Monthly Archives: October 2012

Don’t be scared, make my Skyline Chili Dip instead

I know the drill. You’ve got an office potluck for “All Hallow’s Eve” tomorrow and you’ve got nothing exciting to bring. Nothing that makes you feel all Snazzaroonsky inside! Don’t you worry, Auntie MJ is here to save the day.

All you have to do is make up some of my Skyline Chili Dip and you, too, can be the company hero, who needs “Captain America” or “Superman!”

You can make this in layers and cook it in the oven for a weekend get-together OR dump it all into a crock pot and let ‘er rip for the office-mates.

It’s cheesy, it’s yummy, and it’s naughty – it’s everything an office potluck commands! And it beats anything Chain-Smoker-Carl’s bringing!

Ready?  Here’s what you need:

  • 2 blocks of cream cheese
  • Chopped green onion & peppers, however much you want
  • A can of Skyline Chili (or whatever kind you like)
  • Shredded cheese, about 1 1/2 cups

That’s it.

Here’s what you do:  layer the cream cheese, then the veggies, top with the chili and then the cheese – bake at 325 for 35 min —OR —  mix all together in a crock pot, take it to your office, plug it in under your desk, push away the inquiring souls who will want to know what that DARN fine smell is coming from your office and serve it with great flourish.  And tortilla chips.

That’s it. You’re welcome.

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And, when all the ghosts and goblins are long gone and leftover candies are tempting your waistline and thwarting your fitness goals, did you know there’s an organization that’s HAPPY to get your leftover (wrapped) candy?  And that any candy you donate is shipped to our wonderful military members all over the world? Yes there is.  Click here for more info!

Happy Halloween!  

Don’t be a Ghoul, consider supporting the American Red Cross and those affected by Hurricane Sandy.  For more info on how you can help, click here

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Life, Personal, Share, Uncategorized, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

On calming the storm

My thoughts are with all of you, my East Coast friends.

Stay safe. Stay calm.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

Categories: fear, Growth, Home, Quotes, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

A rather large amount of gratitude

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Today, I woke to morning’s light peeking into the yard.

I woke to old dog, sleeping soundly and without pain.

I woke to a day filled with nothing in particular to do and all day to do it.

I woke to views like this one and my soul had no choice but to smile.

isn’t Autumn glorious? {{ Click to enlarge }} an emjayandthem photo

What’s making you smile today?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Quotes, Relationships, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Time outs aren’t so bad after all

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” –Marthe Troly-Curtin

So, I’ve written about being stressed and as sick and tired as I am of feeling that way, I’m pretty sure you, dear readers, might be sick of hearing about it, too.

You see, sometimes, in the day-to-day race that is life, I can get so caught up on the merry-go-round that I no longer hear the music; all I can hear is noise. I can no longer see the intricate carvings of the horses or enjoy the lights because it all flies past me in the blur known as “get-it-done.”

When I stop feeling exhilarated and start feeling woozy, it’s time to stop the merry-go-round and get off.

image from

And for that reason, I’ve taken two – count ‘em – two vacation days: tomorrow and Monday.  Call ’em mental health days, call ’em what you will – I’ve checked out.

I’ll make lists and I’ll ponder, I’ll putz and I’ll organize but … I’ll also sip coffee, catch up on your blogs, daydream and hang out with old dog. I’ll get in a run or two, I’ll accomplish a few things and ignore twice as much; I’ll dine with Hubbs and chat with the kids and maybe even sleep in … just a little. I’ll watch the World Series and chat on the phone with Mom and my cousin; I’ll cook and I’ll sing and I’ll visit with friends.  I’ll take four days to step away and be my very own battery charger.

And come Tuesday, when the Wurlitzer starts cranking out that old familiar tune, maybe I’ll smile the smile of the invigorated and not the one that’s frozen and spent.

Do you make it a point to put yourself in time out?


*for more info on Grand Rapids’ very own 1928 Spillman Carousel, 1 of only 3 to have been produced, click here

Categories: Growth, Home, Life, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Reordering the order

I’ve been on a cleaning kick of late:

Cleaning out, sorting through, giving away and tidying up.

My cousin and I chat often and she’s well aware of the “stuff” that’s been taking up space in my head. She’s the one who picked up on my cleaning tendencies from 1,700 miles away.


In an email, she referenced the tasks she considering doing last weekend.  I wrote back … and prioritized her list for her.   Geez.

This mouse likes a clean house!

She commented, “Tidying up is one of your ‘tells’ you know” …. and she’s right.  When my world feels chaotic, there’s something in me that needs to organize what I can. It helps me make sense of the crazy.

As a girl, I remember “playing” office.  I’d straighten up papers and play with the typewriter, sit behind a desk and pretend to talk on the phone.  The desk was always clean.  The thing is, I didn’t know anyone who worked in an office so I don’t know who I was channeling. My siblings and played “School,” too, but this was different. “Office” wasn’t adventurous; “Office” could be played alone. The “Office” was also where I retreated to on wintry days when I couldn’t escape on my pony to sort out my thoughts.

To this day, my office is neat and clean.  Why?  Because job demands can change on a dime so being organized helps me deal with others … who are not. But that’s not all of it:  keeping my work space tidy …calms me.

At home, most of our space is organized and clean. There are areas that needed attention and lately, they’ve gotten it. They’re tidier, I’m feeling more at ease, and those other things picking at me? They’re still there.

