I am glad you chose to visit! My blog is a compilation of the many hats I find myself wearing. On any given day I may be an encourager, an instructor, or just a lady who is venting. You, dear reader, will probably identify with my triumphs and my tribulations! These snapshots fit into my Life Scrapbook I have named A. McInnis Artworks. I hope you will find something worth your while.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

* Excuse Me, Are You Whistler's Mother?

Yesterday I received some very troubling news. My co-worker returned from the teachers' workroom with our School Day Pictures. Oh, my gosh! I thought she had gotten my packet mixed up with somebody else.

Last year, for the first time in my school career, I did not have my pictures made. I wondered what would happen if I didn't, but since they renewed my contract even without the requisite portrait, I thought I had really pulled a fast one. This year, I had lost 5 pounds, so I felt better about having my likeness snapped. I must have been out of my mind. When I looked at the proof on the front of the package, that was bad enough, but when I pulled out the full color rendition, I almost hit the floor. Who on earth is that creepy little old lady?! She was kind of "hunkered" down and looked like someone had come up behind her and scared the liver out of her.

It was totally the photographer's fault. He was in a hurry and he didn't give me the proper time to position myself correctly. As you age, you learn to present your best "face forward", but it requires a certain amount of contortion. Head must be held high, but not high enough for double chin to be prominent. A tilt of the head sometimes disguises certain features and makes earrings gently sway. Smile, but not too widely....old lips might disappear from view. Shoulders up (but not if wearing shoulder pads) you look like the team fullback. Never do a full front face shot unless you are prepared for the old bulldog look.

My contorting had just gotten into full swing, when "flash" it was over.
"Next," the quick on the trigger photog shouted.
"What? I was not quite ready, " I muttered.
"Oh, look, it's a great picture," he replied, "next person come on."
I said, "Look, I wasn't ready."
I know what he was thinking, "Lady, you wouldn't be ready if Whistler was painting a picture instead of me using this digital camera."

So I aimlessly walked back to the library. I was thinking maybe it wouldn't be too bad, until yesterday when I came face to face with reality. They have do overs for everything else in the world, wonder if they'll let me in to try again on Make Up picture day?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We Are Middle Class America!!

I had something between a fender bender and a wreck Monday afternoon. I am still too upset by the entire incident (and hubby's reaction to it) to say much about it here, but I do want to say something positive about the happening. Because of the "wreck" we had to leave our house very early this morning to take the car to the shop for repairs. When I walked out of the house it was just barely light around 6:30 a.m. By the time I reached the highway, I was amazed at all the traffic! Every small subdivision had cars lined up at their entrance to try to merge into the flow.

Lights were on in almost every home and it occurred to me that all these people were just plain, middle class Americans, rising early to make it to work by 7:00 a.m. They were up early (and probably worked late) to provide shelter, food and clothing for their families. I was very proud to be among them even though we were moving slowly. I thought how fortunate we all were to even have jobs...they might not be the most white collar, but by George, we were all in it together and we were all trying to do our darnest to get there on time.

My hat's off to my fellow Rankin Countians (that's in Mississippi...United States of America) who work hard, help others and love much!! I am happy to be counted as a middle class American!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tip of the Week: Cricut's New Home

To the left you see the poor, downtrodden kitchen cart. Above you see what 3 hours, a little spray paint, stain, sandpaper and elbow grease produces! A home for my new Cricut machine!

This was just an old castaway that we were going to throw away. We unearthed it while cleaning out hubby's mom's house. I said, "Wait just a minute! Let me measure this little gem."

To which he replied, "Oh, please, don't drag that ugly thing home." He just hasn't learned, there are NO ugly things...just ducklings waiting to morph into swans!
Now I have the exact amount of space on top to place the revered 24 " Cricut Expression machine and two shelves on which to store my vinyl and paper boxes. The whole thing is on rollers so I can roll it out of the way when not in use!

Tip of the Week: See beyond the present to what COULD be!!

* Chicken Daddy's Love of All Things Footballish

Football is in full swing! Being married to a football coach is a dangerous position to be in, at best. You know, they are happy one weekend, morose the next. Not only do we have to worry about his team's wins and losses, but we certainly MUST agonize over the defeats of favorite coaches' teams, friends' teams, pee wee teams and universities all over the U.S. Then, of course, there are the NFL teams. He has former players on NFL teams, he has University and NFL coaches he's known, admired and even worked with. So it is imperative to sit and watch as they struggle and/or are victorious.

He always likes to remind me that Alabama coach Nick Saban once watched a film in my classroom; that Joe Paterno helped him get his suitcases into the car at coaching clinic at MS. State. Once, he brought a University coach to our home to eat. (I was at work and had NO idea this event was taking place.) My child, who was about 9 at the time, called to tell me the good news. He, Chicken Daddy and Coach X were eating hotdogs and potato chips on paperplates for lunch..."Oh, where are you?" I inquired. "Sitting at our table, in OUR dining room," he excitedly exclaimed. Not to worry, he put a clean hand towel out in the bathroom...when I left for work that morning, the house looked like a bomb had been detonated in the kitchen and its aftermath had spread outward to all rooms. I am quite sure the coach was duly impressed by my housekeeping prowess.

I heard Chick D on the phone with a former player the other night discussing a game that was played 31 years ago! He remembered every detail that happened that fateful evening and they were ranting as though they had just had the national championship ripped out of their oh so close grasp!!

Point of this post is a funny story that happened to us when we were newly married. In those days I tried to disguise my dislike of all things footballish. To impress him, I even sat in the rain at a MS State game...and yes, I received my marriage proposal at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis...so I should have seen the Mack truck that was heading my way.

HE wanted to go to a State game that was being played in Jackson and I reluctantly agreed (still pretending, you know). When we got there he didn't like where we were seated...couldn't see well enough. I was perfectly satisfied, I could see what every lady in the stands had on...what more could you ask for? Well, during the middle of the second quarter, he spotted some empty seats in the reserved section. If the holders of the seats were coming, they'd be here by now..."Let's move there." Oh, no...I don't like productions...let's just remain where we were...I was quite happy. "No, come on, we are moving down there where we can see," he ordered. ("Look, I am not one of your players, I don't want to move, " I responded quietly.)

Long story, short...we moved. Ok, it wasn't so bad, we really did have better seats and we looked like we had season tickets....until.....you see this coming, don't you? I looked up to see a very stern Highway Patrolman staring down at us....."Sir," he said, "you will have to move." I was mortified, being asked to move from your unpaid for seats in the reserved section in front of thousands of people. " Ok, ok we are going, but why? Nobody's in these seats," Chicken Daddy questioned....the Patrolman countered, "Not at the moment, sir, because YOU are in them and Governor Allain would like to see the game in his reserved seat." We were certainly delighted to rise and give the GOVERNOR his seats. Need I say more?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Keep, Sell or Donate

For those of you who don't know, we've been working every weekend for the past few months emptying a relative's house of 55 yrs. of living in the same place. Today was the last day. Everyone was out of the house except me, and I was taking a little break. As I stood there and looked around at the empty rooms several thoughts occurred to me.

We spend so much of our lives "acquiring." I love looking for items to fit into my "collections." I poke around flea markets, garage sales and antique stores...always on the lookout for something else...some other possession. How many hours have I wasted searching for that illusive something and as soon as I find it...I move on to searching for some other possession, never satisfied with what I just found.

