Recently, I had the opportunity to share a morning with Gus and Fitz, two of our little friends from church. Other than the snuggles, the best part about having little friends join us is that they find joy in the toys that my kids have outgrown. On this particular visit, Gus discovered the phlat ball. The phlat ball has suction cups and a spring inside, so that when smooshed together it holds its flattened shape for a short time and then pops back into a sphere. Gus also thoroughly enjoyed of all the Paw Patrol toys. Soon he discovered that the Ryder figurine could lay on the phlat ball until it popped, and Ryder would go sailing.
No matter how many times it happened, Gus never failed to be excited about the prospect and result of the phlat ball propelling Ryder through the air.
Watching that kind of joy made me wish I could always be so enthusiastic about the simple pleasures in life, even when I know they are coming.
Today I hope you will take time to relish the simple stuff in your life, even if you know it’s coming.
Be sure to take in some fresh air and sunshine. Celebrate the reliability of your schedule and ability to be a part of your professional team. Do a happy dance for the dependability of dinner with your family, or the thundering sound of tennis shoes arriving home from school, and the quick hugs as your kiddos make their way to the snack cabinet. Give up a quick prayer of gratitude for the goodies you have to eat. Find pleasure in your pillow when you lay your head down tonight.
If you find joy in the simple things, joy will find its way to your more often… especially when you know it’s coming.
As I made my way around the corner, light from our basement stairwell startled me. My children are notorious for leaving on the lights throughout the house, but this time I was the only one awake and certain that I had turned off all lights before going to bed the night before. The glare from the stairs was unexpected and demanded investigation.
I made my way down the steps, and as I reached the bottom landing, I had to smile. The radiant light was shining through the artwork completed a year ago on our basement windows. The sun had not shone in a few days and its rays were something I really needed and appreciated in that quiet moment.
The windows found in my home and those around the globe, may not have held a candle to the ones found in our parish churches, but they allowed a creative light to shine in our hearts and homes last spring. In the throws of pandemic quarantine, I sought ways to bring joy and creativity to my children’s activities. As Easter approached and the weather kept us indoors, I joined thousands of other parents giving kids permission to paint their windows. Using tempera paint we created “stained glass” windows.
At the time, this was a fun and uplifting experience. Now, the fear and anxiety that came with the haunting pandemic are lessened and the pressures of what to do with ourselves in those uncertain times have diminished, but the artwork on our windows is still there brightening our days.
I could wash the windows and take down the reminder of what COVID 19 did to our lives last spring, but keeping the color on those panes has also been a positive prompt encouraging us to keep faith in spite of fear and that things will improve if we find ways to stay optimistic. It is in the light of last year that we can feel pride in our resourcefulness and gratitude for what we have accomplished and the continued blessings of our lives. So if you are feeling down or there is a darkness hanging over you, please know that there is light at the end of every tunnel and even the most stained of windows have the ability to let brightness shine in you.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. Washing windows is a sad subject because washing windows makes me sad. Please don’t ask me to was these windows. 🙂
Have you ever witnessed someone’s success and thought, “Man, that guy is so lucky!”?
As the college basketball season wraps up with the wonders of the national championship tournament, I am enthralled with the games and the amazing feats of the players on the court. All too often I take for granted that the men and women making those shots and executing impressive defenses worked countless hours and put in immeasurable efforts to be there.
I will sometimes find myself saying snarky things like, “Must be easy if you’re 7-feet tall to block that shot” or “Come on! You’re a Division I basketball player; make your free throws.” My jeers and cheers often fall short of the reality that those athletes are under a great deal of pressure, and my yoga-pant-wearing, couch-coaching isn’t providing any assistance or luck to anyone.
Luck is usually a trait that is determined by someone observing a situation. Yes, we can feel lucky because of a positive experience or encounter, but for the most part we consider ourselves to not be as “lucky” as everyone else because we always see someone else’s wishes coming true.
I am reminded of a my last basketball game in the 8th grade. My sister, whom I had always played with on the same team, was in the hospital recovering from a life-saving surgery, and our team and I were playing our arch rivals from Perryville. It was the consolation game of the end of season tournament, and I wanted nothing more than to win that game for my sister. The entire game was a close one. With 10 seconds left, we were tied. After I tied the game with a free throw, the other team was brining the ball down the court.
Their player, a girl who I seriously did not like, dribbled past our guards and stopped right in front of me. She shot. My finger tips grazed the ball.
Have you ever noticed someone’s tattoo and thought, “That’s different. I wonder why they got that?”
Interesting enough, it is because of an artist’s willingness to talk to three, crazy ladies sitting at a bar, that I came to see such a tattoo and definitely wanted to know the story behind it.
