Monday, November 29, 2010

the grown up version

this used to be perfection.
the toasty, sugary, warm and squooshy giant marshmallow
sandwiched between
the nutty, grainy, yummy, simplicity that is graham cracker
with the creamy, sh-weetness, melt-iness that is hershey's chocolate.
oh heaven!

until... this.

this is s'more perfection, grown-up style.

3 girlfriends who haven't seen each other in a while and need a good chat
a sterno, matches and a plate
marshmallows and skewers
(we used my grandmother's roast fork instead of skewers, 'cause it's what i had on hand)

a sterno is a little can of jellified alcohol, that when lit is a non-toxic ethanol flame,
typically used in the food service to keep food piping hot.
you can buy them in camping equipment and restaurant supply stores,
and apparently at the grocery store as well.

brilliant for the apartment without a fireplace and
perfect for achieving toasty, squooshy marshmallow perfection

but wait, you say, "where are the graham cracker and hershey's chocolate?"
oh, silly grown up, graham cracker and hershey's chocolate are for kids.

as a certifiable grown up you deserve something better, something more refined...

...something a little more dark and french, with 70% cocoa.

it's the yummiest, butteriest, chocolat-iest biscuit ever,
or in other words the best thing ever to come out of france in a box.
(or at least since pommes frites. (oh wait they don't come in boxes.))
and they come in four flavors: milk, white, dark and extra dark. yay!

ladies, choose your poison. we chose extra dark. oh swoon!

the careful, studied assembly of the s'more

the squooshy, melt-iness perfection.
the bitter dark chocolate is the ideal foil to the sweet, burnt sugariness
of the toasty marshmallow. it's the perfect balance of sweetness.

the blissful, melty, sticky yumminess.

and that, dear ladies, is how you make a grown up s'more.

sorry, gentleman, but you just cannot appreciate this in the same way us ladies can.
your palates are, quite simply, not as refined as ours,
nor do you have the hormonal mood swings that only chocolate can soothe.

just kidding!
(sort of)

grown up kids of all ages will enjoy this version of the s'more!!!!

p.s. i'm thinking this would be a great little kit
to send in the mail to troops overseas for christmas.
can you imagine the smiles?

p.s.s. many thanks to TTS for this lovely concoction.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

my letter to santa

Dear Santa,

This year I’ve been somewhat good. I've accomplished many things I set out for myself this year. I've paid all my parking fines, finished paying off a big bill, apologized for being unkind a couple times to people at work who really made me mad, and generally kept my nose clean. I could have helped more people and been kinder at times, and I hope to do better.

I know most letters you receive have long lists of things that people hope to receive. In thinking about my letter to you, I’ve looked over my life and decided to send you a list of what I hope to give to others.

Time - More time spent listening, helping or just being there for someone. As I look back, more often than not, my regrets are not having spent more time with people for whom I care. I also want to be a wiser steward of the time I have.

Listening - I have trouble listening sometimes. I want to improve my ability to really listen and be there in the moment with the person I’m talking with.

Service - So many people do such nice things for me. I hope to do more nice things for others and respond to genuine needs.

Santa, dear, you truly represent the spirit of giving, I hope to live up to that spirit by giving more of myself to others in time and service, and bringing more smiles to more faces.

Good luck on Christmas Eve. I hope you have a safe journey 'round the world.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, November 26, 2010

no shopping for me

i avoided the shopping frenzy completely today and for this i'm thankful.

the only purchases i made were at the post office to mail my niece's their birthday treasures, and dinner with a good friend home safe and sound from afghanistan.

make your own christmas wreath, directions here

notting hill

i lived in london for a year and a half. i've walked most of the streets, and lived very near to the neighborhood where this movie was filmed. i love this movie, because it takes me home to london every time i watch it. it's also a great story and well acted.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The unthankful heart discovers no mercies;
but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.
-- Henry Ward Beecher

There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy.
-- Ralph H. Blum

there is much for which to be thankful this year. life is good. i am healthy. i have a good job or two, and work with good people. i have good friends who help me when i need it. my faith in god is growing every day. and i have a great family.

happy thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

be here

there is a stillness in the city tonight. people left the city in droves today, leaving behind the quiet feeling of less people and more space. i like holidays in the city.

today i am thankful to be here, right where i am.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

thanks for

cold medicine

hot lemon & honey tea

chicken noodle soup and toast

diet canada dry ginger ale

warm apple cider

my nice warm bed

and sleep.

yes, i will feel better in the morning.


Every so often I meet an artist who is a maestro. Last night, my friend, SS, had her piano tuned and invited me over for dinner to meet her tuner. She knows my love of the piano because of my choice for book group last December.  Here are two of my recent favorites about pianos: The Piano Shop on the Left Bank and A Romance on Three Legs. SS knew I would have a good time watching and listening to a piano being tuned.

The piano tuner was bright, funny and talented. Not only could he play beautifully and tell funny stories, he could also tune a piano well. I love listening to all the tones and intervals come together in perfect harmony as a tuner works. I know I'm a little weird, mais c'est moi.

A German-made piano from the late 19th century
Pianos today aren't as fancy on the inside.

The Chilean business card on the inside of the piano,
which was put there by the piano man in Santiago who bought
and restored the piano before my friend bought it.

He used wool muting felt to mute the strings, so he could tune each one individually.
One of the beauties of a piano is how the strings interact with each other when struck.
But when tuning the piano, it's important to minimize the sounds other keys make while initially tuning individual keys. Then it's important to listen to how it all works together to create harmony.

Each of the 88 keys has three strings that must be tuned.
You do the math!

The tuning lever at the ready.
Okay, each pin manages all three strings, so it's not as daunting as it could be.

The expert at work.
By the way, he speaks four languages... Italian, Spanish, French and Portuguese
all the Romance languages; a true Renaissance man.

Now he's testing the final product. I wish I could have recorded him playing.
Once he had the piano tuned, the sound completely changed.
It was a rich, velvety, chocolate sound with so much depth, it made my heart yearn for an old piano.
They just don't make'em like they used to...

My friend, SS, always has him play the piano before he leaves.
Last night she had a special request. Her favorite hymn, Come, Thou Fount.
He played and I sang to her and her sister in Thailand on speaker phone.

It was a fun, educational evening spent in the best of company.
Thank you, SS!!!

'My idea of good company...
is the company of 
clever, well-informed people,
who have a great deal of conversation;
that is what I call good company.'
'You are mistaken,' said he gently,
'that is not good company, that is the best."
(Jane Austen, Persuasion)

p.s. today i am thankful for good friends who are the best of company
and particularly because i have so many of them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

thank you for babies

Today I help the yummiest little baby while his mommy, my friend KC, directed class at church. Baby F was absolutely the calmest, happiest little one I've held in a while, and only fussed when he got really tired. I took one look at his tired little face, stood up and cuddled him in the crook of my arm as I rocked him back and forth. He snuggled right in and looked up at me with his big brown eyes, smiled with relief and thanks, and then closed his eyes. Within moments he was fast asleep and didn't move for the next thirty minutes. He woke up totally happy and didn't even fuss at all when he realized I wasn't his mommy. He just smiled, played with my jewelry and made happy baby noises until class was over and I returned him to his mother. It was the best hour of church in a long time.

Today I am thankful for babies and how much love they give.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

i am thankful for

waking up at 0500 this morning without an alarm and not feeling tired

leaving the house as the sun rose to meet new friends at BOMF

walking and talking and dancing with new friends on the mall this morning

homemade waffles in my freezer heated up in my toaster oven and covered in cream cheese, fresh raspberries and syrup - total decadence

saturday house cleaning

being caught up on laundry

a long pre-winter nap

watching HP7.1 & lovin' it yesterday

fresh flowers

whole foods white bean turkey chili - seriously, sooo good

homemade pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips & raisins & pecans & cream cheese frosting

pink fuzzy slippers + cotton-cashmere blend socks = happy feet

quiet time to read and listen to this

for a good day.

until everything is right

if you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything. ~~win borden

This is so true. The boundaries I put around myself are so ridiculous and stifling. And when I look back, in some instances, it's with a bit of regret and sadness for allowing myself to sit and do nothing because I was waiting for everything to be right.

Here's an example: I am working on singing again. There is a part of me that says that in order to sing I need a piano, that I can't sing seriously until I have a piano and that it wouldn't be right for me to work on singing without a piano. In reality, my voice doesn't sound any better or worse with a piano. A piano is a useful tool for when I can't quite hear the notes in my head and can't get them to come out right. However, a piano could be a distraction from the singing itself, because I love to play the piano and it's easier than singing.

Singing is scary for me at times. I'm trying to work through this. It's hard to open my heart up that much and put all that naked emotion out for the world to see. I makes me uncomfortable and just a little afraid. I feel like singing is the opening of Pandora's box, and I'm not quite sure what will come out. And now I'm thinking that I don't need to be worried about what comes out, because in the end what was left in the box was hope.

But in order to find the hope, the box had to opened.

Friday, November 19, 2010


today, i am thankful for the moment of calm when i crawl into bed and create a cocoon of perfect warmth for sleeping. that moment of calm in which i revel in the peace and quiet, and think for a moment about my hopes for the next day. the best part, is that today, the next day is saturday and i get to do anything i want.

heart & souls

I love this movie!  It's on my top 10 favorite movies of all time list.

It's cheesy, corny and sappy but with lots of heart, great moments of hilarity and a timeless message about seizing life by the horns and living every moment to the fullest.  Plus it's Robert Downey, Jr. and he's simply fantastic.
Heart and Souls will grab your heart and soul!

Yep, this is a post full of cliches...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

i am thankful

for a good day where i learned a lot about myself and dealing graciously with criticism.

simple, right?

My deep thoughts for the day...

This week I've been in training to become a leadership advisor for a drug and alcohol program. Today in class we were asked, at the end of a very broad, long and dry presentation, "True or False: Can we win the war on drugs?" Most in the class answered no. I however answered yes, and was laughed at incredulously by some of the members of the class.  Here's how I defended my answer: Yes, we can win the war on drugs one person at a time.

The war on drugs that I can fight and win is on an individual basis with people. I can't go to Mexico to broker peace with the drug cartels, to Afghanistan to convince farmers to stop planting poppies and funding the local Taliban and hence world terrorist organizations, or to Colombia to stop the cocaine trade. I can work with individuals who come to me or are referred to me for help, and point them in the right direction to get help, and I can help to educate people before they make these choices.  That's the part I have control over and the possibility of me winning this part is there, difficult, but not impossible.

Someone laughed when I said that we can win one person at a time, and used the analogy of the starfish on the beach. Yep, it's true we can't throw all of them back in the ocean, but to the ones we throw back in the ocean a difference has been made. Another person accused me of being a Democrat, as if they have the corner on individualism... Nonetheless, I stand by my answer. We can win, one person at a time.

I get frustrated sometimes by the lack of vision when it comes to managing personnel administration programs within organizations. Sure, part of managing a program is to monitor statistics and apply the over arching policies. However, unless the application of the program is distilled to simple terms, then the point is missed, and the point with this particular program about which I'm learning is people. How to educate a person to think about his or her choices. How to help them when they don't make the right choice. How to determine if they deserve a second chance or if the policy will allow a second chance. How to hold them accountable when their actions don't uphold the standards and values of the organization. We have to apply programs to people and on an individual basis when we can.

People are the most important part of any program and by losing sight of how to apply programs to people, then we lose sight of the people.

But, people are not the simplest element to deal with. I get this. People have to want to change and even then they may not choose to, I get this too. I get that sometimes I won't be able to help someone in the ways they truly need to be helped, because of the parameters of the program I'm dealing with. That's life and sometimes, well a lot of the time, it's not ideal. That's okay, and I can deal with that, as long as I know that I did my part.

Thanks for reading. I just had to get this off my chest today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

a nap

today it was hard to settle down and reflect on gratitude. i was very tired today for some reason and i had a difficult time concentrating.

my class ended early today and so i came home, changed clothes, and took a nap. the original plan had been to go for a run but the almost 40 mph winds convinced me that a nap was the better choice.

a mid-afternoon nap in the middle of the week was complete decadence for me today and for this i am thankful.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

walk in their shoes

Today I attended an AA meeting. It was a homework assignment for the DAPA course I am in this week. To say the least it was an eye opening experience.

I am so thankful for my life right now. And I am so thankful for choosing the life that I have. I am thankful for the chance to change the way I see people and their trials, for the chance to consciously drop judgment at the door, and for knowing we truly are all God's children and He loves us no matter what.

and the winning photo is

Recall my request last week for input on which photo was your favorite?

Well the winner was number 7!

Here it is straight out of the camera.
The only treatment was cropping it a bit.

Here it is after running the Warmify effect function on Picasa 3.
I think I like this better.

Thanks for sharing your opinions!
It was fun to read what you all thought.

Thanks SD for your great photography skills.

Monday, November 15, 2010

a finishing touch

When I saw this...

I fell in love. I wanted it on my wall.

I splurged.
It was on sale and I had a coupon!

I love this on the wall my above the couch.
I think it definitely finishes the space and fills in the blank very nicely.
More home decor to come...

a body

...therefore glorify God in your body...

I've been thinking about this scripture every since I heard it in General Conference in October. Granted most interpretations of this scripture talk about consecrating one's life to God and sanctifying the body and spirit in service to God.  However, when I heard this scripture my mind went in a bit of a different direction.

I had just finished two months of intense physical training and my body was in pretty darn good shape. I was tired, very tired, and wondering how I could maintain the shape I was in and not kill myself with every workout. When I heard, "...glorify God in your body..." I immediately thought of all the hard work I had put into strengthening my body and taking care of it during the training.  And I wondered if by maintaining a healthy and strong body was I glorifying God in my body. I think the answer is yes.

Our bodies are a gift from God. There are so many promises of strength and health, if we refrain from injuring ourselves with harmful substances and activities, and concentrate on healthy foods and activities. I know that many people struggle with health problems and physical limitations of all kinds and that sometimes it may not feel like a blessing from God to have that body.  I think that God just wants us to work with what we have and do our best. I think that God wants us to listen to ourselves and learn what our bodies need in order to feel the best we can.  When we do this and invite him to help, he will bless us.

I love how I feel when I'm out for a run, my lungs are expanding as I breath in and out, my leg muscles are burning from going up the hill and the endorphin high kicks in. It's a good feeling. It makes me happy, clears my head and makes me want to eat healthy, do some pushups and even some situps which I hate. The feeling of having worked hard and pushed myself a bit to do better on a run or other workout is a good one, and I think God feels a bit of glory when I seek to keep his gift to me healthy.

I'm having a hard time figuring out how to write what I'm trying to say.  So, here's the simple version:

Today I am very thankful for a healthy, strong body that pretty much does what I want it to do.  I am thankful I can use my body to run, sing, dance and have fun.  I am thankful for the body I have right now.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

the landlord

i am thankful for the landlord who fixes stuff in my apartment.  right now he's fixing the cabinet front in the kitchen that was falling off.  yay!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

chocolate shoes...

this post is dedicated fondly to tara.
~ ~ ~
Chocolate is no ordinary food. It is not something you can take or leave, something you like only moderately. You don't like chocolate. You don't even love chocolate. Chocolate is something you have an affair with.
~~Geneen Roth, Feeding the Hungry Heart

and then there's chocolate shoes...

i'd wear or eat a pair of these. wouldn't you?

i am thankful for chocolate and shoes.
i know totally frivolous, but what's life without a little frivolity?
i am thankful for frivolity.

Friday, November 12, 2010

clean and water

today i am thankful for clean and water.  and not for any reason in particular, just that i was thinking about the places i've been where people have a hard time getting water and therefore getting clean. we really are so blessed to be able to turn a tap and have clean water come out. so many places in the world don't have this luxury.

well, i do use a filter for my tap water here in dc--it's kind of necessary.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


you know that feeling of having accomplished something worthwhile? well, today i am thankful for a feeling of accomplishment and completeness. even if it's only for having finally organized my sock drawer...

but seriously i got a lot done around my apartment today. i switched out my summer stuff for the winter stuff and thinned out the closet and drawers of summery things that i never wore and took it all to the donation box around the corner. i cleaned my refrigerator. deep cleaned the bathroom. got my new uniform ready for the drill weekend. caught up on my ironing and organized my sock drawer. i love the feeling of having an organized and clean home. i am also thankful today for my home.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

This prayer takes on a whole new meaning when standing in a prayer circle with people who have lost their homes and themselves, and who are trying to get back on their feet.  I am thankful for second chances, for being lifted up and that I have the means to help lift.

from my run this morning with BOMF

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

attitude of gratitude

i am thankful for more light in the morning.
it helps me wake up.

(even though i am not a fan of the end of daylight savings)

Monday, November 8, 2010

attitude of gratitude

...that ye live in thanksgiving daily,
for the many mercies and
blessings which he doth bestow upon you.
~Alma 34:38

i am thankful for choosing to focus on specific things in my life for which i'm thankful each day this month.  the feelings i have as i think about this are humbling and this makes me more aware of Him in my life every day.  already i can feel a difference.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

i need your opinions please

my good friend sd wants to improve her portrait photography
and i was a willing subject on which she practiced.
the bonus: lots of really great photos.

help me choose a favorite.

i have secret and i'm dying to tell you.

i'm not going to look at the camera.

i can't decide between this one or...

this one... yes there are subtle differences

 america's next top model eat your heart out...

i love fall!

i like this one.

candid is good too.

which ones do you like?  leave comments and feedback please.

attitude of gratitude

i am thankful for sleep,
deep, rejuvenating sleep.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

a heavenly day

fall in northern virginia is heavenly.
click on the photos to see them better.

 the views along skline drive in shenandoah national park


and to end the day while posting photos for y'all...

heaven in a glass.
almost as good as heavenly cider from paradise. 

attitude of gratitude

saturday is a special day!
it's the day we get ready for sunday...

i love saturday and am thankful for a free day once a week.

Friday, November 5, 2010

attitude of gratitude

i am thankful
for quiet
moments of

That sweet, quiet voice of inspiration comes
more as a feeling than it does as a sound.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

attitude of gratitude

    i am thankful for pansies.
    such happy little flowers
    perfect for fall in dc

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

attitude of gratitude

singing is fun!
i'm thankful i can and that i am working again to get my voice back in shape.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

attitude of gratitude

i am thankful for the 19th amendment which guarantees me the right to vote.
can you believe that it was only 90 years ago that this happened here in the u.s.!

life's a dance

amazing photography of dancers in the most ordinary of scenes in busy cities.  enjoy!

 see more images at

see more images at

dance your way through life and smile