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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Red, white & blue: you can, too!

It’s potluck day at the office again!  Oh do we love our potlucks.

Our theme today is Red, White & Blue in honor of our upcoming Independence Day Holiday :).  Many of you know that I grew up in Canada and we wore our red & white proudly.  When I became a U.S. Citizen, I happily added blue to my repertoire. I’m proud to be a citizen here and a “dual” there … and I’m always happy to contribute something fun to a party.

I saw this idea in a magazine; reading it over I thought, “I can do that” and guess what? So can you.

Have fun with it .. and to my Canadian family & friends … follow the steps below and just skip the blue:  have fun creating your very own True North Strong & Free delights, too!

* * * *

* Patriotic Strawberries ~~ What you need *

  • Strawberries, rinsed & dried (keep stems)  (I used 4 lbs)
  • CandiQuick or Dolci white melting chocolate (I used 2 packets of Dolci)
  • Sugar ( I used about 1/4 cup)
  • Blue food coloring ( A couple of squirts)
  • Waxed paper (enough to line your platter)
  • Paper towel (to put clean berries on & to dry with)

Instructions:

Rinse strawberries and place on paper towel.  Pat dry (be sure they’re dry or candy coating won’t stick.)

Add food coloring to sugar (use a bowl, you want a little depth here).  Try to ignore Tigers’ headlines.

Blend in sugar by mashing with a fork. At first the food coloring will want to stick together but you’ll soon convince it otherwise.

See?

Next, follow microwaving instructions on package to melt the coating (I melted and dipped one packet at a time and used 2 total).

Next, dip strawberries (one at a time) about 2/3 in the candy coating and immediately roll the bottom in the blue sugar.  Place on platter.

Resist the urge to be generous with the coating or you’ll get a gloppy mess like the one in the left:

Finished product below!

Smile, taste & celebrate!

Happy Canada Day (July 1st)!  *  Happy Independence Day (July 4th!)

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Categories: Family, Food, Fun, Holidays, Life, News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Simple pleasures

So .. a while ago, I earned an award at work.  Who doesn’t enjoy being appreciated?  But .. the fun thing about this is that it’s not the kind of award that hangs on your wall and needs to be dusted. Oh no, this award is given in points … points that can be redeemed via a website.  A site loaded up with all kinds of cool stuff.

There’s stuff that’s fun, stuff that’s practical and stuff you’d probably never get any other way.  It’s a little decadent. And who doesn’t enjoy being decadent once in a while?

Restaurant Gift cards. Housewares. Luggage. Jewelry.  Sports & outdoors. Or … something that makes a popcorn fiend sit up and take notice …something like this:

Hello gorgeous!!!

I admit it. I’m a popcorn junkie. Certified.  I’ll happily endure a bad movie just so to have theater popcorn.

:: one of the worst I’ve ever seen ::

The Wabash Farms Whirley-Pop popcorn maker makes Theater-style popcorn – at home – in about 3 minutes. Every kernel pops and every single one is scrump-dilly-icious.  As in 8 million times better than microwaved.

I’d share but … it’s time to reorder!  Get yours at popcornpopper.com or on Amazon.

What simple pleasure have you indulged in lately?

Categories: Food, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Products I love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

To a tee

From time to time, I find it cathartic to examine where I am, what I’m doing and how I’m “spending” my days.

One way I do this is to draw a “T” down a piece of paper; on one side I write down those circumstances that have brought joy and that I want to revisit again soon.  On the other, I take note of situations that have left me feeling discouraged, bruised and unfulfilled.

Then, I look over the list, grab hold of the reins and steer my wagon towards the joyful side.

Making a list and checking it twice fits me to a “tee.”

How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? 

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Joy, Life, Personal | Tags: , | 31 Comments

‘Tis lovely

Ta Da!

Renee over at WritingFeemail gave me a blog award recently and today, I accept (via this post!)  Renee is generous and kind, well traveled and lovely.  She embodies what this is all about and I’m touched that she feels I do, too. Check out her writings here and thank you, sweet friend, for the honor.

