their chapter…

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pruett candleYesterday I wrote of “chapters“; my word for 2015. This morning I awakened with a sense of the real impact of such a word. You see, today marks the closing of a very painful chapter for some dear friends of ours. Exactly one year has passed since they lost a beloved husband and dad. Today we remember Dan.

As their friends, we exist only on the outside of their incredible pain. In reality, we are rendered utterly helpless in their grief. What can we do? What can we say? At the very core, the truth is painfully simple really. Nothing. Their hearts have but one wish; and, sadly, we cannot bring him back.

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So we simply do what we can. And it all starts with love. First and foremost, We love them… Quietly. Every day. Secondly, we honor their family’s long and painful journey by loving those around us with that very same all encompassing love. Quietly. Every day.

We cry with them… we cry for them. Just this morning I stumbled across this beautiful song that someone had selected for their mom’s funeral. It’s beautiful. And yes. I cried. You will too…  Jealous of the Angels (Jenn Bostic)

It’s morning, February 2, 2015… the world still dark and silent. I lit a candle and said a quiet prayer. Tonight, in a community prayer service, we will gather once again; just as we did every single week in the months before Dan’s passing. In those days and weeks we prayed for Dan’s healing. But tonight we will pray, along with Dan in heaven, for his family’s healing.

One year later. Their journey; their chapter…

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“my word”

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Source: Eqinox/We Heart It

I finally decided on “my word”. For 2015. My word is “chapters”.

Whew! I mean, here it is, February 1st. Already. That means I existed the entire first month of January, 2015… with no word. What? How? OK. Here’s the deal. I didn’t want to just grab any random word; and call it MY word. I had to ponder. And dwell. And stress. Now I probably shoulda coulda woulda started this process a little earlier, but to be quite honest with y’all (my son moved to Dallas. Gotta do that y’all thingie every once in awhile now…), I DID NOT KNOW we had to have “a word”. Yep. I’m just being really honest here. I just didn’t know. Did you know? Ya. You probably did. My friend Dawn has a word. (Click HERE) And she had a word last year as well. She just kinda “knows” these things tho…

“What’s the greatest chapter in your book? Are there pages where it hurts to look?”

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A couple lines from one of my fav Blake Shelton songs… Truth is, I have always looked at my life as a book, and every single chapter in “my book” has made me the very person that I am today. The good, the not so good; accomplishments, defeat; amazing triumphs and overwhelming heartbreaks; over-the-top joy, and excruciating pain. It is all me. It is my book. Those are my chapters.

2015 promises to be a big year for me. As it stands now, I will be writing many new chapters throughout the year. And closing others. Case in point, I started the year off by closing the longest running, absolutely hands-down greatest chapter in my “book of life” thus far… The chapter dedicated to raising my (amazing) kids. You notice I did NOT say the chapter dedicated to “Motherhood”. Oh no, no, no.  I know better than that. There is no “one chapter”; no “end” to the privilege of Motherhood. My kids will ALWAYS be my kids, and I will ALWAYS be their mom. Nothing will ever change that. EVER. Yes; there are many levels, and chapters, to Motherhood. But the reality is, I am done “raising” my children. They are both almost 25 years old now. Adults; living and working on their own. But I must be honest in telling you, it hurt like crazy to turn that page. To leave behind that amazing chapter and move on.

“What’s the greatest chapter in your book? Are there pages where it hurts to look…?”

2015… Stay tuned.

Source: naturalhealthmag.com

Source: naturalhealthmag.com

live happy… Cathy

perfectly placed pearls

A gal called me two days ago to ask permission to use a picture from this post (the pearls) for a big gala she was planning. Upon re-reading the post, I really had to giggle at the irony of it all. It is humbling to realize that my New Year’s resolutions that I THOUGHT were 2015, are actually just recycled from 2012. So… thought it best to re-post. AND recycle… live happy xo

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jewelry storageSo every day, my friend Martha (Stewart) sends me an “organizing tip of the day”. (Thanks, Martha) Let’s just say that I have been feeling pretty good about the (slow and) steady progress that I have been making in this department.  Now mind you, this “organize my life” project started way before the whole “New Year’s Resolutions” thingie…  As a matter of fact (confession alert!!), this “organizational mode of thinking” actually WAS a “New Year’s Resolution”.  In 2012.  OK.  So it’s “long-term”.  So what.  At least I’m still plugging away; Right???  So back to the part where I am feeling pretty good about my progress.  Today’s tip really threw me for a loop.

