Thursday, December 31, 2015

Auld Lang Syne and New Year's Eve

One of my traditions on New Year's Eve is to try and get my home and life in order before the year ends. I have yet to be fully successful - but I like to try to start the New Year feeling organized. A year has never ended without me feeling nostalgic, but there is something about a fresh slate that provides the idea of endless possibilities. Like footsteps in the freshly fallen snow, it is fun to make those first strides in a new year.  I like goals better than resolutions, and this year I have quite a few.

Auld Lang Syne

No matter whether a year concludes with a fancy dress party; an early celebration with small children before

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

To you and yours ...

... best wishes 
a wonderful holiday season 
The Most  -  - of Every Moment!

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday Suggestion: Be Present.

Many of us keep our phones and cameras at the ready all through the day. When I saw the cute Santa hats on the geese in the Bozeman airport last night, of course, I took a photo.

My daughter was supposed to arrive at the Helena airport last night at midnight on a connecting flight out of Seattle. She had already spent several hours at the airport when she found out her flight to Montana was

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dear Santa

What's on my list for Christmas? To be more in control of time.

In a blog post last December, I published My (Grown-Up) Letter to Santa.  If I wrote to him again this year, most of what I said last year would still apply. But now, I think I would ask for one more thing. I would ask for the power to be more in control of time

Santa and list and clock

Speed up or slow down

Sometimes, like while waiting for family members to arrive for the holidays, we want time to speed up. Other times, like during the limited days when guests are visiting, we want it to slow down.

More time

Sometimes we just want more moments in our day - so we can get more done. Actually, I could be content without a longer day if I could just become more productive in the hours that I have.

Past and future

Time travel has its appeal as well - wouldn't it be nice to be able to just take a quick trip back in time to remember an event we can't seem to recall?  Or, perhaps travel to the future and catch a glimpse of what consequences there might be for actions we are considering taking now.

Plan better

How many times have you been late getting somewhere, or arrived too early and wasted precious moments that could have been spent doing other things? I'd love to always just get my arrival time exactly right!

Time management

This blog is all about making the most of all of our moments. We can't really acquire more moments than the ones we already have - but we can figure out the best way to make the most of them. Time management skills are valuable to learn, and it is important to prioritize all of the things that demand our attention.

There may be a decreased number of blog posts here the rest of this month.

December is a busy month for all of us. I've been keeping up with my usual publishing schedule so far, but other things are begging for my attention. Rather than risk just churning out quantity without quality, my posts may decrease in frequency for a bit. This is a gift I can give myself, to help me gain just a little bit more control of my time, and to ensure that I am not wasting yours! 

What things can you do to gain more control of time? 
Will you do them?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Question About Holiday Greeting Cards and Letters

This time of year, many of us send out a holiday card or letter to friends and family. Even people who do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah often send a New Year's greeting.

Opinions vary widely about acceptable format for holiday greetings. 

I enjoy catching up with friends and past acquaintances annually at this time of year, and I love getting newsy letters and lots of photos from friends and family. I know, however, that some people roll their eyes and don't understand why others choose to share so much information.   

Today, I'm curious about the majority opinion, and I'm asking you for your thoughts on this topic.

Questions about holiday greetings and letters

What's your opinion?

What is your favorite type of holiday greeting to receive?

  1. A store-bought card.
  2. A custom photo card.
  3. A newsy printed letter.

 When it comes to content, is it true that "less is more"? Do you prefer:

  1. One simple photo of a family or friend.
  2. A variety of photos taken by the sender throughout the year.
  3. A note or letter without photos.

Do you send out holiday greetings? 

  1. No.
  2. Yes. If so, do you:
  • Just sign and send a card.
  • Put a photo in the card or send a photo card.
  • Send a holiday letter with one photo.
  • Send a holiday letter with multiple photos.

4. Do you send your holiday greetings to:

  1. Close friends and family?
  2. Only people that are far away?
  3. All of your friends and family?

 5. If you do send a card or printed letter, do you:

  1. Have it printed and send it without signing or adding a note.
  2. Sign your name but never add a note.
  3. Add a hand-written personal note for each recipient.

Please leave your answers in the comment section. Let's find out how people really feel about the cards and letters we've sent throughout the years!

And by the way ...

Happy Holidays

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday Suggestion: Sometimes it's best to not say anything.

"If you don't have anything good to say, then don't say anything at all." While attempting to write this post last night, that was the phrase that kept running through my head.

I've heard this advice at various times throughout my life, and in most cases I have tried to heed it. I have always understood the word "good" in this context to mean "nice."  But, last night I realized there can be another interpretation of this advice as well. When we speak (or write!) we should strive to ensure that our words have value and meaning.