Today we sold the last of possessions that have been around for a very long while. As I removed bric a brac from shelves and tables, I thought about how in the not so distant future, my own child and his children will have to sift through ALL my stuff and decide what to Keep, Sell or Donate. I felt really sorry for them at that moment because even though I don't keep lots of old papers and jars and cans, I DO keep tons of other stuff. There's nothing of great value really, but they are my memories. As we ended the process of throwing this person's stuff away, it hit me, this was her life, her precious memories, her possessions. Everyone of those things meant something to her and now they will be divided and disbursed throughout our family, never to be under one roof again.

On one hand, it was a relief to have the job done, but on the other, it was the shredding of someone's home and their way of life. I know you can't "take it with you" and I know exactly what the Scripture teaches about possessions (and I agree wholeheartedly), but this experience has given me a new perspective of the way I live. I think I am going to do my family a great big favor and begin the purging now. I've known others who have started the process early and I never really understood it until the last few years. It's really a kindness to those left with the task. For the past few years I haven't felt that "wanderlust" feeling that I used to feel, and I really am becoming fully satisfied with the things with which I have been blessed. What a pity that it took me this long to draw these conclusions. I hope you will learn from a "slow learner", me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Frozen Salad....Make Ahead Idea

Here is the Frozen Salad recipe that I blogged about last night...it is one my whole family's favorites. One year I didn't make it and everyone pouted! You can keep this frozen for several months. This recipe came from my husband's sweet Aunt Kathryn...one of the best cooks I ever knew.

Frozen Salad


1 quart Cool Whip, thawed; 1 pint sour cream; 1 large can crushed pineapple (drain slightly)

1 1/2 cups sugar; 4 tablespoons lemon juice; 1 cup chopped pecans; 3 mashed bananas;

1/2 cup chopped cherries (reserve jar juice)

Mix pineapple, cherries, bananas, lemon juice, sugar & pecans. Fold in Cool Whip and sour cream. Place in a 11 x 14 inch dish. (I use an aluminum cake pan.)

*I reserve some cherry juice and mix it in after the Cool Whip to tint salad pink.

Cover & freeze. Before serving, let sit out for a few minutes. This makes nice size square servings. Will serve 15-18 depending on the size you cut each piece. Return leftovers to freezer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Holiday Planning....Seriously

I have been piecing together some tips to make the upcoming holidays more enjoyable for the "woman of the house." You know how everyone LOOOOVES all the things you do and what you cook and how the house is decorated, but I wonder if they ever really stop and think how much time is spent by YOU (and you know who you are) in preparation for these celebratory times?

I graduated with a B.S in Home Economics, and we were taught lots about time management. I can do several things at once (thanks to some of these TM techniques.) No, I am not superwoman, I just put into practice what some very smart professors taught. Maybe some of these "rules" can help you. I know what you are thinking...where does she get off telling us how to handle the mayhem of the holidays? As a formerly exhausted veteran of many a ruined holiday, I can tell you what works and what doesn't. Just read on before you judge me.

1. Never waste time. For instance, when talking on the phone do an additional "Mindless" task that you don't like to do like fold clothes, water the plants or empty the dishwasher. Take advantage of idle hands. It doesn't interfere with your conversation and when you end the call, you also have something productive to show for it.

(1A.) When doing lots of food prep or wrapping (anything that requires repetitive motions), consolidate. This means do things assembly line. Example: Start a pan of water to boil. Scrape all the carrots and wash all in a colander. Cut the ends off all of them at once. Move scraps into a bowl or paper towel to be disposed of later. Slice carrots two or three at a time. Wait to put them into the boiling water all at once. Empty scrap bowl. Move onto next project. Use fewer motions and accomplish more. Example: Wrapping gifts: Have all paper, ribbon, tape, cards, scissors, and pens on a table that has been cleared. Use bags when possible. Have gifts in boxes, if needed. Wrap all presents for one person at a time. Use one kind of paper for each person.

2. Prepare as much food as you can before a big event and freeze it. I have a recipe for a frozen salad that you can make at least a month in advance and it makes a whopping 11x14 pan full! Early prep for anything is always a smart idea. When making regular meals before a holiday, make extra and freeze for those days when time is short and you still have to feed your family.

3. Thanksgiving or Christmas Dressing is a pain to make, BUY it at Cracker Barrel! Request that it NOT be cooked if you must, and cook it yourself or buy it already pre-cooked. Be sure and get gravy too. It will be one of your best expenditures (and Grandma will smile from heaven...and wonder why she didn't do the same thing years ago.)

4. If you are having trouble finding storage room in the refrigerator, NEVER store in round containers. Always use square ones. They stack better and make the most of every square inch. Round bowls, etc waste too much space. Keep the refrigerator organized!

5. When taking holiday food to others, pack the food in disposable containers if possible. (I know if you are taking something to a party you want to use your pretty Christmas dishes, but I am talking about "sending home a meal" with children or taking food to someone who is ill.) They won't have to return anything! It might not look as pretty, but they will be so grateful!

6. Begin October 1 on your quest for little gifts. If you are remembering people at work or other acquaintances, start looking now for small items that can be personalized (Cricut owners!) or otherwise "gussied up". For instance, buy Christmas ornaments like snowflakes or angels and give them in a cellophane bag with sparkly shred and tie with a cute ribbon. You don't have to spend much, when you see something "cute" purchase it and then put it in the "Christmas" drawer until you need it.

7. Mixes like Chex Party Mix are always fun gifts. Make it yourself and find inexpensive containers to give. Flower pots filled with shred and pencils, pens and highlighters for someone's desk are also appreciated gifts. Make jelly. I have a recipe for apple juice and cinnamon red hot candy jelly. It's pretty and good!

8. Buy when things are on sale! 50-75% off makes the long list look a whole lot better.

9. When you have a few minutes BEFORE the holidays begin, sit down and PLAN. Get a calendar and write down goals for October, November and December. Also go ahead and make out your Christmas cards early. That way they will get done BEFORE Christmas this year!!

10. (My friends will be snickering about this one...but it's still true!) Gather all that wadded up tissue paper NOW and iron it! Do NOT use steam. Iron it flat and store it flat. It will be ready for holidays and birthdays and the like. Trust me, this one will save you $ and lots of time!

As you can see, I am just full of timely tips for everyone else. I need to practice what I preach, and when I do, it is amazing how much can be accomplished in 24 hours!

Monday, September 20, 2010

* Do You Look Like a Pre-Cooked Turkey?

Hot flashes, not sleeping, water retention, skin that when pinched does not return to its former glory...ah, the joys of getting older. I used to get soooo exasperated when I would overhear older teachers talking about such things. Didn't they know that the rest of us young chicks were planning to stay young forever? That gross stuff would NEVER happen to us! Well, guess what?

I was prescribed hormones years ago and have attributed their flowing through my arteries to everything from feeling absolutely wonderful to causing vertigo. I have honestly tried about 5 times to get off them and I just have NOT been successful. I've tried all sorts of plans, cut down to taking them every other day, gone cold turkey, taken them 3 times a week, nothing works. I can drop 5 lbs. in a few days when I am off them, but those resulting hot flashes are murder....Hot flashes are similar to the feeling of having a fire pit combust internally. My center of heat seems to be my head. Remember when Michael Jackson's hair caught on fire? I understand what he must have felt like. The internal combustion engine was invented in 1860 by German Nikolaus August Otto. I think he probably got the idea from his 50 something yr old wife, Mrs. Otto, who was constantly imploding.

And not sleeping...tossing and turning...thrashing about...and then it happens...just as you doze off, you are awakened to the feeling of the oncoming hot flash! I'm not sure of the purpose of all these changes, but one thing I do know, I don't find it fun in the least bit. Oh, yes, don't forget swollen ankles. Recently I looked down at my ankles and thought my whole body was melting. You know how they portray somebody melting in a cartoon...their body just runs down into these gigantic ankles? That's what mine look and feel like. I once had great looking ankles that supported really nice feet. (I've already explained that in a former post.) But oh, my gosh...not anytime lately. I'm just slip sliding away.

