Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My (Almost) Christmas Baby

Happy Birthday Joseph Daniel!  You are 2 today.  You were, and will always be, my (almost) Christmas baby!  

It's a little bittersweet.  In my mind, two marks the end of your 'babyhood'.  And, now we officially have no more babies in our home.  And, unless God would send us a surprise, I don't think we will.  Your birthday, Joseph, marks the beginning of a new stage for our whole family.  A little sad, yes, but also very exciting!

Happy Birthday HoJo! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

May your Christmas this year be joyous & richly blessed.  I have been so blessed by all of you my dear blogging friends.  Thank you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Addendum to Yesterday's Post/ Weight Loss Update

First, an addendum to yesterday's post.  I kinda feel bad about writing that now.  Looking back I wrote it out of frustration and with not a whole lot of grace.

I didn't give the benefit of the doubt to a whole group of people who have a job I'd rather not have during the Christmas season.  I mentioned that I've been in their shoes, but a lot of time has passed since then and I think I've forgotten a bit how stressful it really is.

I thought about deleting the post altogether.  But, I think I will leave it there for now.  I do, however, want to apologize to those folks who are working in retail/ service industries.  I know you work hard.  I know this is a rough time of year.  And, those of you with good customer service really do still outweigh those with not so good.  

I'm going to work harder to look for the positive this holiday season and all year long.  And, hopefully I remember to say 'thank you' for a job well done.

Second, I've reached another weight loss milestone.  And, I feel a little silly mentioning it right before Christmas.  But, I'm really excited, so I wanted to share.  As of this morning I have lost 30 pounds since July (35 pounds since the beginning of this year).  I still have a few more to go, but I feel SO much better than I did at the beginning of the year.
 - I have more energy.
 - My moods have evened out (I still can be moody, but nothing like the wild swings I was having earlier this year)
 - I feel lighter & more comfortable in clothes.
 - I just feel overall better instead of feeling kinda yucky most of the time.

Sometime after the new year I plan to write a post on what I've been doing to get healthier.  I've had a lot of people I know ask me, so I figured I'd put it all down.  And, really it's stuff I knew I should be doing all along.

If I don't get back here before Christmas, Have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some Basic Customer Service Tips For the Young Employee Who May or May Not Know Any Better

(I've written an addendum to this post.  You can read that here. )

I know it's a crazy time of year and that folks who work in retail and other service industries have probably had just about all that they can handle.  I have also worked in several different customer service positions over the years, so I suppose I'm particularly sensitive to how I am treated as a customer.

I try really hard to be a pleasant, considerate, respectful customer.  I'm afraid though that the art of good customer service is quickly getting lost.  And, I'm really not sure if some of the younger generation have actually been taught what they should do.

Thus, my list for those who maybe just don't know....

1. When a customer is standing at the counter where you are working, acknowledge them.
2. If you are not immediately able to help the customer say something like, "I will be with you in a moment".
3. Ignoring a customer hoping they'll just go away is not appropriate.
4. A customer is more important than the restocking or reorganizing you were working on. In fact, the customer is the reason you have items that need restocked/reorganized.
5. If you are a sales person from another department who stops in to a department where a customer is waiting & the sales person in charge is unaware you should also a)aknowledge the customer & b) alert the appropriate employee.
6. If the customer decides that he/she is not actually going to purchase the item she/he asked you to pull from a locked cabinet & price check, remember this is their perogative.   Rolling your eyes is not an appropriate response.
7. If a customer has 2 sleepy/cranky children with them, it would be ever so helpful to assist them in a timely manner.
8. If you legitimately did not realize the customer was standing there, when you are made aware it is gracious to say, "I'm so sorry. I didn't realize you were there. I didn't mean to make you wait. Can I help you?"

And, for those of us on the customer end, let's always remember to give a smile & a cheery greeting even when we don't receive the same.  You never know what kind of day someone has had!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thought You'd Like To Know....

I just thought you'd like to know that I'm drinking this right now.....

It's Turmeric Chai Tea & I found this lovely recipe over at New Nostalgia.

Picture found at New Nostalgia

I was blown away by the list of health benefits from turmeric, a spice that I rarely, if ever, use. I'm tellin' ya!  It's pretty impressive.  Go check out the link!

