Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas, Baby!!

Blogging Friends.... I have posted some {Hopefully!!} fun Christmas-themed Blog posts throughout this month. But I saved the best for the last. A meditation of Christ's Birth in poetry!! Love you later.

Written by Raelyn!!

An angel came to Mary;
Said you're having a baby!
And she was shocked by his news;
But God's found favor in you.
Joseph had lots of doubts;
Now their plans won't work out;
Then an angel came in his sleep;
This wonderful wife you should keep!
Soon they had to move away;
Since the couple couldn't stay;
They left their old town;
For Bethlehem renown.
Suddenly, a feeling;
Our Baby is coming;
But every room was full;
Except for this stable!
Some poor shepherds watched sheep nearby;
When an angel flew from the skies;
While scaring them badly;
He told of the Baby!
And a host came, announcing;
Glory to God, Newborn King!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Gingerbread Men/Women Treats

Blogging Friends.... Well, now this just feels strange. I have yet to post the Halloween and Thanksgiving dog treat recipes that I baked for Rosey on Beautifully Unique.... And yet, here we are {Five days until Christmas!! Gasp!!} and I am posting the dog treat recipe that I'm planning on giving Rosey for Christmas?! Ugh. Love you later.

I own a dog treat cookbook which features four different Christmas-themed recipes. Cool, right? However. The recipe that I initially planned to bake, we lacked the ingredients for!! So.... I logged Online the other night and did a lengthy Google-search which lasted until about 11:30!! The winner? Gingerbread Dog Biscuits!! We have all the ingredients in our kitchen. Check!! I happen to be a sucker for gingerbread men this time of year. Check!! And perhaps the best reason of all? They taste like Christmas!! Why, yes. I did taste-test one!! To give credit to whom credit is due? I found this recipe on .

Rosey would rate this recipe four 'paws' way, way up!! {Yes, she got a pre-Christmas Day sample!!}

Gingerbread Dog Biscuits

3 cups whole wheat flour {I am a rebel.... So I used 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 1/2 cups white flour!! This way--in my experience--the dough is not crumbly!! But I did need to add a little more water off and on!!} 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup water {She put this little much needed ingredient down below, so I neglected to even see it.... At first. So I am putting it up here!!}

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, ginger and cinnamon. {I repeat.... I am a rebel!! So I just poured those ingredients into my bowl!! Who needs a sifter?!} Mix in the oil, molasses, and let rest for 15 minutes. {If memory serves me right--and it seldom ever does!!--I hip swayed to Elvis Presley's version of "Here Comes Santa Claus" as it played on our radio while waiting!! My body will most likely hate me tomorrow!!}

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick. {You know what? I do not care about measuring dough thickness!! I just roll it out and hope for the best!! Anyhoo....} Cut out the cookies with bone-shaped cookie cutters [I also used a dog house cookie cutter]. {Wait. What?! These are gingerbread dog cookies!! Oh for Heaven's sake!! I used my gingerbread man and woman cutter!!} Transfer to the prepared sheet. Bake until firm, about 20 minutes. {Um.... I baked them for 25 minutes!! I made 15 gingerbread men and women treats!!

Did you know that I introduced my nearly three-year old niece, "Amethyst" to Bruce Springsteen's rockin' live performance of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"? {Which, by the way, occurred in 1975!! That was before I was ever even born!! Cool!!} She--who calls Bruce Springsteen "Buce"--will stop playing and dance to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" alongside me!! {Yes, as though nobody is watching!!} I love how Bruce Springsteen feels like a longtime family friend somehow--his singing, performances and music--expanding generations.... My parents.... Me.... "Amethyst".... And did you know that Bruce Springsteen makes an awesome dog treat baking partner? {Or more like a blessed distraction!!} Because after several failed vibes sent toward our local "Christmas" radio station to play Bruce Springsteen, they finally did!! Honestly? As I sang and danced around the house, I haven't a clue how much work I got done!! Aw, Bruce....      

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Beagle Ornament

Blogging Friends.... This post is "an oldie but a goodie", as that phrase goes, for I first "published" it in 2011!! Wow.... That was three years ago!! I have made changes to it, as per usual!! Love you later.

