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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Wherever I find myself

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself. ” – Maya Angelou

Growing up on a farm, when I wasn’t outside riding, playing or doing chores,  I was in the kitchen.   Looking back, I spent a lot of time in our farmhouse kitchen: cooking with Mom, reading the paper with Dad, playing cards with my siblings, ironing, folding and mending; I worked on 4-H projects, practiced public speaking,  studied for finals, debated politics and other news stories with friends and neighbors and, of course, talked on the phone. We had a wall-mounted phone with a cord that only went so far…and still does. Farm living meant a party line shared with Grandparents and another family nearby; we learned to listen for the distinct ring that belonged to us.. and for the breathing that meant more than 2 parties were in on your conversation!

Centrally located, the kitchen was, and still is, the heart of the home – bedrooms and bathroom in one direction, living and dining room in the other. It was never quiet in there, either. The countertop radio was the first appliance turned on and the last to be shut off at night.   Country music, farm reports, grain prices and weather updates peppered our conversations.

The kitchen was the place to stand up as straight as possible so Mom could hem a dress; with 5 kids, it was our makeshift “E.R.” – “stay still,” we’d hear, as liberal doses of iodine cleaned up most wounds.  It was – and still is – the place where visitors were greeted by a coffee pot perpetually “on” and home-baked goodness cooling on the counter.  Directly over the furnace, it was the warmest room in the house, and there were frequent scraps between my sibling and I over who had dibs on warming up over the floor register.

When the hubbs and I bought our Michigan house, it was not at all what we’d planned on. We’d had enjoyed a newly constructed house in Houston, and this was not only old, it was dated and needed lots of work.  It was dark and decorated in a 1970s colors – avocado and burnt orange.. ugh.  But something about it’s quiet dignity spoke to us; then, our boys were 14 and 8 and the multi level, multi-roomed house with lots of spaces was appealing.  The large yard, long neglected, held promise.  Slowly, old carpet was removed and replaced.  A fresh eggshell paint brightened the walnut-colored kitchen.  The dark countertop was replaced with a lighter color laminate and bulky overhead cabinets were jettisoned, letting sunlight stream in. Now, it’s my favorite room in this old house.  It’s there that you’ll find me: cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, helping with homework, playing board games, reading the paper, finishing projects, talking on the phone, chatting with neighbors and singing along to the radio.

Recently, a friend stopped over for the first time and paid us the most lovely compliment: “I just love your kitchen; it’s so cozy, like a farmhouse in here.” I smiled, poured her a cup of coffee, and we sat down for a long visit over a piece of warm cake.

What’s your favorite room? Does it bear any similarities to your childhood favorite?

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Categories: Animals, Attitude, Faith, Family, Fashion, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Mom, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

*A Royal Schedule*

image from okmagazine.com

Tomorrow’s the day: HRH Prince William of Wales will marry his beaming bride, Miss Catherine Middleton.

Earlier today, The Royal Couple released the following statement , “We are both so delighted that you are able to join us in celebrating what we hope will be one of the happiest days of our lives. The affection shown to us by so many people during our engagement has been incredibly moving, and has touched us both deeply. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone most sincerely for their kindness.”

Should you care to follow along, here’s what you need to know:  (source: multiple)

8.15 a.m. London time (12.15 a.m. PT/3.15 a.m. ET) – General congregation arrives at Westminster Abbey between 8.15 a.m. and 9.45 a.m.

9.50 a.m. London time (1.50 a.m. PT/4.50 a.m. ET) Distinguished guests arrive.

10.10 a.m. London time (2.10 a.m. PT/5.10 a.m. ET) Prince William and Prince Harryleave Clarence House for Westminster Abbey. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.15 a.m.

10.20 a.m. London time (2.20 p.m. PT/5.20 p.m. ET) Carole Middleton and Kate’s younger brother James leave the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.27 a.m.

10.35 a.m. London time (2.35 a.m. PT/5.35 a.m. ET) The following members of the Royal family leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey: Princess Anne and Vice-Admiral Timothy Laurence; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice; Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.40 a.m.

