* Snow Day *

It’s Friday and Snow-ma-geddon is happening across the upper Midwest.  As predicted, Lake Effect snow began  last night – with the snow falling fast and beautiful.   I’m thankful to be on the inside looking out.

After an eye appointment yesterday, I took the opportunity to pick up some groceries — by 3:30 p.m. the store was packed – with Seniors!  Older ladies & gents with small carts stuffed full of bread, fruit, eggs, lunch meats, deli cheeses, big jugs of wine, candy bars, frozen foods, baked goods and toilet paper.  Everyone was chatty and the mood was upbeat, with a camaraderie that comes from sharing a weather event.   Even the cashiers were cheery; I bagged my groceries and pushed the heavy cart through the slush to my vehicle.

Hubbs and I chatted last night remembering what it felt like to be a kid on an evening like that ~ going to bed happy, deliciously anticipating two glorious words at dawn’s early light:

Because he grew up in town, and I on a farm, his “Snow Day” experience was a lot different from mine.  He remembers being woken up by his Mom, letting him know that school had been cancelled, she was leaving for work and their “to-do” list was on the table.  He & his brother were to shovel the driveway, each taking a side.  There may have been other chores to do, some of which were his sisters.  Then, once the jobs were done, he, and his best friend Bob, would head to their favorite sledding hill ~ Now picture a grown man whose eyes take on a dreamy look as he remembered their adventures on that hill.  They had traditional toboggans, saucers, and of course old-fashioned sleds with runners.  He even remembered being ran over by his buddy once, two of them ending in a tangled heap.  “He over-cooked it! Of course he did,” he said, laughing.   Often, after a full day of sledding adventures, they’d return for more that evening. “Their” hill had a pole light nearby which allowed for night-time sliding ~ and he speaks fondly of the two of them laying on their backs, staring up at the stars, catching their breath and talking.   Good stuff.

On the farm we received the glorious news via a phone call from our Bus Driver, Elliott.   One of two things had happened: 1) school was officially cancelled (yay!) OR 2) the bus wouldn’t start (-40 temps).  Dad typically was the messenger – we’d wake to hear him quietly say, “back to bed – no school” or “back to bed – the bus won’t start” — all 5 of us did a collective “tuck & roll” and snoozed a bit longer.

I don’t remember extra chores ~ my brothers helped Dad with farm animals daily and we girls did, too, plus we always helped Mom inside.  What I remember most vividly was how it never took us long to hatch a plan ~  the family farm has a winding coulee / cow pasture directly to the north, with wicked sledding hills, some more treacherous than others.  Mom fed us a big breakfast and booted us outside; we’d walk to the coulee as a group, dragging our sleds and crazy carpets behind us.  There we’d stay for hours ~ or so it seemed.  I favored the crazy carpet because it was much faster than the wooden toboggan – and it was easier to pull up the hill. However, it afforded absolutely no protection if you ran over a frozen cow pie.  Toboggans would ricochet off but that thin plastic barrier ensured at least one banged up knee or bruised tailbone.  We didn’t care – the faster the better, we  lined up, zoomed down, and back up we’d go.  So. Much. Fun!   When we finally had enough, in we’d come, red-faced with sweaty hair, frosted scarves, starving and exhausted.  Mom would make us tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches followed by a card game or two.  And, if we were really lucky, and the roads had cleared, Dad might take us into town to skate at the local rink.  He’d visit with neighbors,  play cards and eat pie.

Feats of daring and destruction!

Chatting with our oldest son, he shared that the grands have a snow day too – and he has the day off  and they’re scouting for the perfect sledding hill.  They’ve got snowboards and saucers but he’ll be the biggest kid on the hill 🙂

 * * *

* Below is the family coulee ~ in the distance you can see our magnificent sledding hills … oh the memories.

a coulee that runs for miles


What do you remember about snow days when you were a kid?  How did you get the glorious news?  And do you get snow days now?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Family, Fun, Home, Joy, Life, News, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Random 5 February ~ Groundhogs & Chicken Wings

It’s Super Bowl Sunday & time for 5 Randoms from my world:

1)”Lake effect” snow is swirling down and has been since early yesterday ~ It’s beautiful, heavy, and coming down fast.  I’ve shoveled the walkway & sidewalks 3 times in the past 24 hours,  probably gonna shovel 2x more.  (Hubbs’ back does not allow for shoveling and … I kinda get into it. )

we’re in there somewhere!

