Monthly Archives: November 2013

Random Five Friday

Inspired by Dianna at These Days of Mine, I thought I’d play along – on this Friday after Thanksgiving.

1.  No, not shopping. Wait. My mileage reimbursement just landed in my slush account … hmmm … maybe some online deals today?  I see coffee, pie and Amazon in my future :).

2. The best part of yesterday?  Smiling faces, laughter throughout the house,  a kitchen smelling yummy and no one wanting  the day to end.

Playing in the dress up box!

Playing in the dress up box!

being silly in Nana's kitchen

being silly in Nana’s kitchen

3.  It’s cold today but the fresh snow is beautiful, and every tree looks like they’ve been frosted with icing … a very good day to be tucked inside and cozy.

4.  I’m not one to leave dishes in the sink; no matter how late it is or how tired I am, I take care of them because  I’d rather get up and see a clean, shiny sink than a cruddy one. You?

5.  Before yesterday, I had set aside a stack of Christmas Toy fliers from past Sunday papers.  Why? I remember the joy of skimming through the Sears “Wish Book” and poring over all the neat things we dreamed of.  When Grandson A arrived, the first thing he did was grab that stack and ask if he could start circling… and of course I said, “Yes.”  He circled many items, putting his initial next to his selections, all while touted their merits in adorable detail, but it was his special attention to this section that made me beam with pride.  While some would say that my son is just his StepDad, moments like these let me see that the effort he’s invested in this little boy is coming through loud and clear as L-O-V-E.

with a "D" for Dad

with a “D” for Dad

Care to share your “Random Five?”

Categories: Blogging, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Love, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 26 Comments

See the need

I admit it: I’m a softie for men who share their feelings.

Hubbs does it easily, my Dad, loving and kind, showed it in the tender way he cared for us and all living things.

When a man shares his thoughts openly, there’s a certain level of trust that’s required, paired with the confidence of knowing that sharing their most heartfelt thoughts is possible… and not punishable.

My Iowa blogging friend, Rich Ripley, is a such a man.

His posts are usually crafted with a healthy dose of humor, but every so often, he lets himself go there. 

He goes where most rarely will. He goes deep.

This post, about holidays and loneliness and the true meaning of Christmas, is one of those posts.  Read on….

I distinctly remember Christmas Eve that night. I watched the dinner time news (all the talk was of Christmas events…go figure). The TV shows were (surprise) Christmas shows. I turned the TV off, and took a look outside my apartment window and saw….multicolored Christmas lights glistening off of a blanket of new fallen snow (no lying…north-central Iowa gets snow early and often).

I heard church bells ringing as Christmas Eve services started and ended.

It was awful. I was so alone. I went to bed early…I couldn’t take the depressing heaviness on my heart any longer. Dear God…so alone and sad. Thankfully…I fell asleep quickly.   

Read more here

is there room for one more?

room for one more? (google images)

Categories: Blogging, Charity, Family, Holidays, Joy, Life, Men, Relationships, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Happy Franksgiving

* Originally posted 11/22/11

Thanksgiving is only 2 days away!

I’d like to pass on some hard-learned lessons gleaned from old dog, Frankie, who had 13 years of living in a busy holiday-filled home:

C'mon Grampa, drop something!  Thanksgiving 2012

C’mon Grampa, drop something! Thanksgiving 2012

  1. Be nice; greet your guests with gusto. (Everyone gets an enthusiastic sniff hello!)
  2. Take naps and stretch before rising.   (Being well rested = a happier experience for all concerned, trust me on this)
  3. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. (When Frankie had enough of the company and confusion, he simply disappeared.  No feigned interest here. No drama either,  just slip away …. this works for people to people contact, too).
  4. On relatives: avoid biting when a simple growl will do. Come to think of it, he never growled. He stayed close to those he loved and, when he had his fill, he went back to step # 2 or 3 above.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope that you are able to “go where you’re celebrated, not just where you’re tolerated” and, if a situation you don’t care for finds its way to you,  remember Frankie and simply slip away!

# # #

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Faith, Family, Growth, Holidays, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Frankie’s friends

As many of you know, we had to say good-bye to our fur-ever friend, Frankie, this summer.

13 years & 22 days with the world’s greatest dog.

So lucky, yes we were.

Smart and hilarious, I found him at the Humane Society. (More about his adoption here.) In his honor, we decided to pay it forward and sponsor the adoption of another lucky mutt.  He was all about sharing (especially food!) and I think he would have appreciated that.

Last week, still feeling the pinch of his absence, I received an email that made my heart smile.  Read on:

Dear Marilyn:

I wanted to let you know that Frankie’s memorial gift was used on a terrific family today 🙂  They adopted Penny – a 1.5 year old Pointer/Hound mix who has been with us since October 8.  The cool thing is that Penny joins their Golden Retriever, Sam, who was adopted from us in 2010.   The photo of the adopter, her son and the 2 dogs together is below.