10.38 a.m. London time (2.38 a.m. PT/5.38 a.m. ET) HRH Charles, the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall leave Clarence House for Westminster Abbey. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.42 a.m.

10.40 a.m. London time (2.40 a.m. PT/5.40 a.m. ET) Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh leave Buckingham Palace for Westminster Abbey. 

10.48 a.m. London time (2.48 a.m. PT/5.48 a.m. ET) The bridesmaids and pages leave the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey. They arrive at the Abbey at 10.55 a.m.

10:51 a.m. London time (2:51 a.m. PT/5:51 a.m. ET) – Kate and her father Mike Middleton will depart the Goring Hotel via car, the first time since 1963 that a royal bride has not arrived at the church by horse-drawn carriage. Their car will travel along The Mall, passing by Clarence House, Whitehall, and Parliament Square before arriving at the Abbey. 🙂

11 a.m. London time (3 a.m. PT/6 a.m. ET) – The service begins at 11:00 a.m. While the Dean of Westminster will conduct the church service, William and Kate will actually be married by Rowan Douglas Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The marriage service will be relayed by audio speakers along the procession route. 🙂

12.15 p.m. London time (4.15 a.m. PT/7.15 a.m. ET) – Following the ceremony, Prince William and Princess Catherine, now husband and wife, will return to Buckingham Palace in a procession of horse-drawn carriages (with the newlyweds travellign in the 1902 State Landau carriage), passing by the thousands of well-wishers who will be lining the streets. 🙂

12.30 p.m. London time (4:30 a.m. PT/7:30 a.m. ET) – Once back at Buckingham Palace, the newlyweds enjoy a champagne reception hosted by Her Majesty the Queen.

1.25 p.m. London time (5.25 a.m. PT/8.25 a.m. ET) – The Royal couple and their families will take a moment to appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony. We expect that William and Kate will share a **kiss** for the crowds and cameras. 🙂

1.30 p.m. London time (5.30 a.m. PT/8.30 a.m. ET) – The royals watch a flypast by the Royal Air Force and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight before returning inside for the Queen’s reception.

7 p.m. London time (11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET) – Charles, The Prince of Wales will host a private dinner and dance, also at Buckingham Palace. 

     * I’ve marked with a 🙂 the points of the schedule I’ll be paying the most attention to …. and, with that,  I’m off to bed! MJ

Categories: Beauty, Faith, Family, Fashion, Fun, Joy, Life, Love, News, Relationships, Romance, Share, Useful Information | Tags: | 9 Comments

If Diana had been here

Princess Diana with her boys, Prince Harry (c) and Prince William (r); image from luxuo.com

Tomorrow is the much-anticipated Royal Wedding between Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine “Kate” Middleton and, like many, I have been following along and will enjoy the coverage of what promises to be a spectacular day in history.
 
Much ado has been made about the guest list, the food, the various parties and, of course, what Kate’s dress will look like.
 
I can’t help but think about her.  Diana, Princess of Wales.
 
Fiercely devoted mother, master press manipulator, giver of hugs, sharer of a perhaps too much information.
 
I think about how she would have turned 50 this year and how stunning she would still be.
 
I like to think of her arriving at the Abbey in sophisticated, sleek yet understated attire, turning and giving a smile to all of us. 
 
I like to think Kate would have tried especially hard to please and impress her.
 
I like to think that she might have found love by now, with a super hot and titled Aristocrat sporting ears of normal proportions.
 
I like to think that, with her still with us, there’d be no Camilla.
 
Come to think of it, she will be there.  Prince William gave Kate her ring.  Her generous influence on her two sons appears ever-present.
 
The last time we witnessed Royal pomp & circumstance at the Abbey, it was for her funeral and whenever I see a photo of those flowers with the words “Mummy,” my heart breaks again.
 
It’s time for some love, some romance, some lightness of being.  Make room for Diana, for she will be there tomorrow.
 
Categories: Beauty, Determination, Family, Gratitude, Grief, Joy, Life, Love, Men, Opinion, Personal, Random, Romance, Share, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , | 35 Comments

It’s here! It’s really, truly, finally here…I think.

forsynthia peeking over my fence

After the most unpredictably cold, wet and weird April of recent memory, I dare say it outloud:

       Spring is here!