Rules of  acceptance:
*thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post done!
*share 7 things about yourself
*nominate 15 or so bloggers you admire
*contact your chosen bloggers to let them know (this might take me a bit so please bear with me)

I’ve done up a few of these “about me” posts before so I am not sure how many amazing and enthralling facts I have left.   To that end, I’ll do my best to share something I haven’t yet before:

1.  I once wrote a fan letter to the Bay City Rollers and tucked my sister’s picture in with all my gushiness; she was older and far more sophisticated than the dorky 12 year old doing the writing.  I thought her picture would seal the deal and that Woody would write back professing his undying devotion. Surprisingly, I never got an answer.

why Woody, why?

2.  When I went back to the farm last fall, my brother directed me to a box of stuff from my university years.  Mixed in with the textbooks, class notes and cassette tapes was something that didn’t surprise me in the least — a photo book on Elvis.   He was my first crush and I still think he was the hottest man that ever lived; now that I think of it, I might have mentioned this before … heh heh.

Lawdy Lawdy Mizz Clawdy!

3. I met Donald Trump at NYC’s Plaza Hotel; he was polite and kinda hot.  He had a lot of bodyguards.

Why hello, MJ, and thank you for visiting the Plaza Hotel. You’re not bad yourself.

4. I flew on the corporate jet a couple of times; other than the ease with which we boarded & took off, it was a little over-rated.

meh!

5. My sister’s boyfriend landed a two-seater propeller plane on our gravel road and my parents let me go up for a spin. Seeing our farm and all my favorite places from up, up there?  Way cooler than the corporate jet, I can tell you that.

not quite this rustic

6.    Two places I’ve visited hold the most appeal for a return visit: Walt Disney World and Washington D.C.  You can draw your own parallels … hee hee!

it’s a small world after all …

7.  It’s my birthday today!  I love my birthday ~ always have and I always will :).  Usually today is the first day of summer, but I learned from Renee that it can change from year to year.  Really?   Ah, the stuff you learn out here.  Regardless, celebrate with me, won’t you?  Join Hubbs who affectionately refers to this day as  …  the longest dang day of the year. HA!

a few years back, good friends made me the BEST birthday cake ever!

And happy birthday to H.R.H Prince William who turns 30 today.   It’s wonderful to know that he’s found joy in his life; when I see a photo like this one, it’s hard to miss the body language of his parents, isn’t it?

And now to 15 bloggers I want to share the love with today — please visit and tell them I sent you on over. Everyone on my blogroll is there because I love their work but I am listing those bloggers that I know think might enjoy receiving awards. Cheers!

  1. Sandi at http://flamidwyfe.wordpress.com/
  2. DM at http://hearttoheart.wordpress.com/
  3. Guy at http://holyghostbumps.com/
  4. MJ at http://hotrodcowgirl.com/
  5. Coop at http://coopernicus.wordpress.com/
  6. Darla at http://shesamaineiac.com/
  7. Elyse at http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/
  8. Adrienne at http://mymemoryart.blogspot.com/
  9. D at http://theviewouthere.wordpress.com/
  10. Dianna at http://thesedaysofmine.com/
  11. Rich at http://richripley.wordpress.com/
  12. Lissa at http://wheniride.wordpress.com/
  13. Lenore Diane at http://lenorediane.com/
  14. Sheila at http://graceandlife.com/
  15. Butch at http://butchdean.wordpress.com/

Thank you again to Renee for the love; I sure do do appreciate it!

Extra Elvis shot b/c it’s my blog and I can! Hunka hunka hotness!

all photos from Google.images.com

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Family, Home, Joy, music, Opinion, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Whatever to the ever

When I got home from work last night, it was hot and muggy. Housework beckoned but so did the yard.  The yard won because well, there is a pool out there.

Old dog happily accompanied me as I hooked up the hose and watered my plants.

He supervised from the hill, the sun warming his old bones.

Next it was time to grill which meant I had to come in the air conditioning to retrieve the meat.  Notice I said “we” because Frankie is always willing to help. But first, he took his scheduled break on a cool floor.

You can’t see him in this photo but he’s there … he’s always there.  He was off to the right of the grill, his nose just far enough away to avoid being singed.

