Tag Archives: Family

Egg-actly Wonderful!

Photo Courtesy of Sunday Child

All Photos Courtesy of Sunday’s Child

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
― Julia Child

I have a confession to make. When my husband wanted to raise chickens a few years ago, I was not in favor of it.

Yes, it’s true. I pictured my grandfather’s chicken coop, messy and scary with cackling chickens all around my feet, just scaring the beeswax out of me.

Well, here I am all these years later, admitting the truth. I love fresh eggs. Jim and our daughter Michelene have kept their word and they’ve taken good care of the chickens, all without any responsibility on my part. That was the other thing I was wary of. That the care of the chickens would become my responsibility.

Nothing of the sort has happened. And in the meantime the delicious yellow yolks, bright as sunshine, coupled with the delicate white have graced our table many times. In any way shape or form, the eggs are delicious. Scrambled or sunny side up with a side of toast, or cracked into the latest cake, those eggs have become a part of our lives.

Now some of you know I have been blessed to have a blogger friend on the west coast, Sunday’s Child. She began her own love affair with chickens last year! She has an awesome coop and has just embraced the whole chicken raising thing, chick and caboodle.

Daffodils and the EggRecently, Ms. Child began to place her light brown or green eggs amongst her pitcher collection or in other very creative places and snap beautiful artistic pictures. The juxtapositioning of the eggs! The beauty of the pitchers! The sunny yellow of the daffodils! My oh my, my heart was singing!

I casually mentioned to Ms. Child that she ought to consider a coffee table book with those spectacular pictures, alongside say some great egg stories and perhaps some yummy egg recipes. At first she said, “Haha, funny, yes, you and I would be the only ones buying the book!”

But then her friends started to tell her the same thing. I sent her an email and she said someone had mentioned the coffee table book idea to her right before I did. (I think there are no coincidences!)

So we are exploring this idea of an artistic, yet country style EGG BOOK. What do you think? Are you an egg lover yourself? Do you have an inspiring egg story to share? Better yet, do you have an original or favorite egg recipe that you’ve made for years? Believe me the simplier the better. I love easy recipes.

Please share your thoughts and ideas with us. If you want to email me privately at katherinesdaughter@gmail.com, that’s fine. If not, leave a comment below and I’ll know egg-actly how you feel!

Elephant and the Egg

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Sisterly Love

With my Sisters, at the Base of the Acropolis!

With my Sisters, at the Base of the Acropolis! L to R, Cally, Mary, Me

There is no outsider anywhere who wouldn’t appreciate and even envy the tremendous advantage that sisters have if properly utilized, against all odds- Susan Ripps

Today is my sister’s birthday- Happy Birthday Mary! It’s also a perfect time for me to spend a few moments thinking about sisterhood.

If you have a sister, you will understand. You will know about the good times, the growing up times, the not so easy times and the special times.

The Oldest and (temporarily) the Tallest!

Me- The Oldest and (temporarily) the Tallest!

When we were growing up, we three were like jam (stuck together!) and we watched out for each other. We rode bikes, played Batman and Robin and jumped on our beds just like most other kids.

We fought and made up. We dished and kept quiet. We occasionally told on each other and then stuck our tongues out to rub it in good.

We sang in middle school chorus and took piano and guitar lessons. The church choir was our back bone and GOYA (the Greek Orthodox Youth Association) our teenage learning years. Greek school was mandatory but there’s not much we remember about that today.

Our mom was tough but Dad was even tougher. Three daughters must have been quite hellish for him at times; too much to worry about. But they did a fine job and I must say we are quite the talented bunch.

To this day, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t share with my sisters. Though I was encouraged to be their role model, they have seen me stumble, fall, get back up, fall again, hit the wall, succeed. They stuck with me through all of it, never making fun of me or thinking less of me. I guess I have shown them my imperfect side, my soft side, because the role model side would not have taught them as much.

