Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Christmas Tree

Putting up the Christmas tree is on of my favorite things about Christmas tree. The twinkling lights, the shimmering ornaments, endless possibilities for creativity, the overall beauty brings---all this brings me much satisfaction. Some years I use blue, some gold, and others the traditional red. This year it's PINK! It is fun to mix it up.

A full view! I almost have the presents wrapped.

A little closer shot. I really like the white birds!

Butterflies and watering cans bring in my love for nature and gardening.

On the fancy side! A little Victorian shoe!

My little gardener makes me think of spring!

A gift from a friend! She approves of my pink tree.

Right down to the wrapping paper! It looks so pretty when the packages match!
Gotta' love pink velvet ribbon!

And something fun for the grandkids! I was so surprised to find this one at K-Mart!

Thanking God for the gift of his son---and for family and friends. A Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Book Review: The Gift of Years

Book Review by Marlene Depler

The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully by Joan Chittister

I look in the mirror and see the signs, the wrinkles and the gray hairs tucked between my highlights. Some signs sneak up almost unnoticeably while others are not so subtle. One thing is for sure: I AM aging! With this marching on of time, I am experiencing a wide range of thoughts and emotions. Some I bemoan to my husband or close friends, but many thoughts I never verbalize. And in spite of my best efforts, I see myself becoming more irrelevant in the world in which I live.

Recently, I started reading Joan Chittister's book, The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully. What a breath of fresh air! Her perspective is both honest and insightful. In the introduction Joan writes, "It is time for us to let go of both our fantisies of eternal youth and our fears of getting older, and to find the beauty of what it means to age well." I couldn't agree more.

Joan has written forty short chapters filled with wisdom. Some of the chapters included are Fear, Forgiveness, Fulfillment, Faith, and Freedom. Others chapters are Legacy, Limitations, Loneliness, and Letting Go. Each chapter bears pondering. Don't expect to fly through this book like a novel. I'm reading mine with a highlighter in hand to mark the passages that I want to reread again.

In the chapter titled Regret, Joan writes how that often what "pretends to be reflection" and "claims to be insight" slips into brooding, dragging us down. She says, "Regret is a temptation. It entices us to lust for what never was..." Then we may "doubt the God who made us."

Joan's overall message is to see aging is a gift. (It means we didn't die young!) We should not abandon our lives prematurely---before life in this world is truly over. This season is different that the previous seasons of our lives. Nevertheless, we can embrace it and live it fully.

Joan's words are making me often say to myself, Don't quit the game in the fourth quarter! Play on to the finish! This is a book I will read multiple times in the coming years. (I'm even considering leading a discussion group using this book as the focus.)

I hope you will pick up this book---maybe buy it for yourself for Christmas. Then if you enjoy it, recommend it to a friend. Whatever you do, appreciate your days and years, live fully until the time comes for "melting into God."

(c) 2009 Marlene Depler

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pacific Rim Sunset

Read then see photos below!!!
Psalm 92:4-5a The Message: "You made me so happy, God. I saw your work and I shouted for joy. How magnificent your work, God!"
Pacific Rim Sunset
by Marlene Depler
Silently, I sit in my front row seat
on the edge of the earth
where land converges with sky and sea
Sinking sun shimmers over crashing waves
as the Master Painter takes the stage
He lifts his brush to the canvas
pink and then lavender--
wide pastel strokes across the heavens
Next he adds bold highlights
of orange and plum
then smudges the rocks and trees
into black silhouettes
Hushed I admire the beauty
of the evening masterpiece
until the sea swallows the sun
Just when I think He is finished
He dips his brush in gold
signing his work with a simple cresent moon
My heart cries out as I jump to my feet,
"Bravo!" "Encore!"
He bows and waves, "Perhaps tomorrow."
(c) 2009 Marlene Depler
Reprints in any form only allowed with author's permission

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Beauty Abounds

These are from our recent travels: Pike Market in Seattle, Tofino and Ucluelet (Vancouver Island, B.C.), and Victoria (also Vancouver Island, B.C.) Enjoy!

Flower boxes across the street from Pike Market, Seattle.
The beginning of a visual feast!

Flowers galore (Pike Market).

Fresh veggies! (Pike Market)

Succulent fruits (Pike Market).

Crabs in rows! (Pike Market)

Huge lobster tails! (Pike Market)

Rainbow of chilli peppers! (Pike Market)

From the bay side of Tofino.