When it was all said and done and he’d had his allotment of meaty morsels, he retired to the condo for the evening.

An old dog, even more than an old spouse, always feels like doing what you feel like doing.  ~Robert Brault

* * *

How about you?  Does your pet take part in your routine or do you take part in theirs?

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Faith, Family, Fun, Joy, Life, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 36 Comments

It’s in the watching

Father’s Day takes me right back to being a little kid.  I remember the hours spent making a special card and saving a little money to buy Dad something he’d really want. Except that my Dad never seemed to want anything. Oh he loved black licorice, chocolate bars and pretty much any kind of candy, but if ever there was a man hard to buy for, it was him. He wasn’t like those guys on TV or in the Sears Ads: He rarely wore slacks, he didn’t golf or fish and he certainly didn’t putter in a workshop.  He worked in one but that was an entirely different matter.

As a farmer, Dad worked more days than he didn’t; unless it rained, there were no days off.  When everyone else took holidays, that’s when he worked the hardest.  Toiling in the summer sun, he’d come in for lunch and enjoy a cold sandwich, iced tea, and a bite of pie or two.  His hat would come off and he’d wash the grit and dust from his face and neck before sitting by the fan, his reading glasses on, perusing the Western Producer. Smiling at us, he’d mess our hair and ask a question or two but it wasn’t long before he was out the door again.

Father’s Day usually found us all gathered at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for cake & ice cream, coffee and orange pop floats.  The grown-ups would visit and we kids would mess around. Sometimes we’d all gather for a wiener roast at the local park, my mom and Aunts making extra Tang and working hard to keep the cold food cold and the hot food hot.

It was one of those hot summer days that I remember whining to Mom about how I wished I could spend more time with Dad.  In her usual efficient style, she answered simply “Go where he is.”

“Huh?”

“Your Dad is always around, dear. If you want to spend time with him, go spend time with him.”  I can still see her shooing her hand at me as she said it, iron in hand, a pile of laundry behind her, and jam jars simmering on the stove.

The next day, I got up extra early to find he was already gone.  Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, my flip-flops padded softly down the dusty prairie trail to where he was, laying underneath the swather.  I figured I could be a big help by handing him tools and stuff but I forgot to think about how hot that summer sun would soon be, beating down the back of my neck.  I hadn’t considered how quickly I’d grow bore of this chore.  I listened as he hummed his way through the morning, wondering aloud at what time we might break for lunch.  I’m sure I was more in the way than not but, later, when he told Mom what a “big” help I’d been, my chest swelled with pride. Dad taught me that the most mundane jobs can be enjoyable with a little tune and the right attitude.

When I think about what Dads teach us, it’s easy to compile a list of all he taught me:  how to hold baby kittens like their Mama does, how fun it is to squirt cow’s milk at the barn cats so they stand up to reach it, how to cinch a saddle tight enough that I wouldn’t fall off but not so tight that my horse would want to bite me.   Dad taught me to be gentle with living things, to have fun in my world and that being responsible brings a certain level of safety.

I wasn’t strangling Tigger, I swear!

Dad was the one who steadied me when the training wheels came off and he was the one who gave me a little push and yelled “you can do it” and I did.    Dad taught me to stretch myself and grow.

Dad made hauling manure fun!

Dad was the one who reminded us girls that “too much makeup … was too much makeup” and it was always his praise we looked for when we debuted new dresses or pretty hairdos.  He demonstrated gender equality by handing me things that were far too heavy for my little arms to carry; he expected me to manage it .. and I did.  Dad taught me that girls could do anything but that looking like one wasn’t anything to be ashamed of, either.

Grandpa, me and Dad;

It was with Dad that I stopped in to check on elderly neighbors, and it was Dad who pulled teenagers cars out of  the sandbars down at the lake. Dad taught me to make time for people, and that being helpful and kind are just good ways to live your life.

Dad showed us where the Saskatoon berries grow the best, how to find fossils in the riverbanks and why we should leave Indian graves undisturbed.   Dad taught me respect and the importance of honoring where we come from.

