Dear Santa 2015

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December, 2015

Dear Santa,

635524489837773185-write-santaI hope you haven’t had your fill of yearly letters from me yet. This December I have an even larger request. Over the past few years you’ve marvelously delivered what I’ve asked for so I hope you can
pull things off for me once more.

Three or four years ago I requested that you provide me with memories of my childhood so I could pen a memoir. Things came through very clearly.

The next year I was lagging in the motivation to finish the publication. Miraculously, persistance and determination began to show up more frequently. Thus, I accomplished my goal. Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected came into the marketplace.

Last year, as you may remember, when I read my Dear Santa letter at the Steamboat Writers Group Xmas party I asked you for two gifts – to deliver some creative ideas on fresh ways to market my memoir and ideas for a new publication. Out of a small twinkle I once saw in your eye Santa, my e-book Lessons of Heart & Soul came into being.

I’m a little concerned that I am really overstepping my limits this year. I have a larger request than ever. Regretfully for you, but fortunately for me, my love of writing keeps leading me forward which requires asking for what could be harder to fill requests every year.

Santa, I am in dire need of a new computer. I mean, the one I’ve got I can tell is nearly worn out. I am grateful that it still is hanging in there.  I can always go work in the library, if  you can not fulfill my request. After all, it’s a beautiful environment – bright, cozy warm and the technology is all there. Problem is we are limited in the number of hours we can use their computers.  There are lots of other people who need them. I understand. I’m not kidding, I really do. Sometimes I awake in the middle of the night…and you know what William Faulkner says about that – “if there’s story is in you, it’s got to come out.

This year I’ve been asked to edit a publication and I need to contribute a chapter to the book also. I could work a little more efficiently if I had a new computer.

Lastly, Santa, I need a larger spark of interest in my ancestors because I have become involved in a genealogy writers group. Although I love to write about my memories, and I have a new found love of writing fiction, my most recent foray into a story can not come from just my own opinions. I’ll need some facts to better substantiate what I intend to write about. Can you help me out with that?

I’ve been a good girl. I always work hard at whatever I am doing. I’ve gotten my work ethics from my forebearers! I am not a slacker. I try to be kind and compassionate, like you. I help others to successfully accomplish their independent publishing goals by sharing my knowledge. It’s what I love to do!

Say, I have an idea! How about one year you and Mrs. Claus write love letters to one another about the spirit of Christmas.  They will be in kept in the family archives for generations. All your little elves down the line will love it too. I’ll help you if I have the means to do so. That is… with my new computer… (Hint, hint!)

P.S. Please don’t forget to take some time out for yourself. It keeps you healthy and in the right spirit of Christmas. Love U! Sue

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Easter Eggs of the Past

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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.

Letter to Santa

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santaDear Santa,

As I look out through the frozen window glass I am thinking of  a letter that I had sent to the North Pole a few years ago asking for your help with a publication I was writing.

In the correspondence I asked for a few things. I requested a big box of perseverance and patience – I got that! Large enough to see myself through my memoir project.

I asked for memories of my childhood so I could incorporate them into the story. Some were clear and others, a bit distorted, like frozen window glass.

A shovel was sorely needed so I could dig deep to remember the most meaningful times in my life. The shovel appeared, held up and didn’t disappoint me.

Admittedly, I wore out the thesaurus you included in my Christmas gifts that year. I referred to it so many times to get just the right words I needed, it’s all dog eared. This year, I need the latest, greatest updated edition for my next publishing project.

That light bulb you sent me to illuminate my mind – well, it’s all burnt out. I’ll need another one of those too. I think to myself “Maybe Santa will bring it when he and his reindeers drop off the new thesaurus.”

I asked you to send smart people my way to help me with the skillsets where I was lacking. Well, they arrived when they were needed and they were just plain terrific.

 The editor was given a very difficult task with Fanny’s unique and eloquent language. But, the editor hitched up her breeches and lived up to the task.

