Monthly Archives: July 2012

Fussworthy and not-so-much

Just this weekend, my blogging buddy Leah penned a thought-provoking post called “My favorite things and what’s up with that?”  I read it once and then read it again and lingered on how her thoughts have inspired mine.

So, Leah shared what she’s loving right now (Vitamin water, new music, eating outside and Instagram) and things she’s not so sure about (juicing, the book I wrote about the other day, and the Olympics.)

So with that, here’s my top 5 Fuss-worthy delights of late:

Walking barefoot in the yard.  Remember how, as a kid, we’d run around barefoot all the time? I do.  As a kid, the soles of my feet were as tough as leather; I could walk across gravel, straw and dry prairie grass without so much as a flinch.  Over time, my feet became soft.  Going barefoot in the grass and out on the patio takes me back to summer days of old.

Fireflies.  I grew up too far north for those little guys to live so I don’t have childhood memories of catching fireflies … but boy I do ever feel like a child when one alights near me now.   Magical.

Finding a new (old) tune on  Amazon.   I’ve rediscovered my country roots by downloading some vintage classics like Mel McDaniel’s “Lord have mercy, Baby’s got her blue jeans on.”  I know it’s corny as what but when I hear that song I can’t resist belting out the lyrics and working it just a little.

Color.  I’m not a confident decorator and have tended to favor neutrals and old standbys that I grew up with: country blue, rose and linen. But lately, the World Market look has tempted me with colors like paprika, lime, spice and robin’s egg blue.   And I don’t spend much, just a few $$ on a pillow or a new throw.  What a difference!

world market pillows;

Shopping my closet.   I’ve mentioned how exercising and eating healthier (translate not: being an idiot when I indulge) has brought about positive changes in my shape and size.  And that’s great, ’cause who doesn’t love to see results?  But sometimes, when we’ve been one size for a while, our minds forget what those other sizes felt  like.   And then come days when you think, “oh what the heck” and go for it. I pulled a top out last Thursday and paired it with an older wrap skirt and netted a ton of compliments. Why? ‘Cause it’s flattering, fits well and looks new.  And I hadn’t worn either in 8 years.

Put your blue jeans on and work it with Sammy Kershaw’s cover of Mel’s hit song:

And now to the “I don’t get what the fuss is all about” stuff:

The Olympics.  Leah, I am with you on this one. I hope all athletes do well and I will catch a highlight or two but I’m just not that into it this time.

TomKat.  Since when did a celebrity split = news?  Katie takes Suri to lunchThey eat!  And that’s a headline?  Please.

Expensive brand names. I’m sure it’s the farm girl in me but I find a certain satisfaction at snagging a purse on clearance for $12.00. I’ve never carried a $200 designer bag and I never will. Why? Because if I don’t have $200 to put in the bag, I don’t need no $200 purse.

Pilates. Tried it. More than once. Can’t. Do. It. Jessica Rabbit was not designed to move like that. The end.

Starbucks. I have never understood the appeal. When I have to pretend I know another language just to order a large coffee, I’d rather .. not.  Venti-latte blah blah blah makes me feel like Thurston Howell the III.  Luvveeee! Plus, it’s just not that good.

How about you?  What things are you having fun fussing over this summer?  Which could you easily throw by the wayside?

Categories: Animals, Blogging, Faith, Food, Fun, Joy, Opinion, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Having fun with it

Cobbler’s made and the cake’s are done. Salad’s chilling and coolers are stocked.

Oldest boy smoked up two pork loins last night and I’ve got chicken soaking in buttermilk*, ready to be slow-fried shortly.

My tune’s are playing and the house is shining.

We can hear songbirds singing and I’m sure I saw Frankie smile.

Yep, today’s the day:  Aunts and Uncles, cousins and friends.  And birthday doings for grand-daughter MJ who just turned 3.

Summer gatherings are what summer’s all about!

* * *

“The most important thing for having a party is that the hostess is having fun.” ~Ina Garten

* * *

MJ’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken:


Soak chicken pieces in buttermilk overnight.  Don’t keep buttermilk around? Make some, it’s easy! Measure 1 tbsp of vinegar into a 1 cup container and fill the cup with milk. Stir, let stand for 5 min, then pour over chicken pieces. Double if necessary.

