Every so often I post a photo of the beautiful mugs my daughter makes in Houston, Texas (among many other beautiful things). This morning as I brewed my coffee, I noticed my little tree holding mugs of her creation and decided to post. I hash tagged with several coffee tags, hoping to put in a little push for my daughter. But when I checked the hash tag, I saw in a split second how many people are truly devoted to the perfect cup. Millions of people all over the world are posting pictures of coffee-related things...favorite mugs, favorite coffee shops, sayings about coffee, images of coffee-inspired items, images of the coffee "process" from harvest to cup. Wow, it is endless! Needless to say, my picture was nowhere to be found because so many folks all over the globe were posting coffee photos along with me. It got pushed way down the ladder as soon as it was posted. I'm telling you in case you didn't know; there are some diehard coffee connoisseurs out there.
Coffee has been in my life for a very long time. I'm not quite sure when I first started drinking it, but I like most have some past memories of the magic beverage. One memory dates back to around 1972. I'm not sure if that time is exact because I came up with that particular year by the events secure in my memory. We were on vacation at the beach and my mom was with us that year. Now, that may not seem significant to you, but it is to me. My parents were separated for several years while I was in high school but that trip, in an effort to reunite with my father, my mom went with us on our family vacation. Money was an issue as it usually is with lower middle-income families, so we rented a small efficiency-type facility complete with a tiny kitchen to be able to prepare some of our meals and save money. My mom cooked breakfast for us and that is a memory I will never forget. My mom was a great cook and could make a meal from what seemed like nothing at all until she put it on the table. But my biggest (and really only) memory of that vacation is the coffee she brewed each morning. The perfect cup. I rose, donned my cute green-checked robe matching my cute green-checked nightgown (uh, I guess that's two things I remember) and poured myself a cup. I also remember dunking a perfectly-toasted piece of bread in it. I am a dunker. Give me toast, give me a donut, give me a cookie, I don't care. If it goes with coffee, I'll dunk it! I'm also a milk-dunker, but that's a whole different story.
We who love coffee all have memories of the perfect cup or the perfect coffee experience. It might've been in the dead of winter when you met a friend at a local coffee shop and entered into a coffee wonderland filled with warmth, great conversation, and a supply of the pure black infusion from an endless tap. It might be when you were snowed in one year and the amber liquid is what got you through the days of incarceration. It might even be the local Huddle House where you regularly eat breakfast (their coffee is quite good, really). I don't know what your memory is but, if you are a coffee-drinker, you know. A perfectly-brewed cup just makes life a little bit better. But on the flip side...I have memories of not-so-good coffee experiences as well. Like when I was pregnant and could not drink it. With all three of my pregnancies, even the smell of coffee brewing sent me to the toilet heaving. So sad. But once the baby was born, a great cup of coffee was once again desired and I was served one in the hospital. I'm not really sure you could call that coffee but, hey, after waiting nine months, I received it with thankfulness and didn't complain. I also remember the first date I had with the hubs where I spilled an entire cup all over my "perfectly pressed pale peach pantsuit." He remembers that one as well and reminds me on a regular basis; it was the first of many cups we've shared over the years. I remember the sad excuses we used to have in the workplace with those vending machines that dropped a paper cup down and filled it with something they called coffee, but I'm absolutely sure it was not. People won't stand for that today. If you're gonna hire me, there best be a great cup of coffee nearby to start my workday, right?
My girls are coffee snobs. They love their coffee and put a high priority on having it made just right, and enjoy trying new brands gifted by friends and discovered in their own personal travels. Me and the hubster, not so much. We have found (after much searching over the years) that 8 O'Clock coffee is the best on the market for the price (you're welcome, Eight O'Clock for the commendation). But when my children are home, or any family or friends for that matter, the conversation flows around a great pot brewed just right. A little half & half in the house, and we are in coffee heaven. Coffee is a healer, a conversation starter, a bringer-together of sorts. It mends many a broken heart, eases our worst pains, and gives our mornings the kind of start needed to make our days the best they can be. Now, if I could just get my bestie on board. She does love a good cup of cocoa though and, when hidden in a sturdy mug, you can't tell the difference! Warm drinks, warm hearts is what I say.
