Lowering of the paralytic – Being that type of friend

A while back I heard a speaker talk about the role of the friends in the story of the paralytic from Mark 2:1-12. She was sharing how this man would not have been healed if his friends were not willing to take major steps to help him. At that time I reflected on the people that were helping me find Jesus. Who was bringing me into His presence? I could easily point out these people over the years.

Hearing this story at mass this week I was challenged to think about it differently. My mediation after eucharist God asked me if I was being the that kind of friend. Was I bringing those I come into contact with closer to Jesus?

Theses are a few ways I am seeking to be that friend, my thoughts on how to bring  friends closer to Jesus.

  1. Act – Many times I have felt an urge to stop in and visit a friend or acquaintance. I think I should send her a card. Maybe that single mom needs an anonymous gift card for food. I don’t alway act on these thoughts. What holds me back – my insecurities? my fear of rejection? Growing older I’m becoming aware that this is the Holy Spirit asking me to act. If I get that thought I should do it, don’t question, ACT.
  2. Pray – think of your friends or those you meet during a day and pray for them. Also, pray for God to show you where to act, show you a need, bring situations into your life that require your action.
  3. Affirm – this is so simple but so important. Have a positive voice for others. Give a compliment, share your caring and love for others. Point out the positive things you see in others, what qualities are shining? When I think of those that have said positive things to me, I see how important that is and how it draws me toward those people.
  4. Support – emotional support is so helpful, just spending time, walking with someone through the struggles of life, sending a text that just says “I’m thinking of you”, “I care for you”, “I’m praying for you” .
  5. Share – convey what is happening with you, what is happening in your faith journey, where are you struggling? Relating to others and seeing that we all have a battle can bring closeness and companionship in the roller coaster of life and through our faith journey.

I think of the many people that have been support for me, that have drawn me closer to Jesus in my life but also in the last year as I transition into my widowhood. they have been angels in disguise pulling me through the muddiness of this difficult change.

Lord, help me to be that person for others, show me those who need help in finding you.

KBK

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Single lady travel tips

I’m getting ready to head out to AZ, visiting my daughter. It’s a two week trip for wedding preparations, wedding shower, meet her future in-laws and her moving into the house they just bought. Oh my – putting it on paper seems like a busy trip. That doesn’t include seeing all my friends from living there for 20 plus years.

But I’m so excited and already busy with my plans. So here are few on my tips for easy travel

At home

  1. Start your packing early. I normally do laundry on Monday so I start as I fold the laundry. I don’t have a ton of clothes and I have favorites. If they are clean it’s best for me to pack what I want, I don’t want to end up wearing something I want to bring along.
  2. Along with packing early, plan out your days. This trip is two weeks but I’m not bringing 14 days of clothes. I am going to try to bring enough for one week and do laundry if needed.  I will mix and match bringing more tops and less bottoms, different coverup to change the look. I am obsessed with the vivienne files. She has great ideas for travel wardrobes and generating a capsule wardrobe. ( If you have never heard of that – neither had I until I started following her! Check it out here http://www.theviviennefiles.com/) But the ideas for packing really decrease the need for additional wardrobes. I’m going to see if I can use her method to maximize what I bring. Although – I never have enough shoes!
  3. Prepare the house. I live alone, out in the country. I have great neighbors that keep an eye on things but I also take extra steps. First, setting timers for lights making sure it goes on for a period every nite. I take time to set my thermostats lower but not crazy low, to keep moderate warmth but not waste money. I also double, triple check the doors – I’m not so good about that as a general rule! And I put my handgun, ammo in a safe vs. at my bedside. Last thing I want if for someone to steal that from me.