In a separate zip-lock bag or bowl, pour in a generous amount of “Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour” and dredge one piece of chicken at a time, coating all sides.  Remove and place the pieces on a cookie sheet covered in waxed paper.  When all are coated, place chicken pieces one by one into hot oil.  (I prefer Canola oil and use a large electric roaster set at 400.).

Generally speaking, I use enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan but not enough to drown the chicken.  Next, add sliced onions, fresh garlic and seasonings.  Cover the pan with the lid, crank up the Bee Gees and return about 30 minutes later to turn the chicken. Once both sides are browned, lower the heat and let the delicious goodness simmer for up to 3 hours. The chicken will be tender, crispy and fall-off-the-bone good.  And if that doesn’t make you get up and dance, I don’t know what will!

How about you … do you have “fun with it” when you entertain?

Categories: Attitude, Food, Fun, Home, music, Share, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

No gates, no locks, no chance

photo courtesy of

I remember a few years ago when Mom mentioned she was reading a novel set in and around the Vatican. The same book was later made into a movie starring Tom Hanks.  Chatting later about books we’d read, I happened to mention Mom’s choice to a friend of mine, a practicing Catholic.  I jumped when she recoiled and then said in a small whisper, like someone was listening,  “We’re banned from reading that book.”

My mind immediately screeched to a halt as I said out loud, “They still do that?”

“Oh yes, it’s in the church bulletin and there’s been quite a bit of controversy about it.”

Stupefied, I gave pause.

Recently I was gifted the book.  The one that’s topping the best seller lists and driving up sales of grey ties.

So far, I’m finding it to be well written ~ an interesting mix of characters navigating through a meandering plot. And yes, parts of it far exceed my comfort zone.  Here’s the rub people — this is why it’s categorized as m-a-t-u-r-e reading.

The same friend told me recently that this book was cited in the church bulletin as one not to be read. Whispering, she said, “it’s considered pornography.”

Stupefied, I once again gave pause.

I haven’t said I liked the book and I’m not sure I’ll finish it.  And, adding to that, I’m not sure that IF I finish it I’ll read the next two in the series.  But I can tell you this with absolute certainty: no one’s going to make that decision but me.

“Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ― Virginia Woolf,  A Room Of One’s Own

Do tell: I want to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, fear, Life, Opinion, Personal, Thoughts, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Sunshine on Saturdays

Ever noticed that what we long for we often get … but not always when we want it?

It finally rained on Thursday here in West Michigan; we enjoyed a nice long day of a slow soaking rain and it was perfection.  I swear I heard the plants stretch and say “ahhh.”

I woke up early today, determined to offload the extra water from the pool and clean up the mess the recent showers had created.

The warmth of the sun’s rays enveloped me, even at that wee hour.

To me, sunshine belongs to Saturdays, regardless of the season. But, having said that, there’s something wonderful about a cool rainy Sunday, one that forces me inside.

The sun’s shining today and if you’re looking for me, I’ll be out in it.


“It was like the way you wanted sunshine on Saturdays, or pancakes for breakfast. They just made you feel good.” ~ Sarah Addison Allen

Categories: Attitude, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

I got it

Listening to our grand-daughter, MJ, I can’t help but chuckle every time she says these three words: “I got it!”

Jumping into the pool … I got it!

Opening her juice box … I got it!

Putting on her sandals … I got it!

You name it, she’s got it.  And as someone who’s soon to be 3, this is an important phrase to learn and commandeer so cheerfully.

Thinking back over the past three weeks, I reflect on the hours spent sitting with my friend at her mother’s bedside.   Cancer.  Terminal. Time for Hospice. Nothing more they can really do. Just keep her comfortable. It won’t be long.

Short sentences, spoken in hushed tones.

We watched as she and her husband moved her Mom into their home and set up “shop” in the living room, right in the middle of the action.  Near the kitchen and the TV and the dinner table, exactly where she wanted to be.

