First Fire of the Year

As a surprise, hubby and I headed out for a short two-day camp out with the kids as soon as they were dismissed from the last day of school. Their excitement was contagious and the chance to get away was too tempting to resist.

One of our favorite parts of camping is always the campfire. The kids and I seek out the best sticks and logs and enjoy hours of flame watching and food roasting.  Campfires always seem to pull us into the warmth and light of their flames and inspire memorable moments and sharing.

The dancing flames provide one of nature’s greatest entertainments. The fantastic show they perform can never be duplicated and never ceases to amaze us. The first campfire of the year holds a special power.  Continue reading “First Fire of the Year”

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Spring Stresses Me Out

 

 

When I sat down to write, I knew I only had 15 minutes and about a thousand ideas for today’s post. What I didn’t know what would come of those limited minutes and limitless thoughts.

Here it is.

Spring stresses me out.

Each quiet moment I find tears hiding behind my eye lids. My mind is anything but silent. The days constantly hum with demands, to-do lists, and the tings and pings of technology. My muscles are exhausted. My feet do not want to move. My brain seems to be on whatever fertilizer the farmers are spreading on their fields.

signs of spring (1)While each season has its ebb and flow, I always feel like spring is the craziest. The sunshine and breezes entice me outside, but the labor of pulling weeds and putting away delinquent Christmas decorations remind me that caring for our home is a never-ending task.

As the baseball schedules are made, vacation plans penned, and wardrobes are rotated from sweatshirts to shorts, I can’t help but feel completely wiped out.

What is it about spring that is so exhausting?

Spring is a time for planting, growing, new beginnings, and some seriously serious stress. The school year’s end is looming and, while summer is so nice, the tests, papers, and traditions that simply MUST be upheld make the last months more demanding than most. Spring stresses me out. Continue reading “Spring Stresses Me Out”

Spilling into 2018

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Less than three sips into my first glass of New Years Eve wine, I knocked over the entire cup in a fit of excitement to show my “good” coat to a friend. The wine flowed right on over to the corner of a jacket laying on the table. It was NOT my coat. AAAHHHH!

I quickly wiped the coat off and dried up the table.

Then the worry set in.

I HAD to find the owner of the coat.

What if it was their “good” coat?

What if they yelled at me?

What if they told everyone I was a raving drunk, who destroyed their coat and any hopes of a happy new year? (I may be exaggerating, but I really was worried.)

I asked everyone I saw if the coat was thiers, but had no luck locating its owner.

I was just about to trudge the walk of shame to the front of the dance and kindly ask the amazing band singer if I could borrow his microphone. I needed to find the owner of that coat. As I went back to grab the coat, the cutest, little brunette was getting something from the purse next to THE COAT.

Continue reading “Spilling into 2018”

Elf Spotting …continued

Elf Spotting and the Trouble that Follows (Reblogged from 2016)

 

 

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Three years ago Chippy the elf showed up on our front porch. He made his magical appearance after my sweet daughter wrote a letter to Santa asking for one of his handy helpers to visit our home.

My husband and I were leery about this new holiday watchman but went with it. I mean how much trouble could one elf be???

After three years the magic of Chippy is alive and well, if you consider daily wrestling matches and crying fits over who found him first to be magical.

Seriously! Everyday there is a tremendous tumult over who finds Chippy first. It is so magical I need stronger coffee in the morning and extra melatonin at night to get past all the Christmas spirit his presence brings.

That silly elf has brought more trouble than I could have imagined, but he has also brought some humor to some pretty angry situations.

For example: In the  middle of one of their daily brawls, my daughter yelled out, “Get off my hair. Chippy sees you and he is going to tell Santa.” My son replied, “Good! Maybe Santa will bring you a new brush for your messy hair,” and continued torturing my little girl’s curls. The elf just kept smiling. Continue reading “Elf Spotting …continued”

What Color Are Your Pancakes?

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Blue pancakes are the usual in our household (when we have pancakes). I usually like to keep my breakfast dates with friends (when I can schedule breakfast dates). This past week my friend Erin and I had a breakfast date planned, but my sitter situation became bleak. I offered to make breakfast at my home (if Erin didn’t mind the three-ring circus running around while we visited). She was cool with hanging out at my house so we kept our date.

Blue Pancakes (7)As I was whipping up the pancakes, my youngest son asked if the pancakes would be blue. My daughter soon chimed in that she really wanted blue pancakes too (after all our pancakes are usually blue). I wasn’t sure how Erin would react to blue pancakes, so I left half the batch plain and the other half was blue. When Erin arrived, the kids stampeded to let her in and were in full three-ring circus mode. It seemed only right that there were blue pancakes.

