The Gospel Truth About Sainty Claus

1 Comment

“Christmas my child is love in action.” ~ Dale Evans
Elf-on-the-Shelf-5In the Batton household, we didn’t need an elf on the shelf to remind us that “you better watch out, you better not pout. Santa Claus is coming to town.”

I can still hear the kinds of things the prominent character in my life story said some fifty years ago. When my twin and I and our two brothers got unruly around the holidays, here’s the kind of verbal warning we’d get:

Ya’ll better behave yo’selves right now. Sainty and dem reindeers don’t gotta mess with chillins who ain’t behavin’ and not listenin’ to dare mamas! Sainty Claus, why, he’ll pass ya’ll on by and go on over to somebody else’s house and drop off presents. He ain’t gonna wanta interrupt no come to Jesus meetin’ we gonna have in dis house if ya’ll don’t stop dat bickerin’ and a fightin!

I guess I better get Mr. Battoney, yo’ daddy, up on da roof to clean out dat chimbley ‘case ya’ll decide to straighten out and Sainty decide ta make an appearance!

Oh how I loved that lady!! And the richness in the way of life lessons she brought to our family life. If you would like to learn more about the gospel truth, according to Fanny, who was a miracle worker of sorts, it’s all inside the award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. 

Fanny with socks

And that’s all I’ve got for you today on All Things Fulfilling. See you tomorrow!

 

Family of Composites

1 Comment

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life! ~Albert Einstein

“She’s just like her father,” or “the apple didn’t fall far from that tree,” is often heard at every family reunion, celebration of birth or funeral.

I challenge you to find a family where all members are exactly alike. The family of man is made up of  individuals with unique characteristics  – physical, emotional and intellectual. A group of composites makes life interesting.

When our family gets together we are loud and possibly overbearing to outsiders. Having a healthy sense of humor is the best defense a newcomer can arrive with if they want to survive the experience.

Crazy woman wearing a metal colander for a helmet

I am grateful that my family and all those who came to it through marriage enjoy being with each other.  We try to avoid talking politics or dietary choices. We have “agreed to disagree” on those issues. Sometimes we successfully respect the unspoken ground rules and other times things get a little vocal. What do you expect from a bunch of fruits and nuts from the harvest of America’s people who all have their own opinions and were raised differently?

As you will learn from my memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, we’ve had many crazy times around our family table whether it was a holiday or not. The audio book holds the real treasure and you can get a better picture of what I mean when you listen to the voices.

The recounting of those family stories (from the EVVY award-winning anthology) was before our clan expanded to include my husband and our offspring and my siblings spouses and their families. Since then, there have been more lessons of heart & soul that have been learned from extended family.

 

 

 

Once within a House & Yard

3 Comments

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action. ~ Mother Teresa

Grandmothers house 2802 Fleetwood AvenueOnce upon a time all it took was a quick glance from the sidewalk and the heart and soul of this place could be felt in an instant. An American flag flew proud and tall on a big pole in the yard. A couple of rocking chairs sat on the small front porch and small pots of flowers crowded the ledge around it. The voices of neighborhood children walking by cheerily yelled out “Hi Baba!” It was a daily occurrence. The woman who lived there was a grandmother of everyone’s dreams.

A huge tall oak tree once grew on the left side. It canopied the property as if it embraced the residents living within the bungalow-style house.  Both front and backyard were carefully and lovingly tended by a bald, kind-hearted man who was called Pop by his grandchildren. He was as equally fine and gentile as his wife.

In the backyard grew lilacs, wisteria and the hugest magnolia tree I’d ever witnessed. So tall that as a young child, I couldn’t even see up to the tippy top. The tree went on forever – all the way on up to heaven. An outdoor brick fireplace in the gorgeously landscaped backyard cooked many a hotdog! Goldfish circled the waters of a four foot cement pond.The sounds of fun and laughter could be heard frequently of a wonderful couple who especially adored the days when their four grandchildren came to visit.

Smells of fresh peach cake, “smoked neck” with potatoes and green beans, yeast rolls and other lovingly cooked food and baked goods wafted outside through the screen door of the tiny galley kitchen. The aromas settled on pots of colorful pansies and petunias and on rows of dinner plate dahlias and gladiolas that lined the perimeter of the yard.

The house still stands, but when I look at this picture, I don’t see any evidence of the life that once graced the place. The tender loving care put  into the house and the children and grandchildren who visited remains only in my memories. This place once made my heartbeat warmly every time I entered in the door.