Grief. It is an interesting concept. Complex, even. Depending on the individual walking that path, grief is as unique as a Zebra's stripe pattern. Or the human fingerprint. Or a Giraffe's markings. Or a snowflake. Some people are seemingly so very emotional that their loss and grief overcomes them. Which is absolutely okay. Others are seemingly mentally strong, with few tears streaming down their faces. Which is absolutely okay, as well. There's no right or wrong way to grieve. In my experience, once you think grief has passed, {No pun intended!!} every single thought/feeling/emotion resurfaces itself like some fish bobbing his head in water. Because once you consider grief "dealt with", and progress is made, your complicated thoughts/feelings/emotions take command. Then? It feels like zero progress was ever been made, and as though you have "relapsed". Yes, I know this experience far too well. I always think about and miss Shadow Sunshine, my Beautifully Unique "blond"-furred German Shepherd/Golden Retriever cross at Christmastime. She was euthanized on June 15th, 2010. I have an entire decade's worth of Christmas memories spent with Shadow. Of filling her soft velvet-like red and white stocking. Of purchasing treats, plus dog toys. Of celebrating December 25th with my mutt. I recall as though it was yesterday mine and Shadow's final Christmas together. Shadow had been showing inevitable signs of aging. Deafness, stiff joints, senile behavior. I somehow knew deep, deep, deep down within my heart that this would be our last Christmas together. Was it Mama's Intuition? I do not know. I could just feel that December 25th, 2009 would be our last Christmas together. So I made it count. Every single second. And boy, did I create an amazing last Christmas memory!! For it is one that will remain within my psych forever. Forever. Shadow no longer played.... Thus spending money on tennis balls seemed irrelevant this year. Instead, I filled her Christmas stocking with treats, treats, treats and more treats. Nothing else. Because, although Shadow was never a "food-lovin'" girl like Rose, throughout her final years on Earth, she loved treats. If memory serves me--and it seldom ever does!!--I purchased pizza-flavored Canine Carry Outs, Snawsomes twists, and salmon Yummy Chummies. Nothing healthy, I'm afraid!! But to quote Tony Stark from Iron Man 3? "Screw it, it's Christmas!" Well!! It turned out that my Mama's Intuition was absolutely correct. Because less than six months later? Shadow died. And we would never enjoy another December 25th together again. Fast forward. During Christmas 2010, three months after adopting Rose--surprise, surprise!!--I was still struggling with grief. It came upon me suddenly, like some explosive ambush. See, 2010 was a Christmas of firsts. Cosmic firsts. In more ways than one!! 2010 was my first Christmas with Rose. And.... It was also my first December 25th sans Shadow. I bought Rose a matching soft velvet-like red and white Christmas stocking. I purchased her gifts. Yet somehow, the memory of Shadow's last Christmas on Earth seemingly haunted me that year. Like some ghost or demon. I just missed Shadow so much!! Complicated, twisted thoughts/feelings/emotions seared through me. It felt selfish and wrong to be experiencing such a palpable longing for Shadow.... When I have Rose!! But, nonetheless, there were tears, sorrow, and heartache. All expressed privately, as I am known for keeping thoughts/feelings/emotions from those who I'm in close proximity to. Which, I will admit, is a fault of mine. One Saturday, we drove downtown to do some Christmas shopping. And I was feeling really emotional. I wept in an antique shop while halfheartedly looking at merchandise. Yes, wept. And, although I tried to hold those tears within me, they flowed anyway like some mighty waterfall. For lunch, we ate fast-food at Jack-In-The-Box. I ordered my usual favorite. The Ultimate Cheeseburger. {Minus ketchup and mustard.} Which, they have since ruined--in my opinion--by adding spices. Yuck!! Why couldn't Jack-In-The-Box just leave well enough alone?! While awaiting our meal, my tears forced me toward their ladies room to compose myself. I then stared in their mirror and attempted bravery. I'll be okay. I'll be okay. I'll be okay, I chanted to myself, as though it were a mantra. Then later, we discovered this quaint little store. It was decorated for Christmas!! Everything looked so lovely!! On display, there was this small artificial tree. It looked so very festive!! Hanging on its branches were various glass dog breed ornaments. Naturally, I felt drawn to the Golden Retriever, which is "half" of Shadow. No, I coached myself, Move on. Time to move on.... Be in the "now". Walk away from that tree!! And walk away I did. Then suddenly, I felt God softly whisper something to my heart and soul. He said this. Go back. Go back. Look for the Beagle. So, I walked over to that artificial Christmas tree once more. And.... There it was!! A glass, glittery brown, black and white Beagle!! Oh, it was absolutely flawless!! And the ornament may as well have been custom-made!! Black on its back, a white chest, this adorable brown-colored furrowed forehead.... Just like Rose!! So, I purchased the ornament. Because how could I possibly resist?! Its tag read this. Beagle: Dogs selflessly give humans their unconditional love and loyalty. Beagles are one of the most popular scent hounds because of their energy, willingness to work and sweet dispositions. They make great family pets and truly enjoy their status as "man's best friend." Wow. Minus the "energy {and} willingness to work" part, that describes Rose spot-on!! Loyal. A sweet disposition. Loving. I will treasure forever that sparkly glass Beagle ornament!! Because one glance at it reminds me of so much. That first Christmas sans Shadow. My tearful mood swing-infused pity party. Healing. Not to mention. Everything that Rose blesses me with!! She is an incredible one-of-a-kind friend!! My four-legged "kindred spirit". Because, as a mutt, Rose was born different, like me. She's amiable, submissive, and easy to train. Rose is sneaky, strong-willed, plus sometimes naughty. And I love it all!! Rose truly is a Beautifully Unique creature!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Flyin' My Christmas Freak Flag!!