“Jewelry boxes can be handy, but they can also turn your prettiest baubles into unsightly nests of knots.  Let your hodgepodge of china collect something besides dust: Orphaned teacups and saucers are perfect vessels for sorting jewelry…

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orange cranberry pistachio biscotti

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orange-cranberry biscotti

Orange Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Ingredients:

1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour

¼ t. salt

1 t. baking powder

¼ c. OLIVE TREE Butter olive oil

¾ c. white sugar

1 ½ t. vanilla extract

½ t. almond extract

2 T. fresh grated orange peel OR 1 T. dried orange peel

2 eggs (room temp)

½ c. dried cranberries

1 ½ c. pistachio nuts

For dipping:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate; chopped

½ T. OLIVE TREE Butter olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil & sugar until well blended. Add vanilla & almond extracts along with orange peel, mixing well. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture & mix until evenly incorporated. Stir in pistachios & cranberries by hand.

Divide dough in half. (Dough will be very sticky!) Form two logs side by side (12” x 2”) on the parchment lined cookie sheet; several inches apart. (logs will spread during baking!)  Bake for about 35 minutes, until logs are light brown and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 275 F. Set biscotti aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting surface. Using a serrated knife, cut logs on the diagonal into ¾” slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, back on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake approximately 8-10 minutes, or just until dry and golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the biscotti have completely cooled, place chopped chocolate and ½ T. OLIVE TREE Butter olive oil in a (DRY) microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds; stir; heat another 30 seconds; stir… until melted and combined. Dip the bottoms of the biscotti in the melted chocolate, and allow them to set, lying on their sides.

olive tree

Check out Olive Tree Facebook page HERE!!

So why this recipe?  Well… there’s a story. There’s ALWAYS a story. So my daughter and I don’t do dairy. It doesn’t like us. So when making my biscotti for Thanksgiving this year, I decided to try the butter olive oil from my dear friend, Mindy, at Olive Tree. (My very, very FAV place to buy olive oil and vinegars, BTW!) Loved the (buttery) flavor, so I took one in for her to taste. (Yes. One. Sorry Mindy. There were actually two left at the time. I ate the other one…) As it ends up, the very day that I popped into the store to drop it off is the same day that she had decided to team up with Jasper Mirabile (renowned chef, cookbook author, radio host and owner of Jasper’s Ristorante and Marco Polo Italian Market. Whew!!) for their first annual cookie contest together. So I decided to enter my Orange Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti (with my BUTTER olive oil from Olive Tree)… and I won 2nd place!!  WooHoo!!! So exciting! So why not give the recipe a go, and let me know how they turn out!  Better yet, bring some by and I would be happy to let you know what I think. I’m just nice like that. OK, Fine. Whatever. Just bring one. I understand if you simply must eat all the others. (wink, wink…)

A great big shout out and THANK YOU to Mindy and Jasper!!  xoxo

jaspers cookbook

Check out Jasper’s Facebook page HERE

“Calling all bakers!
Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen Radio and Olive Tree have teamed up this year for our First Annual Cookie Contest. Submit your favorite holiday cookie using an Olive Tree olive oil and/or a balsamic vinegar and you could win BIG!

1st Place – $100 Jasper’s Gift Certificate
2nd Place – $50 Olive Tree Gift Certificate
3rd Place – Signed Jasper’s Cookbook
4th Place – Bottle of Jasper’s Blend Olive Oil from Olive Tree

Must be an original recipe. Entries must be submitted by December 18th and winner’s will be announced on Live From Jasper’s Kitchen show on Saturday, December 20th at 11:00 a.m. 710KCMO. Please send submissions to office@olivetreekc.com or in person at Olive Tree 4937 W. 119th Street (Hawthorne Plaza).”

saying goodbye to 2014…

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prayer book

Saying goodbye to 2014 is bittersweet. It has certainly been a year of change, to say the least.