Airport

  1. First off for me is dressing appropriate. This time I am traveling from cold weather to warm weather. I’m wearing long sleeves, pants, a wrap and a scarf. Layering to allow me to take off what I don’t need when I get there and also adapt to the airplane. I never know if I’ll be too hot or freeze to death!
  2. Usually I bring a roller carry on and recently I started bringing a backpack for my second bag. I pack a smaller purse in my suitcase to use when I arrive. This allows me to have my computer, books, headphones, my wallet under the seat in front of me. it holds much more than a purse – even a big purse. But when I get to my destination I can have a reasonable size purse to use on my trip.
  3. Bring an empty water bottle. I have a new backpack for my computer and books that has a spot for a nice size water bottle. Airports now have water bottle filling stations so its so much easier and cheaper than buying at the airport. Make sure it’s empty – you can’t take those fluids through security.
  4. Bring a snack, crackers, gum, something to keep you going if your are delayed on the tarmac or just need additional food.
  5. Download some podcasts!! These make time go by quickly. My favorites right now: Jeff Cavins Show, Go Forth with Becky and Heather, How-to-Catholic and UMD Newman Catholic campus (Fr. Mike Schmitz homilies) – I’m binging on catholic podcast lately – love these!
  6. A little secret I heard about – on Delta flights the Delta Comfort level offers free alcohol – not advertised but true! I’m not sure about other airlines but for Delta if you are upgraded to the comfort class – have a drink!

That’s enough for now. Traveling alone isn’t my favorite thing but necessary when family is a distance away. For me using these tips have made it a bit easier – hope for you too! Happy Travels!

KBK

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Four tips for great cutout cookies

It’s Christmas prep time! I usually mark the last weekend before Christmas as my baking weekend. With the church having a cookie sale that weekend I started a bit early. These pretty little things are for the sale. Later I’ll make family favorites for us to enjoy – this year’s request – monster cookies, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter kiss cookies and red velvet truffle cookies. I think it’s going to smelling like Christmas with all that baking in the house!!

But for now I want to share my tips for cutout cookies. I’ve found a few tools critical to success. One of those is the right recipe which I will share too!!

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My first tip is to uses a silicone mat. Using this for rolling out the dough saves a lot of mess and fuss. I still flour the mat and my rolling pin to keep from sticking. If I have an issue with sticking I just slide a little spatula underneath and lift the cookie cutout to the pan. The best part is cleaning up all the flour and dough is simple – just lift your mat, shake the crumbs in the garbage and wash in the sink. Ok, I admit I tend to be messy and yes, I still get some mess on my counter but not so crazy messy as when I’m not using my mat.

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The second “go to” I recommend is using parchment paper. Why does every oven I have used have hot spot?? I have had less problems with inconsistent baking with parchment paper. I prefer the precut sheets since the roll has a tendency to roll up on the pan. The precuts just pop out the size I need for my cookie sheet. Again this tip makes your clean up much better.

Third, I use timers – two one for each shelf. Start with less than recommended and watch your cookies. I have two timers going – one for each shelf because they can be different. Once you know the timing for each shelf – USE THE TIMER FOR EVERY TRAY! I say this because just when I think I have it down and don’t need timers I get distracted and burn a tray. I don’t want to waste all my hard work to lose a batch!

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Also recommended – wire racks. Let your cookies cool a bit on the tray and then transfer to a wire rack for final cooling. My mom used cut up paper grocery bags to lay out the cookies for cooling. Those did keep the counter clean but these wire racks work quicker. I also use them if I’m going to sprinkle decor on the cookies or drizzle frosting on other baked goods- just place it over the sink to catch the droppings. These racks are from Pampered Chef but you can get them anywhere. I also use on a baking sheet when I make bacon in the oven, it keeps all the grease on the sheet and the bacon is crispy.

So here is my favorite recipe – shared from a friend over 20 years ago. I like it because with the powdered sugar instead of granulated the cookies are smooth – you don’t spend as much time trying to get the butter and sugar creamed.  Also I’m a fan of a touch of almond flavor in baking.

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

1c. butter softened

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cream of tartar

Mix powdered sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and almond extract

Mix in flour baking soda and cream of tatar. (My tip – I wisk these together a bit before adding and I add slowing – one third at a time to get a good mix.)

Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough in half and roll onto a floured silicone mat. The dough may seem dry and hard but start rolling and it will come together. If needed add a few drops of water.

Cut into shapes – if using sugar sprinkle – add before baking.

Bake for 7 – 8 minutes.

