My New Condo Renovated ~ a blessing of peace

Open concept dining/living space. The parson’s table is deceptive. It opens to seat 4 – 6.

The renovation on my new two-bedroom, oh so comfy, condo is the culmination of a back-burner dream I had while still living in Brooklyn (NYC)…that is to move to Florida and own my own place.

In many ways, it was a matter of love, faith, and grace. The Love of God. My faith, though faltering at times. God’s grace. It’s easy to see, it’s God/moi, two-to-one. Actually, it’s God to me, a gazillion to one.

My china cabinet, where my mother’s wedding china and my set are displayed, as well as other memory bearing collectables.

I believe this was God’s plan for me, because I’m at peace…in more peace than I’ve had in years.

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. My husband Joseph will have passed three years this December 8th. He didn’t make it to Florida, but he did make it to heaven. PTL

I take the Bible verbatim. Jesus came to earth in the flesh that we may enjoy life. He came to be a blessing and He wants us to bless others. You don’t have to be wealthy to bless others. You only have to be rich of spirit. Give what you can. I gave 98% of my husband’s clothing and personal belongings to the Salvation Army and Goodwill. It blesses me thinking maybe someone getting their life back on track is making good use of the suits he wore to work. There are so many other ways to bless others. Open the door for someone who is carrying a load, or dealing with children. Little courtesies do count. They make life easier and better for everyone…and they’re fun. Try it. You’ll like blessing others.


My new, tiny galley kitchen with magnets on the refrigerator Joseph and I collected on our vacays and at places we visited.



Frugal at Christmas ~ doesn’t mean you’re a Scrooge

Christmas candes

I’m a believer in God’s blessing. I believe He delights in blessing those who love and follow Him. That said, I also believe in good stewardship. And I don’t believe ‘frugal’ and ‘blessing’ are opposed to each other.

I’m also a list maker and one who always has Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

If statistics are correct, a great number of people, when the January bills came in last year, nearly had a stroke? Their Christmas spending literally wiped out their savings? It would be a good idea not to do that again this year. Proverbs 21:20 [The Living Bible] ~ The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets.

Tips For A Wonderful Christmas Than Won’t Break The Bank:

Tip #1: Decide what you can afford to spend…and then pay with cash. People who use cash spend less than those who pull out the plastic. Paying cash insures you won’t go into debt.

Tip #2: Make a list (not a naughty or nice one). Simply divide your budget by the number of people on it. You might have to make two lists, one for the people you’ll be giving more expensive gifts (loved ones), and one for associates you’d like to bless but you intend to spend less. With either list, if the ideal gift for one is less than you’re spending for others (but is still in the ball park and doesn’t look cheap), don’t try to compensate by throwing in a bunch of pointless do-dads that eat up money. If it looks cheap, then perhaps you should question if it’s ideal. Remember frugal doesn’t equal cheap.

Tip #3: Have your list in your hand when you shop for gifts (or for food, for that matter). Stores will have incredible Christmas sales and you’ll be tempted to overbuy. This is also where shopping with cash will help you. You can’t buy it if you can’t pay for it. Leave your credit cards home.

Tip #4: If you have an aging parent, get all the “kids” together to purchase one big, more expensive item mom or pop might be yearning for but can’t afford, rather than a bunch of smaller gifts.

Tip #5: Create a Christmas menu for your holiday dinner(s) and/or buffet(s). Make a list . Don’t wander around the super market picking up whatever catches your eye. If you do that, you’ll wind up with items you won’t use and have to come back for what you should’ve purchased the first time — a costly mistake.

Tip #6: If you shop with coupons (and that’s a real good idea) throw away those for items you don’t usually use. Don’t wait until you get into the store because you might succumb to the temptation to purchase those items because they’re a bargain…and honestly, you’ll be staring at them on your shelf for a long time until you finally throw them out.

Don’t forget to include in your budget a gift to whatever mission or charity your church is sponsoring this Christmas. Send a check to a TV or radio ministry you’ve watched for years but have never financially supported. Give to your local food bank. Whenever you see a Salvation Army worker ringing a bell, throw a dollar or two into the pot. A wonderful idea is to fill a shoebox and send it to Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child. Or you can fill a box online, or simply make a small contribution. While we’re cautious about spending, we can budget in ways that honor the Kingdom of God.

Nativity figures


25 Things That Turn Me On About America…

Late Christmas night our house was quiet and it had been a wonderful day filled with family, friends, and good food. I started tweeting and posting on Facebook and Gooogle+ what I loved about America and boy-oh-boy the response I got was so positive and supportive, I decided to do this to wind up the year 2013.

So the things I love about America, things that tickle me and make me smile, things that make me all mushy and happy inside are (not in any particular order, well maybe somewhat in order):

Thomas Jeffersson penning The Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson penning The Declaration of Independence

1. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers.

2. The men and women serving in the US Armed Services around the globe. Proud of them. They’re the best there is.

3. Our first responders. They are tops at what they do, totally professional.

4. We’ve got heart. Some might say moxie. We’re not afraid to be an original.

5. The Killing (AMC, crime drama). The journey and friendship of Seattle homicide detectives Linden and Holder.

6. We are a forgiving people. We allow those who’ve messed up to get a second chance, or even a third or fourth.



7. We look great in jeans, sunglasses, and bomber jackets. Look pretty good in peacoats too.


8. Caesar Salad, Buffalo Wings, the hot dog, ice cream, M&Ms and Santa (they are real).

Billy Graham


9. Billy Graham.



10. The Rose Bowl Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

11.  We have the best animated cartoons, starting with Disney…then going to Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, The Flintstones, Mighty Mouse, Popeye, Sponge Bob, Veggie Tales. etc.

12. We are a giving people. Americans send charitable contributions from their own pockets to those in need all around the world.

