We Have Bad Christmas Tree Karma

Our First Christmas Tree

Once upon a time, one holiday season about 15 years ago, a pair of not-so-young lovers were eagerly spending their first Christmas together. Swept up in the romanticism of it all, they visited a local Christmas Tree Farm and spent the afternoon trudging through the forest searching for the Perfect Tree. And, it was Perfect! Big and bold and beautiful, they brought it home to their little cottage.

Upon whence, they discovered that trees appear much smaller in out in the field than on the threshold of their house. After much grunting, gasping, shoving, pushing, heaving and swearing, the couple finally wedged the rotund evergreen into the house, stuffed it into the disproportional tree stand, and stood back to take a look.

Fully 3 feet remained between the Ruebenesque pine and the television set for traffic to pass through.  In spite of the fact the tree occupied much of the living room and the couple could not see each other around the tree, it was still beautiful. And so Christmas passed, and the couple noted that searching for a slightly smaller tree the next year might be in order.

Early Years Tree

Another year came, with another opportunity for the Perfect Tree. It was the first year for the new Great Room, with the 16-ft. cathedral ceiling, the majestic tall windows, and barn-wood style flooring, and its lodge-like setting was perfect for the Perfect Tree.

And, indeed it was Perfect. Admired by all, far and wide, the couple savored every day with their beautiful tree.

Right up until the time they took down the tree and moved it out, upon which they discovered had been a Perfectly Incontinent Tree. Their lovely new laminate flooring was now swollen and forever puckered from the excess moisture.

A later early tree

Fortunately, time heals all, and once again, the couple brought home the Perfect Tree. A larger living room meant a larger Perfect Tree, and this one was The Best Ever! It stood tall, regal and dignified, adorned with the finery of new decorations.

And, while the couple treasured the outdoors and enjoyed bringing nature indoors, the infestation of spider mites on the tree 3 days before Christmas created finery of an undesirable type. Two sacrificial houseplants, five now crackle-painted ornaments ruined by bug spray, and one burned evergreen later, the couple felt perhaps next year it would be wise to patronize a different Christmas Tree farm.

Spider mite tree

By the next year, the ever-optimistic couple had of course forgotten the pain and inconvenience of all the prior years, and brought home the Perfect Tree. This had to be the best one yet! It was the perfect shape, perfect height, and it’s beauty was simply breathtaking.

The ornaments were perfectly coordinated; the lights sparkled, it was a  joy to behold. The couple rejoiced in their good fortune and the beauty of the Perfect Tree, and agreed that indeed, this one was the Perfect Tree.

It stood alone, rising above comparison above all the others. Right up until the moment, precisely at 1:32 a.m., that it crashed to the floor.

And that, my friends, is why the Stantons now have the Perfectly Pre-Lit Artificial Tree. 🙂

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend

Maggie CoalDecember is turning out to be a  bittersweet month for us.

Not tomorrow, probably not this week, and maybe not next week, but soon we will have to say goodbye to Magnolia Moose Pickle (aka Maggie, Large Marge, Farticus, Stinky, Magpie, Magda…).

It’s a bummer that a  dog’s life is so much shorter than ours. In a lifetime, that can add up to a lot of goodbyes. She will be the 5th one we’ve had to let go in the last 10 years. It doesn’t make it easier; but it does give you more perspective on why it becomes important to let them go sooner, rather than later.


Maggie came to us in early 2000. It was a cold, blustery March evening, and pitch dark. Some nice people on their way into town had hit her on the highway; there was no way they could have seen her. She was lying in a ditch with icy water. She would have died.

They came to our house to see if she was ours. Soon, she was. We collected her out of the ditch and brought her home to our basement. To warm her up, I fed her chicken noodle soup. To this day, she still drools, always hoping… 😉

Maggie 2000.3

She was in bad shape; she was in heat, wormy, had the mange, her pelvis cracked in 3 places. She’d had puppies at some point, and her tummy still sagged. Who knows what happened to them. The vet said she was about 2 years old.

