Why I’m Not Cool Enough to Watch Downton Abbey~ A post of Confessions

I thought my first post of 2014 should be memorable and profound. This probably isn’t it.

I’m not playing the resolution game. Honestly, it’s too much work and makes my brain hurt. It’s not that I don’t have goals or dreams. I have many, actually.  But I’m not keen on sharing most of them. I’d rather just work them out and let the results speak for themselves.

But in an effort to be more transparent and less cryptic, I’m going to tell you a few things about me; a few things that may shock you or disappoint you. You see, as much as I like to read, as much as I like to be current and on top of pop culture and “with it”, I’m really not.

For example, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice. Ever. I’ve never watched any of the films about it.

I’ve never read an entire C.S. Lewis from front to back. I have several on my book shelf and I’m hoping to get through at least one this year.

I haven’t got a clue what all the hype is with Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Pardon me if my time is better spent on living people and more worthy causes.

I do, however, cry if I miss an episode of Parenthood. Seriously THE MOST UNDERRATED television show of all time. Maybe because it’s actually like real life? Instead of meth-head teachers and talking zombies. Maybe.

I never did see the entire movie “Titanic” from start to finish. I get kind of crabby when movies come out that are so over-rated, over-publicized and “everyone must see them”.  All I can think about is the old adage “if your friend told you to jump off a bridge would you do that too?”  Don’t worry, in chunks and bits and here and there I have watched all of the movie now- over the years- I get it. Spoiler alert:  people drown.

I have quinoa in my pantry but I’ve never cooked with it. I think I’ve eaten a quinoa salad once. It was okay. I just find rolled oats, rice and tapioca more natural.

I’ve NEVER eaten a pomegranate. I don’t know how to shop for them. Don’t know how to eat them. I’m actually afraid they’ll be horrible and everyone only says they like it because it’s supposed to be healthy. You know, when I grew up, there were no pomegranates. At least not here in Western Canada. We ate Velveeta cheese by the truckload though. I haven’t died of cancer.  I don’t get all the rage with the cool , trendy, “nature’s gold” foods. I mean, it’s great that we have shipping that allows us to try everything but at $5-10 a pound, I’m kind of  “meh” about it all.

I’ve never touched my feet in any ocean. I would love to go to the east coast. Maybe someday.

I don’t own a coffee grinder. If I did, I wouldn’t know what kind of coffee beans to buy or how to grind them perfectly. I have no clue.

I never go to Starbucks. I went there once about 8 years ago and had a hot chocolate that cost me over $4 and wasn’t even that good. I don’t actually get why people line up and pay so much for something so prevalent at any and every shop.

I know there are people out there reading this, shocked, confused, maybe feeling betrayed. Why would I confess to such things in 2014 of all things? Well, here’s the thing:  I kind of think I’m more normal than the current pop culture fanatics have led us all to believe. I don’t think you have to be an infinity scarf wearing, tall leather boot sporting, Starbucks coffee drinking, quinoa crunchy hippie eating, pomegranate seed chewing hipster who only watches Downton Abbey and reads her kids poetry at bedtime. I mean, if you do all that…well…..yay for you. But I actually don’t know anyone like that. Except on the internet. If the internet is right, then that is exactly who 87.3% of the bloggers I follow are.  But I don’t think the internet is right. And I’m blowing up any notion that someone HAS to watch British public television to be in the “in crowd”. I’m sure it’s a lovely show. I’m sure the characters are rich and rife with passion and intricacies. But I’m not there. I might never be there.

I like my grilled cheese made with Kraft slices on white bread.

I like homemade lasagna with lots of cottage cheese.

I like mandarin oranges at Christmas-time and no other time. The rest of the time I prefer navel oranges cut in quarters spraying juice in the eye of my neighbour.

I don’t shower very often, I prefer baths.

I miss mini-series like North and South, The Thornbirds and The Winds of War.

I watched Anne of Green Gables, the Waltons, Little House on the Prairie and Three’s Company when I was a kid.

