Monday, December 31, 2012

One Foot Over the Line

It's good to have a plan, trust me, seat of the pants people; but not one that derails the fun of surprise.

Now, that said, setting goals has sort of been a shaky path along a cliff for me. It's like measuring spaghetti - I never seem to get it quite right. Too much, not enough--where's that happy medium? It's like getting your annual review at work, which always seem to point out that thing you did back in February, the one you and everybody else but the boss forgot, never the huge good thing you did in August, or that sale you made in October. Maybe it's a Midwestern thing, to focus on the failures rather than the accomplishments. But the point is to GROW. Against all odds, from a bulb...



It's good to have a direction, something to reach for, even when you're out of your comfort zone.


Businesses depend on them, and as we're a bunch of writers trying to show you what our world looks like, I'll throw the gauntlet. You never know, even if you plan, what might come of them.



My goals for the next year are:
  • Learn to market in at least two new out of the box ways
  • Attend at least one workshop to grow me and my craft
  • Teach in at least two mediums
  • Publish at least two of the First Children of Farmington series, depending on my partner
  • Write at least one new novel
  • Continue to pare down the contents of my home
  • Move at least ten percent closer to my income goal that I set ten years ago 


To hopefully bloom into something lovely and surprising.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Gate of the Year: shared by The Prude


Someone, I can't remember who, shared this poem with me. I like it so much I want to share it with 'The Barn Door' readers, and I don't mind if you don't remember that I was the one to do so.

King George VI included it in his radio Christmas broadcast of 1939. That Christmas was the first of World War II, and the nation looked to the new king for leadership as they headed into an uncertain future. 
The poem was written by Minnie Louise Harkins (1875-1957) and originally titled 'God Knows'.

I pray that 2013 brings you peace beyond measure, blessings in abundance and that you may continually be surprised by joy.



The Gate of the Year

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’

And he replied,
‘Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!’

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Celebrating in Illinois

First I must say that I am very excited to become a part of the blogging team here at The Barn Door. I've guested a few times, and now I'll be posting once a month on the 28th. This was supposed to have posted yesterday and was scheduled to. Obviously, I need to figure out what I did wrong LOL.

First a little about me. I'm Pamela S. Meyers, but most people call me Pam. I write historical romances along with contemporary fiction and cozy mysteries, most all set in and around my hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Although I no long live in Lake Geneva, I'm blessed to live about an hour's drive away in the northwest Chicago burbs. As far as I'm concerned, you can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but you can't take Wisconsin out of the girl.

Now on to my very first post as an official Barn Door contributor.

Every year, the women's Bible study group I lead has a little Christmas party. We do a secret Santa gift exchange, keeping secret the name we drew until the night of the party. And we have a special dinner. In the past we've ordered in lasagne from Olive Garden or Chinese from a local restaurant. At other times we've had a pot luck appetizer party and more recently, I've prepared the entree and the others brought dishes to pass.

This year, having only four of us, I decided to cook the whole meal as a gift to the others. At the last minute, one person couldn't make it, but we had a great time of pigging out on my menu of glazed ham, oven browned potatoes, cranberry-pineapple gelatin salad, and a chocolate eclair dessert.

I started the cooking the day before, preparing the cranberry-pineapple salad. Note that one of the ladies cannot eat nuts, so one corner was left plain for her.



I next made the chocolate eclair dessert which is made from vanilla pudding, Cool Whip, cream cheese, graham crackers and chocolate frosting.


 The next morning I set the table before starting to prepare the rest of the dinner.







First, the ham went into the oven. Spiral cut made serving easy peasy. Here it is ready to be served.

The veggies ready for roasting


The veggies were dredged in extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and thyme (no parsley and sage LOL). They looked wonderful until later when, after a burning aroma filled the place, I pulled out what was left of them.

Check out the end result below. Not very appetizing.  :-(
Veggies not so ready to be eaten.

But the rest of the menu came out great!

Betty and Judy got their food and I snapped their picture. The empty place at the end of the table was for Catherine who couldn't make it. She was there in spirit, and later she called and we spoke to her on the speaker phone.







 We opened our gifts, then enjoyed our chocolate eclair dessert with coffee and good conversation. All in all, it was a great evening to celebrate the birth of our Lord.

