Thursday, December 30, 2010

To be wilder.

When Laura and Almanzo Wilder left the Dakota Territory to make their home in the Ozarks of Missouri, they built their home from materials they harvested from their land and named the place Rocky Ridge Farm. Being a Laura expert *grin*, I happen to know that she was roughly five feet tall. In the books written after the Little House series, Laura's notes and essays about their home and being a farm wife detail the design of their house and specifically of her kitchen. Her cabinets were flush floor to ceiling to eliminate places where dust could gather, a large cabinet was built into the wall separating the dining room and kitchen with doors on both sides so that dishes could be removed on the dining room side to set the table and put away on the kitchen side after washing. And her counter tops were of the perfect height, if you happen to be a farmer's wife of five feet.

Taking Laura's example to heart, I am an advocate of thoughtful attention to the art of homemaking so that things can be done both well and as easily as possible. To this end, I am a fan of the dishwasher. I did not have a dishwasher for almost 20 years. Can you believe this? Barbaric. Once I got one, I wondered what I ever did before. It makes me more likely to cook and bake knowing that clean-up will be easy. I have a first floor laundry as well, a left-over from my grandparents' lives here. They didn't have a spot for a laundry on the first floor but they found it anyway and it too, makes my life easier. Our fireplace was once wood-burning back in the 1970s. My grandfather converted it to gas and after we moved in, the Mr. replaced it with an updated gas log that has a remote. The shower added to the basement keeps our upstairs bath clean and neat all the time. All of these things require money, to be sure. And no one understands better than I that money is not always there. Hindsight has taught me, however, that I spent away dishwasher money several times over. The trick being that I never had $500 extra lying around so I spent it in fives and tens over the years. This was foolish and regrettable. I think the Wilders and my grandparents had in common the wisdom of moving slowly, planning carefully and delaying instant gratification.

In the short and cheap plan, there are other ways to make a home. Start with a schedule, with paper and pen write a calendar for the care of your home. You'll need to play around with it over some time but your goal is to find the plan that makes life the easiest because this will be the plan that you will adhere to. Consider the seven days of the week and block off the ones that are not to be used for chores. For me, Sunday is immediately blocked off. I want my Saturdays free as well so my next step is to do as much as I can to have as little to do as possible on that day. Next, consider a maintenance plan. I think it's silly to wear yourself out once a week to have a house that becomes increasingly messy day by day. What basic things need attention daily? If you do this, you will not have an all day cleaning on your schedule at all. And, your home will be nice every day. Examples? Wiping down the bathroom, putting away clothing, cleaning the kitchen, making the beds, picking up before bed each night.

My final advice is that when the time comes to invest money, give this careful thought as well. Remember that grout needs scrubbing, light colored carpet will need regular cleaning, textured flooring will trap grime. Pergo floors can be cleaned with white vinegar and water or water alone. Pergo may require money saved over a longer period of time but it will give itself back in time not spent on hands and knees scrubbing linoleum. Trendy furniture will grow tiresome more quickly than your bank account will refill to replace it. Cheap furniture will wear out before the same account is able to buy new. Give thoughtful consideration to a realistic budget that includes both money and time to save it and make the best choice of quality and timelessness you can. If you aren't sure which floor or couch or tile to choose, walk away and let your thoughts settle. Whatever is lacking in money can be made up for in time.
If you are of a mind like mine, home goods make wonderful gifts. The better you know yourself and your plans for your home, the easier to tell people exactly what you would like when gift-giving occassions arise. Do you really need another Yankee Candle for $20 or might a great platter for Thanksgiving be better?

If you look around and wonder where to start, choose a day within the next seven. Then choose a time that is not already occupied. Then call a meeting with yourself, a pen and paper. When you identify what you can do today and do it you will find inspiration to figure out what can be done this week. Before you know it, you will be living every day in the house of your dreams. Some of the dream will be reality and some still in your heart but dream away. Live in a place worthy of dreaming.

Image: Bed linens changed Thursday evenings. Nick & Nora jersey sheets from Target, a gift from my sister. Photo pre-new bedroom set!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The best laid plans

My Christmas Gift is finally here. Chosen a month ago and spending the holidays in lay-away, finally the unveiling new bedroom furniture! Do you love it? I knew you would. I have wanted a Mission style bedroom set for approximately 354 years. This, in fact, is the first new bedroom set I have had in my entire married life. I can hear your collective gasp.
The plan was simple enough. Here it is-

1. Move guest room furniture into the basement.
2. Move my gramma's bedroom set from the master into the guest room.
3. Move the new Mission style bedroom set into the master.
4. Get on with life.

However, this is what the plan looked like in reality.
This is because I know how to choose my battles. The goal was for all of the stuff to end up in its new home. I'd have started with putting away the Christmas decorations. He didn't feel that would impact the furniture moving. I'd have moved everything around the day before moving in the new furniture. The Mr., however, does not operate this way. He believes in the theory of making as big a mess as possible in as many rooms as possible and then quitting because you're so exhausted before everything is straightened. I'd have stripped the beds and put the linens into the washing machine.
He pulled the mattresses off and stacked stuff on top of them with the sheets still on.
I'd have moved the guest room furniture straight into the basement and out of the way.
He piled it around the house forcing us to create paths much like an English maze through which we had to navigate a large oak Mission bedroom set.

I don't care. I'm getting my bedroom set. I will quietly go about putting things back in order while giving him step by step instructions.
Him, "Are we done for today?" (his favorite question.)
Me, "Just about, just take the chest of drawers downstairs."
Him, "I haven't moved the clothes out of it yet."
Me, "I did, go ahead and move it."
Him, "Oh."
Him, "Are we done for today?"
Me, "Almost. Just take the antique commode table into the family room and put the low boy where the commode table was."
Him," Wait, what? What's a commode table? Isn't a commode a toilet?"
Me, "It's the little antique table that was my Grandma Trent's that's in the living room next to my reading chair."
Him, "Wait, what?"
Me, stomping across the house, "This!"
Him, "Oh. where do you want it?"
Me, "Good grief."

And so on.
When things are looking better, I'll post some more photographs. We will seem no less crazy but our house will look nice.
You get the idea. Don't worry, we'll get there. Today the furniture will go into place and the house will be in order. It will take a few more weeks for the finishing touches.

For now, this is where I'll be sleeping tonight.

