Friday, February 28, 2014

can you hear it?

I hear it the form of rain drops. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Magnolia Blossom...

I met a 92 year old woman the other day. Her name is Margaret. "I go by Margaret, or Maggie, or Magnolia Blossom." (One of my best friends does elder care and Margaret is her newest "friend".)

I chose to call her Magnolia Blossom.

She's all of maybe 5'2", maybe, and with a personality a mile high. She had a smile in her eyes and determination in her step.

She had interesting stories to tell, of growing up with 13 siblings, of marrying a pilot at the age of 18, of moving to Japan and travelling "two weeks by ship just to be with him", even being hit on by Bob Hope while on board. She has a very cool photo to prove it. Apparently she was wearing a sheer blouse that you could see through to her slip and he turned to her and said in a "cheeky" voice, "How the hell are ya?" Can you imagine?

She talked about how she raised two boys but always wondered why God never gave her a girl.

She talked of living a wonderful life with her husband, the pilot...until "he got sick and up and left me...I went crazy for a while after that...I just couldn't believe he was gone." This is the only time the smile in her eyes faded.

We visited in her living room, frames full of family portraits, walls full of painting after painting, most her own originals...a pagoda, red geraniums, bowls of fruit, a wind mill, a Peruvian king (this was her friend loved the bowl of fruit...and I was partial to the geraniums). She was incredibly talented.

When asked to play us a tune on her piano she replied, "Oh I haven't played in a hundred years...but let's see what we can do."

And she played...and then she sang...and it was wonderful...and I wondered why I wasn't filming her, documenting this beautiful human beings zest for life. I wondered if her grandchildren know how amazing she is. I wondered if they realize what a treasure she is. I wondered if they had footage of her singing and playing a song on the piano from a memory that was slowly fading. (And I wondered why I didn't film my own grandparent's when I had the chance. Note to self: seize the moment. Magnolia would have.)

Then my friend and I played a sorry rendition of Heart and Soul and Magnolia danced and clapped, smiling as though she thought we might actually have known what we were doing.

Margaret continued to tell her incredible stories...and told them again, and again...over and over and over. And each time she told the story about living in Japan in a "27 room mansion with 7 servants...can you imagine?" she told it just as she told all of the other stories...verbatim and with just as much gusto and amazement as the time before.

The thing about Magnolia is that she loved her life. All of it. Or at least all that she was able to remember. She loved her husband. She was happy. And her joy was contagious.

She made me smile. She made me happy. She made me miss my grandparents.

Thank you for the nice visit, Magnolia. I hope to see you soon.

"You called me Magnolia. I haven't been called Magnolia in a long time. My husband called me Magnolia Blossom. He was a pilot. We lived in Japan for three tours. It was wonderful. We lived in a 27 room mansion with 7 servants. Can you imagine? I'll be 92 in March. I don't even need glasses...or a cane. My neighbor, she needs a cane! But I'm doing great! And I'll be 92 in March, can you imagine?"

Yes, Magnolia Blossom, I can. And I can only hope to be as happy and content with my life as you when I am almost 92.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Wednesday in the Word

source unknown
I learned about 10 years ago that I can't do this thing called life on my own. From the first day that I said, "Yes." to God, He has been by my side, guiding me, encouraging me, teaching me, protecting me, loving me, and strengthening me.

Thank you God for always standing beside me.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


An afternoon by the bay with my youngest...we needed to
 get out of town for a while...this was the perfect destination.


I saw this quote the other day on (wait for itPinterest.

It got me thinking...
about now, about later, about getting things done, 
about not procrastinating, about doing instead of saying, 
or just thinking about, or (dare I say) Pinning.

It got me thinking...about being productive.

And I have been. I've taken care of things that needed taking care of...
paperwork, phone calls, tidying up this space or that.
I have made lists, I set goals, I got things done. 

There is more to do, of course...there always will be. This is life, after all.
But I have to say, I feel good about the little bits that I am accomplishing.
I'm chipping away at things that have been keeping me awake at night.
I'm checking things off my beloved lists and feeling 
a little lighter with each task accomplished. 

