Friday, December 31, 2010

Pavarotti "nessun dorma"

Happy New Year!

This is just a quick shout-out to all my friends far and wide, near and dear. I have so much to share but for now can only take a minute to pause here, on this New Year's Eve and look at my life, look at my world, treasure the good memories, be glad that the bad ones are over, and step expectantly into the New Year with you all.

We go to bed tonight (well, the riotous ones will party all night, but I'll be snoozing by 12:02 I'm sure) and we wake up in a whole New Year. Amazing, isn't it?

So as I head off to bake some goodies for a party tonight at a friend's house, I'll be thinking of the wonders that lie ahead, the grace of God that will see me through another year, and the joy of the journey. (I hope I don't get too deep in thought or I'll burn whatever I've put in the oven.)

I'll probably be belting out the words to Nessun Dorma, attempting to hit the high notes, and thinking of you all ...because nobody shall sleep tonight.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snoozing under the Christmas Tree

As you can see by this picture taken last night, Harry is exhausted. Joy can tire you out, you know. And so can a college student who comes home for the holidays and stays up till the wee hours of the morning.

Harry is elated that Alex is home; elated and tired. He hasn't driven all over town or done any Christmas shopping or baking or decorating, but he's flat out pooped, just the same.

And now that his "boy" is back, Harry is shadowing Alex's movements, not wanting to miss a thing. He's had two late nights already and I can tell that by the time Alex returns to school, Harry will need a day at the spa. And so will I.

But neither us will get there.

Still, it'll be the merriest of Christmases!

May yours be bright with hope and scented with grace!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Amish Love- Book Review

An Amish Love is a beautiful book of three novellas by authors Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long. This is a great gift book, perfect for Christmas or even for Valentine's Day. The stories are about old fashioned courtship and close-knit communities, and the book is full of Pennsylvania Deitsch expressions. Ach, you have to read the book to see what I mean!

Healing Hearts by Beth Wiseman is the story of a couple reunited but facing trust issues. A Marriage of the Heart, by Kelly long, is my favorite of the three stories because it's about marriage first, then the experience of falling in love! What the Heart Sees by Kathleen Fuller is a lovely story of triumph over tragedy.

I'm not the biggest fan of these types of love stories, but I know many women who are. In fact, there's a certain someone I'm thinking of who is going through a hard time and this book will be perfect for her to get her mind off her situation and step into a softer world of community and quilts, morning chores out in the barn, pancake breakfasts, and love...invincible love.

An extra sweet bonus is the section of Amish Recipes at the back of the book. I haven't tried baking them yet but they seem to be sehr gut!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Here's my Christmas Wish List:

1. A little corner nook to curl up in with a good book and a cup of tea (PG Tips).

2. This bathroom here, if this was mine- I would never leave this room!

3. And here's where you and I would have our little chat. All we need is Harry lying at our feet!

4. And lastly, if my husband, Bill, can't get to building my dream house in time for Christmas, I guess I'll just take a subscription to House Beautiful!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

To the Point

A couple years ago when my husband Bill was doing some carpentry work for this sweet Italian man named Vic, Bill came home from work one day with a little saying of Vic's that we still use to this day. Bill had been telling him about a project he was working on and how he was almost done with it. Vic slapped him vigorously on the shoulder and said, "Good for you!"- but he meant this. He really did.He was beaming as he said it. His eyes lit up, Bill said.

Now Bill and I say this a lot. Over little accomplishments and big ones. To our children, to our friends. It's probably the modern day equivalent of that Scripture verse about rejoicing with those who rejoice.

I like things that get right to the point; sayings that are short and sweet... and powerful.

Back when I was pregnant with my son and we were living up in the White mountains of New Hampshire, there was another sweet, funny man in our life- Mr. Kaminsky. He lived below us on a little hill- you could see his house from our picture window. We had a hyper Springer Spaniel named Spenser who got loose quite frequently or would pull out of our grasp and go running through the streets and jump on people. But Mr. Kaminsky loved Spenser, and every morning there Mr. Kaminsky would be, tottering on his cane, very unsteady on his feet, standing out in his front yard and calling up to us, "Let 'em go!! Just let him go!!"

That's what we say to each other when we're flooded with worries or concerns- "Let em go!" That's what we encourage our loved ones with when they've got that anxious look on their face- "Just let 'em go!"

