Monthly Archives: April 2012

Go ahead

Let them see your brokenness; let them see the cracks in your armor – for that’s how the light gets out.

Will you let us see your brokenness?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, fear, Forgiveness, Growth, Joy, Life, music, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 32 Comments

on Need

Consider this the next time someone you know (child, in-law, spouse, etc.) acts out, acts up, pouts, snorts, stomps or whines:

Love me when I least deserve it because that is when I most need it. –Swedish Proverb

:: image from ::

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Charity, Family, fear, Forgiveness, Home, Life, Love, Quotes, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 26 Comments

Salads & Cake

A week’s work of business travel and, boy, was I happy to get home again.  Home to my own bed, my own kitchen and my own crew.

Back in the office Monday, I immediately noticed the sign-up sheet for our next office potluck.  This time a salad bar was suggested.  In keeping with our company’s increased attention to our health and many people’s efforts to trim their waistlines, the salad bar sounded like a great idea … on paper.

You see, we’ve been down this path before.

Yep, this ain’t our first rodeo.

Hold on a minute .. did you say potluck?? (the great Sam Elliott in Tombstone)

Office potlucks are, for some, a delightful opportunity to pound the communal drum, for others, the bane of their office existence.

Here are a few simple guidelines that I’ve found work for me; I’m sharing them here so we can all navigate easily through the political landscape of the office potluck:

  • Contribute on some level. Can’t cook? Stop by the local deli and buy something to share. Limited budget?   Bring a (new) roll of plastic wrap or tinfoil – the cooks in the crowd will admire your creativity (and you can save $$ by buying at the dollar store).  Having said that, showing up with a half eaten bag of Lay’s potato chips does not make you a hero, it makes you a putz.
  • No showing off. Love to cook? Go for it! We love that you orchestrated a seven layered Tiramisu for us but if you get all Braggerty McBraggert about it we’ll nibble it down with a spoonful of resentment. And when we’re annoyed with you, we’re less likely give compliments. And admit it, that’s why you stayed up till midnight anyways.
  • Take part.  I have a few food sensitivities but that doesn’t mean I can’t participate. I bring my lunch and I can always find something to comment on and sample.  And, I make it a point to join the crowd and eat with the group – the communal setting lends itself to getting to know each other a little bit better.
  • Mind your manners.  If you have a comment about what another person brought or made, please make sure it’s kind.  Even better if its within earshot.  Remember your parents saying,  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Announcing that you hate garlic, going into gastric detail about how it affects you and that you don’t understand why anyone in their right mind would even use garlic just makes makes me want to bring garlic bread next time. 🙂
  • When in doubt, admire the effort.  Not willing to try chain smoker Carl’s brownies?  Avoiding cat lady’s cheese ball?  Doesn’t mean you can’t give them something to go on, “Wow! That must have taken you a lot of time to put together!”  Trust me: people will love that you noticed.  Warning: don’t say this unless you’re already holding a full plate.  Otherwise you could end up with a heaping helping of the delectable you’re trying to dodge.

So, back to our salad bar potluck today; here’s the hard, cold truth of the matter –the fruits and veggie tray, the lettuce and toppings – they will be left largely untouched and dishes containing these three food staples – cheese, Cool Whip or BBQ sauce –  will disappear faster than you can make room for pie.


I’m packing my lunch and bringing a cake! (recipe below)

Yep, a cake mix cake topped with, you got it, Cool Whip, pineapple, Jell-O pudding and cream cheese.  Fantastic with a salad!

MJ’s Pineapple Delight Cake:

  • 1 box yellow or white cake mix
  • 1 small (1 oz.) pkg. vanilla or lemon instant pudding
  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. whipped cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, SAVE the juice*
  • 1 12 oz. container of Cool Whip
  • 2 c. milk

Directions — Make cake according to box instructions except substitute the pineapple juice for any water the cake mix calls for.  Bake in a 9 x 13 pan and let cool completely.

For the topping, pour the cream cheese, instant pudding and milk into a mixing bowl and blend well with an electric mixer (about 2-3 min or until it starts to set).

Spread the cream cheese/pudding/milk gloriousness over the cooled cake. Next, cover that goodness with the crushed pineapple and top with a hearty layer of Cool Whip (or real whipped cream if you’re feeling ambitious).  Top with nuts if you like – or not – it’s delicious either way.

Refrigerate overnight and, before serving, take a slab for yourself  ’cause there’s no way any of it is coming home with you!

see the layers? Double click on image for a drool-worthy closeup.