Bit by bit...I'm getting there.
Working on doing things now, rather than later.

Monday, February 24, 2014

good stuff I've come across (thanks to Pinterest).

I need this. For real.
It's no secret, I love Pinterest. I have an embarrassing amount of Pins on an embarrassing amount of Boards. And yet...I keep Pinning. I'm not (too) ashamed. As a matter of fact, one of my goals this year (in my effort to be productive) is to actually do some of the things that I Pin. Here are a few of my recent favorites...
  • Have you read this wonderful blog on mothering? Well get some tissue if you decide's a tear-jerker. (This wasn't found on Pinterest, but I did Pin it to
  • Want to save money on that weekly menu? I came across this gal and she's got some great tips...straight forward, simple, doable, common sense.
  • I will.make.this...I WILL. I can almost smell it....
  • This needs to be on the weekly menu...and soon. Mm mm mmmm...I do love me some mushrooms.
  • I'm hoping to attract more beneficial insects to the garden this summer...maybe Ian will help me put this together.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday morning...

Good morning. 

Challenging myself to call on Him, to cry for help before freaking 
out, or losing hope...or spiraling into anxiety.

I'm not doing too bad lately...
This was a good reminder


Saturday, February 22, 2014

one of my favorite breakfasts (or lunches. or snacks. or shoot, even dinner.)

1/2 of an avocado
whole wheat bread
garlic powder (optional)

Pop bread in toaster.
Peel and mash avocado, set aside.
Slice cucumber as thin as you can, set aside.
Spread mayo on toast, just a thin layer
(we're trying to be healthy here)
Spread mashed avocado on toast
Layer cucumber on top of avocado
Sprinkle with salt, pepper 
(and garlic powder, if you choose to use it)

Enjoy while reading your favorite blog or watching Kelly and Michael.

Friday, February 21, 2014

menu planning (I finally figured it out)

When I first began my quest to simplify things around here a little (5 years ago, or so?) one of the things I learned about (along with chicken keeping and gardening and "making your own" and preserving food) was menu planning. It saves time, it saves money and it prevents food waste.

Do you know how much food I've wasted over the years? It makes me sad (and embarrassed) to think about it. I would throw entire packs of meat away...thaw it for dinner, change my mind or get lazy, pop it in the fridge, let it sit for too many days, now it's gone bad, have to throw it away.

I would make too much food at dinner time, store it as leftovers, then they'd never get eaten. Or I'd buy something that was inexpensive to save money, but then never cook it, throw it away, and now that money that I "saved" is now wasted.

I mean, I may as well have just tossed cash into the trash, right?

Enter the idea of meal planning...planning ahead a week's worth of meals (or two weeks, or some even do a month's worth! And some even cook them all in one day!) and shopping accordingly. Buy what you need, cook what you'll eat. Not to mention, meal planning really takes away the stress of "what's for dinner?". I know the kids liked seeing the menu tacked up on the fridge...they either looked forward to what was coming up...or made plans to be at a friend's house if dinner didn't sound too appealing that night! *wink*

When you think about it, you can't go wrong with a planned menu. Right? Well, leave it to me to complicate things...

For whatever reason, I can't plan a menu to save my life lately. I did it for a while. And it was good. Planned it. Posted it to the fridge. And then actually cooked what each day told me to. But lately it's been such a challenge! I don't know what it is! Too many choices? Too many Pins on the ol' cooking board? Can't decide between Crock Pot or 15 Minute prep? Not sure what time practice is over or starting or whose gonna be where? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Those all play a part in my inability to just make up my mind and make up a dang menu plan.

Not to mention, I'm cooking for three now that Seth is off at college (and doing great and LOVING it, by the way) which doesn't make a difference in what I cook, of course. (Well, it does a little. He wasn't a fan of breakfast dinners.) But more a difference in how much and how often. When Seth was home I could pretty much guarantee that at least one kid would be home for dinner that night. And really, none of that should matter because once these awesome boys of mine are grown and gone for good, Chris and I are still going to need to eat yummy, healthy, home-cooked meals.

