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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?


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Decisions, decisions

Ahh, Summer.

A day off and the chaise lounge awaits …

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles William Eliot


**What are you reading these days?  


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The quietest of friends

Something’s happened, there’s been a shift again.  I think it started by picking colors for our house and imagining a reading room in my head.  Picturing colors, touching fabrics, something stirred and I found myself opening an already packed box of yet-to-be-read books.

Devoured “Defending Jacob” in 2 nights.

defending jackob

Read 3 Reader’s Digest and 5 Oprah Magazines the next.  Stayed up too late last night reading this:


Books take me back to my prairie childhood;  Mom helped me get a Library card when I was very young, about 7 (I’m sure she had to co-sign for me).    The Bookmobile arriving to our little prairie town was cause for celebration;  Book Fairs made my mouth water.  I’d buy adventure books, books in a series, fact-finding books, anything books.   I still love the smell of a book, and being in a library calms me.


Our bookmobile looked something like this, only older.

I spent my teens reading Stephen King (“It” – gak I hate clowns) and Peter Benchley (Jaws made me think twice about swimming in the lake at night) and Jacqueline Susann (Valley of the Dolls) or Jean M. Auel’s “Clan of the Cave Bear” series.  I devoured my sister’s magazines, Seventeen,  Glamour and Cosmopolitan.

It’s no wonder that when I feel life closing in, I retreat to books.


If I had this, I might never come out!

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles William Eliot


How about you? Can you relate?  Did your town have a Bookmobile?  What are you reading now?  What does your “dream room” look like?

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R5F – Peonies, memories, crimes & attitudes

It’s Friday and time for 5 random happenings and observations from my world.

1.  My Lilacs have come and gone but look who is making their grand debut?


Frankie loved the peonies and his ashes are scattered here. Seeing them bloom makes me smile and long for my silly old dog.

2. Last night we ran the dishwasher, a routine task done a few times a week.  It’s normally filled with plates, silverware and coffee cups.  Youngest boy put a large sauce pot in the lower tray upside down.  Reading quietly in the next room I heard a sound I couldn’t quite identify and then it hit me:  the spray of water hitting the bottom of that pot reminded me of milking cows as a little girl.   With 5 kids we always kept one or two milk cows and Dad would let us “help.”  More often than not we tilted Bossie’s *ahem* appendages in such a way that the barn cats got both a milk shower and a good drink and we probably spilled more than we didn’t.  Dad let us learn anyways.  Memories come to us in the most random of ways don’t they?

milking cows

3. I recently bought a “Fitbit” – a nifty little bracelet that works as a pedometer and tracks your sleep.  (You can track other things, too, but those are the ones I was interested in.) The first day I wore it was a Saturday and, between laundry, groceries, and yard work, I clocked 6 miles.  I slept well that night – 7 hours with 8 minutes of restlessness.  I really wanted it for my D.C. trip next week because we walk so much, up and down stairs in the Capitol office buildings.  Did you know that tunnels connect these buildings?  They’re clean and well-lit, but old as time.  I always feel a bit like Desmond in “L.O.S.T” in there … freaky.   Oh and elevators are reserved for Members when Congress is in session. That means I’ll be hoofing it to everything — in heels. And yes, I think I’ll sleep well every night :).

"See you in another life, Brotha."  -L.O.S.T.

“See you in another life, Brotha.” -L.O.S.T.

4. This week my job took me to the Michigan State Capitol – the day we were there happened to be “Older Michiganians Day” which meant we had a steady stream of older folks touring the building and sometimes stopping to ask us questions.  Everything was fine until two ladies came through and brazenly swiped several handfuls of cookies. Right in front of us.  With a look in their eyes that said, “whaddyagonnadoboutit?”  We looked at each other incredulously and shook our heads.  People are fascinating! And that day I clocked 7.8 miles – in heels!


Not this colorfully dressed but with just as much ‘tude

5. Jumping back to the Fitbit I also got it because, when I’m in the office, I’m aware I don’t move much.  It was shocking to me that, by noon yesterday, after a morning of conference calls, I hadn’t yet hit 2,000 steps.  That served as a powerful motivator to get in a workout!   On the treadmill last night, thinking about all I have to do before I fly out Sunday, this song came on and I knew it had to be shared:

Whatever it is you may be going through
I know He’s not gonna let it get the best of you

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer… You’re an overcomer!

Happy Friday, folks!  What sound take you back to your childhood? Tried any neat gadgets lately?  Ever witnessed Senior crime?  What are you working hard at overcoming?




Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Fun, Humor, Joy, Life, music, Patriotic, Politics, Products I love, Share, Technology, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Random Friday 5 – New Friendships, Old Favorites, Love and Night Life

It’s Friday! It’s time for 5 random thoughts from my ever-swirling mind.