I won’t taunt Mother Nature by being too pleased about it for fear she’ll spank us with another April snow shower. (Hey we did get 2″ of the white stuff last Monday!)

But I sure enjoyed a relaxing walk through the neighborhood with old dog tonight.  He: nose down/tail up, sniffing the pathway ahead of us.  Me: foot wrapped, stretching and trying to improve my stamina and distance, bit by bit.  The mild air felt cool on my cheeks and, when we turned to home, I had to zip my windbreaker as the breeze picked up. In an instant,  I was transported to Spring on the farm:  fluffy yellow chicks, kittens, a foal or two and lots and lots of baby calves.  A time of being delighted that we could wear just sneakers again; all the boots were put away and the yard was no longer a mucky mess.  A time of hoodies layered under jean jackets, pink cheeks and coming into the house smelling of fresh air.

I love the scents of Summer and the colours of Autumn but it’s on days like this that I realize what I love about Spring: its promise. 

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”  ~Robin Williams

Categories: Animals, Beauty, Family, Friendship, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Random, Seasons, Snarky, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Happy Easter!

Today, amongst the plastic eggs, baked ham and pies, I’m savoring all that I am grateful for.

The ability to live at peace.

The opportunity to have love in my home.

The warmth and security of good friends, a healthy family, and having enough. Of being enough. Of being.

Today, I’m grateful for the opportunity to acknowledge what is good in my life.

And there’s a lot.

You?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Friendship, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Quick and to the point

I received these great one-liners in an email and they were too good not to share.  

Happy Saturday!

4:30 is to meetings what water is to boarding.

7/5th of all people do not understand fractions.

Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

Dawn is nature’s way of telling you to go to bed.

Everybody has a plan, ’till they get hit. – Mike Tyson

Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.

Honk if you like peace and quiet.

Never argue with a fool, they will lower you to their level and then beat you with experience.

Okay, who put a stop payment on my reality check?

Spelling is a lossed arte.

Alcohol is not the answer, it just makes you forget the question.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Fashion, Food, Forgiveness, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Love, Men, music, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Random, Rants, Relationships, Romance, Self Discovery, Snarky, Thoughts, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Forgiving myself

image courtesy of bbc.co.uk

“We control 50% of a relationship; we influence 100% of it.” – Anonymous

Last night, we decided to go out with friends for a last-minute happy hour/dinner type outing. Hubbs was ready to go when I got home from work and I took a quick shower & changed my clothes. The Pub was packed when we arrived, as it often is on their “1/2 off Thursdays.”  Hubbs and I settled into a spot at the bar, put our names in for a table, and waited for our friends to arrive.

The evening was great fun; lots of laughs, good food, and camaraderie.

Back to our outing: everything was fine until the conversation turned to my recovery from recent surgery.  Geez it’s getting old talking about that. Now let me just point out that the Hubbs was a wonderful asset while I was laid up, stepping in to take over the laundry, doing the house cleaning, running the kid around, and figuring out our meal plans.  He also warmed up coffee for me, brought me supplies and picked up needed items from the store. He did a wonderful job and was very attentive and, when I was up to it, I took back the reins.   The topic meandered to the fact that, in his mind, he did what he did 24/7 for 6 weeks (I was off for 7).  My mind screamed the truth: he did what he did – and a fine job at that – for about 4 weeks.  And then he didn’t.

I don’t know if it was the few beers I’d had, if I was tired, or if he just pissed me off but I snorted and, in front of our friends, became that woman who snarps back at her husband and who just has to be right.

Ugh. I hate that woman.  I despise  her and have no room for her in my relationship.

I retorted, “No, you did a great job but it was for a lot less time than you’re thinking of.”

As soon as I said it, I knew I was wrong. 

It wasn’t nice of me.  It was hardly gracious.

Some would argue I was only clarifiying the truth.  It doesn’t matter and it doesn’t make it right.

My words, and my desire to be right, hurt his feelings and, in effect, minimized his contribution in front of our friends, whom he loves and respects.

Ouch.  I feel just awful about it.

Later, I apologized.  He accepted, but that doesn’t mean I don’t regret my actions.

