Monday, December 19, 2011

A Few Of My Favorite Things

As it's the Holiday Season, I am seeing posts everywhere for friend's all-time favorite tried and true recipes.
I have yet to see one of my favorites making the rounds, so I thought I'd post this one and see if anyone would like to add to the recipe files.

Baked Creamed  Potatoes with Herb Infused Heavy Cream.

This is an elegant dish yet is simple to make. Infusing the cream with fresh herbs allows the flavors to evenly release into the cream and then be absorbed by the potatoes. Highly indulgent and not at all low in calories or fat, but a guaranteed traditional favorite in which all of your friends will be begging for the recipe. You can vary the quantities of potatoes and cream, just make sure the potatoes are just barely covered in herb-infused cream before baking.


4 cups -Small assorted potatoes. I prefer to use Baby Reds, small Yukon Golds, Purple Peruvian, and some Fingerlings (the assortment of colors lends a beauty to the completed dish. You may need to shop at your local farmer's market or organic whole foods store to find a wide variety. You really can't go wrong in your choices, so don't fret if you can't find a variety)

2 cups - Heavy Cream
2 Cloves of Garlic
Fresh sprigs of Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Marjoram (Sage can overpower easily, so just use a few leaves)
2 fresh Bay Leaves
Dash of Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Salt/Pepper to taste
1/2 cup REAL butter, cut into pats
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese (you can use real or the powdered stuff...both are yummy, but I prefer the powdered as is seems to form a crust over the top of the can use more that 1/2 cup if you like)


Wash and quarter potatoes; place in greased 9"x13" glass baking dish

Peel garlic cloves and crack with the flat edge of your knife.

Rinse any evident debris from fresh herbs; place in heat-resistant mesh strainer. You do NOT need to cut the herbs or remove from stems; leave whole.  Add garlic and nutmeg.

Place heavy cream in saucepan. Heat over very low heat, watching constantly to avoid scorching.

Place the herb-filled strainer in the cream, ensuring that the herbs are submersed .  As the cream heats, it will be infused with the fresh herbs, filling your kitchen with heavenly aromas.

Once the cream heats, allow the infusion to continue for 5 to 10 minutes.

Life the strainer out of the saucepan. Allow all cream to drain back into the saucepan. What's nice about this method, as well, is you and your guests won't be picking herbs out of your teeth after dinner. All the flavor is there, but not the herbs, themselves. Add salt and pepper;stir.

Pour infused cream over potatoes. The potatoes will not be entirely covered, but you do want the level to be at half  to three-quarters covering the potatoes.

Dot the top of the potatoes with butter pats and sprinkle with the Parmesan Cheese.

Place the baking dish in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. You may need a little longer depending upon the thickness of your potatoes... sample tasting is allowed :o)

Remove from oven and allow the dish to sit for 15 minutes to allow the cream to complete thickening.

Serve with your favorite holiday meal... or for any occasion at all. It is truly delicious :o) xoxo

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Countdown...What I've Learned

This evening, I was looking over my drafts, trying to decide what topic I wanted to write about next. None of them appealed to me and I felt as though my heart wasn't really into writing today. I'm just having an "off" day, and despite being bored and moody, I just can't bring myself to get excited about posting another story.

So, instead of forcing myself through my writer's block, I decided to go peruse my MySpace account, which has been thoroughly ignored for almost a full year.

The MySpace profile format has changed and I found myself unfamiliar with where things were located. I saw the tab titled "blog" and thought it was funny that I never took the time to post some of my thoughts on there, yet I have over 50 posts on here...but, I clicked on the tab, and to my surprise, there was an entry I had written 3 years ago about a milestone that has a very real significance tonight; the very last night that I will be the mother of a teenager; Justin will be 20 tomorrow.

The post is outdated, but every word to my children came from my heart and rings true to this day.

