Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

It's official, the Christmas season is here! The season kicked off with shopping on Black Friday. Do you get up in the wee hours of the morning to save a few dollars? I don't but Dave does, every year! He doesn't just do it to save money, for him it's more about the energy that comes from the retail experience. He has a long history in the retail industry, primarily being the one preparing all the treasures you are getting there so early to gobble up.

We had our big Thanksgiving dinner and celebration this weekend and it just couldn't have been nicer. Mike arrived Wednesday night so that gave us three full days together. Mike and Dave did tons of work cleaning the yard, minor repairs around the house, and lots of cleaning and food preparation. Greg and Heather got here Friday night and did we have a ball with Josh (just days away from being one!). Saturday Diana, James and Lisa, Roberta and Steve, and Julie all arrived and we just fell in to a comfortable rhythm playing with the kids, visiting, and getting ready for dinner. The meal was spectacular and all of Dave's hard work in the kitchen was clearly appreciated. We all gathered in the living room for a spirited game of Trivial Pursuit before it was clear we were all fat and happy and ready for bed! Sunday morning found us at Awful Annie's for breakfast and from there, everyone headed off to travel home or to their next adventure. David and Lisa Anderson stopped by on their way home from Truckee and it was the perfect time to indulge in leftover turkey sandwiches! This part is almost as good as the main meal itself!

Now it's time to put away the turkey's and autumn leaves and get out the polar bears and Santa's. Christmastime is here. I'm not big on the material part of Christmas. I love baking cookies, decorating the house, sending and receiving Christmas cards, and gathering with friends. Of course, I love getting Mason the thing he's pining for that shows up under the tree from Santa, but I'm not big on so many gifts he can't tell you what he actually got.

Here's what I'm proposing; why don't we all spend this holiday season simplifying our idea of Christmas? On my Intentional Winning blog, I'm going to spend all of December sharing ideas on how you can get back to basics and enjoy this season with little or no money. More importantly, show the people you love how you feel about them without a boxed candle set, shower gel, or a make-up set valued at $79.99 for only $9.99! Join me and share your ideas for feeling more this holiday and ringing in the new year on a high note!

With love,

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Good With The Bad

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let me get the bad news out of the way; you all know we got a young cocker spaniel, Brando. We are not going to be able to keep him. Brando suffers from something called resource guarding. Basically, he feels he needs to guard certain things, from a toy, to a random pillow (that he's not using), or people. The problem is that this is completely unpredictable and random. Having a child in the home, this is just not something we can take a chance with. We are working with a rescue organization that can hopefully find a home qualified to work with this issue of his. We are sad to see him go, but know that we will have another dog when the time is right.

Now some good news, the Mandarin Festival was this weekend. Placer grown mandarins have been proven to have high levels of synephrine which is a natural ingredient shown to improve allergies I digress, I made my Mandarin Cranberry Oatmeal cookies and entered them in the recipe contest. When I showed up on Sunday there were nearly 30 entries in the dessert category alone! I expected that my cookies were a bit too ordinary to win, but win I did, third place! Whoo-Hoo and $25.00 to add toward our Thanksgiving holiday! If you're interested, I've posted the recipe below.

I practice gratitude everyday but I certainly feel more nostalgic this time of year. I hope you have many things to be thankful for and lots of friends and family to share them with. I'm grateful everyday for my marriage, Dave and Mason, and our extended family. I'm also deeply thankful for all of you, my true friends. I know I have more friends than most people and I'm sincerely humbled by all the love you send me every week! Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

Mandarin Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


2 ½ C Flour
2C Oatmeal
1 Tsp Baking soda
¼ Tsp Nutmeg
6 Small Mandarins or 1 Large Orange
1 C Raisins
1 C Butter
1 C Sugar
1 C Lt. Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Tbs Mandarin zest
2 oz Grand Marnier
1 C Dried Cranberries

In a bowl, mix flour, oatmeal, baking soda, and nutmeg. In a food processor or blender, combine mandarins and raisins and process until finely chopped. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, mandarin zest, and Grand Marnier until completely blended. Stir in mandarin mixture and then gradually add flour mixture. Add dried cranberries. Mix on low until completely mixed. Cover and refrigerate dough for one hour. Spoon dough onto ungreased or lightly greased cookie sheets 2 inched apart and bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on wire racks.

*1 C Chopped Walnuts - optional


16 oz Powdered Sugar
¼ C Warm Water
1 Tsp Orange Extract
1 Tbs Meringue Powder
1 Tsp Mandarin Zest

In a mixing bowl add powdered sugar and warm water and start mixer on low speed. While mixing, add orange extract, meringue powder, and mandarin zest. Stop mixer and scrape down the bowl making sure all dry ingredients are mixing in. Mix on medium speed adding more water if necessary 1 tsp at a time until desired consistency. Using a pastry bag, plastic bag, or spoon, drizzle icing on cool cookies and let icing set.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank You!