* * *

How about your office? 

Do people go for the green or sprint to the cheese & Cool Whip?

Categories: Determination, Food, Fun, Life, Personal, Recipes, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

The point

If you lose your cool because traffic made you late for yoga, you’ve missed the point, don’t you think?

If you stand on the sidelines hurling obscenities at a coach’s conduct, you’ve missed the point, don’t you think?

If you swear and sulk because family commitments made you tardy to prayer group, you’ve missed the point, don’t you think?

“A good example is far better than a good precept.” –  Dwight L. Moody


Which way are you?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Growth, Life, Quotes, Relationships, Thoughts, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 29 Comments

Catching it

Lately, I’ve caught a lot:

I’ve caught up on my sleep after catching the walking bug

I’ve caught wind of some good networking info.

I’ve caught myself laughing, singing along and trying new things.

I’ve caught more tasks than I bargained for in team meetings and made it through to tell the tale.

I’ve caught a look from the Hubbs, hugs from the grands, and smiles from the boys.

I’ve caught on to new technology.

I’ve caught a view of the Tigers’ bullpen …

Hello, Tigers! photo from

I’ve caught a shy smile on another’s face when I gave them a compliment.

I’ve caught a movie .. in 3D!

I’ve caught a plane and a few new tunes, but I haven’t caught a spring cold, thank goodness.

I’ve even been told that I’m a “catch.”

“The Constitution only guarantees the people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself.” ~Author unknown, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin

So, what have you caught lately?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Friendship, Fun, Life, Quotes, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | 29 Comments

With a click & a prayer

My friend, Sandi, blogs about her adventures as a Dukan-living midwife in China. We’ve never met, but I can tell you this: she’s a fascinating woman with a great spirit and someone I would love to meet in person one day.

Sandi wrote a post on behalf of her beautiful grand-daughter, Celeste.  An excerpt:

As many of you know, Chris & I really need a wheelchair van to safely transport Celeste. As she gets older & bigger, it gets more & more difficult to lift her in & out of our vehicles. The company below is being very generous by giving away three wheelchair accessible vehicles. It would be a huge blessing and relief for us if we were to win one of them. The winner will be selected from the top 10% that rec’d the most votes. Voting is going on now & ends on Sun., May 13th. 

With one click, you, dear reader, can help this child and her parents win a mobility vehicle.  Here’s how:

  1. Click on the link to vote for Celeste.
  2. The first time  you vote, if you enter the #s 873 as the promo code, your vote counts as 5 votes! and
  3. You can vote every day until 5/13

Click here to vote for Celeste:

and to read the full story, click here: My Granddaughter Celeste Alena.

Lastly, to visit Sandi’s blog, pop on over to

 * * *

“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”  Martin Luther King, Jr.
Categories: Blogging, Charity, Determination, Faith, Friendship, Home, Life | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

One Tin Soldier

have cap gun, will travel; google

I was probably around nine years old and a couple of years into my first pony; summers were spent exploring the hills and coulees around our farms.  My cousins and I pooled our pop bottle money on cap gun “ammo” and, out in the sage and the brush, we’d reenact days of old:  The Pony Express, coming through!  Oh no, an Indian Ambush!  Settlers crossing the plains.  A stagecoach robbery!  You see, the four of us had our own horses and acres and acres of land on which to carry out our adventures.  We’d ride most of our days and when we came in, stinking of ponies and sweat, our mothers would pour us glasses of Tang, make us a bit of lunch and send us right back out again.

Coulees are excellent place for adventures!

It was around this time that I became aware of the fact that my parents had another name for me. You see, as a child born in the ’60s,  no one knew the sex of a baby before baby arrived.  It stood to reason that parents picked out a few names, just in case.  (As the youngest of five, Nana suggested the name “Caboose” to my parents, to which they just laughed.)    My cousin proudly revealed that her name would have been Jeffrey Jarl, after her Dad, Jarl D.

Jeffrey Jarl =  JJ. Way. Cool. And – the same name as her pony at the time-what were the chances?

Well, I simply had to know.  I pestered Mom until she finally revealed my boy name would have been Willard John.

Willard John?

After Grandpa Willard, my Mom’s father.  That was reasonable, I supposed.   Grandpa Willard was kind to me and lots of fun but Willard John?  Remember my best friend and cousin, Debbie, was now JJ.  JJ can’t be wrangling rustlers with Willard John at the OK Corral!  To me, a girl sporting tangled braids and a short list of fears, the name evoked the image of an older man living in a stuffy building with bad pipes and lots of cats.