Chesterman Beach looking toward Frank Isand

The Inn from Chesterman Beach

A room with a view.

And more views!

Pacific sunset on first night.

Sunset on second night.

The Amphitrite Point Lighthouse in Ucluelet.

View from the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet.

Strange roots seen on the trail.

Fishing boats on the bay side of Ucluelet.

Another shot of the fishing boats.

Abkaki Garden in Victoria.
(We saw Buchart Gardens on previous trips. We had just enough time to
check out this once private garden now open to the public.)

Another shot of the gardens.

The Empress Hotel in the harbor of Victoria.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Start Somewhere

(Note: I promised to share what I came up with from the writing exercise, so here you have it?)

I’d been sick for several days, and we were expecting out-of-town company in a couple of days. I was now way behind in my preparations and cleaning. Not to mention, that I was lacking in energy and short of time. There was so much I had intended to do before my friends arrived. Now I felt overwhelmed.

These weren’t the kind of friends who would judge me for a bit of clutter and dust. We’ve been friends for over three decades. Nevertheless, I wanted my home to be clean and welcoming. The tasks that I wanted to accomplish would make me feel like a better hostess.

I started to fret. Then I had a chat with myself. Stop wasting your energy fretting and just START SOMEWHERE! (Am I the only one who gives advice to myself?!)

So that is what I did. I started with the guest bedroom, dusting and tidying. Then I moved into the bathroom next to the bedroom. When those two rooms were company-ready, my spirits lifted and my perspective improved. I was able to prioritize other tasks and decide what mattered most. Before I knew my home was adequately prepared. Our friends arrived, and we shared several wonderful days.

Since then I have continued to think about the experience and apply it to other areas of my life—projects or chores that needed to be tackled and other areas such as health and personal goals. Instead of waiting until I have huge increments of time—that of course rarely ever happens, I remind myself, “Start somewhere.” If I begin and make a little progress, it gives me the impetus to continue later when I have a little more time.

Whether it is the weeds in my garden beds, the paperwork on my desk, or dirty windows, the process is the same. “Get started.” I started washing windows when I was preparing for my guests. I washed a couple of windows that were really bothering me. Later I washed a couple more. Bit by bit I’m making the rounds. Today I washed another three. Completion now seems possible. The end is now in sight.

The same is true with writing. I’ve intended to write about this experience for over a month. I finally said, “Just start!” Writing for about 20 minutes led to more thinking and more writing. Now I have a string of words on paper.
Most of us have heard it said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So true. Without beginning, nothing will be accomplished, and we will not reach the desired destination.

So first we start. Then we break things into smaller increments and things begin to seem possible. When my kids were younger and overwhelmed by something that loomed large for them like a school project, I would often tell them, “It’s a cinch by the inch and hard by the yard.”

I don’t recall where I first heard that saying, but I liked it and knew it was applicable to challenges both large and small. I wanted to help them see the value in starting and then breaking things down in to smaller manageable segments. Then when they put those segments together in succession, they ended up getting to the final goal. The same is true for the rest of us.

I have noticed that some things never seem to get completely finished, like the piles of paper on my office desk. Nevertheless, I keep starting. I make good headway. Then life calls me in other directions and things pile up again, so I begin again—and then again. Can you imagine how my office would look if I didn’t keep starting over and over again.

We will probably never have everything accomplished to our satisfaction in this journey of life. We will always have projects demanding our time and a variety of challenges to face. Yet if we constantly take the first step and begin again and again, we will move forward toward those things we deem important. And we won’t waste our energy thinking about what we must do.

What is it that looms large for you? What is it that you never seem to find the time to tackle?

*A college degree? It is possible one class at a time. So get started.
*Weight loss? That comes one pound at a time, but you first have to start.
*A relational issue? Start somewhere.
*Spiritual growth? Begin with one thing that seems doable.
*Health? Take a step in the right direction.
*Ironing? Turn on the iron and pick up the first piece.

Our personalities may be different and our challenges and dreams may not be the same. Yet we are still all on a similar journey. And we all need to regularly be reminded to START SOMEWHERE. So that means you---and me! Let's get going!

(c) 2009 Marlene Depler

Obtain permission to print, reprint, or duplicate in any form.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Writing Exercise

For those of you who like to write now and then, here is a little exercise to get you started!