The artist’s name was Maddy. One of the three crazy ladies at the bar was me.
Maddy’s intriguing tattoo was pansies in a tin cup.
The story behind the tattoo stared when Maddy’s grandparents Kerry and Nancy welcomed the first of their six children into the world. Kerry wanted to surprise his wife with flowers after the birth of their son. He did not have money to purchase long-stem roses or a fancy arrangement from the flower shop, so he gathered a handful of pansies and delivered them to his bride in a tin cup from their pantry. The sentiment was well received and continues to be a story of simplicity and love passed down to their children and grandchildren.
Each morning as I check turkeys, I am amazed at how much they have grown and how their looks change from one day to the next. The funny thing about turkeys is the older they get the prouder they are of their looks. As their plush, yellow fluff is replaced with fine, white feathers, the birds make it their business to hold their heads higher when they pass by. When their fully white plumage is in place, turkeys seem to spend all their time admiring and admonishing their tails and wings, and flaring their feathers as they strut around. Pride in their maturity seems to be the opposite of what we humans do. We lose confidence in our appearance as we age. This loss of self-esteem is tough emotionally and isn’t very attractive. So while turkeys are definitely not the most beautiful of creatures, I think we need to be more like them.
As we begin this new 365-day trip around the sun, many of us are focusing attention on our appearance. The most common New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight or exercise more. So while, many of us are counting our calories and watching our weight, I want to encourage you to fluff your good stuff. Don’t let love handles or belly rolls be what you purposefully draw attention to. Single out your best qualities and draw attention to what makes you feel good about yourself.
There is nothing wrong with being proud of a personal quality or physical trait. There is tremendous benefit to knowing what you are good at or what makes you beautiful and unique. So, if you’ve got it, fluff it!
After surviving Christmas week and gearing up for a highly anticipated New Year’s, I thought it would be a good idea to share something that has given me tremendous hope… well, 12,000 things that have given me tremendous hope to be exact.
We welcomed a new flock of turkeys last week, and I am so very grateful for the opportunity to continue growing quality turkey and beef for American consumers. The chance to continue our farming tradition is not something we take lightly. I hope everyone out there has the ability to be grateful for their means of contributing to our communities and having purpose that keeps them moving.
For today, I encourage you to reflect on the chances you can take. Let opportunity and gratitude be the foundation for making great things happen.
As I made my way through the recipe box, I wanted to share a variety of recipes that would appeal to diverse tastes and cooking abilities. These last 10 recipes range from appetizers to Thanksgiving centerpieces, but all are dishes that showcase turkey and its versatility.
21st Way: Turkey and Vegetable Tetrazzini
Ingredients: 16 oz. linguine pasta, 2 Tblsp vegetable oil, 1 lb. turkey breast cut into 1″ pieces or shredded, 2 cups broccoli chopped, 2 cups carrots sliced, 2 cups mushrooms sliced, 2/3 cup milk, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste
Cook linguine according to directions on package.
Heat oil and cook turkey until done.
Set turkey to side. Add broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms to pan and cook on medium for 3-5 minutes.
Add milk, cream of chicken soup, parmesan cheese, and turkey. Cook until heated through.
Stir in cooked linguine and cook till hot.
***Left-over baked turkey works great in this recipe.
22nd Way: Turkey Asparagus Risotto
Ingredients: 1 lb turkey shredded or cubed, 1 lb asparagus, 3 cups mushrooms sliced, 1 shallot, 4 cups chicken or turkey broth, 1 cup Arborio rice, 2 Tblsp olive oil, 2 Tblsp butter, 1 cup white wine, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Cut asparagus into 2 inch pieces.
2. Sauté the asparagus and mushrooms in non-skillet. Cook just until the vegetables are soft. About 7 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
3. In a large pot, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Once butter melt adds shallots and cook just until softened.
4. Stir in the Arborio rice and mix until coated in butter. Toast slightly but do not brown.
5. Pour in wine and cook until wine absorbs.
6. Pour one cup of broth over the rice and stir consistently until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat process, one cup at a time, until all liquid is absorbed by the rice.
7. Add the shredded turkey and sautéed vegetables to the risotto, heat through. Mix well. Serve immediately.
***Left-over baked turkey works great in this recipe.
23rd Way: Turkey and Bisquick Dumplings
Ingredients: 2 cups turkey shredded, 2 1/2 cups Bisquick, 2/3 cups milk, flour to roll dough, 6 cups chicken or turkey broth, salt and pepper to taste
Mix Bisquick and milk until in tight dough ball.
Coat rolling pin and rolling surface well with flour. Roll dough as thin as possible. Use butter knife or pizza cutter to cut 2 inch dough squares or strips. *Works best if you allow dough to dry out a bit before trying to pick up to place in broth.
