baby could not come with us. Elizabeth spent Christmas day, coughing up copious amounts of mucus. Poor little one, she has had a few nasty bouts with upper respiratory illnesses.
So off we went, good walking shoes on and I was well equipped with determination to start shopping for next Christmas. I did well. Spent about $50 and got well over $120 worth of items. The girls both had fun using gift cards they had received as gifts.
We had a late lunch at Chipolte and then had the sad deed of taking Melissa to the airport. She flew back to Houston. James and Melissa had an anniversary to celebrate ! James spent Christmas with his folks in Houston, and Melissa here with us, it was a compromise so they could each have Christmas with family, be apart for only two nights, I think they talked on the cell every 10 minutes !
Holidays are hard that way, you want to be too many places at one time. I remember well the christmas Emery stayed in California, he could not leave his job and the girls and I hopped on the plane heading home to my parents, it was so hard to be apart from Emery, but so good to be home with my mom, dad and sisters.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Our Christmas, in pictures

Presents and babies !
Emery having fun opening his presents

Elizabeth discovering a new toy
One of Melissa's favorite gifts, a big huge box of Cheez-its
Lots of presents, lots of fun
Mei- Ling enjoyed opening her own presents !
Melanie passing out the presents from under the tree, just as she has done since she was a little girl

Emery and Melissa, Christmas night as we walked around the city park enjoying the christmas lights.

As you can tell from the pictures we all had a wonderful Christmas !

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Greatest Gift We Can Give

No shopping required, its not too late to prepare the greatest gift of all. The stores may be closed, your wallet empty and the wrapping paper all used up, but still there is time to give this one special gift.
The greatest gift we can give is the gift of love, of kind words, of a gentle spirit.
As a child I only knew what love and acceptance felt like. My days were filled with hugs and kisses, a mother that had time to play with me, a father that was not so preoccupied with work that he was a stranger, and then there were my sisters, and my grandparents that lived with us. I was surrounded by loving arms and gentle encouraging words. And I still am. It is by far the best gift I have ever received. And one each of us can give to another. If you want to understand the love of God in its fullness, you must first understand what love is.
It was not the gifts wrapped up under the tree that my family gave me at Christmas that taught me about love, but it was their gift of love each and every moment of my life that was the teacher. I could, through their example, through their consistency see that deep and profound love did exist, it was a reality. The love I was shown as a child prepared me for living life as a whole person. Secure to step out and explore life. To embrace it with enthusiasm and not full of unwarranted fear. It taught me how to love my own children, and now I see it being passed on to another generation. A gift that grows and grows when nurtured and given with no selfish intent.
That love, has been the greatest gift in my life and each one of us can give that same gift to someone in our lives. Don't despair if your own childhood was not idyllic, you know what you were missing, find that missing piece and pass on the greatest gift with all the pieces there, nothing missing. Complete and lacking nothing.

The Greatest Joys, And Hope

It is the day before Christmas and all through our home, there is the wonder of expectations, the joy of preparing for friends and family joining us to celebrate the birth of hope.
There are presents under the tree, goodies to eat, lights that sparkle and stockings hung with anticipation.
I sit here, comfortable in my warm home. I am loved, and love. My children have never been estranged, my husband is the only husband I have had. Those two things along in this world of fractured relationships, are blessings I cannot take for granted. I have never been hungry or gone to sleep at night with feelings of anger towards my loved ones.
My dreams have come true and there are more to come. In my heart lives the joy of understanding the deepest reason Christmas is celebrated. It is hope, hope for a world with kindness and compassion, a world where people will rise to a higher calling and treat each other with that love and selflessness that Christ taught. The hope that anger and revenge will some day disappear and wars between countries, between mother and child, between brothers, husband and wife, between people that claim to seek peace but act with revenge, will all be laid to rest.

I choose to celebrate the hope that mental illness and the crippled bodies that make life so difficult for some will, some day find health.
On this day, the day before Christmas I seek to celebrate Hope, love and joy and the many blessings that have come my way and for the many more I know will follow.
This time of the year is a wonderful time to seek to live a kinder gentler life in the coming year. To live the words of the man for whose birthday we celebrate. He spoke of love !

