Monthly Archives: December 2012

Questioning New Years

Here comes next year …. and I have a few questions for you:

What do you want to learn?
learning kitty
What do you want to release?
laidback kitty
Where do you want to go?
exercising kitty
What do you want to change?
kitty couture
What do you want to try?
kitty yoga

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”  – Brad Paisley.

Happy New Year, friends.

*all images from; no kitties were harmed in this posting.

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Friendship | Tags: , , , , , | 32 Comments

Inside the snow globe

Call me crazy but I love snow.

Fresh snow.

Fluffy snow.

like Buttercream frosting all over the yard; an emjayandhtem photo

like Buttercream frosting all over the yard; an emjayandthem photo

Falling snow.

Drifting snow.

I love snow.

dollops of fresh snow; an emjayandthem photo

dollops of fresh snow; an emjayandthem photo

I love the promise of new snow, the strength in heavy snow, and the crunchy, crunch crunch of seasoned old snow.

I love snow.

We face the west; an emjayandthem photo

We face the West; an emjayandthem photo

One of the best things I love about snow?  When I’m inside the snow globe looking out!

How about you? Any snow in your neck-of-the-woods?

* * * *

“All seasons have something to offer” – Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

Categories: Attitude, Fun, Joy, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Swept up in their joy

The grandchildren spent the night Sunday, the night before Christmas Eve.  As has been our tradition, Christmas Eve is spent here, Christmas Day is spent there, with her family. We were happy to maintain a semblance of normal, given that their parents have separated.   No reason the children should be.

It was a busy, bustling, giggly sort of night.  I could not have imagined two kids more excited to … go to bed!   Tumbling and laughing, down they went. And the next morning? Oh my … were they ever revved up.  We heard both older boys laughing at the sheer joy these little ones had just coming up the stairs, eager to get the day started.  Even Frankie had a prance in his paws.

As I look back over the past few days, I am happy the parents tried to be civil, that the littlest ones were thrilled and cozy and loved and we, that we couldn’t help but be swept up in their joy.

joyous grand-children; an emjayandthem photo

joyous grand-children; an emjayandthem photo

“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” ~Stacia Tauscher

I hope your holiday festivities were joyous; the emjayandthem household has battled the flu bug (ugh!) but we are steadily and slowly recovering.

Have a great week my friends!

Categories: Family, Home, Life, Opinion, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Adding to the Christmas list

Originally posted by Emjayandthem on December 15, 2010

photo credit

photo credit


It’s not something we do for others; we do it for ourselves so we can heal and move on.

I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had with friends lately about how much they’re dreading the holiday get-together because their Dad is difficult or their Stepmom/sister/brother/cousin/aunt will be there  and you know what they’re like. Hurt feelings, disappointments, stand-offs, words that should never have been said.

Add some booze to the mix and stir — wheee!

Not. So. Much.

It’s uncomfortable; it’s the elephant in the room.

It’s why they don’t want to go home.   They’re considering staying put.

I know that not everything can be forgiven (abuse, violence) but, in my experience, more things can … than cannot. And when you let those past hurts go, something shifts:  Your burden is lightened.  Oh those others? They will remain as they are but something in you will change.


I know it’s not easily done but, trust me on this:  it gets easier with practice.  Like any skill, the more you do it the better you’ll be.

Forgiveness. It really can set you free.

I wish you peace.

* * *

Related posts:

Go where you’re celebrated

Battery Chargers

Price Point

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Anne Lamott

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Home, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Silent Magic

grand-daughter MJ enjoying the tree; an emjayandthem photo

grand-daughter MJ enjoying the tree; an emjayandthem photo

I admit it, I haven’t been feeling it. Not at all.

Especially after last week.

But I’ve had a little person around who can’t help but remind us of  the wonder of Christmas. Of taking pleasure in small things. Of enjoying all moments. Of taking nothing for granted.

And when I’m with her and her bright little self is snuggled up against me, I feel it, too.

“Christmas magic is silent. You don’t hear it—you feel it, you know it, you believe it.”Kevin Alan Milne, The Paper Bag Christmas.

Categories: Family, Growth, Holidays, Joy, Quotes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 24 Comments

Finding faith in the straw

originally published by Emjayandthem on December 23, 2010.

I was a college student, home for Christmas break.  Mid-terms over.  Days off and did it ever feel good to be home, home on the family farm where everything was cozy, comfortable and familiar.

Mom had the house glimmering, the fridge and freezer stuffed with baking, cheese ball, lefse, and assorted delights, and, as the youngest, it was just going to be the 3 of us until the rest of crew arrived for supper Christmas day.