And then this week, I read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird for the umpteenth time. I told Bill I'm in love with Anne Lamott. She can say the most brilliant of things in the most self effacing way. She gets right to the point about things, and in dealing with her own insecurity and pettiness, she touches on mine. Like the way she talks about criticism and how some people relish giving it to you. If someone is "too strident or adamant, ditch the sucker," she says, only partially tongue-in-cheek.

Then she shares the story of how she went shopping for a dress to wear on a date, and her friend Pammy went with her. Pammy was dying of cancer, in a wheelchair, wearing a wig. Annie kept trying on dresses , asking what every normal woman asks, "Do you think this makes my hips look too big?" and Pammy answered, short and sweet, to the point- "Anne? I really don't think you have that kind of time."

It just might be that these three pithy sayings are all you need to respond to someone. No matter what the problem is, what you're facing, what you're rejoicing over, what you're going through, one of these saying is appropriate.

For those celebrating today, for those who've won a victory- "GOOD FOR YOU!!"

For those of my readers overwhelmed with worries- "Let 'em go! Just let 'em go!!"

And for anyone dealing with spiraling morale or diminishing confidence, or for those questioning their sanity or capability (like I am), just look in the mirror and admonish yourself, "I really don't think you have time for that."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas Gifts for the Taking

Anyone having a tough time finding the right gift for someone? Financial problems keeping you from giving freely? Need some creative Gift Giving Ideas?

Well, welcome to my Boutique of Gift Ideas- all from the heart and not from the wallet:

1. One sixty minute counseling session. I'm serious about this: therapy is not cheap, and everyone has problems they need to work through (some of us more than others). Now remember, the best counseling is the quiet kind- where your mouth is shut, your heart is open and so are your ears. This kind of gift would involve you letting someone talk, get it all out, and then giving them a very big hug at the end. I would love this gift. And actually I get it, almost every morning when my husband lets me get it all out over coffee. But I probably couldn't give this gift unless someone taped my mouth shut.

2.Decision Maker for the Day- Yes, this is a weird gift but there are some indecisive people out there who can't get through the day without asking, "Now, what do you think? Should I?" and so, in this case, you'd spend the day nodding and naying, advising, and selecting. This works best when you've got an Opinion Giver with an Opinion Needer. Seriously, some people want input and some of us (ahem) have a lot of input to give.

3.Feature them in a Story This works for kids- of all ages. Who doesn't want to star in a movie or be the main character in a book? This gift idea works great for all you creative people. If the gift is for a child, make them the hero of a little adventure story. If it's for an adult, depict them in the way you know they want to be seen: wise, strong, bold, or caring. It doesn't have to be a long story. But it's very doable to put together a descriptive account of someone shining in all their strengths. Especially if you know someone going through a hard time, write a story featuring them, show them rising to the occasion, and give it a triumphant ending. Let them know you see them for who they really are.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thanksgiving Discoveries

We had a very quiet Thanksgiving Dinner- my son wound up not being able to get home for Thanksgiving Vacation, and it was just the three of us. Well, four- if you count Harry under the dining room table waiting for any scraps to fall.

Quiet doesn't mean bad- just different. Like the fact that the turkey had a different taste to it- slightly odd taste. Couldn't figure it out for the life of me. And then as I was cleaning up and getting ready to make some soup from the leftover bird, I found a small white waxy package of undesirable contents. Apparently my husband hadn't cleaned out the bird's cavity entirely when we were first prepping the turkey.

I'm doing a Roast Beef Dinner next Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

One is the Loneliest Number

I'm reading a ton of books on the craft of writing fiction and enjoying myself immensely- not to mention, driving my husband and daughter crazy as well. I love all these helpful exercises ( just like I love to take those personality tests, strengths assessments, funny quizzes- like "what vegetable are you?" which we will have to do another day).

Anyhow, a recent exercise was to write about your earliest memory of happiness or your earliest accomplishment. I'm sure one of my earliest accomplishments was that of getting heard- as I was one of five children. But the memory that came to my mind was one from Kindergarten.

One day, Mrs. Zigo, my teacher, told us to come up to the blackboard, one by one, and write a number. Simple exercise, I thought. I went up and carefully drew a "2" and apparently it was more than elegant. The woman went bezerk over it, commending me liberally in front of the whole class and then telling me to go down the hallway and get my father to come and see this grand work of art(?) I'd just written. My father was a fifth grade teacher in the school. And he came in and nodded, yes, it was a nice "2" and then he left. His lack of ecstasy did nothing to diminish my joy because if Mrs. Zigo thought it was the most perfect 2 in the world, then it had to be.

So there are several conclusions you can draw from this story if you want to.

1. Teachers have the incredible ability of making a kid feel absolutely competent and alive with hope- and even if its kindergarten, you never forget how high you soared on the day you were noticed for the wonder you really are.

2. Two is, obviously, my favorite number. Has been ever since kindergarten. Just a bid of odd info for you here.

3. Lastly- In a world where Looking Out for Number One has been the norm, the number two can sometimes be the preferred number. Here's an example- on a picnic, would you like it be just yourself- or you and someone else? (Forget how hungry you are, we're trying to get at something profound here.) Would you like one scoop of Thanksgiving Day Mashed Potatoes or two? I thought so.

A wise man said it best: "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed." (Eccl 4:9)

So there's my earliest accomplishment. But really, it was Mrs. Zigo's accomplishment- she took the number two and turned it into something so much more.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Making Room for the Turkey

This was the Thanksgiving table at my sister's house ...from last year. (There must have been another table nearby not shown in the picture because we are a huge extended family).

But everything changes, and this year we will be a rather disjointed bunch scattered across the map. I'm trying not to mourn this but its going to be a challenge doing the Thanksgiving Dinner at my house.

My problem is I have no room for a Turkey in my freezer or fridge. I've got more than just house cleaning to do now- I've got to start organizing and thinning out and using up the contents of my freezer to make way for the bird! So I'm baking up a storm again- bread puddings (to use up all the frozen loafs of bread), pumpkin chocolate chip cake (just because it's delicious), and baked macaroni and cheese (to use up all the shredded cheddar in the freezer).

So, again, if it takes me awhile to do another post, you'll know where I am and what I'm doing!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Okay. I'm not on top of things, at all- domestically speaking. You should see my kitchen sink, the counters, the oven (where I hide whatever dirty pots and pans that can't fit on the counters). You should see my home office- but I can't even find the camera to take a picture to show you.

So imagine. Imagine a mess, every where you look.

It's been four, almost five months of this. It's been several years in the making: a character who wouldn't leave my head, ideas that came to me in the night, mid morning, and especially when driving- when I had to scribble, one handed, on a corner of a coffee stained envelope or sometimes even on the back of my arm, and try not to kill anyone at the same time.

But- I'm three quarters of the way done with the first draft.

I'm writing a novel.

And since I don't have a photo up, imagine this: try to envision my face, because there's a big grin there. Huge satisfaction. Not that there's days when I'm not saying, "Oh this is just plain crap, crap, crap."

But for the most part, I'm on to something. I'm extremely, insanely satisfied.
The house can wait. (Well, it has to. Because I'm the boss, not the house. Just a hint for those of us who sometimes getting a little obsessive about our cleaning. Comment here if you want any tips on how to let go- in that particular area!)

More later!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Okay, so I was going to start faithfully writing here again. But there have been things (distractions) conspiring against me. Bugs in my computer. Technical problems. A myriad of things. I could go on, but you get the idea- I've been relieved for this reprieve. Went back into my little chipmunk hole.

But the reason I came back to blogging here at Faith Fuel was to keep myself accountable. Otherwise, I might entirely disappear. (That's what happens to introverts when given too much free reign).

I hope to make these posts less intermittent. I hope to get down to the nitty gritty and talk about the things that have been happening, the ideas I've had, the challenges we've all been facing, the victories we've won. A victory can be seemingly small- like hauling myself over to the keyboard and writing this post.

But it feels good, however slight its ramifications.

So, there you have it. One small step the right direction.

Friday, October 01, 2010

One Year Sabbatical

It's been almost a year of silence. (Okay, I've only been silent in the blog world, but I'm still yammering away here at home. Ask my kids. Ask my husband. Ask Harry).

I can't tell you how good it's been for my internal storehouse. It is now replenished. Very much so.

I hope to catch up with many of you and plan on visiting your sites.

More posts to come.
I'm back!