Monday, November 30, 2009
A friend of mine emailed the cartoon below to me earlier today with the subject line warning "Be Very Careful" and I though "huh?" until I clicked on the link and saw the picture below.
After reviewing it, I can say with absolute certainty that Betsey and Ross ARE trying to kill me. I know, those of you who have met them are thinking, "But they're so sweet! Ross just wants to be loved and Betsey just wants to be left alone." And to you, I can only say, "SUCKERS!" Sure, they look innocent and sweet. But let me tell you that they do all the behaviors outlined below and even some that aren't. Betsey, for example, starts out purring and sleeping with her little head on my shoulder. After about 30 minutes, her entire body is laying on my shoulder and leaning against my neck. It's clear she's waiting to cut off my air supply by squeezing her tail around my neck. While Betsey is waiting to choke me, Ross is snoring away and has handcuffed my wrist and hand to the bed with his fat body rendering me unable to free myself from Betsey's tightening grip.
Before going any further, I must give credit where credit is due. This cartoon was originally drawn by Matthew Inman and appeared here. I'm using the picture below rather than the original because I could get this one in one image.
You have many choices today (and everyday) about where to spend your shopping dollars, but on this day, I'm tossing out a completely shameless plug for my own Mary Kay business. As you know, I don't ever use Little Merry Sunshine to plug my business, but today I'm making an exception.
Why should you spend your holiday gift giving dollars with me?
Because I am a local business, which means that your tax dollars will stay local. I also support many local charities and community events. By supporting me, you're supporting Arlington Heights. I also deliver to anyone in Arlington Heights or ship to anywhere else in the United States for a nominal fee. I offer free gift wrapping and every gift comes with Mary Kay's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
But I thought Mary Kay was just skin care and make-up . . .
Mary Kay is skin care and make-up, but we also have fabulous body care, fragrances, and men's skin care. All of these items make great personal gifts for everyone on your shopping list: teachers, friends, family, men, women, teens, babysitters, hostesses, hair stylists, massage therapists, employees, and, of course, YOU!
I have a Mary Kay Consultant, but I love Little Merry Sunshine. Can I shop with you?
I completely appreciate that you love Little Merry Sunshine and while I would love your business, you should continue to give your Mary Kay Consultant your business. That's the Mary Kay Way. We're not in competition with each other and we don't poach each other's clients.
We'll be back to our regularly scheduled non-shameless plug blog posts tomorrow.
Friday, November 27, 2009
The Side-Hug: Youth Group Puts Down Sinful "Front-Hugs" With Rap
Dan Abramson, Huffington Post, November 24, 2009
Christian youth groups finally have an alternative to normal, aka "front," hugs. As we all know, face to face embraces run the horrific risk of a clothed crotch graze. The Christian Side-Hug (or the CSH, as the kids call it) rids us of sin, as the only below the belt contact will be some good old-fashioned hip on hip action.
To help the side-hug fad sweep the nation, let us present this hardcore rap song. Yup, side-hugging has hit the streets. The group has as many emcees as the Wu-Tang Clan and as much power as a barbershop quartet.
Look out for the ominous sirens blasting on the track. Clearly, these are gangsters on the run from the law - probably from side-hugging up a storm! One emcee (wearing his bandanna 2pac-style no less) admits to taking part in the forbidden front-hug. But don't worry, God. He's married.
At the end, they all simulate getting shot and dying. We can only hope there are side-hugs in heaven.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I love Thanksgiving. I love to cook Thanksgiving dinner. I love to have people over. I love using the fancy dishes. I love the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I simply love all of it.
This year's Thanksgiving is being celebrated with my dad and brother. They are both busy tackling my "Honey Do" list while I cook away. Yesterday, Dad and I re-tackled the outside Christmas lights because he thought I should move into the 21st century and away from the colored lights that were 30 years old. I have to say, the new lights are beautiful, although nothing rivals my next door neighbors wooden reindeer, polar bears, and rock formation with fake flowers. Hopefully, no one will rearrange the reindeer this year. But I digress.
Dad and Dave are currently building the storm door for my sliding glass living room door and next will tackle a project in the crawl space, I think. Dave may go up on the roof just to check things out like he does a couple of times a year. Football will appear on TV soon and they will take their rightful places on the couch and in the La-Z-Boy. Beer and yelling at the TV may be involved. All while I continue to cook.
Yes, Thanksgiving tasks are divided along traditional gender role lines, but on this day, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner to me is about the tradition. The family. The love that I feel when I pull out recipes that have been passed down from 3-4 generations. I may not have known the women who cooked Thanksgiving before me, but on this day, they're each a part of me as I use their recipes and tweek them with my own stamp. As I write this, my good friend Bergsie of Kittens Farting Rainbows and I are having an email conversation about Nana's fruitcake, which she is going to make this year. Bergsie sees cooking "as a creative process and a way to connect with other people and history." I couldn't agree more.
This year's Thanksgiving includes not only traditional family recipes, but also two new ones shared with me by friends.
Night-Before French Toast (see below)
Orange Juice and Coffee
Sweet & Sour Meatballs
(I'm only preparing appetizers because I have them in the house and don't want Dad and Dave to starve)
Green Beans with Sliced Almonds
Nana's Corn Bread Stuffing (stuffed in the bird) (see below)
Fresh Cranberry Sauce (use the recipe on the back of the package of fresh cranberries)
Sweet Potato Soufflé (see below)
Giblet Gravy (see below)
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Pumpkin Spice Bars (see below)
As I tweeted last night, I don't know how to cook for 3. I know how to cook for 23.