I was always told that if you'd pinch the skin on the back of your hand, you'd get an idea of how much collagen you had left. In "my glory days" my skin would snap back into place like a freshly produced rubberband, and I'd giggle a silent giggle of thankfulness...."I'll never be like Mrs. So & So, thank goodness. I have really GREAT skin DNA." Well, well, well.....all birds do indeed come home to roost because the last time I did the pinch test, my skin stayed "pinched" until I finally had to slap it back into submission. I looked like the pre-cooked Thanksgiving turkey. Ugh.

Heaven help me if I accidentally get a "sleep crease" line on my face. When that used to happen, I would go about my business assured that by the time I had my coffee it would be gone. But with low collagen levels, obviously that doesn't happen. A few weeks ago I walked around with a bad crease until 11:30 a.m. (I arise at 5:00 a.m.) Everyone wanted to know how I hurt my face...was it a cut, a gash? Plastic surgery gone awry? Finally, I went into the restroom to take a final look and you could barely see it...it was 2:30 p.m. So now, in addition to everything else I have to remember to do (and not to do while sleeping), I have to keep the covers away from my face and sleep on my back. I spend the whole night awaking, flashing, flipping over onto my back and trying to keep my ankles elevated. Such a lovely picture....

I have really tried to keep a sense of humor (you know, the fifth sense) about this whole ordeal but it's been an extremely trying time in my life. My husband says he thinks I've become obsessed with aging and that I still look just like the young vibrant woman he married. Of course, he didn't have on his glasses and couldn't hear what I said in response to that statement. The tv was turned up too loud for him to hear me...and his teeth were chattering because I had the a/c turned down to 60 degrees..."it IS hot in here," you know.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tip of the Week: Rumors & Cricut Report

Disclaimer: I have no idea why this post won't space correctly. I've redone it five times. I hope it's not too difficult to read.
Before I get to the subject at hand (the Cricut), I would like to take care of some questions that have been posed to me this week from followers and readers of this blog. Rumors seem to be running amok, and I am very opposed to mayhem.
Q: Why don't I write more about my husband? He is real, isn't he?
A: He is very much alive and kicking and yes, real. If you have the pleasure of knowing him, you
would know that he (1. hates the spotlight. This is difficult because he has been very much in
the spotlight during his 39 year coaching career. (2. doesn't want his name "out in cyberspace
floating around." He is VERY opposed to the computer and all its machinations. Might also be
that he has no idea how to use one...hmmm. (3. doesn't want his name used in my blog.
Therefore, I must refer to him as Husband or Chicken Daddy. He thinks this will protect his
Q: Don't you have any funny stories about him? And why don't you post them?
A: See #'s 2 & 3 above. And oh, yes, I have tons of funny stories about him, but he doesn't take
a joke nearly as well as yours truly and seeing that he has asked me NOT to write much about
him, I have agreed to write minimally about him unless absolutely forced to do so (like now).
Q: Is he ok with all the nutty things that you do?
A: Excuse me? He's the reason I do all those nutty things. Look, I am a football widow from
August until November. I have to do something to keep myself reasonably sane. If that
means write a blog, buy a Cricut Expression machine, surf the web and Facebook and eat
five lbs. of candy corn every now and then, I'd say he gets by pretty cheap! I could be out
buying leather pants and fur coats and Coach bags and redoing the living room. Really.
Now, I hope that clears up any confusion...I hope I have put to rest the notion that Husband is the silent suffering husband of a flighty gadabout who sleeps until noon, eats chocolate bonbons and THEN spends the afternoon at the spa. (Now that I think about it, that sounds like a pretty fun life! But if I did all that, I would be afraid I'd break a nail digging holes for my mums, using my steam mop and investigating my Cricut machine.)
Which brings me to the subject "Tip of the Week".....Get a Cricut machine! You would love it. It's a little pricey, but I think the +'s far outweigh the -'s. Above you will see pictures of my first vinyl cutting experience. Oh, it was just great...however, I didn't use the correct pressure therefore I did not get the "kiss cut" I was supposed to get...but that's what I get for not reading the directions BEFORE I use the machine. I do that a lot... A "kiss cut" is a cut that results in the vinyl being cut but not the backing. I cut everything, including the mat...not good :( But now I know the secret is the pressure and the length of the blade. Next cut will be perfect! The container I adhered the initial to is heavy and can be used for all sorts of things...pencils, candles and pumpkin suckers or cotton balls! Everywhere I go now, I am on the lookout for an initial appropriate surface. I asked Husband if he'd like a vinyl initial on his shirt, but he declined. You never know... hope you have a great week! Talk to you later!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jiminey "Cricut"!!! What an Invention!

Oh, Blog Followers, I am in monogram heaven...my Cricut Expression arrived today, and I am having the greatest time. There are letters everywhere! I will post later this weekend, but I'm on a roll and can't turn the thing off! This is the greatest of inventions...who thought of this anyway? Send me ideas of things to do...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh, the Joys of Teaching Boys!

Thought I'd write a blog about some of the funny male students I have taught in years past. I LOVED probably 98% of the students I taught. Now that I have gotten out of the classroom and am the "dreaded" librarian, I really miss getting to know the students well. Through the years I have had the pleasure of teaching some of the funniest, sweetest children and I will always remember them fondly. I will keep their identify confidential...so some names have been changed to protect the innocent...

For several years I taught kindergarten at a small private school. I was not used to teaching little people and so every day they charmed their way into my heart. One little boy had a tracheotomy when he was born and wore a contraption around his neck with a small curved pipe that went down his throat. When he talked, he had to cover the hole and force his voice. I loved him the minute I saw him. Once I had to excuse myself from the class to dash right down the hall to the restroom. I gave strict instructions to "keep coloring, stay in your seat and I would be right back." Just as I assumed the position in the restroom, someone knocked on the door. "Just a moment," I said. Another knock, then another...finally I dashed to the door, threw it open and there stood little "Eugene". I said, "Eugene, what do you need? I told you to stay in your seat."
He peered into the restroom and said, "I wondered what was in here. What are you doing?" "Well, if you must know I was going to the restroom." His eyes got big as saucers and with great surprise he said, "What? Teachers go to the bathroom, too?" (They thought I was Super Woman! Could bound over skyscrapers and NEVER had to go to the bathroom.) I believe he is now a lawyer.

One of my kindergartners was the cleanest, neatest boy I've ever seen. He could run in 105 degree weather out on a nasty playground and he never perspired, never smelled, and every hair was always in place. He dressed like a little man, was nice to everyone, never back talked, made 100 on every paper I ever gave him and when we sold Merry Belles as a fundraiser, he sold every one in his box...EVERY day. He and I went to the prize shelves at least 15 times. His last prize was an Ole Miss glass about 14 inches tall and held at least 1 quart or two. He proudly announced to all the people in the office that he was getting this prize for his mama so she could drink her wine out of it! (I told her when she picked him up that there was an AA meeting in town that night if she felt she needed it...)

Once I had a boy that came to school every day looking... well... like an unmade bed. He was in middle school and I liked him a lot, but I knew if he didn't "fix up" some, no girl would ever look at him. When I mentioned to him that he did indeed look like an unmade bed, his mother came roaring up to the school for a CONFERENCE..Well, after having my ears pinned back for my careless remark we concluded the MEETING with a fairly cordial handshake. He straightened up for a few weeks but by the time I taught him again in high school, he was back to his slovenly ways. Several years went by and one day I heard a knock at my classroom door. When I opened it, the most handsome Marine in full dress uniform was standing at my door! I almost fainted...it was "you know who". He hugged me and said, "Now, do I still look like an unmade bed?!" I could not have been happier! And I bet he makes up his bed every morning, too.

