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Listen to Your Mother. You Just Might Win an Oscar.


With all the Hoopla of the Academy Awards buzzing on social media over the weekend, I was reminded of my favorite year’s telecast so far, the 2011 Oscar presentations, and the film that dominated that year. I think you might enjoy the back story…


Tom Hooper’s mother had been invited to attend the reading of a play with some friends. She really didn’t want to go, as it didn’t sound like a very exciting way to spend an evening. However, it turned out to be a date with destiny.

Once she got home from the event, she phoned her director-son, Tom.

“Tom, I think I’ve found your next film.”

The title of the reading she attended? The King’s Speech.

The 83rd Academy Awards, February 27, 2011 belonged to The King’s Speech, which won four Oscars from its 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Director (Tom Hooper), and Original Screenplay (David Seidler).

This poignant account of the friendship between a distressed king and his loyal advisor, brought to life on the big screen by ‘Hooper and Co.’ has impacted and will continue to impact an inestimable number of individuals across the globe, bringing accolades and financial increase to its vast team of collaborators.

And all because a Momma picked up the phone to call her boy.

Kodak Theater-BigStockPhotos

Upon accepting his award, as an audience of 37.6 million looked on, Tom Hooper shared the story of his mother’s providential evening out with friends. And as she sat in the audience at the Kodak Theater that Sunday night, beaming proudly, he directed these comments to her:

“With this tonight I honor you, and the moral of the story is: Listen to your mother.”

The Power of a Mother’s Voice.

A mother. The unsuspecting catalyst whose years of investment, loving thoughts, and initiative precipitated an unimaginable chain of events.

Wow. More fuel on my fire of conviction that a child’s potential has no bounds if we DARE to believe for them and with them!

I always sort of thought that kids wouldn’t need their parents much after around age 18 – but now I know that’s not true; intentional parenting never loses its value whatever the season, and the benefits of such an engaged Dad or Mom just continue to multiply for everyone involved. Never lose sight of the importance of YOU, Mom, Dad, Step-parent, foster parent, adoptive parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent….

I think it’s time to pull The King’s Speech out again for movie night. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it, not only for its entertaining value, but for the rich historical insight it unwraps. If you love it, check out the new Netflix mini-series called, The Crown. It’s really well done and well-casted, brings to life so much history, and is terribly engaging as well.


citation: Oscars 2011 winners: ‘King’s Speech’ rules the night By Mike Bruno on Feb 27, 2011 at 8:45PM Entertainment Weekly

Oscars 2011: ABC’s audience down by nearly 10% Jason Deans theguardian.com, Tuesday 1 March 2011 12.39 EST

It’s a Merry Mira Italian Christmas!

What’s on YOUR family’s dinner table this holiday week?? I’d LOVE to know! Leave a comment and dish on your menu…

By September, my crew is already reminding me of the essential components of the Mira Christmas feast. Seriously! We love a good turkey-ham dinner, but by Christmas, we’ve seen enough of the ole’ roasted bird and pig with all the fixin’s.

Seeing that my hubby is of Italian descent, pasta of any kind is his favorite thing to eat. I grew up on Ragu, so I didn’t have a clue. I’ve spent years perfecting my from-scratch secret savory spaghetti sauce recipe, with plump, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs, and luscious cheese-and-meat-stuffed manicotti. It’s ‘little Italy’ at the Mira home on Christmas.

The spicy-sweet aroma of simmering garlic has filled the house during the past 3-day cooking event. My daughter-in-law surprised me and popped in with Russian Tea Cakes for us to nibble and gave me three precious hours of her time helping with prep; chopping enough onions to choke the neighborhood, cracking eggs, forming meatballs and just being a friend while I measured spices, carefully filled each manicotti shell with the bulging pastry bag of yummy filling, and fried Italian sausages. The sausages are no small thing. They simmer in the sauce and flavor the entire meal, so I spare no expense, buying the best, least processed that money can buy. I confess I’m a perfectionist. One year while living in a new city, I conducted a blind taste test of 8 different brands of Italian sausage to find the winner for Christmas dinner. Truth.

While the spaghetti noodles boil, my fourth born will prepare his homemade Caesar salad dressing to toss with grated parmesan, and icy-crisp romaine. (Recipe below) Italian loaves will come out of the oven at the last moment, completing the meal with soft and chewy insides and a crunchy crust to slather in butter or dip into the sauce, aka ‘gravy’ as Italians call it. Mmm.