The graphic designer for my book cover created something I was thrilled with.

 And as for the sound technician and the audio book producer, they were superb. Without them, an award-winning audio book may not have happened.

This Christmas, I’d just like to say thank you, Santa, for your all help. As I look through the frozen window glass I realize my dreams have come true. Fanny and I have even won three book awards. I can hear my beloved Fanny now.  “Lord a Mercy, I didn’t know y’alls were gonna put me in a book. Dis is more den I coulda ever expected!”

This Christmas as Fanny would have suggested, I will leave you and your reindeer champagne glasses full of “da bestest water” as a thank you.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Cheers!

Fondly, Sue Batton Leonard, author of the award-winning book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. 

P.S. Thanks to the world-wide web, Santa will receive this letter in plenty of time for Xmas.

Roped into Helping the Help

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Advent Day #5  A piece of rope hanging from a ceiling becomes a turning point in Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. It also changed a girl’s self-definition.

Rope from ceiling

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For the sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories and it is a pity that we use it so little. – Rachel Carson

Rope hanging from the ceiling became one turning point in Sue Batton Leonard’s award-winning memoir. Outdoor clotheslines during the “baby boomer” era got heavy use! Our family  had a swimming pool, which meant lots of wet towels and clorine drenched bathing suits- I can remember the odors so clearly. In the Baltimore humidity, sometimes air drying took a lot of time. During the long stretches of heavy, moist summer air the towels took so long they didn’t always smell so fresh and needing laundering all over again to remove the smell of mildew. I remember how stiff the towels got – they could almost stand by themselves.

twin-girls-hanging-laundry-on-clotheslineOur beloved Fanny was usually mindful of watching the oncoming weather, knowing she had just hung the clothes out that morning. I can hear her now, “Jine, Sue, quick Miss Battoney, we needs to get dem clothes down off the da clothesline – here comes da afternoon downpour!” My mom, my sister, Fanny and I would race outside and pull the clothes off the line so as not to have them soaked all over again just when they were nearly dry.

But there was nothing like climbing into bed in spring with clean, air dried sheets. A deep, restful sleep was nearly insured. The breezy winds, with the clear blue skies not yet sated with the summer’s humidity left the best smell of all. Traces of the nearby lilacs seemed to float from the pillowcases, making for sweet dreams.

During these cold dark days of winter, memories of my childhood do much to warm my spirits. If you are interested in writing a memoir, this time of year is a great time to get started. It’s a wise use of many indoor hours.

Wishing you fulfilling days ahead and see you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling.

For more information on the award-winning memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, please visit this link.http://amzn.to/141aW6S.

A Mother Letting Go

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Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future. – Daphne Rose Kingma

I clearly remember my husband and me standing and waiting for the bus with our son on his first day of school. My mother-in-law was visiting. She was part of the big send off.  Surprisingly, my son had door to door service, the school bus stopped at nearly every student’s  house since we lived in a rural area in Vermont.

I remember the excitement my son exuded as he stood waiting. There didn’t seem to be a bit of nervousness or anxiety on his part, only on mine. I was a mother letting go,  reflecting on my own first day of school standing at the bus stop with my twin sister and my mother, who was probably a lot more anxious than I was when letting go.

When I think of my first day of elementary school, I think of this image. Did anyone else from the baby boomer generation have a plaid book bag like the one pictured? Sure brings back memories, doesn’t it?

red plaid bookbag 1950s

Do you like looking back on your childhood? There is a magazine you can subscribe to that will delight you. It’s called Good Old Days “The Magazine that Remembers the Best.” Here is how to subscribe. http://www.goodolddaysmagazine.com/stories/list.html?cat_id=52

This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com. See you tomorrow and Heads Up!  On Friday there will be an important revelation on All Things Fulfilling. Don’t miss out! I can hardly wait myself!