The blossoming of the picket fence dreamer

After Christmas dinner, my mom said to me that I have blossomed in this house. I can't disagree if to blossom means to grow and to become one's self and yet, more so. Would I have so blossomed in our old house? Forced to guess, I'd say probably not. Our move to this home brought with it rare and unusual opportunities. I dare say that I am among a very few to have such opportunities.
This was my grandparents house, they moved here when I was about 5 or 6. My grandmother passed away in this house in 2007; that is 35 years of history plus the 3 since. I spent the night here snuggling with my grandmother in the bed that remains in this house. For good and for bad, we are now the proprietors of the Family Home.
Moving here in 2008 was also the proverbial fresh start. Ah, that's the interesting part. As a new bride in 1986 I had high hopes for the home I would keep. Neat as a pin, homey, nourishing food on the table, quiet mornings on the small back patio of the home we rented. I worked at it, I really did. And there is where the fairy tale ends because my Prince Charming didn't share my vision. Home improvement projects were far beyond a priority but more disappointing, my charming little home didn't impress him. I heard myself constantly prompting him to notice the fresly washed linens or admire the organized living room or appreciate the from-scratch soup.
Cricket. Cricket. Cricket.
Children and finances and marriage strife overwhelmed the joy of hospital corners and freshly polished coffee tables. And I gave up. If you are now shaking your fist at the awfulness of the young Mr., well, shake it a minute more because he was a jerk.
Ok, you can now unclench your fist.
He was a jerk but in all fairness, he never pretended to care about the picket fence plan and I was way too needy of his approval. Also, he was a jerk.
Children grew and finances stabilized and our marriage became solid and good but the giving up part remained. The lazy part of my flesh couldn't find the energy to go against the tide and the reformed Mr. still would rather get take-out than eat spaghetti from our kitchen.
A few things happened in 2008. I took a new position and got a pay raise. We moved into our new old house. And I lured that 19 year old dreamer of picket fences back into my life. This time, though, it was for the joy of it that she blossomed. I also put my foot down. Without anger or accusation, I told Dean what was in my heart. That the way we had lived, choreographed to his stronger personality, was not the way we were going to live. I was in love with him, I was happy but I was not completely happy because the picket fence dreamer was being told to sit down and be quiet. I was confident enough now for her to stand up and speak. And he was confident enough now to hear me without becoming defensive. So I laid down some ground rules.
Our home would be neat and pleasant. I would take on most of the housekeeping so things would be done the way I wanted them done but I would not resent the work I volunteered to take on. His responsibility would be not to work against me by leaving Pepsi cans in the living room and dirty dishes in the sink.
I would cook the food that I had wanted to serve all along and I would know that it wouldn't always be just what he wanted. He didn't have to sing my praises but he would not push the food around on his plate and go for Taco Bell later (yes, he used to do that.)
I would let the picket fence dreamer blossom because the act of it is utter joy. The need for attention and praise was immature. It didn't reflect a celebration of the creation honoring the Creator.
Because I am certain of the Mr.'s love for me, I can now firmly put my foot down and demand (yes that is the correct word) the kind and quality of life I want and need. I can insist on the paint color I want and spend money on flowers and plants without fear of his disapproval.
Does he always enjoy this blossoming? No. He gets frustrated when he has an idea for something and I tell him that isn't exactly what I want. If I sound selfish, I guess I am. I don't mind the word. It really is that I have come to the conclusion that this life I now build for myself isn't entirely for my own sake, it is just another example of the Potter's hand and the submissive clay. Dean was never meant to mold and shape me and that is what I was allowing him to do. He didn't intend it but there it is.
So now, I blossom. I build my life in what is the perfect idea of the bird building her nest. It took years for the picket fence dreamer to gather her tools, understand herself and learn the skills but now...she blossoms.
Today I live inside of walls that used to be the home of my grandparents' but now, they are mine. Once upon a time, a Gardener held a seed and breathed on it with life. He planted it into ground that was sometimes dry and often dark. The seed reached out and felt only the cool sides of its shell and wondered if all of the life swirling around inside would ever matter. Seasons of rain and drought, of sun and of cold, of weeds choking and water falling just in time came and went and came and went and...
Now I blossom. Now I cannot become a different color or scent or height or purpose because I am what the Gardener planted.
Pardon the mixed metaphors, the Potter, the Gardener. What I mean to say is that the life breathed into us is the same life breathed into Adam. He was created whole and perfect and grew into something less. Now, we are born something less but grow into the whole and perfect creation of redemption.
When you find, in great revelations or tiny glimpses, what you might be; then you must become selfish. It is very important that you do not become selfish until you have outgrown the demand for attention, approval, accolades or else you are just a tantruming child and who likes that? Wait until you find yourself being exactly as you are and nearly bursting with the joy of it. And then wait until you hear yourself explaining to others that you just must insist on being and doing what you are with the voice of the Holy Spirit and not your own.
And then, be selfish. Demand the sun and the soil and the rain that you need, pulling gently so that the roots come too-remove the weeds that surround you.
Now go blossom.

Image: What will be chicken soup, which the Mr. will not eat. And which gives me joy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday moanin'

Ok enough!
Salt, sugar and fat that is. I am off today with big plans with the Mr. to take back a few Christmas items and then to make arrangements for my Christmas Gift to be delivered. Alas, here I am in pajama pants and sweatshirt with my hair in a messy pony tail. The holiday fare has finally caught up with me and my stomach has launched a revolt. A shot of pepto has calmed things a bit but I think I have to give up and consider myself home bound for the day. Good thing I enjoy being home bound, in fact there are days when I wish I was just a little ill so I'd have a reason to go no where. But I was kind of looking forward to a little time around town with the Mr.
So as you can see, I've made good use of my time between trips to the you-know-where by redecorating my blog. This is the kind of thing the home obsessed blogger does you know, redecorate one's blog to match the season. I started off attempting to personalize it a bit by uploading (downloading, transferring, importing?) a picture from Lake Michigan that I took in October to my header but once done, it was just slightly smaller than the actual Lake Michigan and one had to scroll down approximately 4 miles to get to the actual post. Having no delusions of grandeur, I doubted people would be that committed to finding my thoughts for the day. I figure I got about 3 seconds to lure you in and scrolling the waters of the Great Lakes would work against me. Yes yes yes I realize there is a way to fix this. I even tried the good people of Blogger Help who talked about pixels and J pegs and peg legs and such but I just wasn't that interested. So here you have a canned blogger background but redecorated nonetheless.
Having no more more to share than my blog background and and the current status of my colon, I leave you with a few points of interest. My favorite dessert discoveries of the holidays. Those of you who are on my future bakery payroll will appreciate my ongoing efforts to present the world with a never-ending supply of baked goods.
The rest of you will just have to tolerate me and be glad you are not swimming across Lake Michigan in search of my latest post.
The Pioneer Woman, Ree, has a cooking section to her blog (link at right) and I've yet to try a recipe that wasn't wonderful from her recommendations. This year I tried the Nantucket Cranberry Pie and Coffee Cake (Literally!) The latter I have renamed Espresso Cake despite the lack of espresso in the actual recipe since coffee cake brings to mind, well, coffee cake. The cranberry pie is easy easy easy and the Espresso-free cake is not difficult but more advanced and time-consuming. Both were big hits & here are the links to each...

COFFEE CAKE (Literally!) or Espresso Cake or Espresso-Free Cake


Give either of these a try next time you are looking for a sweet something and I promise you won't be disappointed.
Now I do believe I will take a shower and change into some yoga pants. Have a great day, whatever your plans.

Image: My Espresso-Free Cake. Note the antique tin cake plate, I heard the Mr. telling my brother-in-law, "I got that for Sara, you know she loves antique stuff." Also note, by getting that for me he went into the attic and brought it back down and handed it to me. One of the benefits of living in the Gerhardstein-Trent-Smithsonian. It's like our own antique shop and you never know what you might find.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The coffee pot is ready.