December 7, 2008

Many of you have known me for any length of time know that Jim and I have been blessed with four boys that have made our lives full and eventful, to say the least.
For many years, we have had the ongoing "family joke" that each boy was on a monthly countdown until they were "of age" when, as parents, we no longer needed to worry about the repercussions of their lapses in judgement and enjoy some of the freedoms we were not able to experience as we had become parents at an exceptionally young age.

After 25+ years of having parental responsibilities, we are now at the final 12 month countdown, which causes me to reflect....

Each son has had to endure the dreadful countdown...occasional references to the countdown would sometimes be met with sighs of longing (from parents and son alike), while other times the reference would be met with frustration, mostly from the son - somewhat hurt at the anticipation of the pending cutting of the apron strings.

James had his countdown first...he was the reason for starting the countdown! His was an expensive and a rather long countdown, lasting many, many, many months as he was our most challenging son. It's a miracle he even made it to his 18th birthday!...He has certainly gone through his struggles in his teens and early adult years, many of which I wasn't sure he would live through. Yet, he has managed to turn those personal struggles into triumphs and has become the man I knew him capable to be. He is becoming a strong and caring father and it gives me joy to see him experience his children's growth and milestones. James, know that you are loved.

Joshua had his countdown, too. When his countdown started, it had become more of a joke, a right of passage,  but one that he didn't find amusing. The frequency of the references were fewer and further in between as Joshua was an easy child; quiet, caring, compassionate. But rather than waiting for that countdown to run it's course, he decided to strike out into the world early, experiencing bumps and bruises along the way. Though the memories of those life lessons are painful to him to this day, I know he's a stronger, better man for having survived them and learning how to stand tall and strong. He has made me proud - as a soldier, father, and husband. As he faces the challenges of parenthood, I hope he realizes that sometimes parents have to allow for those lessons to allow for growth, parents learn from them too,and the love a parent feels for their child never lessens....Joshua, know that you are loved.

Jacob successfully reached his countdown without experiencing some of the pitfalls his brothers subjected themselves to. Running the course of his teen years, he occupied himself with school and extra-curricular activities which often did not lend themselves to my schedules or bank account...track meets scheduled during the workday, livestock competitions out of I wished I could have been witness to, but hope you know that I was there with you in my heart. Your countdown kinda snuck up on me... you never really gave me too many reasons to look forward to your countdown...but you made it, and in true Jacob form, managed to get yourself into trouble 3 days after your 18th, how you perplexed me! You are still discovering who you are and where you are destined to fit in this world. Yet, I know you to be wise beyond your years, philosophical beyond my understanding, and fully capable in discovering your way. I am proud of you. Jacob, know that you are loved.

And then there's Justin. My last countdown victim! In two short weeks, Justin will reach the ever-treasured 12 month countdown. As your brothers before you, you are struggling in your own right for your freedom and independence, battling with the need to make your own decisions while still needing and wanting the security of those apron strings from time to time. This seems to be the point where I have had the most difficulty with all of your brothers, and you as well. Despite the fact that we clash and have our battles of will, please know that I value you and am proud of the strengths you possess; you compassion and willingness to help others, your tenacity, and ability to make me laugh. My tendency to be harder on you at this time in your life truly stems from my love and concern for you based on the knowledge that you are allowing yourself to fall into some of the same paths of self-destruction traveled by your brothers. You are capable of great things...if you would only believe in yourself  as your father and I do. My hope is that you'll learn from the struggles your brothers endured and survived, choose the right path. Justin, know that you are loved.

My purpose for posting this blog is this: For many years I have longed for my own freedom, and now that it is upon me, I realize how truly lonely that freedom can be. This holiday season is the first in over 25 years where Jim and I have not had to focus on family and traditions, regardless of how untraditional they may have been - Thanksgiving dinner (steak and spaghetti) in the desert with our motorcycles, Christmas in the middle of nowhere in a motor home with a little wooden tree, personalized pumpkin pies, gift cards instead of presents for after Christmas shopping sales, jammies every year for Christmas Eve, Rocky Horror Picture Show on New Year's Eve with sparkling cider, special birthday dinners like mac-n-cheese and lasagna, driving cross country to visit family during the summer months collecting memories and bunnies along the way....