Shoes Bring Back Memories

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We can not change our memories, but we can change their meaning and the power they have over us. ~ David Seamons

Antique photos can be very stirring because some times they dredge up old and difficult memories we’d rather not think about. Yet some images have the power to help us recapture feelings that are as sweet and fulfilling as thoughts of vanilla pudding.

saddle shoesWhen I came across this photo of saddle shoes and white cotton socks, my recollections of standing at the bus stop on my first day of school came flooding back. My saddle shoes and white socks went everywhere together, like my twin sister and me. One was never without the other – kind of like the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that were in our school lunchboxes. I recall how the socks felt around my ankles – flimsy, insufficient and weak like my body. I can’t associate them with any warm feelings. My sister by my side was my strong, fuzzy security blanket.

When I look at the picture, I can even remember the precise smell of the white shoe polish our classmates used to keep their shoes looking new and unscuffed. Mine never really needed to be polished. My shoes didn’t get knocked about or hard use. In fact, just outgrowing a pair of shoes was a big accomplishment.

This image of saddle shoes has brought back an entire childhood worth of memories. Now six decades later I look forward to sharing my story. My hope is that parents who have kids dealing with childhood illness will find something comforting and hopeful in the memoir. Most of all I want the book to bring to a smile to some faces.

Did you own a pair of saddle shoes? If so, you must be a baby boomer. Did your shoes have band of black, brown or navy blue leather at the instep? What thoughts of childhood do saddle shoes stir up for you ? Are they happy memories or difficult?

This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com. Do return tomorrow to All Things Fulfilling.

Fulfilling Flashbacks

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“God has given us our memories that we might have roses.” ~ Unknown

Recollections bookThere is a book by Jim Chambers called,  Recollections: A Baby Boomers Memories of the Fabulous Fifties that is a fun read if you grew up in the 1950’s and 1960s and like to return temporarily to yesteryear. Although I believe in the importance of moving forward in my life, just thinking back to childhood days is fulfilling.

Click for info & ordering

The other day, I returned to my childhood, when I stopped by a snowball stand (also known as snow cones, in other parts of the country) for a treat down memory lane. Choosing a flavor has not become easier as an adult, I can assure you of that. Tutti-fruity, blood orange, thunderbird, lemon-lime, they all sounded good, but root beer eventually won out. The girl manning the stand rushed me to a quick decision when she looked at me with her beady eyes, as if to say “Hurry up lady, make up your mind, I’ve got along line of people waiting.”

As I sipped and crunched on the giant-sized cup of crushed ice with artificial flavoring, I thought back to all kinds of fulfilling thoughts of summer from the 1950s and 60s. Do you remember?

  • “Sea and Ski” suntan lotion? Back then, the thought of adding a sun block to the lotion would have been a travesty!
  • The drive-in movies? The audio box that hung from the window emitted sounds that crackled and broke up.
  • Lazy  days by the pool or laying on the bed reading The Bobbsey twin novels? One book after another?
  • Doing the twist or the “Freddie” with your friends? Loved the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Pappas, the Temptations, the Righteous Brothers and the Supremes.
  • Walking between bolts of fabric at the sewing store? Dreaming about patterns, colors and materials you’d need to make a back to school dress for      September?
  • Waiting for the weekly airing of Candid Camera? That show always tickled me pink.
  • Screaming like a raving maniac when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan? How I adored Ringo and also Topo Gigio!

608-worldsfair-postcardI was keenly aware that our family shared a special privilege, the summer of 1964. We went to the World’s Fair in NY. Oh, how I wish my youngest brother was old enough to remember it. He was just a baby. I marveled at seeing the huge globe on display, and colorful flags from all the nations represented, surrounding it. Our family sang “It’s a Small World After All” the entire way back to Baltimore.

Ahhhh…childhood. Beautiful childhood. I had all the time in the world just to be a kid and play. Unfortunate that today, kids get rushed through it, isn’t it?

This  blog brought to you by Sue B Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected Click for info & ordering Sue’s memoir and www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com. A company specializing in e-commerce and e-marketing for independent publishers.