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jack Frost Paid Us A Visit

It was so very cold last night...the north wind stilled, the moon shone bright and the stars twinkled and with that came the cold. When we woke this morning the thermometer read a chilly 18 degrees. The entire land sparkled with frost. It now feels like Christmas is just around the corner. Melissa and James will be flying to Texas tomorrow !
A few lines from the poem,

Jack Frost
~Gabriel Setoun~
The door was shut, as doors should be,
Before you went to bed last night;
Yet Jack Frost has got in, you see,
And left your window silver white.
He must have waited till you slept;
And not a single word he spoke,
But pencilled o'er the panes and crept
Away again before you woke.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

See's Fudge Candy Recipe

This is a recipe my family has made every December for at least 4 decades.
I don't use margarine, which means I make it with butter, just adding to the calories !
It's so good. This year I used 62% cocoa chocolate chips mixed with the regular chocolate chips, (about half and half) resulting in a bit richer fudge.

4 1/2 cups Sugar
3 packages Chocolate chips (12 oz ea)
1/2 pound Margarine ( I use butter)
1 teaspoon Vanilla ( I double the vanilla)
1 can Evaporated milk
7 ounces Marshmallow cream
2 cups Nuts ( we like it without nuts)

Mix 4 1/2 cups sugar with one (1) can evaporated milk. Boil 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often. (rolling boil) My personal note here....Scrape the sides often and don't let it burn. I stir the entire 8 minutes

Mix together in a large bowl; 3 packages chocolate chips, 7 oz. jar marshmallow cream, 1/2 lb. melted margarine. Cream margarine and marshmallow together and add chocolate chips. Pour hot mixture over chocolate mixture. After chocolate has melted, add 2 cups of nuts and 1 tsp. of vanilla, blend well, pour into buttered pans ( we use a wax paper lined jelly roll pan, cookie sheet) and chill in refrigerator. Cut into squares before firm. This recipe makes about 5 lbs of fudge.
No one has attempted a calorie count, but it's estimated that each piece contains about 47 gazillion calories. Dieters, beware!
HISTORICAL NOTE: Given to Amy DeVore by Emma Julian c. 1930, this is “supposedly” the original recipe for See's Fudge, produced by the See's Candy Company, Los Angeles. Emma allegedly worked for See's and later owned her own candy store.

This recipe is easily found on the web in several places.

A Re-post. . . Needed to be inspired, to Find My Balance

Here is a re-post, a reminder for me today. . .

November 8, 2006
Sometimes we get so caught up in the busy-ness of life or the single mindedness, that some areas of our life slip. Its been that way for me lately. I have gotten lazy in some areas, or maybe not lazy but lost focus. It seems that maintaining an even balance and consistency is not always easy in this world we live in. When I read other blogs I see the same things in other folks. It's not only in me and that's a bit of a comfort since misery does indeed love company. One week someone will write that it's all about getting rid of the stuff. Stuff they excitedly brought into the house last month and now they are overwhelmed by it. There is talk of resolve to do this or that, but looking back you see that falls by the wayside. We have so many things thrown at us in this multimedia life. It's hard to remain on the slow and steady pathway. Seems we need to work on maintaining the bits of many aspects that make the puzzle whole and a balanced picture is not an easy task. We get caught up, inspired and then forget the other parts we need to maintain. In my world, my personal space in this time of my life, I need to keep my surroundings pretty but without spending a fortune. But, I can fast climb on the bandwagon and forget to nurture myself with the things that are good. Meal time has been one of those. I need to create for myself a delightful setting in which to eat simple and healthy foods and take the time to enjoy it.Same with my appearance. Look good and not see that as some departure from simple living. Simple living is perhaps non existent. Nothing is really simple since there are so many factors in life that change daily, bombarding us with choices and options. Maybe we are chasing some elusive Unicorn in seeking to have things simple and filled with daily same-ness. Sure we can cut down on the things that add stress and help us to live moral and ethical lives but that is not any simple task when the flow of mankind is heading the other way. We can always seek the good things from the olden days, the honorable things, but not to focus so much on throwing the baby out with the bath water.Simple living doesn't mean, frumpy clothes, or just spending the day over the stove, or forgetting to surround ourselves with beauty and grace.Its not about hauling wood and making soap, its about not buying into consumerism that consumes us. Its about living modestly and reaching out more. Its about not getting caught up in a plastic world where things take on more value than people. But on the flip side, seeking the simple life can become all consuming too, and make us judgmental to folks that are caught up in the whirlwind ride of modern society. For me, city living would make me crazy. I need to connect with the land, with the scenes of nature that make me certain the world is run by the, oh how funny, no matter how hard I try I cannot think of how to say it in English, but only in Hebrew, funny how the mind works, "Creator of the Universe" , yes that's it. Country life seems more simple to me, easier to stay grounded and aware of what really matters to me. In the city I think it would be easy for me to get caught up in a bunch of stuff that would make me unhappy. Maybe simple living is all about surrounding yourself with the balance of things that keep you uncluttered mind wise. Anyway, this morning, my croissant, coffee and Paris Cafe music made me feel a bit more civilized and a whole lot more in sync. Maybe I could shop today for clothes and find something. It's not easy admitting you get distracted on the road of self discovery. We just need to maintain that childlike enthusiasm for life and embrace the challenge of it all. There is no shame in loosing your balance once in a while. I sure don't mind admitting that I don't always keep the big picture in view. Besides, I know everyone already knows it about me : )
my own personal spa, notice the cheap wal-mart fluffy towels : )
a simple meal, that inspired and nourished more than just the body, it was my own "soul" food.
Music of the day, Josh Groban...his music takes me away from that place where dullness resides