I had a few ideas of topics for this post, but I lacked the energy to develop them fully this week. Rather than waste your time reading something that is not "good," today I am simply going to share this quote and wish you a happy weekend.

And I'll leave you with this thought: Think how much better we would all get along if we all only ever said things that are "good."

Do you agree with this advice?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ideas for the Holidays: My List of Fabulous Finds (Week #24)

The holiday season is upon us. Here are a few links to articles previously published on this blog, which might make your life even merrier and brighter. I really hope they do!

Sugared Cranberries

~ ~ Decorate

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Coding Lesson from Khan Academy and a Christmas Poem

Have you heard of Khan Academy®? It is a free learning resource for people of all ages, offering on-line instruction on a huge variety of topics. The website is and it is well worth taking a few moments to check it out.

Yesterday, I received an email about an "Hour of Code" opportunity offered by Khan Academy®, and I decided to take a peek. Before I knew it, I was deep into the "Hour of Webpages" tutorial, learning some basic HTML and CSS coding and having a really good time! One of the assignments was to write a poem, using the HTML skills that had just been taught.

I am not a poet. In fact, I think a poem of mine has only ever appeared on this website once, and it was really just a few rhyming lines.  The challenge of writing poetry was actually more daunting for me than trying to use computer code, but I wanted to complete the assignment. I took some inspiration from our recently decorated Christmas tree, and I gave it a try.

Christmas lights on a tree

I am sharing my little poem here, as an example of how easy it is to learn a bit of basic coding from Khan Academy® in just an hour or so.

Using my newly acquired skills, I was able to write text in several colors, make a title heading, and create line breaks. By googling "centering lines of text using CSS" (a skill not taught in this introductory lesson),  I even figured out how to format my poem to appear in the shape of a tree:

Tree Lights

red & white.
Simple strands
placed happily there, by
several sets of willing hands.
Green strings full of pretty lights,
wound round fragrant pine boughs,
the festive 

I should probably stick to writing prose, not poems, but I can now do so using a little computer jargon! I even learned how to include the photo of our tree in this post without using the Blogger "insert image" tool, but by actually writing the correct code.

Of course, on the Blogger platform I have always been able to do all of this without knowing how to code, just by using the available tools. But, I have learned that some understanding of computer coding can really be helpful - when something goes wrong, or when you just want to make some changes that are not otherwise possible.

I can't wait to see what else I can learn from Khan Academy®. Can you?

NOTE: All Khan Academy® content is available for free at I did not receive any compensation for mentioning their website, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Have you ever taken a Khan Academy Course or visited their website?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Our house shook for a couple of seconds at 9:30 pm on Sunday night. 


It almost felt as though there had been an explosion nearby, but we immediately realized it must have been an earthquake. The Christmas tree did not topple and nothing fell off the walls or shelves, but there was no mistaking that we had just felt the ground shake.  I wondered if there would be any type of an aftershock, but we felt nothing.

Earthquakes do happen here in Montana once in a while, but I have only ever felt one or two of them, and those just felt like more of a bump. Curious, I got on Facebook and saw that other people we knew had experienced the shaking as well. According to the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program, it was a 3.4 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter not too many miles from where we live. Not strong enough to do any damage, but significant enough that it did not go unnoticed.

map of eathquake activity
This is a screenshot of the map on the USGS web page of recent earthquake activity.
Just hours after I had this experience, there was a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Tajikistan. That news prompted me to refresh my memory on how to prepare for an earthquake, and how to respond if one occurs. While our house was shaking, I had been too surprised to even move from the couch. When it ended, I simply went to find my family in other parts of the house to confirm that they had felt the quaking as well. Had the earthquake been more severe, I definitely should have acted differently.

The Earthquake County Alliance web page offers a lot of helpful information on how to prepare, survive, and recover from an earthquake. An earthquake can happen anywhere although some places have a higher percentage of seismic activity than others. It is always best to be prepared, so I encourage you click this link and educate yourself in case you ever feel the ground begin to rock and roll!

What to do in an eathquake

Have you ever experienced an earthquake?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Saturday Suggestion: SnowMan - First the Song and Now A Novel.

How many times have you sung the song "Frosty the Snowman" or made a snow person?

I think I loved this snowman as much as my daughter did!

Have you ever thought about how snowmen and the song originated? I really hadn't - but my friend Diane Stringam Tolley has. A lot.