I hope however you've been celebrating at your house, you have been as equally as blessed as we.


                                                                                                                   ~Pam~


Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Fragrance of 2012


The Fragrance of 2012

By Robin Steinweg

 

Living in the present

Involves the past

 

There’s no escaping it

 

Even if I set my face forward

Even if I refuse to look back

 

All that I am now

Has to do with what has been

Where I’ve gone

            Who has touched my life

Whose life I have touched

 

2012 is still 2012 + 1

 

The ten year old I was

Is still inside

I’m ten

And eleven

And twenty

And forty

 

Because of this

I look behind me

Consider the past year

Now fading

 

A spent rose carries

Its fragrance still

 

I breathe its scent

And remember its sweetness

 

I’ll walk into 2013

Days yet to come

Honoring 2012’s memories

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Year's Morning Orange Julius French Toast Casserole


In 1978 I was in seminary and royally broke.  After classes were over for the semester December 15, I babysat for a senior citizen in home hospice until December 23, but the family had not paid me yet.

Late Christmas Eve the mailman appeared like a snow angel and I received a Christmas Money Card from a friend.

Now I faced a second problem.  I knew everything I wanted to give everyone on my Christmas list, but by now all the stores were closed.

I drove the streets looking for even a restaurant open where I could buy gift cards (back then they were hand written and called gift certificates), but all lights were out in Flint, Michigan except at gas stations.  (For some additional retro history, back in the late 1970's gas stations did not have mini-stores attached to them.)  

Then ahead of me a cluster of brilliant sparkling lights shone brightly.  It was heaven.  It was 7-Eleven.
                    
I stepped on the gas and slammed harder than I needed to on the brake, after parking sloppy sideways in the lot, fearing that they might close at 11:00 Pm.  It was 10:55 Pm.

"You closing?"

"Nope, open 24 hours.  What's wrong?  Do you need something in particular?"

"I am looking for everything."

After looking up and down each small aisle three times, I brought to the counter a stapler and a thingy to take snow off the car window for my dad, all my sisters got beauty magazines and chocolate (I was hoping they would share with me), but I could not find a gift for my mom.  

Even after circling the store one more time, I could not find anything for my mom.  Then backward in the store window, I read, "We Sell U.S. Postage Stamps."

"Do you have any stamps left?" I excitedly asked. I knew my mom liked stamps even more than me and I loved them.

"Yep."  This store clerk was a one word kind of guy.

Since my family thought they were getting nothing from me, they were crazy happy Christmas morning with their "wanna-be gifts, especially when they heard my funny but sincere shopping story."

Today for you, PROCRASTINATION finally pays off and royally! 
  
I know Christmas morning has passed, so I am changing the name of my Christmas Morning 
Orange Julius French Toast Casserole to New Year's Morning Orange Julius French Toast Casserole  :)




Orange Julius Froth Lives On:  Feel the Froth

New Year's Morning Orange Julius French Toast Casserole

Ingredients:
1 loaf French bread (about 16 ounces)
4 eggs, beaten well
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2  cups orange juice 
2 1/2 cups eggnog
1 teaspoon real vanilla
1 16 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained and slightly mashed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg


Directions:

1. Tear bread into 1" cubes and place into greased 9×13 pan.
2. In a blender (or in a bowl using an electric mixer) beat eggs and salt for several minutes until smooth.
3. Pour in orange juice, eggnog, and vanilla and blend until well combined.

4. Stir in the slightly mashed mandarin oranges by hand.
5.  Pour mixture over bread, making sure all pieces are covered.
6.  Combine 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg in a dry small cup and stir.
7.  Sprinkle on top of entire casserole.
8.  Prepare Christmas Eve (cover and refrigerate) or put it completely together Christmas morning.
9.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.
10. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until top is golden brown, solid in the middle, and bread is puffed up.
11. Remove from oven and serve hot.
12.  Serve with optional on the side maple syrup and butter if you like.

Don't over power the Orange Julius French Toast Casserole with milk or juice.  Instead for your breakfast drink, serve with hot unflavored coffee or tea. 

Enjoy! At first bite you will suddenly feel 40 years younger.  In your mind's eye, you will be walking
in Eastland (now Courtland) Mall in Flint, Michigan past the Orange Julius Stand smelling the orange blossoms and feeling the froth.