Maggie 2000

When you rescue a dog, you can sometimes piece together their history by their behavior. She wore a choke chain; we surmised that she’d been kept on a chain, tormented/teased by older children, and abused by someone (or several someones) in a big heavy coat. Her body healed; her spirit took a little longer.

Dr. Wayne Dyer calls people who come  into your life to teach you lessons ‘scurvy elephants.’ Maggie was our scurvy elephant.

She taught us patience.

She taught us that sometimes what you see on the outside is not what’s really there.

The Big Mags

She taught us that love really can wear down rough edges.

She taught us that while you never forget really, really bad things, it is possible to forgive.

She showed us that she had a large vocabulary, and that she could actually understand words, and names.

She showed us that really, she would have preferred to be an only child.

With Boo

She was a Doofus Maximus; big, goofy, with a sense of humor and she loved to tease. You could always tell she was teasing by the way she held her ears.  She was naturally loud, boisterous, and an incredible escape artist. She embodied exactly what you would imagine a Weimaraner/Rottweiler mix to be.


She was my alarm clock (and still is), making sure I’m up by 5:30 or 6:00 whether I want to be or not. And she loved to carry my purse.

She could be intimidating; she knew it, and liked it. But inside, she was a big, sensitive, dramatic baby who just wanted love and attention.


For 12 years, she went to work with Jimmy nearly every day. Two years ago, she retired herself. The long hours in the truck didn’t agree with her anymore, and that left hip, the one damaged when she was hit by the car, began to limit her mobility. Short trips with me, and once the shop office was done, a nice soft bed at the shop suited her much better.

2013-01-27 13.58.00

She is now about 16. She is not the same dog as she was.

Tired most days, and no doubt stiff and sore, she has increasing anxiety when we’re out of her sight. Even in the house, she’s not content unless she can see us. She has more bad moments than good ones. She doesn’t hear or see very well, and doesn’t remember many people. The world is a much scarier place for her now.


We do our best to make life easier for her, but we’ve arrived at a point in time where it’s becoming harder to watch her. She has increasing trouble walking, and can nolonger navigate stairs; there’s no muscle left in that hip, and when I lift her into the car, I can feel those hip bones grind together.

Maggie Relaxed

She doesn’t want medication; she began refusing that last year. And we’re not going to force her. Because then it’s more about us, than her.

We know where this is going. She has no desire to live forever, any more than we do. If we wait much longer, we risk an injury. And then she will suffer. Because we love her, we’re doing the last thing we can do for her: we’re letting her go while she still has some dignity. In the meantime, we’re keeping her life as comfortable and peaceful as we can. Soon, we will say goodbye.

And we’ll think of her as she used to be,  running and playing with everyone else in heaven, with her head out the sunroof, and the wind blowing her big Dumbo ears.


In our lifetime, we’ll go through this again and again, and it will hurt every time.

But we’ll keep doing it. Because the joy they bring us and the things we learn from them not only make us better people, but brighten our lives more than you can imagine.

Thank you for the ride, Magpie. You’ve been a huge presence in our lives, and we’ll miss you.

5 Easy Christmas Decoration Ideas

Oh Christmas Tree


Happy Friday the 13th! And if you’re reading this in the Midwest today, you know the weather is crummy. With a capital C! This is one of those weekends where most of us should probably just hunker down and lay low until the roads are cleared.

That’s probably why I had the sudden urge to go shopping. I had nothing I needed, mind you. I just wanted to go. Probably it was because I knew I shouldn’t. Or couldn’t. ha ha

Anyway, this post is for those of you who have been stressed to the gills and are feeling guilty because not only have you not done much decorating, you aren’t sure you want to bother.

Let me just say, I feel your pain.

I love having my house decorated for Christmas. I just hate doing it. And there have been Christmases past where I haven’t, usually because we were remodeling and I couldn’t face packing and unpacking more boxes!

