Saturday, April 18, 2020

You Can Live to be One Hundred!

You can live to be a hundred, if you give up all the things that make you want to live to a hundred.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Midnight Hour

That Midnight Hour

The Virgin Mother kneels upon the floor
And holds her baby in her arm,
Her heart is gladder than her lips can say,
To keep her new born baby snug and warm,
A babe more sweet and fair and dear
Than any rose bud in the bright sunshine,
Whose little eyes look straight into her own,
O, blessed maid, God's son is also thine.
Twas holy midnight, when He came to earth:
As pours a sun ray through a limpid glass,
Not leaving any mark upon its face;
A drop of dew upon the fresh green grass,
A little star that fell upon her lap,
A cooing babe, that seeks her virgin breast.
The hopes of all the sin-cursed world
Upon this baby's eyelids rest.
And ever since the midnight hour is holy,
And millions of human hearts are stirred
To wonderment and love for Him who came,
To save the world, God's own incarnate Word.
He came in darkness, He who was The Light,
His godhead shone from clear blue baby eyes,
The curse of earth's first sin was lifted then,
That midnight hour reopened paradise.

Thursday, April 18, 2019


I stay away from natural foods. At my age I need all the preservatives I can get.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The gates of Heaven open at midnight on Christmas Eve. Those who die then go straight to Heaven (an Irish belief).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age. Nothing does - except wrinkles. It's true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.

Sunday, December 24, 2017



Lord bless us now and bless this food.
Bless our minds and bless our mood.

Divinely bless this humble meal,
The way we think and the way we feel.

Please, bless each one within this place
Every time that we say "Grace"

And lead us, Lord, away from sin
Every time we say, "Amen".

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Between 50 and 70

The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always asked to do things, and you are not yet decrepit enough to turn them down.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas...

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced through their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,—
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash;
The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a luster of midday to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick!
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
"Now Dasher! now Dancer! now Prancer! now Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So, up to the housetop the coursers they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys,—and Saint Nicholas, too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Down the chimney Saint Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf;
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spake not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And, laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod,—up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
"merry Christmas To All, And To All A Good-night!"

Clement C. Moore

Monday, April 18, 2016


Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Thought and Spirit of Christmas

This was a poem children were encouraged to memorize in 1916

Not what we give,
But what we share;
The gift without the giver is bare;
He gives but worthless gold
Who gives from sense of duty.

Give aid if thou canst;
If not, a kind and gentle word.
It's loving and giving
That makes life worth living,
It's loving and giving
That makes life a song.

What is the thought of Christmas?
What is the spirit of Christmas?

I don't know the author, but please feel free to repost because I am told it is in the Public Domain

Saturday, May 30, 2015

In Flanders Fields

Does anyone remember World War I anymore? as a different time then.  For so many immigrants, the conflict wasn't in a strange land, but in a place they were at least vaguely familiar with, it might even have been home.

And for all the horror that came from that war, especially mustard gas, people still had manners.  In fact for Christmas one year, the combatants stopped fighting, met in "no man's land" and sang Christmas Carols and shared food.

Because Catholic prayers were not said in the vernacular of the people yet, Catholics were able to come together and pray in Latin together.

After Christmas, the war continued.

I have always found this poem poignant.  Truthfully, it brings a tear to my eye.  I hope you enjoy it this Memorial Day... and don't forget to say a prayer for the souls of all the soldiers of every nation that died while fighting for their country.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
In Flanders Field - Copy of Signed Original
Courtesy of Bee MacGuire

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Middle Age

Middle age occurs when you are too young to take up golf and too old to rush up to the net.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Life Begins at Fifty

Life begins at fifty, but so does bad eyesight, arthritis, and the habit of telling the same story three times to the same listeners.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Intrepid Reader

My mother was not the kind of mom that made birthday cupcakes to celebrate my birthday at school.  She would never have bought soda or juice, because she had read Adele Davis and Carlton Frederics and she knew that sugar was poison.

If you were over the age of three, my mother didn't hover over you as you  played in the sandbox that my father had made for us, swung on the swings, or went down the slide.  If you could finally swing very high on the swing and ran in to proudly tell her and get an approving audience, forget it.    She'd occasionally check on us through the kitchen window but there is something that is needed to be known about my mom, she detested a hot or beating sun, she got prickly in any but the most benign spring sunshine, and she was scared to death of insects, especially bees.  Watching kids, even her own kids swing on swings or dig in a sandbox bored her to death.  She was the absolute antithesis of attachment parenting or the helicopter mom.

Before becoming a wife and mother in the 1960's, my mother had studied not just to be a nurse, but to be a registered nurse.  My mother was a professional.  Soon she went from being just a registered nurse to being  a head nurse.  She was responsible for supervising nurses and nurses aides, for taking a doctors order and supervising patient diets, giving out medicines.  She interacted with highly educated people every day.  House work and making meals, doing laundry and watching kids mould sand into tunnels or sand cakes just didn't measure up.