Penny (L), her new brother, Sam and their family

Penny (L), her new brother, Sam (L) and their family

The adopter was so overwhelmed by your generous gift that she started to cry.  She couldn’t believe the kindness of you and your family and was even more touched because she just had to put her cat down last month.  She wanted to keep the generosity going so she made a donation to help more animals!

Thank you again to you and your amazing family!  It is truly an honor to be a part of your fantastic story!

On behalf of all of our animals,  we thank you!!!

Nicole C.,  Humane Society of West Michigan.

* * *

We like to think of Penny and her brother, Sam, as “Frankie’s friends” and we’re happy to be part of their success story.

Ever had a “pay-it-forward” moment?  Please share!

 Well done, Mom!

Frankie would have approved 🙂

Categories: Animals, Charity, Faith, Family, Friendship, Joy, Life, Love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

on Strength

I’m fortunate to have grown up with strong women as my role models.   Yep, strong women, capable of anything.

Women who could help pull a calf in the middle of the night, get five kids to  the school bus on time and hand-sew the sequins on a skating costume.

Women who did laundry with a basement wringer-washer, lugging it up the stairs and across the yard to a clothesline – in all seasons – before lunch.

Grandma and Mom in the kitchen together

Grandma and Mom in the kitchen together, 1973

Women who managed massive gardens and served multiple meals daily – all from scratch.

Women who never rolled their eyes at a kid’s last-minute request for a classroom cake.

My Auntie Irene (standing) and my Mom; those are some great ladies you're looking at!

My Auntie Irene (standing) and my Mom; those are some strong women right there!

Women who taught 4-H, shepherded us to piano lessons, drilled us on  spelling and history, made us perfect  our speeches, organized Christmas pageants and taught Sunday School.

Women like this served on the board of organizations and often joked about how if you want something done you best give it to someone busy.

They cooked, canned, and pickled enough to carry us all through a long, cold winter, every winter.

Women like this did what they did with grace and good humor and, in my mind’s eye, hardly broke a sweat.

So when I saw this Jackie Collins quote below, there were certain women that  came to mind.  Certain women, indeed.

Strong women.  Smart women. The kind of women who stand up for themselves and do so in a way that says, “I’m nobody’s fool. Don’t you make me be yours.”

The kind of women I’m proud to claim as my own.

:: what she said ::

:: what she said ::

So I ask you this, think of someone you admire:  who immediately comes to mind?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Growth, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, Share, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

on Herman Shepherd Mix-ups

We sure do miss old dog.


::  I miss my Frankie  :: (And Emjayandthem (C) Photo)

It’s just not the same around here without a fuzzy-faced greeting from an old pal.

Not the same at all.

I look for him when I come home at night, when there’s no nuzzle meeting me with a soft “Herrow.”

I think of him when I walk through the neighborhood, and my eyes always tear up at places he liked to stop.

I feel him near me when I clean leftovers out of the fridge, I swear I can hear him whispering, “Where are those meatballs going? Surely you wouldn’t toss those out? Wha?”

See, when you’ve enjoyed 13 years with the world’s greatest dog, well, you tend find yourself spoiled for any other.

You cringe at stories of dogs who eat furniture, obsess over the mailman or possess other odd behaviors.

He never did any of those things, he was just always … a gentleman.

And as much as Hubbs has shut down the boys comments about getting another pooch, it took me by surprise when he recently blurted out, “You know, when we get another dog, I think I might like a German Shepherd Mix.”

What was that?

Not if.

Not someday.


The truth is, I’m not ready.  And I know he’s not, either.

But you have to start somewhere.

And so, as we do with all important decisions, we’ll start by just talking about it. Without crying.

Someday … not sure when … I know we’ll have another dog.

Perhaps a Herman Shepherd Mix-Up* 🙂

*”Herman Shepherd Mix-Up” is in homage to our friend’s son, Trevor, who as a small boy referred to the family dog Jake, a Lab/German Shepherd mix, as a “Herman Shepherd Mix-up.”  Ha ha ha! Kids.

If you’ve also lived and loved with the “world’s greatest dog  pet,” how much time went by before you jumped back in?

Categories: Animals, Family, Grief, Growth, Life, Love | Tags: , , , , | 38 Comments

Vegorama Pizza

 ‘Tis the season again!  The Fall/Holiday potlucks have begun.  🙂

In a quest to eat a bit healthier, I made this dish recently.  For my office-mates.  You know, the team who rarely touch vegetables.

Yep, at our office we have four important food categories:  cheese, bbq sauce, cool whip and chocolate.