Saskatoon berries grow best down in that coulee

It was Dad who taught me to dance while standing on his feet and that it was perfectly OK to make up a song and be silly once in a while.  Dad taught me that laughter is part of living.

Dad & I dancing at my wedding; He was so happy!

He taught us all what persistence looks like, braving rehabilitation hospitals and strangers after a series of strokes.  It was Dad who taught us how to let go and that, no matter the distance, that I was still his and that he would always be mine.   Dad taught me to handle what life throws at you with grace and dignity.

One afternoon, when our oldest was still in high school, he whined a bit about wanting to spend time with his Dad.  I looked at him and instinctively I knew what to say, “Go where he is.”

He gave me the same look I’d given my mother, all those years ago and I gave him her answer, “Your Dad is always around, dear. If you want to spend time with him, go spend time with him.”  I said this as I shooed my hand his way, a pile of laundry behind me and supper simmering on the stove.

* * *

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.  ~Clarence Budington Kelland


Love you, Dad, forever and for always.  Happy Father’s Day in Heaven.

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Faith, Family, Holidays, Joy, Life, Men, Personal, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , | 26 Comments

Welcome to the warbling woods

So, as many of you already know, we’re in a period of transition here at the Emjayandthem house.

We’ve always been able to say that we’ve got one foot in each world – one grown and one at home (in high school).  Now, that’s no longer the case .. the youngest graduated and, while he’ll be living here – working and going to school – he’s “off” so to speak.  In his mind’s eye, he’s already “independent” (I know, try not to chuckle).

I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about what’s next.

I’ve been Mom for 26 of my 48 years and have never had much time for just me.  A lot of it has been by choice – I’m no martyr but I really do believe kids spell love t-i-m-e.   But, truth be told, I’ve never claimed much time for me.

It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started saving some of the week just for me. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started thinking about a bucket list, much less acting on one.

Hubbs heartily suggested that I take up golf; he golfs regularly and loves it.  There’s nothing more that man would love than me by his side, riding, laughing and competing.

He loves it so I would too, right?

Armed with my steady rebuttals I gave him my pat answers over the years:  I don’t have time, I’m not very good at it, I don’t like the heat.

All true.

But here’s the real truth:  I stink at golf and I am used to being good at everything I do.   Not only am I not good at it, I’m not sure I care enough to invest the money and energy it will take to become better.

I listened to his encouraging words and his assurances that, after 30 some years, he still works on his game.  After 30 years, he still struggles.  There’s a part of me who thinks he’s nuts to work at something for so long!

I’m starting to understand him now.

See, I’ve been exercising regularly for about 3 months.  I don’t know when it happened but one day, one day I was able to do more than the day before.  A lot more. When I began I could barely do a push up; now I can do many. When I first tried, I could barely get through 15 min. of a fitness DVD;  now I can complete an hour and, panting and sweaty, I’m ready and eager for the next challenge.

And his words got me thinking:  have I really only chosen activities that I know I can shine at?  Entertaining, cooking, organizing, public speaking, project leadership?

Have I shied away from that which challenges me?

Yes I have.

I don’t know when it happened but I suspect that, somewhere along the way, I settled into the comfortable support pattern that so many Moms do: I set my hopes, dreams and delights on the back burner.  The problem? I forgot to go back and switch that burner on.

How about you?  Do you gravitate to that which you can master?  And can you delight in just trying?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Joy, Life, Personal, Quotes, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 39 Comments

Finding now in the next

Whew – we made it! Months of planning and prepping, organizing and arranging brought us to and brought us through our youngest boy’s graduation party.

It – was – a – lot – of – work.

We’re tired but in a happy kind of way.

Our guests had fun.

He had fun.

And little ones had fun.

And, in my usual fashion, there’s that old familiar feeling creeping in … the one that says now what?

I’m the planner, you see.  The keeper of the social calendar. The orchestrator of fun.  A maestro of mischief.

And what’s next is a lot of open time.

Oh, there are a things coming up – other graduation parties, family gatherings and a wedding.

But that’s not what I mean.

What’s next is undocumented.

What’s next is rather unknown.

And that feels a odd to me.

But instead of charging forward and making myself yet another to-do list, I’m settling into the now.