13. The Global Positioning System (GPS). We’d all be lost without it. Was created and designed by the US Department of Defense and is freely accessible to anyone with a GPS device.


14. We are a strong people. We have weathered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Super Storm Sandy, many extreme tornadoes and we keep on keeping on. Not to mention the 9/11 terrorist attack and the Boston Bombing. Disasters don’t keep us down too long.


15. Independent Bookstores. Inkwood in Tampa, Brazos in Houston, the Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle, the Strand in New York City.

Key Largo Mrs Mac's

16. Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Not the Food Network Show…well, yeah the show, but I mean is the real thing (take, Mrs. Mac’s in Key Largo, the Tick Tock in Clifton, NJ).


16. The internet. Invented in the good olde U.S. of A., but not by Al Gore.

Ford Thunderbird 1960

17. Vintage Fords, Chevys, Studebakers. You can keep your high priced foreign jobbie. Give me a vintage, 1960 Thunderbird.


18. Sweet Sixteen Parties. A right of passage for the American teenage girl.

19. The National Anthem ~ “The Star Spangled Banner,” and anyone who can hit that high note.


20. Pie. Home-baked, for church suppers, at county fairs and bake-offs.

21. Effervescent Salutations and Farewells. These annoy Europeans and confound everyone else. You’re not going to get too far into an American hotel, restaurant, boutique, hair salon, or anywhere else without hearing, “Hello, Welcome, Hi there, Have a nice day, Howdy.” And you won’t get out the door without, “Take care, Have a safe trip, Drive carefully, Prayin travelin mercy.”

22. The Melting Pot. We’re a culturally diverse nation with citizens, legal and illegal aliens from all corners of the world. And we mostly get along. The truth is most American families have at least one family member (perhaps married in) who is not of the same race, religion, or ethnicity as the rest of the family. Other families are a virtual League of Nations.

Flag American

23. American Flags. You see them everywhere…in town squares and on public buildings, natch. Also on houses, cars, trucks, boats, RVs, motorcycles, as well as tattooed onto arms and ahem, other body parts.


24. The Salvation Army. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being there. For staying after other organizations who come with hoopla and a media blitz asking for donations but then are long gone. Thank you for boots on the ground, for doing the grunge work of putting families and communities back together.

Seltzer w, Lime

25. Free Refills with a Citrus Garnish and Ice. Most restaurants in the US will give refills on water with ice and will gladly drop in a lemon wedge. This would be a rarity in many parts of the world. In New York City patrons can have free refills on a glass of iced seltzer with lemon. Many American chain restaurants offer free refills on their soft drinks and iced tea or iced coffee.

Note: Thomas Jefferson photo, Ford Thunderbird, American Flag, Soft Drink courtesy of Stock.xchng

The Broad Channel One Year After Sandy.

The weather’s been up and down in Gotham. Nearly 60 degrees one day and then freezing the next. Several days ago we had a glorious day and I decided to take a drive to the Broad Channel for a look-see.



This might just be the most peculiar neighborhood in Queens, and not just because it sits smack in the middle of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, surrounded by water on all sides. It’s connected to the rest of the borough by two bridges and one subway. The bridges offer magnificent views of the bay.  The entire community is about twenty blocks long from north-to-south and four blocks wide from east-to-west. Man-made canals have been dug which separate the dead-end residential streets. Residents tend to love their boats and many have them moored in the canals.





Broad Channel’s mostly middle-class residents tend to be stalwart and have made a definite commitment to live here. There is no natural gas line running into the community which forces home owners to use more costly propane to heat their houses and to cook in their kitchens. With water everywhere the eye can see, as might be supposed this is an area prone to flooding.

It goes without saying Broad Channel was hit hard by Super Storm Sandy. Most of the residents have pretty much recovered. Life seems to be bustling. Stores and restaurants are open and doing business. The outside of homes in most of the community are in good shape. I did see one man with the outside of his house in tact, carrying lumber into the interior. I saw renovated houses with debris in the back yards.





Some residents have not fared so well. Either they didn’t have the financial resources to rebuild so quickly, or the damage to their homes was too extensive. Still, all of the houses I saw needing repair had permits nailed to the outside and their owners were doing their level best to bring them back.






Not everyone seemed happy with the government’s efforts to help the community. Several homes had “STOP FEMA NOW” signs prominently displayed in their front windows.



Residents are outraged by the new federal law, the Biggert-Waters Act which astronomically raises flood insurance rates for the purpose of keeping FEMA afloat. However, FEMA was supposed to do a feasibility study that was never done and the fed seems to be cherry picking how they will implement the law.

This tempest in a teapot goes far beyond the Broad Channel with senators from Massachusetts, Oregon, and Louisiana vociferously questioning FEMA.

The larger question seems to me to be should a politician be held to promises made before an election? Many who are in the political game as a career believe politicians who tell the truth do not get elected or re-elected. When do the American people want to hear the truth: before or after an election? Before or after a crisis? Eventually the truth will come out. Your elected official isn’t gonna do what was promised. When that happens why not throw the bum out. And here’s a novel idea: don’t vote for the guy who promises pie in the sky. Vote for the realist. Look for a candidate with a record of success in government, business. Vote for a candidate whose word is good.

However the debate on Biggert-Waters turns out, the fact remains that one year after Sandy, residents of New York City who were most hit are still struggling. The federal government promised the sun, moon, and the sky prior to the presidential election, which they obviously have not delivered. The Red Cross pulled out long ago. Now it’s mostly neighbor helping neighbor. Local churches and the Salvation Army have been at the forefront.

If you want to help contact…

Occupy Sandy. This was the name given to the recovery effort in its first days and it now has a website.

The Salvation Army New York City still has boots on the ground.