In true awesome Erin fashion, she said, “I’m down with blue pancakes,” and happily ate blue and plain colored flapjacks with my family.

What color are your pancakes? Do you have a special breakfast tradition in your household?

As we begin the season of holiday feasting, think about the traditions that been upheld by your loved ones. My mom’s side of the family has had chicken and dumplings at every family function since time began (that maybe a bit of an exaggeration); it just isn’t a Frank family holiday without chicken and dumplings.

Is there something special your family will eat that is a unique tradition this Thanksgiving?

Traditions, such as blue pancakes and chicken and dumplings, make special days “special.” My hope for you is that you are able to remember and (if you can) enjoy the food feasts that make family “family” this holiday season. Be sure to share your traditions with friends and tell the stories of your childhood to your kiddos. Savor the meals and memories that have made you who you are and be grateful for the events that enriched those memories.

Remember not everyone has “picture perfect” holiday plans. Be considerate and kind (and inviting, if you can) to those who have less to be thankful for.  Make your newest tasty tradition be one that dishes out meaningful memories for yourself and all those for whom you love. Who knows, maybe blue pancakes will be your new Thanksgiving brunch or chicken and dumplings your new tradition of choice. Whatever it is you serve, whether it be food or memories, make them positive and full of energy that inspires grateful intent.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. If you are making blue pancakes. you will need to pick up some blue food coloring.

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I Love Pumpkin Guts

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I love pumpkin guts! I love how they feel, how they smell, the seeds that we pull out of them, and the jack-o-lanterns that take form after they are removed. I love pumpkin guts.

In 2016 almost 150 million Americans said carving pumpkins was a part of their Halloween plans. That makes for A LOT of pumpkin gut removal.

pumpkin guts (4)While many find the slimy, sticky, and stringy gourd guts to be gross, there are plenty of people out there that enjoy the icky investigation for seeds.

The scraping of the sides can be a stress reliever. When you have your big bowl of pumpkin guts staring you in the face, you can say, “Wow! I cleaned all of those out!” 

Once the insides are removed, creating spooky, silly, and sometimes unrecognizable shapes is what turns jack-o-lanterns into joy. Roasting the separated seeds is always a fun and a pretty healthy snack. My kids think the roasted, salty seeds taste like popcorn and those toasted kernels don’t last long at our house. Continue reading “I Love Pumpkin Guts”

Start Holiday De-Stressing Now

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Holiday StressSome evil person posted this Elf meme on their Facebook feed the other day and I wanted to unfriend them but they are related to me and I like them.

Unfriending people can add additional stress at the holidays, and this article is all about holiday de-stressing.

 

In keeping with the 12 Days of Christmas, I am proposing 12 Steps to De-stress for the Holidays:

Step 1: To begin take a deep cleansing breath.

Step 2: After you remember to start breathing again, I want you to say these words, “Happiness is the greatest gift I can give. A stressed out me does not make a holiday happy. I will not add unhappiness to my holidays.”

See. Don’t you feel better?

Step 3: Write down one gift you will give yourself. (This does not have to be a material thing.)

Step 4: Make a list of all the other people for whom you want and/or need to get gifts. (These do not have to be material things.)

Step 5: Make a calendar of all events you KNOW will absolutely be on your agenda.

Step 6: Repeat Steps 1 & 2.

Step 7: Establish a budget.

  • How much will you spend on each person?
  • How much do you plan to give to your church or charities?
  • How much should you plan to spend on extra party foods and drinks?
  • How much are your travel costs?

Add those costs up.

Step 8: Repeat Steps 1 & 2. Continue reading “Start Holiday De-Stressing Now”

4-H – Showing Us the Future

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Ravyn showing in the ring.

It’s county fair season and the 4-H kiddos are showing us the future leaders and providers for our communities. My husband grew up showing hogs and cattle in the 4-H livestock shows and selling them at the auction to raise money for his future farming endeavors. It has clearly worked out, as we now have over 200 head of cattle and raise thousands of turkeys every year.

We are proud  and excited to support the 4-H tradition. Our county fair is held the weekend after 4th of July each year. It is always HOT and it always rains at least once. The 4-H Livestock show and other competitions are held on the first day of the fair. Starting at 7:00 a.m. members put a year’s worth of hard work on display.

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Kila showing her hog.