One of my all time faves was a young man I nicknamed "Ooh, La La". (I was always giving nicknames to my students for some kind of foolish reason and they usually stuck.) The name had something to do with his taking French or something and to this day, I have to stop and remember his real name because I've called him that for so many years. (His mama and I are still good friends.) He was quiet, smart and one of those kind of boys that you just couldn't help but love. I found out this week that he has been hired to do some top secret job....very 007....but even if his code name is "James Bond" he will always be little "Ooh, La, La" to me.

My last entry of the night is "Frosty". Again, I have trouble remembering the real name. Once in one of my high school classes, I was on my soapbox ranting and raving about living your life to the fullest, you get this education for free so make the most of it, don't let one day go by that you don't learn something...or some such "pump em up" type of lesson and they really seemed to be listening and taking it all in...of course, some teenagers can actually sleep while their eyes are wide open and you really believe they are listening to you. But today, I felt I really had their attention. The next day, "Frosty" was late to class and when he entered he looked very pale. "What in the world is wrong with you?" I inquired. Well, this was his tale...he had sneaked into the cafeteria backdoor to "borrow" the walk in room size freezer to store some project he brought to school and when he did, the door slammed and he couldn't get out. He banged on the door and screamed, but there was so much going on that nobody heard him. He sat in that freezer for what seemed like hours, but I think it was probably about 15 or 20 minutes. He said as he sat there all he could think of was me telling them not to waste a day, you never knew when it would be your last....We were all spellbound. Finally someone heard him and let him out...he was pushing the handle the wrong way all the time. When he got out he was cold, but resolute. He said, "I've made up my mind to never waste another minute of my life." I walked over to him, shook his hand and said, "Well, welcome home Frosty." From that day forward he was the one and only "Frosty" at our school.

I love teaching boys. They used to not get their feelings hurt nearly as easily as girls. I once was the lone chaperone on the boys' bus for a field trip all the way to New Orleans and back. (I had to take three days leave the next week to recover.) I had Cub Scouts who, when I took them Christmas caroling in my neighborhood, frightened the neighbors so much that not one person was home on the whole street...hmmm. So we just turned around and sang at the top of our lungs all the way back down the street. Then they came in for refreshments, began rough housing, turned over my lighted Christmas oil lantern and set my den drapes on fire. Oh, the joys of young manhood.

I personally think men are great and when allowed to act like men, they can be strong, loving and caring all at the same time. Now I know some of you may have had some not so great experiences with men...but face it, where would we be without them? (I bet there are some thoughts going through your minds right now...be nice.)

Later...some funny young ladies.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

* Alfred E. Neuman: What Me Worry?

Do you remember what it was like to get out of the bed and not have to "steady" yourself before you took a step? This morning I thought I had stepped on something sharp like a straight pin, but when I checked it was just my old feet hurting like everything. I have found that if you stretch while still reclining, it's easier. It may not be as effective, but stretching while standing is a real bone crusher nowadays.

Do you remember what it was like to NOT have to be concerned about watching where you are going when walking? The last time I didn't watch, I landed spread eagle on the sidewalk at the Jackson Mississippi zoo. I had taken my grandchildren for a fun filled morning of animal viewing. (You know my deep love of all things wild, so you can imagine my horror when I had to admit to people that the reason for my scraped nose, chipped front tooth and bruised and battered hands was that I was trying to "make the zoo train" that chugs its way around the zoo.) The sidewalk suddenly came up to meet my face and I felt like I was in a slo-mo movie. I thought I'd never hit the ground, but boy when I hit, I HIT. Because of this "minor" injury, I have had two root canals and I am now the proud owner of a gap in between my front teeth that makes Alfred E. Neuman look like Carey Grant. (Google Alfred if you don't know of whom I am speaking.)

And when was the last time you could actually read without having those disgusting reading glasses on the bridge of your nose? When I was growing up I swore that I'd NEVER wear those ridiculous things. They make you look like Cruella looking down her nose at a peasant. Well, guess who is the proud owner of at least 20 pair? (Joy Mangano on HSN has designer colors.)
But I draw the line at that rope thing around your neck. That is just the pits...even if I spend all day searching for the glasses. After cataract surgery, I gained my far sight but lost all mid range and up close vision. I can spot a fly 1/2 mile away but if you walk up to me and I look puzzled it's because I am trying to decide if you are my sister, my friend, the little girl who owes me $5 in book fines in the library or is it myself and I'm looking in a mirror? No warbling "When We Gather At the River" in church if I forget my glasses. And husband and I regularly "fight" over glasses to read the menu in a restaurant. (His head stretches my glasses and I don't allow him to borrow my Joy Mangano's .)

Tonight at Bible study group, women close to my age were discussing things they'd like to do before they got too old. One woman said she'd like to zip line. What?! Did I hear that correctly? Zip Line..? What is she thinking? What about a broken you know what? A hip??? Zipline=hip replacement possibility...no, thanks not for me. (Personally, I wouldn't have wanted to do that when I was young and impetuous...much less now.) Me, Tarzan, You, Jane...no way.

Another woman wanted to go riding through the Florida everglades in some kind of boat...you know, get to see things like crocodiles up close and personal. Who is she kidding? (And she reads this blog...you know who you are!!) My idea of fun is certainly not cavorting with the likes of something that could make a meal of you in two bites...oh, ok maybe three. What are they thinking? These are the things women want to do before they get too old?

Not me. Here is my list of MOST WANT TO Do's before I go into the great beyond:

1. Have a pedicure, (And I do NOT want those flesh eating fish anywhere near me) put on sandals and be able to lift my head and walk comfortably for more than 7 feet.

2. I want to buy one piece of McCarty or Peter's Pottery without looking at the price tag and silently figuring how many diet Dr. Pepper's I'd have to give up to pay for the acquisition.

3. I would like to have a whole day when I could see without any type of glasses!

4. I would like to be able to sing the National Anthem at a ballgame so beautifully that I would bring the crowd to their feet, all the while chanting, "Angela, Angela, Angela"...I can dream, can't I? Of course, the crowd should already be on its feet...it IS the National Anthem. So maybe another tune.

5. I would like to have my whole family in a formal dining room for one perfect meal and everybody would be healthy, happy and really glad to see each other.

6. I would love to see the leaves turn into their autumn colors in the mountains. (Heck, I'd even take going to Duck Hill for the day during fall!)

7. I would love to see my grandchildren marry and have wonderful, loving marriages. (I'm still debating whether I'd like to be a great grandmother.)

8. I would love to build a studio where I could REALLY be a full-time artist...I just know that's all that's holding me back....

9. I would like, for just a day, to be 32 again. Ah, that was a very good year! No extra pounds, no cataracts, no aching feet...I'd really enjoy the day just being, well...32!

10. What I really need to do before I lose all my marbles is TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT AND BE SATISFIED WITH WHAT I ALREADY HAVE!!!

So if you see me walking slowly, head down looking at potential stumbling blocks, don't pity me! I really do have all I need...a husband, a wonderful family, food on the table, a job, a house, a church family, faithful and true friends and a sudden realization that I'm blessed beyond measure! If you stop and think, we really all are!!

Young Parents: We Are Counting On You

Judge Judy! What can I say? Gotta love her. She has a rough edge, buy that probably comes with the territory. I bet she's heard more lies in that courtroom than all of us have collectively heard....well, maybe.