Here’s some quick little tips to help your house look festive without doing a whole lot, and using what you have. Honestly, the smartest thing I EVER did was to bless someone else with my gorgeous but huge, heavy, and unlit tree. If you’re tree shopping, I have one word for you: PRE-LIT. I also went for a tall, but slim tree last year. And I’ve never looked back.

1. Choose a color or a theme.

New coffee table


Meet my new coffee table. SIGH. I’m totally in love with this table. This was my birthday and Christmas present from Jimmy, which just came a couple of weeks ago. He even liked it when it came and he realized it was my gift.


The best part about it is no more lost bones or hooves underneath! But I digress.

If you’re having trouble deciding WHICH of your decorations you want to get out, don’t feel like  you need to get them all. Simplify this year.

Pick just the ornaments that are your favorite color. Or go with just your favorite ornaments. Or just the ornaments that the kids have made. Or use patio lights that already have a decorative exterior. Or simply smother the tree in lots of pretty lights and some tinsel and call it good. At night, it will be breathtaking!

Several years ago, I blessed my nieces with my “collectible” Hallmark ornament collection, all still in the little boxes, which were the biggest pain come the holidays. I couldn’t bear the thought of opening all those little boxes one more time. I’d collected them for years and was so completely over them.

My ornaments are now primarily white, silver, clear, or brown (twiggy spheres and pine cones) with “ice crystals.” And a few antlers thrown in, because we like the rustic look.

2. Lights maketh a winter wonderland. 

White lights

If you’ve ever been to the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory in Las Vegas, they have a huge cactus garden that’s drenched in lights during the winter. No ornaments. No big generator-powered yard displays. Just lots and lots of lights. It’s quiet, peaceful, and absolutely magical. And breathtaking. And not an ornament one. (Or at least there didn’t used to be.) It was always one of my favorite Christmas stops when I lived there.

You can do the same thing to your house.

If you love red lights, use all red. Blue would also be gorgeous! Lots of vibrant colors? Awesome!

Let your kids help, then turn out all the lights in the house and have dinner or even just hot chocolate with only the Christmas lights on. Wowww… 🙂

We happen to prefer white lights. There’s something clean and simple and always elegant about white lights. This year, we did manage to decorate the outside of our house with them. (We’ve not accomplished that some years.) And, no one was injured in the process, which is always a plus. 😉

More white lights

We have them around our big windows on the inside, and trailing over in front of our fireplace. Doesn’t that look nice? You almost don’t notice that I forgot to light the candles!

I have them above my kitchen cabinets year-round. It’s a terrific way to add a little bit of ‘mood lighting.’ During the winter, I throw some garland up there and leave it to look festive. I usually leave the garland up all winter until about March, as it is just pine garland with pine cones and some snow.

Garland and white lights

Do you have stairs? Wrap them around your banister! Drape them through your house plants, whether real or faux. Do you have a ficus tree? Stick some in there!  Your house will look like a winter wonderland in no time!

3. Less is more.

Let it snowDon’t feel like you need to put everything you own out. Often, a little sprinkled around looks better anyway than if your house looked like Christmas threw up in it.

During the Great Basement Clean Out, I emptied about 10…yes, 10..totes full of decorations I’d accumulated over the years. I could have decorated 3 houses! With so much stuff, it’s no wonder decorating was an overwhelming task. I kept all my favorite things, and still didn’t put everything out. I didn’t feel like I needed to.

Less is more


I placed some of my favorite things around the house, like this little snowman guy who looks perfect sitting on this table. Nearly everything in my house I have decorated you see in these pictures.

Put out just a few of your favorite things, or let your kids pick out a favorite. Everyone will think your house is tastefully underdone! And simple. And elegant.

4. Be quirky!

Quirky!Don’t be afraid to put things in unexpected places.

This stuffed moose is one of my favorites, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of a spot for him. So I sat him on top of the armoire, where he can nonchalantly survey the landscape. That pine tree, by the way, is faux. And it has patio lights in it.

It was downstairs in the bar, but got squeezed out by a neon light. The tree looks great here, and really adds something to the room. I will say he’s suffered a bit from all my repurposing and moving around, so I think here he’s going to have to stay.