1. I love the smell of Noxzema.   Growing up, that’s what we girls used to wash our faces at night – and that menthol clean smell still means clean to me.  I’ve bought the expensive tubes and creams and gels and every last bit of it sits – and rots – on my shelf.  


2. This week I initiated FB friend requests to a few long-time blogging pals.  You know who you are. Please know this.  My ❤ swelled when you said “yes.”  There’s a lot of things I blog about that I don’t post on FB, so for me to take a risk and invite you in, means I trust you.  My little writing hobby that started 4 years ago blossomed into friendships with some amazing people whose input I truly value.  People I hope to meet one day. My heart grins just thinking about it!

add as a friend

3. Yesterday morning, around 4:30 a.m.,  a thunderstorm rolled through.  I did a tuck and roll and all was right with my world.  Am I the only one who finds a T-storm an invitation to dive deep into slumber-land?


I love this sound!

4.  Hubbs and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this week: 23 years.  Crazy. Recently, I’d made a favorite meal of his and, although he doesn’t usually do so, he announced he was going to indulge in another favorite: bread and butter on the side.  I’d already eaten and the kitchen was cleaned up and things put away. Quietly I took the (supposedly spreadable) butter out and set it on the counter.   Because who wants hard chunks of buttery goodness on a roll? No one.  A while later, he came upstairs to fix his plate, saw the butter and laughed out loud. And from the kitchen I heard this, “Thanks for the butter take-out!  There’s 23 years of loving right there!”  It was a good reminder that cards and flowers are great but often all we really need is to know that we matter to someone else.


Love was in the butter.

5. And with that ~ I’m off. Off to a new city to meet new people and do my job.  Coffee’s poured, tunes are ready, and I am rousing up some old classics like this one:  Ray Price crooning “Night Life” with Willie Nelson accompanying him. Ray’s voice is as rich as his Polyester Fortrel suit and I love it!

What fragrances take you back to your childhood?   Made any new friends lately?  Are you scared of T-storms or do they make you want to get cozy, too?  What simple ways allow you to express your love for someone? What type of music is your favorite to drive to? 

Have a great day, peeps!


Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Fun, Life, Personal, Products I love, Quotes, Random, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Making time for the pauses

Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve and I am this excited about it: excited

For Christmas, of course, but because tomorrow afternoon the Grands arrive.  We’ll have a full house: our boys, me and Hubbs and the two littlest ones  – we’ll enjoy “fun” foods, play games and look for red noses out the window.  We’ll call the Santa Tracker to estimate the big guy’s arrival and we will surely ring Papa’s Sleigh Bell.  Here are the two of them last Christmas Eve:

the grands readying for bed; Christmas Eve, 2013

the grands readying for bed; Christmas Eve, 2013 – An Emjayandthem(C) photo

I’m working today, with only a few tasks left on off my list, and I like it that way. I have time to enjoy the pauses.  Pauses that allow me to be grateful that the sickness I’m getting over is on its way out not in, pauses to think about friends and family going through challenging times, and, of course, pauses to consider the gift given to all in a little stable far, far away.

Last night, I finished wrapping and now, just two presents remain: per wee MJ’s request could I save some wrapping for her to do? There are two left – one for Daddy and one for Mommy.  Yes their parents are divorced and don’t always along but doesn’t mean little ones don’t need to learn the joy of giving.   So after they arrive and coats and boots are off I’ll scurry them away with much ado about secrecy and “don’t peek here Daddy” and I’ll be giggling and thankful for little fingers and tape and ribbons and bows and three and a half feet of wrapping paper for a 10″ box.  That’s just how it goes when you have the chance to spread the magic that is Christmas.    I can’t wait.

But first – here’s a gem of a clip that I hope you take time to watch ~ it’s stirring and wonderful and takes me right home to my little prairie church.

 * * * Merry Christmas! * * *




Categories: Beauty, Faith, Gratitude, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life Lessons, Mom, music, Personal, Products I love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Sunday in threes

1. From breaking a century-old record for November snowfall last week to 50F and rain today – what a weather swing we’ve had here in west Michigan!  I woke up to an uncommon sound for this time of year  – the drip – drip – drip – of rain. Bizarre. But the coffee sure tastes good this morning.

big cups...

big cups…

2. Making the grocery list this morning, I realized we’re only a few days from Thanksgiving.  It snuck up on me, again!  I blame the Christmas ads and holiday music for the distraction.  We’ll have our boys and grands – just the 6 of us – so it’s time to get out the cloth napkins, crystal bowls and decorations :).  And, as youngest boy happily announced, this week marks the official start of Cheese ball season!  For my recipe (and his favorite appetizer), click here for my Look No Further Cheese ball recipe. 

one end of her table

Grandma’s Holiday table .. it took her days to set up!

