Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What I am thankful for...

It's Thanksgiving eve, and as it so happens, I am alone -  and having a glass of wine and thinking about what I am thankful for in my life.

First, I am thankful for chardonnay and computers.  I am thankful for Facebook and blogging, and for those who share it with me.

I am thankful for my family, who made me and who understand me (sometimes) and love me at my best and at my worst.  (Not that they have a choice! You can pick friends; not family.)

I am thankful for the good genes that help me age as gracefully as one can.

I am thankful for a husband who gives me unconditional love, a partnered life, financial ease,  married security, commitment, and he still makes me laugh. I enjoy being with him.  I am proud of who he is!

I am thankful for two daughters who turned out beautiful, sensible, smart, and loving. I am thankful for my relationship with them.

I am thankful for unconditional love from pets.  They make each day of living special.

I am thankful for the gift of music.  Music always lifts me. I feel it in my soul.

I am thankful for friends, especially those few who are there through the years - through the life changes, the ups and downs, the ones that are empathetic and listen.

I am thankful for my health and the ability to move, and do, and to use myself to help others.

I am thankful for living here in this community I love and call home, and for the United States, that despite political issues, still is an amazing, wonderful place to be.

I am thankful for having faith.  I am thankful that somehow in my life I have opened up and listened to God talking to me, and have therefore learned, and put my all in His hands.  He knows me and loves me - so, therefore I do not worry about my purpose. It is to serve Him as I know all things written above in this blog come from Him.

Thank you!

Plans change

Hello Hodgepodge readers!  I thought I'd be on the road right now, traveling up to northern Ohio for thanksgiving with my family.  But, plans change... and sometimes you just have to go with it.  I'll keep you in suspense until question #7 since it asks to share my Thanksgiving plans there.

1.  Are you settling for something? 

I can't think of anything that I am "settling" for in my life.  I tend to think that everything happens for one reason or another and to go with it.  I don't like the term "settling" because it means it's not really what is preferred.  I have a blessed life so I don't feel I need to just make do, and for that I am VERY thankful!

2.  This year many stores will be open all day on Thanksgiving Day. In your opinion is this a good thing or a not so good thing?  Will you be shopping on Thanksgiving day? 

I think it is wrong for retail stores to open up on Thanksgiving Day.  Really people!! It's a National holiday!   I think the employees should have the whole day off to spend with family and friends.  Therefore, I will not shop on Turkey Day and hope others feel the same way and stay away from stores too.  If it turns out to be a weak shopping day then, perhaps, the retailers will rethink it next year and give the employees the time off.  I do not shop on Black Friday either.  I know some people love getting out in the masses, and love the "hustle and bustle" and even will patiently wait in long lines to save a few bucks.  Not me.  No thanks.  You won't find me there.

3.  Speaking of shopping...   there was a recent article on the 12 best shopping cities in the world. In order they are - New York, Tokyo, London, Kuala Lumpus, Paris, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Dubai, Madrid, Milan, and Seoul.   Ever shopped in any of the cities listed?  In which city would you most like to pull out the plastic or cold hard cash? 

I have done some "tourist shopping" in New York, London, Paris, and Vienna.  From the list of top shopping cities I have been to those four to sight-see...not really to shop.  But, yes, I have picked up a souvenoir or two.  I'm not big into shopping in general so I would not pull out a credit card or cash in any of the cities.  Instead, I would prefer to spend my time & money seeing interesting spots, and going to the museums.

4.  When did you last dine by candlelight? 

Wow. Interesting question...because hubby and I used to dine by candlelight often.  I think it's been more rare in the past few years.  The last time was about a month ago at our riva cabin.  We cooked on the grill and ate by candlelight on our screened porch.

5.  What do you have too much of? 

Well, a simple - but loaded - question, isn't it?!  I have too much of everything!  It makes me think of Keith Urban's song "I just want a little bit of everything"! Seriously,  I have plenty of love, friendship, food, clothes, etc.  But if you ask the question in a more frivilous way...I suppose I have too many flip-flops. I tend to collect them! I love wearing flip-flops so I buy all kinds, in all kinds of colors and some with cute designs.

6.  The Hunger Games... are you a fan?  did you read the book(s)?  Will you/have you seen the movie?  "Catching Fire"? 

I have not read the book(s) and have not seen the movies.  In general I do not like science fiction books and movies.  And, I really don't like anything that puts peoples lives at risk -and show it as a game!  I don't get it.  I much prefer real movies, about real emotions, etc.  And, I will watch a funny movie over sci-fi too, as long as it's written well and not getting laughs by dropping curse words right and left.  Guess you can tell I don't see many movies!  There are not many that are released that seem good to me.