I have heard her make a judgement without one of the parties ever opening their mouth. She seems to jump to conclusions, but she generally is right in the end. I've seen her change her mind AFTER she's made a declaration. That's always interesting because she doesn't do that often. Wouldn't you like to have her bailiff, Burt always standing by you...just in case? We all need a Burt. She says things we'd all like to say, but are too afraid of a lawsuit to say it. She doesn't have that problem.

If the subject matter is not "too" adult, I have my grandchildren watch the show with me. It is a great question starter type program. Most problems can be traced directly back to one thing. I would say that almost 100% of the problems we have could be traced back to one of three things: pride, greed (which is a companion of pride) and selfishness. I'd say pride would be #1, because greed and selfishness are offshoots of pride.

Grandchildren and I try to guess who's going to win...and we are sometimes right but mostly wrong. Sometimes JJ throws a monkey wrench in our reasoning. She is a "no bull" kind of lady...just the facts kind of gal...skip the schmooze and get to the point kind of woman. (Remember she has to try two cases in 30 minutes!)

Dr. Laura affects me the same way. What I find VERY interesting is how much of the advice given by both these women is very old fashioned. The younger you are, the more their advice grates on your nerves. What they say would not have been given a second thought 30 or 40 years ago. Dr. John Rosemond is another example. All three of these individuals say pretty much the same thing...except Dr. Laura thinks more along the lines of "your children come first in every way" and Rosemond thinks the parents' relationship is the most important relationship in the family. But all three agree that good common sense is the best cure for most of life's problems. And that, my friends, is something we seem to have lost! Good ole common sense! We live in a politically correct society....no common sense found here.

You help someone by performing the Heimlich maneuver and accidentally break a rib and you are sued. A burglar breaks into your home and in the process is hurt and you can be footing his medical bill. A child misbehaves and somehow it is every adult's fault that is within 20 feet of the little mayhem causer...certainly NOT the child's fault. Children refuse to study or learn what is being taught, and it's the teacher's fault...not the budding Einstein's. Go figure!

I truly believe that it is the generation of you who are 25 to 40 years of age that is going to finally either " get it together" and save us from ourselves or bring us totally down. You, young moms and dads need to realize what the big picture is looking like..."it ain't pretty." If you don't rise up and use common sense and put pride, greed and selfishness back in their place, your children don't stand a chance. Our generation hasn't done such a great job...since the 1960's we have pretty much thrown much of what our parents gave us down the drain. It's up to you to realize what your children and you will soon be facing.

Lest I sound like a prophet of doom (and gloom), I'd like to say that my heart goes out to you young parents, but my feeling sorry for what you face doesn't make things better. Many of my generation HAVE tried to stand for what is right...we've been shot down, mangled with gossip, told to shut up and generally laughed out by those whose whole life is riddled with the three big ones: pride, greed and selfishness. What you are going to wake up and realize one day is that the "old ways" in many ways WERE better...living "right", working hard, going to church, not talking like your mouth is filled with sewer water, wearing your clothes in a modest and becoming way, teaching your children to be honest and trustworthy...hey, they may stray...but you keep praying, many will get back on track, pointing them toward a mighty and faithful God. These are the things that made America great.

This is my prayer for you. As grandparents, we can stand by and do everything in our power to support and cheer you on, but YOU ARE THE GENERATION TO TURN IT AROUND! Without your efforts, America's bright shining light will grow more dim with each generation. I pray that you will shelve the idea that you MUST have the best car, the prettiest granite counter tops, the most up to date purses, the biggest house on the block and instead, look into the eyes of those little people you put to sleep every night and remember, they are depending on you (and so are those of us who have fought the fight for so many years.) Get it right.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Don't Cross Me Off Your Christmas Card List

"Go the extra mile, it's never crowded." Author unknown, advice very true. I've known a few people in my life that actually did this...go the extra mile. However, those people are few and far between. Many of us "go the extra mile" once in a while, but not many of us perform the action as an ongoing part of our lives. I've been thinking about that a lot lately and wondering what has happened to us as a society to make it unusual to do more than is expected.

I once worked with a very sweet girl. She had loads of marital problems, but she was a kind and giving person. One day we were talking about this very subject, going the extra mile, and I asked her this question: "Knowing that you always go over and beyond for others in your life and since things haven't turned out the way you envisioned or hoped they would, what will you teach your children about going this extra mile?" She looked up from her work and said pointedly, "I will teach them to look after number one. Nobody else is going to, you have to do it yourself." (Or some such words.) Her answer startled me. She seemed to be a truly kind person, one that you'd want on your team, but this statement cast an entirely different light on my perceived impression of her.

I hoped that this answer was just the product of a particularly challenging day, and I wanted the explanation of why she had answered thus to be that she had been so badly hurt and used up in her relationships that she had morphed from who she really was meant to be into someone who was bitter and deeply angry at her lot in life. For a number of years it troubled me, and if I saw her, which happened infrequently, I had an unsettled feeling toward her. Gone were those feelings that I'd want her to be in my corner...somehow I knew that if I looked over my shoulder into that corner for help or solace, she would be nowhere to be found. Did I judge too quickly? Probably. I hope so.

I also had a much younger woman once tell me that "it didn't take but one time for somebody to do something to her, before she crossed them off her list forever." Wow, I thought, since I had recently said something to her in the heat of a situation that could have (and probably did) put me squarely in that category...crossed off the list forever.

Here's my point, what YOU perceive to be truth or reality isn't always either...the truth or reality. Some of you are saying, "But it's MY truth or reality." Well, I still maintain, YOUR TRUTH OR YOUR REALITY may not be, in fact, either truth or reality. When we get to the point in our lives that we quit going the extra mile, for whatever reason, and when we cross off others from our life's list, because they didn't perform at that very moment like you think they should have, we have become isolated people. This truth hit me particularly hard the other day as I was ranting to someone else about a young woman who did the unthinkable...she didn't acknowledge me when I spoke to her. "Well, it will be the last time I will speak to her!" I ranted and then from somewhere deep inside a voice said, " Oh, come now, Mrs. Fancy Britches, do you really think you are so perfect that you've never not spoken to someone when you should have?" That voice always makes me stop and think...

Of course, we've all made a societal faux pas or two. I don't want to get too far off my subject...I just want to encourage you to (1.) Go the extra mile, even if no credit is given (what a concept!) and (2.) Don't immediately cross somebody off the Christmas card list because they were probably having a bad day and said or did something wrong.

To view the world through a prism of kindness, to see the glass half full rather than half empty, and to forgive others when slighted are worthwhile goals for anyone's life. What an encouragement we could be to others, and what an example we'd set for this younger generation. The world is running out of role models.

P.S. We all get tired of "doing over and above"...that's why we are told to "not be weary in well doing"... In case you are wondering, I am writing this post to myself... recently I have found that "well doing" is not always easy. I have found myself tired and sometimes knee deep in self pity. I need to remind myself most of all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tip of the Week: Candy Corn Time!

I am trying to get this blog post together tonight and I have so many ideas floating around in my noggin that my head actually hurts! I wanted to show you a picture of something I LOVE doing and I was going to go and buy all the articles it took to do it, but doing so would have entailed going to Wal Mart on Friday at 4:30 P.M. I love ya'll but I just could not stomach it. So I have done some other pictures and will describe some of these ideas for "anytime" decorating.

The other night one of my FaceBook peeps, old Grenada, Mississippi friend, Melinda made a very innocent status report. She mentioned something about buying and eating her first of the season bag of candy corn. I thought about it for hours and posted that, in spite of my diet, I might be forced to go buy a bag, too. Within thirty minutes or so I had over 23 comments and I have no idea how many "likes" concerning said purchase of said candy! The next day, I reported that I had lost 5 pounds and had "dodged a bullet" by NOT getting the candy corn after all. Again a rash of comments and likes. I had NO idea that there were as many of us who shared this guilty pleasure. I can eat a bag of candy corn on the way home from the store...(nobody is ever the wiser.)