This isn’t just a meal, it’s a week-long event beginning with The Shopping List and ending with bright red placemats, and lots of smiling faces as steaming-hot, overflowing plates of pasta are served.

And one more thing…an Italian Christmas is a loud Christmas! The clamor of jovial banter and laughter is a part of the ambience. When the eating starts, though, you can almost hear a pin drop…

Amidst the hustle and bustle and merrymaking, I’m reminded of something etched on a Christmas card I received one year, ‘Things don’t make Christmas, people do.’ Christmas can’t be bought. It comes to life when we share it all with others, creating experiences and building happy memories.

That’s my wish for you. Make every moment count because we’ll blink and the calendar will turn to January 1st!

May the Christ of Christmas be your joy, your source, your substance and your solace in this season, and may you be refreshed by the relationships you hold dear, rather than drained by the demands of our culture.

I’ll close with a scripture I often reflect upon, and it’s especially appropriate at Christmas time with all the chatter about gifts and stuff.

“…one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

Ain’t it the truth.

Now, for that recipe I promised you!

Levi’s homemade caesar dressing

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp anchovy paste

2-3 cloves garlic pressed

1 tsp worcestershire

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dry mustard

juice of 1 whole lemon

1/2 – 3/4 cup grated parmesan

1 Head Romaine lettuce chopped

cracked pepper and croutons

Whir first 8 ingredients in a bullet or blender, toss as much dressing as you like with prepared lettuce and croutons, top with fresh cracked pepper and serve!

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this, there’s more…

 

 

For an IMMEDIATE upgrade amongst your brood all year ’round, grab my FREE Holiday Gift, ’12 Secrets to Taking the Angst Out of Your Family Holiday Gathering!’ Pure GOLD from my experience as a mom of adult kids. You’ll get it, too,when you sign up HERE ….

 

Everyone’s Christmas is Broken…

Stuck in traffic yesterday, I found myself pondering the visual of a Norman Rockwell Christmas; snowflakes falling, twinkle lights glowing, gleeful children, stockings hung, all to the crooning of Bing Crosby on the phonograph.

As the scene played out in my mind, I secretly wished for simpler days when Christmas was Christmas, doggone it, and my Facebook feed wasn’t a bi-polar melange of Pinterest’s festive snow globes interspersed with more ‘Tainted in Tinseltown #MeToo’ headlines, and ‘How to Survive the Next Economic Meltdown,’ rolling in-between InstantPot ads and tragic ‘Paris is on fire!’ updates.

But then I considered the very first Christmas in Galilee…and I was filled with hope.

Don’t kid yourself, it wasn’t a pretty sight. There was Mary, the ‘mother of Christmas,’ so to speak, 9 months preggo and presumably a bundle of emotions leaving all her familiar surroundings and peeps at her most vulnerable moment.

She was riding on a freakin’ donkey (ugh), with her main squeeze, Joseph, unemployed, thus, odds-on edgy and irritable, trudging along next to her, making the lonely 3-day trek to Judea as an unmarried, extremely controversial, low-income, expectant couple.

All the above because The. Man. had issued a daunting decree to ensure that all humans in the Empire had been counted by Roman officials for the express purpose of extorting their hard-earned dollars through taxation, compelling them to report to their historical tribal cities. (now you’re getting the ugly picture, right?)

Mary and Joseph had apparently not read the fine print.

Of course they’d had the benefit of an initial angelic visitation months before all this went down, but let’s be real…goosebumps fade over time.

They arrived in Bethlehem where they found no welcoming committee, not even a BED to sleep in, no sense of miraculous intervention as Mary birthed their miracle baby on a pile of hay in a mini-barn reeking of manure with Old MacDonald’s farm looking on and not a midwife in sight.

WT_??

 

Heavenly confirmations did at last arrive, in the form of a spectacular star overhead, angels singing, keyed-in shepherds and Magi bringing gifts along with talking animals. (just kidding on that last point)

 

I can almost hear Joseph exhaling (more goosebumps) and being reminded that Almighty God, not The. Man. was in charge of things. He would need that reassurance for the lonnggg journey ahead.

 

And so we find the first Christmas complete with an unwed mama, poverty, a step-dad, homelessness, fears galore, government control never before realized, and out-of-control taxation — just like every Christmas since.

And something about that brings us reassurance in our human condition, especially when we consider the upgrade: instead of Mary carrying the Christ child physically on a donkey, we now carry the Savior in our hearts, by faith.