Note to self:  A coffee filter doesn't really work all that great as a sieve.  Buy some cheesecloth.  
Note to you:  I noticed the recipe doesn't actually call for any tea.  I steeped my spices along with a green tea bag.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Citrus Arugula Salad

I'm still here.  I haven't been posting much because I really am trying to keep my head above water with Christmas preparations.  Boy, that sentence sounds so wrong doesn't it?  Why do I stress myself out every year?

Anyway, God is also really working on my heart this season.  I'm still trying to process everything He's trying to say to me. 

On a lighter note, I wanted to share a yummy idea you could include with your Christmas dinner.  I made these for our mom's group Christmas brunch.  And, they really turned out nice.  They're pretty too.

Citrus Arugula Salad on Parmesan Baskets

First, to make the parmesan basket you take shredded parmesan cheese (it's fine 
too if it's a blend of romano & asiago & parmesan) and you spoon 1-2 tablespoons 
of the cheese on a cookie sheet.  Then use your fingers to spread the cheese out 
into a circle.  I put about 3 of these circles on a cookie sheet at a time.  I 
greased my sheet for the first batch but didn't need to after that. 
 Bake at 350 

degrees for about 5 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.  Allow to cool 
slightly, but when it is still warm & pliable you want to use a metal spatula to 
take the parmesan circle off the sheet and drape over an upside down cup to mold 
into a cup/basket shape.  I usually take a paper towel or cloth & actually press 
the sides down to help mold the shape.    This is a link that shows the process 
step by step....http://whatscookingamerica.net/Appetizers/ParmesanCrisp.htm  
(You can also make them stove top using a small skillet.  I've done it that way 
before too...but for making a large number the oven was the way to go) 
The salad was simply a mix of arugula & baby spinach tossed with this 
vinaigrette & then topped with mandarin oranges 
Honey Mandarin-Lime Vinaigrette 
3/4 c. cider vinegar (I actually used white vinegar) 
3/4 c. Mandarin orange juice 
2 T. lime juice 
3 T. honey 
1 T. brown sugar 
1 shallot clove minced 
1 1/2 c. olive oil 
pinch of salt 
Combine all ingredients except olive oil in blender & blend well.  Then on a low 
blend speed, drizzle in olive oil until well mixed. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Simple Christmas?

Every year I tell myself I'm going to keep Christmas simple...not get swept up in the hurry & the busy & the hype.  Every year I tell myself I'm going to keep it slow & focused....that I want to be sure me and my family remember why we are celebrating at all.

And, every year, I still find myself struggling for simple.  

We don't do a lot of parties or gift exchanges or expensive gifts.  We try to be reasonable about the money we do spend & not go into debt.  I don't frequent malls or shopping centers, preferring to do most my shopping on line or at some smaller stores.  

I try really hard to keep it simple.

And, yet I have a whirlwind of To Do Lists flying through my head.  A list of Christmas cookies & candies I want to make & the list of teachers, friends, etc. I want to give them to.  I have a to do list for my mom's group's Christmas brunch (I'm the hospitality person), and a to do list for my children's class parties at school (I'm not able to go in but am sending some things in).  There's my personal list of everyday chores & tasks, and my list for Christmas presents yet to buy.  There are Christmas picture cards ordered & received that now I need to address and send. 

 Baking, wrapping, planning, buying.  Where did my quest for simplicity go?

And, in the midst of it all, I remember my extended family that is suffering with a grief I can't begin to imagine this season.  I look ahead to Friday when funeral services will be held for the three family members whose lives ended in such a tragic way.  

I have to rearrange my morning on Friday in order to attend the funeral.  It's the morning of the Christmas brunch for my moms group.  And, I'm in charge of several things related to the brunch.  I'm stressing as I'm trying to figure out how to delegate & get as much done as I can ahead of time.  

And, then I stop myself.  So what?  So what if I don't get it all done?  Perspective pushes in at me from all sides....
 - the loss of 3 lives in my own family, Rachel, Patti, and Melvin
 - a young boy (whose grandmother I know) who had brain surgery this morning to remove a tumor
 - the family in our area who lost 3 of their children in one tragic car accident last week
 - the blogger whose blog has brought such joy & encouragement to me who is fighting her own battle with cancer
 - friends whose Christmas will be simple not because of their own choosing but because the husband still has not been able to find employment despite months of job searching

This is why He came.  Emmanuel - God With Us.  He came to walk with us in our human condition.  And, he brought Hope.

The Christmas celebration is a celebration of Hope. 