Adding salted dry roasted peanuts to the mix makes the best "faux" PayDay candy bar you have ever eaten. Candy pumpkins, chocolate cats (the only kind of cats I will touch) and yellow moons are also "da bomb". Last year, Wal Mart had half an aisle devoted to all kinds of gourmet candy corn...candy apple, caramel apple...on and on...I tried them all. I was in CC heaven.

Someone even gave me a candle in the shape of a big piece of candy corn...I couldn't bear to burn it. So, in honor of my pledge to do something about my ever expanding girth, I committed to eating 20 pieces at a time and carefully taping the bag closed and storing it in the garage in the freezer. That means about a 25 foot trek outside, through the carport and over the stone path to the garage. Sounds like a prequel to the song "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go.." but mine would be "Out through the carport and over the stone path to Grandmother's freezer I go.." That would certainly be a deterrent to eating too much. Also is frozen candy corn as good as thawed? Hmmm. Will report on that in a later post.

I want you to imagine the possibilities of decorating with candy corn. (This is what I was going to go to Wal Mart to purchase but felt it was much too dangerous to be left in the house alone with several bags tonight.) This is a really cute idea. Take a glass hurricane or candle holder. It needs a bottom in it, not one of those open ended hurricane globes. I use my Madeline Hurricanes by Southern Living At Home. Pour in several inches of whole coffee beans (hazelnut), then carefully layer in some dried green peas, another several inch layer of dried black eyed peas, a layer of dried kidney beans, a layer of black beans, then insert a candle in a glass jar (jar must fit inside hurricane), and fill the remainder of the space up to about 2 inches from the top of the candle jar with candy corn. Make sure each layer is smooth before going to the next. (See above...compliments of Southern Lady magazine.) I use a candle in a jar for safety sake. Light and enjoy the sight!

I surround a hazelnut candle from Wal Mart with whole hazelnut coffee beans year round. When the beans begin to lose their fragrance (after a couple of months), I microwave them for about a minute and it "scents" them right up. Light up that glass jarred candle and watch the look on everybody's face when they walk in the door...what's for supper? What's that good smell? What are you making? I do this at our high school library all the time and the kids (especially the boys) LOVE it. It's a very welcoming scent. I once tried vanilla beans and vanilla candle but didn't like the scent as well.
The garland above is cute, too, but labor intensive. And the hurricanes with fruit (Martha Stewart style) could really be jazzed up with candy corn! If you make Haystack candy, just before the butterscotch morsels harden, tuck in a candy pumpkin. Give jars of the peanut/candy corn mix to your friends...spread the love!! You can only do this once a year, make hay while the sun shines!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

* Aunt Bea and Her Fall Clothing Exchange

Gulp! It's that time of the year...you do remember we just bid adieu to summer with the Labor Day holiday, don't you? Well, girls, put away the white shoes and purses and start getting out the fall clothes. In theory that sounds like a great plan, but in reality there is a great deal of reality I must now face.

The storage bins are tucked neatly in the back of the closet. The clothes are snickering and tittering in the dark recesses of the corner. "I told you not to eat that Snappy Turtle," smirks the cute denim shirt with the embroidered fall leaves along the front button holes. "That last bucket of KFC really should have been enjoyed by the whole family, not just you on your way back from Wal Mart!" taunts the black and white hounds tooth pants that ZIP up the side. "Speaking of Zip's (or can't zip)" screams the pretty pink fluffy Christmas cardigan, "those burgers should be eaten by a lumber jack not a 5' tall pleasingly plump grandmother!"

"Oh, I hear you. I knew when I picked out that autumn leaf blouse that it was a mistake," I moan. I had only worn it one season and then the next year I tried it on, June was bustin' out all over and back into the storage bin it went. And that pink fluffy cardigan. What was I thinking? She sort of looked like a smart aleck to begin with. Like she was showing off in front of all the other slimming black sweaters I should have stuck with. But who would have guessed that after only ten or so pieces of divinity and few pieces of Red Velvet cake that Miss Fluffy would make Mrs. Fluffy look like giant cone of cotton candy?

I sort, I try on, I get the Gateway Rescue Mission bag ready...all those clothes and so few that I can actually wear. I used to have neatly labeled boxes in the attic. They once were in the closet, but after 5 or so years, I moved them upward. One label said, "Lose 10 lbs. to wear these". The next one said, "Saving for Posterity." And then the last, "Keep because they are pretty, but there's no hope, sister." Finally one year, I needed more room for Christmas decorations and I instructed husband, "Bring down those three labeled clothes boxes." "Why, are you going to try them on again and then not speak to me for the next 24 hours and sit around and cry and blow your nose?" he responded. "Nope, put them in the trunk of the car. They are going to Good Will," I retorted.

The next morning I circled Good Will several times before I could get up the courage to take those clothes in. They represented my hopes and dreams of a leaner body and more youthful appearance. Finally, I took the leap and jumped out of the car. "Could somebody help me get these boxes?" I asked the woman behind the register. "Sure," and she called some toothless man to help me. After his third trip, I know exactly what he was thinking, "Wow, did somebody die? I've never seen so many clothes." I thought a minute and said to myself, "Well, somebody did, sort of."

As I drove home I thought about an instance in my classroom and how a remark a senior boy once made had hurt my feelings so badly. Then all of a sudden, the remark and his explanation sounded "sweet" and somehow really funny. He had said, "Mrs. Mac, do you know what our nickname for you is?" "Oh, no," I fluttered, "what?"

He said (with merriment in his eyes), "Aunt Bea, we call you Aunt Bea ".

WHAT????? Aunt Bea??? As in Andy of Mayberry Aunt Bea??? I must have looked as horrible as I felt because he jumped up and literally ran to my desk and said, "We don't mean it bad. We love you and you're always "fluttering" around and cooking and stuff."

Oh, have mercy. Aunt Bea? I grabbed my pearls in horror! (Pearls, bun, cooking, pleasingly plump....it all came together.) I sank in my chair and everyone got quiet. They looked at me and I looked down and tried to not cry. Then I valiantly held up my head and said, "I am honored to be called Aunt Bea. Thank you very much." Everyone sighed a sigh of relief...they sure didn't want to have to give "Aunt Bea" first aid...they might have to pick her up...

I think about that "attic" year every time I begin the fall seasonal clothing exchange (the spring exchange isn't as emotional)...so this year I'm going in with a different attitude...sort of a bullet proof attitude. It'll be Sayonara to seersucker and sandals and Bonjour to some brand new clothes if the old ones won't cooperate. I say, Off with their Heads!! To the Good Will they will go to make somebody a little smaller have a happier Autumn. Bon Worth, here I come!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shooting an Elephant In Your Pajamas

Paraprosdokian: I've never heard of this word before, but it's real. The definition is "a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part."

My friend, Miss Anonymous, sent these to me (they were sent to her from a doctor friend in Alabama) and I thought several were really worth repeating. I would give credit to their writer if I knew who he/she was.

1. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear brighter until you hear them speak. (I've know quite a few bulbs that weren't the brightest in the pack, haven't you? This is a perfect explanation of light and sound.)

2. If I agreed with you we'd both be wrong. (Now this one I am reserving for the next time husband and I have a disagreement.)

3. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. (Best explanation of the difference I've read in a while.)

4. The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. (I understand it, but don't know how it would figure into a conversation..however, I think it's funny.)

