Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blessings for 2009!


Blessings and Joy,

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas is Over!

Christmas…it’s over!

No more gifts to buy, no more long lines to wait in, no more hustle and bustle, no more watering the Christmas tree (letting it die of natural causes), and no more cooking (just a refrigerator full of leftovers)...

It’s bittersweet.

Christmas 2008 will go down as one of the best in the Pombo family history books. We started the morning off with a huge breakfast made up of homemade cinnamon rolls (thanks to Pillsbury Pop ‘N Fresh) and fruit (strawberries, cantaloupe, grapes, pineapple, and kiwi). Afterwards we opened our gifts—covered with a thin layer of pine needles—thanks to our cat, Bianca, who staked out the tree weeks earlier as her new hiding place.

On Christmas morning, Jeremy delighted all of us with his unwrapped gifts carefully placed in a Gap drawstring bag (nice touch, sweetheart!). I told him, “You’re off the hook for the rest of your life!” I received the DVD—Mamma Mia! I don’t remember anything else after that, except there were oohs and ahhs and a lot of hugging and kissing.

Mamma went to work in the kitchen and the guys watched videos. The organic turkey (those aren’t cheap) was in the oven at 1:00 p.m., after still plucking out turkey “hairs.” I guess organic now means that you get to finish what they started (no preservatives means you have the honor of pulling out the rest of the feathers).
After not cooking a "real" meal in quite some time, I realized that it all boils down to the last half hour…timing is everything.

Jeremy and I jockeyed for position in our small kitchen as he mashed potatoes and I popped the baby quiches and crescent rolls in the oven.

While Jeremy carved the turkey, I took out the green bean casserole. We did the “turkey dance” trying to get everything out simultaneously without stepping on each other’s toes.

Finally, Jon said an ecumenical prayer as we held hands around the kitchen island, so I could keep an eye on the crescent rolls so they didn’t disintegrate into lumps of coal.

I didn’t disappoint in the baking department either, I made a Mrs. Smith pumpkin pie. Okay, for you who need to make a homemade pie, forget it! Mrs. Smith’s Hearty Recipe is outrageously good. Only my mom can make it better. We enjoyed dessert after the movies (yes, it’s a tradition—not to be missed). It was a tossup between “Benjamin Buttons” and “Marley and Me” (but the doggie movie won out—“paws” down).

Spoiler coming…you need to get out the Kleenex for this one! Jon later commented, “I knew there were going to be tears when the doggie started to die!”


I cried—no, sobbed. Then I hiccupped cried through the rest of the movie—sopping up tears with my single-layer popcorn napkin and faux Burberry scarf. It was such a relief when the movie was over, because quite frankly I don’t think I could take any more torture.

Thankfully, Jon’s girlfriend—Kim—made me feel oh so much better because her sobs equaled mine in both length and intensity. Jon later commented, “It’s was just a dog?”

What? Man’s best friend—just a dog?

No, it wasn’t just about a dog…it was about the relationship man has with his four-pawed companion. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

Later that evening, Kim and I consoled ourselves by eating “homemade” pumpkin pie with blotchy faces and puffy eyes.

Christmas is over and I’m both sad and slightly relieved. Christmas 2008 definitely had all the makings of a truly perfect day: family, food, God’s blessings, laughter, tears, warm memories, and a smidgen of drama.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas full of love, joy and peace!

I'll be taking a "blogging holiday" to enjoy some time with my family, but I'll be back after Christmas to share with you some exciting news (don't you just love suspense?!).

Remember the best gift of all isn't found under the tree but in your heart!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Grab a Calendar!

Today I turned the page on the calendar and realized I didn't have one...after December comes January (right?).

There was no January (we're almost all done with 2008)!

On Monday during our shopping spree, I came across a gorgeous "Italy" calendar, and Kathy said, "No, don't buy one now because they'll be on SALE in January!"

That's a powerful word to any woman...SALE!

"Good idea, Miss Kathy. I love saving money, but I need a kitchen calendar now!" I screeched.

I was a good "girl" and walked away from the calendar aisle.