We went out to dinner the other night just the three of us and our mom. We toasted our dinner and our time together. It’s been a great holiday and it’s about to get even greater with a shopping trip today and dinner out tonight including our fabulous partners.

So here’s to Mary- Happy Birthday!

Do you have a sister or someone who is like a sister to you?

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The Last Little Bits of Summer

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“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Here we are, the end of August and summer is winding to a close. Where has the time gone? I remember writing my late spring blog post, eagerly awaiting summer’s full glory, anticipating the slow, warm days I was so looking forward to.

As I look back, it has been an amazing summer. Beauty has abounded in my area, despite weird weather like too hot, too cool, too much rain. But somehow through it all, I managed a slight tan, many back yard campfires and lots of juicy peaches.

IMG_2510My cousin Christina came from New York with her daughter Ariel and we had two glorious weeks that included trips to the local farmer’s market and our favorite, the Fiestaware outlet. We couldn’t get enough of Chris’ guacamole and made it no less than four times while she was here! There were lots of salads, grilled vegetables and fresh tomatoes from our garden to enjoy. I’ll never forget her glorious lentils, bean soup and our endless cups of coffee in the back yard, as we caught sightings of the local mama deer and her two baby fawns at play.

I went to Chicago for a wedding, my only real getaway, and what a real pleasure that was. Riding along with my aunt and uncle (my mother’s only brother), I hung out with their teenage grandchildren and never knew how really cool they were. The Chicago cousins were so hospitable I feel like sneaking back there for a visit all my own. (Get ready Deb!)

Through all of this, I felt the faith, the presence of grace all the time. If I momentarily forgot it, I remembered it in the sight of the baby hawk flying over my house, the random phone call from a friend, and the early morning sunrise. I realized the preciousness of time, the ability to take this time to rest, rejuvenate and get ready for whatever will be ahead.

School is beginning next week for my grandson. He is going to the seventh grade (wow, where has THAT time gone?) and Labor Day is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to promoting my new business, looking for still more partners and always searching out great event ideas.

I saw a few red leaves on the ground lately and I know fall is just around the corner. Enjoy these last few summer days with a sentimental heart!

DSC_0090Thanks to Christina for all these beautiful pictures!

How was your summer? Are you looking forward to fall?

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An Attitude of Gratitude

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If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. Meister Eckhart

I went to a wedding not so long ago and when the thank you note for the gift arrived, it was a picture of the bride and groom holding a sign that said “thank you.” It was nice but there was no personalization, no signature, just the picture. My heart sank a bit as I thought this was yet another symptom of our too busy lives. Were thank you notes becoming a thing of the past?

So it gave my heart a lift when my husband shared this story with me recently. He said, “There are days when it is terrible to be a nurse in the ER. We see some of the same people over and over again, who do nothing different for their own conditions, and yet they expect us to fix it immediately. I get tired and worn out and wonder for what purpose I am here.”

On one particular day Jim headed back to his station and there was a clasp envelope laying on his desk. When he opened it, there were three thank you notes inside. They were from the children of a woman he worked with; they had all come to Jim’s Honey Party and had participated in spinning the combs and witnessing the delicious, sticky honey that had come from that experience.

The notes expressed gratitude and warmed my husband’s heart. He told me, “It was a great moment to realize that I had made a difference in someone’s life.” I am guessing those little notes restored Jim’s faith in himself and the reason he is here on earth.

I have several boxes of pretty thank you cards and I try and remember to thank people who have given me a gift. But I also try and send a thank you for no reason other than to acknowledge someone else’s loving act of kindness. Recently, my aunt and uncle took me to Chicago for a wedding. They came to my doorstep and picked me up. We spent the entire, wonderful weekend together. Afterwards I wrote them a thank you note because not only did I have an amazing time, but I got to know their teen grandchildren a whole lot better and realized what totally beautiful kids they are.

