Happy Weenie

Happy weiner dog at the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida.

After leaving frigid temps in Indiana, last week, I kind of felt like this little weenie dog when I saw the beach here in Panama City. To finally see the sun and feel the warmth of the day, also made me feel like jumping for joy! (I could barely see the dog from my balcony, but upon editing, I realized I caught him mid-air, ears a flappin’…love it!)

So, we’re now packing up to return home tomorrow, and I had hope when I heard Indiana had a 70-degree day. But alas, within 24 hours it went down to 30. HO HUM.

A Hydrangea Heart

hydrangea heart flower in spring

One day, I was walking around my yard and saw this cute, little hydrangea struggling to be a big pom pom. All of the blooms just didn’t quite fill in.

But I loved the shape I saw!

The uniqueness of a heart-shaped hydrangea.


I later thought of an analogy.

If left with our thoughts, we tend to overthink and struggle too much to try and be something we are not. Others often see the uniqueness and beauty (in and through us) but somehow we are just too busy being consumed with trying to be something other than who we were created to be. Why can’t we step back sooner to see this…what others see?

I’m not sure if it’s a lifetime of experiences, age, access to mentors…

But I sure wish I could tell young people these things and have them believe me.

However, as a teenager once myself, I’m sure I would not have believed my wiser self, either.

Why is that?

I don’t know why it sometimes takes so long, but I guess as we age, life has a way of growing us deep and providing a comfortability with self.

So, be at rest young person (or maybe old) in how you were created.

Stop comparing, stop worrying, forget the “what ifs” because the sooner you do, the sooner you will enjoy your life the way you were meant to.

Life passes so quickly, that someday when you get older, you’ll look back and wish you had relaxed with who you were are a lot sooner.


I love being older only for this one reason. I can just be me.

I don’t have to impress anyone or try to be something I’m not.

I guess time and life experiences have a way of teaching us depth and truth that was there all along.

So BLOOM!

Whatever your shape!

hydrangea heart flower in spring

Make a Fudge Heart in 20 Minutes

I had some leftover milk chocolate and at the last-minute, like 10 PM last night, decided I wanted to make a fudge (for my hubby) for Valentine’s Day. So, I experimented with my Easy, Ten Minute Microwave Fudge Recipe and came up with a quick way to make a valentine heart in about 20 minutes! (including chilling it. 🙂 )

I was happy it tasted good and that it turned out looking so cute.

Not that he will care that it looks cute…but I DO!

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The easiness (and cuteness 😉 ) demanded I take some quick pics and share. (Hence, the dark, grainy photos. 😦 (sorry) and…

because you still have some time to make one, for your lovey.

It’s THAT FAST!!

Ingredients:

1/2 of a 12 oz. bag of milk chocolate morsels

1/4 Cup of a 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

A dash of salt

A dash of vanilla extract

*chopped nuts optional

And… you will need a cookie cutter OR just cut it out by hand with a knife.

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients and microwave till everything is melted well.

Pour into a liberally greased, small glass bowl.

Chill in the freezer until firm. It firms up quick, I tell ya!

Use a wet knife to cut around the edge to loosen the chocolate. You may have to carefully turn, then run warm water over the bottom of the bowl to loosen the chocolate, as well.

Place on a firm cutting service and cut out the chocolate.

Then, consume the extra chocolatey scraps. 🙂

20 minute fudge heart recipe for Valentine's Day

I decided to leave the fudge in the cookie cutter ’cause AGAIN, I thought it looked cute!

And, I found a few strawberries, so I garnished…I feel so professional, ha!

You also could write a note on your plate using dry erase marker or red icing.

Here’s some ideas: Twenty Creative Way to Leave Love Notes

So Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there in blog land!♥♥ 

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I know some of you just don’t like this holiday. I get it. BUT, you can still show some love to a family member, someone who’s been there for you, a dear neighbor or even a stranger…just think how it will make their day!! So, LOOK around.

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It might even be a divine appointment; be open to it!

It's not all about you poster


Tell me what your plans are below. And come back and comment if you’ve shared some love in a unique way or had a special encounter; I’m dying to hear!

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♥♥ Written In honor of my boo…whose always been there through all my health issues and MORE!

♥♥And my kids…my you’ve grown up way too fast!

Twenty Creative Ways to Leave Love Notes

Twenty creative ways to leave love notes for people.