2.) The house is cozy, my wings are marinating and Hubbs is cooking brunch.  (He’s smart enough to feed a gal willing to shovel)   🙂     The groundhog poked his nose out Friday, looked around then did what most of us would: went back in for a long winters’ nap.   I don’t hate winter.  Everyone around me complains about it.  I don’t.  Yeah, we get a few more grey days than I’d like, but like my brother says, “look on the positive side – no mosquitoes!” Maybe I’m a groundhog, too.

3) Tonight is the Super Bowl LII (52) ~ There’s no shame in my game ~ I’m in for the a) snacks, b) commercials and c) half-time show!  On the menu are: (my) Wings, Swedish meatballs, Taco dip &  7 layer salad; friends are bringing cheesy potatoes & dessert.  We’ll nosh, chat, cheer and have fun.  And hopefully somewhere in there is a football game 🙂

  • You can make the easiest, most finger-lickingingest wings by simply marinating frozen wings in 1 bottle of Italian dressing mixed with 1 bottle of Frank’s hot sauce ~ toss & marinate for 24 hours then grill or bake in a hot oven (375) till crispy & done – serve with Ranch dressing or more hot sauce.  Delish!

4)  I just remembered I have tomorrow off!  Yippee Skippy!

5) A while back I bought a rebounder.   It’s a small, quiet (because of bungee cords not springs) indoor trampoline.  The health benefits are purported to be many — increased bone strength, better balance, stamina, flushes the lymphatic system, increased circulation, etc.  I love how much fun it is!   And it is a workout, too.  I own a stack of exercise videos that are anything but fun, and consequently, dusty.  Now I try for 30 minutes of bouncing daily – sometimes in 15 minute increments.   Jump on, turn up the tunes (Tina Turner, Elvis, the Bee Gees, TobyMac) and go.   After reading the reviews, I decided on the Jumpsport 250 from Amazon – free shipping, <$250, and easy to assemble, just attach the legs and go!  Awesomesauce!  In time, I may upgrade to the Cadillac of rebounders, the Bellicon, but I couldn’t justify their price at first when I didn’t know how much I’d bounce.   Conclusion: Using it, loving it, grand kids enjoy it, bouncing is fun, needs no extra accessories (I jump barefoot), and I’ll continue ~ win!

My JumpSport in the corner of my home office – love!


So what’s cooking at your house today?  Are you watching the Super Bowl tonight?  Any wings in your future?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Family, Food, Growth, Home, Life, News, Opinion, Products I love, Recipes, Sports, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Sunday thoughts – Resolutions, Squirrels & boxes of joy

It’s Sunday; snow’s falling, brunch is calling and I just remembered I have tomorrow off.  Yippee Skippy!

Chatting with a colleague recently, I used the squirrel analogy ~ never heard of it?   It goes like this:

Make a decision and take what comes with it.   And not deciding is taking action, too.

It’s January and we’re bombarded by “diet” ads on TV, including NukeyourSystem, Weight Counters, you name it.  Radio ads tout  gym memberships and today’s newspaper featured “deals” on “heart healthy” prepacked frozen foods with green (think healthy) packaging.  This picture below made me laugh because it is so much closer to reality:

Lately I’ve tuned out the noise, enjoyed the “off” button on the TV/Radio/iPhone and found myself devouring a box of joy, see below:

“The greatest gift is the passion for reading.
It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites,
it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”

Elizabeth Hardwick

 * * *

What are you reading?  And did you make any New Years resolutions?


Categories: Attitude, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Humor, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

R5S~ Peace, Joy and Progress

Random 5 Friday Sunday ~ here comes 2018, time to bid adieu to 2017.