Keeping our Motives Pure

Living with compassion is work, it requires we keep a check on our own behaviors as it seems at times the most natural way to be in a bit unkind or with a hidden agenda to teach someone a lesson. I sure am guilty of that. Its not something I like about myself and yes, it can be easily dismissed with the common train of thought..."well, no one is perfect". " I try, isn't that enough?" "They had it coming". " They did it first !" You see we have all the answers to excuse our behaviors and make them seem less "not so nice". People will tell you if you are always kind and compassionate you will get run over, that is probably true to an extent, but sorta like in the cartoons, we can learn to bounce back as though nothing bothered us.
Personally that is the hardest thing for me, to not let things get to me. There is a verse in Psalms that I quote to myself, in hopes I think that it will one day soak in, " Great peace have they that love the Law and NOTHING shall offend them" Wow, imagine having nothing offend you ? And then I think about what I have read from the Dalai Lama, about having compassion deep enough that you can put yourself in the offenders spot and look at their total life and see that you under the exact circumstances would probably do the very same thing and that if they had been born in your place with your life, they would be like you, its just one difference really. The difference of circumstance. Its as if we should imagine yourself on one side of the road and the offender on the other side, you just change places in your mind and suddenly you can feel a bit of compassion for them, where once our motives were to maybe get them back or teach them a lesson.

I have thought many times about my posting regarding a certain blogger that just simply goes after people when they don't act the way she expects they should or they disappoint her in some way. I can only guess her motives and while having compassion for what might be behind the behaviors she shows, I am only responsible for my own motives. My motives in posting about her were simple. Keeping people from getting bitten. I have examined my motives over and over and over again. It was not out of anger or to get back as some thought. I just hate seeing people hurt and the scale was tipping under the weight of so many victims compared to the offenders feelings of hurt.

We face a test of our motives so many times in a weeks time. While driving and we might be cut off or have a horn honked at us when we knew we were not doing anything wrong and in a flash our thoughts are defensive and angry at someone we will never see again or have no idea what their circumstances are. I cut someone off once on the way home from the hospital when Mei-Ling was so sick, not sure if she would make it through the night. I cut this person off by accident, no malice, simply pre-occupied. The person was furious and road rage was the reaction. It taught me something, next time someone does something stupid on the road, take the high road and just assume they have just come back from making funeral arrangements for a loved one. Hard to get angry then. My motives and my reactions will stay compassionate.
Don't you think that is what the whole "do unto others" thing is all about ?
I cannot control what others think or say , but I can control how I react to what they say or do. It is always best to react with compassion, and at times we have to weigh where the highest degree of compassion must go. If there are victims, we need to choose the innocents.