It was Christmas Eve and Mom and I spent the better part the day cooking and singing along to Bing Crosby on CJWW.  We noticed the wind start to pick up, but, we weren’t alarmed or surprised, after all this was a prairie winter’s day.  Cold, always windy and a storm at a moment’s notice. No newsflash there.

When 7:00 rolled around and Dad still hadn’t come in from doing chores, Mom dispatched me to find him.

image from

image from

Great, I thought, with the insolent huff that an 18-year-old girl has perfected. I put on my snowmobile boots, parka, toque, mittens and scarf and, accompanied by the family pooch, headed out towards the barnyard.

Stepping out into that bitter air I nearly lost my breath.  Soon I realized it was much worse then I’d realized.  A pinch of dread gripped my stomach.  Boots, our yellow Lab, stayed close, stopping often and looking back as if to say, “you coming?”  It seemed to take forever to reach the barnyard, a distance of oh, 8 car lengths.  A distance I’d walked many times, nearly every day of my life.

Bunching my scarf up against my face and thrusting my shoulders forward, we trudged  through the snow.  I could make out a light in the distance and I assumed Dad was in one of the cow barns.

my Dad, Lloyd

my Dad, Lloyd

As we got closer, I heard a strange noise. The wind was whipping at me, making biting attempts at my face, while the dog pressed his flanks to me as if to press me forward.

As we neared the barn entrance, I heard that sound again.

A high-pitched whirring.

What the ?

Battling the winds, I braced my shoulder against the ancient door and gave it a shove with everything I had. It moved. Barely. But enough that me and the dog could squeeze through.

I stepped into the warmth of the barn to find Dad there, kneeling in the straw.  Hearing that weird whirring sound again, I finally figured out what it was: a hair dryer.  A cow stood just behind him, watching as he calmly defrosted the ears of a calf who’d been born head first into the snow.  She licked her baby as he cooed comforting words, gently blowing warm air all over the shivering tyke.  The light of the barn shone down on us and Dad gave me that shy grin I knew so well.

“Well if you’re gonna stand there you might as well be useful.” And, with that, he handed me some towels.  I moved a little too quickly and the new mother stepped forward, unsure of my intentions. Dad put his hand up to steady her.. and me.. and with a “shhh … it’s OK now, we’re just here to help.”  I waited …then slowly moved into place, joining him in the straw.

A few moments passed before he stopped and said softly, “You know it was a stable like this where the little Christ child was born. There was no room in the inn and guess where they had to make their home? Out in the barn with the cows and other animals. And no one ever talks about them, how they provided the heat and how they helped make sure He wasn’t cold.”

My Dad.  The man who tended to the animals and who kept us all safe and cozy.  The man who worked the farm every day of his life;  the man who tidied up and went to church to appease my mother but really .. . he already knew God.

He found Him where he was.

No Christmas Eve has ever impacted me like that one did.

* * *

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Categories: Animals, Faith, Life, Relationships, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

No words

I do not have words to write about what happened in Newtown yesterday.

But He does.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

When I look at this image, that childhood song plays in my head, "Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world."  Image from

When I look at this image, that childhood song plays in my head, “Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world.” Image from

Categories: Family, Grief, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

On the road again

Headed out today to points north … yep, no one I know goes to “da U.P.” (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) in ….December, ‘cept maybe snowmobilers and hockey players.

But I am.

This is a trip I’ve planned since taking the new job a month ago; I’m off to work with a direct report (employee), and to familiarize myself with our business there.

I’m headed to places with names like Ishpeming, Marquette, Escanaba and Houghton. I’ll see the shores of Lake Superior and meander my way along the Keweenaw Bay.  I’m off to explore a land I’ve never seen and meet people I’ve never met.

~1400 miles in 4 days. Thank goodness more than half will be by plane!

~1400 miles in 4 days. Thank goodness more than half will be by plane!

As much as I love the steadiness of my home and office routine, well today I just can’t wait to on the road again.   I like the adventure, seeing new places, meeting new faces, and traveling along life’s pathways.

P.S. Hubbs and I saw Willie at the Arena Theater in Houston, Texas.  What a performer!  His songs take me back to my teens… to Saturday nights spent cruising country roads with outlaw music blaring as loud as it could go.   He put on a great concert, and I’d see him again if given the opportunity.

Wherever the road takes you, I hope you have a great week, my friends!

Categories: Attitude, Friendship, Fun, Home, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

“Look No Further” Cheese Ball

..a cute lil' cheeseball .. all dressed up for the Holiday!