1 ) Yesterday was that day of winter vacation – the day far enough past Christmas but closer to New Year’s  – the day when you can’t remember exactly what day it is or what you’re supposed to be doing … it’s a day I look forward to all year.  My day of “nothing” — nothing to do and all day to do it.  I slept in, drank a pot of coffee, read blogs, stayed in my fuzzy pants all day and cooked a wonderful stew in the pressure cooker.  A lovely shower, a bowl of stew, new fuzzy pants and blankets found me asleep in the chair by 9:30.    Today, I woke at 6:00 a.m., feeling like a million bucks.  Rest, a break from stress, schedule and chaos,  you can’t beat it.

2 )  Christmas with our boys and grands was just that – grand — we laughed, ate, played games, laughed some more, sang Christmas songs and told stories.   Gifts were exchanged and memories were made.    Love was in the air and it was the happiest of days!

3 )  Time off — I’ve not responded to most work emails, but have taken great delight in deleting any that aren’t applicable to  me; doing so has culled the volume. My job is demanding with many people pulling on me on a regular basis; making this small effort now lets me ease back in without resentment.   Value up!

4 ) Progress ~ in that picture on the left I was recovering from bronchitis (for the 5th time that year) and battling a lingering fever, body aches and chills throughout my Christmas holiday (ugh!) I read the 10 day Grain detox book  (accompanied by a cough, highlighter pen and sticky notes) and started a grain detox Jan 4 2016 — I have not been sick once – nothing – not even a cold – since — despite copious work stress, moving, the passing of my Mom, a heavy travel schedule and more.  Amazing!

*** 747 days without 1 sick day!*** I used to battle recurrent sinusitis and bronchitis, cold sores, frequent colds & the flu👍 Kick grains to the curb and feel your best within  days 👍😀. Amazing health can be yours!    An Emjayandthem (C) photo

5)  New Year’s Eve tonight ~  Friends are stopping by for a drink/appetizers before heading to an evening party. We’re staying in where it’s cozy; roads here are awful, temps hovering in the single digits.   I’m delighted to stay in, smooch my handsome hubby and ring in the New Year in the peace and comfort that is home!

Happy New Year!  Let’s surprise ourselves next year, shall we? 

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life Lessons, Love, News, Opinion, Personal, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The wake of a quiet mess

Today marks the first of 11 glorious days off.   My “Out of Office” messages are on; the laptop and iPhone are not.

This morning started just as I’d planned — waking  naturally to a twilight house, with no alarm, to the aroma of coffee gurgling in the kitchen.

Hubbs was up already, I could hear the ting-ting-ting of his spoon stirring as I dressed quietly.

Plugging in the tree lights, and with Christmas Carols playing softly, I poured a second cup of coffee not long after the first.

Wandering through the house, tidying this, straightening that, I turned on the dryer to re-tumble the towels washed last night and stood to watch the snow fall.


This is what I want for Christmas.



No schedule.

No obligations.

No particular place to be.

No conference calls, no projects, no spreadsheets, no Power Points.  No deadlines, fire drills, last-minute demands.

Time to rest, to read, to stretch, to relax.

Time to sleep, to laugh, to cook, to have fun.

Time to …whatever.

“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Stay home on New Year’s Eve if that’s what makes you happy. Skip the committee meeting. Cross the street to avoid making aimless chitchat with random acquaintances. Read. Cook. Run. Write a story.”
Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Tomorrow we’ll have our boys and daughter-in-law and girlfriend plus the grand kids over for yummy foods and games, opening of presents and more – oh they are so excited.  And we are, too.   A thousand conversations will be had, we’ll not finish one.  And as much as they’ll blow in with commotion and busy-ness and a 100 questions – they’ll blow out just as hard, leaving behind the wake of a quiet mess.  And that’s just fine with me~ because in the rush and build up that is Christmas,  it’s nice to stand still and savor the moments.   The most glorious messes I know  ~ are the ones created by the gathering of loved ones.

 * * *

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).

Merry Christmas; I wish you peace today and always!


Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Holidays, Home, Life, Love, Personal, Thoughts, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Random 5 December ~ Traditions, time off and dogs

Hello again, friends.  It’s time for another Random 5  from my part of the blog-osphere. Ready? Here we go:

1)  Thursday morning, I woke with a start …. it was 4:04 a.m. and there I was, wide awake thinking about Christmas cards!  Ack, rolling over, I tried to resume my slumber.  No-can-do.  Muttering to myself that Hubbs never experiences such thoughts, I found my way to the kitchen and pressed the “brew” button on the coffee machine.

I used to enjoy writing Christmas cards, especially when the boys were little and I could include a picture or funny story about them. I don’t enjoy it anymore.

I can remember my parents’ delight when a Christmas card came in the mail. They were such a lovely alternative to newspapers, bills and other correspondence.  I recall the sparkles on my hands after reading updates from people I didn’t recall: Aunt so and so.  Cousin somebody.   Mom carefully taped the cards and put them up all around the kitchen window.  Red and green, silver and gold, shimmered in the light and brought festive to the room.  That she took the time to do so for each card suggested reverence to me.

There’s only a few family members left that I would normally mail a card to – this year, I’m calling instead.  And I think they’ll be just fine with a laugh and a chat and a “I miss you, too.”

2 )   Balance. As an adult I’ve struggled to balance between what I want (to do) for Christmas vs. what (I think) is expected of me.    Shopping is done, wrapping is not.  Some baking was accomplished …but also eaten (Hubbs!).

So what I’m working towards is making room for MY Christmas —  I relax and smile when the tree lights are on; reading or cooking near them makes me happy. There’s a peace I feel being able to pay the bills, have $ for gifts and a bit to put away, too.  There was a time I couldn’t do that, and I appreciate now that we can.  I look forward to time with the boys – card games, good foods, “knock knock” jokes with the grands, and days off with Hubbs.  No particular place to be.  No schedule. Reading more than a page or two at a time.  Knowing I can sleep in even though I won’t.  I’ll be up early, watching the snow fall, sipping coffee and reading your blogs.

My stack of reading is close to this size


3 ) 9 and 119 days left of work for THIS YEAR then 11 – count ’em – 11 glorious days off!  Time for a reset button.  I’m fortunate that I enjoy the work I do, but this year the challenge has been in being able to do it.  This has been a year of organizational change, steady movements, restructuring, people coming, people going, and that constant shift of the horizon has left me dizzy and needing a break.  And I plan to take it, no exceptions!

4 ) Shades of Frankie. Youngest boy got a dog, and memories of our beloved Frankie definitely influenced his choice.   Our Frankie as a Pup:

Frankie as a wee one

Ladies and gents, meet Sullivan, or “Sully” for short:

Sullivan (an Emjayandthem (C) Photo)

I haven’t met this furry little friend yet but I’m sure I’ll cry when I do.

5 ) We’re heading into the new year soon.  Can you believe it?   I haven’t thought about my goals and dreams for next year, but I’ll work on them over my time off.    A good friend is leaving our company next week; she hasn’t had time to think about what her “next” looks like.  I encouraged her to create a Vision Board.   I know she won’t, but it reminded me that I’m ready to.  


What traditions are worth continuing and which ones have you stopped? 

What gift are you giving yourself this Holiday Season? 

Wishing you peace at Christmas and always

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Family, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The gift of an unconventional Holiday

I knew the day was coming, and tried to keep my voice cheery as I zipped his parka, handed off his Ninja Turtle backpack, and sent my 4-year-old off with his father.  Freshly divorced, and newly navigating the every-other-holiday thing, I kissed my boy good-bye and squeezed his mittened hand one more time.  He took his cues from me, and although bio-Dad was consistently inconsistent with visitation, and I had not yet met  (or even imagined) the man-who-would-be-Hubbs, I needed to keep my act together so my little guy would be OK.

Shutting the door, I stood in the darkened entry and watched them drive away, a wave of sadness fell over me. It felt like the wettest blanket on the coldest night.  It was a rainy, dreary Wednesday afternoon in western Connecticut.  My family was a million miles away in Canada and I’d been too busy surviving working to have made plans.  At least he would only be gone for the weekend, and knowing the other one, probably coming home early.   I looked around our sparse apartment, at my pull-out sofa in the living room, his bunk beds and toys in the bedroom.  My eyes landed on our small table with two chairs, at books and Play-Doh from earlier play.

Calling Mom, we chatted for a while and caught up on the goings on there.  I heard her attempts at a cheerful voice, knowing we were so far away, and that I was by myself tonight.  When she asked what I’d be doing for the Holiday, I sputtered out something about being invited to a friend’s apartment.  “Oh, that’s good, dear.  You should go, there’s no need to be by yourself, and, well, we’d feel better if you did.”  She was right, of course, but there was about a .001% of me that wanted to go out and meet new people.   I promised her I’d think about it.

Later that night my friend Dee called.  Practically begging,  she admitted her parents were coming, too, and “you know how my Dad can be.”  Yes, I’d met them both, they were European, on-again-off-again as a couple, the Mom, quiet and nervous, the Dad, critical and imposing.  I knew she needed a buffer and, quite frankly, I suddenly had a need to get out of that apartment.   We agreed I’d be there mid morning the next day.

Upon arrival, I learned she’d also invited the “strays” ~ anyone in her building who didn’t have a place to be or family to spend the Holiday with.  Wow!

We quickly set to work peeling potatoes, setting a card table & chairs at the end of the kitchen table, scrounging around for Fast Food napkins, extra plates, plastic cutlery, tablecloths and a couple of old candles.  She turned on the radio – with a countdown of sorts, a mixture of Motown and Classic Rock, fun.  The turkey simmered in the oven, and the aroma, unmistakable.

Next she announced we had turnips to prepare ~ her crusty Dad had a thing for buttered  turnips, except she had no clue how to peel the waxy layer off of  it and neither did I.  We managed to get a steak knife stuck embedded in that thing more than once.  Laughing, we developed a rhythm, but we were more like Lucy and Ethel than Fred and Ginger. I peeled carrots and steamed them with peas, poured off the turkey drippings to make gravy, and mashed the potatoes.  She stirred corn and cream and butter together, microwaved Stove-Top Stuffing.  We ran into each other more than once.  Yep, Lucy and Ethel.

Soon guests began arriving ~ old and young, a shy woman with a bright-eyed toddler and no mention of the father, a married couple from Venezuela, she with lovely accent, his hand on the small of her back.  My friend’s son and his girlfriend, her parents and me, and Ivan, the lanky maintenance man with a heavy Russian accent, a shy smile and two bottles of vodka.  Everyone streamed in, offering what they had, ~ buttery Seafood Paela, a cheesecake, Wine, chocolates, sausage, pickles and cheese. We sent her son to 7-11 for more plates and paper products while her Dad took a seat to carve the turkey.  Her Mom, a bit tipsy from the vodka, chatted animatedly with Ivan.  We all found a seat on uneven and mismatched chairs, making small talk, clanking glasses,and savoring the moment.  I was in and out, serving, and bringing more to share.

It was there, grabbing another bowl of something in my friend’s kitchen, when I remembered that I’d forgotten about being sad. About being far from home.  I felt a tug ~ a love of cooking I’d not experienced in years.  See, since the divorce, I’d been getting by on “functional cooking” —  cooking to live, cooking to check the box.  Day-to-day. No joy, no creativity.  This was different.  This effort, stirring the gravy and mashing turnips in a new-to-me kitchen – transported me to my mother’s kitchen.  To Holiday meals and Mom’s and my Grandmother’s tables so lovingly prepared one couldn’t feel anything but gratitude at being included.  To feelings of warmth and happiness and appreciation for everything – the love and the labor, the sweat and the tears, that went into it creating so much magic for all of us.  It was in that moment, on that unorthodox Holiday, when I felt my love of cooking re-ignite. It was there, tasting the turnips, that I gave thanks.

one end of my Grandmother’s Holiday Table, an Emjayandthem (C) picture

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Flash forward to now:  After a visit with our grand-daughter at school yesterday morning, my son and I enjoyed a brief lunch together.   He’s no longer that little tow-headed boy, he towers over me by a foot, and has a family of his own.  He helps them with their mittens and coats.  Full circle.