Night-Before French Toast
1 (10 oz) long, thin loaf French or Italian bread (almost anything will work)
8 large eggs
3 cups milk
4 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)
1 tsp. vanilla (or to taste)
2 T butter, cut into pieces
Grease 9x13-inch cake pan. Cut bread into 1-inch slices; arrange in layers. Beat eggs with all ingredients, except butter; pour over bread. Cover with foil; refrigeratore 4-36 hours. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 45-50 minutes; dot with butter. Serve with syrup, honey, yogurt, sour cream, fresh fruit or powdered sugar. Perfect for brunches.
JLG Note: My dear friend Debbie Nelson shared this recipe with me at her fantastic Halloween brunch. I don't measure cinnamon or vanilla. I don't think you can ever have too much of these ingredients. Use what you like. I also only cooked for about 40 minutes because the top layer was getting too well-done. Very light and airy. Dad and Dave went back for seconds.
Nana's Corn Bread Stuffing
Bake corn bread (according to the recipe on the Quaker Yellow Corn Meal box) in a wrought iron skillet.
Brown about 10 slices of bread (JLG Note: I like the grainy wheat bread).
Crumble corn bread and bread slices together in a big bowl.
Add 2-3 raw eggs, poultry seasoning (2 tsp or so) and boiling water to mix dressing.
Add 2 onions and celery, chopped and browned in butter.
You can stuff the dressing into the turkey or you can put it all in a pyrex dish and cook separate in the oven, but you cannot stuff the turkey the night before. Stuff it just before you put it in the oven.
JLG Note: You need enough boiling water to hold stuffing together, so there's no real specific amount. I actually prefer to use vegetable or chicken stock. I also add dried cherries to my stuffing. I usually have dressing in the turkey and in a separate dish and I put the separate pyrex dish in the oven for the last hour the turkey is cooking.
Sweet Potato Soufflé
6 Sweet Potatoes
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans
1. In a large stockpot, cover sweet potatoes with 1 inch of water; boil for 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain, allow to cool and remove skins.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Grease or butter a 2-quart casserole dish.
3. Place potatoes in a mixing bowl and with an electric mixer, beat on low speed until potatoes begin to break up. Increase speed to medium high and blend until smooth.
4. Reduce speed to low and add sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, eggs, and salt. Mix well.
5. Allow any potato "fibers" to remain on the beater and remove. Pour sweet potato mixture into the casserole dish.
6. Prepare the topping in a small bowl by whisking together the brown sugar, flour, butter, and pecans. Sprinkle topping over the potato mixture and bake for 40 minutes.
JLG Note: I got this recipe from my blog buddy Living Oprah, who ran a contest for Thanksgiving recipes on her Facebook Fan Page. A woman submitted this recipe saying that her grandmother always made it and now that her grandmother is gone, she and her sisters make it every year.
Nana's Giblet Gravy
Turkey giblets (liver, heart, gizzards, and neck), boiled and sliced into small pieces
6-8 cups stock from the turkey drippings and the leftover water from boiling the gizzards
2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 large T of uncooked Corn Bread Stuffing, held in reserve
3 T cornstarch
some cold water (btwn 1/4 and 1/2 cup)
Dash of salt
some freshly ground pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1. Take the giblets (liver, heart, gizzards and neck) out of the turkey and boil them in water. It takes about 5 hours to boil them down so that they are tender enough and you'll have to keep adding water throughout the process. Make sure they are just covered with water. I add water about every 45 minutes. Because it takes so long to boil the giblets down, you'll want to start this early in the morning. Once they are done, remove the meat from the neck of the turkey and throw out the bone. Slice up the remaining giblets into small pieces.
2. Bring the stock to back to boiling and add the giblets, raw stuffing and poultry seasoning.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and water. Add to the stock and stir constantly.
4. Reduce the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Salt and pepper to taste.
6. Line your gravy boat with the sliced egg and pour giblet gravy over it. Do not add eggs directly to gravy because it will not last and the gravy will go bad.
Pumpkin Spice Bars
1 pouch Betty Crocker Pumpkin Spice Cookie Mix
1 cup Butter, melted
1 cup Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup chopped Walnuts
1. Mix together cookie mix, melted butter and eggs until well blended. Spread into greased 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Bake at 350 for 33-38 minutes. Cool completely.
3. Spread frosting over bars. Sprinkle with nuts.
JLG Note: I discovered this recipe when I bought the cookie mix to make cookies and decided it would make a great dessert. It says it's bars, but it feels more like cake and is thick like cake.
About the turkey . . . everyone cooks their turkey a little differently. I do mine at 325 and base my time on the temperature. Once it reaches an internal temperature of 170 per the thermometer in the thigh, I remove it from the oven because it will continue to cook as it stands and will reach 180, the recommended temperature for serving. Do not forget to turn on the oven before putting the turkey in it. In fact, your oven should be preheated. Failing to turn on the oven will result in serving your guests raw turkey and I assure you that your mother-in-law will not be happy.
When you're cooking your turkey, if you have any questions at all, you can call the Butterball Hotline at 1-800-BUTTERBALL and speak to a turkey expert. 8am-8pm CST Weekdays through November and December. Don't feel bad if you have to call. Even President Bartlet called the Butterball Hotline.
Even Betsey and Ross got into the Thanksgiving spirit. For those wondering, they feasted on a delightful meal of Purina One for Sensitive Systems and room-temperature water. Catnip was served for dessert.
This year, my blessings include:
- My brother. Dave and I have become an unbreakable team since Nana's death. He is my sounding board when I get frustrated with all I have to do to get her estate closed and he has the courage to tell me the things I don't always want to hear in ways that make me listen. He also never complains about the "honey do" list of projects around my house that I always have when he visits.