7. Share your plans for Thanksgiving Day.  The who, the where, the what...  especially the what! 

Originally I had planned to drive from here, SC, to northern Ohio to spend Thanksgiving Day with many members of my family.  It's an annual event to have the meal at my sister's home, and to hang out there all day.  Then the next day we celebrate what we call "Thanksmas" because we can't get together at Christmas.  So, we have a small gift exchange on Friday.

Well, plans changed.  I spent yesterday working on getting rid of a headache and I spent a lot of time sleeping.  I don't know if it was a migraine, or tension, or sinus.  Maybe a combination of all three.  I also spent time yesterday watching The Weather Channel and the named storm Boreas as it traveled across the mid-west, south & east.  My drive on a good day from here to Medina, Ohio would take 12 hours.  Add in holiday traffic and add another 2 hours... then add the forecast of bad weather, and I just figured it wasn't best for me to go.  It was snowing in the mountains of NC, and VA, and W VA.  Ohio had snow yesterday.  If you read my blogs, you KNOW I do not like cold weather and snow...and I get nervous having to drive in it.

So, I am staying home.  It's for the best.  Don't feel too sorry for me.  My sweet cousin who lives here has invited me over to her place tomorrow for the Thanksgiving meal.  And, my one daughter is coming in from Charlotte too.  She's coming despite her horrible allergies to the pugs and kitties here.  So, I'm thankful for having a backup plan.  Got to add on:  I'm thankful for my BFF who just called me and we yakked for a half hour or more - twice getting disconnected and calling back.  We are "the wind beneath our wings" at times.  Today was one of them.  It was good to hear from her, and she made me laugh!

Happy Thanksgiving blogging and FB friends!

Friday, November 22, 2013

My holiday mantra

So, it's just a few days til Thanksgiving and then off we go with the season of craziness leading up to Christmas.  So now is the perfect time for me to remind myself to take each day as it comes, to enjoy the good things about this time of year - and to downplay (and not stress over) all the other "stuff" that goes on.

Here is my December mantra:  Enjoy the season!  Remember it really is all about the baby Jesus!

So, here are a few things I think are the good things about the season:

*The music!  I love hearing and playing the Christmas music!

* Getting family and friends together!   This is a double-edged sword.  It's one of the best parts of December, but it also increases my fret level. I want everything looking nice, and I want everyone to be happy when they are here in the house.  I put it on myself.  I realize it...   thus, the mantra...

Enjoy the season!  Remember it really is all about the baby Jesus!

* The Children's program at church.  Each Christmas I love watching the children portray the nativity story.  There is nothing better than watching young ones talk about baby Jesus!   I guess that's why the Charlie Brown Christmas Special is still my favorite!  So sweet - so beautiful!

* I love the decorations and the lights.   Again, it's a bit of a double-edged sword for me.  I do the decorating in the house and I want it to look pretty... and I am proud of my house all bright and festive for the season.  But, it's work.  And, as I put it up I think about how it all has to come down in a few weeks.

Mantra:  Enjoy the season!  Remember it really is all about the baby Jesus!

* The Christmas Eve candlelight service is the highlight of it all.  It's a tingly moment of joy! It's a celebration of God, and His love for us!  I can't imagine going through the season and not experiencing it.  I feel sorry for those who get caught up in all the hoopla of a secular Christmas but don't go to church and sing "Silent Night" followed by "Joy to the World".   So, I suggest to them...try it!  Hear the message!

I'm not a baker but I try and make some cookies and other goodies for Christmas. And, I'm not in love with shopping, even on a quiet day at the mall, so I do my best to buy gifts away from the crowds. I feel the pressure of finding the perfect gifts for loved ones.  I do the wrapping, and I stock the kitchen.  

Reminder...enjoy the season!   Remember it really is all about the baby Jesus!

Yep, I'll be repeating this mantra a lot in December.  

Here we go!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I noticed that Joyce's questions for the Hodgepodge today have to do with making choices.  I guess making choices is what makes life interesting!

1.  What lesson has failure taught you? 

Failure has taught me a few lessons for sure, but most importantly I have learned that whatever went wrong is not going to be the end of the world.  Tomorrow still comes.  People move on.  If something I tried failed I know it was worth the effort, and not to be upset with myself for long.  In a few days or so it's usually forgotten.   Time heals.

2.  What decision are you glad you made? 

You mean beside the decision to marry my hubby?  And the decision to have my children?   Those are the top two!  Another decision I was happy I made was to stay home with my daughters as they were growing up.  I was fortunate that we had enough money as a one-income family, so I was able to be with my children, and I was able to get involved at their schools.  Absolutely no regrets!