When my husband and I started dating, we enjoyed leaving love notes for each other in creative and clever ways. Later on, I tried to do the same with my two kids. And, I sure got a kick out of seeing them doing the same for us, each other, and now their spouses.

But, you don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day to surprise someone with a kind note. We have left notes for all sorts of reasons…a job promotion, a Geography Bee winning, a note of encouragement or note noticing your kid helped another person…the skies the limit!

Here, I snuck out after the snow stopped to leave notes for my hubby to find before he left for work the following day. 🙂

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OK, so here’s the list of things we actually did throughout the years, or ideas I came up with.

THE KEY IS… USE YOUR IMAGINATION!!



♥Twenty Creative Ways to Leave Love Notes♥

Hide notes in lunch boxes, books, backpacks or under and behind items for someone to find when they clean the house.

Sneak out at night and write a sweet message on their car with shoe polish paint.

Leave a note under their favorite coffee cup or hygiene item they use every morning.

Use dry erase marker to write a love note, positive thought or verse on their bathroom mirror.

Print out a sign and tape it to a wall where they’ll see it when they open their door or behind a door they will close. (i.e. bathroom door)

Find your kids’ homework agenda and leave a congratulatory, encouraging, or fun message on a particular day. (i.e. a tryout days, their first week of school, a birthday, a milestone.)

Kiss the back of a card’s envelope with lipstick on and print S.W.A.K. (Sealed With A Kiss)

Leave a note on the rear view mirror or in their car seat.

Write a note on the toilet paper using a Sharpie. 🙂 HA

Slide a creatively designed note under their door at night, so they see it first thing in the morning.

Use dry erase marker or permanent Sharpie to write on a coffee mug or favorite glass.

Make a unique plate to be used for special occasions ONLY. (i.e. “You’re So Smart”, “You Did IT!” “Congratulations!” “We’re Proud of You!”)

Tuck a note in a pant pocket, coat pocket or glove.

Leave a note inside their glasses case.

Leave a note on top of a stack of  clothes you’ve folded.

Leave a card or note under the car windshield wipers while they’re at work.

Leave a note taped to the remote or TV.

Tape a note to their favorite food item that they use every day.                                                             (i.e. creamer, cereal or coffee can.)

Place a note under their pillow or pinned to a favorite blanket.

Tape a note to their car keys.

Leave a note in their suitcase as they leave for camp or a business trip.

Lastly, of course, you can always just send an e-mail or text. 😉

JUST HAVE FUN WITH IT!


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Saddened by the Disrespect Shown to Another, Young Soldier

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After recently visiting my Uncle’s grave, I was upset to hear, once again, about another young man who lost his precious life.

Another son had died.

In a foreign, far away place.

He fell as a soldier wearing the United States uniform, and now, his parents were bringing him home.

And the reactions of the plane’s passengers made me sick.

VERY SICK and VERY ANGRY!

The article describing the incident here.  

I wanted to cry. I felt horrified to think other human beings could be so calloused. Americans, at that!

I couldn’t even fathom this lack of respect, nor comprehend such a show of self-centeredness or whatever they thought they were trying to achieve.

What causes a person/people to treat a grieving family with such disdain?

What has happened to our America?

I tried to place myself in that family’s shoes; that frozen moment in time they will NEVER forget…

My heart was heavy for them.

But how can my heart be SO different from those that were on that plane?


My family is also familiar with this pain. They could tell you of profound grief.

We, too, lost a young soldier in Vietnam many years ago.

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He was escorted home, finally.

It just happened to be decades after being listed as Missing in Action. (MIA)


It was the 60s and the Vietnam War was raging. My Uncle Terry had volunteered just as his two older brothers had.

Marine family of uncles, dad, and brother

He was part of a helicopter crew, rescuing the wounded when his helicopter was shot down.

Some of the men were thrown from the fiery crash, but Terry was never found.

We always wondered what the full story was.

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Then, in 1993, some Vietnamese farmers came forth with items from a crash. And the story began to unfold.

Forensics were then confirmed in Honolulu, and my brother–then a young Marine himself– escorted Terry’s remains home.

Terry could’ve been buried at Arlington. However,  the family thought it best to teach a community (and the younger generations) a valuable lesson.

A lesson we feared was being lost, not really taught in schools much anymore.