Both of our kids graduated college and entered the (gulp!) “real world”; acquiring great jobs right out of school. I must tell you that we sincerely appreciate what an incredible blessing this is…!! In the fall, our son moved 500 miles away to Dallas, and that has been a real adjustment for our family. We miss him terribly; but he is happy and settled and doing well. Truthfully, at the end of the day, that is all that really matters. And, after much searching, our daughter has finally found a place to live (here in KC, thank goodness!!) and is moving out with friends in the next couple of weeks. She is SO excited!! Well… it certainly looks like the hubbie and I are gonna be empty nesters here in 2015!! Our plans to move my mom, dad and youngest brother to Kansas City escalated in 2014.  Their home, where I grew up, is in Florissant, Missouri… just north of Ferguson, Missouri. Unfortunately, now everyone knows exactly where that is on a map. I have 21 family members living in the area. Two are police officers. Needless to say, it has been a very tense and emotional experience for our entire family. We hope to have my parents and brother moved to Kansas City very soon.

In the meantime, please join me in praying for peace. Everywhere…

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We have a family prayer book that I started back in January 2002. Inside that book – snipits, clippings, pictures… memories of those people that we have lost over the past 13 years; or those people that have simply been in need of our prayers.

“A picture is worth a thousand words, but the memories are priceless”.

For the many we said goodbye to in 2014… We light a single candle. There are no words. xo

2014 photo collage

easiest dip ever!

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swiss cheese dipTomorrow is New Year’s Eve.

OK, wow. Did that catch anyone else off guard, or is it just me?

So if you are playin’ on “my team”, you might just be in need of a quick, simple, yummy appetizer for tomorrow night, and I can DEFINITELY help with that for sure. Yep. I’ve gotcha covered. This is the easiest appetizer in the world, and everyone LOVES it!! No worries – You can start Weight Watchers AFTER New Year’s Eve… (teehee!)

Swiss Cheese Dip

1 1/2 c. shredded swiss cheese

8 oz softened cream cheese **

1/2 c. mayonnaise (regular or light)

1/2 c sliced toasted almonds

** reg or lite… but PLEASE don’t EVER use fat-free cream cheese!! For ANYTHING! I don’t even think it’s a legit food product!!

Mix first 3 ingredients together and spread in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle almonds on top and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Serve with Wheat Thins, sliced apples, carrots, olive bread, pita chips… Whatever floats your boat.

THAT’S IT!!  Yes. It’s REALLY that easy. And they WILL love it. I promise you!! I suggest that you try it at least once in it’s simplest form. As is. Then if you wanna change it up a bit and go all “Martha” on me, try it the next time with one new ingredient. Here are a few ideas for “add-in” suggestions… chopped green onions, sautéed or caramelized sweet onions, chopped cooked bacon, Dijon mustard, horseradish – Use your imagination!! Go crazy! Or just (KISS) Keep It Super Simple and make it as is!!

Happy New Year!!    live happy…

he is home

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kyle lauren chiefs gamePart of my heart went missing this morning.

My son was here for Christmas…  Nine days!  Wow!!!  In the weeks/days leading up to his arrival, I was SO over-the-top excited. It would be absolutely amazing to have him here that long!  Such an incredible Christmas blessing. As excited as I was, however, I knew there were also risks. Having him here that long would mean that my heart might start to play tricks on me. And boy was I was right. It certainly did.

kyle and tobie

My heart went right into “mama mode”. He was back home. In his old room, his old bed. His dishes were in the sink. He was asleep on the couch with the dogs. His towel was back on his bathroom floor. It was just like it was before he moved away.

chip and kyle first watch

There were friends and family; dinners and parties; games and movies. We ate too much and slept too little. We laughed, we cried, we reminisced.

Until this morning…

I woke up with that feeling. You know the one. It’s dark and empty and makes you want to just close your eyes and return to the comfort of your dreams. But reality is unavoidable. So after a good cry (Wait. Is there such a thing…?), I walked down the hall towards his (old) bedroom. The light was on. I knocked. “What sounds good for breakfast? Eggs? French toast? Smoothie?” I could see him searching my face; my eyes. He knew. “A smoothie would be great.”, he replied, almost apologetically. I feel terrible about being so sad in front of him, but he knows that is just the way of my heart. The next hour passed in a heartbeat. It was time to go. His cousin’s car was in the driveway ready to begin the eight hour, 500 mile journey home. Yes… Home. The reality is, this is not “home” for him anymore. In his heart; Yes. A part of his heart will always be “home” here… in our hearts. No matter where life takes all of us. But he has moved on, and it is just as it should be. That, my friends, is one hefty of dose of reality. I have no regrets, though. None. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of all the happy, even knowing that the sad would follow. We must always remember to savor each and every moment that we are blessed with.