3.  Tell the truth: is your tree up and decorated, and if so when did it happen?  If not when will you be decking the halls? 

No - no - no! I am a "one holiday at a time" person!  My Christmas tree will not go up until after December 1st.  I like to wait until the start of Advent.  At least I understand (sort of) how stores decorate early to get people thinking about buying gifts, but why we have to follow suit I do not get!? My neighborhood put up the Christmas lights at the entrance gates over a week ago. When I first saw them go up I thought it was for convenience but surely they would not be lit up yet! Well - they were!

I love Christmas lights but if they go up so early it loses some of the magic by December 25th.  My opinion.  And, I like to keep the tree & lights up through the season of Christmas.  There are 12 days of Christmas, starting on the 25th.  So I don't un-decorate until after the new year.

4.  Solitaire - Poker - Rummy - Hearts - Go Fish - Old Maid...   which game of cards would you most like to join? 

I don't play cards on a regular basis, but I always enjoy a game of Hearts.  For family fun around the table we sometimes play Dominoes.  Not as much thought! ha!!

5.  When feeling stressed do you snack a lot or are you more the 'can't eat' type? 

I have been blessed to have an internal switch that doesn't let me over-eat or binge eat very often. So, I have never used food as a stress release or for some other deeper psychological need.  Basically I just don't feel good when I stuff myself and it's not worth it.  So, I don't.

6.  Have you ever reviewed a product or service on line?  Was your review favorable or less than favorable? 

Thinking back the only thing I have taken time on line to review is some new music videos.  I was on a list of people that got sent new videos that CMT was considering for air, usually from new artists.  I would watch the videos and then respond to questions about it...questions like if it was appropriate for the country music channel, if I liked the story line, if I would enjoy seeing it numerous times, etc.  

7.  What was the best conversation you had yesterday? 

I am writing this on Tuesday, so yesterday (Monday) was a day I stayed home and cleaned, and worked on making signs for a church festival this Saturday.  I practiced my flute, walked the dogs, etc.  But I was not involved in any deep conversations yesterday.  My hubby flew up to Boston... so I guess my best conversation of the day came last night as he, both our daughters, and I were all texting together during the Panthers-Patriots game.    Texting counts, right??    ( :

8.  My random thought. 

This is nothing new for those who know me:  I had a lovely day yesterday because Mother Nature decided to bring summer back temporarily and I was back in my shorts and flip flops! I opened the house windows and took the dogs on two nice long walks.   It was beautiful - and my mood was practically euphoric.  Saying that, I realize I am considered shallow because weather effects me so much.   Today:  back to chilly temps and it's going to be windy later.   Ugh.     Weather-related:  My thoughts are with those in the mid-West, especially Illinois, who are now homeless from the tornado activity.   And in the Phillipines...   oh my, Mother Nature can certainly be devastating at times.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Talking turkey and more in the Hodgepodge

This week's Hodgepodge questions hit home with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming quickly.  Thanks Joyce for reminding me to "get er done"...but first I'll answer your questions.

1. Describe a typical Sunday from your childhood. 

Since I am the daughter of a Lutheran pastor my Sunday morning always started with getting up and ready for Sunday School and church.  We would get home from church around noon and have a light lunch.  I remember occasionally getting a fast food hamburger which was a big deal back then because we rarely ate out. Since Sunday was a working morning for Dad, he would prefer to come home and chill afterwards - and watch sports on TV.   So, that's what I did too.  And I did homework... nothing very exciting.

2.  How comfortable are you with uncertainty?  Explain. 

I am NOT comfortable with uncertainty, and I also do not like waiting to the last minute to make plans.  I find my life is less stressful, and therefore I am happier, when I have a plan, or have things on a calendar. I do not always do well with "a change of plans" but I am working on it.

3. What have you accomplished recently that might be described as craft, as in 'arts and crafts' crafty? 

I am helping with an event coming up at my church in two weeks, called the "Apple Dumpling Festival" which will raise money for a few local charities.  I'm not a kitchen person so I am not helping with the dumplings, but we also sell some crafts and holiday items.  So, I have been TRYING to come up with something nice, quick, and sellable!  My first thought was to make Advent Calendars, until I 'pinterested' and realized it was too difficult and time consuming.  Now I am working on making felt ornaments...but my hearts not into them. And, they really don't look that great,  Anybody have a wonderful, quick craft idea?   I could use it.

