Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye, 2011

Saturday is usually poetry day, and I'll admit I tried to find something appropriate. There's Burns or Tennyson or William Cullen Bryant. But none of them spoke to me.

I am no poet, and yet I find myself wanting to say something meaningful at the end of this year. Something that will strike a chord with my readers and me. I just don't know what that would be.

My dh always writes an end/beginning of the year post, and from where I sit, I can never compete. There is such depth and remembrance!

I write because of a need I have. I have been blessed this year that so many of you have read my words, and a few of you have commented. The writing fills a void for me, but it also allows me to tell my history in a public way. I have often commented on the benefit of public disclosure regarding abuse. I have found no greater outlet than here on this blog. The fact that you take the time to read and comment still astounds me. So once more a huge thank you to all of you who read, with a special thanks to those who comment!

I have found new and old outlets this year. Returning to crocheting has been a boon for my spirit, soul and self esteem. I enjoy the process -- something I have a very hard time doing as a rule. I think I am getting pretty good at it. I've sold a few things and love the things I've kept. Perhaps the greatest blessing from crocheting was in the form of a note my dh gave me for Christmas. He went to my local yarn shop to get me some goodies and had a conversation with my favorite worker there.

"Oh, you're Melanie's husband. I just love her. 
She has such a great attitude and she just never
seems to get flustered. 
She finds projects to take on and if she can't 
figure it out, she doesn't get frustrated 
or give up, she just comes in and asks 
for help, and her work is just beautiful. 
She is just a wonderful
person to be around."

I cried when I read this. I didn't get a lot of encouragement growing up. I was often told that I thought too highly of myself. My natural assumption is that I am an annoyance to people -- that they put up with me to provide something, like food, or out of a sense of duty. To have words like these spoken about me by someone who gained nothing by saying them was simply amazing to me. (I hope I am not out of line in sharing this. I find myself wondering if this will be misinterpreted. I hope not!) So to my dh for sharing and Emily for saying these things, a huge thank you.

My prayer for your new year is that it will be filled with real love, real friends and real experiences. That the troubles you face will be manageable and that you will find support from God, family and friends. That your joys will be many, and you will recognize and appreciate them. And that you will find purpose in what you do and realize your value and the gifts we all bring to this world.


{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Reading List for 2011

Let me start by saying, 2011 will not go down in history as one of my better reading years. I don't know what it was. My selection wasn't broad enough. My concentration was way off. I started A LOT of books that I never finished, some because they were just not good, while others I just couldn't stay interested in. And I started crocheting again. It's really not possible (for me) to crochet and read simultaneously. So anyway, for good or ill, here's my list. (Titles marked with * are books I did not complete).

The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming 
by Joshilyn Jackson

Privileged Information by Stephen White

In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming

My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares*

New York Dead by Stuart Woods

A Fountain Filled with Blood 
by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Private Practices by Stephen White

Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming

A Dark-Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine 
(Ruth Rendell)

All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Harm's Way by Stephen White

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

Remote Control by Stephen White

Denial: A Memoir of Terror by Jessica Stern

I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming

dingley falls by Michael Malone*

Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet

Still Life by Louise Penny

Manner of Death by Stephen White

The School of Essential Ingredients 
by Erica Bauermeister*

Wicked by Gregory Maguire*
(not because it's not good,
but I'd already read it)

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft 
by Stephen King*
(because I'm savoring it!)

The Whole Five Feet by Christopher R. Beha*
(I got side tracked from this one. Hoping
to get back to it soon)

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
(currently reading on my new Kindle Fire)

Favorite Fiction: Still Life
Favorite Non-Fiction: Denial
Favorite Children's: Cloud Tea Monkeys

So how was your reading year? Did you find something wonderful (share please!)? Did you find something horrible (please, please share!)? And what about The Hunger Games? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thankful Thursday

It is the Thursday after Christmas and there is much for which to be thankful!

:: good time spent with lots of family

:: reconnecting with an aunt I had been somewhat estranged from for several years

:: the safety of all my family members (even though ds got a ticket for speeding yesterday! Thankfully no one was hurt)

:: a worship service on Christmas day that included worship, laughter, love and Christmas carols

:: time with my children and husband to just be -- enjoying fun things and conversations

:: lunch and conversation with my two besties yesterday

My hope for all of you is that you, too, have had a thankful holiday season thus far, and that we will all increase our thankfulness in the coming year.


find more Thankful Thursday at Grace Alone

Wordless Wednesday #39

for more photos visit Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Things I Love (about the holidays this year)

Things I Love (about the holidays this year)

(inspired by SouleMama)

:: a trip to Cozumel to start things off

:: kids playing board games

:: dh taking the time to go to my favorite yarn store to buy crochet hooks for me, and then typing up the nice things the owner said about me

:: pillows and hedgehog that make appearances every year

:: pies!

