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Monthly Archives: December 2010

On Resolutions …

photo from flickr

It’s New Year’s Eve and my resolution this year?  I’m not making any!

Too much pressure with too few results, in my experience.

It’s far more productive for me to simply say “no” to what I don’t want to do, what’s not good for me, or what’s taking me away from what really counts.

Saying no takes effort, especially for me, a people pleaser, organizer of the fun and keeper of the peace.

Saying “no” has allowed more yes-es in my life.  Stopping myself from doing what I’ve always done allows room for unexpected and unplanned delights.

Saying no feels foreign, but I’m getting better at it.   Here’s the rub:  it doesn’t even need to be spoken.  It can be our little secret.

    I know that this can’t apply to every category in life, it’s not practical.

But .. rather than beat myself up about failing at an unrealistic goal, I’m quietly continuing the personal progress made this year and carrying it forward into next.

I’ve cleared out the clutter in my life so I can succeed at what is important to me.

I’ve stopped maintaining relationships that aren’t healthy.  Doing so has made more room for those who are.

I’ve gone to bed earlier, and felt better,  than the results any diet ever delivered.

I’ve faced fears, spoken up and taken classes; these efforts have energized me more than any new skin care product possibly could.

I’ve stopped trying to do it all, be it all, fix it all for everyone else. I’ve started doing what matters… to me.

     Happy New Year all!  

And please share… are you making resolutions this year? Or skipping them all-together? 

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Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Friendship, Gratitude, Holidays, Humor, Love, Men, Opinion, Personal, Random, Rants, Relationships, Romance, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Useful Information, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On New Year’s

“The old year beats a path to our door. We can almost see its end. This is the top of the hill and we may look forward to the new year stretching before us. This is the month when our home, our hearth, and our family come close. The white breath of winter finds us ready and secure.” –The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1943

I’m a romantic; a real sucker for movies that bring New Year’s Eve into the story.   I’ve always felt New Year’s is part of Christmas, as they just sort of roll from one to the other.  To me, it’s a romantic holiday, a time of hopeful, wistful moments, time to be cozy, warm, and loved.   

One of my all time favorite movies, “When Harry Met Sally,” intertwines hopeful romanticism in this classic scene below. 

    What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

 

 

Categories: Holidays, Life, Love, Men, music, Personal, Random, Relationships, Romance, Seasons, Women | Tags: | 2 Comments

Mid-point

It’s Wednesday … half way through our much-anticipated holiday week off.

We’ve stayed up too late, slept in, napped, watched movies, read, ate naughty foods, laughed, sang and visited friends & family. Our time off has been lazy and unstructured and exactly what we needed.

The Christmas tree is still up, although it’s looking a tad pathetic with the departure of pretty packages and bows.

New clothes are ready to be washed; boxes and papers put away.   Santa platters will be handwashed and set aside and the Dickens village packed gingerly into its container.

Today’s the day .. the mid-point day that we transform our house from a Christmassy cottage back to a working home.

Time to take down ornaments, put away the decorations, and get things back in order.

If we don’t do it now, we’re facing Christmas chaos as we head back to work next week.    It’s chaos created when our comfy wintry home collides head-on with a corporate work week.

But first, just for a little while, I’m keeping the tree lights on because I really hate to see them go.

Anybody else feeling the same? Not quite ready to say good-bye to Christmas?

Categories: Family, Holidays, Home, Life, Personal, Random, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

I need some Brain Lysol

Lounging in my jammies yesterday I found myself watching a TV show featuring celebrity news stories of the year.

I consider myself a bit of a news hound.  I read all the time. Books, blogs, newspapers, online news, you name it.

So it came as a surprise to me that some of the “news” stories of the year .. I hadn’t even heard of. 

Kim Kardashian?  Most googled person? Seriously?  Why?

Yes she’s pretty and curvaceous and I get that … but I can’t handle that whiny-constipated way of talking. 

I realized that, while watching, my brain was way ahead of me, it was already computing my list of people and products I don’t care about.

Then I realized I actually have a visceral reaction to each one.

So I do care.

I care that I am supposed to care about them.

Stop!  No more living rent-free in my head!