Teach about the cost of freedom flag poster.

Not just one lesson, but many:

That war was cruel.

Kids were still dying to this day.

That we should be there to support families, help where needed, invite a military family over for the holidays.

(You know, just be a good human.)

That this could have been anyone’s son or daughter.

And there were other countries losing their people, DAILY, due to lack of freedom.  Many picking up rifles to enter war as children.

Most importantly,

that freedom had a price. Always has, always will.

A HUGE price.


So, on that hot and humid July 4th, Terry’s high school gym was packed out.

He was remembered for his talented football skills, and his kind, gentle ways.

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His ultimate sacrifice recognized.

Our family, once again, was left with distant memories.  Terry’s parents (my grandparents) had wounds reopened all over again.

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People lined the streets, kids waved flags, and many a biker rode in from the surrounding states to finally return their MIA bracelets.

It was a memorable sight to see them piled high, on the floor, near my grandparents’ feet. It had to be so hard for them.

The news crews were there to capture it all.

The flag-draped coffin.

The thunderous flyover that moved you to your core.

The caisson; a solemn reminder as it passed through town to the beat of a sole drum.

COMPLETE RESPECT was shown that day.

Tragically, for this other family on the plane…

that didn’t happen.

There wasn’t much, if any, shown.


My Uncle Terry didn’t get to finish college.

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And I sometimes wonder what his life might have looked like.

What would’ve been his hobby to tinker with?

Who would he have married? How many kids would he have?

He wasn’t able to marry, have kids or enjoy a weekend with family.

(Just to have another day to show his own thankfulness.)

No, he CHOSE to leave a comfortable life to help in a far away land.

He wanted to show his loyalty.

He wanted to make sure we were ALL afforded continued freedom.

Simply put…HIS MOTIVES were PURE.

USMC, Marine soldier's gravestone


If I had been on that plane, I can tell you…

I could NOT have sat there silently!

I KNOW that I would’ve stood to speak for that family.

I KNOW, I would’ve cried with that family.

I KNOW I would’ve tried to apologize to that family.

AND, I would’ve thanked them and made it clear that this is not the totality of America, that my Uncle, nor their son, gave their lives for!!


Find a military family to reach out to.

Reach out to a grieving widow, a cop, a neighbor…your community.

Invite someone over for the holidays. Say a prayer for others.

Show some thankfulness.

Bridge the gap(s).

Teach your kids.

Show honor and respect.

I know my Uncle Terry would have,

if he could.

Written in honor of Terry who would have turned 72 on Feb. 4th.

Show some thankfulness this Thanksgiving poster.



For Terry’s military documented story:

http://www.vhpa.org/KIA/incident/68081999KIA.HTM

United States Marine Corps

 

 

The Ultimate Fans Today

My son in law is the ULTIMATE Falcons fan as depicted by this engagement photo session before the wedding. 🙂

Atlanta Falcon Fans with their dogs during an engagement photo session

I have never met someone who knows so much about his team. AND…He has been the most dedicated fan no matter how the seasons have gone.

I keep telling him he really should go downtown Atlanta and try to get on with the Atlanta Falcon organization.

I mean, it wouldn’t hurt would it? Maybe they would admire his passion for the team, knowledge of every single play/player and because of his ultimate dedication, offer him a job. I think he’d be willing to clean toilets just to be working for them. 🙂

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(My daughter just made this shirt for him. ^)

He’s been so loyal to the Atlanta Falcons and critical of those “fans” that didn’t stay true to the team when they weren’t doing so well through the years. When others were saying derogatory things or didn’t support the team, he’d stay positive come rain or shine!

I kind of think he has lived vicariously through this team because he never was afforded the opportunities to play any sports during school. 

Needless to say, he is b e e e y o n d  excited!

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And I’m excited for him. 🙂

So, today I become a fan as well. 

Heck, I even have had my husband reteach me about the game of football so I could help cheer them on. Hubby has even been quizzing me about different game scenarios and strategies, ha. I wasn’t even this excited when our own COLTS were going to the Super Bowl and it was here in Indy…shhh don’t tell any of the Hoosiers, here.

Yes, they’re near Atlanta, and we live in Indiana, but I think I can hear quite a bit of screaming, this first half, clear up here Y’ ALL! 😉

EASY, Ten Minute Microwave Fudge

fudge

This is the fastest, easiest, fudge you will ever make! It’s also very adaptable if you want to change it up a bit.

