Friday, December 20, 2013

Canine Elf - IHS Moment #8

Dear Diary,
I have made mention of him before, my Charlie. 

Our canine friends can be stinkers for sure (see Dissed by a Dog), so perhaps our little way of payback would be in the form of good natured ridicule.

(No dogs have been harmed in the making of this post.)

You've seen the pet shaming photos online:  guilt-faced dogs and a conviction notice in the foreground, toilet paper kerfuffle or exploding pillow innards in the background.

And here is another way in which we annoy our dogs: dressing them up.  And it sure puts a smile on my face!  Check out this one-minute, extremely professional video....


Ok, not extremely professional, but it is waaay better than dogs barking out the "Jingle Bells" song, which made some professional more money than they deserve. 

After all they put up with from us humans, don't let Santa forget your pets!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Why I Don't Drink Much Caffeine - IHS #7

Dear Diary,

I am having a love/hate relationship with my blog right now.

I love writing.
I hate that it is taking up so much of my mental time. 
I am neglecting my chores and my Christmas preparations, and am cheating my family of a Christmas spirit I desperately want to feel.

On December 9, I challenged myself to post a joy of my heart each day until Christmas.

I am reneging that challenge. 

It is no longer a joyful task.

Saturday's post did not get published.
I did write a post for Saturday, but the key idea was actually in a one-minute video I tried to upload.  And tried,
and tried,
and tried again. 
I wasted a lot of time. 
No Can Do. 

And I was more than a little irritated by it.

So, I need to have a reality check, stop obsessing and start living (and cleaning)!  I need to start organizing, wrapping, and panicking about my (lack of) Christmas card ideas.  I want to put joy back into my day, not just in one little gem I manage to pull out for these posts.

I need to chill.

So, while I will post more before Christmas, I am taking the pressure off of myself (which was soley put on by ME) to post every day.

So here is my IHS for today.  It comes full circle to my advent calendar I alluded to on the 9th.  It was homemade by church ladies, and it is adorable.  Felt people with googly eyes.  Hearkens me back to my childhood Sunday School days, with green felt boards and Bible story characters stiffly demonstrating the story at hand.

On this the 16th day of December, the procession of people and animals gathering to welcome the baby Jesus is getting quite large. 

Here is what I noticed this morning. 
Upon closer inspection, their googly eyes actually make them appear to have had a little waaaaaay too much coffee.

Yup. Wide awake.
I guess they don't want to miss Christ's coming.

Neither do I.  So I'll catchya later.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pick Your Own IHS (#6)

This is my sixth installment of a series of posts describing an IHS moment leading up to Christmas. For those of you not keeping track, IHS means Inward Heart Swell, the antithesis of the IMG (Inward Mental Groan). It is my attempt to highlight the joy in the mundane, run-of-the-mill, or not-so-noticeable side of the Christmas season.
Dear Diary,

Today you can pick your own IHS. 
I could have searched online for fabulous photos of a palm tree, crystal waters, and white sandy beaches, as well as the deep blue and pure white of an Alaskan mountain range or glacier.

Instead I chose a scene I see every day 'cuz it is my reality.  I have cold weather friends and fair weather friends.  Anyone who knows me knows which weather friend I am!  So rather than hog this page with what I want to see, I thought I'd make it IHS friendly for all.

Which photo takes you to your happy place?

Photo #1

Photo #2

Come back and visit this page anytime you need a pick-me-up.

You're welcome,


Friday, December 13, 2013

Just Like Grandma Made - IHS Moment #5

This is my fifth installment of a series of posts describing an IHS moment leading up to Christmas. For those of you not keeping track (mom), IHS means Inward Heart Swell, the antithesis of  the IMG (Inward Mental Groan). It is my attempt to highlight the joy in the mundane, run-of-the-mill, or not-so-noticeable side of the Christmas season. 

Dear Diary,

Church cookbooks are the best.  The are full of tried and true recipes that blue and silver haired ladies have been making for ages, and which have pleased the palates of the generations they serve. Orange Cake, All Day Stew, Sauerkraut Relish, German Chocolate Pie all tantalize the senses.

I have several of these books, and--heaven help me--they aren't all Lutheran!

The Lutheran cookbook does have a leg up on the other denominations in one area especially: Jello.  Jello molds, salads, and desserts are a staple of the Lutheran cookbook, along with the Potluck chapter and - my favorite - the This & That chapter, for recipes so undefined and random they have no place in the regular sections of the book. (Wild Animal Milk, anyone?)

I am lucky enough have a recipe book from the churches of both my paternal and maternal grandmothers.  They are special because I can find and use the recipes tagged with their names.  They are (even more) special because my grandmothers have passed on to glory, leaving the need to cook and eat up to the rest of us waiting our turn to attend the heavenly feast already prepared for us.