I’m easing into what it feels like to know he’s grown and it’s his time now. It’s up to him to get up in time for work, to register for classes in the fall, to make sure his clothes are ready and that he has enough gas in the car.

I’m finding now is a rather nice place to be.

Quit worrying about what’s next. I want you to be worried about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor? ~ Mother Theresa

Categories: Faith, Family, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Quotes, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , | 39 Comments

Blessed not stressed

Repeat after me:

“Life is good.

I have every reason in the world to be happy today.

I have one to a thousand reasons to feel good.

Today, I count my blessings.

I let the sun shine inside my heart and I see in its light the dazzling beauty that’s within me.

I see my strength, I see my compassion, I see my love, and I see my joy.

I choose to feel connected; I choose to feel alive in this moment and I choose to feel good, happy, and whole.

Everything that’s for my highest good comes my way.  And what doesn’t holds something rewarding in it, too.

Life is good and I am blessed, not stressed.”

There are two ways to be rich. One is to have all you want, the other is to be satisfied with all that you have. 

Other than the grand looking black & white chap in the middle, all other images are from Pinterest.com.  Have a great day, friends! 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Faith, Family, Friendship, Home, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 40 Comments

A symptom of the human condition

Sometimes, despite the progress made, there still is a part of me that resists the changes I heartily embrace.

I’ve been following a particular way of eating that’s working really well for me because 1) I feel great, 2) I feel great and 3) have I mentioned I feel great? 🙂

And, I’ve lost lbs and a bunch of inches.  Clothes are looser, I have more energy, and, most of the time, I follow “the plan” very closely.   I still go out to eat with Hubbs sometimes, but I know what works for me and I like how I’m feeling too much to blow it on foods that aren’t worth it.

Also I’ve been exercising and am seeing uexpected benefits … when I have to scuttle under the deck to wrangle pool equipment, I have more stamina to kneel down there than I did in summers past.  Thank you Melt it off with Mitch!   I can chase, catch and lift the grand kids with ease.  Thank you The Firm!  Clothes are looser; I sleep better than ever and I’m enjoying shopping in my closet again.  Thank you to my Treadmill!

But every once in a while, your body gives you a message that you can’t ignore.  It’s a craving, a little voice that says, “I need this.” 

Normally, I ignore it. Usually I just push through.  But today, today I indulged.

No, it wasn’t chocolate, ice cream or anything from the sweet category.

It wasn’t chips, salsa or popcorn either.

What was it?

Pierogies with sauteed onions.

I made them,  I savored them and I enjoyed every last morsel-age of them.

And I’ve learned that it’s OK to indulge in a craving now and then; it won’t derail my progress, I won’t gain back the 15lbs I’ve already lost and, contrary to past beliefs, my pants won’t explode in the morning.

 What have you indulged in lately?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Food, Growth, Life, music, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Happy of myself

So … it’s happened: youngest boy has graduated.

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He’s got the world by the tail and his whole life ahead of him.

And for all of us there’s a little bit of the now what?

Oh, there’s a summer job on the horizon and college classes in the fall.

But that’s not it.

I feel a shift.

It’s not a bad thing, but still, it just feels different.

He’s 18. He’s graduated. He’s ready to go.

But maybe not just yet.

He’s responsible and polite, obedient and kind, most of the time anyways.

He’s pedaling hard and the training wheels fell off long ago.

In pondering on it, I think growing up is a bit like learning to ride your first bike: Think about it. Your parents help you pick out the right bike for you and someplace soft to practice on, just in case you fall, and you will.  You play with the gears but, more importantly, you find comfort in putting your feet on the ground as needed.  You practice on your balance, venturing out a little farther every time.  Sometimes, you get cocky and take an embarrassing spill. You discover that saving your energy means you can coast when the conditions are right. You know this but, in the back of your mind,  you never forget how to stand up and pump as hard as you can if the situation requires it.  And all it takes is one or two times to learn that some roads are better traveled in pairs and with eyes wide open.

He’s pedaling …  and we’re learning to let go.

And if we can manage it, I’ll be happy of myself, too.

Categories: Family, Growth, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 35 Comments

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