What she carried over from her former life was a love of books, a love she had since almost as soon as she learned to read.  It was a family affair because her mother, my Meme loved reading also.  The high spot of her day was after lunch, when all kids were taking a nap and she could read a book.  It must have been a bittersweet time, connecting her too her youth, her single life and present all at one time.

And then, came my tenth Christmas, when the majority of my gifts were books.  She scored 100 out of 100 with the books!  I loved every one of them, and two of them I actually made part of my personal library as an adult, and I read them to my children at certain times during the year.  My enthusiasm was all the encouragement that my mother needed.  From then on, I was never without my own book, bought by my mother.  No more having to depend on the library.

My mother's tastes were eclectic, never in a rut.  Some times she would get me favorites from her youth like the Cherry Ames, Nurse series, other times it would be Five Little Peppers And How They Grew.   A new Bobbsey Twin or Nancy Drew book from the series would be a gift for a birthday, then The Girl In White Armor.  She got me to read a few books from the Mary Poppins series when I was sick, and sure I was too old to enjoy it.  I was wrong, she was right, and the Mary Poppins series is in my personal collection now.

Even as a married adult, in the midst of taking care of littles myself, my mother supplied me with books like Evergreen and Light A Penny Candle.  Later in life, when I was feeling a bit down and isolated because my husband had become an over the road trucker, a box of books, the Debbie Mac Comber Cedar Cove series, arrived on my doorstep.  While I was in the hospital getting chemo for my cancer, the books Marley and Me showed up, followed by The Help.  And then while recovering at home, The Distant Hours, a hefty book that I never would have looked at twice showed up at my home.

All the books bought comfort, my mother even as an elderly mother to a middle-aged woman was still watching out for me, trying to distract me and bring me comfort.  All her choices were great.

I don't know how she does it.  She doesn't belong to a book club.  Instead, she goes into a book store and picks up books that look interesting, reads the cover, and if they still seem interesting, she buys them.  And she doesn't just do it for me.  She finds out what subjects my kids are interested in, and then buys books to match them, often challenging them with books that I think might be too old for them, and then the kids rise to the challenge.  One example is The Girl From Limberlost, a huge book that my 12 year old daughter finished reading because she found it so interesting.  I haven't attempted it yet.

My mom has aided making my children into the voracious readers and book lovers that they are.  What an enduring legacy!

The Girl of Limberlost - free e-book

Evergreen by Belva Plain

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Secret of Staying Young

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cooking Under Pressure

I think all but the luckiest of us have cooked under pressure.  Some of us have cooked under pressure night after night, trying to make a dinner that will be apreciatated.

But in this case, cooking under pressure refers to cooking using a pressure cooker.

Pressure cookers have come up in the world, now they are electronic or electric.  They are filled with safeties to protect us from the specacular explosions of the past.

But try finding a basic recipe book for one. I think I've made it pretty well known  that we are basci people, not fancy shmancy, so recipes using quail or dried apricots are not for us.

Give us the basic info on how to cook rice or spaghetti in one.  How to cook a chicken breast, or better, a frozen chicken breast.

Those recipes would better serve us.

In the meantime, I've been searching You Tube.  I've found some great recipes, never to be found again.

Now this is cooking under pressure, without the cooking!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

How Blogs Move Us

Blogs are mostly unsung and ignored.  Unless you happen to read them.  I've been reading them for about 5 years, and I've seen new ones, or new to me, ones come on, and  I've seen them leave.

The ones that left have done it without drum roll, just me showing up and the blogger not.  And that has left me feeling sad.

Other blogs are started for a purpose, like what it is like to live off the power grid, which is something I've always wanted to try, but never have, and after my adventures of being powerless after a storm, I probably will never do willingly.  This blogger is starting to question if this is the lifestyle she wants to follow.  It's a hard life, so I can understand. But the thought of not having this blog to read in the future, is saddening.

Blogs, maybe they aren't as light weight as they are treated by society!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath, and indeed the whole season of Advent is ignored by the general public, these days it seems.                                               
Not so when I was growing up. Yes, the municipalities put up the Christmas lights about two weeks before Christmas, but in our hearts, we knew it was Advent.                                            
Advent, the time of waiting for Christmas.
First came out the Advent Wreath.  My father would bring a small hand saw with him into the back yard and cut some greenery.  This was artfully arranged to cover the golden Advent wreath and from out of no where, my mother would whisk out brand new candles for the season.  The Advent Wreath was put in the middle of our dining room table, and stayed there in prominence until after January 1st when it was finally taken down and put away.                                    
Considering how easy it is to make an Advent Wreath, and how inexpensive they are now to buy, it seems a real shame that more people don't practice this tradition.   All you need is something round; a round plate, a wreath, anything.  You don't have to use the usual long taper candles either.  In the past, we have used fat pillar candles and candles in glass globes.  If you have little children, you could even use battery operated candles.                        
Decorate the wreath with evergreens, or we've used garland wrapped around the wreath.  We've left it simple with no adornment, we've put a small nativity inside the circle.  We've even hung it from the ceiling over the dining table.                                
A good book to read about Advent, and indeed many Catholic Traditions is "Through The Year With The Trapp Family Singers" by Maria Trapp.    
Why not give the Advent Wreath a try this year?