The coffee pot is set up with fresh ground coffee and water for tomorrow morning.
The guests have gone home, the kitchen is clean and the house is back in order.
The second load of dishes are now in the dishwasher which is humming away, Donny is asleep on the couch and the Mr. & Mac are reviewing their gifts.
Christmas is "over."
It's been a good Christmas this year. Purposefully I've taken a strong hand early in the season's preparations because I had a desire in my heart for a certain kind of Christmas. A simple one with food that reminded us of all the years before. Fewer gifts under the tree purchased with greater attention to detail and quality. Plans made well in advance and budgeted for so there was no need for panicked rushes to the grocery store or the mall with that last paycheck the day before Christmas. It's been a satisfying Christmas season and for me, it's been just what my heart desired.
The desires of my heart are changing and by that I mean the desire of what I want my heart to be. I am quieting in my spirit and long to be serene. I am slowing down to think about what things are good and pure and worthy of my thoughts and upon those things I focus my heart. Family well-fed with lovingly prepared food is one of those things. Traditions upheld bring the ones who have passed a little nearer. As I baked and planned and prepared I looked around
and realized, this is all very good. Then I look into my heart whose desire was fulfilled and there I found serenity. I understood that all of this wonderfulness was now mine to plan and give and that I was able to do it. My mom and my sister came along side and together we created a moment in time worthy to be counted among the Christmases that have gone before.
There is a depth of peace that cannot be reached unless Jesus guides you there. It is the way of man and woman, though, to take a little while to close one's eyes and see the beauty. It takes years for most of us.
I hope your Christmas was all that you hoped and that your heart's desires were fulfilled.
I pray that in the coming year, your heart's desires become clearer and that you find yourself suddenly ready to be taken to beauty with eyes closed.
The coffee pot is ready for the morning and the kitchen is neat and dark. My ransomed soul rejoices and my heart is quiet.

Image: Daboyz, Christmas 1992

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Is Here

Merry Christmas Eve morning, one of my personal favorite moments of the season. The holiday is officially here, preparation and anticipation meet in quiet reflection. The Mr., of course, is off to Target. It's a secret mission but while he's out he's picking up a few things for me to finish my baking. It's still dark here in Michigan at 6:30 a.m. Donny is outside doing a perimeter check; probably sniffing for reindeer. Mac is asleep and I'm sipping coffee from my new Santa mug given to me by one of my nurses. There's a fire in the fireplace and only the Christmas tree lights the room. Shortly I'll turn on some Christmas music (classics only!) and get everything in order for this evening's Mexican dinner and tomorrow's traditional Christmas ham with The Family.
My coconut cream pies are made and awaiting meringue. I am starting shortly on my desserts for tomorrow (cake made with Starbuck's coffee, Nantucket cranberry pie...) The house will have a once-over straightening and once Mac is up the bed's will be made.
But for now, I sit with my coffee pondering in my heart the sweetness of this particular moment.
I realized yesterday that the meaning of Christmas is so simple. It is another chance. Peace on earth, good will, giving, loving celebrating and enjoying are lovely but not really the point at all. Christmas is meant to put back together all that we have broken.
Every time a husband or wife looks at the partner who has hurt them and allows them back into their heart, it is the miracle of Christmas. Or when wayward children can sit at the table without explaining or defending their lives, it is the miracle of Christmas. Or co-workers drop their professional defenses to love one another or unkind words are met with grace or families look beyond offenses.
We have another chance now. We could say a new day has dawned but that's not the whole of it. A new measure of time has been born. Every moment brings a new day. History has lost its power to judge. Fear is mocked and eternity keeps starting over and over and over.
Do you want to celebrate? Celebrate that your imperfect body, home, marriage, heart, life has another chance. Don't stand at the manger facing the long road that led you there. Turn around and look...

Image: Christmas Homecoming by Norman Rockwell

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I no longer believe... good Christmas=lots of gifts.
We have fewer gifts under our tree this year than we have probably had since our pre-baby years. And it feels so good to not feel the discomfort of excess when I sit in my family room. It's a hard pill to swallow for the Mr., he's of the school of buy buy buy and the day itself is defined by how long it takes to open gifts. But even he is feeling some pleasure in not be flat broke with overdue bills staring us in the face. We chose larger items to give one another which required some planning and purchasing in late November so those multiple boxes became just a few small presents.
Daboyz just don't need anything. Isn't that a wonderful thing? They literally can't think of anything they need and not much that they want. Just a few gifts for them too, and small stockings with candy & a gift card or two.
The Family decided to draw names several years ago. No more shopping, buying, wrapping and hauling packages for six or ten people in addition to our four. Fifty dollars and some real effort to find something special and you are done.
Every year right around this time I start re-reading the Little House books, every year since 1976. They are great as cold weather sets in because it reminds me of how much I have during the holiday instead of how much I might believe I lack. Families in those days were lining their work boots with news papers against the cold, eating one biscuit with watered down tea for dinner and huddled around a fire to sleep while blizzards howled. Did you know that during the winter described in "The Long Winter", records document average temperatures in the Dakota Territory at -30 degrees? Can you imagine. We have yet to dip into single digits inside of our heated home with insulated windows and fireplaces and feel that the hard winter is upon us.
So when my kids can't think of a Christmas wish list, my heart swells with thankfulness. We will open our few gifts and enjoy our wonderful dinner with people we love and be as aware as we are capable of God's protection.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Planning a Party

It's the last week before Christmas! Does anyone else start going into holiday mode right around now? In other words, everything except Christmas is just a silly distraction? I am all about visions of sugar plums and what not!
I have shopped and wrapped. I have cookie-baked. My house is sparkly (mostly thanks to the Mr.!) Now it's just waiting & anticipating the celebration of God with us.
This weekend it was cookie central around here, mostly to take to work. Oatmeal scotchies, oatmeal raisin, Tollhouse, cocoa crackles, sugar cookies, pumpkin craisin and the ill-fated orange chocolate drop (picture below.) For those of you fortunate enough not to be on Facebook, let me warn you that my experimental cookie went slightly PG-13. The Mr. loves those chocolate oranges that are out around this time of year. Well, I got fancy and made a basic cookie with fresh grated orange peel and orange juice and then I placed a large chocolate candy in the center. And they look like...well they look like a breast.
Moving on, I also made pumpkin bread which looks like pumpkin bread.
Enjoy the countdown to the Savior's birth and if you start to feel a little overwhelmed, remember whose party we are really planning!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Menu

1. Espresso cake
2. Coconut cream pie
3. Cookies
4. Dearborn ham
5. Armenian bean salad
6. Hungarian rye bread
7. Chips with my Grandma Trent's dip
8. Shrimp cocktail
9. Green beans with bacon & onion
10. Christmas Eve Mexican ala the Mr.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sara's Favorite Things Day Five!

The Keurig!

Hey, Oprah's not the only big-spender around here! Let's wind down the week with the last and most expensive item on my list of favorite...the Keurig coffee maker. Starting at about a hundred bucks for the mini and going up from there, these are probably not going to be your item of choice for the mail man. But for the coffee lover in your life, this might be just the ticket!
The Keurig is a coffee maker that uses only "pods." The pods are little plastic cups of coffee ground that fit into the machine and make one cup of coffee at a time. This way, every cup is the first cup and tastes fresh. Also, there are an endless number of different pods from regular old bold coffee (my favorite) to hot chocolate, teas, flavored coffees and everything in between. So if your tastes vary or if you entertain folks with tastes different than your own it's a great item.

Since the Keurig makes one cup at a time, it brews right into your cup eliminating the old fashioned coffee pot and saving the user from needing to wash the pot or the filter basket.

This is probably not the coffee maker for the home where there are multiple morning coffee drinkers since the pods are more expensive than a big ol' can o' Folger's and you obviously have to wait for your turn to make your cup. But we have one at work which is fabulous. Everyone has different coffee tastes and so we can call have exactly what we want every morning. No more racing to the coffee room hoping to beat someone (Bonnie!) who tends to make the coffee rather weak and then insists on sprinkling it with cinnamon to keep our blood glucose low (I am not a diabetic Bonnie!)

Another draw-back is that the Keurig can only use its own pods which are not available everywhere, although they are becoming more popular. They range in price from $9 for a small box to about $30. I find Bed, Bath & Beyond (link above) to have the largest selection at the best prices and they are always sending 20% off coupons. If your recipient is the kind who runs out of tooth paste, they might not have the forethought required for successful Keurig ownership.