Diane has written several books, and I finally had time to read one of them during my Thanksgiving travels. I have always loved snowmen, so naturally I chose SnowMan as the first of her books to read. It is a fairly short story - only 134 pages, but I am still thinking about it a week after I finished it. It made me both smile and cry, and I will never build another snowman without remembering Diane's inspiring story. Diane's engaging writing style and her account of the life of John Benjamin Frosst will transport you to a snowy winter decades ago, and leave you with a warm feeling. I highly recommend you treat yourself and read this book.

SnowMan is available in both paperback and Kindle format. You can learn more about it or even purchase it, just by clicking here. (As always, if you do make a purchase after visiting Amazon from one of my links, I will receive a small commission, but the price you pay will not be affected.)

Diane also writes the blog Across the Border where she tells fascinating stories of growing up on a ranch in Southern Alberta. I am keeping this post short today, so you have time to read some of her words instead of mine!

What sort of things have you used to build a snowman?
Have you ever given one an old silk hat, a corncob pipe, a button nose, and two eyes made out of coal?

Friday, December 4, 2015

I'm Glad to be Back: My List of Fabulous Finds (Week #23)

While taking a mini-blog vacation, I was only publishing here on Saturdays for the past few weeks so this is my first "Fabulous Finds" post in a while. During my blogging absence, I didn't get my photo collection as organized as I had hoped, but I did make a good dent in the project. 

Quite a bit happened while I was gone, however.  I managed to get our holiday lights up outside, took my son to get his cast off and his wisdom teeth out, and we went to Arizona for Thanksgiving.

In all, it was a busy couple of weeks, but I did miss blogging and I'm glad to be back.

I hope these "fabulous finds" I came across in the past few weeks will interest you.


This Week's Fabulous Finds:

~ ~ Roasted Garlic

I am definitely going to try roasting garlic this way!


~ ~  Perfect Pie Crust

A beautiful pie is like a work of art. This video from King Arthur Flour takes all the mystery out of how to crimp the edges, and make a really pretty crust.

~ ~ A detector of Gluten

For people with Celiac Disease, ingesting even a small amount of gluten can be very harmful. I just read about a device that can test foods instantly to see if they are gluten-free. It should be available soon - and seems like it would be a wonderful tool.

~ ~ Still Missing

When Malaysia airline MH370 went down in March 2014, I could not believe that it could just disappear. A year and a half later, sadly, it has still not been found. I just came across this update.

~ ~  Holiday Lights

I managed to get our holiday lights up just before the weather turned really cold and snowy this year. If you haven't put yours up yet, you might find reading my article from last year helpful:
Christmas lights
I was glad I got these lights up before Thanksgiving. It snowed and temperatures dropped to subzero just before we left for Arizona.


~ ~ A possible step forward in the fight against MS

A recent study looks at a promising approach to helping patients with Multiple Sclerosis, a disease which affects millions of people. While more work needs to be done, it would be wonderful if this research leads towards developing a cure.

Have you ever tried roasting garlic using the method linked above?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!
In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of them, the price you pay will not be affected but I may receive some small compensation. All opinions expressed, however, are entirely honest and my own.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Christmas Tree and a Menorah

It's time for another chapter of "The Mindy Story!"  I haven't written one for a while, so this week I took on the added challenge of incorporating all the options offered in the last two Words for Wednesday word prompt challenges. I used a total of 18 words and two phrases, supplied by two different bloggers - and it was a lot of fun to see what I could do with them all!

I hope you enjoy this segment ... Mindy certainly can get herself worked up!

Christmas and Hanukkah

~ ~ * ~ ~

If you missed some of the story so far, or just need a refresher, here are the links to all of the previous chapters so far:

Another chapter in the unpredictable life of Mindy ...

~ ~ * ~ ~

A Christmas Tree and a Menorah

"Mindy!! Only you could extrapolate so poorly," Barb said, admonished Mindy gently. "Why on earth do you choose to jump to these unfounded conclusions?"

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Countdown to Christmas: December Always Sneaks Up on Me!

December 1st.  This month always sort of sneaks up on me and I am seldom ready to begin the Christmas season.

Advent Calendar wall hanging
The color scheme in my home is well-suited to autumn decorations - perhaps that is the reason I am never in a hurry to put those fall-colored things away. It is usually at least a day or two into December when I pack up the last of the pumpkins and the pilgrims, and remember to put up the Advent Calendar.