- Little Merry Sunshine and Remembering Frances. Both blogs have helped keep me sane this year as I've had to navigate the unfamiliar territory of mourning. The readers and commenters of both blogs have given me strength, made me laugh, and made me think. Without you reading my blogs, I'd really just be talking to myself.
- Nana having 92 years and 359 days of a beautiful life and the vast majority of it in good health. I'm grateful for the life she lived, the experiences she had, and her Horatio Alger-attitude. I think of the many life lessons she taught me on a daily basis and smile. I look around at the legacy she left and am proud to be part of it.
- Mom being able to spend time with Nana these past few years. Mom may not have always been able to do all she wanted, but the relationship they forged and the bonds they shared are priceless. No one was a better advocate for Nana than Mom was. Without her fighting for Nana and standing up to doctors, Nana would have died a very painful and drawn-out death.
- My own resilience. I've heard it said that God doesn't give you more than you can handle and the last few months have shown me that I grossly underestimated my own strength.
- The World's Greatest Friends. Some of them have been life long friends and some of them have come into my life more recently. Some of them I only know through Facebook or blogging. But they all make me better.
- My business. I am grateful beyond words for the flexibility I have, knowing that my efforts are rewarded over and over again, and that I have a positive impact on the lives of others.
- Betsey and Ross and their continued good health. The vet said they look 8 rather than their 13 1/2 years. They are spunky and loyal and loving.
What are you grateful for today?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Once again this year, our goal is to bring you one-of-a-kind top-quality gifts that will send just the right message and that will always be remembered. We've spared no expense because we know you only expect the best.
A word to the wise, with Oprah retiring, she's canceled her infamous Favorite Things episode* and her influence waning, the LMS stamp of approval is highly sought after and means more and more each minute. These items are sure to fly off the shelves this Black Friday, so you'll want to arrive early. We'd get in line now.
Without further ado, we bring you Little Merry Sunshine's 2nd Annual Holiday Gift Guide. And for a bit of nostalgia, here's the 1st Annual Holiday Gift Guide.
Handerpants - The Underpants for Your Hands
You haven't heard of these delightful accessories? I know you're about to wonder how you ever lived without them. $11.95 plus shipping.
Of course, you'll have to have the Undercap to keep your ears warm while wearing your Handerpants. At only $11.95, these tighty whities will surely keep you warm all winter long.
This will entertain (or scare) your friends and freak out the kids and pets. Plus, it recharges quickly for endless fun! $34.95 with free shipping.
For the animal lover in your life, give them Buck the Singing Deerhead! $29.95.
Has the woman in your life been hinting around for a diamond ring? Show her how much you love her with the Diamond Ring Keychain! I promise she'll think of you everyday.
The Diamond Ring Keychain is only $3.49, so you'll have plenty of money to spring for the Elephant Poo Roses ($15-$48).
Every girl wants a doll for Christmas, so this year, you should surprise your special girl with the Pole Dancer Doll!
For those of you unaffected by the recession, Little Merry Sunshine recommends these gifts . . .
Do you know someone who can never find their car in the mall parking lot because every car looks the same? Get them a Cupcake Car and they'll never lose their car again! At just $25,000, this car is very competitively priced. I'm not sure if the sprinkles or peppermint safety helmets are extra.
Does your little princess fight going to bed? With the Princess Palace Playhouse Bed she'll be eager for an earlier bedtime. Isn't $47,000 a small price to pay for peaceful bedtimes?
Every little boy fantasizes about being a pirate, so Santa should make that fantasy come true with Red Beard's Revenge Pirate Ship Playhouse! Unfortunately, $52,000 doesn't make this playhouse sea-worthy, but your child will surely be the most popular kid in the neighborhood and popularity is priceless.
*We can't help but wonder if Oprah is conceding that Little Merry Sunshine is now more popular and influential than the Queen of All Media? It's possible that's why Oprah has given up the Favorite Things episode and is retiring. It's highly improbable, but it's possible. If only in my head, it's possible.
On the day after Thanksgiving, set aside one hour to record a conversation with someone important to you. You can interview anyone you choose: an older relative, a friend, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood.
You can preserve the interview using recording equipment readily available in most homes, such as cell phones, tape recorders, computers, or even pen and paper. Our free Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide is easy to use and will prepare you and your interview partner to record a memorable conversation, no matter which recording method you choose.
Make a yearly tradition of listening to and preserving a loved one’s story. The stories you collect will become treasured keepsakes that grow more valuable with each passing generation.
I have to admit that I've never done this, although my mom has. Mom used to tape record a lot of the conversations she and Nana had and she'd ask Nana questions about her childhood in Mississippi, her life with my grandfather Jesse Paulk, and many other things. Nana would tell her stories of going fishing for catfish, making her own clothes, baking pies, and many other things.
For my birthday this year, I asked Mom to tape record a conversation with Nana and send it to me. It proved to be one of the last conversations Nana would have and five months later, I still can't bring myself to listen to the tape. I will always treasure this tape and will eventually listen to it.
I guarantee that you won't find anything in all the Black Friday sales nearly as meaningful as the bonds you'll form by participating in the National Day of Listening. An oral history is the gift that will keep giving for generations to come.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
In the process of all this cleaning, I am reorganizing my dresser, which I do about once a season when I change my clothes over front spring/summer to fall/winter. As I finished reorganizing my underwear and socks drawer, I was reminded of a now funny college story (it wasn't funny then) and I see that as much as some things change over two decades, the more they truly stay the same.