We got Jay the mini for Christmas last year and he uses it every day. Coffee in the morning, iced coffee during the summer, tea when he's sick, hot chocolate when it's cold, decaf in the evening. We often buy him a box of pods for his birthday or other gift-giving occasions. If you are looking for a gift for an office, someone who lives alone or someone who is the only coffee drinker in their house this might be just what you need.

And everyone who has joined me here in my living room today gets to take home their very own Keurig!! Woooooooooo!

I'm spent.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sara's Favorite Things Day 4!

Online at the link above or in the stores, you can buy 3 and get 3 free from a pretty large selection of lotions, shower/bath gels and body sprays. There's definitely a scent for every one at Bath & Body works and lots of ladies have a signature scent. Like me, currently Sea Island Cotton..yummmm.

Let me clarify by saying that these items are priced so reasonably because they are not fine perfume. Although lots of people say the scents last all day, I don't find that to be the case. Layering the shower gel, lotion and body spray will make them more long-lasting. Word to the wise also, this is a store that targets young women. The lotions are not going to help someone with chronic dry Michigan skin. Not that I'd know anything about that.

But it sounds like I'm criticizing these products and that isn't the case. First of all, I give these items to my staff every year, frankly because they are so affordable. They are always great crowd-pleasers and in fact I already have some ladies reminding me that they are expecting their lotion! As stocking stuffers you can't beat them and even as primary gifts they are very nice and the store wraps them so they can be presented without any fuss from you. Did I mention the large variety of scents? Good grief, I have spent large portions of my life circling Bath & Body Works smelling every bottle and have yet to find one I wouldn't like to receive as a gift. Also, because of the deals if you buy in multiples I find I often end up with a few left-over which come in handy for last minute gifts or I keep them for myself. Teachers love 'em, nurses love 'em, basically most of the chicas I know love 'em. You can give the sets or the individual items depending on your budget. The stores have beautiful gift sets but I always go the route of buying in bulk and putting my own sets together.

So that Sunday School teacher you need to give a little something? How about a nice bottle of Sweet Pea body lotion? She'll love it! And you can keep the Cherry Blossom for yourself and give me the Coconut Lime Verbena.

See how nicely that works?

Bath & Body works products for everyone! Woooooooo!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sara's Favorite Things Day Three!

If Oprah can do it, why not me?

My third favorite thing is.......

I have told you about Scentsy before. I received my first Scentsy plug-in from my mother-in-law who purchased them as Christmas gifts for all the ladies for whom she was buying gifts. I loved it right away, wonderful scent and it lasted and lasted. I went to the web site on the package to order refills and the consultant asked where I had gotten her information, I told her from my MIL from Alabama. Turns out, Joy lives in Farmington Hills, MI. We still haven't figured out how she made it to Alabama.

Scentsy is a company that makes home fragrance items. I am a huge home fragrance person. For those who don't like this kind of thing because of respiratory, allergy or just personal preference issues, you can now move on to the next blog. I, however, like my laundry to smell fragrant, my cleaning supplies to have an obvious scent and I have tried every plug in, pot pouri, diffuser and candle known to man. This includes the Yankee Candle line which requires a second mortgage and the auctioning of a kidney to afford. I am so fragrance sensitive that I was admiring the smell of my pajamas this morning (combination of Tide, Downy and the lotion I wear to bed) and was a little perturbed when the furnace kicked on and I could smell the Pine-Sol the Mr. had used to clean the basement shower. P.S. I absolutely hate the scent of Pine-Sol so don't send me any for Christmas.

Scentsy fragrances come in the form of wax which can be purchased as "bricks" or in smaller amounts as "bars." I buy the bars because I like to get new flavors more frequently. The wax discs are melted in warmers which can be a plug-in which resembles a night light or a table top and each one lasts one to two weeks. Either way, you place the fragrance disc into a little well on the top of the warmer and a low-wattage light bulb melts the disc releasing the scent. You can use one at a time, double them for a stronger fragrance or mix and match scents (I haven't tried this yet.) I now have three of the plug-ins and living in a small house, they pretty much scent the whole house. Our bedroom, C.S. Lewis Room and kitchen. Warmers come in a variety of styles and colors to suit your decor. I have never purchased the table-top style because the plug-ins just work better for me. I use them as night lights in the evenings and overnight and turn them off in the morning. This keeps the house smelling good all the time.

I have purchased Clean Breeze, Gingerbread, Cider, Spiced Grapefruit and Hemingway. Haven't been disappointed yet. My mom is currently using Embers which is a seasonal special. I haven't been to her house to sample it but she and my dad give it two nostrils up.

The plug-in warmers range from $12-$15, the table top are $25-$35 and the fragrance bars are about $5 each. The bricks are larger and slightly more expensive.

Scentsy is usually distributed through home demonstration parties so some of you may have already had the olfactory pleasure. Personally I intensely dislike home demonstration parties but my girl Joy Armstrong distributes via online purchasing. Usually about 5 business days for delivery. I also like supporting a local person in their own business. These make great gifts, for about $20 you can get someone a starter kit with a warmer and fragrance bars. Once you've got 'em hooked, you can always give the fragrance bars as gifts.

There you have it, Sara's Favorite thing number one! Unlike Oprah, I have never given Scentsy to Julia Roberts or the entire cast of Rent or anything but my mom likes it and Mac says our house smells dee-rish-is and Jay says it smells like Cracker Barrel. If you need another testimonial, talk to my mom. Now every body-look under your chair! Yay! Scentsy for everybody! Woooooo!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sara's Favorite Things Day 2!

Back in the 1970s my family started having these ornaments made in each of our names. The tradition continues and I now have the our four name ornaments on our tree and one for Donny as well.

Bronner's in Frankenmuth has a huge selection of pre-made name ornaments so if you're enjoying a day in Michigan's Little Bavaria, you might be able to take one home. However, if your name is Sara without a superfluous "h" and it's 1975, you might have to have one made. They can be painted while you wait if the store is not too busy, ordered there for delivery or ordered online.

I love the fact that the style, size and script on these ornaments has never changed. That makes them feel both vintage and allows us to add new ones as time goes on and keep the theme consistent. Bronner's will personalize your ornament any way you like, we have one from Mac's football days with his high school's name and his jersey number. When my grandparents passed, I had ornaments made in their names for my parents' tree. Newly weds, special memories, there is no limit except your imagination. Reasonably priced at $13.99 this makes the name ornaments a tradition that's realistic to keep up too.

If your family celebrates an ethnic heritage, Bronner's also has a huge selection of ornaments with Merry Christmas in different languages. Another sweet way to hold on to tradition.

If you've never been to Bronners and you live in Michigan....go get into your care right now and drive there immediately. You will want to stop at Zhender's for a chicken dinner before going shopping so you are well nourished as Bronner's is slightly larger than Rhode Island. If you don't live in Michigan, do the next best thing and visit with the Bronner Family online. A final bonus is that Frankenmuth is a Christian community and the Bronner Family are devoted to Jesus and it shows throughout their store.

And here come my elves passing out ornaments already painted with each of your names!! Wooooo!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sara's Favorite Things Day One!