Even Morty the Moose gets gussied up! I put a Santa hat on him every year at Christmas. Unfortunately, the lighting wasn’t good enough for me to get a good shot. I’ve thought about putting lights on his antlers, but somehow, Morty is too dignified for that. 😀

5. Make something you already have festive.

Galvanized pails and pine conesWe don’t do much in the way of a gift exchange, so the bottom of our tree always looks bare. I decided to dress it up a little this year, and picked up several galvanized pails of varying sizes at Tractor Supply. (I love Tractor Supply!)

I already had the pine cones and over-sized ornaments, so it was a matter of placing them around the bottom of the tree. The red you see is actually a sphere with pine cones, plums, ice crystals, and some other stuff.

You know all those ornaments you aren’t putting on the tree? Fill a beautiful crystal bowl or candle holder with them and use it as a centerpiece. Or fill some pretty baskets with them and place several of them under the tree. Or collect some pine cones and do the same. I actually had collected these you see in the picture during my crafting days, painted and glittered them.

All these are easy Christmas decoration ideas that anyone can do, and they aren’t time consuming. With this approach, all you need is a few minutes here and there. Don’t be afraid to try something a little bit different; I rarely do the same thing twice, mostly because I can’t remember from year to year. You might be surprised at how something fresh (and easy!) can be a holiday pick-me-up. 🙂 Good luck!

Five of My Most Embarrassing Moments

Charra Muddy 1

I admit it. This picture has nothing to do, whatsoever, with this post. But ya’all have forced me to bring out the Big Guns: with the approaching holidays and all the stress it entails, people need laughter more than ever. And at the Sunshine Express, that’s what we do best. For your reading please, I’ve chronicled 5 of my most embarrassing moments throughout my life. Enjoy. 🙂

1. Falling in the mud in front of the love of my life.

I was in first grade. Alvin was a mature 7th or 8th grader. He was tall, dark, handsome and mysterious. (Whatever ‘mysterious’ meant.)

The bell rang, and it was recess. At long last! I could run outside and spend a few minutes in his glorious presence.

We surged out of the classroom toward the playground; I ran toward Alvin with abundant joy. Yes! He was there! At the swing set! I could bask in the glow of his beautiful smile, and hear his mature voice as he said ‘hello’ to me.

I ran as fast as I could, wanting to squeeze every minute I could out of this moment. Just as I approached the swing set, and right in front of Alvin, I slipped in a huge mud puddle, and landed SPLAT on my butt.         Pause.

Mortified, I jumped up, feeling my white cotton undies with the eyelet trim wet and gooey with mud and sticking to my bottom. I immediately turned and ran as fast as I could back to the schoolhouse.

From that moment on, I have no memory of Alvin. Probably because I was too embarrassed to ever talk to him again. 😉

2. Forgetting the words to a song in front of a huge crowd of people.

There’s a reason none of you have ever heard me sing unless I’m buried solidly in a group of people.

It could be that I just really stink at it. (My husband has told me I should keep my day job.)

I was a 15, and a candidate for the town’s festival (called the Homecoming) Queen. I was pretty much clueless.

I didn’t really have any talent. What could I do? Hmmmmm.

In a moment of lunacy that I’ve been smart enough not to repeat (thank goodness there was no YouTube then!) I decided I would sing acapella (meaning, there wasn’t even any accompaniment to drown me out)an older song that my grandmother dug out of her musical stash.

I was incredibly nervous. Back then, the only thing scarier than the idea of speaking in front of a crowd was a dental procedure.

I got started off on the right foot, although I can’t say I had much in the way of stage presence.

And then suddenly…I went blank. Utterly, completely, positively blank.         Pause.

I’m looking out at a crowd of people. Lots and lots of people. (Okay, it seemed that way then.) I said, “I have suddenly forgotten the words”…and I’m sure I said something else…finished the best I could, and hustled my a$$ off the stage.