The prospect of not having the opportunity to make and preserve those memories hit me full force this year as I experienced my first Thanksgiving void of any of my of any schedules or expectations only left me feeling empty and sad... and even though I had your father beside me, as I have for 27 years now, I truly felt alone and desired to be surrounded by those who truly are the foundation in my life - my boys.
So, to my friends who have taken the time to read this, treasure the times you have with your children, take the time to make the memories and cherish them; love your children. Time is a thief, creeping up behind you and before you know it, your children move on, are having children of their own and you're left wondering where the time has gone and why you felt the need to count down the days until you had a little time for yourself.
To my boys....there will be days when I truly want and will relish those quiet moments to myself. But know this! Those quiet times are often spent thinking of you and of how much I love you all and am truly blessed to have been your mother. I'll never be too busy for a hug or a kiss, or an "I love you". My destiny in life was to be your mother and you are all gifts from heaven. I had my shortcomings, as all parents do, but when I leave this world, I hope you know that you were loved.

Always be confident in the fact that I love you all...always have, always will!

I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living, My babies you'll be.

<3 Mom

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Do Not Pass GO ....

As we become more technologically advanced, we become more reliant on our smart devices to proof and auto-correct our typing / texting errors.

We've all seen the funny posts on social networks where supposed  auto-correct changes a generally mundane conversation into R-rated or embarrassing moment.

I have always questioned the validity of these autocorrect slip-ups....until I experienced one first-hand, at the expense of a dear friend.

She was to meet up with several friends whom she hadn't seen since her high school days. My friend had updated her facebook status to reflect just how nervous she was.

Several of her friends, myself included, posted comments to her status assuring her that everything would be ok.

"I know, I know" she said.
"I'll feel better after a take a couple shits"


So funny. We had quite a few laughs over that one.

There have been times when I have benefited from an autocorrect or spellcheck assist. I've been spared some embarrassment.

But just when I needed it most, the function didn't apply.

I consider myself to be pretty crafty. I've been known to reclaim items...curb pick....

 dumpster dive for items that someone no longer finds value in, re-purpose it, and give that item new life.

One time in particular was when I was working for a large school district here in Southern California. The budget crunch was already hitting the school (not my current employer) and the need to become frugal and crafty was becoming more evident.

I would get my hands on anything ai could utilize; an ugly old metal cabinet would given new life with a coat of chalkboard paint...add a bucket of sidewalk chalk and we had a new bulletin board. It was great !!!

One day, the teacher in the next classroom was throwing away a pretty sad looking 3 ft square corkboard.
I snatched the corkboard up and drug it into my classroom, much to the teacher's dismay ( btw... I was a Classroom Aide in a Special Eucation Classroom)

I assured the teacher that I would make something wonderful from this otherwise piece of trash.

My creative juices started flowing...

I paper mache'd the entire surface with red tissue paper....much like this, but minus the watermelon

I then affixed the game board from a long-ignored Monopoly Game...

I then glued all the property cards around the outside perimeter of the corkboard. I glued the little houses and hotels on the little squares...

I even came up with some fancy-schmancy checks with a made-up monetary values of the properties on the game board. I glued two "sample" checks to the board; one made out to Jane Doe, the other to John Q. Public.

Game rules were established based on a student's attendance, completion of assignments, etc.

At the end of each week, the student could earn "rolls of the dice" and receive a check for the amount of the property where they landed. Community Chest earned the student an ice cream from the student store, while landing on Chance garnished a "Homework Pass", which was everyone's favorite.

The student's were excited about the game; everyone was eager to do their best to earn their chance to play.

As word got out about my game, teachers and administrators stopped by to get a run-down of how the game worked and measure it's success in motivating the students. Special Education teachers, General Educations teachers, Counselors, and even the Principal came by to learn about the game. All were equally impressed.

Then, one day, the district Senior Psychologist stopped by for a visit. I proudly showed him the game and explained the rules.

