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!).

Photo courtesy of:

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!

Photo courtesy of:

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!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fall Splendor

This has been one of the most colorful falls on record. In fact when I voted yesterday (I have my Starbucks coffee cup to prove it!), everyone was talking more about the trees than the candidates. I’m not sure what makes the difference (fall that is), but I’m sure the rain has something to do with it. And since we haven’t had horrible wind storms, the leaves have stayed on the trees longer, which means my camera goes everywhere with me, even if I’m heading to the gas station. Why? Because I think some of the most beautiful places around happen to be within a five-mile radius of our home. We are surrounded by Amish farms, rolling green (amber) hills, the Susquehanna River, and state parks.

I’m tempted to get my glue gun out and stick the leaves back on the tree, so I can enjoy the beauty of fall just a little bit longer. Soon the branches will be bare and the golden hues will be replaced with that white stuff!

So for now, I’m falling in love with the splendor of fall.