OUR LIVES HAVE GONE TO THE DOGS

 

Buster and Duchess

OUR LIVES HAVE GONE TO THE DOGS….and we like it! For several weeks we have been involved in a couple of time demanding events and I have noticed the changes in our life. Greg and I have discussed for several months about moving to his hometown and the area where most of our family is located, eight wonderful grandchildren included. This plan has been put into place and we have signed a contract for a home. Now we have polished, cleaned, de-cluttered, and readied our beautiful home to sell it and move on to the new adventure. I prepare you with our primary, or at least what I thought was, objective but stage left enter Duchess, our latest rescue dog and the excitement and focus has been detoured in a moment and has taken center stage.

Duchess hugging me

One afternoon I noticed someone posted that a small dog (rat terrier to be exact) was spotted on a four lane highway with insane traffic at that time of day and was scared and hanging behind a dumpster. It has been extremely hot so I sent my husband to rescue this little fur baby. I will never forget how she was shaking when he brought her in and how many fleas were on that sweet girl. She apparently had been exposed to the elements for an extended time as her nails were entirely too long and she was very skinny. We went through the checks and notices and no claims so we decided she must have been allotted to us through a higher power.

Duchess Miller

It wouldn’t be a complete narration if I didn’t give, as Paul Harvey would say, “Now for the rest of the story”. Buster, who is our rescued Papillon mix, and who we have worked with on his social skills. Buster who is absolutely a dog of his own kind.  He came to us as a three pound black bundle who favored a miniature bear cub when we had our rescued Yorkie, Bandit and that is an entirely different story for a future time.  Back to Duchess and Buster’s adventure. For some reason, Buster sensed the fear in Duchess when she came that night and he didn’t do his usual non stop barking when someone or something enters our home. He was curious but we kept them apart until she stopped shaking and began eating. Eat she did, until we had to stop her to prevent her body rejecting too much food too soon. For two days, she slept and ate but showed so much appreciation to have been saved. Then the fun began. She did not accept Buster’s rejection to playing, she kept on until he joined in and the chase/playing was on. It goes on every day for over an hour they spend in and out of the house (we have a doggie door for easy access for them) and even on our bed to show off their alligator mouths and it is not aggressive but playfulness.

Buster with bear

This would be a good story but maybe not a fantastic story if it were not for the fact we are showing our home and are trying to keep it immaculate for potential buyers. Last night, we were blessed with a rain and I haven’t witnessed Duchess going out in the rain. At least, until with shiny floors, freshly laundered comforters on bed, shampooed rugs, and then here she came, soaking wet and running wild through the home. I ran to get a big towel and the fresh rain had to have given her some kind of thrill because she thought I was playing with the towel. I saved the house’s shiny condition but when it was over, I lay on the bed thinking it was over. Not! Charged up, she found Buster and enticed him  to their nightly romp which I videoed the portion on the bed.

As I started this blog post, we are deeply involved with selling our home and feeling positive but we are deeply involved with all of the doggie love too. I think we may have been blessed with this distraction to minimize any stress that usually comes with selling; we have our fur babies playing.

Duchess Miller(C) Copyright 2012-2017 Arline Miller with all rights and privileges reserved. If third party material is used, the original location with links is present on blog for reference credit. Photos may or may not be property of Sipping Cups of Inspiration.

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ALONE? IS THAT WORKING FOR YOU?

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ALONE? IS THAT WORKING FOR YOU?  This post may be slightly confusing until I have assembled all collective thoughts for a deep thought provoking subject.  No, this is not a dating website ad but I wonder how many of you, single or in a relationship, feel alone?

Life has a way of isolation if we allow it. We may withdraw from society and not necessarily from social media as we find that is a safe way to be alone. On social media, we can disguise our personal and real feelings. I have heard many times from my blog and my Facebook posts the question, “Are you really positive or faking it?” Good or bad, I am a positive person with reality checks.

Many people are alone while they are in relationships and quit communicating with their significant others. I would like to remind us to think back to when you were first together or even better, when you dated. How many times did you look at your phone and hope for a call? How long did you talk when you got the call and/or made the call? How many times did you read a card you received from your mate? Why did you stop?

Old couples in love

Here is a great guide to communication (click on link to go to the original article and I think it is a great way to go through a practice run and see if you are communication to the fullest level:

Love and communication: 11 expert tips for a better marriage

On the school playground, you probably gave your sweetheart a paper heart with “I like u a LOT” painstakingly scribbled on it in your favourite crayon colour. Since then, you’ve come a long way in terms of communicating your love to your spouse. But even the best marriage can benefit from a little spark. This month, we chatted with relationship experts and life coachesfor easy, practical tips on enhancing communication within a marriage, as well as special ways to express your love.