Gotto go bake more cookies – Merry Christmas

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Photo gallery of Thanksgiving week

Thanksgiving!! My favorite holiday, I love the smell of the turkey baking in the oven. Pumpkin pies tops my list of best things about fall. Some how since we moved to the lake house I have not had a thanksgiving dinner here since we bought this house. One year we attended a wedding out of state, in 2012 my father in law passed away out of state, I worked the holiday one year. It just hasn’t worked out and again, no big thanksgiving bird in my oven this year.

A major holiday without my DH the king. I knew there was going to be a loss, pain, something missing, but it was a good time to focus on gratitude. The reason it’s my favorite holiday is because it’s about being grateful and yes – I know we should be grateful all the time but who doesn’t need a reminder. Recently I heard a podcast about thanksgiving that said it was one holiday that hasn’t been secularized. That’s true, maybe that sums up why I like it. The whole premise of the holiday is still about being thankful for all our God given blessings.

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It was a quiet day, both of my kids are spending time with in-laws. I’m fine with that, I know that part of becoming a married adult means negotiating the holidays. And it also means they will both be home for Christmas. I took time to look at the blessings I have today. The weather was beautiful, warm with changing leaves everywhere.

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Our new priest (since July ) had a morning mass. In the past – while in Arizona – we had a large all parish mass on Thanksgiving. We collected food for the food bank, it was outside in an amphitheatre and it was a full house.  This was my favorite mass of the year. So I was happy to hear about our little parish having mass. It was well attended and shows that the parish wants to start the day with a service of thanks.

I was invited to friends for afternoon dinner. I was in charge of dessert and this made me happy since I like baking. It always good to bring it somewhere, not have it in the house for me to eat! I like pumpkin, they like apple and cherry so I made one of each.

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it was actually a swiss apple pie – so more a cake type topping. I had extra crust and pumpkin so I made a little taste test size for me!!

They had a nice turkey, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes with gravy and he made a midwestern stuffing with bread cubes – like I grew up eating. I also thought those beans wrapped with bacon were a tasty treat.

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Hanging out with their kids and grandkids made the fun and relaxing.

Most of the day I felt blessed and grateful, not focusing on my new status as alone. Looking at the gifts I had before his death, looking at today as a gift to enjoy and cherish all the ways God is still caring for me as I go forward – I have much to celebrate on Thanksgiving.  And I’m planning on having the turkey in my oven soon!

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I hope you enjoyed your day and didn’t eat too much!!

The beautiful fall sunsets keep coming. I can’t get enough of these pink and purple skies  – I’m thankful for them too!

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Quick little sew up

So I’m sitting here watching the Project Runway finale, my favorite never wins but I guess I’m not too “fashion forward.”  I do wish I could be a little more creative in my sewing but after years I’m still working on basic skills.

One thing that continues to challenge me is working with knits. I don’t have a serger (yet) so learning how to keep the seams from ripping when I sit down has been a key skill! A while back I bought the Craftsy class ” Sewing with knits”  and that has helped a lot. I have made several of the patterns with success and learning more each time. https://www.craftsy.com/sewing/classes/sewing-with-knits-5-wardrobe-essentials/35535

Today I made a little dress. I need more long sleeve options and get tired of always adding a cardigan. Simplicity #1716 is a quick and easy sew. I must confess however, in the past I have made two other versions of the pattern. IMG_1437

The first was a top in option E. I was happy with the shirt and the fit but not the sleeves. Also the fabric I got was too thin, I wore it with a cami underneath. This lead to some bunching and overall I never felt comfortable. So – fail #1. Second time I wanted to make a quick dress as in option D. This time I had a bit of black fabric in my stash but it was not a knit. This dress went together quick and easy as I had already done the neckline  but —I couldn’t get it on due to the lack of stretch. Even my daughter tried to help pull it on but – fail #2.

In my stash I had a knit fabric found at Walmart – 5 yards for $5. This time I’m making option D but adding the sleeves.

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I like the print, it had a nice stretch and isn’t too thin. So at that price and amount of fabric even if I mess it up I still have fabric for a t-shirt.  In the end it came together quick although my machine just didn’t want to make a nice narrow zigzag and the triple stitch option was even worse. Why!!! Do you have issues with your machine being uncooperative just when you get in the mood for a quick project?