One of many stupid ED commercials. Image via accessrx.com

 

Here’s my list of people and products I am wiping clean from my brain’s memory drive:

  1. “Jersey Shore” and the band of lost misfits inhabiting it. It shames me that I even know who “Snooki” and “DJ Pauly D” are. Ugh.  Do stores carry Lysol for the brain cause I think I need a case of it.
  2. Kate Gosselin. With or without kids. Short hair or long. Don’t care.
  3. Oprah’s final season. Over it.
  4. Kim Kardashian and the rest of them. And what the hell happened to Bruce Jenner’s face?
  5. Erectile Dysfunction and “special moments.”  Um, the first two words don’t go with the last three unless you’re … Gene Simmons.
  6. Marie Osmond’s weight loss. Her hair is now bigger than her entire body and she oddly resembles the dolls she hawks on QVC. Weird.
  7. Tiger Woods had to spend Christmas without his kids.  Hmmm … perhaps when you cheat on your wife with 8 million women, a little time alone to wallow is what you should get.  Knob.
  8. Dancing with the washed up-0nce were-remotely famous-stars. Yawn.
  9. Lindsay who?
  10. Justin whats-his-face-with-the–really-stupid-hair.
  11. The Kimaro Body Shaper.   How do people get into it?  And why?
  12. Extreme anything. Extreme fitness. Extreme weight loss. Extreme-ly annoying. Whatever – shut up.

How about you?

What “news” story isn’t news? 

Which celebrity is famous for no reason at all, in your opinion?  I know I’m not alone here …

Categories: Attitude, Humor, Life, News, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Random, Rants, Snarky | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Reflections on Christmas

As we often do, the Hubbs and I spent some time yesterday dissecting the holiday.. the new traditions we’ve started (ordering pizza for Christmas eve instead of me spending the day cooking), how fun it was having the grand-babes around, and how bittersweet it was to have his stepfather with us on Christmas day without the hubb’s mom.  She passed away in March after fighting M.S. for ~30 years.   Our house is not wheelchair accessible so, for years, we met at a restaurant for brunch. This year, I cooked brunch for the 3 of us.  It was both cozy and lonesome, as we all missed her in our own way.

We discussed our boys; how our oldest has grown as a father. It was him, the big kid, who instilled the magic, who encouraged their 5-year-old to watch the sky for red noses. We proudly watched him cuddle his baby girl and help her open her presents.   We spoke of how our youngest son had to work on Christmas morning and how it seemed like 5 minutes ago that he was the one waiting up for Santa.

Years pass. 

Things change.

Children grow.

Parents die.

Traditions are adjusted, new memories are created.

What remains?

Love.

Love lives on.

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Life, Love, Personal, Random, Random observations, Seasons, Traditions, Women | Leave a comment

Box it up?

photo from smartcanucks.ca

I grew up in Canada where we observed “Boxing Day” on December 26th. 

As little kids, my parents liked to tease us that this was a day to box up all the wrappings of Christmas and put things away (translation: tidy up the house).

As I got older,  Boxing Day dances and cabarets were held and heavily attended by college kids home for the holiday.

As I got older still, stores began opening for Boxing Day and the holiday became synonymous with  sales, sales and more sales. Think “Black Friday” but in reverse.

The real meaning of Boxing Day can be found here  http://www.factmonster.com/spot/boxingday1.html  and it has more to do with helping the poor than shopping. 

In my family, Boxing Day was, and still is, a day to visit.  It’s a day to relax, enjoy leftovers, play cards, and get outside into the brisk cold air.   We were fortunate to live close to many cousins so Boxing Day was the day to test drive our presents … new toboggans, crazy carpets, skates, you name it.  In Saskatchewan, Christmas toys equal winter fun.   On Boxing Day, my parents would visit neighbors & family, play cards, and enjoy the odd “Singapore Sling” or “Harvey Wallbanger.”

Now, living here in Michigan, Boxing Day has come around .. and what are we doing today?

We’re continuing my family’s tradition of relaxing, lazing in our jammies and meeting up with family later today for munchies and adult beverages.

    Cheers everyone!

Categories: Family, Holidays, Humor, Life, Personal, Traditions | Tags: | 5 Comments

What being grateful can do

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

Categories: Attitude, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Life, Opinion, Quotes, Seasons, Self Discovery, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Company French Toast

photo from thecrownmarket.com

Company French toast is not only delicious,  it’s a great choice for company as the recipe is prepared ahead of time.  It takes about 20 minutes to prepare on Day 1 and cooks up the next morning (Day 2). As it bakes, your home will fill with the mouth-watering aroma of cinnamon and brown sugar, leaving your guests and family members marveling at your cooking finesse.    