Yes, as cliche as this might sound, Jesus is still the Reason for the Season.

I’d be lost without Him. He is the anchor of my soul, a very present help in time of trouble, the axis on which my world spins. Correction. He is my world.

I daily peel away the Santa Songs, the sentimental holiday ‘feels,’ the tree, the presents, the garland, the food, and I revisit the Christ of Christmas. 

And those of us fortunate enough to know Him…it’s up to us to make the season bright for those who can only see the brokenness; to help bring the revelation of the Christ child to them.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11–12

Wishing you and yours a very Merry and REAL Christmas 2018!

And for an IMMEDIATE upgrade amongst your brood, grab my FREE Holiday Gift, ’12 Secrets to Taking the Angst Out of Your Family Holiday Gathering!’ Pure GOLD from my experience as a mom of adult kids. You’ll get it, too, when you sign up HERE ….

 

My Thanksgiving Dinner Plan (pretty much)!

We hosted dinner guests from India tonight. Jordan and Nicole. Missionaries’ kids who met and married in India and are relocating to New Zealand. Early 20s and so precious. Jordan is a gifted musician/artist and Nicole is a photographer. It’s so cool to see your friends’ kids grow up and ‘adult.’ Kind of weird really, when all you remember is the little ‘rugrats’ they used to be and now – voila! They’re carrying the torch far and away! So this is what I made for dinner tonight. Comfort food, the kind of meal I’d serve my own kids if they were on the road and wanted home cooking. Chicken Schnitzel is a dish I learned while living in Australia – boneless chicken breasts pounded and dipped in egg/unsweetened coconut milk and breadcrumbs with spices then fried in butter and olive oil, mashed potatoes with sour cream and coconut milk (unsweetened), steamed carrots and corn and a green salad with Asian dressing. All organic. YUM. Here’s a pic of the schnitzel. So easy. Highly recommend! And…made the mashed potatoes in the instant pot – ohemgee I saved so much time and labor!

Below is the note I scrawled quickly when I was planning for our meal. It was a whirlwind day and I didn’t want to forget anything at the last minute so I made a list in the morning to revisit throughout the day – that’s how I roll. I always try to make a detailed list when I’m not stressed out because by the time guests are about to arrive, I’m sure to forget a detail. (One time we all finished dinner and a major dish I wanted to serve was still in the fridge ;(( that’s a drag. This never happens with a list.

So….drumroll please…here’s my Thanksgiving Checklist. Not a fake but the real deal I use every year to refer to for delegating, shopping and preparing. I tweak it along the way as needed.

Thanksgiving Checklist

Menu

Turkey

Cornbread Dressing (celery, onion, broth) 

Gravy (cornstarch/bouillion)

Mashed Potatoes (butter/milk)

Corn (frozen corn)

Whole berry cranberry sauce

Sweet Potatoes (marshmallows/brn sugar/butter)

Ambrosia Salad (mandarins, pineapple, coconut, sour cream, marshmallows)

Cranberry Jello Salad w whip cream

Rolls (frozen dough balls)

Ham (Costco spiral sliced)

Pies and whip cream (Costco)

Wine (Costco)

Sparkling cider, sparkling water, water, ice (Costco)

Egg nog

Decaf coffee/cream

Shopping List (helps to jog my memory so I don’t get ready to cook and find I’ve forgotten the celery, etc.)

Turkey

Boxed Cornbread Stuffing mix/or homemade cornbread stuffing

Onion for stuffing-Costco

Celery for stuffing-Costco

Turkey cooking bag/tin pan

Chicken bouillion-Costco

Cornstarch

Potatoes-Costco

Sweet potatoes-Costco

Brown sugar

Canned whole berry cranberry sauce

Mini marshmallows for ambrosia and sweet taters

Frozen corn-Costco 

Crushed pineapple for jello salad

Canned Mandarins for jello/ambrosia salads

Canned pineapple tidbits for ambrosia

Coconut for ambrosia

Mini marshmallows-ambrosia/sweet potatoes

Sour cream for ambrosia-Costco

Raspberry and lemon jello

Fresh cranberries for jello salad

Walnuts

Sugar for jello salad

Butter for both potatoes, stuffing, and rolls

Frozen rolls

Egg Nog

Ready Gravy

Decide on seating-nametags

Placemats/tablecloth/plates, utensils, napkins, wine cups, water cups

Food buffet arrangement

Music

I don’t just ‘wing it’ on where people will sit or where the buffet will be or what they’ll drink out of etc. etc. Planning ahead brings peace to the entire event. If I need to borrow tables, chairs or TV trays, I have time to consider that. We always serve buffet style to facilitate feeding a crowd – I honestly love buffet style for most meals when there are more than 4 people eating.