4-H members show steers, hogs, sheep, and poultry. Some show their workmanship in competitions for sewing, arts and crafts, photography, painting, pottery, woodworking, metal working, gardening, and other trades. Ribbons are awarded based on the successfulness of their projects and showmanship. Blue ribbons continue to be the coveted prize of choice. In the livestock show, presenters hope to be crowned Grand Champion. The Grand Champion is the choicest animal in the competition and usually brings the highest price.

Those that earn blue ribbons in the non-livestock competitions have the opportunity to move on to competition at the State fair. It is quite an honor.

Showing a fair animal starts a year in advance. The animals are selected when they are young so that the presenter has plenty of time to feed, care, and train the animal for showing. These fair animals become a part of the 4-H member’s family (almost), as they are a daily part of the presenter’s life. This is a powerful practice for developing future farmers and a strong understanding of dedication and hard work. After feeding, grooming, and practicing showing, the presenters often send out or deliver invitations to people in the community inviting them to bid on their animal. It is a terrific lesson in marketing and confidence for these young people. As the animals are judged, the livestock judges explain to the exhibitors and audience the qualities of a champion animal. (It’s a livestock learning experience for everyone.) Continue reading “4-H – Showing Us the Future”

Angel food Cake – A Tradition of Grace

Angel food Cake – A Tradition of Grace

Graceful Tradition

 

Angel food cake has always been a dessert I enjoy. For my birthday I often request it or gooey butter cake for my treat. When spring or fall suppers roll around at our church, I usually bake one or two angel food cakes for the dessert table and country store. This was a tradition shared by Miss Grace, one of the sweetest ladies I ever met.

Grace was a petite woman with a huge heart. She grew up in Loose Creek, less than 10 miles from the home where she and her husband Albert raised their 11 children. Miss Grace was kind and devoted. She was steadfast in her faith and worked until a job was done. She was a picture of simple dignity.

Miss Grace passed away a few years ago and her loss was a huge hit to her husband, children, grandchildren, and our parish family. The first spring dinner after her passing I made my usual angel food cake. As I dropped my cake off at the country store, one of her daughter-in-laws hugged me and said she was so glad to see an angel food cake on the table. That cake reminded her of Grace.

Up until that point, I did not realize that I shared Miss Grace’s angel food tradition, but I fully20170326_065239.jpg recognized the importance of keeping it going. This spring I made two cakes. One was for the country story and one was for the dessert table; they were both for Miss Grace.

I like to think of Miss Grace, in her angel wings, smiling down on my efforts. It makes me really happy to know she is there with Albert, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren at our parish functions. This tradition of grace is one that I look forward to perpetuating. I hope you have a graceful tradition that enhances your life.

When you find someone or something in your life that is worth making into a tradition. Make that tradition happen.  Share your traditions with others. Energy and intent provide validity and vigor to your practices and makes life worth living.

png 1 Please share your traditions. What do you do to help keep your family and friends’ celebrations alive? How do you preserve the impacts of those you have encountered? What is your Tradition of Grace?

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. We can’t all make angel food cakes. We need some other desserts. What would people say if all we had to sell was angel food cake? I call dibs on angel food cake for the fall supper.

 

 

 

When the Tree is Gone

When the Tree is Gone via Daily Prompt: Gone

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Every year my children and I enjoy decorating our home for the Christmas holiday. Even my husband perks up at the sight of the lights. I try to not put the tree up too early so as to protect the magic its lighting brings. After the feast of the Epiphany (the wise men’s arrival), I dutifully take down all the decorations.

The emptiness created by the absence of tree, garland, and lights gives our home an incomplete feel. The rooms seem stark and the light seems cold. What is it about the time after the tree is gone that darkens our day?

When the tree is gone, the spirit of Christmas is not plainly visible. When the tree is gone, the remembrance of all those Christmas wishes fades. When the tree is gone, the twinkle of Santa’s magic dims and we forget about that whole peace on Earth and goodwill towards men thing. Plus, when the tree is gone, I find it a lot harder to just sit in my arm chair and read a book or watch my kids play. It’s as if the tree is a holiday anchor that holds us in place and reminds us to remain steadfast in the enjoyment of our home and family.

I challenge you to keep the Christmas spirit alive in your actions and words. Take time to sit in your favorite chair and read a book or snuggle with a loved one. Continue in your efforts to bring peace to the lives of those you encounter and yourself. Give the gifts of understanding and kindness in all you do.

Just because there isn’t a tree standing in your living room doesn’t mean you have to become a scrooge. Find joy in the simple elements of each day and you won’t have time to miss that silly old tree.

When the tree is gone, continue to shine as a light for others each day. Put some holiday in your heart and let your Intentergy keep the spirits of others alive and well.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. If you still have your tree up, that’s cool.