Tag Archives: Grace

Faith is Freedom

Photography by FitzPicz

Photography by FitzPicz

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.”

Rabindranath Tagore

I spent last weekend with some good friends. We braved the winter weather of snow and slush. The sun came out briefly before the rain began and gave us something to smile about. It wasn’t a much warmer place, but it was a good place none the less.

I had alot of time to think and rest. Sometimes I find the only way to get inspired is to get out of town. Truly it seems that when I am an hour or more from my own home, my brain starts to relax. It begins to think of new ideas for just about anything, and creative ways to market my business. Without my usual responsibilites for those few days, I can feel free to read, walk, nap or socialize without worrying about what’s for dinner or anything else!

FitzPics

FitzPicz– Beautiful

I’m back home now. Though it is still cold and snowing on and off, I know winter is almost over. In a few weeks I will walk to the back of my field and snow drops will be peeking up through the tiny bits of snow under the trees. I will count the days until Easter and look forward to my church services and a pascal dinner at my aunt and uncle’s. Those snow drops will be only the beginning. After that will be daffodils, tulips, and forsythia. I will know what a spring breeze feels like again. I will wait for the days to get warmer and longer.

Last month I wrote about having a different attitude about winter. So far it has seemed to work. I’ve never been fond of this season and the weather for the last two months has given me its best. But I’ve survived! Here’s what’s contributed to my tiny bits of gratitude and happiness, and kept me in an upbeat mood.

The birds in my backyard. They are here daily and are stunning. Red, blue, black and white. Just gorgeous. The photos I’m featuring today were taken by a friend of my cousin. John is actually from Kentucky but it feels like he is next door to me. The cardinals in flight are simply beautiful. Bird watching has given me pause for gratitude every day. Thank you John for allowing me to showcase your photos!

My friends and family. I make a point to get out at least once a week for lunch with a friend. It isn’t expensive. We do hamburgers or salads and chat it up. There is nothing that can replace a warm friendship with another woman. Nothing. Especially one that you truly love. And I’m thankful for my phone friends as well. I have those too and my God those women are awesome. And family? Well, it goes for the saying that when I am surrounded by my family, I’m in a magnificent place.

So here we are. It is almost March. Hopefully, spring will come a bit early and lighten us all. If not, so what? Faith is freedom. Faith is believing that spring will come and soon enough we’ll be sitting outside, enjoying a cool beverage and a warm breeze!

Thank you FitzPicz

Thank you FitzPicz

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Good Golly, Miss Molly!

Miss Molly, Photo by my daughter, Michelen

Meet Miss Molly! All photos by my daughter, Michelene

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” ― Charles M. Schulz

Who’s big, shiny black and carries a big stick? Why it’s my daughter’s new puppy, Miss Molly!

She’s a Great Dane, just a little under one year old and even in couple of months, has grown larger almost right before our eyes. You can tell by the pictures, I’m sure, that she is quite the happy girl.

I knew a Great Dane years ago, when I dated a young Italian who had one. That was long ago and though the memory is faded, I knew Danes to be loving and gentle dogs. That didn’t stop me from being a tad bit scared the first time I met Molly. But that quickly faded as I saw how sweet and sincere she is.

My daughter is Molly’s third owner in her small life. When Michelene told me that I said, “Well, you have to keep her now.” And Michelene agreed. It’s a done deal. Molly is a member of the family.

Molly loves to play fetch in the basement with balls. Intially, she would not go downstairs because her second owner kept her in a basement all the time. 🙁 Michelene was very patient and encouraging with Molly to help her overcome this. She placed dog treats on each step leading down to the basement, and gradually Molly overcame her own fears.

With my daughter’s large yard and property, Molly has plenty of room to run and play. My own pup, Miss Jordan, was initially petrified of Molly but that didn’t last long. They are bosom buddies, often romping in the back yard of Michelene’s house together.

Molly eats two pounds of dog food a day and drinks a LOT of water. She has a special dog/water food combo dish that is elevated off the ground due to her height.

She loves to look out the window at everyone and everything!

How much is that puppy in the window?

How much is that puppy in the window?

I think we know deep down that Molly is an example of how you can be moved around, not sure where you are going, but end up exactly where you are supposed to be. There will always be someone who will love us exactly the way we are. We love Molly for who she is and the potential for what she can become. She is a beautiful dog, inside and out.

Cathching a few Zzzzz!

Catching a few Zzzzz!

Here’s to many good years ahead! We are blessed and lucky to have Molly as a part of our family!

Who is a blessing in your life?

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Everything I Own Has Alittle Bit of Doghair On It

 

Our favorite dog Ms. Jordan

Our favorite dog Ms. Jordan

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
Josh Billings

I put a jacket on the other day and there it was. Golden yellow flecks of dog hair.