:: pretty, food-ladened tables

:: new books to read

:: fun little gifts given and received

:: real talks with my kids and husband

(comment and share if you feel inspired!)

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . December 27, 2011

Outside my window . . . it is gray and cloudy. It makes me think of the James Taylor song -- Another Grey Morning.

I am thinking . . . about the onset of winter. In our neck of the woods, real winter doesn't start, usually, until January. Unfortunately that means lots of grey days. On the other hand it also means lots of tea and homemade soups and stews.

I am thankful . . . for a pleasant Christmas spent with family. Everyone is healthy and safe, so there is nothing more to wish for.

From the learning rooms . . . Christmas Break!

In the kitchen . . . a return to normalcy. Holiday foods are nice -- once a year, but now my body is craving vegetables, soups, stews, and good hearty bread.

I am wearing . . . black yoga pants and my run for TFS long sleeved t-shirt.

I am creating . . . I got 2 new crochet hooks. A rosewood and a birch. They are both lovely. The birch has carving on the end, but it seems to be impacting the balance when I try to work with it.

I am going . . . . to continue eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise. I find that I feel so much better when I put an emphasis on these things.

I am wondering . . . about writing. I want to learn more about the process. I have a story to tell, but I can't decide if I should try and adapt it to fiction.

I am reading . . . My Name is Mary Sutter by 

I am hoping . . . to do yoga. Then home for laundry, a grocery/menu list, and then I'm meeting my aunt for lunch.

I am looking forward to . . . getting back to crocheting and beading and this year I am determined to finish my quilt!

I am hearing . . . humming electronics, Yaya whining to be let out, and ds getting ready for wrestling practice.

Around the house . . . the de-Christmasing needs to start soon. It's a mixed bag. I'll be happy to have my house back to normal, but I don't enjoy the process of taking it down and packing it all away for next year.

I am pondering . . . . the essence of "family". Why do we put so much emphasis on blood relations? Is that just an "accident" of birth, or is there a greater meaning to be discerned from it all?

One of my favorite things . . . is spending time with my dh. He's had several days off and it was lovely just having him around the house. Last night we went out to see Hugo. It was quite lovely in a melancholy, slow sort of way.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . returning to normalcy. I like normalcy. I may have mentioned that once or twice before. LOL.

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 

my father-in-law enjoying the grandkids!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Made by You Monday -- Cranberry Orange Bread

I'm not sure why, but it's just not Christmas if I don't get cranberry orange bread! This recipe is from and I LOVE it!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup orange juice
Grated peel of 1 orange
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat egg. Add orange juice, peel, butter and hot water. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Gently fold in cranberries and walnuts. Spoon into greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

link up to Made by You Monday at Skip to My Lou

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve (Saturday Poetry. . . sort of)

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Friday, December 23, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

for more moments visit SouleMama

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday

It is the Thursday before Christmas. I feel as if I should have something deeply profound to write and share. I don't.

It seems redundant to speak of my gratitude for the gift of God's Son. I am not limited to that gratitude at only this season. In truth, I was raised in one of those households that strove to keep Christ out of the season, because-no-one-knows-the-actual-date-of-His-birth-and-maybe-God-wanted-it-that-way-so-we-wouldn't-get-caught-up-in-celebrating-one-specific-day.

I get tired of the posturing that takes place at Christmas. Tired of the people who are offended by X-mas and reindeer.

So maybe this doesn't sound like a Thankful Thursday post, but I am thankful for

-- any opportunity the whole world takes to focus on peace and love and goodwill toward all.

-- time spent with people I truly love and who truly love me, warts and all.

-- beautiful music, whether sacred or secular, that lifts my spirit and makes me smile with pure joy.

-- pretty lights (not gaudy displays) and delicious foods made (hopefully) with love and just for the joy of it.