Right now I am dealing with knowing someone who is spanking a very little baby. I know this woman is acting in anger for so many aspects in her life that she has no control over, and although I have compassion for her, doing nothing would mean the baby will have to endure abuse. So at times we are called to action but again, our motives need to be pure.
I see our sweet Mei-Ling almost every day and cannot imagine anyone hitting her for any reason. Melanie and Casi are gentle parents and it shows in Mei-Ling, she is a very gentle baby. But some people are just filled with out of control emotions and usually the weakest around them takes the brunt of their frustrations. In this case it is a little baby.

Life is not just to be lived without any serious introspection. We need to check and re-check our thoughts and actions for what is behind them. We need to think and be honest about our actions and thoughts. Sometimes we are just acting like spoiled brats that don't get what they want. Sometimes we are acting on childhood truths that no longer are truths, but we never took the time to check that out. Sometimes we are just angry.
Life can be like the fat person that never looks in the mirror, thus never having to face the issue of being at an unhealthy place which when realized, some sort of action is needed and often its extremely difficult, so avoidance is much easier. Or we can choose to examine and take responsibility and then make the changes. Like Dr Phil says, " you can't change what you don't acknowledge." So think about what you say and do in every aspect of your life, it will take more time to speak, more time to act but the outcome will be better. I work on this daily. I have some victory, and some failures, both are wonderful teachers !

Our locust tree in bloom last spring, taken at night

Friday, December 21, 2007

What Kind Of Coffee Are You

You Are a Frappacino

At your best, you are: fun loving, sweet, and modern

At your worst, you are: childish and over indulgent

You drink coffee when: you're craving something sweet

Your caffeine addiction level: low

MorningRamble Gifts

For Cathy and everyone else that has contacted me recently wanting to order Note Cards
MorningRamble Gifts is open and doing lots of business ! Thank you to all that have ordered.
I am hoping to have the Black and White collection up soon along with a winter collection. The spinning collection has been selling very well along with the homestead collection.
It's been such fun for me !

Don't Be A Scrooge

Wikipedia says of Ebenezer Scrooge, he is the main character in Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol. He is a cold-hearted, tight fisted, selfish man, who despises Christmas and all things which engender happiness.
Last night on the news they were talking about how people are adopting a rather "Bah Humbug" attitude. Angry at all the money they have to spend, have no idea of what to get anyone because people have all they want. Well, I agree about too much money spent on gifts and yes it is hard to get something for the person that has everything including a picky attitude about the gifts they receive, but NEVER EVER let that steal from you the joy of Christmas. Spend less, plain and simple. Save all year long for gifts if you want to spend a lot of money. Use NO credit cards unless you have the money to pay the bill the second it arrives. Think all year long of gifts to make that will be just the right thing. Don't wait until the mad rush of December to be spending and then complaining. When our children were small we shopped thrift stores and flea markets for many of their gifts. Choosing carefully all through the year for nearly new toys for next to nothing cost wise.
Christmas is a joyful time, it is the time to show our love for friends and family by giving a special gift. Not just handing someone $25 in a card and then receive $25 back from them. That seems to lame !
I think it should be mandatory to give people fun things at Christmas, a game, a toy, something that they can play with. We are all so caught up in the rat race of living that some folks just forget how to have fun. One year for Christmas when I was in my 20's, I got this coloring book that was very complicated designs that were geometric. An adult level coloring book and it was so much fun. Of course you can give a gift like that to some folks and they will just toss it aside, they need to take it to work with them for those moments when the boss is gone, then they will color in it !
Don't let the materialism of Christmas steal your joy, just take back the simplicity of Christmas but don't toss the baby out with the bath water. Keep Christmas fun in gift giving. I like the idea of making presents and spending less. But don't grumble about doing it.
Have fun, and recapture a bit of that childlike enthusiasm for the coming of Christmas.
this is one of the toys I bought for myself and have it wrapped under the tree. I love the Sunshine family and all their accessories. They even have a hippy van ! What is nice is that they have grandparent dolls, so now I can "play" with age appropriate toys : )