1978

Fu Manjulius mustache trend overtakes fashion world. (This was so men could feel the froth longer.)


Cheryl Moeller would love to speak, do cooking demos, and make you laugh at your Midwest event in 2013:  momlaughs@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Take a few minutes out of your Christmas, sit down with the hot beverage of your choice, start the video, and reflect on the meaning of the day.


Monday, December 24, 2012

On the Eve of Christ's Birth




What was it like on the eve of Christ’s birth 2,000 years ago? We know the town was packed with travelers and unaware of the special event unfolding in a dark, stinky cave, but what was Joseph thinking?  As the night deepened and a new star rose to signify the birth of The King of Kings, what was Mary feeling?

Bethlehem

It does no good to try to out-think God. He created it all and he keeps it in hand.
Bethlehem's shrouded in hazy blue.
Night stars twinkle in a deepening hue.
Lamplight flickers in houses and streets
dancing with shadows soft and replete.
We’ve darkness and quiet and solitude
tucked away in this barn from the multitude
that fills every nook of Bethlehem town,
every inn, every cot where one can bed down.

All I could find is this a place with the cows.
At least the deep straw is sweet by the plows.
And this cave is secure, our own little plot
for a private birth among the sheep in the lot.

That's something, although I must confess,
I thought God would provide for us better than this.

Eight days to regain strength; make sure the child is well
then we will dedicate him at the holy temple.
What a day that will be. Yes, it will all work out,
although my nerves grow more raw with every birth shout.

Lullaby for the Arrival

Jesus gave up all the power and riches of heaven to become human. It was a step down from Creator to created. He became as we are—helpless, dependent, and needy.

Welcome, baby, sweet and new
my heart is full of love for you.
Your grip and squall are very strong.
Hush, son, listen to my song.
Suckle, Jesus, and be content.
We're glad you're here, Little God-sent.


These are two poems from "Journey to Christmas". Download your copy at: http://www.amazon.com/Journey-to-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00APSB0DS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356321978&sr=8-1&keywords=Journey+to+Christmas+by+Mary+Allen




I wish you each a Merry Christmas filled with the hope and peace that Christ has to offer. May you never forget that the greatest wonders of this world come at a price that often includes pain and suffering and uncertainty, but that Jesus assures us he is worth it all. May your personal Journey to Christmas be awe-inspiring. God bless.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

An Extra Gift



An Extra Gift 
by Lori Lipsky

We celebrate Christmas
Once each year

With presents
With food
With family

Some will remember
The lonely, the ill

With a prayer
With a call
With an hour

 *******


 My mother-in-law's grandchildren (plus two)


Our tree this year

My husband visiting his mom in the hospital with our daughter


Daughter Paige and her Grandma, June 2012

Daughter Sally and her Grandma, November 20, 2012


My mother-in-law has given me an angel each year at Christmas


Merry Christmas from my home to yours!
Much joy and peace to you.

~in honor of my mother-in-law, Phyllis Lipsky, December 4, 1937-November 25, 2012

Find more of Lori's poems at Poetry Patio
*********

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ornamental Madness


By Andrea Boeshaar




White lights gleam and colored bulbs glow from fake, frosty tree limbs. Sparkly ornaments beckon to shoppers as they pass by. Ah, it's Christmastime, the most wonderful time of the year.

I get into the "Christmas spirit" the day after Thanksgiving. I'm a gift-giver and I so enjoy to shop and get the deals on Black Friday -- yes, I make it to the early morning door-buster sales, although I don't camp out on sidewalks. Starting that Black Friday weekend, I can usually check off everyone on my Christmas list by December 1st -- which is the day I like to mail off my Christmas cards too. Next I get my tree up and decorated and get rolled gingerbread cookies baked -- usually by the middle of the month.
 
But this year…Bah! Humbug!  No tree. Too much trouble. And the gingerbread? Haven't even started and don't know if I will.

I've been wondering what's wrong with me. I can't seem to get into the whole Christmas thing. I talked with my sister yesterday and she's feeling the same way. We concluded that it's because Mom won't be here with us this year. She died in February, leaving us to make the Norwegian meatballs and deviled eggs (*smile*). Mom always came by and helped my sister clean her house before all of us gathered there on Christmas Day. Mom liked cleaning so my sister and I gave her opportunities to enjoy herself whenever possible. But last year Mom was so ill she could only sit and visit a short while before my nephew needed to drive her home and help her back into bed. I also realized yesterday, after sitting through the Christmas service at church, that I can often lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas due to all the glimmer and the CHA-CHING at the cash registers.