4. Have you ever worked in a 'food place"?  What did you take away from the experience? 

Yes, I worked part-time at both Burger King and Ponderosa when I was in high school.  I enjoyed the experiences, and I enjoyed my first go-round at working and earning a paycheck!  I also enjoyed the free food! ha!  What did I take away from the experiences?  Those jobs are thank-less and it seems these days there are not many teens working fast food anymore.  It's impossible for an adult to make enough to support themselves - so I understand why some have been striking, asking for decent wages.  We all love to occasionally eat at a fast food place but we don't want to consider the needs of the employees.  Sorry - I'm getting off on a tangent.  It just doesn't seem right that the food company owners (or shareholders) are making millions while their employees can't support themselves.

5.  Cold turkey, talk turkey, what a turkey... in recent days, which turkey phrase or idiom best applies to you and why?

Hmmmm, I guess I will go with "cold turkey" only because I have been sick the last few days - and so I had to go "cold turkey" on my plans.  I'm not one to get sick often, and I usually  keep myself busy, so when I get a bug all plans have to be stopped for a day or two.  Saturday I had a migraine when I was  up in Raleigh helping my daughter move... that had to come to a stop on my part. I found a piece of carpet in a corner and put a dark jacket over my head.  Then the night before last I got the creepy crud and was up all night.  So, yesterday I was zapped of energy and lay in bed.  I hated missing out on a beautiful day...and doing things I like to do.  But, yesterday I had to go "cold turkey."

6.  If you could have one guest join in at your Thanksgiving dinner table, who would it be? 

If you are including the deceased, then it would have to be my mother.

7.  What is one thing you must accomplish today? 

Perfect question since I'm getting over bring sick.  I have a few things on my calendar today.  I must get to my hair appointment!! We women know how important that is!!!  It's time for "restoring" the color, and actually I'm going to get a bit more of a hombre color put in it.  Last time I had my stylist test it out a bit on my ends, but this time I think I want more of an impact.   I also have Bible Study today - and Flute practice, followed by community band rehearsal today.  I hope I make it through the day!

8.  My random thought.

I saw on Facebook this morning that some snow fell up in northern NJ, where I used to live.  I think it was just a dusting - but enough that a few of my girlfriends commened on it.  More power to you up in the cold and snowy lands!  It's not for me.  I hope you enjoy it though...  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Family and Peanut Butter

Welcome to the weekly Hodgepodge, hosted by Joyce.  Today is her sister's birthday...  so she asks:

1.  What's one way you're like your siblings? 

Of course, there are many ways...  but for my sister and I, we sound the same.  When I leave a telephone message - or she does - I hear the same voice! ha!    As for my brother and I, we both are tall, and we both have the same nose.  The height is good - but I don't know if the nose shape is all that wonderful!?!

2.  What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of yourself at age eighteen?

At eighteen I was starting college so I picture it as the first time away from home, and living in a dorm (second floor, Saylor-Ackerman) at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.  I was excited, meeting new people, reconnecting with an old family friend, and basically enjoying my first college experience.  It was a good  "transitional" place to go. The school wasn't too big, and it helped to have a bit of family roots already there.  My Dad and my sister had attended the school.

3.  Sculptor - actor - painter - dancer...   if you could excel in one of these arts, which would you choose and why? 

Well, Joyce did not include "singer" and I think it would be my answer. It's what I have always wished I could excel at...but picking from her choices: a dancer.  A dancer feels music and uses her body to interpret it.  And think of the exercise!!   I love anything to do with music.  The other art forms listed are wonderful too, and actually, the sculptor, actor, and painter can all leave a permanent piece of art, and that's pretty cool.

4.  What's a scent that takes you back in time, and where does it take you? 

I remember as a child the scent of my grandmother Fogt's soap. She used Dove or Camay... and we used Dial at home.  So, when I was visiting her - and staying there - the scent of her sweet soap filled the small bathroom and it was lovely!  I only experienced that fragrant smell when I was there.

5.  November is for peanut butter lovers (National Peanut Butter Lovers Month). Are you a lover or a hater?  What's your favorite dish/recipe that calls for peanut butter? 

Peanut butter!!!  I Love love love it!  It's my "go to" snack item.  I love pb on crackers and a cold glass of milk.  I also love it warm on toast.  In fact, most mornings I have a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast.  The weird part?  I prefer pb with mayo, not jelly.  Did anybody else grow up like I did with having peanut butter and mayonaise sandwiches?   Absolutely marvelous!  And to make it really special, add a leaf or two of lettuce!   I do not cook with it tho.

6.  What do people thank you personally for most often? 

I'd have to say perhaps some of the things I do around my church.  But...I like being involved and I like helping, so I'm not doing it for thanks.