ALL THAT to say...I finally figured out how menu planning works for me. And that's the most important part, right? It's gotta work, or it isn't worth the time and effort.

So here you planning a la Michelle...

First I think about what we have going on during the coming study, sports practices, band practice, homework at a friends, any appointments or errands that might cut into my time to prep dinner, etc. Tuesday night, for instance, Chris and I both leave around 6:30 for band practice and bible study respectively so I plan to cook something early, something that can be eaten at different times or something that can be prepared quickly. Last week we had BLT's and sliced cucumbers. Quick, easy and we all love a good BLT. Who doesn't? Even vegetarians find a way to eat some sort of fake bacon. (fakon? facon?)

Then I consider what I have on hand. For instance, this next week we will have meals that contain chicken, ground beef, potatoes, broccoli and eggs because these are things I have an abundance of right now. I also have plenty of cheese (to go with those potatoes?), and plenty of rice and pasta (as a side with that chicken?). To shake things up a bit I may try to find recipes that call for fresh bleu cheese and Feta as I have a container of each of those, as well.

I also consider it hot, cold, rainy? This week it's finally going to rain again so I have Clam Chowder planned for one of  the rainy nights. You can't go wrong with a nice, warm soup on a cold, rainy night. (And we love Dave Lieberman's chowder recipe. I replace the cream with Nonfat milk just because I always have that on hand. But it's still yummy!)

Once I have all of my considerations lined up then I plan the actual dishes. With the items I have on hand for this next week I'm thinking our menu will contain something along the lines of grilled chicken, au gratin potatoes, clam chowder, quiche and homemade mac and cheese. Sides will be salad, steamed or stir-fried broccoli and french bread or rolls. If I do need anything from the store I look at the ads and buy whatever I need on sale.

What I have stopped doing is planning the exact night that I will cook each meal. Instead, I make a list of meals based on what I have then choose as I go throughout the week.  I say "this is what we will eat this week at some point", write it on a sticky note and attach it to my calendar. For whatever reason, I've found that this type of "planning" works best for me. I guess I need a little freedom to choose as I go. Too much "this is how it has to be" and I begin to rebel...even against myself! (See? I make it complicated!)

How about you? Do you plan your menus? What's your technique? I don't think there's a right or a wrong way. As long as it works for you, then it works.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday in the Word.

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
Isaiah 44:3

Searching for God's promises...this is a good one.

God says "I WILL" pour out my Spirit on your offspring , 
and my blessing on your descendants. 

He doesn't say "I might", or "if you're good and only do good things" 

He says I WILL

And I am going to hold Him to that. 

Thank you God. 
You never cease to amaze me. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ramblings on a day off.

I'm off this sure is nice not having to rush through the morning, rush to work, rush at lunch, rush, rush all day. I'm not a natural rusher. I definitely think I'll enjoy retirement...someday.

Yesterday I woke slowly...sipped my coffee, watched Joyce Meyer and Kelly and simple pleasures while I'm off. I also did lots of laundry (what else is new? For crying out loud...). Speaking of which, my laundry "area" is in our garage. And it is ug-ly. So this week I'm gonna do a few things to tidy it up a bit. It won't be Pinterest worthy by any means, but it will be tidier. I already got rid of our broken down, jankety laundry sorter that I've had for years, and that at one time was very helpful. But over time it broke and ripped and fell apart, and I kept piecing it back together, and hating it more and more and then finally, finally, the other day, I had had enough. I emptied it, broke it down and asked my hubby to toss it for good. And he did.

So, now I will have to figure something else out to keep it tidy in that, oh...I don't know, just DOING the laundry rather than sorting it and letting it sit for seasons at a time? Novel idea, eh? Some things are just so simple, aren't they? Why do I complicate things? Just do the damn laundry!

So anyway, I made a list of things I'd like to do during my week off...a few are necessary, and a few are fun.