A few years ago when I was beginning my spiritual journey, I decided to keep a gratitude journal. I wrote a few things down each night I was grateful for. It could be something that happened that day, or a quality I had come to recognize in myself or others. After pages and pages of gratitude, a shift in my thinking occurred. I realized the gift of every day life.

I save most all of the thank you notes I receive. There is a shoe box in my closet where I have amassed a collection of notes I’ve received over the years. There are hallmark cards, handwritten notes, some large and some small, but that box serves a purpose. Whenever I am feeling down, I reach for it. I pull out the cards and read them one by one. By the time I am done, my faith in myself is restored.

*The thank you note on the window sill says, “Thank you for giving my shoes back. I liked playing with Jake. A bee is flying.” (sweet!)

Have you ever received a thank you note that you just never forgot? Tell me about it!

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When Less Is Really Better

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“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Life is moving in slow motion for me these days. For the first time in many years I have the luxury of enjoying summer, spending time with my mom, family and friends. It’s a big switch for me, multi- tasker that I am, as I am used to cramming as much as I can into my waking hours. It was nothing for me to go non stop from 7am until 10pm at night, rarely stopping long enough to catch my breath in between. My sister Mary said to me once, “Jo, you’re making us all look bad.”

These days, it is life without much of an agenda. It is freeing really to have a minimal schedule and plenty of time to work on small projects. And, the bonus to all this is I am living on a lot less money than I used to. My needs have become very simple. I tried to figure it out the other day, what was it that was really different? First, I am just not buying stuff like I used to. Second, I am content with a lot less.

DSC_0162Part of this I can attribute to grace and age. As I truly work on embracing life from the standpoint of a spiritual journey, material things have become less and less important. As I get older I feel like I am truly embracing what my mother Katherine has always set an example of- that less is really better. Bigger, fancier and complicated just means more expensive, more maintenance, more potential aggravation. Make more money and we spend more money. Easy and simple I’m finding is really the way to go. Pare things down, decide what’s really important, ease back and enjoy it.

The bonus to all this less is more attitude is more time and energy, and a bit of extra money for what I feel most passionate about. The ability to decide what’s really important bestows a true attitude of generosity in so many other ways. Ways that can really make a difference.

Thanks again to my daughter Michelene for these beautiful photos!

What’s your simplest pleasure? I’d love to know!

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Ah…..Summer!

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“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”  Ray Bradbury

There are flowers everywhere in my yard, and I am just loving it.

Our honeybees are pollinating the roses, larkspur, daisies, sweet peas, pansies, AND…there are green tomatoes in the garden! The tomato flowers are multiplying each day, as if by magic.

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Ah….summer…..

Yes, it is finally summer in Pennsylvania. The sun is up early, around 5:30am, making its presence known through the (supposedly) room darkening shades in my bedroom. I don’t mind one bit, being wakened by the morning light….

It’s as if summer beckons me to rise, get up, come, let Jordan out, and enjoy my morning cup of coffee in the back yard. I usually give in.

There is so much grace in summertime. Summer invites me to relax, unwind, rest and reflect. Also to make some plans for this fall (wink wink), which I am working on and will tell you about soon.

Here are some other summertime graces I’m in love with:

The birds are singing early in the morning, their chorus loud, clear and happy.

The grass is so lush and green and filled with clover.

Fifteen hours of daylight is almost sinful, decadent and oh so awesome.

DSC_0022The chickens are loving the warm weather, the freedom to move about and scratch the ground for delicious bugs.

I can hear dogs barking and kids playing while I open the windows to the evening’s cool breeze.

The lightning bugs are like tiny twinkle lights when they light up my field at night (blink blink blink).

Thank goodness it’s only June. Many more days of summertime grace to enjoy.

Thank you to my daughter Michelene for these beautiful photos!

Are you in summertime? If so, what graces are you enjoying?