I put a pair of black pants on to go to a special event- there it was again, more dog hair.

Everything I own has alittle bit of doghair on it.

Do I say with this impatience, aggravation or anger? No. As a matter of fact, I have complete and total acceptance of dog hair.

Our yellow lab Jordan is a member of our family. We have had her now for eight years and it seems like she has been with us always. I try and remember life without her and it just doesn’t seem the same.

My daughter found Jordan (or Jordan found her) when she went to pick up her son one day at his father’s house. Michelene said when she came back out to the car, Jordan was sitting next to the car wheel smiling as if to say “Here I am! What are we doing next!?”

Thank goodness Michelene had the nerve to go to Jordan’s house of origin and ask if she was available for adoption. The family said “Hold on a minute” and came back and said “You can take her.”

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I fell instantly in love when I saw Jordan. Lab pups are too cute and the bond between Jordan and us was immediate. We had a border collie at that time too. I don’t think Lucky was initally excited about another competitor in the house. Thankfully he got used to it and they played like brother and sister.

Chicken PictureJordan is outside most of the day and is our official “protector of the chickens.” That is, we have a coop with twelve chickens and she protects them from hawks and wildlife. In the late afternoon we let the chicks out to roam. Jordan is ever watchful, ever vigilant. For her devotion, she gets a fresh egg reward.

To watch Jordan eat an egg is like being a witness to a spiritual experience. She handles it like glass. Gently taking it in her mouth, she lays it down on the ground. How she cracks it open so perfectly I don’t know. When she licks the egg out you know she is savoring it. Finally, she eats the shell and finishes the treat.

If anyone raises their voice at our house alittle too loudly, Jordan walks over and nudges them. She is uncomfortable with upset people, us or guests, and she has become an emotional baromater for our household. Get alittle too excited and Jordan will gently touch you and make you calm the heck down.

Are you worried about something? Jordan will come and look at you with her big eyes, silently requesting a head scratch or belly rub. By the time you are done, your problem will not seem so big.

I consider Jordan one of the most precious gifts in my life. She keeps me company when Jim works a long shift. It is just me and her some nights. I am fine with that.

 

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Moments

This past weekend marked a special event. After thirty one years of living with us, my daughter has moved into her very first house.

It has been quite a transition for us, a big time reality check that includes a stark awareness of how time really does march on. We have all been through much together, thick and thin, and weathered it all with the grace of God.

“And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth,”You owe me.” Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky.” ― Rumi

I am in the right place (I hope) about my daughter’s departure. She is a love that lights up the sky and it is her time to have the freedom she has long desired and worked so hard for. Her leaving is a testament to having goals. She went to school, got good grades, worked part time then full time, She saved her money and pursued this little house with a big yard because she’d like to have a small farm someday.

My son has been gone for five years already so I am used to him not being here (except for holidays). I think Jim is apprehensive about the quiet around our house but I feel ready. Maybe I will change my mind, but I know time cannot stand still and we all have to move on.

finishedpeanutbuttercookies1Through all this, I’ve been thinking about peanut butter and jelly. And eating peanut butter and jelly. It is the basic comfort food, the quintessential sandwich of childhood, the “everything will be all right” kind of nourishment that we all crave when life gets alittle challenging.

I found a wonderful blog recently called “Confetti Diaries” and asked Natalie if I could publish the delicious picture of her peanut butter and jelly cookies. I’m going to make a batch of these soon. And then I think I’ll take some over to my daughter’s house.

Click HERE for the link to Natalie’s cookie recipe.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

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Peace on the Farm

NC Mist

How have you been? Here in my neck of the woods, the days are slowly getting shorter. It is dark in the morning until after 7am and the leaves are slowly falling from the trees.

I took a quick trip to my sister Mary’s house (farm, really) last week and spent two lovely days in North Carolina. One highlight of the trip was Starr’s food. Dinner on the first night was black eyed peas, collard greens, carrots, homemade mac/cheese, and fresh baked bread. If you think this was amazing you are right.

Dinner on day two was homemade pizzas and salad. Delicious.

I got acquainted with the six dogs of the farm but I have to tell you about my absolute favorite. It was Emma- the Emmanator– as Mary has fondly dubbed her.

Emma 2Mary rescued Emma as a pup from a hot car (Go Mary) and ended up being her new owner. Emma has doubled in size in a few months and is just a ball of energy. From the moment I walked into the farmhouse, Emma squealed to visit with me and I couldn’t help but indulge her in as much attention as I could.

It was a tempting thought to stash Emma in the car with us and bring her on home to PA. But Mary loves her and I’d never argue with a dog to owner kind of love. Plus, Emma would likely exhaust me as she has a way to go before some of that puppy wears off!