When my children were very young, I purchased a felt wall-hanging of a Nativity scene. Small cloth camels, stars, sheep, Wise Men, and so forth reside in numbered pockets at the bottom of it all year long.  For each of the first 24 days of December, one of these is supposed to be adhered to a Velcro spot in or near the stable, creating a complete Nativity scene by Christmas day. The task of placing these figures used to be taken very seriously by my kids - so much so, that at the end of the holiday season I would record whose turn it would be the following year to place baby Jesus in the manger.  Every parent knows how important it is to be sure that life is fair!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday Suggestion: Creamy Tomato and Bunny Pasta Soup

This post is about a product I received complimentary for testing purposes, but my review is an honest appraisal of my opinion of this product.

I hope all of my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving! You might be starting to get tired of turkey leftovers, so today I'm suggesting a product I recently tried and would definitely buy again.

Quite a while ago, I received a "Comfort Voxbox" from Influenster, with a variety of products to review.  At least, I should have received it quite a while ago.  Actually, I was never notified that it was available for pickup, so it was undelivered for considerably longer than it should have been. In any event, I finally received it!

Tomato soup

The timing turned out to be quite perfect! My son had his wisdom teeth extracted just over a week ago.  All four were impacted and it was a complicated case. He has done extremely well post-surgically, but the first few days it was challenging to think of foods that he could eat. Ice cream, pudding, and macaroni-and-cheese were all good choices and things I had on hand. When he tired of these, however, I offered him one of the things I received in the VoxBox: Annie's Creamy Tomato and Bunny Pasta Soup.

I was a little worried that my 18-year old son might balk a little at the bunny-shaped pasta noodles, but quite the opposite! He said the soup was really very good, and the noodles were soft enough to offer no discomfort for his sore mouth. He commented that since all you have to do to prepare it is heat the contents of the cardboard container, it would be a good meal to take backpacking.

tomato soup #sogood

I have never been very fond of tomato soup, but I felt like I should have a taste of this complimentary product, and I was very pleasantly surprised! Its creamy texture had just the amount of tomato flavor, and I thought it was very good. In addition to being delicious, I was impressed to learn from the package that this soup:
  •  is certified as organic
  •  contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  •  contains no high fructose corn syrup.
  • contains 1/2 cup of vegetables per serving.
Tomato soup #sogood

I can recommend this soup as a good thing to eat after dental work, to take on a camping trip, or just for an everyday lunch! In fact, it would be perfect served with grilled cheese sandwiches and some crackers.

bunny and carrot shaped pasta in tomato soup

Have you ever tried any of Annie's Homegrown Products?
In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of them, the price you pay will not be affected but I may receive some small compensation. All opinions expressed, however, are entirely honest and my own.
This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday Suggestion: Share Your Favorite Recipes

"Sorry, it's a secret family recipe."  "Well, I'd share it with you, but I've been sworn to secrecy." Have you ever received this sort of response when you've requested a recipe from someone?

Family recipes
Family recipes

Flawed Logic.

When I was in my teens and early 20's, I was reluctant to share my favorite recipes with friends and family. If they loved something I cooked or baked, then I wanted to be the person who could make them happy by creating it for them again. I reasoned that once they had the recipe, then they would be able to prepare it for themselves or someone else, and I would no longer have the power to bring them that joy. 

Fortunately, it didn't take me long to understand that this logic was silly. If I really wanted them to be happy, then it wouldn't matter who made the recipe, as long as they got to eat or serve that particular dish or dessert!

A Reason to Share.

Now, whenever I've made a recipe that turns out well, I always welcome a time or place to share it. While I am partially motivated by wanting to spread the enjoyment of a good thing, I must admit I also have a selfish reason. I have realized that recipes can quite easily become lost or even destroyed, as in the case of (heaven forbid) a fire or a flood. I find it comforting to know that other people have copies of my recipes, and that I could obtain a duplicate from someone if I was ever missing mine.  

Every time I share a recipe on this blog it is for my readers benefit, but I'm also happy knowing that it has just become a little safer for my family and friends and future generations to enjoy.

Part of a Legacy.

Many cooks are known within their family for the special dishes that they make. Those recipes may even become named after them. Aunt Blanche's Dump Salad, Aunt Ginny's Sweet Potato Casserole, Grandma's Chocolate Chip Brownies, and Aunt Audrey's Christmas Trifle are just a few of the headings on recipe cards to which I frequently refer. 

Sometimes we remember and long for a particular item, but no one has the recipe. The baked chicken my grandmother often served when we would have a Sunday dinner with her is one such recipe. I would truly love to go back in time and ask her to write down the method with which she used to make it. 

Memories of a person or event are often passed from generation-to-generation by the sharing of a recipe. I think that is a very lovely gift indeed, and I hope my own legacy is richly endowed with delicious recipes.