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Christmas Prayer

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment In which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, [here mention your request]through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The four candles :
* First Candle (purple)--Prophecy Candle or Candle of Hope (Romans 15:1...
* Second Candle (purple) Bethlehem.candle or Candle of Preparation (Luke 2)3:4-6)
* Third Candle (pink) - Shepherd Candle or Candle of Joy
(Luke 2:7-15)
* Fourth Candle (purple)- Angel Candle or the Candle of Love
(John 3:16-17)
This Sunday starts Advent, and if you would like to have an Advent wreath this year, I thought I'd give you a guide on the candles and what they represent.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Joys of Chili

   Yesterday I gave you a chili recipe from my husband but I neglected to give you some ideas on how to use it.

     First off, you can have it the purist's way and just serve it in a bowl without any toppings.  If you want, you can top it with any of the following: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, oyster crackers or saltine crackers.

      The next day, using only the thickest and least watery parts of the chili, you can put the chili into a tortilla, with sour cream or ranch dressing, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, shredded carrot, shredded cheese.  Try this once, and you'll be hooked.

       The third day, take any remaining chili and serve it over spaghetti.  Top with Parmesan cheese.

        The fourth day, there should be precious little of the chili left,  but try it inside a bowl of tomato soup, topped with shredded cheese.  Or not.

         Chili is really a grocery stretcher because there are so many ways to serve it, and things to serve it with.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another Home Made Chili

        My friend Kat from the blog Homesteading on the Internet recent post on her husband's family's chili recipe made me think of my husband's new recipe.  It is not as hot as other chili's that he has made, and for my easily upset stomach, this is a good thing.  I really enjoy this recipe and Nathan even said it was okay to share it with you.

What you'll need:
                               2 pounds of hamburger meat
                               2 cups combined of chopped onions and peppers
                               vegetable oil to cook in
                                1 tsp garlic powder
                                1 large can of Goya black beans, undrained
                                1 small can of black beans, undrained
                                1of tomato paste
                                2 TBSP of taco mix
                                1/2 tsp of paprika
                                1 tsp chili powder
                                2 small envelopes of Goya Sazon
                                1 cup of water with a beef bouillon cube mixed into

                               Put about two tbsp of vegetable oil into bottom of dutch oven that has a cover. Brown the hamburger into it. Drain of fat.
                               Break up hamburger into small pieces, then add all ingredients. Mix everything together. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Let the chili simmer an hour or more, stirring occasionally.  If the chili gets to thick, add water a 1/2 cup at a time.
                               Serve.  Refrigerate with cover any leftovers.  Taste better every day after making it.

Note from Mary - this is delicious in a warmed tortilla and/or with shredded cheddar on it!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Super Storm Sandy, What We did Wrong

As promised, a list of what we did wrong.

When we left this blog yesterday, the Bennett family was in the cold and dark, had two extra household members with them and had limited access to hot water and cooking utilities.

1. We didn't have enough batteries.  Although the batteries never ran out on us, if we'd been in the dark any longer, we would have, and we had no replacements.  Further, the crank radio was not made for comfort cranking and took an awful lot of cranks to keep it running.  In retrospect, it would have been better to have a smaller, battery run radio with a back up set of one or two to keep it running and depend on the crank radio for when things really got dire, which they didn't.

2.  The camp stove was a great idea, but on our fifth day, the first canister of propane ran out.  We should have had at least two canisters available to us.  Not that we needed to overload and buy great quantities of propane canisters, but we were cutting it a little too close.

3.  We should have had more wood ready to use in the wood stove.  Though we hadn't used it in three years, the amount of wood we were able to scavenge from our yard, that was aged enough to use was getting a bit thin.  And the wood stove really took the chill off the house and made the difference between miserable and somewhat comfy.

4.  We bought the wrong types of food.  We had soups and vegetables and beans.  What we should have had was stews, chili, hash, things that could be cooked in one pot because the washing of pots was limited and primitive.

5.   We weren't prepared to have visitors, so my sons did not have their own flash lights etc.  Not something that tells them that they are welcomed guests , if you know what I mean.

6.  For everything, we should have just had more.  The government website says to be prepared for two weeks, and that should be the bare minimum that we were prepared for.

7.  The dice game was a bust.  It was too easy to lose the dice in a dim house.  The Uno cards on the other hand were brightly colored, easy to see and provided a break to boredom.  I would like to add a few more simple board games to our collection.  I will look for the printing on the board to be big and have a minimum of set up and small pieces.