5. Evening news is where they begin with "Good Evening", and then proceed to tell you why it isn't. (Enough said.)

6. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you. (Another reserved one for you know who.)

7. Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were. (Haven't we all felt this way?)

8. Money can't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with. (You KNOW it's true.)

9. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. (Chuckle, chuckle.)

10 My favorite! To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

I heard a great Groucho Marx paraprosdokian: "I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. I'll never know how he got in there." I haven't heard many of my associates using paraprosdokians lately. I don't think they make 'em like they used to ...paraprosdokians...not associates. Wonder if the paraprosdokian is going the way of the dinosaur? I surely hope not, they should be added to my list of things that make you go "Hmmmm?" If you come across one, let us hear it!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Phenomenal News (To Me Anyway!)

Good morning! I am pretty excited today because last night I found a new blog button that I had overlooked....the STATS button. Now I know not only how many have viewed the blog (over 5,000 since mid July), but from what countries they come. Now that might not be exciting to you but to me it shows the power of the internet. Countries that have been very active viewing this blog are U.S., Canada, Peru and Denmark. Moderate activity has been shown in China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Australia and the Netherlands. Can you believe that?

Wonder what they think about my stories? Do they think all Americans are as nuts as I am? I better consider that when I write....or should I? It's all real, so I think I'll just continue being well, ...real. The stats report even tells me the Browsers most used (Internet Explorer and FireFox) and the operating systems most used were Windows and IPhone. Now that's pretty cool. The most viewed posts were #1 "To Laugh with Mother One More Time"; #2 "Oh, the Horror of it All: Camp Desoto"!

I can even log on and tell how many people (and from what countries) are viewing the blog at this very moment. Google is unreal! Can you imagine the possibilities this presents?

Anyway, to all viewers and followers of my blog both here in the U.S. and internationally (I love it), have a great Labor Day! Fall is in the air and it's time for us to prepare for the last quarter of 2010! Thanks for reading! Let me hear from you.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Life of Peace and Joy

I am NOT an expert in marriage, but after 32 years of it, I have some things figured out. Whether you stay joyfully married or just plain married is up to you. (Some of you are struggling with the issue of separation in a marriage and this post is for you, too.)

Here are some things I think are important. Feel free to add your own musings.

1. Recognize that neither person is perfect. Never will be and you shouldn't expect that, but once you are "in" a marriage relationship your motto should be, "I ain't going nowhere." Translation: "I'm in this for the duration." When you enter marriage with the idea that (1) you can "fool" around on your spouse, (2) do anything you want without thought of the other's feelings and (3) IF it doesn't work out, we can always divorce, you have missed the entire point of commitment.

2. Clean up your act. If there are things that REALLY bother the other person, do your best to avoid doing those things. If you enter the marriage with the idea, "That's just me and you'll have to live with it," then you've missed part of the idea behind sacrifice. The other part of sacrifice is doing things for your spouse that make his or her life easier.

3. Watch your finances. The old saying is "when money problems come in the front door, love goes out the back door." Very true...spending above what you can pay for is foolish and the stress of living under constant pressure of never having enough money is excruciating. It brings on endless fusses and fights. Buy what you need (not want) and pay cash. If you don't, you miss the point of frugality.

4. Whether you agree or not, a marriage truly centered on Christ works best. When you look to Him and His Word rather than to the world's babbling advice, your relationship will turn out better. That's not to say there won't be problems, but if you both are patterning your relationship on what the Bible says, your chances of succeeding are excellent. If you don't use this pattern, you are missing the example Christ set as the Bridegroom Who loves His Bride, the Church.

5. Show compassion to your spouse, children, family and others outside your family. Compassion keeps you centered on the more important things of life. It takes the spotlight off you and shines it on someone else, therefore avoiding selfishness.

6. Pray for one another. Prayer and faith in God can move mountains, it can change others and it can soothe souls. It is essential for navigating the rough waters of life with or without a partner.

7. Laugh. There is nothing like a good belly laugh to smooth out the wrinkles of everyday living. No matter how dismal the situation, it won't last forever. Try to find some humor even in the dark times.

8. Never give up hope. Not hope for bigger and better cars, homes, or jobs but hope that if you are doing your very best you will one day be rewarded with the phrase, "Well done good and faithful servant..."

Now, I know some of you are in a place where these things are out of the question, humanly speaking. You must realize that if you are doing ( not have done but doing)...YOUR part and have encouraged your partner to do his or hers, then you must turn the outcome over to God. Period.

Strive, therefore, for real joy and peace in your marriage (or in your life) rather than fleeting happiness. There is a difference you know. My hope & prayer for those of you who are struggling with issues in your marriage (or in your life) is that that joy and peace will come to you. Keep the faith. God is good.

Saturday's Tips of the Week: Turtle Trifle, Anyone?

Well, the husband "heatedly" pointed out all car parts related to the lighting system this A.M. (See yesterday's post for info.) He said it was ridiculous that I had no idea, after 4 years driving the same car, where the light switch resides ...oh, well, on to Tips for Saturday.

We cooked out today, had all the family over. Pictured is my "adult" table, children were at a smaller table in the living room. These "gatherings" just wear me slap out. Had to take a 2 1/2 hour nap...Good to have family together, but trying to meet all food preferences isn't easy. I sort of took a "little side track" on my diet, but actually did fairly well. Also made the Turtle Trifle I posted several weeks ago. (See link below to get that delicious recipe!) I used low fat brownie mix and Cool Whip Free. Pictures of all above.
Today I made "Comeback" sauce for the first time. I've eaten it, but never actually made it myself. Listening to co-workers talk about it this week sparked my desire to try it solo.
Crescent City Grill Comeback Sauce
2 c. mayonnaise
1 c. ketchup
1 c. chili sauce
1 c. cottonseed oil (used Wesson)
1 lg. onion, diced
1/3 c. lemon juice , freshly squeezed
4 T. garlic, minced
2 T. paprika
2 T. water
2 T.Worcestershire
1 T. pepper
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. salt
Puree all ingredients in blender or processor. Allow to sit overnight in refrigerator.
*I searched in vain for my friend, Beth's "Comeback" recipe. I've had it almost 40 yrs and could not locate it. This threw a monkey wrench into my plans. Found the above online. It was good but not as good as I know hers. Please, send me yours, Beth!!
Also, have you tried the Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Rounds? 100 calories per roll. Nabisco Wheat Thins Flatbread (Tuscan Herb) are also great. 2 long crackers = 60 calories.
I know it's too early to announce but I have lost several ounces...yahooo!

Friday, September 3, 2010

* A Car Is Only As Good As Its Lights

I am Presbyterian, so I DO NOT believe in bad luck. HOWEVER, if I didn't know any better, I'd swear I was a bad luck magnet. Here is a disclaimer before this story even begins...I DO NOT GIVE A FLYING FIG ABOUT CARS! Do I make myself perfectly clear? A car is a tool...a big expensive tool. I don't care about the make, the model, the color or anything about how fast it goes, or how much gas it guzzles. I only care that it will reliably carry me from point A to point B in reasonably air conditioned comfort.

Once when I was teaching at Hillcrest Christian School, the loud speaker came on in my room and the secretary said, "Mrs. McInnis, your husband just brought your new car and took your old one. He left the keys in the office for you. He said he hoped you liked it." I heard a snicker from the back of the room. "What's that snicker for?" I inquired. One of the boys said, "What does that mean, he hoped you liked it? What kind of car is it?" I looked him dead in the eye and said, "I have absolutely no idea." The boys went wild! How could you not know?! They were incredulous! I said, "Let's go see what it is." They all jumped up and shot out of the room like they were going to a steak dinner. When we got outside, I tried to remember where I parked my car...the keys I picked up from the office said Buick..so we looked for a Buick. There it was, candy apple red..they were all looking at it and making comments..I said, "Ok, we've seen it, let's go back inside." What you are not going to drive it? They were sickened by my laissez faire attitude. I think I lost a lot of points that day with all the young men in my class.