A few people said, “You handled that really well.” It was like the elephant in the room for a couple of days. If nobody mentioned it, I could convince myself nobody heard it. 😉

The funny thing is, to this day I’m not sure if I have a talent. Oh sure, I can do a lot of things well. But TALENT? Bah.

3. Getting “pants-ed” at a college party.

My college friends who are reading this (and we know who you are) right about now are going, “OMIGOSH I FORGOT ALL ABOUT THAT!”

I was about a sophomore or junior in college, and we’d gone to a party with my roommate’s then- boyfriend (if I remember correctly). It was rather late in the evening (ahem) and fortunately, I don’t recall their being a ton of people there.

I’m thinking there were a couple of baseball or basketball players there who were kinda hot, but thankfully, not a big crowd. There’s also been enough water under the bridge that I can’t remember if it was spring or fall, I just remember I was wearing shorts.

Navy blue shorts with white piping. Very similar to the ones that are in style now.

I was standing in the center of the room (OF COURSE), minding my own business, when one of the guys at the party who clearly had had too much to drink at that point and apparently had not had much success with women or he would have known better, walked up behind me and pulled my shorts down.

Like, down nearly to my knees. Seriously?

Did I mention I was standing in the middle of the room? SIGH.         Pause.

Because it was late in the evening, my initial reaction to the whole mortifying experience wasn’t necessarily one that in my own best interest. It was just instinctive.

I collapsed onto the floor into a pile, and cried. SIGH.

My roommate was off talking to some people, and her then-boyfriend came up to her. “Ugh, your roommate is sitting in the middle of the floor crying with her pants down.” My roommate, bless her heart, stepped in and saved the day, collecting me, pulling my pants up, and ushering me back home.

If I’d have been smart enough just to pull my pants up, no one would have noticed.

But noooooooooooooo….instead, I cried. Which everyone noticed. What a wimp. 😉

4. Walking out of the break room with my dress stuck in my underpants.

When I was in college, I worked at Wal-Mart. It was during the summer, and I was wearing a super-cute sundress to work. I have no idea what it’s like now, but I have all kinds of friends, still, that I worked with at the Wally World. We hung out a lot after work, and really looked forward to seeing other when we went into work. We had a great time!

One afternoon I’d taken a break, and popped into the bathroom just inside the break room. I walked out, unaware that the whole back side of my dress was stuck down inside my underpants.

There were probably a dozen people inside the break room.

Randy, a good friend of mine who happened to be on break, just said, “WOOHOOOOOOOOO!” in a tone that I’d never heard before.

Fortunately, his pointed look clued me in, the  planets all came together, and I picked up on his meaning and fixed the problem before walking out into the store. (That in itself was remarkable.)

5. The last time I pooped my pants.

I was a busy kid. Outside on the farm, I had animals to play with, bikes to ride, all kinds of activities to keep me busy.

I was about five or six, old enough to know when I needed to go to the bathroom.

It was a spring day, the weather was nice, and after being shut in for so long, I had a lot to do outside. I was too busy, apparently, to pay much attention to Mother Nature when she came knocking at the back door. I knew I had to go, I was just…busy. I kept thinking, “I’ll go in and GO after I do this.” Just like hitting the snooze button, I kept putting it off.

Well. I waited just a tad too long. Suddenly, my pants filled.         Pause.

It was not a good feeling. SIGH.

I went inside to look for my mom, who happened to be occupying our only bathroom at the moment. She was seated on the toilet looking out the window (it was an Anderson window), and the bathroom doors were open, as we were the only ones at home.

I walked in, seating myself carefully on the side of the tub in spite of the grossness in my pants, and tried to play it cool. I said the only thing I could think of, trying to work up the courage to confess to my mom the completely irresponsible, immature and utmost mortifying thing I’d done.

“So, what are you doing?”

Really original, eh?

I told Jimmy this story years ago. Every once in a while, he’ll walk into a room and go, “So, what are you doing?” 😀

I’d love to be able to tell you that these were the ONLY embarrassing moments I’ve experienced. But no…they happen with enough regularity that I’ve ceased to be embarrassed about them anymore. (Age has a lot to do with it too.)