8.  We lost every last bit of food in our freezer.  Short of buying our own generator, which is out of the question for us, I don't know what I could have done to prevent it.  Maybe put in more ice packs to keep the food cold?  I don't know, but I'm done crying over spoiled meat.  It is something I will continue to think about how to prevent though.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Super Storm Sandy: Lessons Learned

  Like so many other people, I'm still a bit frazzled by Super Storm Sandy.  Unlike so many other people, my family was left relatively unscathed by Sandy.
     By two o'clock pm, the winds of Sandy were starting to intimintaly whistle around my home and I thought "Well, if it stays like this, it won't be too bad." No sooner than I had this pleasant thought, than there was a huge "BOOM" and our internet and electric left.  The house immediately became a few shades darker.
       The winds began to pick up and become more strong, more frequent and longer lasting. I was very happy that my husband's work had been cancelled and he was home and that my two son's from NY were visiting also.  I couldn't imagine being in a storm like Sandy alone, or with only people significantly younger than myself.
        That night, we ate a very simple and forgetable cold supper since my stove is electric. My body ached for my heated blanket, buy without electicity, it wasn't to be.
         The next morning, the storm was mostly over, and we expected to have our electric power back by that afternoon, the same as last year's October storm.
         It wasn't to be.  This time around, not only were we without electric power for nearly 6 days, we also were the last block in our development to get the power back.  I expected our sons to leave us and return to Long Island every miserable day because their area got almost no rain or wind and never lost cable, never mind electricity.  But they stuck it out with us.
         Well now I've taken stock of the situation and I'm ready to share with you what we did wrong, as well as what we did right.  May-be you can glean some information that will help you to be ready for when you are in a storm situation yourself.

Ready?  Here goes!

What we did right:

1. We removed every tree in our yard that could possibly fall on our house.  Other trees were drastically pruned to make them "lighter" in a storm. Note, we didn't leave pokey branches that would punch holes into the side of our house. Just lightened them up.  We did this months before storm season.

2.  We have an electric stove, so my husband bought a small, inexpensive "camp stove" to cook one skillet dinners on.  And an extra canister of propane.  This was done in the summer, before any danger.

3.   Because we live in shivering cold New England, we found out what was involved in putting a wood stove into our house legally.  We did everything by the book and had it done in late summer.

4.   We bought canned food for almost a full two weeks, extra toilet paper and paper towel, paper plates and plastic cups as soon as there was talk of a hurricane starting.

5.   Dear husband bought flashlight battery kits when they were on sale, enough for our family, and stored them under the sink.

6.   After last years October storm, WalMart was selling small battery powered lanterns for about four dollars.  We bought one, put it on a shelf in the bathroom and left it there in case of an emergency.

7.  We bought a deck or Uno cards and a package of dice and left them unoppened in case of a spate of no power so that we'd have games to play to relieve the boredom.

8.  We bought a crank powered emergency radio

9.   As soon as we found out the storm was supposed to hit the next day, we all put our cell phones on chargers to make sure we had a full charge when the storm hit.

10.  Had a huge collection of jar candles with easy access too and a collection of box matches.

Tomorrow?  What we did wrong!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dump Cooking

It seems like every ten years or so, a type of cooking becomes popular, promising that it will provide nutrition, save mom time in the kitchen and be easy clean up.

Anybody remember the “Meals In The Freezer” movement? Or the crockpot movement? Caserole Movement? One pule one cooking? Personally, I still practice all of these movements when I

can. I might not be able to have a full 30 day supply of dinners in the freezer, but it is still nice to have five meals in the freezer. Or even one, truth be told.

So how did I misss the “Dump Movement” of cookery? Oh did you miss it too?

The “Dump” method calls for you to have some recipes and supplies like zippered freezer bags, measured amounts of chopped onion etc on hand. Then quickly, because you are dealing with frozen food, package each raw meal and place it in the freezer to freeze solid. When you want to use the meal, let it defrost in your refridgerator all day and then back for about an hour in a caserole dish in your oven. Easy peasy. And the recipes seem really yummy.

The problem for me is one, the use of so many non safe to recycle freezer bags. Second, the components for some of the yummy sauces are bound to stick to the bag and be a real pain to try to get onto the meat. So for me, the “Dump Meals” as they are written, are out. I still plan to cook them, but not in my oven, I plan to get everything ready in my crock pot, and not have to worry about honey sticking to the bags.

But check out this wonderful website for some delicious Dump Recipes:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happy Birthday America

This could have been the unexpected , double -dip of Fourth of July Celebrating if anyone wanted to take advantage of it. I guess the word wanted, could have also been replaced by the word able also. Nate was off from weekend to weekend, so if we had chosen, we could have really had a celebration that lasted all week, or two celebrations. We didn't though because we are suffering from Big Family Turned Small Syndrome, just like the child who can't play by himself, but must have many companions.

First one son couldn't make it, then the second son couldn't come either, third son was iffy, and I had to go to the hospital.