Look at that cute lil’ cheeseball .. all dressed up for the Holiday!

Your search is over.

I know what you’re after, yes I do.  You’re looking for that one recipe this Holiday Season that’ll knock their socks off.  The one … singular sensation … the one that brings them out of the woodwork to get the last scrapings off the plate, the one people will ask you about one year later.

Look no further, it’s here for you right here, right now.

Why is it so good, you ask?

I don’t know (curry) but I do know this: every single time I’ve taken it anywhere I have been asked to hand over the recipe. Every. Single. Time.

Oh, there was a time I didn’t give it up. Oh no.  I held my trade secrets close to my heart like the treasures they are …. and, truth be told, I still do that if the person clamoring is someone I’m not sure of.  You know the ones, they take your recipes and claim ’em as their own.  But .. I’m past that now.

That’s right, I’m opening the vault to you, my delicious readership, you.


Because you deserve it.  You deserve the slice of hap-hap-happiness this cheese ball recipe will add to your Holiday gatherings!

2 Words of advice? Stretchy pants.  You’re welcome. 🙂

**MJ’s Look-No-Further Cheese Ball**   (makes 3)

  • 2 blocks of cream cheese
  • 2 packets of Carl Buddig Smoked Ham, chopped (sold in the deli meats section)
  • 1 envelope of dry ranch dressing seasoning
  • 3 green onions, chopped with some green, too
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of curry (I don’t measure,  just give it a shake)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of Mrs. Dash regular or onion (I don’t measure,  just give it a shake)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • If you want to “fancy  it up” you can roll the cheese ball in chopped pecans or walnuts before wrapping. My personal pack of Wolverines could care less but some peeps like it like that.


Bring cream cheese to room temperature OR microwave on low heat ’til soft. Stir in seasonings: ranch dressing, curry, and Mrs. Dash. You can add a pinch of garlic powder if you’re so inclined.

Next blend in the chopped onion & ham. Lastly, add the shredded cheddar.

Divide into 3 cheese balls about the size of your palm and roll in chopped nuts if you’re getting jiggy with it.  If not, skip the nuts and wrap each cheese ball in plastic wrap. Think you’re done? Not so fast … wrap again and refrigerate immediately.  Bing, bang, boom – done!

These are best if made at least a day ahead (the ultimate party food!) but can be made up in less time than it takes you to shower and slip on your Holiday sweater!   They can also be frozen although the texture will shift from creamy to crumbly .. but still plate-scrapingly good.

15-20 minutes before serving, take cheese ball out of the fridge so it has time to soften.  Serve with your favorite crackers (we like Triscuit Rosemary & Herb … mmm), stand back  and prepare for the accolades sure to come your way.

Me? I like to set it out, step away quietly and watch the frenzy from a safe distance!

Happy Noshing 🙂

How about you? Got a “go-to” Holiday recipe to share with me?

Categories: Family, Food, Home, Joy, Share, Traditions, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Shorty-pants the Co-op Cat

Oodles of kittens. That's me, lower left and my best cousin and friend, Deb next to me. Behind us is my sister and in ther ver

Oodles of kittens. That’s me, lower left, & my best friend and cousin, Deb, sitting next to me. (Behind us are our sisters).  This picture was taken in 1966 and we were 3, the same age as my grand-daughter MJ is today!

So … growing up on the family farm in rural Saskatchewan, I can tell you now that I lost track of how many kitty-cats we had.

We had Tigger, the orange Tom the size of a bobcat, Alley, the Alley-Cat,  and Minnie Mouse, so named because she was an expert mouser.  There was Flora, Fauna and Merriweather, named after the faeries in a Disney movie, Alice, who we named after Great Aunt Alice and her love of ruby-red lipstick and shoe-polish black hair dye.  And I can’t forget William McDolphus, my cousins’ tomcat or Tia the baby Siamese who showed up just weeks before Christmas.  As we grew up, our cats took on more sophisticated names like Black Magic, Rod the bod (as in Rod Stewart) and Meatloaf, the world’s fattest cat.

But the one who lives in infamy is Shorty-pants the Co-op cat.

Let me tell you the story.

You see, in my neck of the woods, farm families belong to a “Co-Op” association; it’s where they shop for gas and groceries, Christmas presents, farm tools, lipstick and romance novels, and everything else in-between.

Legend has it that Dad drove to town on a cold winter’s day, parked his car and left it running.  You can do that in a small town.  While his car was idling, out fell a cat.