7.  What event this year are you most thankful for? 

It's hard to narrow it down to one event.  I am thankful for the summer gatherings we had this year, and the family time together...  we had them at our "riva cabin" here and at Lakeside, Ohio.  I'm thankful for the special church times and festive holiday get-togethers.

8. This week's random thought. 

It's November.  What?  It's November?   Oh, help me... I'm coming into my tough time...colder weather, more darkness than daylight, stress of shopping, etc.  Come on Spring!  Is that terrible to say?  Probably. I walked my doggies this morning at 6:30am and I looked like a hobo dressed in jammies, robe, socks, scarf, and gloves - and I was still chilly.  When I get cold I am not happy.   I need to remind myself of the wonderful parts of the winter months.  Ummm....   can somebody help me out?  A suggestion?   I DO see my girls at Christmas and I love that!!!  I'll focus on that.   ( :

Monday, November 4, 2013

Women and happiness

I'm a bit deep in thought this morning on what brings happiness to women.  I do not want to be specific, but I have on my heart right now a couple of ladies who are searching for it - and for the peace that comes with it.  I know that the expression goes "happiness comes when you stop searching for it"...but how can women stop looking - and hoping - and just relax about it?  How can they live in the moment, and be content?

It's definitely a hard thing to do.  I think back on my own life...and especially when I was in my 20's on a nice "career path" but also wanting more.   There came a time when I had to make some decisions on WHO I wanted to be.  I then had to "accept" the decisions I made and I had to "go with my gut".  No regrets.  When I look back I see my decisions were right, and my life has been wonderful.  But, it's true that sometimes life can get in the way of finding that happiness.  The bills need to be paid, and there are expectations to meet for others.

I didn't search for a financially easy life but I have been fortunate.  I made enough when I was single to live fine, and my husband has been a very successful provider.  Still, those expectations - and my concern over what others thought about me were challenging at times.  And let me not kid myself, just last week I met someone and she asked me "where do you work?"  and I still felt uncomfortable answering her, trying to explain my life of being home - and volunteering, etc.  

In my 40's I went through another time of questioning my future, and how best to find happiness.  I've written about it before - living in NJ, being there during 9/11, seeing my role change as an empty-nester, etc.  It was a little rough for awhile.  I had to re-evaluate.  And, I learned to realize modern medicine can be a wonderful thing at stressful times.

But, thankfully I have hindsight now at my age to KNOW I made the right decisions and that I am very happy with my life.  I am content - I am peaceful.   And... I have faith.

I think faith is a big part of it.  "Letting go - and letting God" has been my motto for quite a while now and it certainly helps me pause and let happiness happen.  I want to emphasize this to other people, and to those women on the search for happiness, because it has made such a big difference in my life.  But, it's hard to do without coming across "holier than thou" to them...and I know we all go on faith journeys at different times - and at different speeds.  But, again, let me say: believing in God brings me much happiness!  I love the good times more and I know they are a blessing.  I also realize the bad and sad times are part of life but God will see me through them.   Faith.

I also want to address the notion of living a "fake life" to please others - something women have been known to do!   Oh - my!  What a lot of work, and what a tiring way to be.  I have learned that telling a lie, and especially LIVING a lie, will never allow peace and happiness.  Ok, I don't know from personal experience because I can't live with myself when I tell a lie...or purposely hide things.  But I have seen it take its toll on other women...and again, it's hard to be happy when "playing games."

I want to tell women seeking happiness - BE STRONG!  Be sure of yourself!   Value your decisions!  I don't know how to make them that way - boy, I wish I did, because sometimes it's very frustrating to me.  I want to shake them a little and say "YOU are able to make your own way - and own path to happiness!"   It doesn't have to be on the arm of a man, or their checkbook.  I know, any of you reading this, are thinking...sure, Marla - look at you.  You have both a man & a bank account.  What do you know?   Fair.  But, I KNOW that from the time I was first out of college and living on my own, working, paying my bills, etc. I was able to do things...anything that I wanted to do!  Travel?  yes.  Drive into a city? sure.  Go to a movie alone?  absolutely.  I was going to live my life...

I found a person who understood my independence - and my desire to continue to be ME and not change.   Had I not, yes, my life would have certainly gone another direction.  Career would have been a priority.  But, I'd like to think I'd be "off and running"!  

I have no PHD or pyschology degree, but this blog gives me a small spot to share my views and hopes - and prayers on issues, and for some people.  By now, you might be really turned off at what I have written, but I hope not. I say these things with love - and with the deepest wish that women love themselves and then can find faith and contentment.  Then guess what?   Happiness achieved!