So to all the coffee fanatics out there, I instruct: Drink on, my friend, drink on! Let the morning drink of choice ground you (no pun intended) for the day, the week, the month! But don't ever post any pictures you think grand of the heavenly concoction, it won't do you a bit of good. Better run now, my coffee is getting cold and there's nothing worse than a cold cup of coffee, right?
Oh, no, you like frozen coffee? Nooooooo, say it ain't so!
(Postscript: My coffee was reheated no less than five times while penning this post.)
Have you ever seen a dog drool when you're about to give them a delicious treat? That happens to me when I eat chocolate. Apparently every time I pop a piece of the divine confection, I lose complete control of my salivary glands and, upon looking in a mirror, find little puddles of chocolate have accumulated in the corners of my mouth. Gross. I've been told one does this involuntarily as they get older and that other unpleasantries may come along as well. Like having unsightly gas at the most inopportune time. And not being able to hold your pee when you cough or laugh. What about leaning over to pick up something off the floor? My good friend tells me when she and her husband get in and out of the car you've never heard such a ruckus going on. Oh, the grunting and the groaning uttered! You have a little more trouble moving about, a little more trouble hearing, a little more trouble listening because you fall asleep so easily, and generally just a little more trouble doing the simple things that came so naturally in youth. I'm not sure I like all the little inconveniences getting older brings.
Recently I've pondered the act of growing older and there's a lot to be said both good and bad over this fact of life upon planet earth. We all know that the act of growing older is no respecter of persons; everyone grows older. The only alternative to growing older is growing -- well, dead, and I wouldn't consider that growth at all. So every birthday, I silently say a prayer of thanks for another year lived. However, I cannot deny that sometimes I long to go back to the days of my youth when the living seemed easier and more carefree and when I felt invincible (even though I surely was not). But then I think of the wisdom I've attained over the years and, hands down, I'll take that wisdom any old day, even with the undependability, insufficiency, and inadequacy that having an older body sometimes brings. What use is a strong body if you have no smarts about you? Where a strong body will carry you a long way in life and has much to be said for it, wisdom will carry you even farther; it might even save your life if called upon in unison with the right actions. I once heard someone ask another which they would rather have, youth or wisdom. The answer received? Well, I'd really rather have wisdom in a young body. I second that emotion. That would be the perfect scenario in a perfect world, but not reality in this one. So I choose to focus on the good of growing older. Growing older lends you opportunities that youth does not. Like drawing your Social Security (not there yet). Like being able to get into the movies cheaper (so there!). Like a senior discount at the Golden Corral. Like not having to worry as much about being misunderstood because frankly, as you age, you care less and less about what others think. Like being allowed (and forgiven) to say things you wouldn't dared have said when you were 25. As my mom got older, she lost every bit of her filter when it came to what she said. I'm not sure she ever really had a filter when it came to words, though. We never knew what was gonna come out of her mouth at any given time. And, even though, sometimes we were taken back by what she uttered, we could always count on her for a good laugh! Laughter is the true medicine that heals the (non-serious) ills of old age. Not taking yourself too seriously is the spice that flavors life, and especially as you grow older. So if you are one of the millions who have found themselves looking in the mirror lately, trying to figure out exactly how you got to this place and how quickly it seems you got here, I challenge you to focus on the good. Don't get me wrong, I know it's sometimes harder to focus on the good than the bad, but being a half-full-glass kind of girl is so much better than a half-empty-glass one. Being able to laugh at the challenges older age brings is the key to not only enduring but enjoying this time of life. And for those of you who cannot relate because you are still in the silver days of youth, just remember this: Your time is definitely coming.
One other thing that I don't especially love about getting older? All those unsightly chin hairs that seem to spring up when you know there's not a tweezer anywhere in sight. Lesson to be learned here: ALWAYS carry tweezers in your purse. One thing I love about getting older? Being able to walk on the beach in your swimsuit and not be judged for the rolls you absolutely did not have in your twenties.
So let the jiggles jiggle, the bulges bulge and the chocolate drool... here I come, Golden Years!
Yesterday was packing day and today my girl and her girl (and daddy) are headed back to their land down under (of the Honduran kind!) and, yes, it takes most of a day to strategically pack all the necessities of a three-week sabbatical including the Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, and ministry supplies received while stateside. Their trip home every year at the holidays is a time I look forward to and no matter how long they stay, it always flies by. What is that old saying time flies when you're having fun? They got that one right.
Fun is truly an understatement while this little trio is in town because I get to enjoy the things most mothers do regularly with their daughters who live nearby. Like sitting on the sofa with a cup of coffee catching up. Like lunch out with a little shopping adventure. Like watching little P play and going about a normal day, conversing over how she's grown, her latest accomplishments, and ways to tame those beautiful strawberry ringlets. Like cooking dinner together and sitting down to a meal as a family. For this short amount of time every year I get to look forward to what most moms take for granted. But in case you think I'm about to in indulge in a pity party, I definitely am not. I know all too well things have to return to the norm and I am at peace with "the norm." The norm for this nana is having all three of her kids at least 500 miles away. And, even though I would change it in a New-York minute if I could, it is what it is...and it is well with my soul.
One of the highlights of their visit every year at the holidays is that I get to photograph their annual family pictures (see my Photography Page to see more). The picture you see is one of my favorites mostly because the caption is so true. Everywhere this sweet little family goes, they hunker down and make where they are at the moment home. Traveling is a huge part of what they do, and little P has been on an airplane more times in her three years than some adults fly in a lifetime but as long as she is with her mommy and daddy, she is totally happy. Preston has a room of her own just about everywhere she goes, not necessarily because it's really her room but because she "makes it her room." While in Tampa in October, as soon as her portable crib was erected, she promptly gave everyone a tour of "her room." Of course, I might add that it was her cousin Emma's adorable room, completed in shades of aqua with a Paris-related theme, so what's not to embrace? Her room at nana and poppy's house pretty much stands as a memorial when she goes home...a memorial by way of all the toys standing still as opposed to traveling from room to room all over the house and back again. She is learning that clean-up is a daily necessity. But please don't let me find a tiny toy or one of her socks hidden away somewhere after she leaves, because that just might be cause for a nana-mini-meltdown. This visit, she dug into her auntie Abbie's old Polly Pocket toys, which entertained her for long stretches of time. Oh, those adorable tiny parts! When she came into my room with a Polly Pocket necklace on recently, I told her those belonged to Aunt Abbie and she promptly reminded me that Aunt Abbie must share! Aunty Abbie is more than happy to do exactly that.
Wherever our kids go, coming home is something they all seem to enjoy. As you well know, family is my number one priority and my first and foremost inspiration and, without family, nothing else really matters. Family is the glue that holds our society together and, for me personally, there is no greater joy than to have my entire clan gathered around a huge meal (which doesn't happen very often). I am one blessed woman to be able to call three great adults my children, and three of the most adorable kids on the planet my grandchildren. And, even though I tend to be a bit blue when they all go home, I am always planning my next adventure to see one of them and that in and of itself is reason to rejoice. Safe travels, dear ones, see you soon...
As for me? I see a trip to Houston in my very near future. Put on a pot for us, little girl, mama is coming to town!
As there are no parks close to home in Honduras, a trip to the park for Preston is all it takes to make her little day...
In the wee hours of the morning at Hartsfield. Only something this adorable is allowed to travel in her p.j.'s! (although I do see some adults who LOOK like they're traveling in their p.j.'s...what's up with that?)
I've spent the last couple of weeks taking down Christmas, cleaning, and doing a little first-of-the-year redecorating. The taking down of Christmas is always a bit sad and something I dread every year...the cleaning was a necessary evil...the redecorating is pure joy! It's probably a good thing that my budget won't allow it, but if I had money I'd completely re-do my house every few months. Home decor is my passion! I mentioned in my last post that I'm shopping for a new sofa and I did finally find one, but I have also been in the market for a new rug for my dining room.
Several days ago I was getting cash at Wal-Mart and you know how they will only give you multiples of $20's? It's that way at my bank ATM as well, and it drives me a little crazy. I mean, if I want $50 in cash, I either have to get $40 and be short $10 or get $60 and have an extra $10 in my wallet. I guess there could be worse things than having an extra $10 in your wallet. But I had gotten the $50 I needed and I've had the extra $10 looming in my wallet the last few days. Now, one reason I don't usually carry cash is because it literally burns a hole in my pocket. I can't hold onto cash for long. There is something about cash that makes me feel free and feel as though I can spend with abandon perhaps because I can't see the detailed tracking of it on my computer!! But $10 doesn't go that far today; it's challenging to even buy lunch for that. So every time I've gone into my wallet the last few days I've thought Oh, there's that $10, what can I do with it? I like having cash in my wallet! I should have known there was a greater purpose for those two slightly crumpled five-dollar bills. After all, they did manage to stay in my wallet for longer than the normal one day.
I recently spotted the rug I'd been looking for in a local discount store, but just today got back over there to purchase it. It's a blue-and-white graphic print and I've been dreaming of how it might look in my dining room. When I entered the store this afternoon, I made a beeline to the back where all the rugs, carpeting, and flooring of all kinds happily coexist. Where was my rug? I found it in the middle of a huge stack where it had been right on top when I spotted it the first time. Ugh, I was definitely gonna need some assistance. Walking back towards the front of the store I looked for an employee to help and passed a young lady wearing a store badge, but she had her lunch in hand and I was NOT gonna interrupt her lunch. I mean, I know how much lunch means to me! But it's kinda hard to find help these days you know. Much to my disappointment, establishments are becoming more and more self-service. In fact, many restaurants are installing the self-serve kiosks for order-placing. A sure sign of the times. I approached the registers in the front and a young man was walking away from his register as I walked up. I politely asked if he could fetch someone to help me with a rug and he said he would help me. Well, oky dokey, then. Let me tell you, my rug of choice was no less than 15 rugs down in that seemingly-endless stack. I guess the savings from a discount store is achieved by stacking (not hanging) the rugs. You have to be patient and work hard to find the perfect one. The young man kept peeling the rugs back one by one until he reached mine. A couple of times he had to jump on top of the huge pile like a spider monkey but, hey, he was young and fit and seemed willing enough to help a middle-aged lady with a blue-and-white rug fetish. When he finally delivered my rug out of the pile using a method I thought quite clever, he commenced to roll it up and wind transparent packing tape around the bundle. He then took the carpet roll to the front of the store where he stood patiently in line with me while I paid so he could also carry it out to my car.
Wow, was I impressed! I think you probably know where this is going. As this young store associate placed the rug in my car, I said to him "I know you might not accept tips, but I'd like to give you one for the excellent service. You made my day, and maybe this will buy you a burger (but probably nothing else)." I reached into my wallet and pulled out the $10 and handed it to the young man. Why did I do this? Well, I've been around awhile, and great service has almost become a thing of the past. What exactly did that young man do for me? So very glad you asked.
He offered to help me; he didn't ask someone else to do it, he did it himself
He did it with a smile on his face and a quiet humility
He patiently peeled back all those rugs until he found mine and didn't complain once
He rolled it up and taped it (without my asking)
He carried it to the front of the store (without my asking)
He patiently waited for me to pay (without my asking)
He carried it to my car (without my asking).
Now maybe you're thinking well, he was just doing his job (which he was). But here's the biggest thing he accomplished. He impressed a somewhat cynical middle-aged woman (I must admit at times I can be a slight cynic...hey, just keepin' it real) who was totally blown away by the service he offered and it truly did make my day better. I zipped in the store and found, bought and drove away with that beautiful rug in less than 20 minutes. It reassured me that there are still thoughtful, pleasant, hard-working, non-complaining young people in this world who are willing to offer service with a smile on their sweet little faces. Keep up the good work, little man. It'll take you far in this world.