I think one of the best movies ever made was You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and if that means I have to turn in my movie-going card for the rest of time then so be it. A close second is Pretty Woman. Yes, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts can walk across my screen any old time and I will stop cooking, cleaning and paying attention to everyone in order to hear THAT laugh and see THAT dress.

 

 

 

I may not be the blogger you thought I was. I probably say Downtown Abbey more often than I should because in my mind this is about a large church in central London, a vicar, his choirboys and the mistress he keeps in the back. Wrong? Oh well.

 

 

 

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

What Are You Listening To? {Christmas Music}

I love Christmas music. Well, most of it. Some of it(the more recent stuff) is horrid. The pop divas and pop boy bands and pop icons….they should stay away from sacred Christmas.

But I have favourites and some are in fact recent recordings. Here’s some MUST listen tos for Christmas in our house:

Amy Grant’s Tennessee Christmas.  

 

I just CANNOT begin the season without this. Very often, November 1.  It just warms me from the inside out and helps me to calm down, focus and be joyful.

Kenny and Dolly: 

How fun is it when Dolly sings “Christmas Time’s A Comin’ ” ? The best!

But even better is Hard Rock Candy Christmas….chokes me up every time.

Elvis’ Christmas Album 

 

I particularly love “It Won’t Be Christmas Without You”….so tender…..

 

Boney M: 

No Christmas is complete without this rendition of Mary’s Boy Child

Burl Ives: My mom still has this record. There is nothing quite like Burl Ives(who I always thought was Santa) singing Rudolph or Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.

Willie Nelson’s Pretty Paper:  Makes me cry every time- such a beautiful song.

Bing Crosby: Classic. No one sings White Christmas or Silver Bells like he does.

 

And now for some new favourites which I can’t get enough of:

LOVE all of it. It is so good from start to finish.

For a truly worshipful Christmas this one is awesome.

LOVE LOVE LOVE! Winter Snow and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus are my favs.

Seriously, don’t knock it. This is FANTASTIC. It is funny, sentimental, funny, inspirational, uplifting and downhome good. They can SANG!

Michael Buble’s Christmas album:

For the crooner and for the dinner music- awesome.

 

I could go on and on and on….I love Christmas music. Honorable mention to

Faith Hill’s – A Baby Changes Everything

The Judds- Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Selah- Light of the Stable

Alabama Christmas

The Forrester Sisters- Little Toy Trains

Merle Haggard- A Country Christmas

Okay….stopping…..now you….what is your favourite Christmas song/album?

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing to be a Peacemaker

This week may well go down in history for many reasons, not the least of which is that social media gave trash talk a whole new face and name. And I’m not talking about Phil Robertson.  I’m talking about people who spout off about something someone else said, taken out of context, blown up, shared and memed for all the world to see, read and hear.  I’m talking about those who speak before they think. I’m talking about those who would rather be right than be gracious. I’m talking about “us vs. them” .

And although I have a lot to say, this isn’t the time or the place. You see, it’s my daughter’s 18th birthday. My firstborn daughter who came into the world screaming on a cold December morning. The one who couldn’t wait for her scheduled appointment to make her debut but instead woke me 5 hours early to get the show on the road. And because it’s also 2 days before my dad’s birthday and 5 days before Christmas, I think there’s something else that needs to be said.

This weekend and in the coming days, you will gather at tables and in living rooms. You will hug and be hugged. You will share stories of the past year and exchange gifts with those you love. You will break bread together and be enveloped in fellowship and love. This is no time for debates and beating of chests.

The surest way to ruin a gathering is to bring politics, “religion” and your pride to the table. If that happens in any of my gatherings , I’m picking up my sorry ass and sitting it down at a piano to play Christmas carols loudly for all to hear. I’m taking up a game of Settlers with my girls. I’m pulling out the ROOK cards. I’m working on that puzzle. I’m going to eat shortbread and stuffing and maybe even at the same time. I’m going to laugh and share photos. I’m going to take photos and laugh at you. I’m going to defuse, distract and disseminate.  Because it’s Christmas. And Jesus didn’t come so you or I or she or him could be right and say how right we are. He came for peace.