This year my husband and I purchased some toys for the grandkids and I knitted and crocheted scarves for them. With each stitch, I prayed for them. They'll go nicely with hats I purchased for them at a resale shop. What a find! The hats were brand new, still with price tags on them. Each of my sons will get a gift, as I did venture out on Black Friday, and I promised my hubby a shopping trip to a department store where he can select a watch that HE wants instead of one that I find flashy.

I've decided that it's OK to get back to basics and reflect on the things which are most important, like fun memories of Mom. She loved us and proved it by everything she did -- to the point, many times of making us crazy. That was no secret, either.

Mom also enjoyed reading my books. She was my biggest fan! So, on my website, www.andreaboeshaar.com, I'm offering readers the gift of story. It's a downloadable Christmas novella about rediscovering the gift of love.

And that's what Christmas is grounded in -- or should be, anyway. Love! God's love for us and, in turn our love for others.  Merry Christmas!








Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Past . . . Hope for the Future



In the days when seat belts were recommended, but not required—and then, they were lap belts rather than those shoulder straps that tend to not fit correctly—I’d find myself sandwiched between my two older brothers in the back seat of my dad’s dodge dart for an eternity and a half (three hours) as our family traveled across Michigan.

Our mission? To visit family.

It was Christmas time and my parents had settled their little family on the southeast corner of the state, leaving my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins strewn across mid – west Michigan.

We’d first stop in Flint, where my dad’s parents lived. I’d bunk with Grandma for the night and wake to her shuffling about in the kitchen preparing for her day.

On one particular Christmas morning, I rose to greet the day with her. I’d considered her old and uninteresting until that day.

The sun spilled into the kitchen casting a golden glow over the table. I could have sworn angels had spread their wings across the window to make the gold seem more like it rested on a transparent veil.
Grandma walked into the room, her zip-up bathrobe dusting her feet, salt-and-pepper hair taking on an interesting shade of purple, and a smile that showed she still had all her teeth. She reached into her cupboard and took down a cup. “Would you like some coffee?”

I glanced around, thinking she must be talking to someone else. I was only about twelve or thirteen. She set a cup of steamy black liquid in front of me, and then a dark brown cookie. “These are best when dunked.” She said.

Until then, I’d never had a molasses cookie, and certainly not coffee. That morning, I found I liked two things . . . a lot: Grandma, and molasses cookies dunked in coffee, especially when it looks like liquid gold has spilled out of heaven into my kitchen.

From Grandma and Grandpa Clouse’s home, we strapped ourselves into the Dodge and headed for Grand Rapids . . . Alaska, really, where Grandma Bertran (Mom’s mom) lived.

I’d always had the most fun telling the kids at school I was heading to Alaska for Christmas. They never believed me until I brought back a snap shot of my little brother standing beneath the Alaska sign by the bridge that crossed the Thornapple River.

Those days snow knew how to blanket the ground by Christmas and we could go sledding down the little hill at the park resting next to the river. The afternoon at Grandma’s house would break out into chaos when my mom’s sisters, brother-in-law, and my cousins converged upon the house with food and presents.

Grandma could be found sitting on her sofa while we tore into the packages beneath the tree. She’d lean a little forward, rest her elbows on her knees and her toothless grin could shine brighter than the lights on the tree. I loved sitting on the floor next to her. Somehow, I felt being close to her meant I was special. Sure, she’d poke my wool letter jacket and ask, “Is it felt?”

To which I’d answer, “No.”

She would poke the jacket again, ask the question . . . again . . . and again, until I’d turn to face her and say, “No, Grandma. It’s wool.”

But she, in her wisdom, would answer, “Oh, but I say it’s felt. I felt it myself.”

And once I was onto that little game, she’d find another. It was her way.

Both Grandmas have made their journey into eternity many years ago. But I still think about them. I long for my own children to have memories, a legacy that they will look back on my part in it with a twinkle in their eye, a little nostalgia perhaps, and a lot of wonder at how God could place them in a family that adored them from the first moment they existed.