So what’s the good news on this Thirsty Thursday?  I can still hear the voice of my Grandmother….”Susie Annie, is that you, hon? Want a nice tall glass of ice cold sweet tea? I just loaded up the candy dishes on the buffet in the dining room. Help yourself. There are nonpareils, jelly candies, butter mints, anything you want. The Chiclets are in the top drawer of the buffet on the left.”

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, the award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. Click here for more information on Sue Batton Leonard’s publications.

 

Easter Eggs of the Past

3 Comments

You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. ~ Fyoda Dostoyevsky

Oh, Easter Joy! Look at these little pretties that are pictured. I’ve been up since before the crack of dawn making them.

In my memory box from my childhood are recollections of the year my mother and my aunt Claire made my twin sister, two brothers and me, and our two cousins Jay and Karen (aka Meg) hand-crafted Easter eggs made out of mashed potatoes.  Yes, you read it right – mashed potatoes.

Although both my mother and my aunt (now in their mid-eighties)  have lucid memories of making these eggs, neither of them still have the recipe but I was able to track it down from A Taste of Home.

The candy is every bit as good and sweet as commercially made coconut-crème Easter eggs (sweet enough to send your preschooler on a jet propulsion sugar high until she/he graduates from college). Perhaps they do have a smidge more nutritional value since they are made with potatoes!

easter handmade chocolatesWhat a fulfilling morning I have had recreating a childhood memory by making my own hand-crafted coconut-creme eggs. Only thing missing was my mom and aunt by my side!  Mom & Claire – you are in my heart today and every day because of the memories you made for our family during our childhood.

Easter 4Readers, I share the recipe with you today while there is still time to make these candies for Easter for your family. They are really quite easy!

Recipe: Mashed Potato Hand-Crafted Easter Eggs from A Taste of Home

1/2 cup butter softened (I used no-salt butter)

1/2 cup cold mashed potatoes (cold is important) -plain – prepared without added milk & butter)

2 lbs confectioners sugar

1 1/2 cups flaked coconut

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 lb of dark chocolate candy coating (such as Wilton Candy Melts) – Walmart has these

In bowl, cream butter and beat in mashed potatoes. Add coconut and vanilla and then add in confectioners sugar. You may need less or more sugar until you have a somewhat stiff dough.

Line cookie sheet with waxed paper and dot with tablespoon size clumps of the mixture. Refrigerate 4 -6 hours. Once refrigerated the candy mixture will stiffen up and be easier to work with to shape into egg shaped forms.

In microwave oven melt candy coating according to directions and dip oval shaped (egg shaped) candy into the chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip off. Decorate with sprinkles or other candy decorations or leave plain. Place on waxed paper and chill once again until set. Store these in refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes approx 96 candies. The recipe can be halved easily.

Easter book promo

Return tomorrow there will be an Easter gift from me to you! You will be able listen to an audio narration of an Easter story from a chapter of my award-winning audio book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. The audio book is narrated by it’s author, Sue Batton Leonard.

Integrating Gratefulness

Leave a comment

prayer1

Does this simple prayer sound familiar to any of our readers? It is one of several easy to remember prayers that my brothers, sister and I said around the family dinner table. If you are interested in integrating more “gratefulness” into your family life or having a conversation with your grandchildren about being appreciative, here is a good article.http://bit.ly/11kgIPd.

 

We are living in an age of consumerism so teaching children to be grateful for all they’ve got is an especially important concept. The most meaningful prayers for children are those that they can relate to. The exercise of going around the table asking children what they are thankful for is a good practice. Warning: be prepared for some very endearing responses!

As we age, we see loved ones passing. We become acutely aware that taking time to be grateful for our lives and all it’s blessings is important. If you can instill this concept in children, they will live with greater purpose and meaning. Gratefulness is defined not by religion but by an individuals value of life. Have the conversation, it is never too early or too late!

prayer 3This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of the award-winning book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. For more information on the publication, please visit this link. http://amzn.to/141aW6S. The audio book enables families to read together as a family. It humorously and warm-heartedly gets across the concept of thanksgiving.

 

Harvest Full of Blessings

2 Comments

“All-cheering Plenty, with her flowing horn, Led yellow Autumn, wreath’d with nodding corn.” ~Robert Burns, poet

IMG_20141025_103205_903

“Dad… Mom… I’m home!” I yelled out, when I arrived at my parents place in Maryland along the trail of my East Coast book tour. “Let’s party!”

I hadn’t seen my parents since the publishing of my memoir back in March, and I was promised that once I got home, there’d be a celebration and reunion.