Happy Monday, and it really feels better.

So many of you reached out to me with kind words, cards, calls, and so much love when you heard about Riley's death. It's been a tough three weeks, but the heavy sadness has lifted and I'm accepting the reality. I've been learning a lot about grief and as a mom here's what I can tell you, I will never suppress Mason should he experience real grief while he's in my care. It seems to me that I've been trying not to grieve, like it's not okay on some level. It is okay, it's what you need to do to heal. I'm healing.

Thank you my friends for showing me that I am loved. What more can I ask for? Not a single thing. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Part Two - Good News

Monday was our 8th wedding anniversary. I've shared over the years how much I respect and love Dave but you know what, we've never been through a loss and heart break like the one we're experiencing with Riley's death. Through this tough time, I've seen a side of Dave that I suppose I knew about, but until I needed it, it's not been obvious. It's how he holds me when I cry, not a hug, an all-encompassing embrace. Or the way he doesn't just hand me a tissue, he gently wipes my cheek. While I sleep, he not only puts his arm around me, he holds my hand. As deeply as there is heart break, there is sincere comfort. This is the message the old married couple gives the young newlyweds, "Marry someone you like, and loving them will come easily." Loving Dave has come easily (when it finally came!), and it gets easier every day! Happy anniversary!

Some of you may have known that we learned about a young cocker spaniel in Palm Springs that needed a new home. I don't believe in coincidence, I more so believe that things are as they are meant to be. The woman from the cocker rescue organization didn't know where he was, but sent me the e-mail because he is a young dog and she knew that's what we wanted. He was living just 15 minutes from where we were staying! I've never been to Palm Springs and here I am, with my car, and this sweet dog needs a new home. We had an additional passenger in the car on Sunday for the long drive home.

His name is Brando and he was abandoned as a puppy. I don't know how long he was in the shelter, but the couple that adopted him had two other dogs and two cats. Add Brando in and that made five all together in a one bedroom apartment! He spent most of his time in a crate (not a bad thing sometimes, but all day and all night?) and it's clear already he's loving his freedom. I'm very grateful to the people who recognized that he needed more than they could give him right now and let him come live with us. There's lots more to come from this character so stay tuned!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Some Rain Must Fall

In a really wonderful life, some rain must fall. The rain being tears shed. I'm crying less at losing Riley though still riding the ocean of emotions missing him. I guess this is my time to learn about grief because in a very Déjà vu moment, I got a call on the way home from Palm Springs that my dear friend Eileen passed away on Saturday night. Just two short weeks after Riley, and both notifications while traveling home from somewhere fun. I absolutely refuse to believe this nonsense about things happening in three's and will simply choose to know that people lose their loved ones everyday. I've been so incredibly fortunate to not have to deal with loss in my life until now. I get it. This is not to say I haven't lost a loved one, I have. The difference has been that my father and my grandmother were both very old, and lived long lives. This losing those too soon, well, we can all agree it's not fair and it's very painful.

I have more to share but not now, tonight. Stay tuned for some good news. In the meantime, don't miss an opportunity to show your love, give a hug, make that phone call, or just smile at people you encounter walking down the street. You never know who's day you might make with a simple kind gesture.

With all my love,

Monday, November 2, 2009


I struggle with writing today as I'm still so sad. I'm crying less but just because the tears aren't falling doesn't mean I'm done grieving. Mason and Dave made Halloween so much fun. Mason was Darth Vader and Dave decorated like he always does. Sunday, the sun was out and the sky was a most gorgeous shade of blue. Mason and I walked to town, got a hot chocolate (I had decaf), and picked up a few groceries. The fall colors were so beautiful, yet my eyes were still wet.

Here's why I'm struggling; I don't want to be writing about my heart break and sadness incessantly, it's so personal and though you all love me, you're not feeling the loss like I am. I can hear you all telling me it's okay, that you understand, but do you really want to keep reading how sad I feel? I don't think so.

The flip side is that I am real, and that means real in joy and in grief. Many of you have commented over the years about how I paint my life picture so rosy and there's a hint of can it really be that good all the time? in your voice. My answer is, "Yes, it really is that good." Sure, I see the bright side so I don't always acknowledge the hiccups and when I do, I make light of them. I decided to write this because I am real, and I'm really soaked with sadness right now. I'm still crying, my chin quivers when I talk, my voice all but disappears when someone asks me how I am, and I miss biting my Riley every morning. I can't help but think this would be easier if he were 15 years old and his time had come. 7 was just too young.

With all that said, life is made up of so many things, one of them being sorrow. The cutting, uncontrollable emotions will get easier and the good will soon outweigh the sadness. Bear with me while I get through this. With love.