AND… it only takes a few ingredients.

Ingredients:

3 (6 oz.) pkgs. semi sweet chocolate chips

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Dash of salt

1/2 – 1 c. chopped nuts

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Directions:

In a microwave safe bowl, combine chips with the sweetened condensed milk. Microwave on 100% power approximately 2 mins., take it out and stir. (Continue to place mixture back in the micro, off and on, till it’s easier to stir.)

Spread evenly into a parchment lined pan. (Approx. an 8″ or 9″ square pan. NOTE: I’ve actually used a glass dish without the paper.) Chill until firm. Turn onto cutting board; peel off the paper and cut into squares.

Once you lay out your fudge for the delight of others, and you feel it’s beginning to get a little soft, just pop it right back into the fridge to firm it up again.

Easiest recipe EVER!

My family raves about it!

*Note: Any type of nut can be used as well as marshmallows, dried fruit, etc..

You could even use cookie cutters for different holiday shapes and have the kids decorate them like they would cookies. (ie gingerbread man, Santa, bunny, chick or heart.)

Then, package them up in a tin or decorative box, and you have a great homemade gift!

Winterscape

The beauty of the snow at night.

The cold, silent space to think out life.

Winter is stillness.

It causes you to slow down and take in PEACE.

The cold, winter woods after a big snow.

Birds of Indiana

Only in Indiana can you go from frigid temps and snow, to breezy and sixty-degrees all in 24 hours. bird fighting the snow and cold in IndianaI took a pic of this lil’ guy hunkering down and later tomorrow, I’m sure he’ll be sunbathing and wearing sandals, ha!

Here’s another guy looking for food…

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cardinal eating seed in the winter snow

Salsa in Winter: Easy Salsa Recipe

Salsa?

In the winter? Whaaaaa?

Easy salsa recipe for Mexican dinner

But who doesn’t love SALSA?

Can I get a Sí Señora? 🙂

We eat it all year long.

Mexican Salsa Snowman

I became the “salsa queen” when my daughter began asking for it just about every week.

Yep, we LOVE our salsa and Mexican food.

I grew up in California where I only preferred authentic Mexican cuisine. It became harder to find once moving to Indiana in the 70s…now, there’s a Mexican restaurant on every corner!

Mexican instruments

My daughter and I both agreed we could live solely on salsa.

However, WE are VERY particular about our SALSA!!

We like a chunkier, thicker version so it doesn’t drip everywhere.


A game changer was when I finally broke down and bought a food processor one year. So, I started experimenting, at home, making my own.

Which is SOOO much better because you know the ingredients that go into making it and it’s FRESH!

And who doesn’t like fresh?!!

My daughter gave me her 5-star approval on the final recipe, and we began making it often…too often!!

So here’s the quickest, easiest recipe everrrr. (Remember, you can always adapt where needed. ) And the best part…you just throw it all into a food processor! SO EASY!

(I can prepare it in 10 minutes flat due to that fact.

I’ve actually timed myself so I could say that, ha.)

fresh peppers


Ingredients:

1/2 of a large onion (optional)

1 small, handful of cilantro (also optional-BUT we DO LOVE cilantro!)

1-8oz. can of tomato sauce

5 Roma tomatoes sliced (or any tomatoes) You can even use a can of crushed tomatoes. Actually,  any type of canned tomatoes will do; we do this when tomatoes are not in season.

2 T white sugar (takes down the bitterness of the tomatoes)

2 garlic cloves (cause we like garlic)

3 T white vinegar (it’s a must)

1 Jalapeno seeded/ or a small amount of chopped green chilis (optional)

Salt and Pepper

*You can actually use any seasonings you’d like: salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and onion powder.

Just remember, the canned items have LOTS of salt in them, so use the salt sparingly.


Directions:

Add everything together in a food processor or blender. (If your food processor won’t hold everything, at once, just add to the processor in smaller batches.)

Or, you can hand chop the items and mix them all together.

In the end, if you want some more liquid in your salsa, add more tomato sauce or a little water.


I also love putting salsa on my omelet or scrambled eggs.

And just in case you’ve never had Home Ec 😉

T=Tablespoon   t=teaspoon

**Tell me in the comments below what ingredients you love to add to your salsa.**

adios