One of the things that needs to be done this week is our room. It always feels like such a disaster. Never the restful haven that all the magazines say it should be. Not.even.close. I did recently get new sheets and got rid of an ugly coverlet I lived with and hated for too long. So that helped. But there's still the fact that there is too much stuff in a too small room. I think it's time for another major purge. I know for a fact there are at least 5 tops in my closet that I have not worn in well over a year (or 5), buh-bye. Time to make some space...and then NOT refill it.

Well, I guess I better get going if I want to complete my list...I'm already off to a late start today, I haven't even showered yet!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

{good} Sunday morning...

Have you ever read Anne Lamott? She is an amazing author, an inspiration for my inner writer. Her book Traveling Mercies changed the way I looked at faith...spirituality...sin...God. She views faith in such an honest and raw way that you can't help but relate. She's unlike any "christian" author I've read...and I've read quite a few. She doesn't tell you how you should do it, or the "right" way to do it. She tells you the way she is doing it...imperfectly. And she's not afraid to admit it. I admire her. (Every now and then I look to see if she's teaching any kind of a workshop...what a dream that would be, to take a workshop with her.)

Really, if we're honest, we are ALL doing this whole "walk of faith" (or lack thereof) imperfectly. We can't help it, really, humanity makes it that way. Just not everyone is willing to admit it. Some people think that walking with God, having faith, being a "believer", means that you have to do everything right and perfectly. Or at least act like you do, dress like you do, go to church like you do, smile and nod like you do, look like you do...on the outside.

But on the inside, I believe that most of us are still a bit of a mess. We are still all gnarled up, from life, from the past, from bad decisions that led to terrible consequences, from circumstances beyond our control that effected us in ways we never thought possible, from depression, or anxiety, or fear, or some other "condition" that the world tells us is unacceptable and if we just pop this pill or that pill it will all be fine. And don't worry about those pesky side-effects...there's a pill for those, too.

What a crock.

In case you haven't gathered, I'm not a fan of anti-depressants. Or ADD meds. Or ADHD meds. Or anxiety meds. Or many of the psychotropic meds for that matter. I believe they are cover-ups, numbing something deeper that needs to be dealt with and worked through. The pills don't make it go away. Only God can do that.

When I first began dealing with depression and anxiety God made it very clear to me that anti-depressants were not the answer. He let me know that HE would be my anti-depressant. And He has been.

The truth is, working through anxiety and depression has been just that, WORK. It has not been easy. It hasn't been an instant fix. It has been a long, hard, sad, dark, exhausting, depleting, frustrating, amazing, miraculous, incredible, beautiful journey. One that I wouldn't trade for anything. Over the years that God has walked with me through the darkness I have seen Him move in such incredible ways on my behalf. I have seen Him pull me out of pits that were so dark and so deep I thought I'd never get out. I have seen Him come down into that darkness and light the way.

He never left me nor forsake me. Ever. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it...

So. This is my story. And some might say, "Oh well that's all good and nice for you. How nice that God has done all these great things for you. But it's different for me."

OK. Sure. Point taken. Maybe it is different for you.

But, have you ever thought that...maybe it isn't? And that maybe God wants to do it for you, too?

I honestly believe God will do all these things for you, just like he is doing for's just a matter of allowing Him to.

I mean, don't go dumping out all your pills and flushing them down the toilet. From what I understand there is a medically safe way to stop the pills. However, if you're reading this, and you believe God has whispered, "flush 'em", then pray, and decide from there. And if you get confirmation, do it, and don't look back. Because God is bigger than any "medically safe" approach. God is the safest approach. If He says it, you can believe it. No matter what it is.


(This whole rant came from out of nowhere. It was not planned. I was only going to post the Lamott quote and call it a Sunday morning blog post. But then I started writing. And before I knew it...this is where I ended up. So I went with it. I'm a little nervous to hit "Publish". But I'm going to do it anyway in hopes that while it may offend some, it will be even more beneficial for someone else.) 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesday in the Word

"The LORD will perfect that which concerns me…”
Psalm 138:8

Working on my faith.
Searching for God's promises. 
Looking for the good.
Letting go and letting God.
He is faithful...even when I am not.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

{a glorious and rainy} Sunday morning...

