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Food

September, visits and Anthony Bourdain

September brings many changes, not the least of which is the arrival of Fall colors.  But even more exciting, here in my neck of the woods, is the arrival of two important happenings:   crystal clear blue skies and low(er) humidity.  Ahh ~ bring on happy smiling skies, outside walks, Breck-girl hair and comfortable sleeps.

 

Every year I declare Fall as my favorite season:  The colors, the smells, the tastes – yep – it’s my favorite.  It’s the one season I missed more than any other when we lived down south.   In Texas, the seasons were: hot, hotter, surface-of-the sun hot, and slightly less hot.     I loved many things about living in Texas but always, always I longed for Fall.

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” [Indian Summer]”  ― John Howard Bryant

Sometimes I sleep in on the weekends ~ I still wake early and usually I get up. But sometimes, like today, I do “tuck and roll” if only for a little while.  I did so today, and with great delight, dreamed of Mom.  I was back in her farm kitchen and she was teaching me how to make bread.  I was an impatient teen, not paying as close of attention as I should have.  She had something to teach me and I listened.  But not well.   When I awoke, the dream felt like a visit.  And even though I don’t bake or eat bread now, perhaps the lesson was in the listening.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”  Laurie Colwin

I’ve been catching up on past episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.”  ~Sigh.  I’m late to his party. He was such a scamp, so much fun, with that wicked smile and sense of humour/adventure.   If only he’d known it.

“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.”  Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

 

  • What season do you look forward to most?
  • Have you had any vivid dreams visits lately?
  • And are you on the Anthony Bourdain train?
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Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Humor, Joy, Life, Mom, News, Personal, Quotes, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Random 5 for Labor Day ~Dishes, Empaths & Amazon

How is today is September 3rd and Labor Day already?

It seems like 5 minutes ago we turned the calendar from April to May ~ and while we didn’t have a typical summer, we still enjoyed many high points — beach days, good books and BBQs.    To that end here are my 5 Random 5s for Labor Day:

1 )  Good friends enjoyed shared birthdays this weekend so a celebration was organized, pot luck style.  I don’t know about you but, around here, “bring a dish to pass” gatherings offer the b.e.s.t.  food.  Why’s that?  Because everyone makes (or buys) their one “best” thing and, when you put everything together, it’s amazing.  Examples of what was offered include the following:

  • Deviled eggs, home-made pickles, olives and various cheeses & crackers
  • 7 Layer Salad (mine), Oriental Coleslaw, Pasta & Potato salads – all home-made – yummo!
  • Pastry-wrapped sausages, Sloppy Joe’s & baked beans (with bacon and enough brown sugar to carmelize an apple, yum!)
  • Veggies & Dip, chips & dip and Fruit salad
  • And birthday cake — not just any cake – but a local bakery’s marble cake with a creamy custardy middle  and fluffy whipped icing — OMG.
    • There was more, but the above is some of what I sampled and YES I enjoyed a small piece of cake — it was sweet and creamy and a little bit went a long ways 🙂

2 )  I’ve been reading a book that I can’t stop thinking about.  Normally when I land upon a good book I’ll tear through it like a starving wolf.  Not this one.  I’m savoring my way through.  See,  I’ve always known stuff I shouldn’t know, and I’ve had a feeling (good or bad) about a person, more than once. I trust it.  I just didn’t know how to use it or how to protect myself from absorbing other’s “stuff.”   

A sample includes:

  • Being an empath is different from being empathetic.
  • Being empathetic is when your heart goes out to someone else.  Most of us do this – especially after a tragedy.
  • Being an empath means you can actually feel another person’s happiness or sadness in your own body.  You can feel it so deeply that it can make you physically sick, sad or drained.
    • You may have been told to “not be so sensitive,” maybe you are, like me, sensitive to caffeine, startle easily, get overwhelmed in crowds, have a strong sense of smell and touch (sour odors and prickly clothes, no way).
    • These can all be indicators — so tell me — Are you an Empath?

3 ) I just realized that my Amazon cart always has something in it.  I  love the “save for later” feature.  Because my internet wanderings can take me into some deep valleys, it’s nice to know I can save an item for a more rational purchase point later.    Between books, vitamins, and skincare/beauty products, I enjoy new-to-me finds and repeat favorites.    For someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping, I sure enjoy Amazon 🙂

4 )  Speaking of books — I did a lot of not laboring this weekend ~ I putzed, cleaned, cooked a little, read a lot, fiddled with the hot tub & read some more.  Yep, definitely did. Not. Labor.