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A Letter to Dad

Dear Dad,

I can’t believe it has been 16 years since your passing. It was Father’s Day 1997 when Mom called to relay the news that you breathed your last breath. Uncle Jim G. was so mad because he had to leave his vacation in Yellowstone Park! Ha! But I knew the aunts and uncles would never miss your funeral. Vacation or not, they would be there….

I was not upset that you passed on Father’s Day. It actually caused me to smile because I could imagine you saying from heaven, “NOW you’ll never forget me!”. But truly Dad it would be impossible to do so.

Dad and I

Dad and I

Because you, like me, were an oldest child and it was you who stepped up, was responsible and felt the pressure. You made your presence known in a big way and I learned from your example to be a person who honors their word.

Jim and I mentioned the auto auction the other day, the one you used to take me to occasionally. For a few brief moments I could smell the sauerkraut on the hotdogs that you would buy us in the cafeteria. Mom would NEVER make anything like that at home but you introduced me to sauerkraut and I have loved it ever since!

I am grateful that you and I got to work together at the car dealership for those few precious years. You trusted me enough to leave me in charge when you and mom went away on vacations. That meant much to me and taught me great leadership skills.

Someone I was with last night mentioned Kennywood Park and I was again taken back to the times when you and mom would accompany Jim and I and the kids for a day at the amusement park. You and mom would walk around, eat all the great carnival food with us (their cotton candy was fabulous!) and watch the kids ride the roller coasters. I didn’t know then but I do know now what precious times those were.

I am trying to pay attention to those things I do lately which at first glance may seem insignificant, but could become life long good memories for Michelene, John and Gavin. The day will come when they will remember this and that about me and I want those moments to be fond remembrances, like the ones I have of you.

I am more and more aware of how short life really is. I try to remember how precious each day is and to have gratitude for all my blessings.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!!

One of my favorite pictures!

One of my favorite pictures!

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The Honey Party

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The day started out a bit overcast but before you knew it the sun was out in full and warming the day. As Jim prepared the yard with tables and chairs, I drizzled goat cheese with reserve honey and sprinkled it with chopped walnuts. Then I set plates, silverware, cups and drinks on the counter. The salads I had prepared were ready in the fridge, the guests were pulling up the driveway….

What I didn’t realize was the true number of people we had invited to our first Honey Party. In our excitement, Jim and I each kept inviting more and more guests, not really keeping track of how many we had invited! So when 4:15pm rolled around, the cars and guests and children began to arrive. More and more but oh well! How exciting!

DSC_0051First, Jim gathered the children around and gave a lesson on bees, honeycomb and honey. Then he donned his beekeeper outfit and along with our nephew Jake, pulled six frames from our two year old hive. Then the frames were carefully loaded into the spinner and the children each lined up for a turn at the crank.

Around and around the frames went. Soon there was honey dripping from the bottom of the spinner! It was the color of light sunshine and the taste was unbelievable. Sweet and mellow, it was the end result of the spring flowers the bees had been feasting on for the last couple of months.

DSC_0065As our guests munched on grilled hotdogs and lots of fun food contributions, the spinning went on for another hour or so. Finally the reward for all that cranking. Bowls of vanilla ice cream, drizzled with fresh honey, strawberries, whipped cream and little honey bear grahams were assembled on the outside picnic table. The kids licked their spoons and pronounced honey and ice cream their new favorite.

Best of all, my mom was present for this momentous occasion. She greeted old friends and even made a few new ones. Aunt Joy made a favorite dessert of mom’s that included pistachios and whipped cream. It was indeed a blessing to have mom participate in this wonderful day of love and friendship.

As Jim and I climbed wearily into bed that night, we remarked on what a beautiful day it had been. Many more people showed up than we expected but secretly, we loved this. The real show stoppers that day though were the bees themselves. Their honey was amazing.

Thanks to my daughter Michelene for the great pictures!

Liquid Gold!

Liquid Gold!

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What Is It About Mothers?

The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children. Jessica Lange

Mom and the Three of Us!

Mom and the Three of Us!