I still love the trees and the decorations and the food and the gifts.  I just don't want to make Christmas ALL about that.  And, it's easy to do.

I guess keeping it simple can be as simple as stopping and remembering and meditating  on what He has done.  I don't want to forget.

(P.S. - If you haven't done so yet, you really should read this post called ' How in the World to get ready for Christmas'  over at  A Holy Experience.  It spoke volumes to me.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Know Him

I was so encouraged by all the attributes of God that I could find yesterday in just a short period of time while reading the Psalms that I was challenged to look for even more.

I don't know about you but I sometimes fall into the trap of allowing my thinking to be too greatly influenced by this world.  This world sometimes characterizes our God by completely different characteristics - angry, harsh, unfair, etc.  I know I sometimes find myself thinking 'Do they have a point?', especially at times in reading the Old Testament.  And, I question myself, 'Who is God really?'.

But, God wants to be known.  And, there is so much He has told us about Who He Is.  I've read the Psalms hundreds of times, but when I read them with the purpose of understanding God's character, I really have been blown away.

You can read the first part of my list in yesterday's post.  Like I said, it only scratched the surface.  Here is more I found today.  This didn't take hours to compile.  I found all this in a short period of time....about 15 minutes or so.

He Is....

The One Who Established Fairness
The One Who Administers Justice
The One Who Answers
Clothed in Splendor
Enthroned Forever
Slow to Anger
Doer of Miraculous Signs
Abundantly Compassionate
Fair Judge
One Whose Fame Endures to All Generations
Doer of Wonderful Works
God of Hosts
Full of Faithful Love
Establisher of The Earth

"When the earth and all it's inhabitants shake, I am the One who steadies its pillars."  Psalm 75:2

Monday, December 12, 2011

He Is

(I was reading my Bible this afternoon, searching for some comfort & peace in the middle of this family tragedy.  I was reading in the Psalms & in the course of about 10-15 minutes & reading 6 or 7 Psalms, these were all descriptors or names for God that I found.  And, this only scratches the surface.)

The world may shake, but in the midst of it all He is...

A Stronghold
My Strength
A Refuge
A Strong Tower
Father of the Fatherless
A Champion of Widows
He Who Leads Prisoners to Prosperity
The One Who Hears Prayer
My Hope
My Salvation
My Rock
He Who Rides in the Ancient, Highest Heavens
He Who Listens to the Needy
Holy One
My Help
My Deliverer
My God

Prayers For My Family This Time

I'm in complete shock right now and I don't even know if I can find the words to write this post.  I just found out that my 24 year old 2nd cousin and her parents (her mom, Patti, & my mom are 1st cousins) died in a house fire early this morning.  The youngest daughter, 17, escaped out a second story window.

I know that many people might not even know who their second cousins are.  But, Rachel & her family lived in the same area as me.  Her mom, Patti,  worked at the Walmart right up the road.  We saw each other fairly regularly.  And, Rachel & I in particular had reconnected over the years.

She was excited to be engaged to her boyfriend and was looking forward to everything that life had in store....and now she's gone.  And, I just can't believe it.

I don't know what else to say right now.  Just please pray for our family right now.  My mom needs to figure out how to tell my 86 year old grandmother that her niece, husband, and grandniece have died. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Procrastination Has It's Consequences

(Have you given your opinion yet?  I'll tally all responses I receive until the end of the day Friday, 12/8 - midnight)

I've been seriously considering doing the Jingle Bell Run (another 5K) this coming Sunday.  

I actually know a bunch of people who are going to participate.  

But, I kept hemming & hawing on the matter because  
1.  It's on a Sunday.  It's in the afternoon, but we'll be at church in the morning and Sunday afternoons are usually our rest, relax, and nap time.  
2.  I'm afraid it's gonna be really cold!
3.  I've still been running, but not with the frequency I was before my first 5K.  I'm worried I haven't kept myself physically prepared.

All that to say, today I finally decided, "OK.  I'm gonna do this!"  But, I went to the website and online registration is closed!  

I can still register the day of the event.  Soooo, what do you think?  Should this procrastinator take this as my opportunity to bag it & forget it?  Or should I do it anyway?  

I'm gonna give you guys the power here!  I'll tally your answers and the winning answer will stand.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Prayer Please

I don't often write about tragedies that have occurred in our area.  But, this one is heavy on my heart this morning.  Yesterday afternoon around 3:00 p.m  2 teenagers and a child were killed when their car lost control and crossed the center line into oncoming traffic.  (It was a rainy day)

All three of the children were siblings.  2 boys, twins - age 16 and a girl, age 9 died.