Blogging Friends.... Fun games. I rather enjoy them!! Bridal shower games. Baby shower games. Ellen DeGeneres' talk show games. Especially when such games are Christmas-y!! Well, on her Blog today, Kelle Hampton partook in something festive and fun!! "The best of the best for December". So I thought I'd play along!! We were supposed to leave our answers in the comment box. However. I am a rebel!! Besides. My answers are far too long for a little comment box!! I also made several changes, as per usual!! Enjoy!! Love you later.
Favorite Christmas film. Prancer. I grew up with this film because its main character, Jessica, reminds everybody of little girl me!! And as soon as the Christmas season begins? I quote lines from Prancer in my crazy never-shuts-down head!!

Runners up. The Santa Clause trilogy. {With Tim Allen!! Love him!!} Miracle on 34th Street {Both the old and new versions!!} It's a Wonderful Life. The Nativity Story. .... There are so many good holiday films out there!!

Favorite Christmas song. Bruce Springsteen's rockin' live version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"!! Because.... Bruce!! Hello? Need I say more?! I do not think so!! For me, it just is not Christmas until I hear this song!! Because when Bruce Springsteen calls out "You guys know what time it is? What time, huh? What? What? Oh, Christmas time!" he not only catches my attention. He awakens my Christmas Spirit like nobody--and I mean nobody--can!! "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer". Why? Because we are Kindred Spirits, Rudolph and I. I was born different. My birth defects were craniosynostosis. Congenital diaphragmatic hernia. And Wolff-Parkinson White syndrome. Rudolph? He was born with a bright red nose!! I have been made fun of, called nasty names and--yes--left out of "reindeer games". As has he!! I am a misfit in this world. As is he!! Simply put? Rudolph and I "get" each other!! {I don't have a specific favorite version of that song.... Although I do love it whenever the radio plays Harry Connick Jr.'s!! Martina MacBride's version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Because that song has been there for me on more than one occasion!! "Little Saint Nick" by The Beach Boys. I call it "Run, Run Reindeer", because I love renaming songs!! During Christmas 2005, I was afflicted with pneumonia. An illness which I would never wish upon anybody!! Whenever the radio played "Little Saint Nick", it made my entire Christmas!! I love it!! And to keep Christ in Christmas? "Hark! The Herald Angel Sing". Because of its timeless, beautiful doctrinally sound lyrics!! Oh, I could go on and on and on....

Favorite Christmas tradition. Well.... Now that I am an adult, many of my fondest Christmas traditions have sadly stopped. So I will be nostalgic!! One. We enjoyed annual cookie exchanges at my Aunt and Uncle's house. Yum!! I always sat at the table where my Grandmother's "old" friends--who are now mostly all gone--were. We ate cookies while I charmed them!! For some reason they loved little pain-in-the-ass me!! Two. My oldest brother played his acoustic guitar as we sang various Christmas songs at my grandparents' house every Christmas Eve!! I especially loved it when he played "We Three Kings"!! Because at the "O, star of wonder, star of bright, star of royal beauty bright" my oldest brother got silly and really strummed that guitar!! Ah, memories!! Every year, we drove to a tree farm with my Grandparents, Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Once there? My Dad chopped down our "perfect" tree as we all yelled "Timber!!" Later, my Grandparents handed out various Hallmark Christmas ornaments. We have collected so many over the years!!