What’s that old saying? “Choose your words carefully; you never know which ones you’ll have to eat.”

Categories: Attitude, Family, Forgiveness, Home, Life Lessons, Men, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments

Who’s in your driver’s seat?

SNLs Toonces the Driving cat; photo from catnabbit.com

I heard this quote in response to someone saying that they didn’t feel in control of their life.  The response was, No one controls you.  Energy follows thought and thought directs energy.” 

So – where ever you direct your THOUGHTS is where energy will go.

If you got up this morning thinking “this day is gonna suck” it will.

The point? 

We are in control more than we think. 

    Where are your thoughts driving you today?

I’m thinking how today is my first day back to work after foot surgery and while I’m still sporting running shoes, mentally, I’m ready to go.

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Determination, Faith, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Humor, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Random, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Wisdom | 16 Comments

I got Chromed!!

image from googlechromefans.com

On the advice of a friend, I decided to update my internet browser from Internet Explorer to Google Chrome™.  More information on it here.   This was an easy decision for me as my internet homepage has been set to Google ™ for quite some time. I felt confident going forward and, consequently, didn’t do any research.  

Bad move.

At first glance, everything worked great. 

I liked the fact that Google Chrome™ didn’t just remember my browsing history; it displayed a page of little tiles showing where I’d been. All I’d need to do was click on a recent tile and –Bam- I was there.  Sweet! I could open multiple tiles at a time and alternate between them. 

However.

The first sign of a problem was when I couldn’t finesse my way through the security settings and allow pop-ups I WANTED from trusted sites. I.E. my bank.  Hmmm. The second sign was the fact that our son suddenly couldn’t access the internet when logged in under his Windows Vista® profile.

It soon became painfully obvious that:

  1. I should have researched this new product and had a better understanding of  it before I downloaded it. (sigh)
  2. Google Chrome™ was indeed robust but it was persnickety and problematic for me.
  3. Somewhere along the way, an update from Microsoft Internet Explorer version 8 to 9 had tried to happen, and not happened correctly.

Being the techie that I am (insert sneer here; hey I’m fairly capable, but I’m also impatient and have been known to click & recycle at will), I thought, “This is easy – I’ll just uninstall it.”   🙂

Bad idea.

I uninstalled Google Chrome™ and subsequently had NO working internet browser.

Zip.

Zoop.

Zap.

This morning… around 3:00 a.m., as I lay in bed thinking of how to solve this, I admonished myself for not having researched the product in my usual thorough fashion. So, using the hubbs’ laptop, I “Googled” “Google Chrome uninstall problems” which produced  720,000 results.  Eek!

 I did find a solution though! (This is for Vista users)

Go to:

  • Start
  • Control Panel
  • Programs
  • Programs & Features
  • Installed updates
  • Find Internet Explorer 9 and remove it.
  • Restart.
  • System reverts to Internet Explorer 8.

 And everything works as it should now! 

 *Disclaimer: Google Chrome™ may be a great product but this user needs to do more research before taking another blind leap!

 Anyone else tried Google Chrome™? What’s your experience been like?

Categories: Blogging, Determination, Fun, Life, Opinion, Personal, Share, Technology, Uncategorized, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

Be yourself

Sometimes we can feel that we are just a number, just a face in the crowd.  It’s at those moments that we need to remember how less interesting the crowd would be without us in it.  Everyone brings something to the table.  Below are a few quotes that help me remember this very lesson:

Judy Garland image from filmmusicsociety.org

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
Judy Garland

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
Dr. Seuss

This above all: to thine own self be true.
William Shakespeare

He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.
Raymond Hull

The best you can be at any given moment is yourself.
Elizabeth Alraune

About all you can do in life is be who you are.
Rita Mae Brown

What you are will show in what you do.
Thomas A. Edison

Embrace your uniqueness. Time is much too short to be living someone else’s life.
Kobi Yamada

All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Do you have a quote that inspires you to be your very best?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Fashion, Friendship, Gratitude, Humor, Joy, Life, Opinion, Quotes, Random, Relationships, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Can the right dish prompt an engagement?

image from cooking-questions.com

Is a simple recipe for Roast Chicken the key to an engagement? According to Glamour magazine it is … More here.   The magazine editors had an experience whereby the sharing of  a favorite recipe prompted one woman’s boyfriend to propose – it was that good. The magazine has since put together a cookbook  to help women navigate their kitchen — called “100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know” (available through Hyperion). In addition to Engagement Chicken, the book covers breakfast (“He Stayed Over Omelette”), entrees (“Let’s Make a Baby Pasta”) and drinks (“Forget the Mistake You Made at Work Margarita”), all tried-and-true recipes perfected by the team at Glamour.