I am not, however, above embarrassing anyone I’m with. BWAH HA HA HA HA HA… 😀

The Perfect Snowy Sunday

Snowy Street ViewWe love days like today. Especially when it falls on a Sunday.

“The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful; and since we’ve no place to go…”

There’s no place we have to be.

There’s nothing we have to do.

Snowy Pond

We don’t have to feel guilty because we’re not working outside.

Or just not working, period.

It’s a perfect day to snuggle in and do some quality puttering.

We decided it would be fun to cook together and try out a new recipe. Jimmy likes to cook, and he’s a good one. We just don’t do it together very often.  He had helped me a little at Thanksgiving, and enjoyed it enough he was willing to try it again. 😉

Let the Cooking Begin!

Those of you who know both of us well know two things: I am addicted to the Pioneer Woman’s recipes; and that Jimmy and I have a very different approach to some things. (In other words, we’re very different, yet very much alike.)

That probably doesn’t make much sense. But that’s the way we roll. 🙂

We decided to make Spaghetti and Meatballs. From scratch. With fresh herbs, wine, garlic, ground pork and hamburger…the works!


I believe in the phrase, “Love, Honor, Negotiate!” We negotiated over who would do what.

He wanted to use a jarred sauce. I refused, having learned that nothing can beat the taste of homemade.

He prepared the meatball mix, I made the meatballs. He chopped the onion and garlic, I sauteed the meatballs.

Sauteing the Meatballs

Here they are just hanging out and waiting for the sauce. And while the meatballs were waiting for the sauce, someone else was in the sauce.

Ready for Sauce

I learned what “cut in chiffonade” means today. I had to Google it.

What did we do before Google?


At this point, the house was smelling so good that Jimmy couldn’t stand it. He sampled. And sipped.

Sampling and Sipping

He had pasta. I had spaghetti squash, my ‘go to’ choice instead of pasta. Tomato, tomahto.

Spaghetti Squash

The finished project was delicious! And we actually had so much fun, we decided that preparing a new recipe together should be a regular ‘Bad Weather Sunday’ event.


I’m tellin’ ya, preparing a dish from scratch not only feeds your body, it feeds your soul.

While Jimmy went off for a long winter’s [Sunday] nap, I cleaned the kitchen and finished some Christmas decorating.

Ballsy Tree

I don’t have any gifts under the tree yet, so I picked up some galvanized pails at Tractor Supply and made a little display.

Yes, my tree has big balls. 😀

Actually, I need one more bucket, and they didn’t have the size I wanted, so I had to improvise.

I’m pretty sure that within the next 24-48 hours, I’m going to regret putting pine cones in those pails under the tree. Ekko may be two, but it’s more like being two in people years rather than dog years. 😉

Christmas Cards

And now, I’m going to pour myself a glass of wine, find a Christmas chick flick, and work on Christmas cards. (If you look close, you can see the three little black dogs on my cards).

It’s shaping up to be a great Sunday! Hope you’re enjoying yours, wherever you are.

Cheers! 🙂

My Thanksgiving Surprise

Charra (2)The original title of this post was going to be “Why I Didn’t Enjoy Thanksgiving.

In fact, I was actually imagining my writing the post from that angle as I was starting my prep work for Thanksgiving. I had stressed myself out just thinking about it for two days.

Jimmy had even said to me, “I don’t know why you volunteered to cook; now you’re going to be foul the whole weekend.”

(I know some of you will find it shocking that I actually can be crabby. But true story!) 😀

But since we cancelled what would have been our third annual trip to St. Charles on the Monday morning before Thanksgiving, I felt like I should cook. After all, I was really enjoying cooking again. And thanks to my addiction to the Pioneer Woman, I had several dishes I was excited to make.

I had my schedule all planned out. (I’m a list-maker, remember?) On Monday, I bought the turkey, and had planned to finalize my menu, my shopping list, and space out my activities so I wouldn’t have to do a lot at the last minute and it wouldn’t be stressful.