Enhance your communication

  1. If you and your spouse have a disagreement, explain what’s bothering you in a non-accusatory manner. “Use all the restraint you can muster to not say, ‘You never’ or ‘You always,’ ” suggests Sally Landau, a certified life coach.
  2. But sometimes, discretion is okay. “Everything in your head does not need to be said,” says Stephanie Staples, a motivational speaker and wife of 22 years. “I know you think you will explode, but . . . ask yourself if what you are about to say is going to help or hurt your relationship.”
  3. Have an attitude of gratitude. “Recent studies . . . reveal that gratitude benefits both the giver and the receiver,” reports Todd Reed, a communication coach and author. “When either of you does something nice for the other – lets you sleep in, washes the dishes when it’s your turn – take a second to show appreciation. Even if you’re just saying thanks for the small stuff, it can go a long way in solidifying your relationship.”
  4. Use “hot words” when things get heated . “Never respond when you are angry – leave the room or the house if you need to cool off,” advises Elle Swan, an international speaker and life coach. “Establish a ‘hot word’ that each person can use to let the other person know, ‘I am angry and we need to stop talking.’ ” Examples of hot words include “cancel” or “break.” Once you’ve both calmed down, resume the conversation. “The best way to fully understand what your spouse is saying,” she says, “is to ask clarifying questions. A clarifying question always begins with, ‘What I hear you saying is . . . . Is that correct?’” This will give your spouse a chance to either agree or clarify what they meant. “The goal is to always communicate with a calm, level head.”
  5. Express your needs or wants clearly. “You did not marry your clone,” notes Debbie Mandel, a radio host and author of Addicted to Stress. “So, be specific when communicating to your spouse. Do not take for granted that he or she has read your mind or intuits what you want.”

Show how much you love your spouse

  1. Write a love note – the classic way to express yourself, and a practice that has slowly been replaced in our modern times. “In an age of virtual communication,” says Farrah Parker, an interpersonal communications instructor at California State University, “couples may benefit from giving and/or receiving a handwritten note – not an email, not a text message, but an actual pen and paper.”
  2. Take a class together. “Couples who are not engaged in any joint activities,” says Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, a marriage and family psychotherapist and author, “are living ‘parallel lives’ like young children in parallel play; there is no real connection. Without joint time and activities, intimacy suffers.” The benefits are many. “Learning together alleviates boredom, routine and the doldrums,” she says, “and allows us to see our spouse in a different light. This keeps the creative juices flowing, making a person more interesting. It also allows for new and interesting conversations, whether during the activity and/or after it.” O’Neill specifically recommends taking a cooking class, because the act of making a meal and enjoying it together creates a sense of security and safety in your marriage.
  3. Go beyond simple “I love you” remarks. “Use character-quality language,” suggests Susanne Alexander, a marriage coach. “When couples say specifically, ‘I love how enthusiastic (or courageous, or caring, or thoughtful . . .) you are,’ it goes right to the heart. Add specifics about what actions were taken and it works like giving gold.”
  4. Dates – even cheap fast-food ones – are important. “You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy time with your spouse,” says pastor Ryan Dalgliesh, author of Love Notes: A Biblical Look at Love. “Plan a regular night each week that you can call a date night. As a poor preacher, our monthly budget is $100. Once a month, we go to a nicer restaurant. The other three weeks, we hit up Chick-Fil-A or Subway. We just make a point to have time alone. It is always very refreshing.”
  5. But you can even make a date night at home, even with your kids. “Many couples are harried at the end of the day and dinner gets thrown on the table,” says Michael Jonas, who creates conversation-starting board games for couples along with his wife, Barbara. Make a more intimate atmosphere at the dinner table with matching dishware, a sprig of flowers and softer lighting. “These specific things calm the day’s end and invite conversation – even with children, who often learn from what they observe their parents do rather than what their parents say.”
  6. Make a souvenir that celebrates a special moment that you and your spouse shared. “Find a favourite photograph of the two of you and have it printed on a mouse pad or a large magnet,” says Jason Coleman, author of Discovering Your Amazing Marriage. “I did this almost seven years ago with a photo we took at the beach one summer. At the local office supply store, I found a box of printable magnetic paper. I made a large refrigerator magnet with our picture on it, from our home computer and printer . . . and it’s still on our fridge to this day!”