I have to admit that the chicken recipe does look delicious and I will definitely give it a try.

This prompted me to think about the following: which one of my signature dishes hooked the hubbs?

Answer: My made-from-scratch baked potato soup.  I didn’t know it at the time, but well after we were married he admitted that watching me whip up soup from scratch put him at ease in my little apartment kitchen. He confided that witnessing this meant I was someone he – and his stomach – could relate to.   What he didn’t know is that I had little money and that this soup is not just super easy to make but cost-effective, too!

Here’s the recipe that still elicits “mmmms” of delight to this day:

MJ’s Baked Potato Soup

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces (or about 10 baby carrots, chopped)
  • 1 14 oz can of chicken broth (I use low sodium)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 cups milk (any kind but skim)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • Bacon bits & extra cheese for topping

In a large saucepan, steam all vegetables on high steam for about 8 -10 min (they will still be slightly crunchy).   Set aside.

While veggies are steaming, cook up your cream base:  in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth (it will be thick) and bubbling.  Slowly pour in the chicken broth; continue to stir. Next, add the milk, keep stirring and bring mixture to a gentle boil; it will thicken as it cooks.  Once the desired consistency, turn heat to low and stir in cheese until melted.   Drain steamed vegetables and gently fold them into the cream sauce.  Season with Mrs. Dash® regular or Mrs. Dash® onion seasonings and a pinch of garlic powder (not salt).

Ladle into soup bowls and top with bacon bits & a bit of shredded cheddar.  This is his favorite Saturday soup served with an oven roasted chicken sandwich.

How about you? Do you have a signature dish that defined your relationship? 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Food, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Love, Men, Personal, Quotes, Recipes, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Significance of Date Night

image from israbox.com

It’s “date night!” 

The hubbs & I schedule regular “date nights” and have since we met 20 years ago.  You see, we became an instant family when we married (more here) so we’ve never have had time that was just “ours.” We’ve always been parents and that’s OK – that’s the life we chose and neither of us would change it. Our way to navigate some time together has been to schedule it, as a way to reconnect and reaffirm what we already know.   As mentioned before, many times we didn’t have the money for a sitter or to go out; we still made time for each other.  More here.

I’m glad we have prioritized this because:

  • Date nights mean “I hear you.”
  • Date nights mean “I love you.”
  • Date nights mean “I’m here for you.”
  • Date nights mean wearing something other than “Mom & Dad” clothes, a whiff of cologne, cleavage, a buttoned-down shirt, a swirly skirt and lipstick.
  • Date nights mean “You are still it for me.”
  • Date nights mean singing our songs, telling our work stories, and being in the moment.
  • Date nights mean comfort, warmth, passion and love.
  • Date nights mean “In spite of everything around us – jobs – kids – family – I still choose time with you over everything – and everyone – else.”

I love that he schedules tee times early enough so that he can come home, shower, change and spend the night with me. What girl wouldn’t love that in her man?

He loves that I use my time to do what interests me and, when he returns, he’s greeted by a warm and willing companion who looks nice, feeds him and wants to spend her night with him.  What guy wouldn’t love that in his girl?

At the January “State of the Union” Presidential address, a rather large fuss was made about how “both sides of the aisle” abandoned their polar positions and sat together, effectively inter-mixing the powers that be.

It’s startling that this was news.  Grown-ups acting civilly towards each other. Really?

I can’t speak for Congress but, for us, date nights have always been the buoy we swim to against the undertow of daily living.

How about you?  How do you maintain the state of YOUR union?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Love, Men, music, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Romance, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Traditions, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , | 23 Comments

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