3. I finally bought a tablet! No, not the AARP one, although that was tempting. has a great deal on a 10″ tablet – in my color choice which was  purple.  It arrived Friday and I have been happily playing around with it ever since.  For more on the deal, click here.


What are your Thanksgiving plans?  Any new toys land in your lap?  What food kicks off the Holiday season for your family?

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

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






Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Faith, Family, Food, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Products I love, Technology, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Simple pleasures

So .. a while ago, I earned an award at work.  Who doesn’t enjoy being appreciated?  But .. the fun thing about this is that it’s not the kind of award that hangs on your wall and needs to be dusted. Oh no, this award is given in points … points that can be redeemed via a website.  A site loaded up with all kinds of cool stuff.

There’s stuff that’s fun, stuff that’s practical and stuff you’d probably never get any other way.  It’s a little decadent. And who doesn’t enjoy being decadent once in a while?

Restaurant Gift cards. Housewares. Luggage. Jewelry.  Sports & outdoors. Or … something that makes a popcorn fiend sit up and take notice …something like this:

Hello gorgeous!!!

I admit it. I’m a popcorn junkie. Certified.  I’ll happily endure a bad movie just so to have theater popcorn.

:: one of the worst I’ve ever seen ::

The Wabash Farms Whirley-Pop popcorn maker makes Theater-style popcorn – at home – in about 3 minutes. Every kernel pops and every single one is scrump-dilly-icious.  As in 8 million times better than microwaved.

I’d share but … it’s time to reorder!  Get yours at or on Amazon.

What simple pleasure have you indulged in lately?

Categories: Food, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Products I love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Yogi lessons

Yogi Bear; image from

No, not that Yogi.

The other kind .. as in yoga. That’s right, yoga.

See, I’ve had this DVD sitting around for probably 6 months now. Just took the plastic off last week.  Popped it in after a long walk, thinking it might benefit me. And it did.

But wait – there’s more!

Tuesday night, after two days of 7 hour webinars, my neck felt as though it was made of concrete. Ding! I’ll do the yoga tape, I thought.

Oh the lessons I’ve learned:

  1. In grade school, when I would lay on my stomach and show off by touching my toes to the back of my head?  Not not happening now, unless it’s at gunpoint.
  2. I’m going to lose some poundage just doing the moves successfully.  (My .. ahem .. girls get in the way…)  However, having a little extra padding makes lying on a yoga mat even more comfy.
  3. Speaking of, I can doze off in under 2 minutes while stretched out on a hardwood floor.  That should tell you something about the effectiveness of the breathing exercises: a-m-a-z-i-n-g!
  4. Dust bunnies the size of house cats live under our exercise equipment.   Serenity now! Not.
  5. The stretches feel wonderful, but I have to resist my inner lizard to just go for it… which, more than likely, is the point.   Ah Grasshoppa, you get it now!

How about you?  Are you a Yogi? (practitioner of Yoga)

Here’s the DVD I’m enjoying; so far so good! Buy yours here .

Categories: Determination, Faith, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Products I love, Self Discovery, Share | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Self-sabotage or something else?

Self-sabotage or self-preservation?

Let’s look at the root of both words:

  • Sabotage – to damage, disrupt, interfere with or harm.
  • Preservation – referring to protection, safeguarding, maintenance or continuation.

I’ve used the first when I might really have meant the second; talk about different meanings… yikes!

Have you ever charged so hard down a goal’s pathway only to stop and then realize you’ve put very unrealistic expectations on yourself?

I have.

Recently, I plowed down the exercise path, again.

I say “again” because it’s taken me this long to really understand myself and here’s what I’ve learned:  Routinely, I set very high standards.  Standards that can be difficult for me to maintain.  Then .. when I can’t, I get frustrated and, in turn, am extremely hard on myself.

Example:  I’m gonna _____ *fill in the blanks

1)      Exercise every day!

2)      Eat only healthy stuff all the time!

3)      Etc. etc. etc.

The problem isn’t in the doing or in the determination. I have plenty of both.  The problem lies in the fact that, sometimes, life gets in the way. It has to.  I’m not a celebrity. I don’t have a chauffeur, cook, or anyone else.

I get busy.

I get bored.  *Yawn*

I get frustrated.

I get tired.

Can you relate?

But here’s something I’ve learned: I thought self-sabotage had to be the reason that I stopped.  I thought that, somehow,  somewhere, there was a deep, dark part of me that just didn’t want “it” badly enough.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

So, by berating myself after I gave up, I, in effect, neglected to see what had already been accomplished.