He studied the board thoughtfully, then turned to me and said, "You know you forgot the "L" in PUBLIC

He chuckled and simply walked away saying something about a Freudian slip...

I was mortified to think that every educator in the school had read that and not said a word....even worse they hadn't noticed the typo. Sadder still was the fact that all of my student's had read the checks...repeatedly.


I'm glad to see I'm not the only one making that mistake...

What can I say, but, OH, SHOT!!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

the woes of skinny dipping

A few years ago, my husband and I went on a 2nd honeymoon to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

We considered several different destinations, Alaska, Fiji, Hawaii. But we finally decided on Jamaica.

Several friends and co-workers had recently been to Jamaica and had nothing but raving reviews about the beautiful Caribbean waters, the soft white sands of Negril,  the welcoming Jamaican culture, the exotic food, the intoxicating rum...

and the skinny dipping...

Jim & I skinny dipping in the warm Caribbean waters of Jamaica

When the thought of embarking on our first "grown up" trip without our children, we flirted with the idea of living a little outside our comfort zone... do something we normally wouldnt skinny dipping.

Our rationale was that you only live once, and if we did happen to encounter anyone while going for a dip, it's not like we'd ever see them again, so who cares what they would think, right?


Maybe...(special shout out to all my Canadian and East Coast friends I met on that trip)

My husband and I perused the internet travel sites to review the various resorts along the 7 mile beach of Negril to check price and availability. Once we found the all-inclusive package that had all we were looking for, we clicked the reservation button and we were on Marley countdown.

We had been warned that the sun in Jamaica is a different kind of sun than we're used to here in Southern California. Jamaica is 18 degrees above the equator and fair-skinned visitors tend to burn easily. In preparation, we purchased an all-you-can-handle tanning package at the local spa.

Every day, we would go there after work, don funny little goggles and tanning lotion that was so expensive, we were sure the sparkles were made of real gold. We burned, we baked, on a daily basis so we would be able to face the Jamaican sun.

 We arrived in Jamaica full of excitement for the new adventures that lie ahead. The heat and humidity were oppressive, and the only  relief from the scorching sun was during the daily 15 minute monsoonal rainstorm every afternoon and at night..

 After settling into our room on the first day, we changed into our suits, grabbed our towels and headed towards the beach... the nearly empty, completely secluded private beach. And despite being artificially bronzed, we grabbed our SPF 90, as well.

Our first day out in the warm, torquoise waters was something I will never forget. Not because of the clear, beautiful water, not because of the beautiful sea life I viewed while snorkeling. Not because it was the first time I stupidly braved a skinny dipping jaunt, but because I received the worst sunburn of my life!

Disclaimer ~ This is my butt.... no, really, it is. Yes I'm serious! This is my butt!! OK, OK ... so it's not my butt, but this is MY story, so if I want to say this is my butt, I will !!!
 I had thoroughly burned my butt !!! When snorkling and skinny dipping are combined, one's ass WILL soak up the majority of those intense rays !!! It hurt to sit. It hurt to lie down. It hurt to .... well.... I just hurt.

It especially hurt to wear panties !!!  So, needless to say, the majority of my time was spent in a sundress, sans panties... I mean, who was gonna know, right?


In between more skinny dipping/sunburn excursions, rum punch libations, and jerk chicken feed-fests, Jim and I took part in the lunchtime organized group activities. On our 2nd or 3rd day there, I was fully engrossed in the lunchtime game which was a full contact game of Trivial Pursuit Jamaica.

The object of this game was to answer simple trivia questions about Jamaica. The catch was that, if you thought you had the correct answer, you had to run through the dining room, down a set of steps onto the sunken dance floor, run across the dance floor, and be the first one into a chair where the Emcee, a cross dressing Jamaican by the name of Winston/Winstina, was waiting with a microphone and an always flamboyant,appropro comment .

Correct answers were rewarded with a silver coin which could later be redeemed for a bottle of rum.

I was in a full-on battle between a girl from New York for those silver coins. We would both leap onto the dance floor, full sprint, and make a mad dash for that chair.