Twisting the name around in my head and unleashing my imagination, I soon realized that Willard could be shortened to Bill or Billy. And everyone knew that Jack is just another name for John.  And there it was: Billy Jack.  Oh yeah …

Billy Jack fit my “girls can do anything” swagger at the time. I liked the fact that he was as a hero in his town, taking on bad guys, righting the wrongs and looking fab while doing it.

JJ and Billy Jack had an awful lot of adventures that summer, and for many others that followed.

Are you aware of your alternate name?  Have you ever imagined yourself as someone else?

Categories: Attitude, Family, Home, Life, Personal, Self Discovery | Tags: , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Sugar & spice and everything nice

In addition to the Easter candies around this weekend, I decided to bake something special for our guests.  Grandpa and the wee ones really enjoyed a dessert I deemed the “perfect marriage.”  What is it?

Simple – just bake up my two-ingredient Magic Pumpkin Spice Cake and top it with my Opally Delicious Carmel Icing and what do you get?  A perfect marriage of spicy and sweet.  A rich and fiber-filled cake that’s yummy with brunch, over coffee, or tucked in with their leftover care packages.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m traveling for work and, after today, won’t be blogging ’till the weekend; I wish you all a happy, good week :).  -MJ

Categories: Family, Food, Home, Life, Personal, Recipes, Relationships | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

ABCs – easy as 1-2-3

Both Jeanette at A View from the Middle and Dianna at These Days of Mine presented me with a new blog award, the ABC (Awesome Blog Content) award recently.  Thank you ladies; I am honored that you feel my blog has awesome content!

When accepting the ABC award , the recipient is supposed to list 26 things about themselves, in alpha order.  You might want to pour a cup of coffee and get comfy, cause this is a long post:

I am:
A: Artistic. Boring meetings find me doodling in margins.
B: Brunette …with a touch of red when the sun’s out.
C: Citizen.
D: Dog lover
E: Energetic.  I wake up and am “up.” Hubbs needs time. One of our many differences – see Q.
F: Farm-raised.
G: Grandmother.  (but the wee ones call me Nana.)
H: Happy.
I:  Intuitive.
J:  Judgmental. (decisions are made based on experience and/or “gut” feel)
K:  Kitchen Queen (Queen of mine anyways – ha!)
L:  Loyal
M: Mom
N:  Nana
O: Organized. So my grocery list is computerized and in the order of the store.   No need to hate.
P:  Patriotic, practical, and picky.
Q: Quirky.  Don’t need time to wake up, I just … “wake up”
R:  Respectful.
S:   Sentimental.
T:  a Timmy’s fanatic (Tim Horton’s coffee, that is)
U:  Unlikely (to ever sky dive. But I would definitely zip line.)
V:  Voter!
W: Wife (20 years today!)
X:   non- Xenophobic (As in afraid of others who are different from me)
Y:   Yielding.
Z:   Zippy (especially after a lot of Tim Horton’s, heh heh)

Now I am to share this award with other bloggers I enjoy.  Easy, peasy, puddin’ and pie – just hop on over to my blogroll – you’re sure to find a new favorite! And to Jeannette & Dianna – thank you again.

..:: Happy Easter! ::..

He’s Alive and I’m forgiven .. Heaven’s gates are open wide – He’s Alive!

Categories: Faith, Family, Friendship, Home, Joy, Life, Love, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

Elton, Redford & me

So there I was, working for local Houston radio station, KFMK, when I found myself signed up to staff our booth at an industry trade show.   I was about 21 at the time and you could say I was a bit green to the ways of the world.  Oh I thought I was all that and a bag of chips, but now I can only look back and chuckle.   What I lacked in experience,  I made up for in moxie.

Taking a break from our booth, I noticed a line forming in front of competitor station K-Lite’s booth.  Wondering what all the fuss was about, I soon found out.

And there they were – two handsome look-a-likes posing with fans.  Finishing up my duties, I grabbed a spot in line with the others. Probably could have taken my KFMK name tag off, though.

The funny thing is, more than 27 years later, I still sing Elton John’s songs, Robert Redford still makes me swoon, and royal blue is still my favorite color.

Dreams really do come true! An emjayandthem photo

How about you? Ever met a doppelganger?

Categories: Attitude, Fun, Life, music, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Senor Doggus & the Vet

Frankie had his physical Monday night.

Old dog survived the traumatic two mile car trip to the Vet’s office, interactions with other jumpy, barky types, and being poked, prodded, and touched.