To paraphrase from “A Christmas Story” - goodbye meaty scent of BBQ, so long creamy tater salad, adieu toasted marshmallows, not even the heady smell of a charcoal fire.

We'll celebrate later in the month, even with some birthdays thrown in, but no double dipping this year... Just memories of a red bell grille, flag cakes of culinary kitchens passed, Frisbee and softballs and water balloons, fire fly hunting, and fireworks.

Happy Birthday America!!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Be Thankful!

Today as I'm reading the July 2012 Family Circle, I happened upon a short blurb about thankfulness.  It reads "Being thankful has been linked to deeper sleep and less anxiety but a recent study at the University of Kentucky shows that it also helps you to control your temper."

You would think that being thankful would be relatively simple; be thankful for your health, for your family, for living in a free country.  People have even been thankful for summer skies, summer vacations and just the change of pace that summer brings.

But what if everything I've enumerated isn't something that you can be thankful for?  Then what?

It's very important to have something to be thankful for, or at least it seems like it, for your health.  So try using these as jumping off points to find something to be thankful for.

1.  Have a job?  Be grateful.  So many people don't.  If you are one of the ones without a job, why not try being an entrepreneur?  I would suggest Avon, or something that, like Avon, has a range of prices and so can fit anyone's budget.  Take out some books on guerrilla marketing and party plans from the library, and sell seriously!

2.   Do you have old family photographs?  Isn't it nice to be able to reminisce about times past? 

3.  Establish a weekly movie night, either with family, friends, a combination of the two, or by yourself.  With public libraries lending DVDs, there is no financial reason to not have a movie night!

4. Popcorn.  Be grateful unpopped corn is so inexpensive! And multifunctional.  It can be popped for your movie night, scattered in tomato soup, and robed in homemade caramel to make decorations of popcorn balls for your Christmas tree!

5.  Texting.  I'm grateful for the one line texts or voicemails that my faraway family and friends send me, often for no other reason than to say hello, they're thinking of me.

6.  Letters.  They take so much longer to write, they are way too expensive to spend now that postage for first class mail is just under 50 cents, but they are a delight, as are postcards.  Everyone of them goes into a paper mache box I have just for that purpose, to be savored over and over!!

What little things are you grateful for?  What little things warm your heart?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blue Moon

                     So after my encounters with deer eating my tulips, the allium did fine.  They looked like puff balls made of little purple stars, and the deer let them live long and prosper.  They are, I believe, in the onion family, so maybe the deer just knew they wouldn't like the taste after my delicate tulips? 

Gourds, squash, pumpkin? Your guess is as good as mine!
 The butterflies loved them.  And what came in the mail a few days ago but a catalogue that is dedicated to all types of tulips; ones that open, ones that stay closed, ones with ruffles, ones in whole rainbows of colors including blue.

My husband gave it to me, and then I think he waas disappointed that I didn't fling it open with the passion I would have in the past.  "I'm not planting another tulip." I told him.

"Oh sure you are." he encouraged me.  "They didn't eat all of our tulips."

And he is right.  I calculate that if we plant about 100 more tulips, we might get to enjoy ten surviving tulips.  Or the neighborhood deer will just throw bigger dinner parties.

To say our garden this year is saddly underperforming would be to put a better face on it than is actually happening.  The heirloom tomatoes that I grew under grow lights, in a hydroponic, nutrient rich water are just pathetic.  They are green, and that is about all you can say for them.  They are leggy, the leaves are tiny, the stems are puny.  It would be a miracle if anything grows on them.  The string beans that I started from seed in the same pots are doing much better.
       The squash, one plant from a packet of seeds, put out about 5 leaves, a yellow flower, and then stopped growing.  It is still green. It still has it's flower.  It just isn't growing.

     And are you wondering why I am letting clumps of grass grow in my garden?  Well first, you know the story, I am not feeling all that well and right now I can't do much gardening, BUT, those  
are not clumps of grass growing, but stands of early, dwarf (so the stalks only grow to 5ft high), sweet corn.  Yes! Today is the 21st of June and I am supposed to be able to harvest ears of corn from them for our Fourth of July Barbecue.  What are the chances, do you think?  This is a recent picture, I kid you not.  Lest you think that there is something wrong with the seeds or the plants, I got them from Burpees, and they were very highly recommneded.  Everyone I talked to had great results with them.  Except for moi!  I think there is something majorly wrong with our soil, even though my husband has
mixed peat moss into the ground, top soil and a bag of cow manure, not to mention all the Miracle
Grow that constantly lands on it from watering other plants. Someday I would like to take ALL the soil out of there for a few feet down and replace it with manure - horse, cow, chicken - and see if that helps at all!                                      
The bugs this year seemed to have started earlier than usual, and I can't stand on top of
them like I would usually to spray them with vinegar and water, oil etcetera, so they are having a feast as you can see on the picture of my new Blue Moon climbing rose from Burgess.  Not exactly blue, but pretty anyway.  I feel if it had had someone loving it better, like I would have usually, and    may-be added some iron to the soil around it's roots, it would have been bluer.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               In the meantime, I got some free seeds with one of my orders.  One was for "Vine Peaches" and the other was for some type of super tomato with vines that are sturdy and reach to the moon and back.  Okay, not that far, but far beyond what the usual tomato would be.  I didn't care all that much about them, so I put them together in two hanging baskets, put them down on the sunny steps of my back porch, and mostly forgot about them while I was upset about those dratted heritage tomatoes in the front.  Well these plants are doing great!  They are green and lush and soon will be climbing onto the bannister of my back stairs.  It will be interesting to see what fruit I eventually get out of them.
Then, because I do think of myself as a writer, I began to write at a site called  It isn't a paying venture, of course not, when is it ever?  Right now I'm writing about P L Travers and Mary Poppins.  I've written other "lenses", it's what they call these short writings, and I'm enclosing the links in case you would like to check them out.