If a pot-luck dish doesn’t contain one of those four items (and lots of it), it’s out like a fat kid in dodge-ball.

photo from

photo from

Make no mistake, this shouldn’t be considered health food.  The base of crescent dough, cream cheese and sour cream is enough to slow a few arteries down.  But the crunchy fresh veggies on top counteract the richness of the base resulting in a creamy/crunchy and tasty appetizer.

Here’s how to make your very own Vegorama Pizza:

You’ll need:

  • 2 – 8 oz packages refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 – 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened (I used Jalapeno flavored)
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (don’t skip this!)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 package of dry ranch dressing mix  (I use 1/2)


  • 1 green onion, chopped with greens
  • 3-4 radishes, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli (about 1 cup), chopped
  • Shredded cheese


  1. Remove crescent dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter while you pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Coat a large cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Roll out the crescent roll and press it into the pan; you’ll want to “connect-the-dots” as in pieces so you end up with one solid piece of dough.  Pierce the dough with a fork and then let stand for about 5 minutes.
  4. Next, bake for 11 minutes; remove from oven and let cool 20 minutes.
  5. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, dill, garlic and ranch dip mix.
  6. Spread this mixture all over the cooled crust.
  7. Top with onion, carrot, broccoli, radish, bell pepper and broccoli  and then sprinkle shredded cheese across the top.
  8. Cover and let chill about an hour.
  9. Once chilled, cut it into squares and serve.  (I made this the night before a pot-luck and simply cut into squares, layered with waxed paper, covered and served the next day.. Results?  Zip. Bang.  Gone!)

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”  ― Ernest Hemingway.

My little blog recently passed 130,000 beautiful readers.  Thank you for riding along with me!

Categories: Blogging, Family, Food, Holidays, Home, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Never ever

* Warning … you might need Wayfarers and Stone-washed Jeans for this postrick astleySinging it yet? If not, try the link below :).

Happy day, peeps.

Categories: Friendship, Fun, Humor, Joy, Life, music, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Icing on the cake

Looking over the calendar, I was startled to see today’s date: November 5th.

November 5th marks one year in my “new” job.

The one that’s not new anymore.

In the past year I’ve grown a lot.  And the company has changed .. even more.

I’ve lost sleep, gained weight, puzzled through and sorted it out.

I’ve cleaned up, cleaned out, reorganized and restaffed.

I’ve led the team, sought input, and grown the people.

And I’ve been so perpetually busy that I’ve been too busy to take a day off.

One year ago we still had our Frankie.

One year ago we still had our friend.

Time passes.

Seasons come ’round again.

And life has a way of sneaking up on us.

Any milestones sneak up on you lately?

“The first year was like icing. Then the cake started to show through …” ― John Ashbery


Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Growth, Life, Personal, Thoughts, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Greed registries

This weekend, I looked over a Registry for a shower I’m invited to.

Holy Dollar Bill$, Batman!

Does anyone else remember Church basement showers where “you get what you get and you didn’t throw a fit?”

What happened to Pyrex baking pans wrapped creatively in gingham tea towels?

What happened to onesies and jammies in neutral colors?  Burp pads, receiving blankets and teddy bears?

What happened to cookbooks and measuring cups and pretty hand-towels that were nearly “too nice to use?”

What happened to baby quilts lovingly crafted by arthritic fingers?

What happened to the “dainties” (tea cakes or squares) and finger sandwiches laid out by ladies in their Sunday best?

Showers I grew up attending looked like this. Without the men!

Showers I grew up attending looked like this. Without the men!

I know there’s a practical side to registering .. but I still hate it.

I’m sorry, but it often just feels like a $hakedown.

So here’s what I do.

I say “no” to the gift greed registry.

I say no to $160 coffee makers and Margarita machines.

I say babies don’t need a $300 glider to be rocked.

I just say no.

But I always attend, and I always bring a gift, something lovely and practical, something wrapped with love and sincerity and my very best wishes.  Something not often found on the greed registry!

 * * * What are your thoughts on “gift registries?”

Categories: Attitude, Family, Growth, Home, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Traditions, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 26 Comments

‘Tis November

‘Tis November today.

It arrived with a roar.

Cool yet lovely, not to be ignored.

I’m home, you see.

With my ever-present list.

One that I might

just choose to dismiss.

Instead, I shall work at coffee, books,

peace and rest.

Leaves are rustling, the furnace kicks on;

soup simmers quietly, the smell of .. home.

‘Tis November today …

and I’m home, you see.

Would you consider joining me?

:: Home-made soup today -- ahh! ::

:: Home-made soup today — ahh! ::

Categories: Attitude, Family, Gratitude, Home, Life, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments

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