Take 5 minutes and jot down 3-5 things you have been thinking about lately. (This can be anything, such as the change of seasons, aging, frugality, or your recent challenges with modern technology.) Now pick one.

Take three sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and a pen, and go somewhere that you would not normally write. Just start writing and don't stop until you have filled three pages! Neatness, grammar, paragraph breaks, and punctuation are not important!!! What you write might be random thoughts related to the topic you chose. You CANNOT do this wrong! So get going! HAPPY WRITING!

Later come back and put what you have written on the computer. Tidy it up a bit and put connected thoughts together. Just see what you might come up with. Consider sharing with me what topic you chose to write about.

In a few days, I will share with you what I wrote!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I love the cute things kids say, especially my grandchildren. I wish I had written more of their saying down. Anyway, I thought I would share this conversation amongst three of them.

My oldest daughter recently told of this discussion in the car:
Rachel says, "When I grow up I want to be a
vegetarian--you know a person who helps animals." (I smile.)

Brent says,
"Well, I want to be a scientist or a video game player." (I chuckle.)

Jacob pipes up, & I quote, "When grow up I want to be a
candy taster." (Uncontrollable laughter.)

Whose kids are these?

Well, I certainly know whose grandkids these are!!!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting Ready for Flu Season

(Note: This may or may not interest those of you in the Northern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, I felt a need to try to help those who are interested in staying healthy this fall and winter.)

Swine flu (H1N1) season is coming. With all the hype in the news, it makes us all a little fearful to say the least. So I want to give you some positive ways to approach flu season.

It is important to understand that there are literally hundreds of H1N1 flu viruses. The current strain is similar to the Spanish flu of 1918 and the Hong Kong flu of 1968.

So what can we do that is proactive?

Start now to build you immune system! Prepare your bodies defenses!

*Nutriferon-boosts the body’s natural production of interferon/phytonutrient blend that provides immune support at the cellular level. #20960

*Immunity I-blend of six immunoactive vitamins, patented blend of antioxidants with rosemary extract, and mineral support for a strong immune system. #20241

*Defend & Resist-a herbal blend with Echinacea, black elderberry, and larch tree extract which stimulates the body’s natural resistance. #20613

*VIVIX-patented formula to fight aging at a cellular level, but it also contains the black elderberry! #21000

*Antioxidants such as CarotoMax and FlavoMax #20652 and #20654 or any other antioxidants, many found in foods.

*FOR CHILDREN: Incredivites-first children’s chewable multi-vitamin in the U.S. with immune supporting lactoferrin, a nutrient also found naturally in breast milk and researched for its role in activating components of the immune system.

*Optiflora-colon health supports immune health. #20639

*Try to get proper rest and reduce stress where possible.

*Cut back on intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates.

The spread of flu can be curbed by 90% by regular hand washing. Folks this is an easy one. Teach you kids this!

Keep your fingers out of your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Use Basic G (#00525) and/or Germ Off Disinfecting Wipes (#00322). Keep the wipes in zippered bags in your purse, in your car, and in your kids back packs. Wipe hands, steering wheel, doorknobs, desks, phones, etc. (You can make your own wipes with the Basis G if you choose. (Basis G spray bottles for mixing are #50531 and the dispenser bottle with dropper tip is #50419.)

Consider masks for public transportation.

Hope this information is helpful. For more information, leave a message with email address to respond or go to my website


Disclaimer: I am not a licensed healthe care professional. This information is shared as a friend to a friend.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Food for Thought

"Some people see clutter as signs of disorganization.
For others, clutter means a major creative project is going on."

-Patricia H. Sprinkle

"When you organize, you're just reshuffling the same
heavy load. When you simplify, you actually eliminate a large chunk of it. Simplifying is not about learning how to do more in less time. It's about doing less so you'll enjoy it more."

-Elaine St. James

Monday, August 17, 2009

Apricot Cream Cheese Coffeecake

I made these coffeecakes for a recent baby shower brunch. (The original recipe called for apricot preserves. But it is also good with strawberry or raspberry perserves.) Thought you might enjoy the recipe! See below.

This shows how half of the batter goes on the bottom of the pan---then the preserves---then the remaining batter. The batter is then spread evenly over the preserves.

Into the oven! This shows the crumb topping---the final touch before baking.

All done and ready to eat! Very yummy!

Apricot Cream Cheese Coffeecake

Cream together:
1 8oz. pkg. softened cream cheese
½ cup butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar

Beat in:
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract, opt.