And please excuse all the problems I had with formatting today!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reuse It!

We're often encouraged to practice the three "R's": reduce, reuse, recycle. I think the easiest of the three to practice is recycle.  If you have a recycle bin, you can do it almost without thinking.  Of course

Recycle, or can you reduce?

recycling is better than having everything toted to a landfill, but recycling isn't as good for the earth as reducing, re-using and re-purposing is.  Briefly, a lot of fossil fuels are used in recycling.  To read more about it, please go to my left side bar and follow the link there or use this link.  Instead try to focus on these three "R's"; reuse, reduce and re purpose.

Those shampoo and conditioner bottles, what can you do with them, besides put them into the recycle bin?  What about finding a shampoo and conditioner that come in bulk sizes, say a gallon container (check the warehouse stores like Sam's or BJ's) and then refill the smaller bottles from them?  I really can't think of any way of re purposing those bottles, but if you can, I would love to hear about it! 

How about the cardboard tube inside of toilet paper or paper towels?  The first strategy is to reduce.  With paper towels, it is quite easy to replace their use as much as possible by using rags, sponges and dish towels.  However, I can't imagine anyone wanting to reduce toilet paper use in that way, not to

                                          Reduce?  Reuse?  Recycle? Re purpose?

mention how unhygienic it would be, and the massive amounts of bleach, actual soap - not laundry detergent - and hot water to clean them for toilet duty again.  One solution could be to buy larger rolls of toilet paper to reduce the actual amount of toilet paper used.
      Another idea is to re purpose the cardboard tube.  There are a lot of sites on the Internet that will tell you how to make Kaleidoscopes for the kiddies or to use them to separate cutlery by taping the tubes together.  Not having anyone in my home that would enjoy a kaleidoscope, and preferring to use an empty, cardboard wine cooler carrier for my cutlery, I'm not particularly receptive to purely crafty uses for anything that I try to re purpose.
   I have seen where the paper tubes have been cut into approximately 4 inch sections, and the bottoms cut to have four sections, then bent over each other like you would close up a cardboard box, filled with dirt and used to start seeds.  They can be planted directly into the ground because the cardboard will disintegrate into the ground.

                  Re purpose?

        Perhaps the easiest and conversely, the hardest things to re purpose is old clothing.  I am of course talking about clothing that is too stained, torn or worn to donate to a charity.  Clothing in good condition should always be donated. 
        Clothing can always be torn or neatly cut into handy squares to use for cleaning, dusting, in the garage etc.  But what if you have enough rags?  T-shirts can be neatly torn into strips, and then crocheted or knitted into chair pads or little rugs for in front of the kitchen sink or bathtub.  Look up on the Internet t-shirt quilts for more uses for t-shirts.
        Jeans can be selectively cut so that the worn parts are excluded.  Good, heavy duty pot holders can be machine sewed from them.  Also heavy duty bed covers can be machine sewn from the squares that would fit nicely in a boy's room or the room of any teen for that matter.  Book covers and tote bags can be machine sewn from salvaged denim.  Even a durable picnic blanket could be pieced together.  These projects all take time, but they are not challenging and you've already paid for the denim material when you bought the jeans, so the project is free.

         Sweaters and afghans that are worn can be unraveled to use the yarn again.  Sweater arms from children's sweaters can be used over the handles of pots and pans along with pot holders for extra protection.  Of course, never leave anything on a pot, pan or kettle unattended in case of them catching fire.
        Take a good look at the items to be thrown away or recycled in your house.  Can any of them be re purposed?  Take a good look.