You read that right.

Out fell a cat.

Now it was not uncommon in winters where the average temperature is -40F to have cats, ours or otherwise, climb up on a tire and warm themselves next to the engine. However, it was uncommon for a cat to survive a 9 mile ride to town and several thousand turns around the engine.

Dad came out of the Co-op with licorice and groceries and the mail and heard the most terrible sound coming from under his car. Peering through the snow and the muck and the ice there he saw it — a most pitiful sight: a bloodied kitty shivering in the cold with the back end of his fur .. scorched off.

Now Dad was the softest of the softies and he wasn’t about to let this cat freeze to death.  However, this was not our cat.  Not one he’d ever before seen. He somehow managed to catch the poor thing and get it into the car and, let’s just say, his ride home was …. interesting.

Next we come to my Mother’s reaction, which consisted of, “How did you make out at the store, dear?” “Did you remember to get Canada Dry?” “Did you pickup the paper, too?” And then came “What in the hell is that?”  Picture this before her:  a bitterly cold January day and here’s Dad hauling groceries and a half naked cat. And behind her were five – count ’em – five terrorists kids.

Downstairs went the cat and back up to the kitchen went my Mom.

It wasn’t long before all of us discovered Dad’s little secret: the secret living in the basement! You see Mom is highly allergic to cats. As in can’t breathe allergic. As in probably not a good idea to have a cat – even a half-naked one – living in the house with the rest of us.


We kids didn’t care; one by one we made excuses to sneak away and play with Shorty Pants, and, day by day, he found his way into our hearts.  We rubbed salve onto his exposed skin and found ways to play with him that didn’t make him hurt.  It wasn’t uncommon to find one of us – at any hour day or night – shivering in that cold basement with a warm and smiling cat cuddled in our laps.

The thing is, that cat’s hair never fully grew back and his name never changed.  He lived to the ripe old age of 17, siring dozens of litters and I’m sure there are still descendents of his tucked  up into wheel wells on cold winter days.

Forever and a day, he was known as Shorty-Pants the Co-Op cat and, to this day, he remains, my very favorite.

“Animals are such agreeable friends–they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” ~ George Eliot

Did a pet of yours come to you in a most unusual way?

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Friendship, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Like I belonged there

Settling into my seat today, I took a deep breath and opened the packet of briefings for today’s meeting.

Settled into the 19th floor of a prestigious law firm next to the State Capitol, I took a moment and looked around the room in wonder.

Wonder at how I – a prairie farm kid – got here.

Wonder at how I went from managing policy just three weeks ago to having a seat at the table affecting it.

There were moments of trepidation, silent sweats, and that feeling of oh-my-God-I-am-not-so-sure-about-this.

And then it happened:  Listening to the commentaries, I found myself nodding in agreement, in understanding. I got past my shyness and started asking questions. My questions were well received, and the best part?  The best part was my contribution was welcomed.  I belonged there.


“Act like you belong there, not just like you wanna be there.” -the Hubbs.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop.”  ~Usman B. Asif

the view tonight :)

smiling at my view tonight 🙂

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Life, Quotes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Easy-Peasy Caramel Chex Mix

Going to a Holiday party and don’t know what to bring? Want to make a home-made treat to give away to friends?  Try my Easy-Peasy Caramel Chex Mix.

Sweet and buttery, nutty and delicious, it’s a simple treat that’s ready in 30 minutes. And at this busy time of year, simple and good just can’t be beat.

Here’s what you need to make it:

  • 1 Small Box Chex Wheat & Rice Cereal
  • 2 cups of chopped nuts – pecans or walnuts
  • 2 sticks of butter, not margarine, butter. Oh Yeah!
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven 325 degrees.

Coat an cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and then pour cereal and nuts into the pan and set aside.

In a deep sauce pan melt butter and then stir in brown sugar. Over medium heat stir butter and brown sugar steadily to prevent burning; bring to a boil for one minute. Once boiling,  slowly add vanilla; mixture will foam (and may splatter) cook one to two more minutes.

bubbling goodness

bubbling goodness

Pour butter/sugar/vanilla mixture evenly over cereal and nuts, coating well.

Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake another 10 minutes and remove from oven, stir again to coat evenly.

When just about cool, remove from pan into an airtight container and enjoy!

crunchy, carmelly deliciousness!

crunchy, carmelly deliciousness!

December 1st signifies the start of the Christmas baking season at my house.  You?

.. let the baking begin!

.. let the baking begin!

Categories: Food, Holidays, Home, Recipes, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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