May your Christmas find you in awe of God’s plan and wondrous power.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Life: Coming out of Storage

Greetings from the Northeast Ohio section of the Midwest!
(In school, I always wondered why they said Ohio was in the Midwest, when it sure looked like it was to the eastern side of the country! Now that I'm older and (hopefully) a little wiser, I think it's a mindset and style of living more than a geographic "thing.")

I'm gearing up to celebrate my very first Christmas in my own place. So as well as settling into my own home and figuring out where things should go, I'm taking all sorts of things out of storage that I haven't seen or used in years. Trinkets and treasures, mementos, "nifty junk" that I bought and put away with the intent of using it "someday" when I got my own place.

This includes ornaments.
When we were younger, Mom started a tradition of giving each of us kids an ornament of our own for Christmas. Many of my ornaments have dates on them -- either commercially dated, or written with a special pen, or a sticker with the date. I'm sad to say I have quite a few gaps. Ornaments either lost or broken or -- ahem -- "borrowed" over the years.

What's really interesting is that in unpacking my boxes, I've found ornaments and treasures I don't remember getting, yet obviously I saved because they had great meaning at the time ... but heck if I can remember now their significance. Such as a paperweight shaped like a pear, with lovely little blue flowers inside, like Venetian glass. Or a little tea set where the cups and plates look like apples with their leaves.

I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned in all this, but it's still in the formulation phase. What does it say about the things we treasured once, but don't anymore? Are we getting wiser, less materialistic -- or just old and forgetful? And what about those treasures we thought we'd find when we unpacked ... things we remember clearly being in that storage box ... but aren't there, and we can't remember getting rid of them?
What will I pack away at the end of the holidays -- and will they be surprises when I unpack next year?

Maybe I need to learn to stop putting things in storage for "later," and learn to enjoy it all right NOW.

Merry Christmas, and may you make many precious memories that remain forever!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Unspoken Affections


Merry Christmas from my Wigglie blessed home to yours.

Well, it’s time for another installment on The Barn Door.

I’ve been thinking about what to post.

There’s the obvious news of the horrific killings.

Along with that there’s the huge debate or I should say division of beliefs concerning owning guns. The side that proclaims this problem would go away if we had stricter guns laws and the opposing side that reminds that it was a person, not a gun that killed.

You can’t turn on the TV or radio without the story being discussed, rehashed or shown.

I don’t want to appear hard hearted or cruel, but I have purposely ignored the TV and avoided any stories concerning the incident.

Why? I don’t need to be reminded how awful this is. There is nothing I can do. I can’t change it, I can’t erase it and I can’t prevent it.

Someone thought that if the horror were shown it might stop someone else from doing the same. They thought that the pain shown would thwart another attack.

I disagree. The very sick, evil kind of person who did this deed doesn’t have the ability to care. Obviously.

The morning of the shootings I posted on my blog “No Other Day”: http://www.afarmwife.com/2012/12/no-other-day.html  It was about the hoopla around 12/12/12 and the upcoming “end of the world” day December 21.

The post was written to encourage us to treat each day as the treasure God created. To not take for granted or leave things unsaid or corrected. Little did I know how important that would be to so many.

I said there was nothing I could do about the situation. There is one thing and I’ve done that. Pray. And we can and should pray for the families, the friends and our nation who wonders why such evil can exist. Considering that as a nation we have taken God out of everything we possibly can it’s no wonder these things happen. This is a whole other post waiting to be written. I digress.

I have a suggestion. Turn off the TV and radio. Quit surfing the web to hear the latest.

Pick up the phone and call that person you’ve been thinking about lately.

Stop by and give someone a hug. Tell them you appreciate them or love them.

It takes as much energy to say a kind word as it does to criticize yet it holds so much power.

This is the last week before Christmas and on my “To Do” list is to write a letter to each of my children, daughters-in-law and husband. I want it to be very clear how precious they are to me.

When I left a job several years ago, at a church I did not attend, the pastor wrote me a letter and listed all the things he appreciated about me. I still have that letter and every once in a while I read it.

I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read this today and I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas, a Blessed Prosperous New Year and a life full of no unspoken affections.
Their goofy pose.


You can follow our everyday happenings at www.afarmwife.com
Five of the seven.

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