5 )  And with that, here’s September!  Bring on bright sunshiney days, College Football, autumn leaves, cooler nights and less humidity.  Because even though it’s Labor Day, the reality is it’s still warm, humid and summery … and that’s OK.  Put down the pumpkin spice and turn on the fan!

Autumn colors are arriving (scenes from the old house)

 

  • What signs of Autumn are near you?
  • Could you be an Empath, too?
  • Are you laboring to NOT Labor this Holiday weekend?
Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life, Life Lessons, News, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Seasons, Share, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Adulting in Summer

I don’t know about you but being an adult in summer still requires some adjustment.

Dressing up when the weather says “dress down.”  Shoes on when my heart screams “barefoot.”

Going inside to bed … when I want to stay up and watch fireflies dance.

In summer, I’ll start a new book and if an author bores me, feel no shame in reaching for another.

In summer I’m restless.

But not for a desire to do rather for the desire not to do.

In summer the job I enjoy feels laborious: phone calls, project calls, calls, calls and reminder calls.

Summer vacation affords an opportunity to shut that out and instead pad quietly through the house, sipping coffee, feeling the fan on my skin and the heat at the nape of my neck.

Summer days find me up early, drinking coffee and tea for hours, making bacon & eggs for lunch, and leftovers and fruit for dinner. Even better if eaten outside.

Summer brings a longing for the summers of my childhood.

Of screen doors and homemade pie, beach hair and strappy sandals; wienie roasts and kick-the-can, late night swims, ice-cream or watermelon eaten on Grandma’s steps.

Summer is the season when adulting has a very good chance of going sideways.

 

 

I’ve not tried this but it’s tempting …  Happy Summer!

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Food, Holidays, Home, Life, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Summer just opens the door and lets you out

It’s summer ~ we’re in the throes of the season now, temps hovering in the 90s with the % of humidity matching.

In no particular order are just some of the summer delights we’ve been savoring:

  • Morning coffees on the patio
  • Fireflies fluttering at dusk
  • Strawberries, corn-on-the-cob and 7-Layer Salad
  • Anything grilled  ~ steak, chicken, shrimp and more
  • Hubbs golfing later and me reading later, all to summer’s golden light
  • A soft serve ice-cream, half chocolate & half vanilla, with half of it running down your arm
  • Stray cat visits
  • Kids playing in the sprinkler and Yellow finches mining my flowers
  • Couples walking together and dogs walking owners
  • The joy of a new book and the laziness of summer magazines
  • The smell of fresh limes on my fingers after squeezing into a margarita, the kiss of summer on my shoulders and the tangle of  beach waves in my hair

  + + + + + + +

“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.” -Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart 

Sunset on Lake Michigan

What have you indulged in this summer? 

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Holidays, Humor, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Sunshine, questions and a big juicy life

A while back, a blogging friend Dor, awarded me the “Sunshine Blogger Award” – this award is as special as sunshine on my shoulders, sunshine on my toes… Or saying my future’s so bright I just gotta wear shades!

taken yesterday

Thank you Dor for your kindness & for including me. The rules are to do the following –

  1. Give a Big Hearty Thanks to the blogger who nominated you & link back to them (Check!)
  2. Answer the questions the other blogger asked you (See below)
  3. Nominate a host of others (rules suggest 8-11) but I’m just gonna leave this open whomever wants to play along and 😀
  4. List the rules/display the Sunshine Blogger Award on your site. (done)

Here are the questions Dor posed for me:

  1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Do you wish you were the other and why?
    • Gemini ~ both, depends on the day and situation.  I can work the room at a conference or cocoon myself away with my books ~ it all depends.
  2. Are you an animal lover?  What pets do you have and love?
    • Yes, no pets right now but our Grand-Dogs and a Stray Cat warm my ❤ regularly
  3. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
    • Mr. Corbett; he was smart, strict and fun
  4. Have you ever had a bad habit you  broke?  What was it and how did you change it?
    • I’ve stopped asking for permission to enjoy myself!
  5. What is your favorite place to relax?  Explain where it is and why it helps.
    • Home or outside / outside at home / the beach!  I’m cozy at home and comfy outside, provided it’s not 95F+
  6. What is your favorite movie of all time?
    • One I watch every time it’s on is “Something’s Gotta Give.”  ~sigh
  7. Do you love to travel or do you hate it?  Why?
    • Love to travel for vacation and I tolerate business travel.
    • I love the coming & going, but I don’t love impatient flyers trying to fit a couch into the overhead compartment. Remember when flying used to be fun?
  8. Are you an organized or a disorganized person?
    • Organized. My grocery list is typed in the order of the store.  I admit it 😉
  9. Are you always late, early, or right on time?  Are there any advantages or disadvantages to your timing?
    • Always early. A disadvantage is that not everyone riding with me is ready on time!
  10. Do you create lots of blog posts in advance of publishing or do you do one at a time?
    • As they come to me
  11. What inspires you to create a blog post?
    • see answer to #1  😉

And here are your questions, friends:

  1. What’s a scent or fragrance that takes you back to summers as a child?
  2. What dessert item do you remember savoring at family reunions, parties or weddings?
  3. Name a song that makes you want to get up & dance.
  4. What ability do you wish you had and why?
  5. Who do you wish you could have a conversation with?
  6. And lastly, what are you looking forward to?

 

 

 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Family, Food, Friendship, Fun, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Thoughts, Travel, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Random 5 Monday ~ Bourdain, Beaches and Ducks

It’s Monday and it’s time for some random thoughts from the ever-swirling mind of yours truly.  Ready?  No.  Well get set, let’s go!

1 ) Still reeling over the loss of Anthony Bourdain.   I’m not even a foodie.  And I wanted to be one … watching him.  I wanted to walk into his kitchen, sit at his table,  have him flirt outrageously with me, tell a clever joke and have him lean in for the punch line.   Young, middle-aged, older – there was something about him that drew us in.   And kept us there.  This blogger sums up our loss beautifully – https://atypical60.com/2018/06/09/the-anthony-bourdain-i-knew/    #LOSS.

I hope he has peace now. 😦

2 ) Last week I took a couple of days off ~ I was, once again, up against the deadline.  Time to use vacation days.  Darn.   Thursday I packed tea, sunblock, my books and a beach chair and drove myself to Lake Michigan.  A place where stress does not thrive.  I read for hours, enjoyed other people’s children, watched a wedding, dug my toes in the sand and came home with beach hair & freckles.  And yes, I aim to repeat this many times over the summer.  #SUMMERGOALS.

~~~ ahhh ~~~
An Emjayandthem(C) Photo

3 )  The days are longer now that summer is officially here.  Celebrating my birthday I reflected on changes.  Much much stays the same ~ the work load, schedule, and expectations.  But I’ve changed – I’m a bit easier on myself than I used to be.   I’ve said “no” to others so I can say “yes” to me. I’ve slowed down. I’ve leaned in.   I’ve savored.  There’s a shift and I like it.  #SELF-CARE

4 )  Something I’ve realized – getting older – is that I’m a lot like Mom:  I don’t mind time alone, I crave it.  I get a little bit cranky with too many people and too much noise.   Yes I enjoy good conversation, music and such but I can – and will – easily spend days by myself.    A few nights back I imagined taking a week off and never leaving the house.   I found myself day-dreaming of how that would go:

  • Sleep
  • Read
  • Putter outside
  • Read
  • Write
  • Chat on the phone / visit with Hubbs
  • Sing/dance to music
  • Read
  • Putter outside
  • Read
  • Exercise/stretch
  • Sleep

I even had a fantasy food list ready.  It came to me immediately and goes something like this:

  • Strong coffee with cream
  • Grilled anything & Fresh veggies
  • Strawberries and watermelon
  • Iced Tea
  • Bacon & eggs
  • Fajitas
  • Avocados
  • Chinese Coleslaw
  • Margaritas and Fresh Limes

I realized that this exercise was really me manifesting my summer “wish list.”  Yep, time to book more days off.  #SUMMERGOALS

5 ) Saw two ducks on my walk earlier tonight … made me think of this:

#CORNYJOKESMAKEMELAUGH

 

~~~~~~~

Your turn:

  • Did a celebrity death ever leave you reeling?  (recent or not)
  • Are you making a summer wish list, too?
  • Got any bread?