During my sophomore year, I was a Resident Assistant in the freshman dorm with five other Resident Assistants. We were all very good friends and regularly hung out even when we weren't on duty. One of the perks of being a Resident Assistant was having a master key that would get us into any room in the entire dorm. Ideally, this key was for only emergency use or to let a student back into their room when they found themselves locked out. Sometimes, however, mischief ensued.
It was well-known that I was a little anal retentive about my room. It was always clean and I even normally made my bed, even though it was 6 feet off the ground and no one could see it. I simply did not like clutter or messiness.
My dresser was even hyper-organized. The first drawer contained nothing but underwear and socks. Both were organized by type and by color and everything was folded neatly. The socks were broken down into two piles - one for colors and the other for whites.
One afternoon, I returned to my room after a long day of classes to discover my closet door open and dresser drawers were hanging open (I kept my dresser in my closet). I certainly never left them in this state. When I pulled the top drawer completely open, I discovered that all my socks and underwear were no longer in their neat and organized piles, but were now all mismatched and strewn everywhere within the drawer (at least they were still in the correct drawer).
Immediately I knew the funny people behind this little prank - my good friends and fellow RAs. My friends thought this was pretty hilarious, although I didn't find it the least bit amusing.
As I organized my sock and underwear drawer into neat little color-coded, folded piles this afternoon, I had a good laugh remembering how upset I was over this prank and now find it pretty funny.
But I swear if anyone dares to rearrange my dresser today, I will not be responsible for the wrath you will endure.
Can you imagine what would happen if we all spent the next 37 days celebrating gratitude and being thankful for the richness in our lives? No matter what our individual circumstances, we all have more to be grateful for than we realize. I know that for a lot of of people, the holidays are a time of vast loneliness and sadness, but by focusing on the positive and reaching out to say thank you, I think that seasonal depression could be cured.
What I've learned about gratitude over the years is that thanking people and showing appreciation makes others happy, but it also enriches my own life beyond measure.
A commenter on the Tribune's story says there is a website called ThankingOfYou.com. I just visited it. Go and be uplifted. Post your own story or just read others. You'll leave happier for all the kindness in the world.
Calendar of Gratitude: 37 Days of Thanks
How about celebrating the holidays by giving thanks, one day at a time?
By Barbara Mahany, Chicago Tribune, November 22, 2009
It's the season of too, too much. Too much to do. Too many places to be. Too much for just one run-ragged soul.
Well, here's Plan B.
How about transforming this into a Season of Gratitude, one in which you put into practice the daily habit of being thankful, and doing so in ways unmistakable?
We've created a get-you-started game plan -- actions you can take or thoughts to consider -- that stretches from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Give 'em a whirl. Or invent your own.
Nov. 26 Sure, it's a crazy day in the kitchen, but try to carve out some time to take a walk anywhere you can hear birds sing or the crunch of leaves beneath your shoes. Whisper thank you to the Earth for all its bounty. And while you're at it, compose a list of all that's been good since last Thanksgiving.
Nov. 27 (Eid al-Adha) Make this One More Day of Giving Day. Take some leftovers to someone who could use a lift. And a turkey on rye.
Nov. 28 What if you had only one day left to live? Whom would you call to thank? Start dialing.
Nov. 29 Track down and thank a beloved teacher. Write a letter telling her/him a lesson you learned that you've never forgotten.
Nov. 30 Talk to someone whose life is bumpier than yours and ask what she or he feels grateful for. Remember how blessed you are.
Dec. 1 "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was 'Thank you,' that would be enough." -- German philosopher Meister Eckhart
Dec. 2 Tonight is the first full moon of the month, called "Long Night Moon," "Moon Before Yule" or "Full Cold Moon" by American Indians. Take a moon walk, and consider the gift of that night light that waxes and wanes but always guides our way.
Dec. 3 When gathered with family or friends, tell each person one thing you've learned from him/her. Give everyone a turn to do the same.
Dec. 4 Is there someone at work who makes you smile every day? Write an anonymous note of praise to that person's boss. Leaving no trace of who wrote it, drop a copy of the note on that someone's desk.
Dec. 5 Teach the children in your life to say thank you. When you tuck them in bed, ask what they're most thankful for that happened that day.
Dec. 6 (Feast of St. Nick) Be thankful for the good dose of childlike wonder that can still be sparked in your heart.
Dec. 7 Before you leave the house this morning, remember to be thankful for the place that keeps you safe from life's storms.
Dec. 8 Write a letter of thanks to your parents, or someone who was your "other mother," even if they're no longer alive. Share the letter with your own family.
Dec. 9 Declare today Hold Open Doors and Yield for Traffic Day. (If you don't drive, give up your seat on the bus or the train.) Think of how warm it makes you feel when someone does the same for you, and offer up thanks to all the unsung souls who've paved your way with kindness.
Dec. 10 Consider a life without complaints. Begin today. Cut yourself off if you hear yourself starting to whine, or complain about just about anything. Recruit anti-complaint compatriots. Maybe even launch an army of non-complainers. Try to make it all day without one lousy complaint. Check out AComplaintFreeWorld.org, a Web site that aims to end complaining.
Dec. 11 (Hanukkah begins at sundown) It's the season for candlelighting. Kindle lights according to your tradition, or begin a new one. As you watch the last of the candle burn, and the smoke furl upward, whisper thanks for a wish you hope comes true.
Dec. 12 Delay dinner just long enough so everyone feels hungry. When you sit down to eat, be thankful for all the times you don't go hungry.