So here's my gift for you all this Thankful Thursday before Christmas. Merry Christmas!

find more Thankful Thursday at Grace Alone

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY . . . December 20, 2011

Outside my window . . . it is gray and cloudy. We are supposed to be in the 60's today with rain. Merry Christmas?

I am thinking . . . that Christmas is upon us, and I'm not done shopping!

I am thankful . . . for my wonderful week in Cozumel last week. It was so incredibly beautiful, fun and relaxing.

From the learning rooms . . . Christmas Break!

In the kitchen . . . Cranberry Orange Bread, Pumpkin Bread and Pomegranate White Chocolate Chip Cookies. YUM!

I am wearing . . . black yoga pants and my run for Mercy t-shirt.

I am creating . . . nothing specific right now, as all projects are on hold until I get finished with Christmas baking, wrapping, buying, etc.

I am going . . . . to yoga, shopping and then lunch with my dd.

I am wondering . . . about child rearing. I know I did some things right, but looking back, I see so much I could have done better! 

I am reading . . . 
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Adventure Peril, Lost Jewels, and the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree (The Wingfeather Saga) by Andrew Peterson. After finishing Life of Pi I needed something lighter!
I am hoping . . . to finish my shopping today, so I can stay home the rest of the week, cleaning, wrapping and baking.

I am looking forward to . . . spending time with family over the weekend. We aren't traveling, so it should be fairly easy and calm.

I am hearing . . . nothing but the hum of electronics, and the occasional comment from dd.

Around the house . . . things are still a bit messy from our trip and Christmas preparations, but I think we'll have most things ship shape by the weekend.

I am pondering . . . . either not very much or too much to post here. I'm not sure which!

One of my favorite things . . . is tea. I've said it before and I'll say it again. This season I've been enjoying Comfort and Joy tea from The Republic of Tea.

A few plans for the rest of the week . . . finish the shopping; more baking; lots of package wrapping; and lots of fun!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing . . . 

New scuba diving friends!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Made by You Monday -- Christmas Eve Shortcut Cinnamon Buns

These have become a Christmas tradition for us over the past few years. Quick and easy to put together and yummy to munch on while playing with our gifts on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve Shortcut Cinnamon Buns

Makes 20 buns

These are made the night before and popped in the oven Christmas morning when the kids are attacking their stockings!

20 unbaked frozen dinner rolls (Bridgeport is a brand I have used)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted

Lightly grease a 10 inch bundt cake pan. Place frozen rolls into the pan and sprinkle with brown sugar, the pudding mix, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over the top. If you don’t have a bundt pan, you can use a muffin tin, but they turn out better in a bundt pan.

Cover with a clean, damp cloth and leave overnight at room temperature to rise.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake rolls for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
Turn rolls out onto a serving plate and dig in!

(For more recipes please visit FlyLady’s Kitchen)

link up to Made by You Monday at Skip to My Lou

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Poetry -- Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

When I was a young child, the college my father taught at always hosted a Christmas party for the faculty and staff. There were cookies and punch and Christmas cartoons shown on a movie screen. Then everyone would gather to sing Christmas carols. The last song was always "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" at the end Santa Claus would appear and hand out gifts to all the children in the group. This is one of the happiest memories from my childhood. The gifts were nothing amazing: a bank, a music box, a puzzle, but the experience was just marvelous. Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Oh! You better watch out, 
You better not cry, 
You better not pout, 
I'm telling you why:

Santa Claus is coming to town!

He's making a list, 
He's checking it twice, 
He's gonna find out 
who's naughty or nice.

Santa Claus is coming to town!

He sees you when you're sleeping, 
He knows when you're awake. 
He knows when you've been bad or good, 
So be good for goodness sake!

So...You better watch out, 
You better not cry 
You better not pout, 
I'm telling you why.

Santa Claus is coming to town.

Little tin horns, 
Little toy drums. 
and rummy tum tums.

Santa Claus is coming to town.

Little toy dolls 
that cuddle and coo, 
Elephants, boats 
and Kiddie cars too.

Santa Claus is coming to town.

The kids in Girl and Boy Land 
will have a jubilee. 
They're gonna build a toyland town 
all around the Christmas tree.

Oh....You better watch out, 
You better not cry. 
You better not pout, 
I'm telling you why.

Santa Claus is comin' 
Santa Claus is comin' 
Santa Claus is comin' 
To town.

Frank Sinatra and Cindy Lauper

Friday, December 16, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

for more moments visit SouleMama