Recently I had the privilege of making my grandmother's pie crust recipe. 

I admit, it has been a while since I bothered (thank you Pillsbury!). 
But really, my grandma's recipe is excellent -- and it makes about 5 crusts so I can freeze the extra, just like the dough boy's!

Who knew pie crust could give me such joy?  But every time I pull one out of the freezer, I really do have a heart-filled moment. 

Happy baking!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I'm No Scrooge!

Dear Diary,

"Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully......You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which...will produce thanksgiving to God."**


Ask me what it means and I originally would have answered something like "the unconditional giving of material things."  (Think Scrooge's attitude, after the visit from the three spirits!)

I could name several friends who have a propensity for generosity. Although they inspire me, I envy their ability to naturally do something I find a bit more difficult to do.

Then I realized,  Bah, humbug, I'm no Scrooge!

To be generous is selfless.

It is loving and compassionate.

And, yes, I think unconditional is also a part of being generous (except for maybe the small favor of a receipt for tax purposes.)

And it doesn't have to involve money or a material object.

A person can be generous with their time and talents as well as their treasures.

A generous heart is full heart and, therefore, is a heart full of potential IHS moments. 

God bless us, every one!

**This IHS moment for today was brought to you with the help of:
The Bible, 2 Corinthians chapter 9
Charles Dickens
and Walt Disney.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Dear Diary,

I need to give a shout out to my folks for the Whetstone's hot chocolate mix.  Whetstone and I have a friendship that goes way back into my childhood.

But I digress. 

As much as I love Whetstones and my parents (in no particular order, ahem) my heart and tummy warming IHS moment today is actually brought to you by a stranger named Bob.

He is the maker of Sweet Stripes, a product I bought on a whim (and for only a buck) at WalMart.

Look at those dandy edible barber pole peppermint sticks! 
Imagine what a person could do with these babies!
For today, they were great stirrers for our hot chocolate.  They are softer than a candy cane, making for quicker meltaway action.
This is an IHS experience you just can't duplicate in July.
Sweetly yours,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Feasting on Leroy

Dear Diary,
Hello! Here I am with my second IHS.  Hope I can keep this up!

The heart swelling Christmas joy I want to share today is courtesy of Leroy Anderson.

He is a talented American composer whose works include
The Typewriter,
                             Syncopated Clock,
                                                              and A Trumpeter's Lullaby.

But at this time of year I can't get enough of his......(drum roll)......... Sleigh Ride.
(Composed during a July 1948 heatwave in Connecticut btw!)

It is a feast for my ears. The percussion section has the spotlight in this tune. My timing is never quite right as I try to mimic the crack of the whip.  Syncopation is not my gift.

But listening to the romp of the trombone and the frolicking strings makes my heart delight in the buffet of sounds this song has to offer. All the pieces put together make one satisfying meal!

In case you want to take a couple of minutes to indulge, or just want a reminder of the song, take a listen to this recording from 2008.

Have a jolly day!

Monday, December 9, 2013

IHS Joys of Christmas

Dear Diary,

December 9th?  Really? 
Didn't I just put up the nativity scene advent calendar? 
   1 rooster,
   1 donkey,
   1 camel,
   1 cow,
   1 angel,
   1 shepherd, and
   3 sheep later,
it is nine days into the month.  Time flies....

With 16 days left until the Big Day, I wanted to challenge myself with a little exercise. 
No, I don't mean literally exercise -- heh heh, that's a good one on your part!

I mean I want to find and name a joy each day.
Not the obvious joys like eating Christmas cookies, or attending parties, or eating Christmas cookies, or singing carols with your kids, or eating Chri..... oh, you get my meaning.

I want to bring to light something that gives me the opposite of an inward mental groan (IMG). 
I call it an IHS:  Inward Heart Swell. 

When my heart swells, it is with one of two things:  pride (not always good, except when it comes to my kids) and joy.  Soooo, swallowing my pride (and cookies) for the time being, I will post a joyous IHS every day until Christmas.  That is what I mean by a challenging exercise.

Here goes.
Today's IHS joy is this:

An ornament I've had since bk (before kids) and is so random!  What does a cute widdle bear sitting in a baby swing really have to do with Christmas?  Nothing!  And yet it is an ornament that is simply irresistible to me.  Look at that face!  It's just begging for a push!  Since my girls were little enough to help with the tree, they, too have been drawn to its random cuteness and have spent playtimes pushing him in his Christmas tree swing. 
I guess it's a "he." 
Maybe it's the red bowtie.

Would love to hear about your little IHSs of Christmas.  Just leave a comment!

Until tomorrow!