Sometimes she would win the coin, sometimes I would. No matter who won the coin, Winston/Winstina has something to say.

The last question was posed. I ran towards the chair. New York girl ran for the chair. I got there first! But, as I neared the chair, I lost my footing and fell...

... and I fell hard landing on my hands and knees!!!

And when I landed on my hands and knees, my sundress flew up over my head exposing my bright, red, sunburned ass to everyone eating their lunch !!!!

That would be embarrassing enough, right???

But, let's remember who we're talking about... ME... so you know there's more to the story, right?


As soon as I landed (with a thud), I rolled over onto my sunburned ass to regain my composure and ascertain the level of my shame. Hmmmm...yes, everyone is laughing... Jim is mortified...and Winston is coming to my aide...

or so I thought.

As Winston stood next to me in his high heel stilettos, his eyes would divert to me sitting on the floor and something that had caught his attention to my right. I watched him look back and forth from me to the floor several times before I looked to my right.

I looked.... and to my horror, I saw it...

There was a puddle of "something" on the floor where I had just landed!

I quickly looked up at Winston, who now had his hand on his hip and was just shaking his head...

"I didn't do that", I said

"You sure?" Winston asked (into the microphone)

"I didn't do that" I said again.

Winston took the tip of his high heel shoe and distributed the little puddle to investigate.

"Oh, no, Honey, that IS you! You pee-pee'd on my floor, Honey" (again, with the aide of his microphone)

***Crickets***...followed by an even more uproarious laugh-fest

Yes, I had fallen so hard that I literally sprayed pee out backwards between my thighs and onto the dance floor !!!!

Having no easy escape, I do what I always do, and play it up to the hilt.

I get to my feet... raise my arms in victory as I accept responsibility for the fact that that I had, indeed, pee'd on Winston's dance floor. Because, let's face it, I couldn't do that again if I tried! So I put it out there as being a pretty amazing feat of accomplishment!

I waved to the crowd, answered the trivia question, claimed my silver coin, grabbed the microphone from Winston and loudly requested a clean-up for a wet spill on aisle 5.


As I later tempered the sting of sunburn and embarrassment with a double rum punch, I contemplated whether I would ever skinny dip and risk sunburned buns again .....

Hmmmmm..... depends

Until next time we meet, Winston...

One Love

Ho Ho Hose....Merry Christmas

As we near the Christmas Season, I reflect back over some of my more memorable experiences celebrating the holidays. My own children are grown now, and are starting to contemplate the holiday traditions that they will begin to establish for their families.

I have recounted my parenting holiday fails; including the time I boycotted Christmas only to wake up Christmas morning so riddled with guilt I arose before the boys to run out in search of gifts. Unfortunately, the only place open was the liquor store down the street.

 My children got gum and candy bars and lotto tickets for Christmas that year. Of course, we braved the after Christmas sales the next day, but the damage had already been done.

Another Christmas was spent out of town with family. The attempt to have a wholesome Christmas was lost when the Bart Simpson Automatic Toothbrush with Built-In Timer came to life in it's wrapping under the tree.
As I struggled to get the lively present out of it's box for my anxious chilren, my father-in-law popped off with the obvious question: "What is that? Did you get a vibrator for Christmas?"

Seriously??? Surrounded by your grandchildren, THAT is the memory you create???

But, one of the most memorable holiday snaffus was the Company Christmas Party of 1989.
I was a mere 22 years of age, married, with three babies at home. An opportunity to socialize with ANYONE whose main focus of life was something other than Sesame Street or Barney was highly desired.

I remember being a bit apprehensive about going to the party as I didn't have anything appropriate to wear. As any good husband would do, Jim was sensitive to my feelings and took me out to buy something festive. I had two retail options: KMart or Miller's Outpost. Despite being painfully broke, off to Miller's we went.