Exactly eight hours later; his text…  “Made it back safe & sound. Miss & love you.” He includes a sad emoji and a big red heart. He is not an emoji guy. That was for me. I simply respond, “me too“.

He is home.

a sons home base

leftovers; again…?

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leftovers

Source: Buzzfeed

Guess what I had for breakfast today?

Nope… nope… nope… (to whatever you guessed) I actually had soup.

Yes. For breakfast. I’m kinda weird like that. I like to eat “out of the box” when it comes to meals sometimes. I mean who (besides my hubbie) doesn’t love having pancakes for dindin once in awhile? Right…? Now as gripping a storyline as this is thus far, I’m not actually here to chat about my breakfast habits. It’s really just a quick follow-up to yesterday’s post, “Thanksgiving dinner; repurposed”.

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Yesterday was all about the actual leftover food; but – as I told you yesterday – I don’t like to waste anything! Including the (Ugh!) turkey carcass. So into a big soup pot it went yesterday with anything I could round up out of the refrigerator… onions, celery, garlic cloves, carrots, whole peppercorns and a huge handful of fresh herbs. Covered the pot with water, brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat and slow simmered for the better part of the afternoon. Once everything tasted “done”, I let everything cool for awhile. Once it was cool, I strained all of the solids out so that all that was left was a delicious hearty turkey broth. Easy peasy!!

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Now, at this point, if you are asking yourself why in the heck I didn’t just toss that doggone carcass back in the very beginning; allow me to enlighten you. There are several great reasons. First of all, the house smells all warm and “comfort food-ish” for the entire day while the broth is on the stove. Second; Preparing for flu season. Who doesn’t love homemade chicken (or turkey) soup when they are down and out with the flu? I package up little baggies of homemade broth and stick them in the freezer so that I am ready to roll when someone is down and out. (Thaw the broth and add a little cooked rice or pasta… Voila!) Finally; Dinner. This was easy. Already had some leftover (cooked) pasta and oven roasted tomatoes from the night before. Into the pot they went. Along with a can of pinto beans and some (precooked) turkey meatballs that I had in my freezer (Thank you Trader Joes). The point is – Use what you have on hand. Keep it simple!

So that about wraps it up for our leftover 2014 Thanksgiving feast. OMGosh – Wait… the ham! Forgot about the hambone. Alrighty then. Looks like a little split pea soup is on the menu!?  Ahhh…Thanksgiving. It’s just the gift that keeps on givin’…

thanksgiving dinner; repurposed

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Thanksgiving was about a week ago. The glasses and dishes are washed and (finally!) back in place, the extra tables and folding chairs are stacked and stored away and the fall decorations are securely wrapped and packed away for next year (or, at a minimum, “carefully placed” in grocery bags and random boxes on the floor in the unfinished part of the basement; strategically placed so that you are forced to climb over them to retrieve 100 bags of Christmas lights??? Hmmm…) OK. Ya. New subject.

So do you know where your turkey leftovers are…? I will admit that I do enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers. It’s so relaxing to re-heat a plate of turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes and gravy… and then plop yourself down on the floor, in your ratty pj’s in front of the TV, with a glass of wine and no timers going off. Tastes SO much better the next day. But for me, that thrill lasts about, well… once.

Ya – I’m not one of those who can do the whole “Thanksgiving leftover thing” – day after day after day…! But I don’t want to waste anything, either. So what to do??? Simple. Repurpose that Thanksgiving meal! So earlier this week, that’s exactly what I did. I challenged myself to “get creative” with what was leftover.

I started with the roasted sweet potatoes and onions. A little chicken/turkey broth and some sort of milk (in our case, a mixture of coconut milk and almond milk for dairy free) plus a handful of fresh herbs… Voila! Sweet potato soup. I mashed up about half the potatoes with a potato masher which thickens the soup nicely without any additional thickeners. Delish!!

IMG_3351Next came the dressing. I started by forming it into little patties, kinda like a burger. I then made two little mixtures. First, an egg beaten with a little ground sage and thyme. Second, the leftover crunchy onion thingies that you put on top of the green bean casserole mixed with some Panko bread crumbs.

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The next step was to heat a skillet with a little oil, dip the “dressing patties” into the egg mixture , then the crunchy topping and, finally, into the skillet until crispy on the outside and warmed through.