And so, let’s all pause and say this together…..

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
~St. Francis of Assisi 

It’s Pretty, but it’s far from Perfect- Home Tour Link Up!

I’m tired.

Like, 3 a.m. bedtime tired. Don’t ask- long story. However, I managed to snap some pics of my living room when it was dark and cozy last night. Never mind the pile of cards on the coffee table, or the crap on the floor. Never mind I usually have so much more done by December 16. Whatever. Life is what it is and sometimes we gotta roll with it. I usually have my Christmas village set up. But it’s been a couple years and it’s still in boxes. Maybe next year?

For this year, I’m decorating as I go. We’ve been painting and ripping up carpet in this old house. But with snow falling I needed to have that cozy feeling inside. And cozy to me is red on white, deer, antlers, twinkly lights and candlelight.  Cozy is blankets on every chair and couch, a decorated tree, carols on repeat and something that is plaid.

We only have the living room, front hall and dining room done but it’s something. And I’m okay with scaled back, simpler and no-pressure-to-do-more this year.

I will do a few more things this week so check back on Friday!

Also: DEER, RED PLAID and ANTLERS- I’m in love! 🙂

The only thing "Christmasy visible from the street". *sigh*

The only thing “Christmasy visible from the street”. *sigh*

Red twinkly lights- when all else fails! And that ecru furniture throw? It's a bed spread from the thrift store. $7. :)  Red plaid throw? $4 thrift store buy.

Red twinkly lights- when all else fails! And that ecru furniture throw? It’s a bed spread from the thrift store. $7. 🙂 Red plaid throw? $4 thrift store buy.

Tree has been decorated over a couple weeks with deer, antlers and book page cones/pinwheels I've made. Haven't pulled out the *actual* tree decor yet!

Tree has been decorated over a couple weeks with deer, antlers and book page cones/pinwheels I’ve made. Haven’t pulled out the *actual* tree decor yet!

Twinkly lights on antlers we've had in the garage for years. My favourite part by far. And that newly painted fireplace? LOVE it.

Twinkly lights on antlers we’ve had in the garage for years. My favourite part by far. And that newly painted fireplace? LOVE it.

 

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Redeemed Christmas blocks from Dayspring, stocking hangers from Target, dollar store deer, candle pedestals from thrift store and stockings are 3 years old from Superstore.

Redeemed Christmas blocks from Dayspring, stocking hangers from Target, dollar store deer, candle pedestals from thrift store and stockings are 3 years old from Superstore.

I made this book page wreath for a sale. It didn't sell- it's now mine. And I love the silvery deer head! I didn't plan any of this and yet it all happens to work. The red flannel over the canvas painting is from my fabric stash.

I made this book page wreath for a sale. It didn’t sell- it’s now mine. And I love the silvery deer head! I didn’t plan any of this and yet it all happens to work. The red flannel over the canvas painting is from my fabric stash.

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I set my table for y'all this morning!

I set my table for y’all this morning!

 

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Laminated map from Costco- $7, manila tags and Sharpie for the words, dollar store garland to frame it.

Laminated map from Costco- $7, manila tags and Sharpie for the words, dollar store garland to frame it.

 

 

Merry Christmas organza that I've used as a tree skirt for years is now draped over the window. Curio cabinet not even filled. We JUST finished painting.

Merry Christmas organza that I’ve used as a tree skirt for years is now draped over the window. Curio cabinet not even filled. We JUST finished painting.

 

The other view- china cabinet which is a collector of stuff. Seems like if there's a place to put something, something gets put.

The other view- china cabinet which is a collector of stuff. Seems like if there’s a place to put something, something gets put.

 

 

Buffet at the front entrance for another vignette.

Buffet at the front entrance for another vignette.

 

 

I love my red thermoses which I bought a year ago for $5 at a garage sale.

I love my red thermoses which I bought a year ago for $5 at a garage sale.

 

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Couldn't figure out what to do with my card holder- and then....this!

Couldn’t figure out what to do with my card holder- and then….this!

Front hall.

Front hall.

 

 

Reality- something on the floor. Welcome to real life.