I can not imagine the anguish of this family right now.  They have 10 children total.  And, while I don't know them personally, Facebook is on fire right now with posts from people I know who DO know this family.

They're a godly, close knit family.  And, the mother spoke at our mom's group a couple years ago.  When I went to her facebook page, I thought she looked familiar and now I realize that's why.  But, I'm haunted by their family photo from Christmas last year.  All of their beautiful children are together and smiling.

I know there are many, many prayers being lifted up for them right now.  But, I wanted to send out a request for even more prayer covering over the Martin family in the midst of this terrible time.  Thanks.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Cost of Groceries

Chatty Mommy has a post today in which she asked her readers if they'd share the price of some basic grocery items in our area.  She named her post I Want To Know What You're Paying.

I thought this was a fun idea.  I like the idea of comparing the price of things depending on the area you live in, where you shop, etc.  So, my post today will be 2 parts.  First I will answer Chatty Mommy's question about the price of certain items.  Then, since I actually made a grocery run this morning, I'll share my 'grocery cart' expenses with you.

Here goes....

Chatty Mommy asked how much we spend on each of these items....

*Note:  I do most of my shopping at a discount grocery store.  Often they have overstock items, some scratch & dent and outdated items too.

  • a gallon of regular gas - $3.33 gallon
  • a gallon of milk -  at the store 2% is $3.79, whole is $4.00.  We recently switched to raw milk, so I spend $4.00 a gallon where I buy it.  If I bought directly from the dairy it would be less.
  • a box of 4 sticks of butter- normally $2.49.   Today I got a deal at $1.79
  • a dozen eggs- We used to pay '0'.  But we recently got rid of our chickens.  They were getting old for layers (about 3 years old) & we didn't want to have to winterize for them.  We'll get a new batch of chicks in the spring.  At the store, large white were $2.09, large brown were $2.00.  We pay $2.00 at the farm where we've been getting eggs (pastured).
  • a loaf of bread- I usually get Maier's Italian day old bread for about $1.00.  Today I found Sara Lee Honey Wheat day old bread for 79 cents a loaf & Sara Lee Cinnamon Raisin day old for $1.29.    A regular loaf of Schmidt whole wheat bread was $2.49
  • a bunch of bananas - my discount store is usually around 49 cents a pound.  Walmart is usually around 59 cents a pound.  Today I hit the jackpot and got a case of finger bananas for $3.99
Now here's what I brought home today.....

  • Bag of home-made thin noodles -                       $2.79
  • Case single finger bananas -                                    3.99
  • Case Fit & Active yogurt (12 containers) -            2.99
  • Gallon distilled water -                                               .99
  • 2 Land o Lakes 4 stick butter packs -                    1.79 each
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese                                                  1.39
  • 10 x sugar (1.89 pounds)                                           1.59
  • 2 avocados                                                                   2/1.00
  • 2 Sara Lee Honey Wheat loafs                                   .79 each
  • Sara Lee Cinnamon Raisin Bread                           1.29
  • Gold Medal Flour  (5.37 pounds)                            2.36
  • Rolled Oats  (3.62 pounds)                                       2.06
  • Brown Sugar (4.86 pounds)                                     4.33
  • Pepperidge Farm Goldfish                                           .99
  • White & Red Grapes ( 1.62 pounds)                        1.93
  • Hand Soap                                                                       .99
  • Pineapple                                                                          .99
  • Bosc Pears ( 3 lb. bag)                                                  2.99
  • 16 oz. Mozarella                                                             1.49
  • Sliced deli turkey (.48 pounds)                                  1.44
  • Whole cut chicken (4.79 pounds)                             6.64
  • bag arugula                                                                       .79
  • container of romaine                                                       .99  
My grand total today was $49.24             

So, now that Chatty Mommy got this started, I'd love to hear what prices are in your area.  You could answer in the comments or, if you write a blog post about it, be sure to send me the link.  Send one to Chatty Mommy too.  I know she'd love it!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Evidence that at least one of my children may inherit my husband's propensity toward circular logic.....

"Mom!  Joseph's leaving the yard!"

"Where is he now?"

"With Madelyn."

"Where's Madelyn?"

"With Joseph."
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