Last up was… the turkey. For starters, we did not have a lot of turkey leftover, so I decided to make a light little “turkey salad”. I cut up the turkey into bite size pieces and mixed with a little light mayo, some leftover fresh cranberry/orange relish, a handful of toasted pecans and a little green onion.

I decided to top the little dressing patties with the turkey salad and garnish with a little extra fresh cranberry relish, toasted pecans, green onions… Whatever floats your boat. So easy!!  No recipe, just a little creative thinking. And that, my friends, is Thanksgiving dinner; repurposed!! Gobble, gobble!

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the magical Christmas tree

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It’s early. And quiet. And the tree is on…

I am supposed to be doing something else right now; but I can’t. I am completely wrapped up in magic and memories this morning. So I succumb to the moment. I turn on some relaxing music, my “Spa Christmas” CD (not kidding.), light a Christmas candle and pour another cup of hot coffee. We need to chat…

You see, I realized something very, very important this morning.

Our Christmas tree is magical.

Here’s the deal. Over the years our tastes have changed, decorations have come and gone, we have even moved from house to house. But something significant occurred to me this morning. Our Christmas tree is different. It defines us as a family. It is the one true constant that ties every single Christmas together throughout the years.

We are not a fancy tree family. No white lights, Waterford crystal and Christopher Radko ornaments here, my friends. Our lights are bright and multi-colored; our ornaments an eclectic combination of wonderful memories. A snapshot of who we are as a family.

A Chiefs ornament that my sweet (widdle) hubbie made as a kid in 1971; a Santa walking his 3 little pigs (that’s mine!), a collection of treasured ornaments given to my kids every year from their grandparents, our very own “Christmas Vacation” squirrel, a beautiful assortment of treasures hand-painted by my (very talented) mom…

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We have decorated this tree together as a family for more than 24 years. When it comes to our favorites (Mom & Dad), however… that is easy. We have a little box that houses all of our very, very favorite little treasures. Most of them date back 20+ years to the preschool days. Our precious little angels –  perfectly framed in construction paper stars and sequins. Glittered teddy bears with crooked little googly eyes hand-crafted by two adorable little three year olds. Priceless. And, without a doubt, magical…

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In the quiet of this magical morning, as I was snapping pictures of our beautiful tree – I was overcome with emotion… the treasured memories of days gone by. An intense happy and sad at the same time. Our son moved to Dallas in the fall. He was home for Thanksgiving, and it felt beyond wonderful to have both of my kids home at the same time again. As a family, we treasured every single moment together xoxoxoxo  And although our time passed so very quickly, we were able to accomplish one very, very important thing before he left. We decorated the tree. Our magical tree…

decorating Christmas tree 2014

For those of you who may not believe in the magic of Christmas, allow me to share one final thing. As I was reminiscing this morning, completely wrapped in a warm blanket of memories from the past, I was also very focused on the happiness of this given moment. The present; a gift. A thought suddenly occurred to me. What about our kids? I wonder what favorite memories and traditions they will carry with them into THEIR futures? Our daughter LOVES Christmas, her family and tradition. I think it is safe to say that she will probably take a lot of her memories of Christmas past into her future. My son is also very family oriented, but decorating for Christmas was never a real “priority” for him. When they were little, both of my kids each had their own little tree in their rooms. Santa would always leave one little gift under their (room) tree on Christmas Eve… if it was up!! My daughter had one tree with lights AND three bright tinsel trees plus an entire collection of her own ornaments that she had collected over the years. No problem there, Santa. My son? Well that was a completely different story. Trying to get him to decorate his one little (room) tree was next to impossible. That is, until he finally figured it out. He started hiding the little tree (completely decorated) in the back of his closet from year to year. From that point on, it was never a problem.

So you are probably wondering, as I was this morning, what special memories will he carry into his Christmas future…? He is on his own now for the first time, far from home at Christmas time. He lives alone and although he will be back in Kansas City a few days before Christmas, I was sad thinking that that he would not have any “Christmas” in his new apartment over the next few weeks. It was at that very moment that a text came through on my phone. “Mom, I’m thinking about getting a Christmas tree… Any chance you could send my ornaments? They should be in the back of my closet.”

I cried. Yes, sweetie. I know where they are.

And that is the story of the magical Christmas tree. The end. 

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