I told him the story of my unorthodox Thanksgiving holiday so long ago, and how I thought we would all be well served to experience a holiday like that.  I told him that getting through that helped me appreciate where I’m from, and the traditions we enjoy today.

He gently teased me about my “holiday marathons” ~ I pointed out that when I start cooking 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, it’s because I want to.

When I prep multiple appetizers and side dishes, meats and desserts, it’s because I have people to cook for.

And when I decorate the table well before anybody steps foot through the door, I channel all of them: my Mom, My Grandmother, and the other wonderful women of my childhood who did such things for me.

  • Did you ever spend a holiday in an unconventional way? What do you remember from the experience?
  • What traditions are you carrying forward?
Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions, Wisdom, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Random 5 Sunday – Family, Flea Markets and Pie

It’s Sunday and I was up early with the sunshine, sipping coffee, packing for my week ahead and thinking it’s about time for 5 Random Ramblings from my world.   Pour some coffee and join me, will ya?

1 )   A Family brunch yesterday had a host of familial layers all at the same table: Uncles and Aunts, Cousins and kids, Step-in-laws, son’s girlfriend and me.    Uncle Ron sat next to Hubbs who sat next to cousin Johnny who sat next to me.  Facing them was youngest boy, his girlfriend, an Auntie, Grandpa, a cousin and another Auntie ~ I nodded my head to the youngest ones to get them to look ~ and they caught it — all of the guys, various ages but similar in looks, structure, and all folding their arms up high on their chests, head tilted just so to listen to the  story being told.   The story-telling was being done by another cousin,  directly across from them, whose arms were no longer folded. Like them, when talking, his arms and hands were wide open and out as he drove home the point of the story, “and then they brought ME the mailbox they’d ran over like I’m supposed to go back and fix it!”  Laughter filled the restaurant and diners nearby looked our way, mostly with understanding, one with annoyance but many with longing.  Family.  It’s big and it’s noisy and it’s wonderful. Gotta love it!

2 )  Fall is here and glorious ~ colors are magnificent, the sky is blue and deep and wide and the air is dry and crisp.  It won’t last, I know.  But windows are open, supper is in the crock-pot and I’m loving every minute of it. Fall is my favorite season and I wish it could stay just a little longer …

Many scenes like this one right now

3 ) With Fall’s arrival comes the start of indoor trade shows ~ I remember going as a girl with Mom & Dad.  This is shopping I love — wandering around from item to item, chatting with people and trying new things.  The shows we attended were Agriculturally focused with cattle breeders, farm implements and a host of novelty items targeted to the wives and kids accompanying said farmer  ~  the latest & greatest “as seen on TV” gadget,  smoked meats, candles, jewelry, make-up, toys, knives, you name it.  One such event rolled into town this weekend and a friend and I decided to go — and yes we saw the latest & greatest “as seen on TV” gadgets, sampled smoked meats, smelled the candles, laughed at the toys and books and “man-cave” items and more.   The usual suspects were there ~ selling Cinnamon almonds, home-baked goods, and of course, knives.   I came home with jewelry, Avon hand lotion, a pie and some herb-flavored butter.   Fun!

Like this but with 20x the people ~ Shipshewana on the Road

4 ) Traveling this week to a corporate conference ~ I’m looking forward to seeing my colleagues again.  I’m sure to learn a few things and I’ll do my best to avoid snakes (lipstick can’t cover fangs).  Over my working career, I’ve dealt with my fair share of Rats and Snakes and there’s always been a part of me that wants to ask this question, even though another part of me already knows the answer:

“Were you always such a snake,” the child asked, “or did you grow into what you are?”
― Dean Koontz, Odd Apocalypse

5 )  At the Flea Market yesterday I bought my friend and I each a sweet potato pie.  “Uncle Calvin” was selling them and promised the pies were his “Momma’s” recipe. That’s enough for me.

Before anyone freaks out about my non-sweets craving self enjoying a pie, I’ll share some perspective:

“The” pie .. next to my hand 🙂

Yep, I’ll scoop out the contents, skip the crust and enjoy every morsel.  It’s a taste and that’s enough for me.

So what’s new in your world? Had any pie lately?


Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Growth, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Mom, News, Personal, Products I love, Thoughts, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Random 5 for October – 665, pies and Free Fallin’

It’s Tuesday! It’s Random! It’s time for 5 Randoms in my world.  Ready?  Set?  Go ->

1 )  665 – that’s 665 days without 1 sick day.  I was last sick (bronchial infection/the flu) in December of 2015; I started the 10 day Grain Detox on Jan 4 2016 and lost weight, the fluff & puff, and regained my health.   Cutting out grains cut the inflammation that feeds illness ~ no more seasonal allergies, colds, flu, sinusitis or bronchitis.   It’s not that hard to do and while I was super strict the first 8 months my life shifted with even more travel and I relaxed and leaned into it.  I still (largely) follow the guidelines and – to my amazement – am never sick.  Amazing!   10 days became a lifestyle.

2 )  Death ~ we had a death in the family last week, Hubbs’ Dad.  He had been estranged from the family for many years, and lived far away from all of us, by choice.   Still, it’s never easy to lose a parent, regardless the circumstances.   Someone asked me what he was like and my answer was, “He was a hard man to know.”   And there it is.   But – to clarify – when I write here about time spent with my FIL, I’m writing about Hubbs’ Step-Dad, who lives nearby.   Fathers come in many forms.

3 ) Seasons ~ it’s October and feels like June, with higher than normal temps, skies like September and heat like summer.   Birds and squirrels are as confused as we are!

2 doors down & Taken on my cell phone. An Emjayandthem(C) Photo.

4 ) Travel ~ I have gobs of travel this month – day trips, overnights, and out-of-towns.  Current events make for nervous travelers, watching the crowd, staying alert.    You know what keeps me going?   Too much vacation has to be used again so I’ve booked a week off at Thanksgiving ~  I’ll be reading, pie-making, relaxing and shutting out the world.      It’s good to have goals 🙂

My sister-in-law’s homemade Saskatoon berry pie.

5 )  Tom Petty.  RIP.   So many great songs, all sing-along-able.  This was and is a favorite.   “She’s a good girl, loves her Mama, loves Jesus, and America, too.”   ~ Sigh

And how was your week?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Grief, Growth, Life Lessons, Men, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Travel, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The price we pay

I’ve been absent, that much I know:  1 post in August, another in September.

I used to write almost daily. What happened?

I’d like to say life happened but that’s just not true.

Yes we’re busy.  Busy-busy-busy.  I am so sick of the word busy.

The truth is harder to admit out loud:  I. Miss. Her.

It’s been a year+ since she left.  It was time and believe me when I say I don’t want her to come back for things to be how they were in the end.

Just last week a colleague’s mother passed away and the grief paid a visit. A Tsunami wave of it so strong and deep I nearly lost my footing.

So many of my stories, experiences and thoughts have her intertwined throughout.

But.  She wouldn’t want this. She would not want this for me at all.

She would set her mouth in a firm way, frown and tell me, “it’s time.  You have to carry on.”

And so I do. I try.

Some days  are better than others.

Some days I forget to think of her.

Other days I dial into conference calls and try not to shout out loud “OH FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD!” like she would have been tempted to had  she been there.

Some days I move around as though nothing happened.  As though the void of her passing wasn’t there.

Other days I prep the coffee maker to wake up and find I never added … water or coffee.

Some days.

Some days I laugh and chat with my sister and a memory makes us both giggle then gasp back tears, all at once.

Other days I can engage with humanity as though nothing happened.   Like the wound isn’t still gaping.

There’s a lesson for me here:  Grief has no timeline.

It’s real and raw and it’s why I haven’t even thought about writing.

Because to write now is writing in a world without her in it.

All that she was and all that she shared and encouraged in me – a love of reading and writing, of good books, breaking news, meandering conversations, being still and quiet,  political nuances, singing along to songs worth singing to, Sunday supper on the stove, and a home tidied with things in their place  – all that I love to do and 5 million more – are because of her.

God, I miss her.