For those unable to visit Oprah in Chicago, consider me an equally enthusiastic chubby girl who will be sharing her favorite Christmas things with you this week!
Item number one, Hallmark card delivery service! I am telling you, this is fabulous! I love Christmas cards but I'm never successful in finding ones I like and getting them addressed and in the mail in time for Christmas. As I open all of the cards all of you wonderful people send me, I experience an increasing sense of inadequacy and shame. Alas, this is a thing of the past. Go to the link above and click on "My Hallmark." There you will create an account and upload or type in your own address book. From there it's just a matter of choosing your cards and checking out. The good people of Hallmark will address, stamp and mail your lovely Christmas cards. What about cards with pictures of the family you ask? Well this too has always been a dream of mine, unable to be achieved as it requires a photograph of all of us looking reasonably sane. This year however, I cut my losses (by that I mean I cut daboyz) and uploaded a picture of Dean and I on Lake Michigan.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, this year I am sending personalized Christmas cards on time with a picture of the Mr. and I looking reasonably sane!
This could not be any easier. Setting up your account takes 5 minutes. Creating the card is another 10 minutes or so. The price range starts at 99 cents for postcard style and goes up from there with exponential discounts for larger orders. I placed my order this morning including an extra half dozen delivered to my home for extras. That 6 plus about 20 more with personalization and stamps came to about $30.
There you have my favorite thing number one...Hallmark card delivery!
Now look under your seat...everyone gets a box of already personalized cards with a photograph of your family addressed and stamped! Wooooooo!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas time in???

1. Town Club pop.
2. Vernor's ice cream.
3. Dearborn ham.
4. Faygo cream soda.
5. Sunny Eliot tracking Santa on radar.
6. Fieldtrips to Fantasyland.
7. Santa at Southland.
8. Fancy dresses with snow boots.
9. Christmas cantatas with snow falling outside the church windows.
10. Praying for a snow day on January 2 so Christmas break is longer.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Time Is On My Side

Good grief am I tired! Home for the weekend and finished with my 7 day stretch. Yes, I have housework waiting. Yes, there is laundry to be done. Yes, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. Yes, I need to get groceries and Christmas gifts and shampoo.
But as of this moment, I have put new spiced grapefruit discs in my Scentsy warmers (let me tell you this place is smelling dee-lishis!) and I'm going to change out of these scrubs into some flannel Santa p.j.s next (yes I realize it is 4:30 in the afternoon.) I'm going to put my work bag and shoes away and turn on the Christmas lights. Then I'm going to lay on the couch.
I'm not promising I will accomplish much more than that this evening. So please don't drop in or you will be treated to a visit with me remaining horizontal in a good-smelling but untidy house. And frankly, I'm not open for business!
Finally, since I know you come here for advice HA!, here's today's words of wisdom. It is only in the last year that I have found within myself the knowledge that there is enough time. I used to always feel it slipping away too quickly. Getting older you'd think that perception would speed up but in fact time is slowing down for me. I have time to waste in fact. What's more, laying on the couch in Santa pajamas at 4:30 p.m. isn't even wasting time any longer. That person, whoever she was, who walked continuously behind me pushing pushing pushing me to do the next thing on the list seems to have found a new hobby.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Christmas tree to stare at and a house to sniff.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pretty Chubby

Hi ho, hi's back to Weight Watcher's we go! I won't tell you just how much I've gained until I've lost it and can brag! Suffice it to say a lot. I've had some people empathize with me, "Aren't you frustrated to be back to being over weight?"
Would you believe me if I said no?
Well, not no exactly. I mean it would be a bit ridiculous to be happy about being fat and needing to lose multiple pounds. But then again, well, no. No I'm not all that upset. I learned during that three year journey to my goal weight a lot of lessons and the regaining of pounds did not erase the wisdom I gained. Basically I lost and I gained, then I gained but I didn't lose. Follow me?
One of the lessons the Lord taught me along the way was that I have to love myself well enough to take good care of my body. So I learned to love myself. I learned to not need to see perfection the mirror to find myself worthy. I learned that losing weight for the attention and admiration of others is certainly enjoyable but it's short-term.
If anything, I am more mentally healthy now than ever before. I don't particularly care how long it takes to lose this weight. I'm eating with health in mind which means the preservative-laden, artificially flavored low calorie foods play almost no role in my life anymore. Food, for the first time, is evolving into a lovely way to keep my body alive and not a reason to live.
So don't feel sorry for me that I've gained all this weight. Seasons come and go and our loving God uses every aspect of our days to refine us. He isn't worried about the size of my jeans. And although I want that number to be smaller, I'm only giving that part of my life the amount of attention it deserves.
My advice as a back slidden life-time WW? Forgive yourself quickly. This is something that pride prohibits because one most state the wrong in order to forgive it. Don't excuse yourself. Be brave enough to learn the explanations behind your actions and then forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for the mistakes of thirty years past or for the one five minutes ago when you ate a pint of Ben & Jerry's. Take a deep breath and a step forward. You see, the thing is, time rolls on by despite our best efforts and the good people of Olay. If we compile wisdom in place of shame, we become daily more beautiful.
And being beautiful, we are worthy of care.
And with care, we become more beautiful.
Prettier than I've ever been,
Chubbier than I wanna be,
Wise enough for the day.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

This Day

Only Tuesday? Today is day four of a seven day stretch for me. It's not that I don't feel like going to work so much as I want to linger over another cup of coffee and enjoy the Christmas decorations. Maybe read a couple of books. Then I'll go to work! Well, that plan won't work so I guess I will finish this cup of coffee and get moving. Today will be a long one for me because this evening I am going to an Advent service at my sister's church.
And not really only Tuesday anyway. Today is Pearl Harbor Day. The 9/11 of a different generation. 2500 Americans died, 4 battleships were sunk and much of the Navy fleet of the United States was damaged. The United States was plunged into war. All of those years ago people awoke, had another cup of coffee and planned their day. Christmas baking and shopping were more likely to be on the mind of women than getting ready for work. But no one planned to wake up to destruction and death.
It makes me think about the fragile plans of men and women. Where's my green sweater, what to pack for lunch, the meetings I will attend. All of it important but only if I have planned everything first in consideration of my position in the world I occupy. Have I planned to pray for the soldiers who sleep that they will not come under attack? Have I prayed for the wisdom of leaders who will guide us? Have I settled my heart enough that I will not wage war but act with wisdom?
It's so easy to grab a cup of coffee and run out the door feeling rushed and frantic. So natural to be reactive instead of proactive. But after all of my meetings are done, there are more Christmases behind than ahead of me in life and I've no where to rush to in the morning; I want to spend my mornings wherever I am with a peaceful and settled heart. If I've done well, perhaps there will be younger people speaking of us as the "greatest generation", the ones who lived through 9/11 and built something better and finer from the ashes. Generations are not defined by the events they survived but by the manner in which they lived.
A day that will live in infamy or just an ordinary day soon forgotten, this day is new. I can't wait for the bombs to start dropping before I decide what the day is for.
After all, today we are building tomorrow.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


Isaiah 12:2-4
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Dear Santa,

1. Electric tea pot.
2. Comforter set.
3. Lab coat.
4. Man's watch.
5. Salad spinner.
6. Bathrobe.
7. Jammies.
8. Slippers.
9. Set of coffee cups.
10. Bed pillows.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