Reality- something on the floor. Welcome to real life.

Dayspring blocks.  Opened up this hall closet that was previously an eyesore behind plywood doors.

Dayspring blocks. Opened up this hall closet that was previously an eyesore behind plywood doors.

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This wasn't planned- the red, flannel, grey, deer, woodland theme....it just morphed...over several years.

This wasn’t planned- the red, flannel, grey, deer, woodland theme….it just morphed…over several years.

 

And this- this is what happens when stockings get too close to heat. It happened 2 years ago in our last house with a gas fireplace.  Perfectly imperfect, right?

And this- this is what happens when stockings get too close to heat. It happened 2 years ago in our last house with a gas fireplace. Perfectly imperfect, right?

 

 

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!!

Linking up with The Nester for this year’s home tour. Check it out: 2013 Tour of Homes

 

Profanity, Humanity and The Fake War on Christmas

I may ramble.

This could possibly be 3 posts but I’m packing it all into one super, duper post. But I’ll keep it short- promise. Just  a few observations from the world wide web.

I always am slightly amused by people on the internet. People who like to tell other people how it is, how it will be, how they should be, what they should say, what they shouldn’t say.  It’s like 63.7% of people on the web think they’ve figured out all the things of life and are now totally in a place to tell the other 36.3% of us how to do it.

Profanity is one of these little irks of mine. And I’m totally on the fence, over the fence, through the fence. In fact, my philosophy on profanity is neither here nor there. I am not the same girl from 20 years ago in which “no unwholesome word shall depart from my lips” but neither am I the girl who says, “FML”.  So, this leaves me squarely in the middle with a few thoughts on swearing, cuss words, the profane and the vulgar.  There are categories. There are levels. There are definitely  lines to be drawn.

When I was a wee one in grade school we had to read aloud in class from our reader. Remember readers? I loved them. I wish my kids knew what a reader was. Anyhoooo…….it was going to be my turn and I took my reader home to prepare(so studious I was). Upon discovering that my particular section had a “swear word” , I was mortified. I was also 8 . And in my 8 year old world there were a host of choice words we were not allowed to say, think or read….ever. And I told my mom that I was going to have to think this word, read it and say it all at once and it was too much for my heart to take. My mom was no help.( sorry Mom). She told me to do what I felt was right. Good grief. The short of it is this: I read it, I hated it and I felt a lot of guilt. But it was done and gone. So now you all want to know what word was in a grade 3 reader in 1979, right? The word was…………..”Gee”.  OH THE INHUMANITY!!!!!!

Now before you giggle away the rest of the day, let me clarify.  In our house a “SWEAR” word was any word that took the name of God or Jesus and used it inappropriately. Words associated with damnation and Hell were also terrible and unholy.  Gee is short for Geeezzz…which is short for Jesus. I think we can all agree that this is in fact truth. So for me to say “Gee” was horrible.

My looses lips now say “Jeepers” Or “Gee whiz”( I used to say Cheese Whiz to get around it).  I also say darn which is only the milder form of damn. Is that swearing too? Some would say it is.

My mom thinks fart is a swear. But my kids have been saying it since they could speak.

The fact is this: our usage of slang, swear, cuss, vulgar words is often for emphasis. Saying I’m really cold doesn’t quite get the point across that I am DANG cold. Darn, Dang, Damn……they all mean the same thing but progressively stronger.

My friend posted a comment a few days ago about the “assholes” in front of Toys R Us smoking. She’s right. They’re idiots. I don’t call people assholes because I don’t. It’s  actually quite gross when you think about it. However, smoking is gross so maybe she is more right than I am.  One person completely missed the point of her post and said “classless”….and “unfollow”‘……..because of the word “assholes”.  Really?? I mean. In your real, everyday, walking around , enjoying life world you would actually defriend, dissociate, condemn, judge and unfollow a friend whom you had previously liked, agreed with, enjoyed because of the word “assholes”??   Listen people, if that’s how you do the internet, you might be in the wrong place. Stuff gets said all the time that I don’t agree with but I don’t even challenge it with a word or thought. I say stuff that people don’t agree with .  I read stuff I don’t agree with.  I love the people I don’t agree with. Opinions are good . My kids say stuff every day that ticks me off. I don’t write them off.

jamie vwmIt’s silly, isn’t it?