Here’s how it went down:

“Oh Frankie, you’re such a gentleman, if only all of our patients were as good as you,” said the Vet to our Rooney-eye-browed dog.

Andy Rooney: a striking similarity, eyebrows-wise; google


As expected, Frank took it all in stride.

In fact, his reactions to the Veterinary Inquiry are shown in italics below:

“He looks so good for his age, I can’t believe he will be 12 this year!”  Thank you; I’ve been doing downward-facing dog a lot lately. 😉

“He’s even lost weight!”  I’ve been walking with Mom every day. It’s nearly the best part of my day, ‘cept when the kid gets home from school. And lunch with Dad. I love lunch. Who doesn’t love lunch?

me and my boy; I can't believe he's about to Graduate!

“His ticker sounds so strong!”  Duh!! Walks with Mom every day. And if you visited my house you’d notice that the squirrels and I have an agreement; they stay on the fence or behind it. Grrr. 

“How does he do getting up and down all the stairs in your house?” Sometimes getting up onto my boy’s bed hurts a little, and, truth be told, I moan an awful lot.  But, more often than not, it’s a sigh.  It’s the the happy kind you make when your belly is full and your boy is near and the sun is streaming through the window. Sometimes I ache but I’ll never, ever complain.  Mom bought me a new bed recently, and it’s so big and fluffy, they call it the “Condo” because I can disappear in it. And I do.

Frankie's condo; it's the least an old dog deserves

“Let’s get him on some glucosamine, it will really help his joints feel better. And they’re liver flavored; dogs love them!”  Clearly we’ve just met; I’m not a typical dog: I don’t eat anything shaped like that without Peanut Butter or a little cheese.  Skippy and Sharp cheddar, that’s where it’s at.

“Flea and tick season is here; we’ll need to start him on that plus heartworm medicine, right?”   Great, more liver flavored stuff.   That’s OK, Mom will hide them in a peanut butter sandwich and I’ll play along. (It’s our secret.)  And when she puts that oily stuff on my shoulders, I’ll strut and channel Billy Idol.

Nice day for a White Wedding yeah! (

“His coat looks great! What are you feeding him?”  Pedigree.  You know … the food for dogs born without one?  Don’t forget chicken broth and a little pizza crust.  I’m pretty diversified, now that I think of it. Hey, is that a grill I smell?

“Have you ever thought of having his teeth cleaned?  We can do that, but you need to know it does involve anesthesia and such.”  My mom’s a farm girl. She loves me but I’m not seeing doggie dentures in my future.  Besides, that’s what Milk Bones are for. Speaking of, when’s lunch?

At least I don't have an overbite!

And there you have it. A day in the life of old dog.  Traumatic two mile car ride and all.

I hope we have many, many more.

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” — Unknown

Categories: Animals, Family, Home, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 25 Comments

In the wildwood

There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood
No lovelier place in the dale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale

Macrorie United Church. No longer open and never brown but still dear to my childhood.

Oh, come to the church by the wildwood
Come to the church in the dale
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale

inside our Church

How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning
To list to the clear ringing bell
It’s tones so sweetly are calling
Oh, come to the church in the vale

me & my cousin, Deb, at the guest book for an anniversary "come & go tea"

Oh, come to the church by the wildwood
Come to the church in the dale
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale

 * * *

Sunday school, Easter service, Confirmation classes, Christmas concerts and bridal showers.  Anniversary celebrations, retirement parties, funerals and luncheons.  Church was an anchor: a place to gather, to worship, to sing, to cry, to laugh, to live.

It doesn’t take much effort to still smell the hymnals, coffee perking in the basement kitchen and the combined fragrance of Lemon Pledge and Pine Sol  – a fragrance that said this place is clean, this place is holy; something so deeply ingrained that just a whiff today can transport me immediately there.

I still can hear the creak of the entry stairs, shared greetings between friends and neighbors and inner doors closing reverently as services began.

Mary Jane's: image

Smiling, I remember the clickety-click-click  of our Mary Jane shoes as we cantered down the aisle and into our seats.  Trying my best to be still, my hands recall the feel of the polished oak pews beneath them.

I remember the nerves that threatened to overtake us as we stood in line on the back staircase leading up to the choir stand.

But mostly, mostly I remember the warmth of the congregation and the soft presence of dear ones who left us years ago.

Do you have a childhood church living in you?

Categories: Faith, Family, Gratitude, Joy, Life, music, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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