I selected a pair of soft pink corduroy pants and a pink holiday sweater. I looked......."festive"

After our purchase, we returned home where I wanted to model my outfit for Jim. I wriggled into a pair of control top panty hose so as to tuck in my mommy tummy, eliminate panty lines, and affort comfort in my high heels. Next came the pants and my sweater, and my stilettos . I modeled my attire for my husband, so thankful that I was going  to be presentable to his coworkers.

I slipped out of my clothes and carefully hung everything up in the closet in preparation for the party the following night.

The next evening, as the time for the party neared and the babysitter had the kids all settled in front of the TV, I began to get ready.

Hair ....check
Make-Up .... check
Fresh pair of panty hose.... check
Corduroys and sweater...check
Sexy pumps ... check

And away we go.... over the river and through the woods to the company party we go!!!

We greet my husband's co-workers, some who are old friends, some who are new and begin to have a great evening out. The drinks are flowing and the music is playing and it doesn't take long before I can't resist the urge to shake my booty on the dance floor!!!

Now, Jim's not one for dancing, so chances of dragging him out there with me are slim to none. But, I soon find a willing victim by the name of Mike and we trip the lights fantastic!!!

Somewhere between my rendition of Funky Town and Soul Train, Mike looks down at the dance floor, points and says," What in the hell is that coming out of your pants leg???"

I slowly stop mid-hustle, look down .... and see....


Like a B-Movie flashback, I recalled slipping out of the cords and pantyhose simutaneously the night before...and I didn't remove the nylons ...when I couldnt find them, I opened up a new pair. I was smuggling an extra pair of nylons in my pants!!!

The prior pantyhose were slowly shimmying out of my pants leg as I danced and were now 6 inches exposed on the floor.

Now, I had two options:

1. Skamper off the dance floor, mortified, making a bee-line for the ladies room to cry,


2. Hike my leg up on Mike's thigh, and shake my groove thing while Mike pulls and tugs on those pantyhose until they are finally set free, at which point he swings them over his head whoopin' and a hollerin' like a Cherokee with a fresh scalp !!!

I'll let you determine which option I went with.....LMPO (Laughing my pantyhose off)

Happy Holidays, My Dearies....

and remember ...

"The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused."
~Shirley MacLane

(somehow, I feel that Shirley must know me... maybe from another life...)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just Grin & Bear It, Mister

We all have things in life that irritate us...send us to the brink of flipping out and committing some sort of heinous act.

I found myself in such a predicament a few years ago, when an associate, a grown man, began bringing a stuffed bear to business meetings. Business meetings I had to sit through. Endure.
This  bear would be introduced as Mr. Grin & Bear It, my co-worker's Administrative Assistant, and if there were any concerns about specific tasks or projects that had not been completed by this co-worker and his team, the bear took the heat.

"If this or that hasn't been done, blame Mr. Grin & Bear It"

The relationship between bear and man was becoming awkward, a bit much, in my mind, and in the minds of a few others who had mumbled their concerns under hushed breathes. When the bear began making appearances at holiday outings, theme parks etc., enough was enough.

Despite warnings from my supervisor that tampering with this man/bear bond would only further delay much needed task completion, I began plotting a "bearnapping".

I enlisted double-agent co-workers to assist me in napping the bear. Let the adventures, and ransom notes begin....

Word soon got out of the bearnapping. Ransom notes began filtering through to his owner through the hands of the double-agents. In response, an A-Team Task Force was formed to rescue this poor bear. What a great opportunity for me to become a double agent myself ! I participated in rescue efforts at every turn.

Mr. Grin & Bear It had his own facebook page so people around the world could participate in the rescue efforts.Mr. Grin & Bear It Facebook
Facebookies asked questions of the bear to see if they could get some hints as to his location. and report sightings.

The "bearnapper" (me) set up a blog as a means of "bearnapping terrorism propaganda" and was able to keep his owner alerted as to his plight. Updates were posted, pictures uploaded, and videos taunted those on the Task Force.
Where In The World Is Mr Grin & Bear It Blog

Over the next few months, the bear was frequently relocated to a new hiding places. He made cameo appearances in work-related videos. Ransom notes were delivered with updated demands, including demands for gummy bears, circus animal cookies, a Starbucks gift card, and a check for $131,000!