I’m pretty happy with the result. I think adding my quirky black belt amped it up. Adding a black leather jacket and pair of black booties made it just right for church this morning. 

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I think it’s a keeper. Now what should I do with the rest of that bolt?

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New post – photo gallery of the week November 4 – 12

I’m starting a new weekly addition to my blog. My photo gallery from the week. This week the photos will be a bit more than a week ago. I spent the first week of November in Florida. I had a wonderful time with my friend Kristi. She is also a recent widow and it was great to have that common loss to share. We prayed, ate, exercised, had a little wine and enjoyed the beach.

This is our condo – the building on the right – 11th floor. That means beautiful views. and here I am with my friend on the patio of the condo.

The sunrises and sunsets were amazing. We enjoyed the pelicans, stingrays (from a distance) sea turtles and cranes. The wine was pretty good too!!

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Last night together on the beach

Thank you Kristi for a great week!

The next weekend was my Pensacola Half Marathon! I stayed with the gals from my running group. We had a quick tour the town and especially loved the skyumbrella exhibit.

Overall it was a fun time. Unfortunately I attended a funeral before heading back to Georgia. My daughter-in-law April’s mother passed away. Please keep them in your prayers.

It was so good to be home. IMG_0994.jpg

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10 things I’m grateful for

gratitude

This is a common theme for Thanksgiving time so I thought I’d jump in too. It can be so easy to look at the loss this year, the things I’m missing and feel sadness. I know the best way to overcome the sadness is to focus on gratitude, looking for the blessings I have

  1. Faith – my trust in God, my relationship with Him has grown. Looking to God for support, drawing closer, working on my holiness is a bigger priority now and I’m so thankful for this continued and deepening relationship. And I must include here my church family that supports and loves on me regularly. Being a part of a parish that is warm and welcoming is a gift.
  2. My children – they are grown adults – in their 30’s – with jobs and spouses (well one upcoming marriage) They have careers and busy lives.  The greatest joy to me is to see them practicing the Catholic faith. I know this has been a great support and comfort for both of them on the loss of their dad.
  3. Extended family – this year has renewed my communication with extended family. My sisters call me more, I contact my brother for car issues, my dad called me for advice when making his funeral plans. I don’t think these changes would have happened without the loss of my husband.
  4. Friends – So many friends have stepped up for me. Local friends that come to help with my boat or yard. Long distant friends that made trips to enjoy a weekend. New friends made because we share a common bond of being widowed.
  5. Health and fitness – I feel so blessed to have my health, the ability to run with my running group, go to the gym. I am able to many things around my house and yard that others my age could not.
  6. Community – I love living in a small town. Going to the store and seeing people I know is a gift to me. Having someone stop to chat or just give a smile makes me feel cared for. And for a small town I have so many things to keep me busy and excited. My running club provides support of friend, fitness and motivation. My garden club is a fun place to learn new things about Georgia. I am able to work at the local hospital a few hours a week, there are plays and music, fun runs, and festivals. It really is a southern gem to be grateful for.
  7. Travel – I love my town but I also love to go visit family and friends. I am so grateful to have the financial resources to do so. It is a gift to spend time with others and see new places.
  8. Internet – I know this can be such a time waster!! And I am working hard to limit myself! But truly the resources, blogs, journals that fill me with ideas, answer my questions, bless me with inspiration – like recently how to change the blade on my lawn mower! I am grateful that I have the option of getting what I need at my fingertips
  9. Weather – I am thankful for the weather – the change of seasons. For so many years in Arizona I enjoyed the beautiful weather but I love seeing the leaves fall  (It does mean I have yard work to do! Usually I enjoy it but not always) We don’t have the extremes of Arizona or my home state Iowa – for that I’m grateful
  10. Memories – I am so grateful for the wonderful years of marriage I have had. Do I wish he was still here? Of course!! But I have no regrets, nothing was left unsaid, we loved each other deeply and had a wonderful relationship. The memories of those times stay with me and I thank God for them.

As the banner at the top says all of these things I am grateful for keep me focused on the year ahead and in a place of hope for the future. I know that life is changed but I am still blessed beyond measure.

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