**Company French Toast**

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter (margarine can be used but we prefer the taste of butter)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 12 slices thick white bread  (Challah or French bread, cut in 1” slices diagonally across the loaf)*
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 5 large eggs, beaten

* Regular bread can be used but a denser bread like the ones listed above are preferred because they can soak up the eggs/milk without falling apart. 

Directions:

Day 1: Melt butter in 9 x 13 baking pan. Do this by placing the butter into the baking pan and turning the oven on low. Just melt the butter, be sure not to burn it. Remove pan from oven and stir in brown sugar & cinnamon. Spread butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture across the bottom of the pan.   If you choose, you can instead melt the butter in the microwave, pour into the baking pan and stir in the brown sugar & cinnamon.

Next, place bread slices in a double layer over the sugar/butter mixture.

In a separate bowl, stir milk and beaten eggs together and pour the egg/milk mixture evenly over the bread slices.  Do your best to soak all of the bread with the egg/milk mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in refrigerator overnight.

 Day 2:  Uncover the dish and bake in preheated 325 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes. (Cook at 300 degrees if using a glass pan and add about 5-7 minutes to the cooking time) Let pan sit for about 10 minutes invert the whole pan onto a platter (larger than your baking pan); cut into squares and serve.

Company French toast bakes up with a caramelized brown sugarry-goodness topping  –yum yum – but it will very  hot—be careful. Serve with syrup, fresh fruit, whipped cream or whatever you desire.  Recipe makes approximately 6-8 servings.  Or, if you have a teenaged boy in your house, 3.

I serve this on Christmas morning with bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs and hash browns because we need protein & starch to balance out the sugar coma this dish induces!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

In an earlier version I had the temp listed as 350 -that’s wrong – should be 325 or this will burn ..sorry about that 🙂

Categories: Family, Food, Holidays, Home, Personal, Recipes, Traditions | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

One Christmas night

image from worldofstock.com

I was a college student, home for Christmas break.  Mid-terms over.  Days off and did it ever feel good to be home, home on the family farm where everything was cozy, comfortable and familiar.

Mom had the house glimmering, the fridge and freezer stuffed with baking, cheese ball, lefse, and assorted delights, and, as the youngest, it was just going to be the 3 of us until the rest of crew arrived for supper Christmas day.

It was Christmas Eve and Mom and I spent the better part the day cooking and singing along to Bing Crosby on CJWW.  We noticed the wind start to pick up, but, we weren’t alarmed or surprised, after all this was a prairie winter’s day.  Cold, always windy and a storm at a moment’s notice. No newsflash there.

When 7:00 rolled around and Dad still hadn’t come in from doing chores, Mom dispatched me to find him.

Great, I thought, with the insolent huff that an 18-year-old girl has perfected. I put on my snowmobile boots, parka, toque, mittens and scarf and, accompanied by the family pooch, headed out towards the barnyard.

Stepping into that bitter air I nearly lost my breath.  Getting to the end of the walkway I realized that it was much worse then I had realized.  A quick pinch of dread gripped my stomach.  Boots, our yellow Lab, stayed nearby, stopped often, looking back as if to say, “you coming?”  It seemed to take forever to reach the barnyard, a distance of oh, 8 car lengths.  A distance I’d walked many times, nearly every day of my life.

Bunching my scarf up against my face and thrusting my shoulders forward, we trudged on through the snow.  I could make out a light in the distance and I assumed Dad had to be in one of the cow barns.

As we got closer, I heard a strange noise. The wind was whipping at me, making biting attempts at my face, while the dog pressed his flanks to me as if to press me forward.

As we neared the barn entrance, I heard that sound again.

A high-pitched whirring.

What the ?

Battling the winds, I braced my shoulder against the sliding door and gave it a shove with everything I had in me. It moved. Barely. But enough that I could squeeze through.

I stepped into the warmth of the barn to find my father there, kneeling in the straw. I heard that weird whirring sound again.  A hair dryer? Really?  A cow stood just behind him, watching as he calmly defrosted the ears of a calf who’d had the misfortune to be born head first into the snow.  She licked her baby while he cooed comforting words, gently blowing warmed air all over that little shivering animal.  The light of the barn shone down as Dad shot me that shy grin that I knew so well.