When I say we are steeped in nostalgia around here, I do not exaggerate. I have come to think of my home as the Trent-Gerhardstein-Smithsonian! Christmas is no exception and our tree is a collection of three decades and then some. Ornaments from my grandparents' trees that have survived for forty years or so are now on our trees. In fact, the TGS has outgrown her borders and Jay now has my gramma's little tree with my grampa's old angel tree topper on his kitchen table.
Our Christmas tree isn't likely to end up on the cover of any magazine but you can trace lifetimes through its branches. I recommend that anyone looking for an easy Christmas tradition to take advantage of the ease and relative small expense of Christmas ornaments. One can spend quite a lot on expensive bulbs but it's not necessary. I have the classic Bronner's name ornaments that my parents and grandparents always had. We have baby's firsts and tiny little ornaments that I carefully removed from gifts. We even have a few that I bought from Hudson's when I was in high school and hid away in my hope chest for they are antiques! We have a couple of angels in Native American dress from the days of Southwestern decorating. We have some that were gifts, specifically a hedgehog from a girlfriend of mine that was given to me just for the silliness of it that she knew I'd appreciate. There are some that are of no specific significance except that we liked them. The Mr. likes birds and at some point one of us thought a big brown owl fit the theme. Well, it doesn't but there it sits on my tree. There's a bass guitar, a dalmatian in honor of our old dog Jazz, a little King David from my Sunday School teaching days. You get the idea.
And of course, there are the Radko ornaments the Mr. and I have taken to buying every year on our anniversary. This year, it was a squirrel. The classic Christmas squirrel. Of course, a squirrel. We chose a squirrel because we noticed as summer turned cooler and Autumn rolled in that we seemed to have a squirrel in our yard who was either a little slow, a little lazy or a genius. We don't know which. We noticed the squirrel's habits when I was cleaning up the patio furniture. I have one of those big pillar candles in a dish surrounded by decorative stones. I was smiling at the tiny squirrel prints in the dusty table top when I noticed nestled among the stones...a walnut. Brilliant? Hidden in plain sight?
A week or so later I was backing out of the driveway and noticed shoved into the wrought iron porch rails another walnut. Hmm.
Then there were the walnuts found crammed down into the pillows on the chairs around the fire pit.
Finally laying in bed one morning listening to the birds I heard another sound. Clunk. Roll, roll, roll. Clunk. Roll, roll, roll. I can't say that this is an eye witness report, but I swear to you it sounded exactly like walnuts or acorns being dropped into the gutters and rolling down the down spouts.
Time will tell whether the local squirrel spend a frustrating winter digging for nuts in our yard or whether this particular squirrel will spend a leisurely season retrieving his meals from here and there without the inconvenience of digging through snow and frozen ground. In the meantime...

I present to you Sara's Christmas idea number one. Ornaments. I know, I'm a maverick.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

Good morning & happy snow flurry day! I hear the collective groan of the snaters (snow-haters) but I luuurv it! We're having a quiet week around here enjoying the season as it is unwinding and savoring every day, determined not to let the busy time overwhelm us and prevent us taking in all the beauty in these moments. And can I just tell you that online shopping is from the Lord? LOL. Not only does it make shopping easier but I find myself spending less, no impulse buys. Gifts for Dean and my mom are on their way!
Weight Watchers launched their latest generation of weight management on Monday and I must say I am excited about it. I believe this is the fifth program I've experienced. If any of you are WW out there, I'm curious about your thoughts. We really like it but I do think it's a little more complicated. Of course, the scale will decide for me whether this is good or terrible.
I think that's about all I have to share on this wonderful Wednesday morning. Exciting life I life, eh?
Hanukkah begins at sundown today, a great time to remember to pray for Israel and God's chosen.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Good Night Weekend

Too quickly the weekend has passed and Sunday evening is here. The new work week is just a good night's sleep away and I'm about to start just that in a moment. And, sigh, my weekend to work is just around the corner. Ah well.
We've had a lovely weekend which felt like it started with Thanksgiving since I was blessed to be off. I worked Friday but it seemed like just a blip in a long weekend. Yesterday I was informed of my Christmas gift from my Mr. so that I could give it my approval and into lay-away it went. I'll save the reveal for when it's here but suffice to say, I am so excited and beyond that I can hardly believe it! Now when you actually see what it is, it's sure to be anti-climatic. Then with more wonderful blessings Dean's aunt and uncle from Colorado surprised his grandmother and his parents with a visit and THEN when you think that you're full to over-flowing, Uncle Ken called to tell Dean he was buying his mom a lift recliner. You cannot imagine what a thrill this was to the Mr. and he can't wait until his mom sees her surprise gift arrive this week. She's been bed-bound for a month being unable to sit comfortable on a regular chair and has a hard time rising without his dad's assistance, which he's no longer able to provide.
This morning the Mr. pulled all of our Christmas decorations from the attic and we set about decorating our two Christmas trees and all of the extra touches that go along with them. And of course, it's a day of nostalgia as we pull out "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments, high school football get the idea. I bought Christmas cards during our anniversary trip and got those return-addressed and signed. They will go into the mail this week when I address them.
Our home is now decked out in holiday finery and we have settled in for a little relaxation in our sparkling house with a fire in the fireplace. Yes, I'm tired and I should get started on that good night's sleep but I wanted spend a few moments with you before I say good night.
And so, now I lay me down to sleep...:)

Image: our family room this evening (before we lit the fire!) Notice I failed to remove the Mr.'s tools from the hearth.


If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Saturday, November 27, 2010


1. Ornaments from my grandparent's trees.
2. Bronner's name ornaments.
3. Baking.
4. Old Christmas carols.
5. "It's a Wonderful Life"
6. Mexican food on Christmas Eve.
7. Dearborn ham, Armenian bean salad, Continental meat balls.
8. A Snowbaby for Dean's grandmother.
9. Stockings for everybody
10. Nativity music box.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Black Friday

Good Black Friday morning to you! Is everybody already out hitting the stores? Ugh, not me! I am leaving shortly for work but frankly, wouldn't be shopping regardless. Praise the Lord and thank you Jesus for online shopping is my motto.
I'm trusting everyone, like us, had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Family, a little too much food and a relaxing day. If you are like me, Thanksgiving is not only a wonderful day unto itself but it's the gateway to the Christmas holidays which I officially declare now begun. You may proceed.
I better get moving and head for the hospital. Have a wonderful day wherever you are.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I've had cause lately to think about marriage. Not because of our anniversary nor because I'm pondering the Mr. I've been thinking of marriage because I have some very dear friends who are thinking about marriage. Friends who are going through divorces, friends who wonder if their marriage will ever be happy, friends who have been through divorces and become powerful testimonies of God's anointing, friends who wish to be married but haven't yet met "the one."

And so...marriage.

I used to think I understood marriage based upon our history. I understood how love could turn into something ugly and I understood how to dig in and pray my way through it. And most of the time, I understand how to nurture and protect my marriage. Well, I understand that pretty much all of the time, sometimes I just don't do a good job of it.

But now these women are stretching my understanding. I want to stand beside them in their journeys but I've no road map to share. And the testimony of my marriage doesn't shed light on their path. So I've been thinking about and praying for my friends and asking God, that if there is some wisdom I can offer, reveal it to me. I have found myself thinking not about men who I could match up or ideas to make relationships work but I've been thinking about marriage itself. The Institution of Marriage you might say.

I've always found marriage fascinating. I remember praying for the husband I would some day marry when I was a very small child, praying for our lives that were so far distant I couldn't really think of much to pray about so it was often a prayer wrapped in a day dream about living in homes that were a cross between The Farm and the houses from the old movies I watched on Saturday mornings. Well, I am not exactly living the daydreams but I believe that the Holy Spirit was laying a foundation for my heart. When I finally met "The One" at the ripe old age of 15 (well, it seemed like I'd been praying forever!), I added our future children and their wives and the spouses of my grandchildren and on and on and on to my prayers and daydreams. Maybe that's why now, with grown up sons, I have very little anxiety about their future marriages. It's old business between God and me, long taken care of.