 

 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Food, Grief, Growth, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Men, News, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Random 5 Friday ~ Summer, Strawberries and Silliness

It’s Friday & it’s time for 5 Random thoughts ~ here we go:

1 )  June 1st and our grand-kids last day of school ~ Summer break begins.  I don’t know about you but we had to go through most of June to make it to Summer Break.    Usually the end of school year involved a class trip and, on the way home, a stop at McDonalds:  Two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-sauce-on-a-sesame-seed-bun – Imagine a bus full of kids singing that at full volume!  So good – and back when a fast food burger actually tasted like the commercial made it look.

google.images.com

2 )  Earlier this week, at a county meeting, I chatted with a Community official who has been a bit of a “Grumpy Grumperson” at prior meetings.  Not that day.  Seems she’s retiring in August, selling her house, bought an R.V. at a “old folks park” in New Mexico – she’s packing her books, Daisy, her 3 yr old German Shepherd, and heading out. Said she’s raised 4 boys as a single mother and its now her time — when someone asked what her kids thought her response was “the Best Western near me charges $49 a night … they can come see me and stay there.” And, she confided, on the way to the parking lot, that she’s not taking social security ’till she turns 66, in the meantime “I’ll live on coffee, books, my house proceeds and walks with my dog.”   🙂    The experience reminded me how freeing and necessary it is to take leaps of faith and to remember that ~ people – and their moods – are often just a reflection of current circumstances.

3 )  A couple of months ago I decided to invest in a personal cell phone ~ I was tired of being “on call” for my job, often muttering “I’m not a Fireman,” under my breath.  (Some of that was my own doing, I’ll admit).  So I enacted my own secret brand of mutiny and subscribed to cell service, transferred personal numbers over and asked my (short) list of contacts (family, friends, Dr., Dentist, etc) to please contact me at that number instead.  Yesterday,  while at work, I set my personal phone to airplane mode to save the battery and missed calls from Hubbs.  He called my work cell to ask – why do you have a personal cell?   Moments like this remind me how absurd I can be and how much like  her I am. 

4)  When I think of June I think of my 2 favorite fruits:  Strawberries and Watermelon.   Any “diet” will tell state that both are high in carbs.   Don’t care.  I’m not a big sweets eater but my favorite dessert always has been the one Mom made for my June birthday: Strawberry Shortcake – garden fresh strawberries, in their juice, with home-made whipped cream dolloped over Angel Food cake.  (Remember cake soaking up some of that “juice?” oh man!)   And while Watermelon wasn’t ready till mid summer – the start of June meant it was coming soon.  Family cookouts, birthdays, and barbecues were not complete without several slices of watermelon (don’t eat the green you’ll get a stomach-ache!!) and the juice running down our arms … we’d sit outside to slurp it down, wipe our hands on our shorts and run off into the summer night to play Hide N Seek or Kick-the-Can.  Pretty sure the carbs in both fueled us for hours ~ So many good summer memories, ahh!

5 )   Saw this on Facebook and it made me smile ~ are there 2 happier words than “Blanket Fort?”  Maybe “Summer Vacation!” 🙂

What’s new in your world?   When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

Happy Friday, peeps!

Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Holidays, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, News, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Random 5 Sunday in March

It’s a sunny Sunday and time for 5 Random thoughts.

1  Looking up from my desk Friday, I noticed both wall Calendars set to February.  It’s March and then some.

The bad news is that time flies.  The good news is that you’re the Pilot. ~ Michael Altshuler

2  Signs of Spring are everywhere; snow and wind one day, sunshine & smiles the next.   Birds and squirrels cover  the yard.  Snow clings to the fence.   Easter in 2 weeks.

Springtime is the land awakening; The March winds are the morning yawn. ~ Lewis Grizzard

3  Week 2 of a personal cell so I can turn off the work one.   Habits take practice and I’m enjoying practicing.

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others. ~ Brene Brown

4  Stretch. Read. Rest. Repeat.

Take rest. A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop. ~Ovid

5   Last week I gave away something I didn’t use but another could benefit from.  Yesterday I cooked a meal for someone who needed it. The rewards outweigh the effort.

The best way to do good for ourselves is to be doing good to others; the best way to gather is to scatter.  ~Thomas Brooks

Shifting horizons, adjusting boundaries and adding in self-care = peace.

What’s new in your world?

related: On Saying Yes

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Food, Friendship, Gratitude, Growth, Life, Personal, Quotes, Self Discovery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 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: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 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 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

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