Dear Blogging Friends.... You may play along too!! Your turn!! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Magic

Blogging Friends..... So I am planning on posting Christmas-themed posts twice a week this month. Well!! I guess when you possess a poor concept of time, are indecisive on what, exactly, to post, and watching your beautiful nieces three days a week? It does not happen!! Anyhoo. This was a Christmas-themed journal entry!! Some changes were made, as per usual!! Love you later.

Look for my Christmas-themed fictional story to be posted on Minuscule is good! { } today!! {Lord willing!!} 

Do not listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. This has always been a "law" in our house. Which was established by my Dad!! Because he is the "Christmas Police". Listening to our ever-growing collection of holiday C.D.s before Thanksgiving is simply "prohibited" around here. If Dad the "Christmas Police" {Yes, he has been called Mr. Grinch!! And, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, Dad the "Christmas Police" truly loves this time of year!! I'm just sayin'!!} ever finds out, then Dad the "Christmas Police" will "arrest" and throw us all in "prison"!! Just kidding!! However. Nobody follows that "law" in this house!! Not my Mom. Or Michael. Not my sister. Or me. We begin listening to Christmas music as early as November 1st!! Happily, thank-you very much!! Because while Dad the "Christmas Police" is away at work all day? That is when we push play on our pre-Thanksgiving holiday music!! Dad's gone!! Bring it!! He will never know!! This is a cosmic secret--because it's "illegal", remember?!--and we are hush-hush about our behind Dad the "Christmas Police's" back pre-Thanksgiving holiday music!! Comically so!! However, Dad the "Christmas Police" does always eventually find our cosmic secret out, as small piles of holiday C.D.'s lying around--I'm afraid--gives us away!! Whoops. Do we look like we care?! Dad the "Christmas Police" hasn't "arrested" us!! Not yet!! On November 10th, my Mom, Michael and I drove to the mall for some Christmas shopping. Target was also one of our stops!! It turned out to be a good day {For me!!} to score some Christmas presents!! Well. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.... Everywhere we go!! While Michael and I were walking the mall, we saw a bright flash of light from its lower floor level. Santa Claus' photographer was downstairs snapping pictures of children!! Yes, Santa Claus!! Before Thanksgiving!! Michael and I immediately weaved through throngs of shoppers to look down. We missed the children.... But.... Santa looked up and waved his white-gloved hand at us!! It. Was. Magical!! I do not know what occurred next. Suddenly, I was transformed into a little girl!! Santa Claus has an amazing way of doing that!! How....? I haven't a clue!! "Hi Santa!!" I shamelessly called out for all the world to hear. Michael was no worse than me. He, too, transformed into a little boy!! "Merry Christmas!!" Michael said. And then, to make this experience all the more magical? Santa let out a hearty, jolly "Ho, ho, ho!!" Wow.... This man was born to be Santa Claus!! Or perhaps....? He really is Santa!! It felt so very magical--as though I was in Miracle on 34th Street--and I'm Susan Walker!! Shortly thereafter? Michael and I stepped into Hallmark. Before I even purchased a Christmas present? I heard an all-too-familiar voice call out: "You guys know what time it is? What time, huh? What? What? Oh, Christmas time!" And I knew. It was Bruce Springsteen's rockin' version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"!! On the radio. Before Thanksgiving!! The moment I heard Bruce Springsteen's voice, he instantaneously called me into a Christmas spirit!! And I became very, very, very excited!! "It's Bruce!!" I called to Michael. In a tiny Hallmark store. Where the clerks know me by name. At the mall. Because during one fleeting second? I forgot that I was in public!! It is Bruce Springsteen's fault!! What? It is!! A woman purchasing something at Hallmark's checkout desk looked at me quizzically as if wondering, Who is Bruce? "Sorry," I sheepishly said, "Not really!!" I break for Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"!! So I stopped my potential Christmas shopping!! I danced as though nobody was watching. Because Bruce Springsteen has far better moves than I do!! Trust me on that one!! I lip synched the lyrics. And it was official. Christmas had arrived!! Because when Santa Claus and Clarence Clemons both "ho, ho, ho" me in one day? I fly my Christmas freak flag high!! And I fly it openly!! "Law"? What "law"?! Dad the "Christmas Police" cannot "arrest" and throw me into "jail" now!! Why? Because The Boss said so!!