Almost Happy Winter, and a gift offer

Tomorrow, when the sun shines directly over the tropic of Capricorn which will take place at 1:08 a.m. EST, winter will officially take place. It doesn't feel much like winter here in North Texas right now. Yesterday I was hauling wood to the wood shed and stacking it with no jacket on, short sleeves too. My New England blood tells me that winter needs snow this time of the year, not BBQ weather.
I am hopeful that some time this winter snow will fall here and I will get to play in it. Yes, I actually do play in it. I don't need children home to still play. I will make a snow man, fall down in the snow carefully and make a 53 year old snow angel. I will wear two pairs of socks. I will have mittens that need to be placed near the stove to dry out, have snow in my boots, rosy cheeks, laugh at myself and be careful to walk back in the footprints I made on the way out, so as to not spoil too much snow.
I will run and fall, laugh about how falling is not as easy as it once was. Come in the house and have hot chocolate with a lot of marshmallow fluff in it. And when I am all warmed up, then I will head out again to explore.
I think adults fuss so much about the snow because they gave up playing in it. They have become afraid of it. Did you know that when you get older, you tend to watch where you walk more than just walk and soon you find yourself depending more on sight than balance so your balance gets unused and lazy. I practice walking down stairs and not watching them. Its so hard at first. I can't remember the moment that I became like an old person walking down the stairs, watching each step, but I am not liking it, its fun to have your eyes to see from way up on the top step. You can re-train your brain to be young again, but it takes some work.
Re-train your thinking about snow. If you can look out the window, see snow and see NO snowman on your front lawn or back yard. GO MAKE ONE and then send me a picture. Better yet, see if you can have one taken of you making your snow man. I will send a little gift to the first 10 of you that sends me a picture of you making a big snow man .
Embrace your childlike wonder of the world and go with it. I promise that first snow we have here in Texas that is more than a dusting, I will take pictures of me playing in the snow. In 2000 when my sister Jan and my best friend Debbie were here for Christmas it snowed heavy and I made them all get dressed warm and we all went outside with my girls and had a proper snow ball fight and made a great snowman. What was really fun is that no one was older than us to tell us to come in when it got dark !
Annike never did like the snow
The next pictures are from last years snow fall here

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We Are Designers

I get busy with things...especially this time of the year. I even get busy thinking and trying to figure out what life is about. It seems my brain has a hard time relaxing. I want to solve lifes problems, world problems, and make sure there is nothing I am missing. The world we live in is such an exciting amazing place. New things to learn each and every day. So many books to read that enlighten us, give us those "light bulb moments" as Oprah calls them. And on top of this, we are designers of our own lives and that takes a lot of doing. Even not doing ! Yes, don't worry here, I am not talking about the part of us that God made, I am talking about how we are the ones to decide, make the choice on what we make important in our life, what we focus on, what we dress like, what we choose to value and stand tall for. What our words say about us, what the style of our homes tell about us. Even if we put on the clothes of a famous designer, he/she has not chosen our words, or thought our thoughts, fixed our hair, chosen what we eat and how much we eat. They have not shopped for our home. The sum of what we are is designed by how we put together our life. When you think about it, God gives us enormous power and how we end up is of our own doing. Unless
you are held captive, tied up with chains, you are free to design what your life looks like on many levels. Your mind is always yours, your thoughts always yours. No one can control those (well I suppose you could be brain washed, but even at that you allowed it to some degree) I find myself writing today with all the possibilities from commenter's : )
What I am saying is that we design who we are and what we say to the world about ourselves.
What we wear, how we keep ourselves, how fat we are, how skinny we are, how our house looks, what we say, how we say it, are like putting an outfit together, putting the pieces together to make the whole and we are the designers.
We know some folks that have so much junk around their house, old cars, discarded furniture, you name it its there....before you ever see them or the inside of their house, you already know something about them, they have designed their home. Just as much as the woman, now passed away, who lived down the road from us had a spotless yard, not a blade of grass would dare to grow wrong or she would be out there with tweezers plucking it, she designed her environment and everyone knew her for that aspect of her life. Her choices defined her.
What are you saying about you, what style are you wearing in life ?