Now for my deeper thought: I posted this message on Facebook and it says it all:

Wednesday Morning Thought: We are not alone. In the darkest night or the brightest day, we are blessed to have Our Heavenly Father watching, protecting, and overseeing us. If you feel small and unappreciated, think about how important you must be to God to have his attention every minute of every hour of every day. Seek His guidance in all things, large and small and trust that whatever is in your heart is felt by God. How wonderful to know this personally! How magnificent is God’s power and strength! If we feel God’s presence in our life, existence becomes more than mere existence but a loving relationship. One of my favs: “King James Bible Psalms 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Today, I plan on taking some time and be still. I have so much to be thankful and I want to tell God how wonderful He is in my life. Have a blessed, thankful day as you have been blessed to be alive and reading this…Take advantage of the blessing you have received. I am going to do the same!

(C) Copyright Arline L Miller with all rights and privileges reserved. All third party material is sourced to original location for reference credit. Photos are not property of Sipping Cups of Inspiration unless stated.

CERTAIN FOODS TAKE ME HOME

CERTAIN FOODS TAKE ME HOME. Several times during the past few weeks and always on the holidays I make dishes which have a strong attachment to my childhood and early adulthood. Yesterday was no exception when I made salmon patties. Even though I make my dish a little different from my Mom’s delicious salmon patties. My mind went back to the days when she would make them and the house smelled so wonderful. I smiled when my husband said, “I love the smell!” My Mom loved to hear someone compliment her cooking and this was one dish, along with fried fish people still say no one can fry fish or salmon patties like Bea can. If she were here, she would love to hear those who say that about my cooking too. Of course, she would say, “I taught her how to cook when she was only 11 or 12 years old. These memories took me to a place of love and meditation and I thought of a blog topic.

I will feel confident saying that most of us have food association with loved ones. We each have stories that jog our childhood or maybe even comfort foods that we associate a good, warm feeling from those memories. Let us try a “taste test” of sorts.

Foods that we associate with memories:

Southerners:

  1. Fried Chicken….who made the best fried chicken you had? For me, my MIL, Nanny, from my first marriage fried the best chicken and she still holds that ranking. I fry it the same way and everyone loves it but it is my memory of her chicken.
  2. Potato Salad….My FIL, Pa, from my first marriage made mouth watering salad. I have tried on many attempts but it is never as good as his potato salad. He made it every Sunday morning and let it sit while we went to church. I have a dear friend Pam Price who makes great potato salad and I am confident her salad is a memory maker too.
  3. Cakes….From Red Velvet to Coconut Cake, it was my SIL Gloria who baked the best cakes. She must have stuck her sweet finger in each one as they were mouth-watering.
  4. Fried fish….My Mother, Bea, rivaled all others and fried them in the smallest amount of grease and I still rank her even though she died. I have never seen anyone else fry them the way she did but ask anyone who ever ate hers and they will all say, Bea knows how to fry some good fish.
  5. Deviled Eggs….Me, me, me, choose Me. I have eaten deviled eggs at reunions, restaurants and even my friends/family and their eggs are good and it may sound egotistical but I will rank mine as the best.
  6. Grilled or smoked steaks and meat….My husband, Greg and I put him against any restaurant I have eaten. We go out only to enjoy him not having to do the work but I can assure you I have had good steaks at restaurants but they never measure up to Greg’s.
  7. Baked beans…..Harriet Solomon and I have yet to taste any baked beans that compare to hers. She was a great cook with a lot of good dishes, but it was her baked beans that rank the highest.
  8. Vegetarian/seafood dishes…..My daughter, Missy who acquired the talent to season to taste and improvise with the best of them. It is the way she uses various spices, garlic, and sauces that make her shrimp and scallops outstanding.
  9. Biscuits…..I go back to my Grandmother Lott, Aliner, who made Cat Head Biscuits and filled them with Sugar Syrup. My husband Greg would say his Mother but he never turns down my biscuits. Even though her biscuits outrank mine, he always loves my biscuits and gravy. I love the fact it is her biscuits that claim his heart. I understand that feeling entirely.
  10. Crackling cornbread…..Greg’s sister, Berta, who is one of the best cooks around wins this spot hands down and Greg was disappointed when she no longer cooks but we have our memories of those delicious pieces and her care package for Greg when she baked him extra pieces.
  11. Creamed corn…….No one and I include myself in this area beats my sister, Juanelle, who ironically hates to cook, makes the creamiest, delicious corn. I have made it and it was good but it wasn’t her top ranking corn.