  * * *

“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly


This song was one of her favorites ~ and it echoed one of her favorite Bible verses.  Sing with me will you?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Determination, Faith, Family, Grief, Growth, Love, Mom, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Random Five Friday – Rats, Math and Boom-Shakalaka

It’s a random August Friday – humid but with a cooler Fall breeze wafting in.   Summer lingers but Autumn is coming, we can feel it.

Here are 5 randoms from my crazy world ~

1 ) Recently hit a milestone – I celebrated 2 years Rat-Free.   2 years!  In that time I’ve had 4 different bosses to report to — but, thankfully, none have been rats.  Some have been more challenging than others but none have belittled me, stolen my work/ideas or endeavored to make me feel less than.  To the contrary.  It’s lovely living in a rat-free lane.  And once you’ve lived/worked/endured rat behavior – 2 years can pass and your tail still twitches at the thought of the experience.

2 )  Back to school for the littlest ones soon – I am so happy to be past the helping-with-homework stage! Essays, speeches, science, geography and social studies – sure, no problem. Math- ugh, no and where’s Dad??

3)  Vacation a few weeks ago was just wonderful.  I had the first 3 days largely to myself ~ yes I had big plans to head to the big lake then I remembered a certain festival going on so I skipped the crowd.  Instead I went to the backyard ’70s style — a big sheet spread out with my beach chair centered on it, a jug of Iced tea, books, snacks and sunshine.  I read and read and relaxed and read some more.  Hours in the sunshine, taking breaks to refill my water/tea and then later, after a shower, back out to the patio to read some more.  3 books, 22 magazines, and peace to my soul.   When friends ask my take on a given movie, in my head this is what I see:


4 )  Sometimes it seems we’re surrounded by anger and division, chaos and hate.   I find myself, more and more, turning off the news and flipping back to simpler times:

5 ) And on a totally random note – this made me laugh out loud!   TGIF, peeps!

Care to share your randoms with me?


Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Home, Humor, News, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Slow down Summer

Arriving home Friday night, the air was heavy with moisture and the threat of a summer shower  – the humidity/heat index hovered in the triple digits.  Hubbs, naturally slender, smiled at finally being warm.  His movements were easy, mine not so much.   I rushed in with groceries, wiping the sweat from my neck, and stayed inside to cool down in the air-conditioning.

After a shower and with my hair up, I re-joined him on the patio for an iced-cold beer and one of our typical meandering Friday night conversations.

The two of us spoke longingly of our upcoming summer vacation – remembering summers of our past, some spent together, some before we met.

We both remembered that first slice of watermelon, sitting on Grandma’s front steps and a shared childhood memory of Root Beer floats, burnt hot dogs and someone’s homemade pie.

We recalled wienie roasts with cousins, sleepovers, marshmallows cooked too long, and the crackle of the fire against the quiet of a dark summer night.

We reminisced about when our boys were little, how we spent summer days with Super Soakers, sprinkler hoses and water balloons and unbridled fun.

We remembered cookouts with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, with hordes of cousins to play with and the best food we’d ever eaten – Taco Salad, baked beans, fried chicken, burgers off the grill, lemonade, Rhubarb, Cherry and Saskatoon pie.  We talked about an older brother backing his car into the yard and opening the trunk to crank up the tunes – Led Zeppelin, Al Green or the Beatles.  We remembered some adults sipping beer from short brown bottles and Great Uncles playing Horseshoes and ladies fanning themselves against the summer warmth.    We remembered the prickly feel of lawn chairs against our sun-burnt thighs and the cozy happiness we felt being tucked into bed after such a rapturous day.

Summers were magical when we were kids – days were longer – parents were lenient – it was like everyone all knew this couldn’t – wouldn’t last.

Summer is here. Please last a little while longer.


Summertime, I think, is a collective unconscious. We all remember the notes that made up the song of the ice cream man; we all know what it feels like to brand our thighs on a playground slide that’s heated up like a knife in a fire; we all have lain on our backs with our eyes closed and our hearts beating across the surface of our lids, hoping that this day will stretch just a little longer than the last one, when in fact it’s all going in the other direction.”
― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper


Care to share your favorite summer memories?  Did your elders send you outside to eat watermelon or iced cream, too?

That’s me on Dad’s knee – An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Quotes, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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