Dec. 13 Start a collective "Season of Gratitude" book. Leave out construction paper and supplies for page making. Have everyone in the house (visitors too) create a page of what they're thankful for. It might be in the form of a poem, drawing or words cut from a magazine. Tuck into a binder. Leave it out for everyone to enjoy.
Dec. 14 Word has it that the No. 1 most sought-after item at plenty of homeless shelters, besides coats and mittens, is deodorant. Toothpaste and soap are always welcome too. Why not donate deodorant (as well as other useful supplies) at the nearest shelter?
Dec. 15 If you spot someone in the armed forces in line for a sandwich or drink, consider picking up the tab.
Dec. 16 When you open your eyes this morning, think of three things for which you are deeply thankful. Live a grateful day.
Dec. 17 Ever think how hard it is to deliver all that holiday mail? Greet your mail carrier with a jazzy pair of thick socks. And a note: "Thanks for all your schlepping."
Dec. 18 Place paper and pencil on everyone's pillow, with instructions to write one thing that made them purr like a cat today. At breakfast, read the notes aloud.
Dec. 19 Be Kind to Your Feathered Friends Day. Grab pine cones, smear them with peanut butter, roll in birdseed and stud with dried cranberries. Tie with a loop of red yarn or plain string. Hang outside on trees or bushes.
Dec. 20 Take a walk and get a full dose of sunshine. Consider the bounty that begins with the rising of each day's burning orb of solar heat.
Dec. 21 (winter solstice) Celebrate the darkness. Gather a few good souls after sundown, or go it alone. Make a bonfire or simply light candles. Tradition has it that fires are sparked on the longest night to help the sun get its job done. Give thought to the life that's birthed out of darkness. Remember: Through darkness come shards of light. Be thankful for dark spells.
Dec. 22 Begin a perpetual gratitude list. Whenever you think of it, jot down something for which you are eternally grateful. On bad days, when you can't think of a thing to be thankful for, read your list.
Dec. 23 Is there a checker at your market who almost always makes you laugh? Write a thank-you note, and hand it over just as you're leaving.
Dec. 24 Think of someone in your neighborhood who could use a little extra cheer (or who has been superkind to you). Drop off the fixings for a grand breakfast.
Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) Sometimes on the days billed as Big Ones, it's hard to live up to expectations. Try this: Get up before anyone else. Light a candle. Look out the window and quietly count your blessings.
Dec. 26 (Kwanzaa begins/Boxing Day) Once upon a time, this was a day for gifting all those who had to toil on Christmas Day. Why not revive the tradition by thinking of someone who keeps your world afloat throughout the year? Maybe it's a bus or taxi driver. Or your doctor's answering service. Write a love note to your personal lifesaver.
Dec. 27 Send a different kind of thank you. Instead of just writing a thank-you note for some treasure you received for the holidays, take a picture and make it into a postcard. Scribble a few words about how much the something meant to you, and drop your postcard in the mail.
Dec. 28 Find a copy of "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" (Alfred A Knopf, 2009, $27.95), by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. You'll find lists of organizations to aid needy women around the world. LMS NOTE: There's also a Half the Sky website where you'll find valuable information.
Dec. 29 Share a cup of cocoa with a beloved child and explain just why you consider him or her a never-ending treasure. Seal the deal with a boa-constricting hug.
Dec. 30 Think of something extraordinarily kind someone once did for you. Be on the lookout for someone you can gift with random kindness.
Dec. 31 (New Year's Eve) Here's your once-in-a-blue-moon chance to wind up the year bursting with gratitude. Yup, it's the second full moon of the month, so consider enlisting a Once-in-a-Blue-Moon Brigade. Gather friends, cook up a big pot of soup or chili, with all the fixings. Deliver to your nearest soup kitchen, or a shut-in in your neighborhood.
Jan. 1 (New Year's Day) A fabulous day to begin living a full year of gratitude. How about considering the blessings you bring to this world? Yes, you. If you fill yourself to the brim with a sense of how grateful you are for yourself and your own goodness, think how much easier it will be to discover gratitude all around you in the year that's just unfolding.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
For the 40 years Nana worked at Ellis National Bank, which later became NCNB, and finally NationsBank (and today is known as Bank of America, but she retired from NationsBank), she was always recognized for her outstanding customer service abilities. The day of her retirement in 1996 (on her 80th birthday!), customers came in to say good-bye who had been her customers for 40 years. Even after her retirement, those customers would call her at home and ask her questions because they knew that she would always tell them what was best for them and not just what was best for the bank. She treated everyone the same, whether they had $50 or $5,000,000. Wealth didn't matter to Nana. What mattered was that every customer she served felt important and valued. Nana also knew how to keep matters confidential. Her customers knew that when they told her their personal financial information, she was going to hold that information in the strictest confidence.
Needless to say, anyone in type of sales or customer service position could learn a thing or two from the way she treated her customers. And NCNB knew it, which is why when they created training videos, they always featured Nana.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Here are some tips to change the way you shop to reduce waste, help our environment and even save money!
Waste-wise shopping why should I do it?
Currently all of the rubbish that we throw out is sent to the tip (landfill) and buried. However, we are quickly running out of space. As a result, the cost of getting rid of our rubbish is increasing every year, and it is important to try and find more ways of reducing the amount of waste that ends up in our rubbish bin.
"Waste-wise" shopping is a great way of reducing the amount of waste you create before you even bring your groceries home. And don't be surprised if it saves you money!
Before starting on your shopping trip, try to keep in mind ways that you can REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE!
Say "NO" to plastic bags! Take your own calico shopping bags, basket, box, backpack or even a laundry basket!