I could go on and on and I know that most of you are making your mental lists as I posted these foods along with other dishes that the top award belongs to someone you love or even yourself. I always heard the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but doesn’t that apply to all of us. Please feel free to add your comments and whose dishes make your mouth water when you think of how they made a certain dish. Maybe we got more than calories….Maybe the sweets were sweeter, the spices more spicier, and the overall dishes were as full of love as calories.

 

Greenschicken and dumplingsmeatloaf 1IMG_3743

(C) Copyright 2012-2017 Arline Miller with all rights and privileges reserved. All third party material is sourced to original location if known for reference credit. All photos are not property of the blog unless stated.

 

STAGING A HOME IS LIKE STAGING LIFE

STAGING A HOME IS LIKE STAGING LIFE. My husband and I are in the process of transitioning to his hometown and for any of you that follow the blog realize that is where our hearts are….Grandchildren and of course two of our children. It is even a great idea for my daughter who lives in California as her Dad’s home and ours will be closer for her to go in between. In preparation, I always stage our home prior to showing it and I feel that this process with my tips I have learned may be helpful to others. Of course, I will tie this experience to a life lesson at the end so watch for it.

Arline’s tips for staging a home:

  1. Get rid of clutter. Too much of a good thing is too much. A possible buyer is not interested in your belongings, groceries, trash, etc. Eliminate the extras by packing, throwing away the trash, has beens, junk, etc.
  2. Do not display personal photos if possible. The future homeowner wants and needs to envision themselves in their “new home” and not be reminded this is “your domain”.
  3. Extra furniture, even though it may be an essential piece in your home may prevent the buyer from seeing how spacious your rooms are and how easy they can fit their furniture in. This is a time that less is more.
  4. Clean, clean, clean! There is nothing more distracting or unattractive for the prospective buyer than to see anything but sparkle. Dust, scrub, touch up places, and replace those items that are old and need removal.
  5. Smell your home before people arrive at showings. I bake cookies and offer them to visitors. I keep baking sheets I have prepared so it is fresh home baked aroma throughout the showing. It reminds them of the fun they will have in the kitchen. Do not use heavy disinfecting spray right before the showing. It will give the impression of trying to mask odors.
  6. Pay attention to drawers, cabinets, shelving so that all is neat and organized. I recently viewed a home and was really impressed the towels in the linen closet were neatly rolled. I opened the matching linen closet and it was a totally different look and was disarranged. People notice those little things so don’t overlook them.
  7. Taking photos of the home staged is vital. Do not wait until the last minute and take photos from different views. A person decides from the web site whether this is a good fit for them. I am going to show some photos from different realty websites without disclosing where these homes are listed for a Do and Don’t Do Comparison. I will use the ones I have staged in our home and possibly you will see what I am referring to in what to do and what not to do.
  8. Make sure windows and blinds are sparkling clean.  A good view to beautiful scenery and/or a great front or back lawn makes the buyer feel at home. Nothing is as distracting as film on windows or dust on window blinds/sills.
  9. Kitchen sink under-cabinet staging. Display organic, non-chemical cleaners and no roach or rat preventive items. Keep items to a minimum and have clean sponges, brushes, pads, etc. As a home owner, it is easier to show the home without having to have discussions about pest control. Tip: Maintain your home at all times to be pest free so this is not even a concern.
  10. Pet Staging. Many of us love pets, dogs or cats and even some other varieties of animals. Carpets should be cleaned often if pets are present and vacuumed frequently. Bathe your pets regularly and use the natural fragrances to keep them smelling good. Litter boxes have to be religiously emptied and cleaned and open windows frequently to allow fresh air in your home. Any pet that is not house broken should be crated until you can trust them to be out. Carpets and area rugs should be cleaned and deodorized to prevent the paw tracking from pets going in and out.
  11. Window blinds/curtains should be opened for better lighting if possible. Some of my friends prefer a darker ambiance but most people love to see lighter rooms. If a window cannot be visible, make sure lights are on. Dark corners do not reflect bright, cheery atmosphere so keep it in mind even if you are Dracula’s descendants and love the dark.
  12. Staging is important but your attitude is what counts as well. If you have an agent representing and showing your home, please do an attitude check on how they feel about your home.

Here are some photos I wanted to share for the DO’s and DONT’S for staging a home:

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DO: Minimal items on counters; clean and wiped cabinets, sinks, and appliances allow buyer to see backsplash and space in kitchen.

Don't kitchen

DON’T: The busyness of this kitchen takes away from the counter tops and size.