Some ideas:

  • egg cartons - the cardboard ones can be 3/4 filled with sawdust and a 1/4 filled with wax to use as fire starters in a fireplace or outside grill.  Tear off one or two as needed.  Please remember to use proper precautions. 
  • egg cartons - foam - give them a good wash in soapy hot water and use them in your drawer to coralle small items like paper clips, screws, clips, spare change etc
  • egg cartons - clean well in soapy water, and bring with you to a picnic for your kids to use as a Kala game board.  The pieces can be pretty shells or pebbles that they find.
  • egg cartons - especially foam - bring to your organic grocer or to backyard farmers for them to use again for selling eggs.
  • egg cartons - cardboard - use to start seedlings
  • mint tins - decorate if you wish - use to keep small items in your purse in one place (tweezers, nail clips, spare change etc)
  • mint tins - decorate if you wish - use to store needles, lengths of thread, pins etc for a portable sewing kit. Leave in your purse, desk at work or in your car.
  • Crystal Lite concentrate containers (and containers like it) use it to cold crayons and a few papers for an on the go coloring tote for your children or to coral things like hair accessories, or in the bathroom to hold all the little toiletry samples we're always being given.
  • plastic cocoa container - use it to store all the envelopes of ingredients like gravy, chili mix etc and keep it neatly on the cupboard shelf. If shelf space is limited, I have removed the back pockets of worn out jeans, added a clip magnet to hold it to my refrigerator, and stored all those envelopes in the pocket.
Do you have any tips to share?


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Carmelite Sisters Reflect on "For Greater Glory"

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles rarely go to the movies, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to be a part of a premiere showing of For Greater Glory. Seventy-five of our sisters immediately said "yes" to the gracious invitation of Archbishop Jose Gomez. Why? Because it was during those days—the days of the horrendous religious persecution in Mexico in the 1920s—that our community began. Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament, affectionately known as Mother Luisita, had already accepted fifty-five sisters into the new community.
It was on July 31, 1926, that President Plutarco Elias Calles started enforcing the anti-clerical laws throughout Mexico. The following day, August 1, 1926, all religious services were stopped throughout Mexico. No more Masses. No more marriages. No more first Communion. No more religious practices of any kind.

To read more

Carmelite Sisters Reflect on "For Greater Glory"

Monday, June 4, 2012

Replacement Therapy

Have you been going through your spending looking for a place to make some cuts and save money?  Star Bucks put a store in my town a few years ago, about the time that I got cancer.  After my numerable operations, I was no longer able to drink coffee, but if I hadn't had those operations, I can tell you where a healthy chunk of my weekly budget would be, at Starbucks for a mocha latte, yum!  That is until I realized how much of my money was going to Star Bucks, and that I would prefer to keep that money in my pocket, that is.

But before I replaced my Star Buck's fix, I would try to think of something to replace my fix with.  Not something that would cost the same or nearly the same amount of money my Star Buck's cost, that wouldn't make very much sense and I wonder if it would be worth the effort expended in the first place?  Or would I slowly resume the same habit again?

I would try to figure out when I was most likely to buy my Star Buck's.  Did I buy it on Wednesday, the middle of the week, or to celebrate Friday - the end of the week, or to make Monday's less Monday-ish?  Did I buy it when I was driving the kids and the decibel level was at leaf blower level, or on the long trip to the doctor's office?  Or did I buy it just because it tasted good?

Once I figured the when and why of buying Star Buck's, I would start figuring out how could I replace the habit in a satisfactory way.

If I simply wanted to replace Star Buck's, I could buy some Coffee Mate, prepare coffee with it and spin it in my blender with ice.  The savings would be significant.

But what if I wanted not only to not drink Star Buck's, but wanted to stop drinking coffee all together?  Then I would start experimenting.  Could I replace a cold, sweet latte with hot or warm tea?  Could I replace it with herbal tea that I made into ice tea?  These ideas might not be instantly appealing to everyone but rather an acquired taste.

However, after trying the teas as a replacement for a few weeks and still not enjoying it, it might be time to admit defeat, even a temporary defeat and try something else.

Seltzer or club soda might make a good replacement .  You could even try stirring a few teaspoons of concentrated juice into it to flavor it.  Or maybe even plain water with lemon or lime juice mixed in.

It takes a while to change habits, and the longer you have had a habit, the longer it takes to change it.

Some things to remember:

1  If you take something away, make sure you replace it with something else.

2   It takes time to change habits, and each person is an individual.  Don't judge yourself by someone else's success or failure.

3   You might give in to temptation.  Don't beat yourself up about it.  Just resolve to get back on board, that day.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

cheapest family

Previously I wrote about the blog "Living on a Dime."  I felt that it was a good website that sold a product, but also was generous with ideas, tips and recipes for free.

Another website was suggested to me, Cheapest Family of America.  While this is a slick website/blog with a lot of information on it, I left disappointed.  Yes, there were a ton of free tips, but these tips tended to be repetitive and sent in by various tipsters.  Many were just a twist of a previous tip and makes me wonder if every tip gets posted?

Then there was the blog itself  where many of the blog posts, after a scintillating first few sentences, could only be read by paid subscribers.

This website was too slick for me to feel comfortable subscribing, both because of the lack lustre tips, but also the constant up-selling.  What if I subscribed and then was told the continuation of a blog post could be found in one of their books?