TIP: Calico bags can be reused over and over again simply wash them when they get dirty. Calico bags often hold more groceries and are stronger than plastic bags, which means no more "double bagging". You could even make your own or give them as presents instead of using wrapping paper!
What's the problem with plastic bags?
Plastic bags are a convenience, however they also cause many waste and environmental problems.
- Plastic bags are a litter problem which not only looks ugly, but can harm and kill our wildlife.
- Plastic kills up to 1 million seabirds, 100 000 sea mammals and countless fish each year worldwide. When the animal dies and decays the plastic is free again to repeat the deadly cycle.
- Plastic bags take a long time to break down, which can be anywhere between 20 and 1,000 years.
- Plastic bags are a common contaminant in council curbside recycling bins, which results in recyclables that are inside the bags being sent to the tip as rubbish.
- Plastic bags can be recycled through many supermarkets which have special plastic bag recycling bins. Despite alternatives such as calico or string bags being available, people keep using plastic bags. In fact, Australians use around 10 billion plastic bags per year, nearly 7 billion of which are supermarket plastic bags!
What would make this easier for you?
Some examples could be:
- keeping calico bags or boxes in the trunk of your car;
- keeping a spare calico bag or plastic bag rolled up in your handbag for any unexpected purchases;
- getting into a routine and returning bags/boxes to the same place after unloading your groceries.
Buy goods with less packaging. Buy fruit and vegetables loose, not wrapped. Avoid products that are individually wrapped, or with multiples layers of packaging (e.g., biscuits in a cardboard box which is also wrapped in plastic; bars of soap individually wrapped in plastic). Many fruit and vegetables have their own "packaging, so why buy them in a plastic bag or wrapped on a foam plate (e.g., corn and bananas)?
Buy economy sized products, concentrates and refills. Save both money and packaging. Less packaging means less rubbish. This could include goods like detergents, juices, cordials and cleaning products. For example, if you are buying potato chips for your kids, don't buy the multi-
packs. Buy large single packs of chips and put individual servings into reusable plastic containers.
TIP: Why not join a food co-operative where you can bring your own refillable containers?
Reuse plastic bags and choose items that can be reused many times. Choose durable and reusable products instead of disposable ones.
- pens with replaceable refills
- razors with replaceable blades
- refillable lighters
- using reusable utensils and plates/cups instead of throwaways
- using rechargeable batteries instead of single-use ones
- sponges instead of paper towels
- cloth nappies and bottom wipers instead of disposable ones
TIP: Next time you buy any second-hand goods (especially electrical items) check to see if they have a warranty.
Choose products with recyclable packaging. Learn what can be recycled and choose as many products as possible made from recyclable packaging. Recyclable packaging which is then recycled means less waste being sent to landfill!
For example, why not buy:
- Toilet paper wrapped in paper instead of plastic
- Dishwashing detergent in a recyclable bottle
- Yogurt in recyclable HDPE containers (marked with a 2 on the bottom) instead of non-recyclable Polystyrene containers (marked with a 6).
Waste Wise Tips for Buying Presents
Christmas is getting close, so here are some ideas on how to shop smart to save waste and money!
- Give "experiences" as presents - Massage vouchers, dinners out, or even your time, make great presents, and they don't need any wasteful wrapping.
- Give presents in reusable "wrapping" - Instead of wrapping presents in throwaway paper, calico bags and tea towels make great wrapping, which is waste-wise and a great gift! Colorful ribbon will "dress up" your present, and can be used instead of sticky tape.
- Buy long-lasting presents and ones that can be repaired if they break (e.g., Wooden toys for children).
- Make your own presents - Home-made presents can be cost-effective yet thoughtful with minimal or no packaging.
- Why not make reusable shopping bags as gifts!
- "SNUB" - Say No to Unwanted Bags. Try to take reusable shopping bags or a basket with you and decide whether or not you really need a new bag for every purchase.
- Compost vegetable peelings and food scraps except meat, seafood and dairy products.
- Try to buy Christmas decorations that can be used for several years.
- Close the loop buy recycled Christmas cards, wrapping paper, tags, diaries and calendars.
- Avoid buying presents with excess packaging.
- Make your own cards and presents if possible with reusable materials it could be a lot more fun and more personal. Have a go at making your own gift labels by recycling last year's Christmas cards.
- When shopping, make a list! Don't buy unwanted presents! You may be creating unnecessary waste. Before you buy, think whether it will be a welcome gift.
- If you receive a present that you don't like, why not give it to the charity shop and give someone else a chance to enjoy it rather than throwing it away.
- Email electronic Christmas cards saving money, paper and the environment. (LMS Note: Not to mention expensive postage!)
- Don't waste paper wrap creatively! Use tea towels, cloth, wool, ribbon, reusable bags or Christmas stockings.
- Reuse old Christmas wrapping paper (and open your presents carefully!).
- Recycle paper, cardboard and recyclable containers from your Christmas cheer (glass bottles and jars, soft drink bottles and other recyclable plastics, aluminum and steel cans) through kerbside collections. Even the corks can be recycled by dropping them off at any Body Shop stores or Girl Guides.
- Recycle your old Christmas cards by taking them to Planet Ark drop off boxes at Coles, Video Ezy or Body Shop stores in January and February. (LMS Note: I cut off the pictures on the front - assuming there's not personal note on the back of the picture - and use them as gift tags on future Christmas gifts. This saves me money in buying gift tags and dresses up gifts.)
- Buy 'live' Christmas trees which still have soil around the roots ready for potting. After Christmas you can replant it in your garden. Or artificial trees can be re-used year after year.