Here’s how I broke it down this year and how I delegated the bits and pieces:

Thanksgiving Checklist

Menu to feed 20 adults-planning enough food for second rounds and hang out time!

If there’s something missing, please bring it! xoxo

Young couple-Costco ham and 2 bottles white wine/ground coffee and creamer for large coffee tureen

Seasoned cook and family-one turkey/dressing/gravy (please bring coffee tureen and paper coffee cups)appetizer plate

Bachelors-ambrosia salad for a crowd

Gregory and Denise-One turkey, dressing and gravy, 2 bottles red wine, butter, hefty red cups, clear cups, dessert plates and EGG NOG

Young couple seasoned cook-5#mashed potatoes (Pioneer woman recipe can be prepared the day before and baked day of), Costco organic 5# sweet potatoes, 2 bags ice in cooler

Single busy businesswoman-2- 5# bags costco frozen corn and 6 bottles sparkling cider and 3 cans whip cream (all costco)

Young couple and family-2 bags of 36 Rhodes rolls baked and 6 cans whole cranberry sauce, 4 gallons water jugs, 3-2 litre bottles of flavored sparkling water 

Couple who don’t enjoy cooking-Costco 3 pumpkin and 2 fruit pies and 1 cheesecake and hefty  dinner plates, eating utensils for dinner and dessert, napkins for 40 people

Young couple and fam-5# mashed potatoes (Pioneer Woman recipe can be prepared a day ahead and baked day of) and 2 bottles rose wine and appetizer tray 

A couple days before I begin preparing I will make a list of to-dos complete with times of execution and ingredients involved. Something like this:

Sunday: begin thawing turkey in fridge. double check list to be sure I have all necessary food items and paper goods handled.

Tuesday: bake cornbread and set out with white stuffing bread to dry. Clean bathroom, dust and vacuum.

Wednesday: make Pioneer woman mashed potato recipe/dice onion and celery for stuffing. Make ambrosia. Pick out clothes to wear for tomorrow. Check to be sure turkey is completely thawed and if not, fill sink with water and begin emergency thaw process. LOL. #truth

Thursday: wake and simmer giblets, prepare stuffing by 10. Turkey stuffed and in oven by noon. Ice in cooler with wine and sparkling water to chill. Dress, makeup and hair done by 2. Music, essential oil diffuser and candles on by 3:45 (set alarm)

I truly hope these planning and preparation details help you to experience more peace and joy during the holidays, spilling over into all your relationships. May God bless you and yours this holiday season! For those of you who haven’t yet subscribed for my exclusive content, here’s the link to my video you missed on 4 Nuggets of Gold for Making Your Home Irresistible to Your Adult Kids (and everyone!) on Thanksgiving)

(PS you can subscribe on the link below so you don’t miss next weeks great stuff!)

So much love,

Denise

Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to read more, subscribe for my exclusive content and grab my TRANSFORMATIVE freebie, 7 Steps to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Home Life by clicking HERE. 

The Beautiful Life of a Cage-free Organic Kid

How do I describe the emotion I feel when I look at this picture?

An innocent little angel girl living in the cocoon of her parents love and protection, being home educated, stimulated by everything that is good…engaged in social interaction with intelligent adults – the most important people in her life – all day, every day.

This is real life.

Hours spent in nature, literature, art, music, cooking, puppy training, and whatever creative pursuits tickle her fancy at the moment.

Time, precious carefree time to Just. Be. A. Kid.

No restrictive institutional boundaries.

The purity that shines from her eyes never tainted by the bullying of classmates who don’t know better.

Taught to believe there is a higher power, a living God, a perfect Father, a miracle maker who loves her unconditionally. Always believing there is a POSSIBILITY! as she reflects on the stories told of her mother’s healing, her little Sissy’s miraculous conception and birth and so many more answers to prayer.

Always supported by her uncles, aunts and two sets of grandparents who adore her, pray for her, have special dates with her and remind her of her Savior’s love and faithfulness.