Sift together:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Add flour mixture alternately with:
1/3 cup milk

Pour half of batter in greased 9x13 baking pan and spread evenly.

Spoon on and gently spread:
1 12 oz. jar of apricot (or raspberry or strawberry) preserves

Spoon remaining batter over the top and gently spread to cover preserves.

For TOPPING combine with pastry blender:
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
Then add 1/3 cup of sliced almonds, opt. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top.

Bake at 350ยบ for 35-40 minutes.

Good warm or cold!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Birthday Reflections

Birthdays nowadays always seem to bring out my reflective nature. Each year the number increases by one, and I wonder where the years have gone. I realize that more of my life is behind me than what lies before me. Thus I ponder the meaning of my life. Have I lived it well? What next? What is God’s plan for me at this stage of life? Am I relevant in the world in which I live? My pensive questions seem endless.

I don’t readily have answers to all my questions. Maybe contemplating the questions is quite enough. Then I remind myself that growing older is a good thing, especially since the only one way to avoid aging is to die young. Yes, each year of life is a gift, and with that gift I must accept that aging comes with the territory.

Today I relished the day in celebration of my birth. I sipped my morning homemade latte on the front porch. I picked myself a bouquet of pink, white, and purple zinnias. I opened a new mascara. I walked through the neighborhood. I got my free car wash! I washed the sheets on my bed. Cards and phone calls blessed my day. My husband took me out for a delicious dinner. All in all a lovely day! Now I shall go crawl in those clean sheets and thank God for giving me 58 years.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cook Breakfast While You Sleep

Many of us grew up eating oatmeal for breakfast. My mom cooked old fashioned rolled oats two or three times a week. It was an economical staple in our household. Then I also cooked oatmeal for my kids—though probably not quite as often.

I first ate steel cut oats as a cooked breakfast cereal many years ago when my husband and I visited Scotland. I enjoyed it so much that I ate it almost every morning while we were there. When I returned home, I still didn’t cook it for myself.

Then several years later I rediscovered this hearty breakfast cereal as one of the many selections on the breakfast buffet at my favorite inn on the Oregon coast. So I purchased some steel cut oats to cook at home. They take a long time to cook, so before I would go to bed, I would bring the water to a boil, and then add a pinch on salt and the correct amount of oats to the water. I put a lid on it and remove it from the heat---let it set overnight. The next morning, it would only take ten minutes to cook it.

Recently, one of my daughters found a suggestion online to cook the steel cut oats overnight in the crock-pot on low. And someone else suggested using a Pyrex or Corningware casserole dish or bowl inside the crock-pot (with water around it) for an easier clean-up. Wow! It’s great! Breakfast cooks while you sleep! Ready when you and your family are ready, and no waiting.

I buy organic steel cut oats at Vitamin Cottage for $2.03 for two pounds. At a dollar a pound that is an inexpensive healthy breakfast. (A serving is ¼ cup, so a little goes a long way.) Many other places carry steel cut oats. King Soopers has it in bulk, but it is more expensive. You can also find it in canisters and cans at most any store. The imported McCann’s is more expensive, but a good products. Below are photos of the crock-pot process.

Let me know what you think!

Here’s to a hot, healthy breakfast that cooks while you sleep!

Ready to cook! This is two servings. Use the package directions for the amounts of water, oats, and salt in the oven-safe casserole. (Most use 1/4 cup steel cut oats to 3/4 cup to 1 cup of water.) Put water around the dish inside the crock-pot. Turn on low when you go to bed.

This is what it looks like when you wake up in the morning. It is ready to dish up and serve.

This morning I added blueberries (anti-oxidants!) and a few walnuts (good fat/Omega-3). I sweeten mine with either pure maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Marlene's Gardens

I thought I would share a few current blooms from my gardens. Enjoy!

Double Delight rose! This is one of my favorites. I have around 30 rose bushes.

Hidden bloom on my Endless Summer hydrangea.

Daylilies! I don't know the variety. It was mismarked---I thought I was getting yellow.

Six of my eight garden beds. Fresh produce is wonderful

I have four pots like this one on the back patio. The purple is million belles---one of my favorites especially for hanging baskets.

Geraniums and a nice place to relax.

Clematis and mixed annuals.

I planted these petunias, and the marigolds seeded themselves from last year.

Unexpected blooms! The lone petunia and blue salva came up "volunteer."