The moon night before last, as it looked when I locked up the chickens

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mei-Ling Update

The sweet one endured a lot of poking and prodding, some x-rays and other tests. They couldn't find anything wrong so they sent her home with some antibiotics and by the time they were ready to leave her fever was down already.
With Mei-Ling we all tend to panic when something is wrong, she has been through so much.
But God watches over this wee one in a special way.
Thanks for the prayers.
I can now go to bed and get some rest, knowing the sweet one is going to be o.k.
Sleeping soundly

Need Prayer

Mei-Ling had to be rushed to the hospital tonight with a high fever. Please say a little prayer for her that all will be well. She has been doing so well, we just want this wee one to be o.k.
This was her yesterday when she woke up from a nap at Grammies house. All smiles and full of energy

"The Art Of Imperfection"

This time of the year we work hard at appearing perfect. Having the house decorated just right, having baked the best goodies, choosing the perfect gifts and on and on. It makes life stressful.
I wrote this post a ways back, November 06, and I personally needed to read it over again, to remind myself that its really o.k. to not have things just perfect. Perfect is for God and seeking to have things perfect all the time can turn you into a major control freak, and that my friends appears to be one of the most destructive self inflicted stresses in life.
Sit back, let the dust mount, have a less than perfect cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy what can become, "The Art of Imperfection"

A few bloggers out there have recently written about being perceived as perfect and are quick to enlighten us that they are indeed normal and have lives that are filled with things like dust, dirty dishes and bad hair days. We feel the need to set the record straight and that's fine.A while back I wrote a bit about a couple of my favorite books by Veronique Vienne. On that came to mind this morning as I was reading these few blogs on dispelling any illusions of perfection, is the book, "The Art of Imperfection". A perfect book to go along with this subject.It's honestly doubtful that anyone sees another as perfect, but perhaps we idealize the life they speak about on their blog or perhaps its much like what is written on the inside flap of this book by Vienne. It says...."Images of perfection seem to be everywhere - on television, in the movies, in ads, in magazines - not to mention in our own fantasies and notoriously selective memories. Among the places where perfection is conspicuously absent, however, is in everyday reality. The way we look, the people we love, the places where we live, and the jobs we hold always leave something to be desired. "In the book Vienne writes, no she actually speaks to you in her books through her words, she talks about the things that endear us to others, its not anything perfect about us, but our idiosyncrasies. The very things that make us uniquely us.It would not take a nuclear physicist to know there are times when there is only once clean spoon in my house, or that papers seem to be taking over the coffee table at an alarming rate. Not to mention mundane things like laundry piled high. Those are things most of us have no illusions about. Most of us clean the house before company comes or take pictures just when things look perfect, but our friends and family, the folks that love us, know that our imperfections run much deeper than that sort of thing. That is just simply life happening when the house is a mess or our clothes look more comfortable than chic.People who are always appearing perfect are usually control freaks and have a not so happy inner self. Its not the norm to be incapable of letting things slide once in a while.At 52, I can openly embrace my imperfections and accept that dust falls at an alarming rate when the wood stove is doing its job. That's fine, but I am learning to work on the things that are not where I want in who I am, work on changing the imperfections in my life that are not so good. Like being so opinionated, or getting my feathers ruffled over things I see as a moral error on someone's part in regard to my motives. That's the imperfections that call us to change, not the stupid dust or the amount of junk drawers in the kitchen.There are some imperfections we should embrace and accept for what they make us. Maybe not getting something done in a timely manner seems like a imperfection, but if it didn't get done because you were roaming the hillside, soaking in the beauty or chatting with a friend for hours on the phone just because.... many times, those things are the higher road when it comes down to it . Life is far too short to sweat the small stuff. What our goals should be is to make peace with ourselves and who we are. I hate pictures of myself because I am overweight and just don't like the way I look, its an imperfection I can change and am working on it Perhaps someone else has a mole on their face a few chin hairs or bad teeth, that they hate and shy away from the camera because of them, well, those are things that can be changed too. For me, I am eating better, not eating everything I want, just like someone else going to the dentist and having teeth fixed or having a mole removed. Those are things we can change if they bother us. If they don't well, fantastic !But character things, like choosing to be lazy once in a while or gazing at the sunrise rather than making your bed, well those are just part of what makes us tick and changing them would change the person we are. I honestly feel my life is just about perfect. Sounds a bit Mary Poppin like, but its how I feel. I get to do the things I want. At my age, I have finally come into my own and am not living to other folks expectations. I have my down times, my times of confusion and doubt but they are brain stretching so now I am comfortable with them. Things happen in life that are difficult or painful but that's just simply life. Its how we deal with them that matters. What they make us, or what we allow them to make us.My children are not perfect, but pretty close to it. My husband is 99% perfect and that is the truth. Sometimes I wish we had a bigger house, a fancy car or money to buy just what I wanted, but those are momentary things, and soon I remember things are just really as they need to be in my life to keep me who I am, keep me authentic and real. So yeah, my life is perfect for me, or pretty close to it, but that's where it ends. Its not the life for anyone else. Not exactly the same at any rate.So, this stuff about dispelling any ideas that our lives or we are perfect, its just not really necessary. The folks that love us, well they know it already and the folks that don't know us, well, maybe they are just looking for a hero, but the real hero for everyone is who they are deep inside and letting that show.Now of course I am writing about the human side of stuff and I am not talking about God as our example in this post simply because if He is for you, then you know it already. That's kind of unspoken stuff you know for yourself.