“Well if you’re gonna stand there you might as well be useful.” And, with that, he handed me some towels.  I moved a little too quickly and the new mother stepped forward, unsure of my intentions. Dad put his hand up to steady her.. and me.. and with a “shhh … it’s ok now, we’re just here to help.”  I waited …then slowly stepped forward, kneeling to join him in the straw, and gingerly, helped dry the quaking baby.

A few moments passed when he looked me in the eye and said, “You know it was a stable like this where our little Christ child was born. There was no room in the inn and guess where they had to make their home? Out in the barn with all the cows and other animals. And no one ever talks about them, how they provided heat and how they helped make sure He wasn’t cold.”

Dad. 

A kind-hearted and lovely man who worked the farm every day of his life.  A man who cleaned up and sometimes attended church to appease my mother but really .. he already knew God.

He found Him where he was.

No Christmas Eve has ever impacted me like that one did.

Categories: Faith, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Men, Personal, Random, Relationships, Seasons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Wishes really do come true

my picture: snow geese in flight over the farm

I did it. 

Christmas is 3 days away and my “stress-free holiday” plan is working!  

Being thankful, staying optimistic, clearing out the clutter in my life and making room for what’s most important has had a profound impact on my well-being this year. 

The washing machine has been dying a slow death for months. It finally screeched to a halt last night. Freaked out? Not in the least.  Not an issue because I’m done wrapping, baking, shopping etc. and I can easily handle picking out a new one on my lunch hour today.  

Budget a problem? No, not really, and mostly because I didn’t host a huge party this year (accompanied by huge expense).   I had blogged about my wish list here https://emjayandthem.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/my-wish-list/ and I just realized last night everything I was hoping for is coming to fruition.

* * * *

My wish is that anyone reading this will see the promise of what is Christmas. 

When possible, forgive.  

When not, give yourself permission to step away.  

When you can help, do so.

Choose words carefully. 

Refrain from criticism. 

Pick up the phone and call an elderly relative.   

Do something nice for someone else just because you can.

Mix it up.  

Stop the schedule.   Slow down.

Look around.

Celebrate

what

is.

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Gratitude, Home, Life, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Random, Seasons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Decision points

image from westernpostersandprints.com

 

“Courage is being scared to death – and saddling up anyway.”- John Wayne

 

Ever have a decision before you that is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time?

On one hand .. security, predictability, what is known.

On the other … growth, creativity,  adventure.

What to do, what to do?

Do I swing my leg up over the back of my chestnut gelding and just go for it?

Or do I sit it out and play the cards I’m holding?  

Hmm.

Life-changing-game-altering-decisions.

I don’t make ’em lightly.

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Life, Personal, Random, Self Discovery, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

On Gifting

We’ve all received them.  Bad gifts.  Poorly thought out ideas that make the recipient think, “did you do your shopping at the gas station?”

It’s a busy time of year, money’s tight and I get that but please know it is far better to show up empty handed than to give a bad gift.

You can trust me because I have years of experience in this department.

Here’s my top 10 list of the worst gifts we’ve ever received.

#10.  A cheetah print plastic toilet seat. With a crack in it. Pretty sure it was .. used.

#9.   Big Mouth Billy Bass (the singing fish). (pictured above). 

#8.  A ceramic dog that lit up and barked rabidly when anyone neared it.

#7.  For me: neck-to-toe flannel footie pajamas accompanied by a similarly dressed teddy bear; I was already a mother of 2 when I received it.

#6. A donation in my name to an organization I don’t support. And am now on their mailing list. Fantastic! Thanks for that!

#5.  A half eaten box of Valentines chocolates. 

#4.  A crib toy for our youngest, who, at the time, was 5.

#3. A shattered Christmas candle opened on .. you guessed it – Christmas day.  

 #2. A used baseball hat complete with head-sweat ring.

You can’t make this sh*t up!

And the #1 worst Christmas gift ever?

#1 A broken glass gravy bowl that had been glued back together.  I don’t know about you but at my house…Gravy’s served HOT.  

   Do tell: what’s the worst Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

 

  

Categories: Family, Holidays, Home, Humor, Life, Opinion, Personal, Random, Rants, Seasons, Traditions, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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