What a splendid time it was on the shores of the Chesapeake. Couldn’t have asked for more stellar weather  to celebrate being with my family, my hard work and the real star of the story, Fanny!

This day there is no need for too many words.The pictures will tell the tale of a few fun filled  days with remembering the best things about all being together under one roof. Unfortunately, not everyone was present due to work and college obligations. Some missed the party, and I would have loved to have spent the day with them also. But, I can’t help but reflect on the harvest of blessings I have in my life. Here are some of them:

Photo Below: Always the “bestest hostess” ever , my Mom! I swear the woman has hosted more family gatherings in her 85 yrs of life  than any person on the planet! IMG_20141025_103816_849

Two photos below: A beautiful fall day on the Chesapeake! Couldn’t have asked for much better!IMG_20141025_103556_906

IMG_20141025_114809_011

 

 

IMG_20141025_103141_493

Above: My contribution to the party – I baked a pineapple-upside-down gingerbread cake and easy, flavorful pulled chicken sandwiches.(Thanks to http://www.mccormick.com/. A Maryland company!)  The cake was also yummy and definitely a do-over recipe. Will make again!

IMG_20141025_120303_663

Above: Me with my twin sister’s family – her two daughters and their partners. The guy and gal on each end of the picture are husband and wife architects – the Babcocks!

Below: Two great women in the kitchen – my mom and my niece Devon! She is usually at  http://www.milarepacenter.org/index.html, in their kitchen, cooking up nutritious food for one and all.

IMG_20141025_104307_979

 

IMG_20141025_134147_528Above: What’s a family get together without a few games? My brother-in-law, the REAL chef of the family setting up for a good wholesome Corn Hole Competition! My brother Scott and I were a champion team. We beat the pants off my twin sister and her team mate, Jay. (She’ll say I am exaggerating).

Below: The day was spiced with more family, food and discussion.

IMG_20141025_143422_797

Photo below: The patriarch and matriarch at the far end of the table – surrounded by  family (grandchildren, in-laws & significant others)

IMG_20141025_143401_104

Below photo: What’s a BBQ without ribs? My two brothers are digging into food instead of digging foundations. Thanks Scott, the ribs were melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and messy too!IMG_20141025_143533_873

Below: Jan looks like she is practicin’ to sing in the choir. Glad to see you are holding your hands like the Trapp Family singers always did in the “Sound of Music.”

IMG_20141025_134317_056

IMG_20141025_114906_753

The end of a fabulous day on the Chesapeake Bay.
IMG_20141024_181519_773

I’m never at a loss for subject matters to continue a story with this family of mine that keeps on building and getting larger!

For some of us who can’t always get home for the holidays – we decided this was an early Thanksgiving! Tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling, I will show just a few more fruits of God’s creation that my sister and I discovered when we went biking and exploring in the woods together. It was just like old times.

This blog is brought to you by the award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard and her book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.  More information will be coming later on in the week about a nationally broadcast book reading that I will be participating in soon. Thanks to blog radio! https://richerlifellc.com/Harvest_Book_Reading_2.html.

Camp Fire Songs

4 Comments

I love to go a-wandering

Along the mountain track

And as I go, I love to sing

My knapsack on my back

Chorus:

Val-der-ri, val-der-ra

Val-der-ra, val-der-ha ha ha ha ha ha

Val-der-ri, val-der-ra

(My knapsack on my back)

Who remembers these words and music by Friedrich W. Möller and Antonia Ridge?

This song reminds me of a very happy time in my youth –  singing around the campfire with the Girl Scouts. First I was a Brownie, and then I “flew up” to a Junior Girl Scout. Ceremonially it made me feel as valued as becoming a debutante at a  “coming out” party. Although I had  never experienced what that was like, I imaged as a kid the feelings were similar.  I’m from an average, middle class American family with parents who had strong work ethics. They put their family, work and  community first.

If you were a Girl Scout, watch this less-than-a-minute video. I promise you will fall into repeating the words as if you just said them yesterday, even if it’s been decades.

The Girl Scouts in Steamboat Springs, Colorado are having a recruitment night tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 12). Pass the word to girls who are interested in the organization. It is happening at the United Methodist Church from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. What a great group to be involved with.

In retrospect, I guess my values haven’t changed much and I still love to go a wandering with a knapsack on my back. Val-der-ri, val-der-ra….

This blog is brought to you by the award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard. For more information on her memoir, which just won 2 EVVY book awards, visit this link.http://amzn.to/1ulyFYs

Eggs in the grass

My twin and me, atop Mt Werner in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  What a gift to spend a birthday with Jan after 30+ years of being far from each other on our special day.