But recently I’ve learned another way of looking at this: maybe tucked in there with the negative connotations instead lies a semblance of self-preservation.

Maybe, at my core, I know better?


Maybe when I am fatigued and stressed and stop to take a day or three off it doesn’t have to mean that it’s all or nothing.

Maybe, I’m just tired.

Maybe I’m not a failure.

Maybe … if I instead acknowledge that some standards are too restrictive to be maintained I can see that it’s not always self-sabotage.  Perhaps it is, instead, self-care?

Perhaps it’s my inner voice suggesting … hey hot stuff, how about you go at it 3 – 4 days a week?  Pick something you enjoy and mix it up a little when it gets stale?  It’s OK: It will be enough.  You will be enough.

I get it now, I think.

image from

So last night, I danced, punched and shook my way through a round of Turbo Jam (fun!), enjoyed a luxurious cool-down in the pool and, after supper, took old dog for a leisurely stroll in the neighborhood.

None of it felt like exercise.   I never once looked at my watch. And all of it … felt like… fun!


Today’s a new day and while my intentions are great, my expectations … are a bit more realistic.

Having fun might just be what brings me back for more.

# # #

You?  What keeps you moving forward to your goals? Have you ever stopped, erased what you’d planned, and started again? 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Forgiveness, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

What are your dreams trying to tell you?

Most of the time I don’t remember my dreams. I wish I did but I don’t. The Hubbs, on the other hand, seems to dream vividly and often.  Often those dreams come up in conversations as we try to understand just what they mean.

Sometime ago I picked up a copy of  “The Dream Book,” by Betty Bethards.  I admit that I was a little skeptical becuase it was just a little bit “boogly-boogly,” nearly bordering on the supernatural.  But the more I’ve used the glossaries contained therein, the more I’ve come to understand what our dreams are trying to say to us. (find the book at or

We spend 1/3 of our lives asleep. Do you really think that your job anxieties, family conflicts, and daily struggles just slip away when you’re sleeping? To the contrary … the images that come to us .. funny, bizarre, scary and surreal .. all have meaning and can be useful tools to better understanding.

Case in point: The Hubbs is dreadfully afraid of heights. Just talking about getting up on a ladder will cause him to break a sweat. I can actually watch the panic as it transforms him.  Recently he dreamt of being in a tall building, near the window (something he’d never do) and the window’s glass was shattered.  Turning away from the window he saw a staircase but the staircase was rickety and swaying. The image was so disturbing to him that he repeatedly woke himself up. The dream came back.  We sat down with the book and put the images together:

  • Large building: A large building represents a tremendous energy source; it suggests you have great opportunities, tremendous potential and a large destiny to fulfill.
  • Glass, shattered: Shattered glass represents the breaking of illusions.
  • Stairs: Stairs represent direction in life; note direction .. if going up, right direction, if going down, wrong. Make up your mind and get on with it.

When he pondered the symbols, he realized that a recent decision point had left him feeling unsettled and uncharacteristically anxious.  He considered the fact that the decision was not in his best interests and that if he instead steered away from it he’d realize a better fit for his comfort level.  That’s exactly what he did, too.  The change in him was nearly immediate.  I noticed not only was he more rested but that he just simply felt more at ease because he finally understood what was picking at him. 

Dreams give us more than we might imagine.   They offer us insight into our deepest fears, our highest hopes and our secret desires.

What are your dreams trying to tell you?


Categories: Attitude, Gratitude, Life Lessons, Love, Men, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Panera Cares: The question is .. will we?

Last night my local news featured a story on The Panera Bread restaurant chain having opened its third “Panera Cares” cafe in Portland, Oregon.  Two others were opened in the past year: one in Dearborn, MI (near Detroit) and the first in St. Louis, MO.   These cafes have the same food choices on the menu as all other Paneras with one difference: there are no prices listed. Meals aren’t free, rather a “pay what you can” concept has been introduced.  I heard the reporter state that while most customers pay what would be considered the regular price, many pay more so as to give something back.  Any extra monies are given to local job training programs benefiting at-risk youth.

“There are a lot of folks out there who question whether this could ever work. In many ways, this is a test of humanity,” said Ron Shaich, the company’s founder.

I do enjoy the variety of Panera’s menu and while some items are too calorie-laden for me, I am happy to support a company that tries to do something for the greater good.  Give me that over a 30 ounce “Trenta” any day of the week.

For more information visit their website or watch the video below:

Categories: Attitude, Charity, Food, Gratitude, Life, News, Patriotic, Personal, Products I love, Relationships, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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