I realize that The Cheapest Family in America has been seen on the Dr.Phil show and Good Morning America.  I wasn't able to see either broadcast, and may-be the books that they have written and pushed are great.   I don't know.  I'm only reviewing the blog site, which I found very disappointing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Small Appliances

How many small appliances do you have?  Without thinking too hard about it, I can think of five in my kitchen without having to think too hard about it: coffee maker, hot water kettle, toaster, microwave, rotisserie and I have more in my cupboards.  And I have had many that haven't been deemed worthy of moving with us: small waffle iron, ice cream maker, pressure cooker.  It might sound funny, but I would happily give up my microwave oven too.  I use it mostly for reheating, and I don't like the soggy way most foods come out of it preferring to use a non-stick frying pan and pot cover.  It's not as fast, but the quality of the food coming out is so much nicer!!!  Plus, I don't like the way using my Corning Ware and Pyrex in the microwave makes them shatter instead of break over time.

 Would you give up your microwave?

Among the small appliances that I have and would buy again are:

1.  Hot Air Popcorn Popper, with the caveat that the popcorn doesn't shoot out of the machine, which no matter how careful you are to have a bowl under it, still sprays the area and floor with popcorn. 
2.  my bread machine is worth every penny.  True, I don't use it everyday anymore, but it is so easy to use and foolproof, that I know that anyone in my family could use it.  The bread machine also gives you the option of replacing some of the wheat flour with oats, rye and many other flours that are being made available these days.

3.  My husband didn't like my sandwich maker, so when it wore out, it wasn't replaced.  I am thinking of replacing it now that my kids are adults because of how quickly you can make an omelet in it, without having to stand over it like you do when it's in a pan on the stove.  Also the pizza pockets made with tortilla's are delish, as in pretty much everything you put into it EXCEPT cake and brownie mixes which I think are complete yuck!
      In this same class are the donut makers , which we bought my daughter for Christmas and have been very pleased with.  It turns out a bunch of mini donuts without tying up the oven or making a big mess to clean up after.

4.  It does take up a lot of room, so it sits in my dining room, but I love my rotisserie!  It makes the best rotisserie chicken and roasts.  I can use it to cook that night's dinner, or I can use it to cook dinner for a later night, while I'm using my conventional oven.

5. I love my slow cooker for days that I am not feeling good.  I just need to spend about 15 minutes to brown meats and vegetables in a frying pan on my stove, then dump all of it into my slow cooker with about a scant cup of water, and bullion cube, cover on medium and dinner is ready that night with no more effort on my part.

6.  My husband has a big orbital mixer, but it is too heavy for me to drag out so I love my powerful, little hand mixer for the smaller jobs like beating eggs, mixing pancake batter etc.

What are your favorite small appliances?

Sunday, May 20, 2012


These are what is left of the tulips after the neighborhood deer decided to have them for a night time snack.  Do I like deer?  Mmmmm, not so much anymore.

Yesterday was national "Take Your Child To The Park And Leave Them There" day.  This is a grass roots idea by American parents that feel like today's children are not given enough independence and are hovered over by their parents way too much.  So the idea is for parents to bring their children to a pre-picked park at 10 am, offload them, and leave for a half hour, hour or two hours - whatever feels good to the parent.  This way, the children can join together for independent play without parents micro-managing everything.

I say the same thing can be done by parents simply sitting on a park bench and reading, which is what I always did.

If you are worried about your child being thirsty, well don't be.  Children are always hungry or thirsty, they can be that just as well unsupervised in a park.

Anyone ever here of dehydration or heat stroke?

Worried that your child might get hurt and need help?  Well being alone in the park will teach them how to go to a totally unknown person to ask for help, teaching them self-reliance and independence.

Who this kindly, unknown adult will actually be, I don't know, because presumably, all the parents will be gallivanting for an hour or so anywhere except the park.

Abductor or pedophile anyone?  And just think, on this holiday they don't need candy or a puppy! The child comes to them!!!!

But heavens, don't worry, child abduction is at a 40 year low!!  What is the reason for that do you suppose?  Do you think that humans have just evolved in the past 40 years to be nicer people?  Or do you think cases like Etan Patz (still missing since 1979), or Adam Walsh (dead) changed society, making us more observant, more vigilant and much less trusting?  May-be the statistics need to be interpreted a different way.

And yet, for all that vigilance, we still have had Sandra Cantu (kidnapped from her street in 2009, found dead about a month later), Shawn Hornbeck (riding bikes with friends on a dirt road, kidnapped 2002 and recovered 5 years later),  Jaycee Dugard (2001 from her bus stop, recovered 18 years later), Jorelys Rivera (2011, kidnapped from apartment complex playground, found raped, beaten and murdered).

Lastly, as my husband says, if the child that is taken is yours, the statistics don't mean a thing!

What do you think?

Some other blogs and what they think:


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