As the general public learned of the growing demand for gummy bears and Benjamins, would-be imposter bearnappers began to appear out of the blue.

"I have your friend in my evil grip. I demand gummy bears"

The bear had quite a few adventures while we were on the lam.... we went to San Fransisco where he was arrested and handcuffed!

....was locked up in Alcatraz for a short time

and almost flung himself off of the Golden Gate Bridge

The farce continued throughout the summer months, until the bear was safely returned to his owner at a conference in front of all who knew of his plight.

He was rescued, of course, by me! Being a double-agent definitely had it's advantages!

At the conference, following a video that resembled a scene from the Godfather promising retribution towards the bearnapper, and in front of 400+ co-workers, I appeared, disheveled and  exhausted, reporting that I had just returned from a globe trottingl rescue effort. I lofted the bear high above my head, Lion King "circle of life" style and returned him to his rightful owner... and I gladly accepted the "check" for the $131,000. But never did get any gummy bears...or a Starbucks card...Hmmmmm....I may need to strike again!

When all was said and done, the whole adventure was fun for all those involved. I was in hopes that I had not upset my coworker. His bear had many adventures, all chronicled for his owner as a fun memory.

It was a fun joke....or so I thought.

What I didn't anticipate was the day that my co-worker approached me and let me know just how much the bear-napping had meant to him.

It was more than a joke to him. It was a much needed distraction.

Unbeknownst to me, at about the same time that I took the bear, his wife had become very ill, at times requiring hospitalization, her prognosis unknown, and frightening.

Between work, visits to the hospital, caring for his family, and  prayers for his wife's well-being, he was able to escape reality for a short amount of time each day to keep tabs on his bear.

What had originally been a scheme to transform my irritation into entertainment developed into something good, something that was needed, something that was helpful....for a co-worker, a friend, in need.

I guess it's true that God uses each of us in our own unique way to lift up and support each other in our times of need.... I just didn't know I'd do that via a bearnapping.

Operation Beautiful

I am a very impulsive, but sometimes, thoughtful creature. At times, I manage to get things right... in a big way.

One day, while perusing the internet and writing my blog, I came across another blog, one with a positive message and quest for starting a public movement that, I believed, warranted a little of my participation and devotion.

I had stumbled across a site called Operation Beautiful.

The mission statement from this site states: "The goal of the Operation Beautiful website is to end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk.”  If this little blog only does one productive thing, I hope it helps readers realize how truly toxic negative self-talk is  — it hurts you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Followers  are encouraged to secretly, and anonymously, post messages of positive self-worth in random locations.

I have a secret stash of pretty post-it notes in my desk. Some of the post-its have been treasured for almost 10 years! I hate to use them on something frivolous. I actually hoard pretty post-its and will chastise anyone who touches "my precious".

This Operation Beautiful is anything but frivolous. So, out came my pretty pieces of paper; pink hearts, purple butterflies, peachy flowers...
Operation Beautiful had posted a challenge for readers to anonymously place unlimited messages of self worth on a specific date and time. I accepted the challenge. As the date neared, I diligently penned my own positive affirmations; some simple, some profound. And when the moment was right, I slipped away from my desk at work and placed pretty affirmation post-it notes all over my workplace. Post-its on the bathroom mirrors, post-its on co-worker's computer monitors, post-it's on the copy machine.

I was stealthy... nobody caught me and I was very proud of my accomplishment...even giggled to myself  when I started  hearing people ask about the post it notes.

I denied all inquiries. I didn't know a thing about it, but thought that it a pretty cool thing.

And, then, a male co-worker, whom I barely knew, from another suite came to my cubicle with the sticky I had placed on his computer. The post-it simply said, "you are loved."

"Did you do this?"he asked .

"Do what?" I replied.

"Did you put this on my computer? I stepped away from my computer for less than a minute and when I came back, this was on my computer". He held up the sticky again so I could read it.