Now I'm back to thoughts and daydreams about marriage. And I still love the very idea of it. It's the most powerful image in the Bible. Adam and Eve created precisely for one another. Eve taken from her husband's side to share the very essence of his life. God building their home and placing them in it where he came in the evenings to enjoy the life he fashioned for them. The Song of Solomon breathes the power of the calling between a man and a woman. All of this to build into our souls the miracle of love that compels Christ to call us his Bride.

There is a purpose to marriage. The relationship between a man and a woman is a gift beyond comprehension because it is God's provision of joy in purpose. Together, in marriage, we build the world. The impact of a husband and his wife has no limits. Without man and woman drawn together to build the world, everything literally disappears. And yet God, with a love for us that cannot be grasped in mortality, added marriage to his will so that we could fulfill his plan compelled by this supernatural desire toward one another. Animals procreate by chance, create a temporary home and walk away when another generation is born.

But we, the apple of God's eye, the favored of his creation, are knit together. We desire one another's hearts the way that God desires our hearts. It isn't any wonder that satan would attack marriage and devalue it in the minds of those not pursuing the mind of God. This is why these women, desiring marriage and longing for the husbands God has created for them, bless me. The spark of divinity is in their eyes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Click here for the recipe I use for chicken lettuce wraps. I made them today for lunch, a Sunday favorite around here. I triple the recipe for the four of us although I could probably make more and it would be eaten. It's good the next day too.

My modifications: I put the chicken in the crockpot overnight seasoned with salt & pepper and a little water in the bottom. Less mess, less oil needed and it basically shreds itself. Also makes the final prep much faster. I use 1/2 real sugar or brown sugar and 1/2 Splenda to cut the calories and also because of the history of diabetes on both sides of the family. I don't add mushrooms because Mac hates 'em. I use green onions because I just like them better. My guys prefer Romaine lettuce to ice berg. And that's just about it.

If you'd had the Soothing Lettuce Wraps at P.F. Chang's, this recipe is turns out pretty much the same. If you're going to make these, you might need to plan ahead if you are like me and don't have lots of Asian ingredients on hand but once purchased, they will go a long way. Also, the chili paste and hot mustard powder are added to the wraps individually for extra heat so if no one in your house likes spicy food, skip them.

At Chang's chicken lettuce wraps are on the appetizer menu but we eat them as our entree. Some side dish ideas are~

Veggie stir fry: great to use the veggies left over from the week that are no longer at the peak of freshness. I pick up some snow peas and bean sprouts and add the mushrooms here as well. After the chicken is done I transfer it to a platter and make my stir fry in the pan used for the chicken for added flavor.
Asian salad with mandarin oranges and sesame seed dressing.
Egg rolls: couldn't get easier than this! I just pick up a half dozen from our local Chinese take-out place. You can also buy them at the market and heat them up or make them from scratch if you're so inclined. I am not.

If I ever had left-overs, which I don't, I have thought that you could put the chicken and stir fry veggies in a pot with broth and make a stir fry soup. Doesn't that sound good? Although I wouldn't put the lettuce in my soup, that's your call.

Give them a try if you are looking for something different and easy! And let me know what you think!


Jeremiah 30:19
From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


1. My family.
2. Donny.
3. My home.
4. My job.
5. Laughter.
6. Pajamas.
7. My country.
8. First floor washer/dryer.
9. Coffee.
10. Jesus!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This week's lesson? Attitude. Attitude! Shouldn't I already have learned that lesson? But the Lord, being a patient teacher, seems to finally be getting my attention. And do you know how you learn the value of attitude? By being in lots of situations that are very unpleasant! And boy oh boy, has this been a great week to learn about bad attitudes.
You know what I learned? This is embarrassing, but here it goes. The thing I learned is that my attitude often looks great (smiles, pats on the hand), sounds great (Sure! No problem!) and stinks (self explanatory.) It tastes bitter on my tongue even though the words sound sweet and it feels forced because it is.

I shared last week my couple of difficult confrontations. You know how it is when two people who truly love the Lord allow themselves to be chastised by one another? Iron sharpens iron and our friendship struck a blow against hell. The other one seemed to be quickly resolved until I realized I had been given the ultimate rejection, deleted from Facebook friends! Then there was the working weekend and the staffing frustrations that always come with. On my way to work Saturday morning was when I had that Aha! moment that simply was that God had never let me down. I knew that already, didn't I?

I think that the Lord had made my heart vulnerable to learning more about my attitude with the unpleasant week prior because I had spent a lot of time in prayer borne of frustration. There could be an entire blog devoted to why I need frustration to push me into deeper prayer. But there I was on Saturday morning getting worried about staffing before I got there and I think I was just worn out with worrying. I realized that attitude isn't really about taking a deep breath, walking into the hospital and putting on a smile. That's often what I do, with people complimenting me on my great attitude. But it's a superficial attitude. It's an attitude of "I hope." That's not the Christian's attitude. Our attitude is, "I know."

The world says, "We will see how this works." The Christian says, "I don't need to see it work, I know God's plan will always reign and I will play my part in whatever that is." A good attitude isn't about tolerating unpleasantness with a smile but the ever-present awareness of God in all. That knowledge generates peace which looks like a great attitude. And it isn't superficial.

I had two arguments, one deletion (lol), bad staffing for two days and let's not forget back to Weight Watchers and my weight right there in black and white! What a week! What a really really really...good week.

It was a week of waking up in the morning with a new understanding; my friend is angry at me but God loves me and he is a restoring God. My FB friend published her opinion of me on FB and then deleted me but God is a reassuring God who silences my accusers. My staffing is inadequate but God is a supplying God who makes ends meet. My weight is up but God is an enabling God who sees me through the blood of his son which makes me beautiful.

I would have chosen no arguments, no work problems and no weight gain if I'd been allowed to write my own script. I'd have chosen quick resolution, last minute fixes and less weight gain if I'd had finish the story.

Instead I got what I got. I got God in the middle of my mess.

On second thought, I don't think I really did get a lesson in having a good attitude. I got a lesson in having the right perspective.

I have told you these things so that you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A True Story

When the young woman told her boyfriend that she was pregnant he first accused her of cheating. And then he said, "Get an abortion. I'll pay for it."
She chose to have her baby and so alone, she endured a difficult pregnancy while she worked full time to pay the rent on the apartment that would be her baby's home. She couldn't call in sick when she awoke vomiting and weak, there was no one else to go to work and pay the bills. She asked God, during those dark and frightening days, to soften the man's heart toward his child. She promised she would forgive him for his rejection. But the man never called and when she called him on the morning she gave birth to his daughter, he told her, "Go to hell" and hung up the phone.
The woman worked hard, finished school and was promoted at work.
One day when the little girl was four years old, the man finally called. "I want to see my daughter" he said. So the woman kept her promise to God and put her little girl into the back seat. But she was no longer alone. The man who had entered her life two years ago drove the car and held her hand as they made their way across town.
The father who had called for his daughter's death before her birth came out to the car and leaned into the window. He said to the little girl, "Hey there Beautiful, I'm your father." Then he looked into the front seat and pointed to the man in the driver's seat and said to the woman, "And who is this?"
Before the woman could answer, her daughter piped up in a happy voice from the back seat, "Don't be silly, that's my Daddy!"
Be very careful what you throw away, what you assume will always be there and what you treat with disregard.
It will be a kind of living death when one day, you see your treasure being lovingly cradled in someone else's arms.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Uncomfortably Blessed