 

IMG_0349

DO: Simple accessorizing helps to accent a feature like the fireplace. Greenery can be used but dust free if used. I used this photo for a reason. I left the cabinet open to show the TV but this is an option and it looks nicer closed for showings. I am posting another Do for a Living Room and this one is from a realtor website. Good job.

Do Living Room

DO: See how minimal accessories allow you to see the walls, fireplace and just how much furniture is possible. Nothing personal.

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DO’s: These bedrooms are staged with clean appeal, accessories, made up beds, and clean carpet.

don't bedroom

DON’Ts: Toys, boxes, “junk” have to go or be displayed in an attractive way on shelves.

In finalizing this thought of staging, I thought about less is more when preparing a house for someone else to like what they see enough to spend time and maybe make it a home place.  I thought about the same when we go to choose a mate for life. Look away from the material things and look at what I call the “bones” of a home. If we choose to spend our life with someone, it should be because it has an attractiveness, a cleanliness of body and spirit, room to grow both emotionally and wisely. In other words, maybe we look to see if our future mate has the ability to shine and sparkle without overdressing and speaking. Allow the person to win you over like a good, solid home does by being themselves and standing out from the crowd.

(C) Copyright 2012-2017 Arline Miller with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced to original location when known for reference credit. Photos are not property  of Sipping Cups of Inspiration unless stated.

LET’S OAT SOME GOOD OLE COOKIES

TODAY LET’S MAKE OATMEAL COOKIES. I will post my recipe for Arline’s Version of Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies but before I do, I thought I would re-post the message behind the Oatmeal Cookies attached to a loving memory of my Mom. In days where I watch all sweets, there is something wonderful about an oatmeal cookie and it is not the sugar; it is the sweet love I feel for my precious Mother.


Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

 

  • Yield: Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups oats (we use Quaker Quick or Old Fashioned. Do NOT use instant.)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (use 1/2 cup if using raisins)
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
Method
1 Cream shortening and sugars, add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
2 Sift flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to first mixture and mix well. Add a tablespoon of water. Add raisins (if using) and nuts. Add oats last.
3 Spoon out by heaping tablespoonfuls on to greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely.
Copyright reference for above recipe. Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies on Simply Recipes. Thank you!
 
My version is taking and cutting sugar by half of the brown and granulated sugar and replacing with honey. I never measure by use taste method but no more than a 1/4 cup unfiltered raw honey. Love this taste. 

 

TODAY THE WORDS are OATMEAL COOKIES. We are going to go down memory lane for a visit to my dear Mother’s home before she passed away. As my Mother got older, she cooked and baked less, which is understandable.  I began to bring her baked goodies when I would visit her. I started out with a variety of different desserts but it was soon narrowed down to my version of “Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies. They had honey in them and they are scrumptious to say the least. I would bring her a container full. She would always eat one as if testing them to make sure they were as good as the batch before. As I would watch her, I received more sweet enjoyment than the cookies’ sweetness. I could tell how much she loved them and she also loved I had made them for her. She had a certain spot the container would be placed when she had finished. Once in a while she would splurge and eat two, but never more than two. As sweet of a memory as this is to me, this is only part of the reason for the topic. Why the oatmeal cookie plays such an important part is not that the cookies were tasty, it was Momma’s rationing of the cookies that will reflect a life’s lesson. When I would call Momma for our regular Saturday morning talk which usually lasted about an hour and a half, one of the things Momma would share is how many cookies she still had and if my Sister had stopped by and had eaten some cookies. My Momma was a wonderful person and she would share whatever she had, but you had to be willing to be frugal with those goodies like she was. I would bring her fresh ones every time I would come so rationing was not necessary. It was built into my Momma to have a willing spirit of anticipation.
Now for the deeper thought…...If we would live our live on Momma’s Oatmeal program, we could enjoy life a lot longer and better. I see many people who devour what they receive in a hurry never thinking if they are going to get hungry soon. We are a living, breathing example of why we should eat a reasonable amount of food and not overindulge. The same goes for the rest of lifestyles. some of them need to be lived (or tasted), We need to savor each day (or morsel). We need to appreciate the love and labor which went into each opportunity with a palette of life. We should exercise moderate portions of life and enjoy each bite (or experience) we are given and not feel as it we are on our last “cookie”. Live life, love life, and live life to the fullest!
 
DAILY FEATURED BIBLE VERSE:\
1 Peter 5:8     
 
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
 
(c) copyright 2012-2017 Arline Lott Miller. The material here copyrighted, use only by permission. Third party material is referenced to original location for reference credit.