Hubbs and I visited often, sitting with them all and sometimes the guys would slip out back to stand under the stars and get away from the inevitable.  And sometimes we did, too.

This friend is the child in her family who takes care of everyone, makes sure holidays are organized, helped others pay their bills, cooked and cleaned for her Mom and worked a full-time job. She’s been the go-to gal and her stepping forward and taking on this next step was not a surprise, as daunting as it was.

I visited with her and her Mom every day of my vacation and last Monday before I left for St. Louis.  Truthfully, we were amazed she was still hanging on.  But spirit does that sometimes; sometimes there are words left unsaid and work yet to be done.

Sons and cousins, aunties and friends stopped to see her one last time and I’ve pondered on how difficult those visits can be.  How tough it is to say what you mean to say as emotions are strangling your words.   I listened when my friend shared moments of awe and wonder:  her Mom rocking a baby she’d lost years ago and asking where those little girls went, the ones who’d been playing near her just now.  When I thought she was sleeping her eyes would pop open and she’d smile at me and say, “Nice dress, where’d ya get it?”  Then we’d laugh and we’d cry and we’d laugh again.

I watched the fatigue etch my friend’s face as days turned into weeks, surviving on coffee and snippets of sleep.

I saw the love in her eyes as she tenderly washed her Mother’s face and helped the Home Health Aide change the sheets.  The sounds of game shows and gospel music permeated the room.

When I got back into town Friday, it was Hubbs who’d committed us to visiting that evening.  Hubbs –  who’d rather be outside for the rest of his life than be in and face what was transpiring – but he did, because somehow he had a feeling and he was right.

And, as was our pattern, we hugged and comforted and laughed and cried and when asked how her Mom was my friend asked, “do you want to come see?” and I said “yes I do.”  We saw the shift those four days had taken on her, on all of them.  The time was nearing and it was soon.

And that’s when little Miss MJ’s words came to me.

I leaned down, placed my hand on her Mother’s arm and whispered, “I got it.  I got your girl and I will help her through this; I don’t want you to worry about it … we’ll make sure she’s OK.”

I don’t know if she heard me but I like to think she did.

My friend heard and we hugged as she cried and it wasn’t long before my tears matched hers.  And as we stood there facing what was to come, we saw her Mom relax a little.  Sitting down, we said a prayer for her homecoming and for strength and courage in the days ahead.   And with that her Mother, by now resembling a little baby bird, grabbed her wings and flew on home.

* * *

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Psalms 23:4

* * *

Have you ever witnessed death? 

How did the experience affect you?

Categories: fear, Forgiveness, Grief, Growth, Life, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Where you look

We’ve all done it. Walked into a room looking for our keys only to find them … in our hand. Or, better yet, still in the lock we’d just opened. We throw our hands up in exasperation and (hopefully) laugh it off.

Over the past few years I’ve made a concerted effort to pay attention my life and who’s in it. I’ve tried to be mindful of what I’m doing, how I’m “spending” my time and whether or not I’m enjoying the journey.

Think about driving your vehicle from point A to point B.

How much do you – the driver – really see?   

Then, imagine yourself as a passenger or, better yet, a kid in the backseat, one foot up on the seat in front of you.  Think of how much more you see just from that vantage point.  You can leave the driving to someone else; now you have the time to wonder at what’s passing by … horses in a field, what’s down that ravine, or how many cars pass with odd looking license plates.

You can do this because you’re not focused on what’s next.  You’re focused on what’s now.

 * * *

Your life follows your attention.  Wherever you look, you end up going. –Martha Beck

.. an emjayandthem photo ..

Where are you looking?

*I’m headed to the “Gateway to the West” bright and early tomorrow  … so I won’t be able to reply to comments till this weekend.  Have a great week all!

Categories: Attitude, Faith, fear, Home, Life, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | 28 Comments

All wise & prehistoric

Grands on the 4th

The past few days have been hot as what,  breaking records right and left.   The only place to be is in the pool.  AB and MJ came to swim on Independence Day and we all enjoyed jumping, splashing, and bobbing around together.