Listening to a radio show the other morning that was about weight loss, the doctor said that the greatest challenge to American dieters is that "Americans have an exceptionally low tolerance for discomfort of any kind."
Ain't that the truth?
That really does sum up the obesity epidemic in the United States. Our great blessings have made us not humbly thankful but turned us into gorging consumers in need of instant gratification. Hungry doesn't usually mean literally lacking food, it means not having immediate access to whatever we're currently craving.
I wonder how many people around the world even experience specific cravings. Or do they just become hungry because it's time to eat and then satisfied that they have eaten? We went to Applebee's the other evening for dinner because we didn't feel like cooking. Luxury. And then I had a silent invisible inside temper tantrum for a minute or two because they didn't have Weight Watcher's French Onion soup. They had tomato, chicken or potato soup. They had a 6 page menu of other options. But my supper was ruined! Well, not ruined but definitely disappointing.
Maybe this speaks only to me, but I do not want to be too weak to tolerate discomfort. As I rejoined Weight Watchers this week to re-lose that weight I've lost and regained, I know that my need for instant gratification got me here. Not just the caving in to fatty foods because they taste so good. But also the escape from boredom, sadness, frustration, tiredness that food provides me. The too many carry out/drive through/restaurant meals to avoid cooking and cleaning my kitchen because I'd had a long day. How many calories have I eaten to avoid discomfort?
Ahh, the high price of blessings. It reminds me again and again that although I know I cannot earn God's generosity, I can certainly be a better steward. Blessings do not cause a wise person to self-destruct.


Sunday, November 14, 2010


Isaiah 28:16
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This Week

1. Got new contacts.
2. Had a couple of difficult conversations.
3. Went back to Weight Watchers.
4. Had a sinus headache. Have a sinus headache. Will have a sinus headache?
5. Found all of my Little House books in some boxes!
6. Changed to "Ginger Snap" Scentsies...Mmmmm.
7. Painted my nails red and wore blue scrubs with white shoes on Veteran's Day.
8. Removed the red nail polish on Friday.
9. Bought mascara and got one free at Wal Mart's.
10. Made an appointment with a new hair dresser.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Wow, not a single post all week! That indicates a busy week I guess. Which it has been. I have had a sinus headache since last Friday. This morning I think it's a little better...thank you Jesus. Nothing touched it except the sinus medications that make you sleepy so I pushed through the week without much enthusiasm & only got relief when I went to bed.
I've also had two, yes two, different people this week accuse Dean or me of some very offensive stuff. Blaming us unfairly and being pretty aggressive about it. That probably contributed to my headache. With much prayer God enabled me to respond without anger but letting both of the people know that I would not receive their blame for things they were unhappy about. My flesh wanted me to list all of my defense arguments and throw in some of their own short-comings. But I didn't. I did my best to firmly set the limits of what I will tolerate. The real work comes in walking away without hardening my heart. Oh, how the enemy uses us against each other.
In other news, I attempted to make an appointment for new glasses but was informed that my insurance will pay for my exam now but not my glasses until January. Well that makes a tremendous amount of sense. Since I don't see the point in that, I'll wait until January. I am having my contact lens appointment today since insurance doesn't cover that. And I have a ton of housework to do since I haven't done anything around here all week except work and lie on the couch. Speaking of work, my weekend to work has rolled around again. Blech. But Dean has Monday off with me so maybe by then I will be headache free, chores done and can enjoy a day of rest.
And since, I didn't get to it yesterday, my thanks and love to everyone who has served in the military. It's a gift to your fellow man that I cannot comprehend.

Image: my computer on the old farm table that used to be in the kitchen on The Farm.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Psalm 84:2-4
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Cold weather is good because...

1. The wardrobe is kinder to the chubby girl.
2. Using the fireplace.
3. Baking & cooking doesn't make the house too warm.
4. The holidays are coming!
5. Snow is coming!
6. Who doesn't love a hoodie?
7. Life slows down.
8. I have a new red barn coat.
9. I have new LL Bean mocs.
10. You can wear a hat if you're having a bad hair day.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Anniversary Trip

Because I know you need need need to know about our mini-vacation; here is the much anticipated Smith 2010 Anniversary Trip in review!
To your left, 24 years of marriage! Us on Lake Michigan.
I think I took roughly 200 pictures of our get-away but I won't bore you with all 200! Mostly scenery and the rest all of those fabulous Facebook shots (you know, holding the camera at arm's length for your own picture.) I took a lot of scenery because I want to make a grouping for our bedroom wall. If I ever actually do that, I'll take a picture of the finished product. I will just share the highlights of our trip and really, there isn't much exciting to say. We have always enjoyed our anniversaries as time to be quietly together; relaxing and appreciating all that God has given us. So... On Sunday afternoon we checked in to the Holiday Inn Express in St. Joseph. It was directly across the street from Lake Michigan up on a bluff. Let me insert a little Holiday Inn shout out here; we always reserve king jacuzzi rooms and we are never disappointed. Beautiful room with a kitchenette, giant jacuzzi, flat screen television and king size bed. During the late afternoon we took a leisurely walk along Silver Beach and were amazed at the breath-taking sight of Lake Michigan. I mean, we knew and yet you can't really know fully unless you are standing there how awesome God's creation is. It was windy and the waves were choppy and foamy. And on the beach it was cold! Still worth a slow walk to take it all in and feel those muscles relaxing.
Monday morning we had a small breakfast before heading out to Holland, MI. We traveled up the Michigan coast taking in the Autumn colors and then spent a few hours wandering in and out of galleries and small shops, finishing up with lunch before heading to the Holland State Park for more time on the Lake Michigan shore.

Back to St. Joseph in the evening we stopped for a jacuzzi warm-up and then to the beach again to watch the sunset. Are there words to describe it? Can a photograph even begin to capture it? No and no.

After the sun finally disappeared below the horizon, we went to Schu's for dinner. Steak for the Mr., grilled salmon for me. And then a stop at The Chocolate Cafe where the Mr. ran in to get us some hot cider to sip on our way home.

Tuesday we reluctantly checked out and drove east, away from St. Joseph and possibly the best anniversary trip we've ever enjoyed. Although I think I say that every year. Anyway...
Another stop in Marshall on the way back home for lunch and a stroll along main street including a stop at The Mole Hole to buy our annual Radko Christmas ornament. Every year the we get an ornament that reminds us of the year past. Here is the 2010 ornament choice. I'll tell you more about the reason why on another day.

The Mr. also picked this out......for the top of our electronic tower.
And that is the 2010 Smith Anniversary Trip. We had a great time and are happy to be home in a blessed and happy house where we continue to stand amazed by grace.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Ah, home sweet home. Although if you wanted me to spend a few extra days in St. Joseph, I wouldn't have argued.I'm unpacking and laundering and still to make an apple pie promised to my staff tomorrow when I'm back to work. Glad to be home, rested and refreshed and happy. Hope all is going well with all of you, I'll post something more substantial in the next few days.

Top: Snuggled up on Lake Michigan waiting for sunset.

Bottom: Lake Michigan sunset.

Monday, November 01, 2010

St. Joseph

Good morning from St. Joseph, MI on Lake Michigan!
We arrived yesterday afternoon after stopping in Marshall, MI for brunch. Schueller's no longer serves their Sunday brunch! Still a great meal but disappointing, another tradition lost.
Anyway, it is amazingly beautiful here. Everyone who has ever stood on this shore must believe in God. We had dinner in a little beach side restaurant and walked along the lake yesterday evening. Back to the hotel to warm up in the jacuzzi and a good night's sleep.
This morning we are getting ready to head out to drive along the Lake Michigan shoreline and see the Autumn colors.
In the mean time, here is a photograph of a lighthouse I took during our walk.
Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Ecclesiastes 4:9:12
Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.