- Choose gifts and products which are long lasting, repairable, refillable, reusable or recyclable for when they eventually reach the end of their life.
- Avoid purchasing items which are non-functional and gimmicky. Avoid buying gifts which need batteries.
- If you are throwing a party, avoid using disposal items such as cups, plates and napkins. For example, why not hire out glasses. (LMS Note: I assume this means to rent glasses, but I would recommend going to a resale shop and buying glasses cheaply. It doesn't matter if the glasses match or not and you can use them again and again.)
- If goods are packaged, choose items which are made from recycled materials, and that can be easily recycled by you after use, such as glass and paper products.
- Christmas gifts don't necessarily have to be material items. Treat somebody to a day out, buy cinema or theater tickets, open a children's savings account, make a donation to charity, or arrange a year's subscription to a society such as The National Trust, or magazine such as Habitat, ECOS or Amnesty International.
- Plan meals wisely. Think ahead when buying food and plan for left-overs - after a big roast dinner for example. This will help minimize the amount of waste you throw away and avoid wasting money.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Over the last 12 months, good news has been tough to find. "If it bleeds, it leads" is not just a cliche it's how most newsrooms run. For proof, just turn on the nightly news. Stories of people doing good things are never the lead stories.
The Dow has had its ups and downs. Too many jobs have been lost. People have died. Wars have been fought. Natural disasters have occurred. Once again, the Cubs had a rough year and the Bears might as well sit the rest of the season out. It's been a tough year.
But in spite of it all, there are people doing amazing things. There are people who not only see the problems, but more importantly, they create solutions. These people are heroes. All too often, they are unsung.
In spite of all this bad news, CNN has spent the year searching out and honoring these heroes. They've narrowed it down to the Top 10 and will honor each of them in a special to air Thanksgiving night.
Help CNN choose the Hero of the Year by voting for your favorite. But hurry! Voting ends at 6am (ET) on Thursday, November 19th.
Don't forget to tune into CNN at 9pm ET on Thanksgiving. Your belief in mankind will be restored. You will be inspired. And have a box of tissues. Trust me, you'll need it.
Monday, November 16, 2009
That said, we were taken aback a few days ago when our good friend Klambity Jane sent us this bizarre story and video about a bra that turns into a putting green and golf skirt with the words "Be Quiet" on the rear that doubles as a golf flag.
I also wonder if this would be appropriate attire for any of those fun charity golf outings that I must now attend, although I'm not exactly a "keen golfing lady," so maybe not. I guess I've got about 7 months to figure that out.
Bra That Can Be Used As A Golf Putting Mat
Lingerie makers Triumph have unveiled the 'Nice Cup in Bra', which can be removed, rolled out and used as a putting mat for the keen golfing lady.
By Harriet Alexander, November 11, 2009
Triumph have designed the new bra to appeal to Japan's busy golfing women.
The green corset-style garment can be removed and unrolled to create a 1.5m-long putting mat.
When the user sinks a putt into one of the cups, a built-in speaker pumps out a congratulatory "Nice shot!".
The bra also features pockets for extra golf balls and tees, and a detachable flag pin that serves as a score pencil.
The bra set comes with a skirt with the words "Be Quiet" printed on the rear, which doubles up as a flag for use on the course.
Quite how the user is supposed to do cover herself when she removes the underwear is unclear.
Twice a year, Triumph unveils a new novelty bra in Japan to highlight social trends.
The novelty bras are generally designed to raise awareness of an issue, rather than be worn regularly.
Triumph claim that the Nice Cup in Bra is a response to the growing popularity of golf among Japanese women.
In previous years the company have invented the postal bra – with pockets for letters – and a chopstick bra made from miso soup and rice bowls, with a special holder for chopsticks.
In May they unveiled the novelty husband hunter bra, which features a countdown clock that stops once an engagement ring is inserted into the mechanism, and plays Mendelssohn's "The Wedding March".
Friday, November 13, 2009
Now I know that some of you will remove The Lite from your preset stations on the radio dial in your car, but not me. I love it.
I love Christmas music. Even the cheesy stuff. Maybe especially the cheesy stuff. Christmas music, by its very nature, is happy, uplifting music. I don't think I've ever heard depressing Christmas music and if you have, please do not tell me about it. I don't want to know.
Go ahead. Give it a listen. You know you want to. Just click the picture.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I realized as I was getting dressed this morning and I was feeling a bit cranky and tired (a winning combination, to be sure) that maybe I was feeling so sensitive because Nana passed away four months ago today and I'm starting to prepare for the holidays and I miss her so much.
I had this realization as I was thinking that I should pick up the phone and call her today to discuss Christmas plans and fruitcake. Except I can't. And then I got really sad. But my day was too busy to feel my sadness until right now. So now I feel it and there's a part of me that wishes I could just put it back in the bottle I keep it so well confined to.
But the good news is that I've made it through four months. I didn't know how I would make it four days at the beginning. Most days I only acknowledge that I miss her and don't feel intense the intense sadness I feel at this moment. And that's a huge victory over a month ago. I even laugh again.
The sadness will pass soon and I'll be fine again. Thanksgiving and Christmas won't be the same this year, but I'll enjoy being with my family and knowing that Nana is with us in spirit.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This week is especially busy with my annual Mary Kay Holiday Open House this weekend, but I digress.
Anyway, Little Merry Sunshine will return with it's regularly scheduled blog post on Monday, at the latest. I promise. If you're good, I may post over the weekend. I've got some great posts coming in the next few weeks including my annual holiday gift guide, which is not to be confused with my own personal holiday wish list, Little Merry Sunshine's Rules of the Road, and a number of other surprises. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.