My Saturday Suggestion for today is to Share Your Recipes

Do you agree that this is a good idea?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Wishing for World Peace

In my last post, I stated that except for publishing on Saturdays, I would be taking a blog vacation this month. In light of the events of this past weekend, however, I feel like I need to express my sympathies here.

My heart is heavy for the victims of the recent terrorist acts in Paris, and I am as shocked and horrified as anyone else. The thing is, though, I am not just sorrowful for Paris, I am sad for all of us ... every person on this earth.  

I am sad that we have not yet figured out how to all live in peace. Can you imagine how wonderful our world would be, if we solved everything with words and learned to get along?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday Suggestion: Spend Time to Save Time

Some of you may remember this photo from my blog post on May 19, 2014, An Organized Photo Collection: I WISH! 

When I wrote that post, I committed to getting my photo collection more organized before my son graduates from high school this year. Sadly, in the months that have transpired since the post was published, I have made no progress with this.

This week I spent a considerable amount of time looking for a photo I had hoped to use on this blog. I knew

Friday, November 13, 2015

Politics and Entertaining: My List of Fabulous Finds (Week 22)

Another Veteran's Day has come and gone, and Thanksgiving is coming up.

I put the Halloween decorations away and decorated the house for Thanksgiving in record time this year. The snow we got here in Montana last week never completely melted, and more has been added to it. Our bodies have begun to adjust to day-light saving time, although those dark mornings and early night falls are something I will never like. 

We seem to have made the leap from fall to winter, even though that season doesn't officially begin until December 21st

Montana weather can change in the blink of an eye, as I observed yesterday on my walk.

A busy time of year

Many people consider this to be the busiest time of year. Calendars are full with plans to visit family or

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembering Life-Changing Moments on Remembrance Day

We all have periods of time in our lives upon which we look back and think, "Wow. If that event had not happened, how different my life would be." 

November 10th marks one of those life-changing dates for me. My quest to "make the most - - of every moment" and the subsequent creation of this blog may have originated from a major lifestyle change that occured for me on that date.

Why November 10th is a significant date for me:
Forty-some years ago my father, a petroleum engineer, accepted an overseas position. On November 10th, my family left our rural home just outside Calgary, Alberta, Canada to move to Spain. I remember my hesitancy to leave my friends, and my life as I had always know it.  I can still recall the excitement and wonder I felt, however, when we arrived in Europe and settled in there. Within a few months, I realized what a lucky opportunity I had been granted. That move across the globe heavily influenced the person whom I was to become, and the life that I would live. Every year on November 10th, I have thoughts of gratitude for the adventure my parents choose for us all to embark upon.

Newly arrived in Europe - weren't we quite the tourists? Check out those plaid pants!
These were the days before selfies - my dad is not pictured because he took the photo.

In mid-November, I also celebrate the anniversary of another major milestone, and a few minor ones, as well.  

Of major importance: 

Just over two decades ago this week, I acquired my most treasured role - - I became a mom! ❤️

Less significant, but hopefully the start of many years of fulfillment: 

Two years ago on November 13th, my first piece of freelance writing was published on-line. I have written something nearly every day since then.

Another milestone from years ago, that has had influence upon this blog: 

I have always loved to cook, but I might not have the confidence to blog about my recipes if it had not been for some successful Thanksgiving challenges. One example of this would be the time I offered to bake the pumpkin pies for a large Thanksgiving family gathering when I was still in college, when I was still in college, and the pumpkin pie recipe I developed then and have been making ever since. 

Of course, not all of anyone's important milestones in life occur in just one month of the year. For me, however, the second week in November and coincidentally Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day in the US) seems to be a time when I stop and appreciate the moments of my past which have shaped my future.  

November 11th. 

November 11th is Remembrance Day (Armistice Day or Veteran's Day as it is also called, depending on where you live) and it is a date designated for us to remember that our freedom has come at a price. Without the efforts of many soldiers, our lives would all be different. 

My memory of leaving Canada and arriving in London (where we stayed for a week while my dad did some work at the home office of his new company) is jumbled with flashbacks of people wearing red poppies on their lapels -  in both the country that I left, and the one to which I arrived. From this observation, I gained a global perspective I didn't have before. The 11th of November has been a day for me ever since to think about all of the lives lost to all the wars, in every country of the world.

Beyond the comfort zone.

Our first instinct as human beings is to resist and dislike change. Looking back, however, I realize that some of the scariest and at times even the least appealing moments in my life have been the ones to take me in the best directions.  This reflection provides me with a good reminder that it is important to take some risks, and get out of my comfort zone once in a while.

One year ago today,  I wrote a different post about November being a month for memories.  A number of readers shared their November remembrances in the comments. 

What memories has this triggered for you?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!