"Hmmmm, wow,  ummmm, nope, I've been at my desk almost all morning", I lied.

I could tell that he wasn't buying it. But I held fast that I didn't know anything about it.

And then, I noticed that as he was looking at the ground in front of him,  little salty tears started welling up in the corners of his eyes and threatened to spill out onto his cheeks.

"If you did this," he said, "thank you. I really needed to hear this right now."

I stood up and gave him a wink and a little hug, and still denied putting that sticky note on his monitor. He hugged me back, held on tight.. he just kept saying thank you.

"I have no idea  what you're talking about", I lied, "but you ARE loved" I told him, truthfully.

I didn't know this coworker very well. My relationship was nothing more than a friendly professional one. He's always been helpful and kind, but I knew nothing more about him. I didn't know anything about his home life, his personal life.  I didn't know that he was going through a messy divorce and custody battle and he was questioning whether or not life was worth sticking around for.

Just when his life was appearing to be at it's lowest point, a little butterfly post-it note reminded him that he has blessings in his life ... and that he was loved.

I went home from work that day with a renewed sense of purpose, myself. I was reminded that even the smallest gesture can be monumental to someone. I was reminded that everyone has a story before they reach us, and we need to recognize and be sensitive to that. I was happy, and, yes, even proud, that I had held on to those post-it notes and had taken the time to follow through with my little project .... my post-its had more than served their purpose.

Those butterflies, hearts, and flower post-it notes stayed up on the mirrors and computers for many, many months after I had placed them there. The cleaning crews would clean the mirrors around each and every one of them. I would catch a glimpse of them on monitors as I walked by coworker's desks.

So much good came from each little piece of paper.

Here is your challenge, reader. I challenge you to make a difference in someone's life today... take one simple little piece of paper and anonymously tell someone that they matter... that they are loved.

It's not difficult to do... even put one up on the mirror in your own bathroom... because you are loved, too.

PS.... please visit and like them on facebook... I think the message here is an important one for all of us.


I am a crack pot.

Yes, you read that right. I called myself a crack pot.

Some of you who have known me for some time can attest to this fact. I am crazy, I am zany, I am ... weird.

But, I revel in my weirdness, my uniqueness. Like it or not, it is who I am

I have embarrassed my family, embarrassed my friends, embarrassed my coworkers. All because I am a bit "over the top" in my actions and my goofiness. *shrug*

I have written stories on my blog about crashing family reunions of people I am in no way related to...
Who invited the white lady?

I bring Ken and Barbie to dinner parties just to break the ice, (I don't know why, but those dolls end up losing their clothing every time!).  

I really have donned a coconut bra and grass skirt to sing backup for a local band.

No, this is not me! But, I do possess that shade of lipstick.

Not only am I crack pot, but I am a crack(ed) pot.

But there is a reason for my escapades; my unpredictable zest for loony adventures, my instability. I want to create memories for people, as well as myself. I want to see the funny things in an ordinary day. All I need is an opening in a conversation and I'll jump in with both feet with a silly story or anecdote. It's just who I am. It is when I am my most comfortable.
I want to be a crack(ed) pot that waters the landscape of life. People are a lot like flowers, you know. Shower them with kindness, love, laughter...memories and they will flourish.

All of this leads me to a story I'd like to share with you. Perhaps you've heard it before. Maybe this is the first time. Regardless, I hope after you read this, you recognize that you are a crack pot, too!

The Cracked Pot Story

A water bearer in India had two large pots,

one hung on each end of a pole which he carried
across his neck. One of the pots had a crack
in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always Cracked Pot 2
delivered a full portion of water at the end
of the long walk from the stream to the
master's house.  The cracked pot arrived only half full.

For two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it
spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

Why?" asked the bearer. Waterboy with Cracked Water Pot

"What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house.

Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.

But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side?

That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers
to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots.

But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them. There is a lot of good out there.

There is a lot of good in us!

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

Remember to appreciate all the different people in your life!