Humanity- we’re all humans. Here’s a shocking statistic:  100% of the things you read on the internet are written by humans 100% of the time.

For some reason, there are a whole bunch of people on the internet who think they can say whatever they want to whomever they want all while sitting behind a keyboard and it doesn’t matter. Because *I* am the only one who actually has feelings, right? It’s all about *ME*.  No one else could possibly feel the way I feel.

Ugh.

Seriously, writing a blog takes guts. And I’m not saying that because I have a blog. Because I don’t really have guts. I want to say stuff that I can’t. For a variety of reasons I am my own worst critic and #1 filter of all that is controversial or raw honesty.  But I have friends who spill their guts and it is beautiful and inspiring. And then they get flippin’ yahoos inboxing or posting on their pages that ” you know that autism is a form of demonic oppression…” to the mom who has an autistic son. Really. Not even kidding.

Or , I have been the recipient of such dandies like this: “the article you posted was written by a gay man, I just thought you should know”…because of course being gay negates the possibility that you could have a brilliant mind and common sense t’boot!?

This happens all the time. Well meaning individuals think that they have all of life figured out. But they forget we’re all human, we all have feelings, we all learn and grow by being challenged to think outside of our own small, narrow view of things.

Which brings me to the war on Christmas.

There is none.

In 1979 our school pageant had the words “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings”. Was there a conspiracy then to undermine and usurp the traditions of Christmas?? *GASP*!!

In 1941 the movie, Holiday Inn was made.  “Happy Holidays” was the theme song….now sung by generations. I particularly love the Williams Brothers and Osmond Brothers rendition…..have a listen….

 

I could ramble about this but I just want to ask you some questions:

1. Has anyone in your town, village or kabutz asked you NOT to say Merry Christmas?

2. Have you been told to take down your tree or lights or turn off the Christmas music?

3. Have you shopped in a major department store and heard one of these playing: “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”?

4. Have you been publicly harassed for saying Merry Christmas?

5. Are you deeply offended by those who send you a card with “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” on it- so much so that you have to return the card with a terse note about keeping “Christ” in Christmas?

….do you want me to go on?

I have Jewish, Athiest, Muslim, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness and Agnostic friends. They are all very good at saying Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and never once have been offended or hurt that I do the same.

There is no war on Christmas. There are a few media outlets who keep reviving this and challenging us all to stand up and fight. But there is nothing to fight. There  is only a war if we take up arms. And I am not. Our town has nativities and carol festivals. I see trees, lights and hear carols everywhere I go. There is no war. Please stop posting the “I hear it’s offensive to say Merry Christmas….” type of forwarded emails and photos.  It isn’t offensive. It never has been. Just because one dude in Saskatoon wants it to be an issue doesn’t mean we all have to jump on the bandwagon and make it one. Don’t give in.  Be the same as you always have.  Spread joy and cheer and sing loud for all to hear.

merry christmas

I don’t swear, but I may cuss a little sometimes. I don’t always agree with everything you post but I’m not going to call you out or publicly shame you because your opinion is different than mine. And there is no war on Christmas.  Happy Monday.

 

 

A few things you might want to read: The Internet is Alive with the Sound of Critics

Or this from Glennon at Momastery: mommastery

And my own post from 2 years ago:  The Profanity of Christmas

 

Giving Thoughtfully {Day 10 of Redeeming Christmas}

I’m way up in the northern part of Alberta, watching the snow fall gently on the trees. The wood stove is loaded for the day and there’s no one else around. It’s the perfect time and place to think about my loved ones and
consider the special things I can do for them for Christmas. Here’s my post from last year on giving thoughtfully.

Once Upon a Prairie....

This may be the most important advice I can give you when it comes to what kinds of gifts you should give.

Mark 12: 28-33

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.  To love him with all your heart, with all your…

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