* * *

What are your conscious (or not so conscious) ways of dealing with stress?

a room like this would stress me out; image from

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, fear, Home, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

The first step

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Growth, Opinion, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Respect for the dimming

** update 10/22 .. thank you to you  –  my kind-hearted and fur-loving blogging friends – for your sweet words of encouragement and understanding.  Frankie had his appointment tonight and his Vet wants to try long-term pain meds and an antibiotic for his raw old skin.  He’s currently resting comfortably in his condo.  We shared a few tears, as she’s loved and cared for him since he was 9 weeks old. 

Her parting words to me were, “Remember .. they love more than us so they age faster than us.”     Frankie sends a smooch to all of you!

when both the boy and the dog were little

* * *

Frankie, our furry friend, is a Senior Citizen now.  He’s still hilarious, still loyal, and still sweet.  But he’s also a dog who moans more than he barks, sleeps more than he’s awake, and struggles to get up and around.

He still shows up at lunch-time, still greets us at the door, but, lately, we’ve seen a change in him.

A dimming.

Being a Lab-mix, he has always had skin issues; he’s worked “hot spots” so hard they were bleeding. Yesterday morning he lost control and left “presents” down the stairs.  He’s never done that, never had an accident in the house, even as a pup.

I always said that when his time came, that I’d know what to do.  When his time came, I’d not make him stick around just for us.  That we’d do the right thing by him, as hard as it would be to let him go.

It’s coming and I can feel it.

Frankie before he be-headed the monkey; Christmas 2010

We’re seeing the Vet on Monday. I hope and pray that she pats him on the head like she always has and tells me he’s looking good. But, somehow, somehow my heart doesn’t believe that’s the case this time.

 * * *

“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.”– Author Unknown

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Friendship, Home, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 49 Comments

On paybacks

7 hours in the car yesterday could have been daunting but I totally enjoyed it. It gave me a break from the office routine, time and space to think, and a chance to go somewhere I’d never been before.  I was happy with my coffee, the chatty GPS and my jam-packed mp3 player.  When I tired of those, I had fun flipping through Detroit radio stations and reading signs for places like “Ypsilanti” and “Tecumseh.”

But the best part of my whole day was my encounter with a young fellow who waited on me in an Ann Arbor Restaurant;  I overheard him say he was a single father of three and just finishing up his shift so he could take his youngest to a Dr appt. The food was mediocre, the service superb, and the tip I left him … massive.

Why? Because I could.

yesterday’s route

Being a blessing to that young man blessed me.   When I got home, all stiff and tired, I went for a run. And I smiled the whole time.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who cannot pay you back.” Make a decision that you will live to give. Be on the lookout each day for somebody you can bless. Don’t live for yourself; learn to give yourself away, and your life will make a difference.” ―
Joel Osteen.
Categories: Attitude, Faith, Food, Joy, Life, Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Playing with fire

“Man may have discovered fire, but women discovered how to play with it.”  Candace Bushnell, “Sex and the City”

Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield;

Do you think women dress for the men in their lives … or the women?

When it’s date night, I enjoy dressing the way hubbs appreciates ….  all boom-chica-mow-mow and then some.  And he does the same for me.   (Without the boom-chica-stuff… makes most guys feel ridiculous).

But, I never dress that way unless he’s with me. No, when I’m with friends, colleagues or even family, I am non-threatening in my attire.  I dress to fit in; conservatively, tastefully, and buttoned-uppedy.

So, with that being said, can I just say that I love being a girl?

Can I just say that I love having curves that I keep contained for the Hubbs?

Can I just say that, for all the pony-riding, tomboyish days of my youth, that I love getting my nails done and fixing my hair and feeling pretty and foxy and all sassy-frassy?

Can I just say that I absolutely, without hesitation, embrace my feminine strengths, the ones who let me rock a pencil skirt and heels and a power drill all in the same day?

Oh, I think I can say it:  I do believe I just did.

image from

How about you?  Does your wardrobe change for the various roles in your life?

What makes you feel fine?

* * *

*This post was inspired by my closet and the various characters living within.

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Men, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Lessons in peace

“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

I read this quote last night and immediately thought, “I beg to differ!” Of course we learn from pain, from setbacks, and from struggles. But peace also serves as a teacher. How?

Peace teaches us what to strive for.

image from

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Faith, Opinion, Quotes, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments


We get what we trust. Trust poverty and betrayal to be there,  they will. Trust abundance and love to be there, they will.
–Martha Beck

Categories: Beauty, Faith, Friendship, Growth, Life, Quotes, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

More than just what I can see

Ausser & Pearl; an emjayandthem photo

I often think about what Heaven will be like, and have always imagined it to be centered around one place:  my Grandparents house.  I see Grandma there with her apron on, cooking at the stove and Grandpa, my sweet Dad and my Uncle Jarl sitting at her table, sipping coffee, smiling and ushering me in. The love and warmth and happiness there is indescribable, the feeling … enveloping.  Outside are all the dogs, kitties and horses of my childhood, just waiting for me to come and say hello.

As a child, my Grandparents home sat less than a mile away.  I rode my bike or my pony over to their farmyard and in I’d come, stinking of horses and fresh air and always, always I was welcomed.  Grandma’s kitchen was everything that was good: scents of cinnamon, butter, sugar and jam lingered, even long after meals were cleared.  Grandpa, curious and kind, was forever interested in my stories; Grandma, capable and whimsical, was also efficient and no-nonsense.  Sometimes I got to spend the night there, and the feeling of slipping my bare legs under her starched white sheets lingers with me still.

I loved and was loved.

Grandpa’s barn

It’s those memories that I slip back to when my heart’s been heavy.  But then I think about them, I remember the love that was given so freely, the hearts and doors that were always open, and the time that was shared.  And when they come back to me,  I believe.

Darla’s post inspired this one.  Thank you, sweet friend.

Categories: Confidence at any age, Home, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

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