Other things I did in NC…. two trips to the best Goodwill store ever (in Mocksville, NC) yielded me two new comfortable tops, a Christmas red tablecloth for $3, a gorgeous fall scarf for $1. What woman doesn’t love a bargain?

I had a great lunch with my webmaster Susan at my favorite Winston Salem restaurant- Sweet Potatoes. I chose the grilled turkey burger with cranberry mayo and of course, a side of sweet potato fries. Susan and I kicked a few ideas around and got to chat like good friends!

On the morning of our departure, Mary and I walked the dogs down a long path that runs adjacent to her property. Corn stalks had recently been cut down and the field was wide open. The sun was coming up and it was a scene right out of a movie. A glowing sky, the multiple colors of a sunrise, and even a cloud formation that evoked a bit of a spiritual presence filled my heart with a calm and serenity. I knew these blessings were a good reason to live on a farm.

Cloud Cross

So I’m back home now, reminiscing about my time in North Carolina. Even when it’s only for a few days, it’s great to just get away….

Horse NCHow are things with you? Are you busy, slow, doing anything autumn-y with yourself?

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Farm to Table- the Autumn Finale

Dinner at Lewis Landscape

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon. The setting was Lewis Farm in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. The event? The last Farm to Table dinner hosted by my friend, Jacob Mains and his delicious business, The Farmer’s Table.

I had been to Lewis Farm before to meet Jane, the owner, and had simply fallen in love with the barn and the land (and Jane, who is one sweet person). It is a beautiful place for an outdoor wedding and reception and I look forward to bringing events to Lewis Farm in the near future.

So it was with great anticipation that my friend Lynda (winner of my first Katherine’s Daughter Events giveaway ever) and I made our way to the back roads of Cranberry, to experience both the beautiful scenery and the amazing food that I knew Jacob would prepare.

Dinner at lewis Squash bitesIt’s great to be recognized and Jacob and his father Martin gave me a warm greeting. Lynda and I took in the view and pretty soon the appetizers were tantalizingly displayed amid the back drop of the autumn trees.

Little squash breads with apple butter sage, apple slices with whipped hazelnut ricotta, and mini meatballs with sweet sour and spicy sauce were served while Martin played bartender and poured a delicious crisp autumn white wine. I loved all three appetizers but I have to say those tiny squash breads just won me over with their delicious flavor and soft, moist texture.

It is amazing how strangers become friends in such settings. Lynda and I chose one of the cozy outdoor seating arrangements and before long, we met the neighbors from an adjoining farm and  chatted like only good farm friends do.

We saw everyone walk into the barn and knew it was dinnertime. Lynda and I introduced ourselves to our dinner mates and met a couple who were there celebrating the husband’s birthday. We talked all evening about everything- kids, bees, chickens- you name it as we relaxed and enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

Dinner at lewis best menu

Dinner was five courses, including dessert, and each one was a culinary delight. All courses used local organic produce from Kretschmann Farm and included pumpkin, squash, cabbage and of course the delicious grass fed meat of Lewis Farm. My favorite course was the pumpkin gnocchi with sage brown butter and kuri squash puree. Oh, just the thought of it now as I write this, makes my mouth water.

Delicious slices of delmonico steak lay next to a delicate strada of new potatoes, and fresh asparagus for the main course. It has been a long time since I tasted meat that soft and flavorful.

Dessert!

Dessert!

Dessert was a perfect ginger cookie with pumpkin mousse and a dollop of cinnamon creme fraiche. The other dinner guests used their fork or spoon, but I put aside all formal manners and picked up the ginger cookie, swooped it into the mousse and creme fraiche and bit off a generous bite! Everyone followed suit and before you knew it, we were murmuring sounds of delight as we enjoyed the last morsels of our delicious dinner.

Jacob Mains

Jacob Mains

Now we must wait until spring or early summer, when Jacob will again bring his delicious dinners back to us. He told me he will be planning, promoting and posting the 2014 dinners on his website soon so I encourage you to bookmark it or follow him on Facebook. What a great Christmas present for a foodie- a gift certificate to one of Jacob’s dinners.

Here’s some links for you:

The Farmers Table, LLC

Lewis Family Farm, Cranberry Twp, PA

Katherine’s Daughter Events

As for me, I am already dreaming of an event between Jacob, Jane and I to showcase the beautiful Lewis Farm. As soon as I gather my thoughts, you’ll be the first to know about it!

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Rocky Mountain High

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I don’t know about you but sometimes I can really get a committee going in my head. The committee sometimes makes good sense or helps me through a problem in a loving and encouraging way. But sometimes the committee speaks too loudly and makes no sense.

It likes to go on and on about dumb stuff and I just follow along, wimp like, victim like while it chastises me for various things. I didn’t do this or that good enough, or wow, how could I have reacted in that situation like that. On and on it goes, just making me feel bad.