And, I wasn’t going to make a bunch of stuff just because we’d always eaten them before. I was going to prioritize, make our favorites, and call it good. And that would still be more than enough food.

And then, something happened.

I came home from work Monday evening only to find no less than 6 rugs and 2 dog beds needed washing, the coffee table I’d arranged to sell a friend had been chewed on all around the bottom, with splinters lying on the rug, and there were at least 15 additional throw-up spots that needed cleaning up in various places around the house.

And Charra followed me around the house. “Momma, I don’t feel good, I NEED you.”


I felt like I’d just stepped on a fast-moving train and passed overwhelm, going straight to zombie. I was too tired to read. Too depressed to talk. I sat on the couch playing one game of solitaire after another on my laptop, with Charra (who, by the way, was feeling better after throwing up about another 6 times) snuggled next to me. I needed a mindless activity.

I really don’t know why Charra being sick derailed me so much. And I don’t know why I was stressing so much over cooking.

Nothing I was making was that difficult. It was some new recipes, sure. But not difficult. It was me, doing it to myself. In my head.

My friend Sophia and I had gone shopping on Wednesday, and after we got home, I dove in and started my prep work. I’d thought about it all day, of course. And the day before that. So it was almost a relief to dive in and get started when I got home.

I wondered how my mom had done this every Thanksgiving and Christmas for all the years she did. How did she not dread it? It was so much work! Did she dread the holidays? Did she even enjoy the food? How on earth did she do it with so little counter space?

And then, something else happened.

The first dish I prepared was my Mom’s noodles. As I methodically rolled out the dough, I suddenly felt all the stress evaporate. Like, poof!

Making Noodles

I started to relax.

I began to feel at peace, and to really enjoy the actual process of making them.

My mom had done this hundreds of times over decades. She made the best noodles, and I had finally mastered her recipe. It’s almost like I was channeling my mother.

Ready to Dry


As I spread the noodles out to dry, I remembered how much I liked to eat the raw noodle dough as a kid. And how my late grandmother would scold me: “Those noodles will plug up your butt if you eat too many!

One dish at a time, over the next two and a half hours, I made the noodles, skillet cornbread (for the stuffing), cut up bread to dry for the stuffing, and made two pies.

Peanut Butter Pie

I prepared them with love, and I looked forward to sampling them with my family. I actually enjoyed myself. The whole process became very soothing.

Jimmy and Noodles

My husband not only helped, he also helped make sure they tasted the way they should. 😉

Messy Counter

My kitchen looked like a wreck, because I worked straight through without stopping to clean up.

Messy Counter2

I am somewhat neurotic when it comes to organization. (My friends will all testify to this.) My husband came home and, eyes wide, said, “Boy, something’s going on here!”

I actually found it both amusing and rewarding. I knew I had created something!

How is that possible?

I think food connects us in ways that we don’t even realize. The ritual of cooking food connects us to the women in our lives who preceded us, and who showed love for their families through the art, and heart, of cooking.

In return, we express our love through the same time-tested rituals.

Sure, I still had more stuff to make the next day,  but it was just as satisfying.

The irony of all this was that nearly everything was homemade. There was nothing that was a short-cut or a convenience food. And the funny thing is, the real thing wasn’t so difficult to make.

I remember a day when a ‘convenience food’ was a treat. Now, it seems it’s the way so many live today. Maybe, like electronics, they’ve only added to our stress and our health issues.

I felt like I’d stumbled onto a secret treasure.

I think you have to be willing to look at your life and your family, see what works, see what you enjoy, and either continue, or maybe make a change. After so many years of obligatory family dinners, we really enjoy going to St. Charles…but because we were here, I chose to cook. And it wasn’t an obligation.

Some traditions should be tweaked, and that’s okay.

Pumpkin wine


For instance, instead of pumpkin pie, we had pumpkin wine. 🙂

It was a beautiful day, a great meal, and we all took naps afterwards.

And Charra?

She is fine. Although I doubt she’ll ever have the opportunity to run free in search of deer poop again. 😀