A New Award

Angelena over at Country Life gave me this award today. It made my day ! Read about this award here It sorta felt like a nice hug today. Less than three is <3 a heart, a way to show admiration. So simple and so important
Thanks Angelena !
Passing this cyber heart along to 5 of the many bloggers that I just love to read.
Marci at Down on the Farm always a refreshing place to visit, and beside, Marci is simply just a great person to know
Bonnie over at Quiltville's Quips & Snips Bonnie always inspires me with her quilts and for being who she is. I had a wonderful afternoon once with her, quilting and visiting in my home.
Shellie at Musings of a Mid East Mom is another blog I love for a multitude of reasons and so would like to tell her how much I appreciate her blog. Shellie is a really nice person with a really beautiful family and she teaches me things that I need to know
Crunchy Chicken is a blog that I love too for all the good stuff she shares. I would give her a cyber heart hug for just teaching me so many great things
Rondi at May's Day for so many reasons, one she is a friend of many years, she writes about the places I know, and she is a really good person, giving so much of herself and her blog shows that.
So I will give her a cyber hug today !
My whole list of links could get one of these awards, or this
less than 3

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Beauty in many forms

The beauty of a rose seems so obvious to us, they are showy in color and scent. They are for the most part eye candy. Yes, the oil and water made from them can scent a room for a long time, or the dried petals last a bit longer with the scent, but it is the eye appeal that we so often speak of. Rosemary, ever-green, so long lasting, so vital for some recipes, so full of flavor. Comfrey, a bit prickly, but such a plant of healing. Mullein, fuzzy leaves, showy tall stalks full of flowers, healing in both flower and leaf, a comfort plant. A plant that can sooth an ear ache, or calm a cough.
Lavender, so fragrant and for me, so hard to grow, but worth the work for the lasting scent that relaxes and soothes the hurried mind. Finally in the group, rose geranium, tiny flowers, curly leaves that when rubbed and bruised, sweet fragrance fills the room. Different plants, different uses, yet all of them improve our lives in one way or another. People are like that too. Our children, our friends, our family members and yes even those we struggle with, all improve our lives in different ways. Our adversaries push us to be better, to learn from, our greatest teachers . We can learn from our enemies, to be tolerant or view them as lessons of how not to be. I grow tansy in my herb garden, tiny yellow flowers that look like Daisy's that someone pulled all the petals off of. They keep the bugs away, a natural insecticide of sorts, but its not to be eaten. The value is not from looks or from taste but for its ability to keep away the things we don't want in our garden. Nature is a teacher of great lessons if we stop to understand.

Much To Catch Up....

In mid January, we saw the passing of my father and after nearly two years of caring for him, it was so hard to see him leave u...