Until I got the bright idea one day that I could just change the station in my head. Just like turning the knob to another radio station, I can switch off the bad thoughts and tune into another station. I mentally try one station- soft music- and in my head suddenly I am singing an old familiar 70’s song like yep, Rocky Mountain High. I saw John Denver in person once, the year before he died, and he performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. That was the first song he walked out on stage singing and I still get chills just thinking about it.

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So now my head is filled with glorious music and a stunning mountain vista, instead of those pesky, bothersome committee members.

If the song ends in my head, I can again switch the station. This time, I switch to the spiritual station. In the background I can feel the warmth of soft candles. My Higher Power is there, s(he) is engaging me in loving thoughts and encouragement. I am again bathed in a wash of light and happiness, grateful to be alive and ready for my next destination.

This takes some practice, but I am getting pretty good at switching stations. The committee is learning that it can’t sit there and complain and give me a hard time or the door will close to its room. I’ll be off and in another direction, content to find another, more happier place in which to hang out.

Thanks to my daughter Michelene for her stunning photos!

Where do you go (in your head!) for a change of scenery?

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Living Generously

Mom and her delicious Finikia!

Mom and her delicious Finikia!

“Give , and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

I would have to say that my mother has set the best example for me of living generously.

She does not have all that much but what she has she will share with you unselfishly. Preferring not to spend money on herself, she will lavishly offer to spring for lunch or try to give me money when I buy her something that is really a gift.

Case in point, my sister Mary is coming to town in a couple of weeks and my mom already has the itinerary pretty much finished (this is why I am an event planner!). One day’s activities involves going to our church’s mini food festival and mom has already told me she is paying for dinners- lamb, pastichio, stuffed grape leaves, etc.

Over my objections (it does no good) she has told me she will take care of the food bill that night.

I used to think my mom financially cut herself a bit too close at times but as I get older, and closer to God, I think honestly she has the right idea. Everything she needs has been provided to her. She is well taken care of and in good health now (thank you!). Happy to be with her simple things, she is content to have just enough.

I firmly believe the old wives saying of “you can’t take it with you”. I love how wealthy people are giving their money away in clever and creative ways, not leaving it all for their children but making them earn it themselves.

I found this link recently to an article about wealthy people who have decided not to leave their fortunes to their kids. Warren Buffet for instance has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth either during his life or before he dies. He has already pledged 83% of it to the Gates Foundation.

What about simple folk like me? I am still finding creative ways to be generous, despite my limited income these days. Giving of my time (without expecting payment) to good causes is my favorite generous act of late. I also like to treat to things that are only a few dollars- coffee or dessert for a friend, a nice book from the used book store. I love these forms of generosity; they keep my feet firmly planted where they need to be, in service to others.

If I am tempted to be selfish with my time or money, I remind myself how generosity will come back to me multiplied.

Blessings to you today! What is your favorite act of generosity?

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Pondering Some Sweet Things

One of my new friends! Sweet Bites Cookies

One of my new friends! Sweet Bites Cookies

I’ve met some interesting people in the last couple of weeks as I venture out and promote my wedding and event business.

There was the group of local women business owners who invited me to a networking event last week. Included in the bunch was a lovely woman who brought her magic cookies and shared them with all of us. I was so impressed with Diane that I’m adding her to my business website! (Click on the link under the cookie picture to check her out)

I also went to see a local farm- Destiny Hill– that does weddings on their real working lavender farm. And they design bridal flowers pulled from their own flower beds! I was in love with the place from the moment I drove up the driveway!

There was something interesting too that happened to me last week that I’ve been wanting to share with you. Here goes….

Can you see them?

Can you see them?

I was driving on a road just minutes away from my own home, engrossed in thinking about my business. (I’ve been doing that a lot lately!) So catching myself, I took a minute for a gratitude prayer and then asked God for assistance with my new venture. In the next minute, the car in front of me slowed down. I glanced up to see what was going on and there was the source. A gaggle of small turkeys, slowly making their way across the road, completely stopping traffic. As they reached the other side, the lead turkey decided she really didn’t want that side, she wanted the other side.

So they all turned around and went back across the road.

I pulled my car over to the berm, so excited about the turkeys that I grabbed my cell phone. Not wanting to scare them, I kept back and was able to snap a picture or two. Other cars sped on as soon as the turkeys were off the road. I stood a moment or two until they disappeared into the brush.

What does this beautiful nature sighting mean? To me it was an instant affirmation that God is with me. S(he) is watching over me and hears my prayers. All I need to do is believe and things will work out as they should, not by my plan but by a divine plan. To see my favorite creatures in such multiples, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sight. To me, it is a sign of future abundance as long as I am willing to keep a grateful heart.

What’s your favorite creature of nature? I’d love to know!

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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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