Bring broth to boil in a large soup pan.
Add turkey and return broth to a boil.
Gradually add Bisquick dumplings to boiling broth with turkey.
Simmer for 7-10 minutes, stirring often to make sure dumplings are not sticking to bottom of pan.
Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowl.
***Left-over baked turkey works great in this recipe.
24th Way: Short Cut Turkey Pot Pie
Ingredients: For filling: 2 1/2 cups cooked turkey shredded or cubed, 2 Tblsp veg oil, 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, 2 cups pre-made poultry gravy or poultry gravy mix, 1 15 oz can black beans, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper For crust: 2 1/2 cups Bisquick mix, 2/3 cup milk, flour for rolling crust or use pre-made pie crust
Preheat over 350 degrees.
In large skillet heat oil. Cook turkey until done.
Drain and rinse black beans.
Add frozen vegetables and black beans to turkey and set to side.
Heat gravy according to directions on package.
Mix gravy, salt, and pepper into turkey and vegetables.
Mix Bisquick and milk. Once dough is mixed, use rolling pin and flour to roll dough flat enough to cover 9×13 baking dish.
Pour gravy/vegetable/turkey mixture into 9×13 backing dish.
Cover dish with crust and tuck edges around inside lip of pan. Use knife to cut two or three slits in center of crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
***Left-over baked turkey works great in this recipe.
25th Way: Fancy Turkey Pot Pie
Ingredients: 2 Tblsp butter, 1 onion chopped, 2 stalks celery chopped, 3 carrots chopped, 4 Tblsp flour, 4 cups chicken or turkey stock, 2 potatoes peeled and diced, 2 cups shredded turkey, 2 Tblsp chopped parsley, 1/2 cup frozen peas thawed, 1 prepared pie crust (*or use Bisquick trick from Shortcut Turkey Pot Pie Recipe), 1 egg lightly beaten
Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in sauce pan and cook chopped onion until tender.
Stir in celery and carrots and cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes.
Add chicken or turkey stock and bring to a simmer.
Add potatoes and simmer until tender.
Stir in turkey, parsley, and peas.
Pour mixture into 9×13 baking dish.
Top with pie crust and brush with egg.
Bake 30 minutes unit crust is golden.
Remove from over and let set for 5 minutes prior to serving.
2020 has been a rough year on most of us. A lot of people want to forget the year ever happened, so I thought I’d give the December 2020 Positivity Challenge a crazy spin. Instead of thinking about a New Year’s resolution for January 2021, I challenge you to make an Old Year’s Resolution.
That’s right, an Old Year’s Resolution! I challenge you to set a goal or envision yourself taking on a new skill, talent, or outlook for 2020. For the rest of December work harder on helping the year end on a positive note than you normally do on the usual weight loss or decluttering resolutions of new years past.
Take this Old Year’s Resolution seriously!
Think of what you pictured 2020 looking like. Remember the resolutions or goals you set for yourself and grab onto one of those dreams, goals, or ambitions. Work your darndest to make that objective a reality as you wrap up this craziest of years.
Here are some examples:
For the next 24 days, cut out the sugars and carbs you have always said you should.
For the next 24 days, send a Thank You text or card to someone for whom you are grateful.
For the next 24 days, work out for 25 minutes while you watch your favorite tv show.
2020 has felt like a year that would never end, and yet, I experienced a slight panic realizing today is the last day of November. Where did the year go?
While much of my time has been spent at home, I hope my efforts were impactful outside the boundaries of our family and farm. I volunteer as library lady two afternoons a week at my children’s school and am a lector and song leader at church. In spite of hell and high water, my friends and I work sporadic lunches, happy hours, and lengthy, meme-filled text messages into our chaotic schedules. Making weekly phone calls and sending cards manifests my desire to keep connected with those I love, but I continue to wonder if it’s enough. Do you ever feel the same?
“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.”
Holding in the things that bother us and keeping big problems to ourselves can be detrimental to our health and relationships. A constant spewing of our issues can also cause others to be desensitized to our downfalls. On the other hand, shedding light on what makes us shine brightens the world around us. Tooting our own horns is a healthy way to say “Woohoo!” when we do something great, but can make us come across as cocky. We have to find a balance between what makes us rant and what makes us rave.
As we enter a holiday season unlike any we’ve experienced, let’s take stock of all that is good and worthy of appreciation. Celebrate the talents and skills that make us successful and unique. Set our weaknesses and shortcomings aside. (You are probably the only one who notices these anyway.) Quit throwing pity parties and start throwing “I’m a Bad Ass”bashes.