A little girl who is taught to serve others first and care for the poor, the hurting, the handicapped and lost. A girl who doesn’t notice the color of someone’s skin as she relates to the humans around her.

How precious, how powerful, how priceless is her life’s organic journey?!

And to think that as parents we have the privilege to choose what path, what course, we set for our youngsters.

What will it be?

Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to read more, subscribe for my updates and grab my TRANSFORMATIVE freebie, 7 Steps to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Home Life by clicking HERE. 

When a Little Bit of Heaven Came Down to Earth

Four years ago today, in the early hours of this July summer morning, hubby and I quietly and somewhat soberly drove the long trek to the Medical Center in Seattle where our son and dear daughter-in-law were preparing for an emergency c-section to deliver their second child due to some very unexpected and quite serious complications. They had taken up residence at the hospital for several weeks as the dedicated staff were relentlessly monitoring our dear daughter-in-law, measuring all the vitally important factors leading up to this day. The call came suddenly the day before – it was time.

In a glorious nutshell, all went miraculously well and now, 4 years later, Mommy and baby are healthy and thriving, (and big sister and she are pretty much inseparable.)

 

I can say of a truth I’m continually reminded that this little doll is a miracle from heaven, and the joy she brings to us is beyond comprehension. We don’t mark her birthday as just ‘another day’ we celebrate it with gusto!

Life has changed in a huge way for me. Grandparenting IS TRULY all it’s cracked up to be.Click HERE for six simple secrets to thrive as a Nana or a Papa 😀

Thank you for reading, I’m truly honored. If you’d like to read more, subscribe for my updates and grab my tried and true TRANSFORMATIVE freebie, 7 Steps to Cure an Unhappy Kid and Revolutionize Your Home Life by clicking HERE.

Summer of Love

It’s summer here in the Pacific Northwest, and as I predicted HERE in May, my blog has taken on a new twist and schedule due to my priorities of making every moment count.

I’m committed to seizing the day – it’s a life principle that’s served me well and is especially needful this summer as the traditional season of sunshine is often painfully short-lived here in the Pacific Northwest, and folks are taking their vacation days, popping in for spontaneous get-togethers, meeting up for walks in the park, and even flying in to sleep on our air mattress. 🙂 I’ve been hosting a myriad of well-attended events in my smallish old apartment building; birthdays, brunches, happy hours, and barbecues, proving to me that people really could care less how fancy the setting or food is, they just want to connect. (One sudden birthday meal was Annies Mac n Cheese and peas!)

My happy place is facilitating a comfortable, joyful and accepting atmosphere for strangers, friends and family to enjoy something yum to eat and drink while they meet up and find relationship in this crazy, ofttimes lonely world of ours.

I’ll keep this short as I’ve had a busy weekend of barbecues, a wedding and as I type this I’m preparing our abode for a precious couple to arrive from out of state. They recently lost their son to heart disease and I long for them to find a place to rest and enjoy friendship. I’m determined to do everything I can to make that happen for them.

I don’t always take photos as I’m usually occupied with engaging in all that’s going on when we host, but I’ve included a few pics here.

I want to encourage you to open your home – it may be a mansion or a trailer but it’s not about that – it boils down to heart…and some food and drink, of course. (We like music, too, so you’ll usually walk into our place with tunes playing  on the Bose.)

Grace and peace to you and yours this summer; I truly hope you make a plan to invite a good mix of people into your home, however humble you think it is. When we get our eyes off of ourselves and what we don’t have to offer, and simply give what we do have to give, God multiplies the fishes and the loaves of our lives and feeds the multitudes some pretty miraculous food.

Until next time I’ll be signing off; I’ve got a bathroom to clean and sheets to change.

Hugs,

Denise

P.S. Click HERE for another post-with-a-twist I think you’ll enjoy, pertaining to hosting houseguests!

May God Bless America, land that I love!

I’m so incredibly thankful to be an American. I try not to take my freedom for granted; I’m sobered by the fact that so many sacrificed everything that I might live my life as a citizen of the greatest nation on earth. I know that with my privilege comes a sober responsibility; unto whom much is given, much is required. My prayers remain constant for our country.

Preparations are in full swing this week for our country’s biggest summer celebration. The Fourth of July – also known as Independence Day or July 4th – has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. (I highly recommend John Adams, the 7-part documentary series based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by David McCullough, starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. It masterfully depicts this time period, the characters involved and the unfolding of events leading to our Independence.)

From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

Have a safe and happy 4th as you celebrate the USA!