But I came home "calendar-less" with a full January spilling into December's squares. So I surfed the Internet to find a suitable calendar in the meantime.

I found it--a stress-reliever and calendar rolled into one. It's made out of bubble wrap (my favorite thing to do on a snowy afternoon!). I had to create my own, so I rummaged through a few boxes and found just the right size "squares."

Are you a bubble-wrapper-popper kind of person? If you are, then go grab some bubble wrap and make your own stress-free calendar for 2009.

While you're grabbing things, check out my "picture" on the sidebar. It was taken at my brother's wedding in Del Mar, California, which is where I want to be after scraping two inches of ice off my windshield this morning.

That's why I love calendars...I need the pictures to look at (so go grab yourself a picture...what are you waiting for). Believe me, I popped a few bubbles of my own trying to crack the HTML code for those two items.

I'm rethinking my career at this point!


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Coffee and Destressing

Today I spent the entire day at Panera. There are over-stuffed chairs by the fireplace, free WiFi, food, and did I mention—coffee?

I wrote five stories (first draft), wrote the rest of my Christmas cards, and managed to clean out my inbox, all while slurping cappuccino and eating a pumpkin muffie (that’s the top of the pumpkin muffin only). In my opinion that’s the best part, so why eat the extra calories.

There’s just enough distraction to keep me focused (I guess you figured me out already), but that’s okay, it took me a while too.

So if you want to de-stress and have your coffee too, then head to the Panera. I met folks just like me who write and have their coffee too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Do you know what two sanguine personalities do when they get together?

They have fun—lots of fun! My writer friend, Kathy and I made the town of Hershey kisses turn into a mega shopping spree, lunch, and—of course—Starbucks. Is there any better way to spend the day?

Yesterday, it hit a balmy 60 degrees and we saw one woman in a red sleeveless dress, high heels, and sporting a red Coach purse (with sunglasses). I thought I was on the “Miracle Mile” in Miami.

Today we’re having a major snowstorm and everything is a wash of white.

Yesterday, however, it was all about PINK. Kathy and I enjoy the same interests: coffee (she gave me a notepad that read, “coffee is my blood type”); shopping, shopping, shopping, and—of course—great food, and CHOCOLATE (one of the major food groups!).

Did I say chocolate?

Try combining the two into something called, “mini cappuccino cake,” and you’ve got “heaven on earth.”

We have more planned in the future to help others enjoy what comes naturally for us: enjoying life to its fullest—one coffee, one chocolate, one shopping spree at a time. Mix a little laughter, “serious” talk, and MORE coffee and you’ve got a day of pure “sanguinality.”

You have to read more about my “sanguine” friend, Kathy. You’ll love her!


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lipstick Personality?

As a personality trainer, I pay special attention to what people say and do. Watching people waiting in line at the department store is my favorite activity. I get a hot cup of something, sit down with a piece of paper (usually a receipt!), and write about people's actions and reactions. Who knows, I just might show up in your neighborhood and start taking notes, so watch out!

Yesterday, I was at the make-up counter at the Bon-Ton and this well-coiffed woman pulled out six tubes of lipstick and said, "I want one of each!" I don't know about you, but I only wear one color (one lipstick tube at a time). These tubes were all the colors of the rainbow. But what really struck me was their appearance. They were all worn down, halfway, and completely straight across. It's as if she came to a "point" where she said, "No more of this; I'm changing colors!"

It reminded me of a "lipstick" personality test I took years ago, and I was tickled pink when I came across the test in a blog. I'm not sure if you can judge a woman by her lipstick ("personality" speaking), but it just might have a little truth.

Take the test, click here: Let me know your true "colors"!

And my special thanks to Flea (from Flea's World), who honored me with the "winning" personality! If you haven't visited her blog, you're in for a treat!

I'll share my "personality," if you'll share yours!

P.S. I just might throw in a few lipsticks for the fun of it (I'll return the favor by picking the winning personality on Monday!).

Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a Pink Christmas!

This is my new color for the holidays—pink!

It all started when Kim and Dave, our next door neighbors (actually across the street neighbors), gave me a pink ribbon ornament for our gigantic Christmas tree. Since then everything has been coming up pink: pink ribbons, pink socks, pink fleece, pink… well, you get the idea!