Whether she was wiping noses, cooking dinner or teaching us life lessons, my mother dedicated herself to her family. When I look back in time, she was tireless. Ever cleaning, ever cooking, ever managing the household- that was Mom.

I have many friends like me who have aging parents with issues. Some have parents who have passed. As I feel my own age more and more, I grow in awe of what Mom did for us, despite some serious obstacles. I can wipe away a tear just thinking about moments in time and how Mom managed and survived major stresses. At the time those events happened, I had very little awareness of the gravity of situations. Now I know better.

Mom was a real stunner!

Mom was a real stunner!

As I take care of my mom now, I realize how she took care of my dad all those years ago. He had some of the same issues she is having right now, yet I do not remember ever worrying about him (or her) or offering to assist much. This bothers me a bit today but I know deep inside, mom shouldered this all because she just had to. And likely she would have not wanted it any other way.

My own stint with motherhood has taught me many things. One is that I am not always right. Second, I have a lot of power. These two things can sometimes get the best of us moms into trouble. When we tell our kids they don’t do this right or that right, they are listening. I used to think my kids did not listen to me. Then I realized that they were very much listening, watching and learning.

As parents, I believe we have a tremendous responsibility not to use our kids to fulfill our own unsatisfied life dreams. Rather, they are here to be their own individuals, embrace their gifts and qualities, and contribute to society as a whole. I have learned the hard way to love and accept my children (and grandchild) for who they are, rather than to try and force them into what I think they should be.

John and Michelene

John and Michelene

As I have said in previous posts, I have really realized the power of unconditional love. My daughter was a single parent at age 18. She finished her GED ages ago and attained a Bachelor’s Degree just a few years ago. She is working hard and getting ready to buy her first house. I am very proud of her.

My son is following his instincts and doing what brings him satisfaction and happiness. Though I sometimes wish for other things, I want him to come to his own conclusions about life’s journey. What I try to do is encourage, support and love him just for who he is…a wonderful human being.

My vocation as a Mother will never be over. I try and remember every day that I will leave a lasting legacy for my children and grandchild. As I remember the gifts my mother and grandmother gave to me, I can only hope to leave behind some fond memories of myself… and a great recipe for baklava. 🙂

This post is in honor of my mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to you! What is your favorite part of Motherhood?

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Someone’s Watching Over Me

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“I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got [there]. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home.”
― Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

This quote speaks volumes about the last month or so of my life.

My mom was ill almost all of February and now as she progresses in her recovery, I have a chance to look back and reflect on what really happened.

It is clear that I’ve been watched over. And a path was cleared along the way for me.

Twice last month I narrowly missed being involved in a car accident. If I’d have been seconds later or earlier I would have been hit. I was not.

One morning I was scared and worried about my mom. It was at the beginning of her illness and she was very sick. I happened to be standing at my kitchen sink, looking out the window into my side yard. A singular, enormous doe came out from behind the pine trees and began walking towards my house. She stopped right outside the window, just feet away. I froze as I met her gaze and it was as if she looked right through me. I knew at that moment that my mom was going to be ok. To me, that was a sign of Grace.

The truth is, I have had signs all along the way. People have shown up for me, my mom and my sisters. I finally began to tone down my worry when I realized all I had to do was believe. It was really that simple.

I swear God sees things coming. He sends in reinforcements, interceptions and angels. When I remember to truly Let Go, I just stand back and watch the magic unfold.

A few days after my mom was on a new floor, a rehab floor, I walked into her room and there was a sweet dear friend of mine assigned to my mom as her nurse’s aide for the day. Imagine! In a whole hospital full of people, my friend was assigned to my mother. Was this a coincidence? I think not.

When we believe and have faith, our life can be full and rich and bursting at the seams. No one said it was going to be easy. But someone’s watching over me (and you!) and all we have to do is trust.

Do you ever feel like someone is watching over you? Protecting you? Tell me about it!

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