While you're missing me (and I'm sure you will), take a peek over at my good friend Bergsie's awesome blog Kittens Farting Rainbows. She delightful and witty and oh my gawd so smart. You'll adore her just as much as I do.
Just don't forget to come back on Monday. And in case you can't remember how you got here, just click here for instructions.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
But not me. Sesame Street was not allowed in my house. I don't know why. I also wasn't allowed to watch The Electric Company, but Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Captain Kangaroo were okay, in limited amounts.
Anyway, happy birthday to Sesame Street!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
First up, Congressman Todd Akin (MO-10) led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance:
He was obviously pretty excited about getting to the God part.
Contrary to what Congressman Akin believes, this bleeding-heart liberal doesn't go crazy when people say the Pledge, I go crazy when they don't know the words.
Next House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH-8) motivated the masses by quoting the Preamble to the Constitution.
Now I'm certainly no Constitutional Scholar, but I did pass 8th Grade Social Studies and my teacher, Ms. Peterson, would be very happy to know that I can still tell the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the United States Constitution (I scored a 100% on that test, but you knew that). I also still have the Schoolhouse Rock song in my head.
And here's the Declaration of Independence:
It sure would be nice if our elected officials knew what every 8th grader knows.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Thanks to this instructional video, there's now an answer that even MacGyver himself could learn from.
It's not in English, but I don't think any translation or French skills are necessary.
Thanks Bergsie for the heads-up on this video!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
It was a day filled with hope and promise and general good feeling. People were civil, cordial and patient. They smiled at one another. Making our way through the Chicago with millions of people on Election Night, everyone was polite, dancing in the streets, and I don't remember hearing of any violence. People from all walks of life came together to celebrate the promise of hope and change and the new day that America had woken up to. I remember a feeling of seeing the world in crisp high-def color once again, rather than the grainy monotone images of the previous 8 years.
A year later I am still filled with that hope. I don't agree with 100% of the actions President Obama has taken. He's moved a bit slower than I would have liked. I'd prefer single-payer healthcare for everyone. I think DOMA and DADT are ridiculous and hate that our country treats anyone as second-class citizens, even if it's in limited ways. I'd like Gitmo closed now and for us to be completely out of Afghanistan and Iraq. I'd like to see some action on immigration reform. I'd like some tougher regulations for Wall Street. And for certain, I wish more jobs were created yesterday and over the last 9 months and that the economy were stronger.
But change doesn't happen in an instant. The decision to make change happens in an instant, but change itself takes time. Especially when we don't live in a dictatorship. Although there are moments when I feel like screaming "Obama won, get over it, sit down, and shut up!" to the people who seem to be hate-filled, I don't. You know, they're the folks carrying guns to town hall meetings and still filing frivolous lawsuits claiming President Obama isn't a natural born citizen and spewing lies about the health care reform and claiming he wrote a thesis about his disdain for the Constitution and generally engaging in fear-mongering.
Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post has summed up the last 9 months quite nicely. The only thing I would add is that the first piece of legislation signed into law by President Obama was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. As a woman, I applaud this move and can only say it's about time. President Obama has made great strides in repairing America's reputation around the world and as my mom always said, "you're nothing without your reputation." No longer being the laughing stock of the world is priceless.
I still believe in hope and if I've gained anything over the last year it is a reinforced belief in my favorite quote from the Bible. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 (KJV). I still have a great deal of faith. Faith and hope keep me going when times are tough. And for those of us who so strongly believed in President Obama's promise, we still need to keep working, holding him accountable, and holding onto our faith. The journey didn't end just because the election did.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Yes, a pimp. And he was wearing the bling pictured below.
A few years, but more likely a few seconds later, I recovered my ability to speak and just said, "well, isn't that cute!"
Then I was reading the Huffington Post and learned that tween idol Miley Cyrus's 9-year-old sister was all decked out as a dominitrix at a recent Halloween fundraiser.
By the way, the worst part of this picture, in my opinion, is the Mattel sign behind Miley's little sister. Mattel, the maker of Uno, Polly Pocket, Fisher Price, Barbie and Hot Wheels. Of course, maybe mini-Miley was attempting to dress up as Black Canary Barbie, but Black Canary Barbie is not for kids, so I hope not. So here's a 9-year old completely over-sexualized at a party sponsored by the largest toy maker in the country.
What in the Hell is wrong with parents?
How do these Halloween costumes just happen? These are children. Little children at that. They do not have any way to make or purchase their own costumes so there had to have been an adult involved. They don't sneak out dressed as Elmo and change clothes at a friend's house (not that I ever did that). Mom and Dad must have been involved in these costume decisions.
When I was a kid, Halloween costume negotiations went something like this:
Me: Mom, I want to be Wonder Woman. Can you buy me a costume?So how did the conversations go in the households of these kids?
Mom: How about you just wear one of my old dresses and a wig and go as me?
6-year-old boy: Yo, Mom & Dad! I wanna be a pimp. Go buy me some threads!Why didn't these parents say no? Where was any thought as to what was age-appropriate? What happened to parenting?
9-year-old girl: Mom & Dad, I want to look like a dominatrix street walker this year. Can you make me a costume?
Mom & Dad: Sure! It's never to early to oversexualize the kids.
Now I know it's easy for me to criticize because I don't have kids, but most of my friends do and not one of them would let their kids dress like this. They all had adorable age-appropriate costumes, as did the vast majority of the kids who stopped by my house yesterday.
Kids grow up way too fast these days as it is. I just don't see the need for them to be older than they are on Halloween too.