I wanted to dress the entire Christmas tree pink (but there’s just too much testosterone in this family for that), and Jon is coming home from college next week and I don’t want to scare him away (yet!).

So we have one pink ribbon ornament—front and center—to remind us of the 12 Christmases that I have had (just like the 12 days of Christmas, but in years!).

Things will be back to “normal” after theholidays and I’ll pick a new look, but for now let’s just be thankful that everything is coming up pink!

Blessings and Joy,

A Simple Life?

What exactly does a simple life look like?

Here in Lancaster County, I have the opportunity to watch the Amish with their black buggies, admire their laundry—hung in straight rows on the front porch—in the traditional Amish colors of purple, black and blue; watch siblings play in the yard with wooden toys made by hand, and frequent their fruit and vegetable stands (in the summer!). There is an abundance of Amish farms within a five-mile radius of our home, so I don’t have to venture too far to get a slice of the simple life.

On Saturday, I went away to write my chapter on simplicity. After driving past several Amish farms, I realized just how far from “simple” my life has gotten. I went away to write (to get away from the chaos of my office), but unfortunately I wasn’t alone.

First stop was Starbucks at Barnes & Noble because I had a coupon for a free cookie (how simple is that?). Not really, because everyone had the same coupon and they ran out of cookies just as I got to the cash register, so I ordered a drink (not free!).

I slumped down in a chair (still thinking about the cookie that I didn’t get), and started writing (I work better if there is a little distraction). But soon the “little” distraction became huge. The two women next to me were talking about “writing.” Not just writing, but writing for money. My ears perked up! They were professional bloggers and they were using words like SEO (search engine optimization),, texalyser, and how to write “keyword” articles that sell. Now some of this information I knew because I write articles for the Web (under a pen name), and do fairly well. But then one of them blurted out how much money she made last month and my green tea latte spewed out of my mouth!

Suddenly, I found myself in the Web optimization section of the bookstore looking for more information that I scribbled down on a brown paper napkin. After perusing the “Idiot” and “Dummy” books, I spent the next two hours reading on a subject I had little interest in and accomplished “zero” writing.

Suddenly my life became much more complicated and all the energy I could have poured into writing dissolved into a blur of terms and phrases that I didn’t even care about (or maybe I should as a writer?).

The chapter on “simplicity” is being tabled right now, but I did make some progress in making my life much more simple. I emptied all the junk drawers in the house (without looking at their contents), and placed them in boxes with the date: 12/6/08. In two years (if I’m still alive), I will throw them away without peeking inside.


Because if I haven’t needed something in two years’ time, then I probably didn’t need it in the first place.

How simple is that?

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Friday, December 05, 2008

A Miracle in the Sky!

My hubby was driving home on Monday night and called me on the cell phone (he pulled off the side of the road first!).

“Look out the window now!" he said.

I’ve been sequestered with a writing deadline this week and haven’t seen much of the outdoors (except for our Christmas tree extravaganza on Sunday).

I was amazed—shocked really—at the sight in the sky. The moon, Jupiter and Venus lined up to form a smiley face! It was perfectly clear when I snapped a picture (although you can’t tell by looking at this photo!).

It’s a good thing I took the shot because it won’t happen again for another 40 years (that formation anyway!).

It was so cool (literally!).

I love moments like that as I stood on the back porch in stocking feet clicking away photo after photo, imagining what the earth will be like in 40 years? I’m just trying to live long enough to see my debit card expire in 2012. When I activated my new card yesterday, I nearly passed out; I’ll be 59 years old (jeepers!).

Our days are numbered and it makes me enjoy moments like the one I had on Monday night—gazing at the “stars” (I know they were planets, but they twinkled like stars)—and imagining how big our God is to place miracles like that in my own backyard to make me smile.

If you saw what I saw…let me know (and send me a photo).

Keep looking up and you just might see another miracle!

Click here for a better picture that I stumbled upon!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Oh, Christmas Tree”

Yesterday we cut down our Christmas tree on a tree farm (I mean Mark cut it down; I just laid hands on him).