Here's the point, I just don't care about certain things and cars are one of those things. Am I weird? Probably, but so what? Now if you ask me if it's important that the "Mississippi River" trademark on my McCarty pottery is prominent on a vase or plate, then that's something I can get fired up about...but a car? Oh, please. So tonight when I had another NDE (near death experience) I decided maybe knowing a little something about the car was important.

I've had my Grand Prix for about 2 1/2 years. It came with those headlights that automatically stay on all the time..even in the daytime. Pretty wasteful if you ask me, but since Pontiac didn't ask me, it is what it is. (No wonder they are going out of business.) I have never in 2 1/2 years even thought about the headlights because I just knew they were on no matter how dark or light it was. Until tonight. I don't drive very well anytime but I really don't drive well at night. When I went into Wal Mart it was light. But you know how you get sucked into the vortex of WallyWorld and next thing you know, the morning paper is being delivered as you drive in the driveway. So after several hours, I loaded the groceries and began the trek home. I took a short cut through a very winding back road and I knew it was awfully hard to see and I noticed several times I veered off the road or over the line but I chalked it up to the fact that there are no lights on the road and all the houses are set back off the road. UNTIL...all at once I couldn't see anything!

There were cars coming toward me and behind me and I couldn't see. At first I thought my cataract implants had both gone bad at the same moment and then with utter dismay, I noticed that all my lights were out both inside and out! In a panic, I felt for the place where they used to put that switch that turned on the lights...no switch. I grabbed the right handle thing...the wipers came on. I grabbed the left handle thing..the blinker began blinking...well at least the people behind me could see there was an idiot ahead of them with no lights on except the right blinker. I couldn't pull off the road..I couldn't see the road! I pushed, I pulled, I slammed on brakes, I did everything and then I saw a message on my dashboard message reader thing. It said, "Headlamps suggested."

I have young blog followers who read my posts, so I won't say what went through my mind at that moment. Suffice to say, I almost tore the left handle thing out of its socket, but I finally managed to get the high beam lights to turn on. (To add to the drama, I haven't had a hormone pill in two days and I was beginning to sweat like it was the 4th of July.) By the time I finally got the light situation under control, I felt like a limp dishrag. HOWEVER, I DID get it under control and proceeded toward home sweet home. This ends my night excursions. I know when I'm licked and this did it. No more driving after 6 P.M. Tomorrow I am going to have husband show me where in the sam hill the light switch is actually located on the left handle thing. (As John read this, he reminded me that we have had the car 4 years not 2 1/2 years...see? I told you, cars just aren't really a big item to me.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.

When I was in elementary school, there was a "city" school and a "county" school. If you lived within the city limits of Grenada, MS you attended Lizzie Horn Elementary. Outside the city limits children attended the small county school. (I hate to admit that its name escapes me.) But they all got to ride the bus to and from school and I thought that was great! Once I got to ride the bus home with a little county school girl. We fed her mother's chickens, and I knew that I wanted to live on a farm from the minute I laid eyes on all those hens. (Then one began pecking and flying at me and scared the liver out of me and I changed my mind about being a country girl.)

Anyway, I digress. When high school began, both city and county children came together and attended one high school, John Rundle High. The school was named after a man that looked just like his name sounds. Don't you love it when people's names fit them perfectly? His did. I enjoyed getting to know all these new people and I watched them in awe as they tried to fit in and make contributions to their new school. Most came from hard working families "out in the county"...in those days I thought that meant they didn't have all we "city" children had and I couldn't believe they did so well in school. I stupidly felt "we" had an edge..being from the city and all. (Of course, our Valedictorian came from the county school and has been unbelievably successful in life...so...so much for my theory!) Almost without fail, the county school kids were polite, kind and friendly. I really liked them and developed many lasting friendships with them .

My point in this diatribe is that many of the "county" school people weren't always flashy and they didn't always stand out and take center stage in school. Certainly not like the "city" slickers. After graduation, I wondered how they fared in life. When I attended the one and only class reunion I ever did go to (my tenth) I was dumbfounded at how brightly Good Fortune had smiled on my "county" school counterparts! Why, they looked wonderful and were all delightful to be around and had done extremely well in their life's choice of occupations.

Point to story: Don't EVER count somebody out because of your preconceived notions of them. I have seen children that I thought would NEVER do or be anything in life...you know the kind, those that only a mother could love. It never fails to make me feel great when I run into them and see that they indeed have become successful, productive adults. Some people are just late bloomers and when they finally do, POW!!! They do it with great vigor and gusto! So today's post is a "hats off" to all the "county school" children and late bloomers everywhere who had to put up with ding bats like me...and who are still my friends after all these years!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

* Day One of Forced Dietary Boot camp

Day One of Forced Dietary Boot camp was on a scale of one to ten about a three or four. I weighed first thing this morning and I've made a discovery about the digital scale. If you get off and on it several times, sometimes the weight goes down. So I had three "beginning" weights to choose from and I went with the highest number...you do see my logic here, don't you?

Had Honeynut Cheerios and a small cup of mandarin oranges with no-fat milk, some diet green tea and a cup of instant coffee with no fat creamer. I felt great and I must say slightly smaller. I made myself stay busy all morning and before I knew it, it was 12:15! For lunch I had some type of whole wheat flat bread with light Ranch, romaine lettuce, slice of Colby Jack cheese, three slices of turkey that you could see through they were so thin, 5 cherry tomatoes, 1 dill pickle slice and an orange. (I promise once I get through this beginning phase I won't bore you with every stray calorie...but I feel like an alcoholic...My name is Angela and my drug of choice is FOOD. Eating when I am happy, sad, or actually ANY ole time is my problem. Please, stay with me, this too, will pass, I promise.)

I forgot to get the diet rice pudding out of my purse and was scared I'd get salmonella or something so I put it up. Three and half minutes later, I decided salmonella would be a cake walk compared to my stomach rumblings. I ate it, too. A nice friend tried to sabotage my "diet" by bringing me a Big Texas Cinnamon Roll...I hung tough. At home, by 4:30, I began the roaming thing..you know, walk to the refrigerator, open door, stand and look longingly at the contents. I started supper and had a very large portion of brown rice, onions, bell pepper, leftover ham (oops), and corn, another diet green tea. The portion was too large, but I was going into "diet shock". It was that or something worse, like Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ...so I opted for the brown rice concoction.

It is now 6:53 P.M. I am alone in this house. I am trying to pretend that I don't hear my name being called from the kitchen. And for the second time in as many days, I KNOW I heard the ice cream truck go by! I must be delusional. I thought if I wrote down my thoughts that my cravings would be satisfied. I DO actually feel slightly more calm. Why in the world is this so hard? Maybe because I've done it so many times before...but the last two times were not nearly as successful as the other hundred. I think I am afraid I will fail...ok, so now I've said it. In the old days if anyone would even hint at the fact that I might have put on a few pounds, I'd diet like crazy and keep the weight off for several years. Now it's much harder. And I also have convinced myself that I need to keep on a few extra pounds to "plump" out the wrinkles..oh, stop it! What an inane thing to think much less verbalize.

I am not asking for your encouragement because that will make it worse IF I fail. Just say a little extra prayer for me that I will be able to make a decent attempt at this...I know what to do, it's just getting up the energy to DO it that's so hard. But as my favorite character would say, "There's always tomorrow." Got to run, got to go check my food plans for tomorrow....laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone!