Friday, December 15, 2017

Blueberry Moments

My friend Kristi and I walked briskly
down our local trail, somewhat 
euphoric at the gift of 50 degrees
on this Minnesota December day.

{It would be 20 degrees colder and
snowing by that evening.}

December is full of contradictions 
like this -- both physically and

Light and shadows.
Joy and sadness.
Present moments and the
presents of cherished
memories from the past.

As our unseasonably warm
walk took us back to our parked
cars, we were talking recipes
and blueberries.

My friend's teenage son, Jake, 
 had loved these sweet gems.

I still buy the huge packs of
blueberries when I see them at
Costco, Kristi said wistfully.

I don't know why.  

Touching her sleeve gently, I replied,
You are enjoying them for both of you.

This blueberry moment reminded
me of things I encounter daily that
bring to mind someone dear who
has passed away.

Especially during the holidays.

A favorite carol.
A sparkly pin.
The scent of fir trees.
A special game.
A delicious cookie.
A cuddly blanket.
The first snowfall.
A cozy fire.

Moments that I now savor not
only for myself, but also for the
beloved one not physically
here anymore.

With the four-year anniversary
of Jake's death approaching,
I wanted to do something that
would bring Kristi comfort.

Remembering the blueberry
conversation, I searched online
for a blueberry charm.

Imagine my surprise when this
search revealed many sites
selling glass blueberry charms,
which are meant

to symbolize and honor a
mother's loss of a baby.

I had no idea.

In the end, I decided against the
charm, as I wanted my friend to 
focus on the joy her boy had
given her, and not on the loss.

Instead, I delivered hugs, a
framed poem and a big bag of
chocolate-covered blueberries.

Light and shadows melded as
we talked, the Kleenex box
between us, sprinkled with
blueberry moments of 
remembrance, joy and love.

Wishing you all of these gifts as we
embrace this paradoxical, bittersweet,
but oh so beautiful time of the year,
holding close both those who
we can touch with our hands and
those who remain in our hearts.

I carry you with me
into the world,
into the smell of rain
& the words that dance
between people.....
& for me, it will always
be this way,
walking in the light,
remembering being
alive together.

-Brian Andreas, Living Memory


Thank you to my bestie
from across the globe
for the lovely poem 

{all photos my own}

Friday, December 1, 2017

Princess Kate

A brunette, with soulful brown 
eyes, she is stopped on the street 
nearly every day, praised for her
 beauty and grace.

Waited on and adored by her
manservant, this princess lives a
life of ease, although she is quick
to dispense kisses upon request.

However, her fine and distinguished 
pedigree cannot cover up a
serious character flaw.

Kate is a serial moocher.  

This princess
will eat anything.....

A whole loaf of garlic bread,
including the foil.

An entire bag of uncooked egg noodles.

And (SO un-ladylike) --

As you may have guessed, I'm
not talking about that Princess Kate,


This Kate belongs to my parents.

One of her more heinous mooches
happened on my husband's birthday,
when she snuck into their kitchen and
ate half of his 
chocolate birthday cake.

Two layers of chocolate cake
topped with chocolate frosting.

Not surprisingly, Princess Kate
became very ill, but did recover fully.

She was a lucky pup.  Other dogs who
consume that amount of chocolate,
which is toxic to dogs, might not be.

The grandkids in attendance were
scared by Kate's illness.  Many didn't
know that other human foods,
in addition to chocolate, can make
dogs very sick.

That day, Princess Kate became 
my muse!

I researched what common human foods
can be toxic for dogs and wove that
information into a cautionary, but 
not scary, tale for children and 
their parents called
Kate Takes The Cake.

(I'm soooo excited to finally
share it with you!!)

The whimsical pictures that help tell 
the story were created by a brilliant 
illustrator, Charity Russell, who
brought my story to life from
 her studio in Bristol, England.

This Princess Kate, with her soulful
brown eyes and serial mooching,
will never take tea with the queen.
But I am so hopeful that the antics
which inspired this little book will
benefit many dogs and help to
keep them safe.

Nowhere is it written that you
have to be perfect
to help others.  ~ Howard Wight


Kate Takes The Cake is available
in paperback and Kindle formats
online from Amazon and B&
One dollar per paperback copy sold
will be donated to the 
Top Dog Foundation, 
which provides loving and
permanent homes for senior dogs.

If you purchase a paperback and
would like a personalized bookplate
to go with it, I'd love to send you one!
Just email your details to me at

(all photos my own)

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Color of Happy

{This post is part of the Bella Grace Magazine
Field Guide to Everyday Magic blog hop. Be
sure to click the link at the end to discover
other inspiring posts in this series ♥}

My grandmother always said
that I was born with eyes the
color of deep purple pansies,
before they slowly changed to
their ultimate shade of hazel.
I don't know if this was factual
or just wishful thinking, but
what I do know is that purple
was her favorite color.

It just made her happy.

I listened to an episode of the
Happier podcast recently that
challenged listeners to choose a
signature color. This color
wouldn't necessarily be chosen to
decorate with or to wear (although
you certainly might). And the choice
wasn't meant to be practical--it
didn't show dirt, could be mixed
and matched, etc.

It would just make you happy.

Let's say you were going to
purchase a new travel mug for
your coffee or tea, for example,
and were presented with a
multitude of colors to choose
from. Without overthinking the
decision, which color would
you be drawn to?

To me, that choice would
catch my eyes like Dorothy's
ruby slippers against a black
and white background in The
Wizard of Oz. All others would
fade in the background.

That's how I'd know.

The podcast hosts advocate
having a signature color simply
because it gives your heart a
little lift. It also makes others
happy when they begin to equate
you with that hallmark color.

For instance, my late friend
Kathleen loved robin's egg blue.
If she needed a new scarf and
it came in that particular hue,
that's what she'd choose. To this
day, when I see an item in this
color -- a mug, a charm, a sneaker,
etcetera, I'm reminded of
my pal.

And of course, I'll always
associate purple with
my Mie-Mie.

Sharing the concept of a
signature color on the trail with
my walking buddies early one
morning, they all declared
what color they'd pick for
themselves. There was little
hesitation and I loved
their answers.

Lemon yellow. Raspberry
pink. Indigo blue.

What would yours be, they asked?

I sifted thoughtfully through
my favorites, but told them
I honestly wasn't sure.

Back at home, as I prepared
to leave for the day, the answer
became obvious as I gathered
up my things. My travel mug,
wallet and sunglass case were
all variations on my very
own signature color.

Except it wasn't a single
color, but a bouquet of many.
Each item was a different
floral, chosen for one
reason and one reason only.

It made me happy.

And isn't it lovely, in a
complicated world, when
that's enough?

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning,
and unallied with definite form,
can speak to the soul in a thousand
different ways.
-Oscar Wilde


PS: What's your happy color?
Leave me a comment below
to be entered into my drawing
for a copy of the beautiful
new publication by Bella
Grace Magazine,

A Field Guide
to Everyday Magic.

Drawing will be October 3rd.
Please include your email,
and good luck!

(Please note, contest has
ended and comments are

A special thanks to the Happier podcast
for its ongoing inspiration.

All photos my own.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Heart-writing ♥♥♥

Recently my teenage Goddaughter,
Bella, was preparing to attend a
retreat with her youth group.

To enhance this experience, the
group leader asked Bella's close
family and friends to write her a
letter, expressing how important
she is to us, and encouraging her
on her faith journey.

I accepted enthusiastically.

Although her mom is like a sister
to me, Bella and I have never lived
in the same city. But we do see each
other every summer, and in-between
her mom keeps me up to date.

It's a wonderful thing to observe
a soul developing. Bella's was
born older than most, which I love
(and can relate to). One of our
favorite activities to do together
is scour vintage shops. We don't
always buy anything, but we do
enjoy soaking up the history and
special vibes of these places.

Old souls are like that :)

But back to the letter.

As I thought about the unique bond
that Bella and I have had over the
years, the words came easily, my
fingers flying over the keyboard,
determined to leave an impression
on her heart that reflected my own.

Have you ever written such a
letter, or received one?

If not, I urge you to do it.
Having a letter like this to hold
in your hands and look back on 
over time brings such lasting
joy to the receiver.  And giving
the gift of heartfelt words brings
equal happiness to the sender.

Because truly, we all want to hear
that we are loved and valued. Not
for outer things, like how we look
or what we have achieved, but for
simply, who we are. 

Sharing that gratitude and
admiration for someone you love
in a tangible and lasting way
doesn't have to be elaborate
or Shakespearean, just sincere.

I closed my letter to Bella with
one of my most favorite quotes.
It comes from a book called
The Last Battle.

I hope you like it, too.

Now, go write that letter. You
will never regret writing it, but
you will definitely regret
not writing it.

And this is the
marvel of marvels, 
that he called me


~ C.S. Lewis


{all pictures my own}