After four years of a fake tree, it was time to have the real thing. You know? The kind that sheds needles; the one that your cat jumps on and goes crash in the middle of the night; the one you have to give a drink of water to when it’s thirsty, and the one that everyone says, “Wow, that’s a big tree!”

Yep, eight feet tall (and growing!).

Funny how the trees look so much smaller on a 10-acre lot than in your own living room. We narrowed the 600 trees down to three, two, and then one.

“Oh, that’s it…there’s our tree!” I shouted.

Mark turned toward me and said, “No, that’s the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.”

I have a soft spot in my heart for the trees that everyone passes by: the one that has a huge “bald” spot, lop-sided, and half dead. They come calling to me.


Hubby won the first round of "Christmas Tree Bingo" and we settled on a somewhat irregular Norway Evergreen (instead of the usual Douglas Fir). I think. Who knows, really; they all start looking the same when your hands are blue and your feet are numb.

Cutting it down is the easy part, stuffing it in the back of Dave’s truck (our neighbor) was another Houdini act. Their tree makes ours look like “Tiny Tim.”
Unfortunately, our tree doesn’t fit in the living room and is taking up most of the dining room. We moved the furniture around so our cat "Bianca" can take flying leaps off the second story balcony and land on the tree top!

Or maybe we'll let our neighbor's kitten, Lily, do it...she's already had some practice jumping off the second story balcony!
Today we are putting on lights. No simple task with our “disabilities”; I can’t use my arms and Mark can’t use his legs (the odd couple!).

When we have it all dressed up, we’ll invite you over for some cookies and cocoa—okay?

Can you tell I’m distracting myself? Jon left for college this morning (and will return in two weeks). I made his favorite treat for the road: “peanut butter balls.” They require no baking!

Here’s the recipe:
3/4 c. Quaker oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
3/4 c. instant nonfat dry milk
3/4 c. chunk style peanut butter
1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. raisins or nuts

Combine oats and nonfat dry milk, stirring until well blended; set aside. Beat together peanut butter, honey and vanilla; stir in combined dry ingredients and raisins. Mix thoroughly and shape dough into 3/4" balls. Keep refrigerated.

Sing, “Oh Christmas Tree” while you’re rolling the balls!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Simple Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving blessings are standing beside me: Mark, Jer and Jon—the men in my life. We had a great day at the Eden Resort (I didn't have to cook, clean or defrost the turkey!). In fact, it was so wonderful I may never cook again!

We actually talked for two hours (a milestone). There was absolutely nothing vying for our attention, except the food, which we all shared.

I came home to a clean house that smelled like Evergreens (thanks to Bath and Body Scentports), and then we all melted into bed and took a nap.

Pure bliss.

This is going into my chapter on "simplicity." We make Thanksgiving too difficult (at least I did), and now I know how to do it much more simply.

I hope you all had a restful, blessed Thanksgiving day. If you tried something new this year (even a different way you cooked the turkey, I’d love to hear about it).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I announced last week that the kitchen was closed and we were going to have Thanksgiving at the Eden Resort Inn in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My youngest son, Jon, who is a senior at Grove City College said, "Great! Lookin' forward to it." My oldest son said, "No way, I'll cook. You can't do that."

"Oh, yes I can...I'm the Mom!" I explained.

I'm writing the chapter on "Simplicity" for my next book and thought, "How can I make Thanksgiving more simple?"

That was easy..don't cook!

Last year we spent $150 on groceries. I cooked and cleaned all day (and the day before), used every pan, platter, and placemat in the house, cleaned all night, and fell into bed with an empty stomach (I forgot to eat!). There was 10 minutes of conversation at the table, and then they all drifted into the living room to watch the football game. I was left with the dishes (only female in the family), and said to myself, "Next year will be different."

Guess what?

It is different. I don't even have pangs of guilt, but rather a sense of gratitude in my heart and thankfulness in my soul.

Now back to writing on "simplicity," after I do my "Black Friday" shopping today (Monday). That's my other way to make it simple: shop off hours when everyone else is at work!