He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain 
and makes grass grow on the hills. - Psalm 147:8

It's been raining since Friday...and I couldn't be happier. Love it. Love it, love it, love it.

We drove to Stockton (of all places) yesterday for a wrestling tournament and it rained all day. Admittedly, it's not the most attractive landscape along the way...but in the rain? Beautiful. Eerie. Peaceful.

It really poured on the way home which wasn't as lovely...downpours on a dark two-lane highway are not my idea of a fun time. But we made it home safe and sound...

There's nothing on the calendar today...that always makes me happy. I'm such a homebody. I do have plans, however...soup making, muffin baking, laundry washing (does that count as a "plan"? I dunno...), sheet changing, menu planning, movie watching and stopping now and then to stare out the window at this glorious rain.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wednesday in the Word

Never alone...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Oh, Monday

There was a time, believe it or not, when I liked Mondays. The "good ol' days" when Chris would go to work, the boys went to school and I stayed home to clean up from the weekend, catch up on laundry, work on my own school work and regroup this little house a bit.

But now that I am working good, full days, Mondays have a whole new feel.
Let's just say I tend to move a lot s-l-o-w-e-r these days.

I made a big batch of muffins yesterday before heading to our friend's house for the "Super" Bowl (what a disappointment that was, eh? Well, not for some of you! Hi, D.!) Muffins do the trick for a good, healthy, filling, on-the-go breakfast for all of us. And they never go to waste...even if I add too much flax or not enough sugar, they still get eaten. No such thing as a bad muffin, I suppose. I had some very ripe bananas so banana muffins it was. I added applesauce in place of some of the oil and made a streusel topping.

Streusel covers a multitude of baking sins, I must say. Not enough sugar in the batter? Add streusel. Too much flax and whole wheat flour in the batter? Add streusel! Any muffin is good with streusel...feel me? (Even a streusel using wheat flour! Who knew?)

Sadly, on that note, my morning quiet time is over. It's time to dry the hair, dress the bod and get this day started. Thank goodness for coffee dates with friends after work...that'll get me through this s-l-o-w Monday.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday morning.

I wish I could give credit to the person who created this's so good. So straight-forward. So true.

Some days that depression one is hard to believe...fighting the fight can be exhausting.

But I press on...even if it is after a little wallowing. (And it usually is.) I don't always know I'm sneaks up on me some days.

But once I recognize it...I pray, I take a deep breath, I open the blinds, I make the bed, I keep moving, living, doing...and eventually, I'm back.

I call that victorious...even if sometimes it does seem like two steps forward, one step back. At least I'm still in the black.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, 
just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Revelation 3:21

Saturday, February 1, 2014

around here.

  • It rained a little last week. I think we're getting a little more tomorrow. What I wouldn't give for a nice, big downpour.
  • I just made enough taco meat and meatballs for 5 (maybe 6!) future dinners. I bought a Costco pack of ground beef on Wednesday and was too lazy to wrap individual packs for the freezer right away so instead just tossed it in the fridge. Well then it came down to either cook it all or waste it all. So I cooked it all. And now that I've done it, I think I'll cook in large batches from here on out. It's nice to know I'm ahead of the game for 5 dinners!
  • It's chickadee season. I love seeing them flit and hop around in the Japanese maple eating the bird seed Chris leaves for them.
  • Work was busy last week. I was very ready for Friday.
  • I got new sheets last week. They make me happy. 
  • I took care of some long overdue paperwork last week. I think it's what's been putting a damper on my creativity...every time I thought I'd do something creative and fun that nagging paperwork would flash before my eyes. Maybe now I can think about doing something fun?
  • I would love for that "something fun" to be a patchwork quilt but my sewing machine needs a tune-up. Although, I suppose I could cut squares and get ready to sew a patchwork quilt? that's a thought.
  • Oh, and I've got chili simmering on the stove for tonight's dinner. Just add cornbread and we're good to go.
How's your day going? 
Good, I hope.