Nothing I could've done with that $10 would've been better spent than rewarding this young man with a little extra for his exceptional service. He took the cash, thanked me, and headed back into the store with a spring in his step. I think I might've made his day as well.
The moral of this story? The extra cash that found its way into my wallet had this young employee's name written all over it, and I just thank God that I didn't spent it before I could give it to him.
Because it was beginning to warm up really fast in my pocket and it was just a matter of time.
Happy New Year! Do you have New Year's resolutions? I usually don't make them because I don't usually keep them. The best way for me to keep New Year's resolutions is for me to keep them to myself! I've said this before...if no one knows what my personal resolutions are for the New Year, then they cannot know if I failed or succeeded in the quest for change. I do not like to fail really but, if only I am aware of my failures, it's seems easier to me. Sounds like a plan.
I am all about new things. Right now I am in the market for a new sofa, but am having a hard time making up my mind. Maybe it's because I'm a cheap-o when it comes to home decor. Most who know me know that I am a do-it-yourselfer, a make-do-with-the-old philosopher, a buy-it-cheap-and-make-it-better kind of person. So with everything brand new I purchase, I have two rules of thumb: don't pay full retail & make sure it's gonna work for the space & I must really love it. Actually, that's three, isn't it? But even if I buy something secondhand or used or "pre-owned" as they say, it's new to me because I make it my very own. I paint furniture, I use things for unconventional purposes, and I swap things around in my house like a crazy woman. There is a second purpose to that last thing. If I change the furniture around often, it forces me to clean behind things and clean those dust-collecting monsters I call baseboards. I am also all about dual-purpose. If things serve a dual purpose, that works really well for me. I am a master recycler at heart.
In the quest for a new sofa, I have suffered much indecision. Probably first and foremost because I am thrifty and I want the perfect sofa for less than it's really worth, but I also have limited space in my living room. A large sectional will not do. There is also not a solid wall anywhere in the room. Every wall has a doorway, a window, or a pass-through to another room. Makes finding the right sofa and the right way to place that sofa a challenge. The hubs and I have also had differences on whether the sofa should have a recliner in it for him. Hard as I've tried, don't think that one's gonna happen. Every single sofa that has recliners is a far cry from the trendy style I want. Maybe one day he'll have the much-coveted man cave, and he can fill it with recliners, bigger and bigger TV screens and an overhead fan that'll knock him off his perch on high speed. Pure man-cave joy. But for now, we have just the one space and it is the first thing we seen in the morning when we're having our coffee and pretty much the last thing we see at night as we end our evening with a couple of reruns of King of Queens. The common living space has to please me and make me feel happy. I am all about happy.
So back to the new year. We all want change in our lives. If you are one of the few that says life is perfect, then I know a New Year's resolution for you: Stop Lying! I don't know one person who is not in need of some kind of change. Whether it's a personal goal like weight loss, a family goal such as getting out of debt, or a business change of some sort, change can motivate us to move forward, to grow, to increase in knowledge and life-experience, and to just be happier. Change is not always easy, but change I believe is almost always possible. What changes do you want to see in the new year? I challenge you to write down those changes you desire, seek out those who can help you make needed change, and then thrust yourself into it headfirst. When you really make up your mind to focus on change, accountability is a must and the simple act of just beginning is crucial. Nothing can change if you don't take the first step.
As for me, I'll file my New Year's resolutions where they belong...quietly in the folder labeled Possibilities in my mind. And, hopefully somewhere in the early months of 2016, I will pull that file, look at those hopes and dreams and look them square in the face. But first I have more important business to take care of and that is finding the perfect sofa! Shallow? Perhaps. Necessary? Absolutely.
To you and yours, I wish the very best of everything in 2016, but mostly for a life of peace, love, and tiny little joys...
And, btw, hope you like Lifethoughts' new look for 2016. My web designer says I need more pictures. So, being the photographer that I am at heart, that works for me. Many more pictures to follow...
Posted by CC
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