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving. The kitchen will re-open next Monday (maybe!).

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Strange, Bizarre and Unusual

Did you ever have a day that felt like you were a character in the "Twilight Zone”(don’t start humming the song—please!).

Yesterday, was both strange, bizarre and unusual. Strange because it was a Wednesday and nothing “strange” ever happens on Wednesday —at least to me!

I have been in “hiding” to get some deadlines completed and one of my favorite places to do that is Panera (with free Internet access). So I bought a “muffie” (it’s the top of a muffin with half the calories), my “bowl” of cappuccino (the “cup” was big enough to swim in), and I settled down to write.

No sooner had I put my little fingers to the keyboard, when a gentleman leaned over and asked if he could borrow my cell phone because he left his at home! I’m sorry, but where are the pay phones? He had a Bible in his hand, so I trusted him.

Anyway, he called his wife and said, “Honey, I left my notebook on the kitchen table, can you bring it to me? I OWE you.”


He handed me back the cell phone and went to his table to “pray.”

I got back to work (sort of), and then there was the “cackler.” Normally, I’m drawn to the sound of laughter, but this was more like a high-pitched hyena-like sound. It continued non-stop, through the eating of my “muffie” and slurping of my cappuccino.

I wanted to run away, but I made a promise to myself: I wasn’t leaving until the “job” was done!

At 5:45 p.m. after much torture, I finished the article and hit the send button. I ran into a full parking lot (in the dark) to find my car. Twenty minutes later, I found my Buick, in the adjacent parking lot. I forgot my new method to prevent the “holiday battle of the bulge” was to park in the farthest parking lot for extra exercise.


Next stop…CVS Pharmacy. As soon as I stepped in the door, the alarm went off. Over the loudspeaker came the words, “Customer service needed in the men’s razor department.” I spent the next 25 minutes listening to the same message over and over again. I had one thing to get, but do you think I could remember it?

I kept repeating the word, “razor” to myself. Customers were mumbling to themselves, “Please turn that off!” Evidently, razors are under lock and key and one of the doors was ajar which sent the message blaring.

When I arrived at the checkout with my “one” item, the associate asked if there was something else I needed, and I blurted out, “Razors!”

The power of suggestion is real.

Next stop was the shoe store to buy a pair of black clogs, which I did in record time (five minutes).

When I got home, my hubby said, “Nice shoes…I love the color brown.” Of course, he works for the “Brown Company.”

I said, “No, they’re black.” That discussion went on for most of the night until the problem was solved this morning.

Yep, they’re brown. They will be returned tomorrow.

That's definitely not unusual!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

"I do!"

Tomorrow my hubby and I will celebrate 33 years of marriage. I never imagined when I said, “I do, “ thirty-three years ago, what that would entail.

I remember our first meeting, as he stepped off that United Airlines plane in Spokane, Washington to visit Whitworth College. He wore tattered jeans, a blue velour shirt, brown Adidas tennis shoes with a hole in the left toe, and sported a wooden cross necklace.

It was love at first sight!

I turned to my roommate and said, “I’m going to marry that guy.” And she said, “But you haven’t even met him yet.” In my eighteen year-old mind, I had found my prince charming.

Now after 27 moves in 33 years, a few hundred bumps along the way, a cancer diagnosis, broken hip, and a few other “minor” problems, we move a little bit slower when we “fall” into each other’s arms at night (for fear that we might break something else!).

Last night we went out to dinner to celebrate early and because I have the “perk” of dining out for free (sort of), we do it a little more often than most. But like everything else in life, it comes with a price. I stayed up late to do my report and just as I was about to hit the send button, I lost it!


It was 12:00 midnight (when the report had to be in), and I started to panic. And then I realized, I always have my original report in longhand, so I made a night of it (pretending like I was pulling an “all-nighter” at Whitworth College). I asked Mark if he would like to join me. I said, I'll even make us some hot chocolate with marshmallows." I could hardly believe it when he said, “No!”

At 2:00 a.m., the report was sent and I was back in bed. I dreamed all night of our marriage—33 years ago—when I said, “I do.”

Guess what?

I would do it again!