The conversations were varied and went something like this:

  • Nana, how do lightening bugs have lights in ’em? Dad says you’ll know.
  • Neenaw, watch me!
  • Nana, I didn’t know the edge was shallow, will you walk with me?
  • Neenaw, I did it!
  • Nana, how come the water goes in that little box? Where does it go? Why do the frogs hang out there? Oh they like the bugs, like a Chinese buffet?  Cooool …..
  • Neenaw, catch me!
  • Nana, I’d take a juice box and a freezie-pop.
  • Neenaw, me too!

Becoming a grandmother is wonderful.  One moment you’re just a mother.  The next you are all-wise and prehistoric.  ~Pam Brown

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Fun, Holidays, Joy, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 34 Comments

It’s time

It’s time for Purposeful Nothingness.

An absence of schedule.  Lack of obligation. No particular place to be.


No socks, clocks or conference calls in sight.

Toes will wrinkle from hours in the pool and books will give evidence of wee ones’ splashes.

Finches will fatten at the feeders and squirrels will squander the sprinklers.

It’s time for summer nights under the stars, talking, laughing, singing, living.

It’s time for shared glances, twirly skirts, golf dates and date nights.

Every year, hubbs and I take a week off to do all of  the above …and this year?

It starts this afternoon! 🙂

And I am THIS happy about it! (

# # #

Happy Independence Day!

God Bless America, my home sweet home!

Categories: Faith, Family, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Patriotic, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Shine on

Now isn’t that a handsome pooch tucked into the new shiny award below? Yep, it’s about time that a canine connection was recognized here in the blogosphere!   You read that correctly: Frankie the dog has taken over the controls here at Emjayandthem.

Rom’s buddy Dianna at These Days of Mine shared this award via her kitty cat, Sundae.  Despite what you might think, I’m not anti-kitty.   I’m cat-neutral. Not that I know any cats personally. Unless you count that fat cat across the street who lies in the yard and stares at me; it’s not like we’ve been introduced though because Rom doesn’t let me cross the road. I think he laughs at me for that. Whatever.

Anyways, so on to the award.  Apparently the rules have been edited over time but here’s what I understand we’re to do:

  • Answer some questions  
  • Nominate other dogs blogs
  • Include the award here
  • Pay the love forward by telling others they’ve been nominated
  • Pay the love back by linking back to the one who nominated you (dance with the one who brought you, so to speak)

What is My Favorite Color?   It’s a tie between black & white.

What is My Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink?  plain ole H2O works just fine for me.  I’m partial to tap, shaken not stirred.

Yes I really am that subtle!

What is My Favorite Animal?    Duh! Dogs.

when I was just a pup

when I was just a pup

Do I Prefer Facebook or Twitter?   I prefer Myface.

What is My Favorite Number?   5:15.  That’s when Rom gets home and all is right with the world!

I’ve been part of every important milestone in this family. This pic was taken on my brother’s wedding day; I had a purple bow on!!

What is My Favorite Flower?  I really dig Rom’s peonies ’cause I can operate in super stealth mode in there.

can you find me?

What is My Passion?   Sleeping, eating, greeting, napping, stretching, sniffing, eating, dozing and grilling!

trying to be mannerly and not stare at the food directly

Many of Rom’s readers have award-free blogs, so we decided only to name those bloggers that we know have furry friends to share this with.  BUT we invite all of you who wish to accept this award to please do so.

please visit

Otis the Texas dog at When I Ride

Shelby the farm pooch at The View out Here

Minnie Mouse, a very feisty cat at Hot Rod Cow Girl

Lucy, a hat wearing, passport toting dog at Reinventing the Event Horizon

Loca the frisbee flipping poodle at Hunting for Bliss

The old cat over at Rich Ripley’s house

My Florida dog-friend Chewie at My Fascinating Life

Siblings Wilbur and Cherokee & any extra pooches being “dog-sat” over at Lenore Diane’s

and Lucy-pie, the dog who favors crazy poses, at Into the Mystic

And special thanks to Sundae-girl for the shout out.  Have a great day, friends!

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” ~ Immanuel Kant

peace out

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Life, Quotes, Share, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 28 Comments

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