Sometimes it’s a reality check. If it wasn’t then it’d be a business transaction. Like a vending machine, put prayer in and pull out granted wish below. It wouldn’t rely on the possibility of learning.
Over the weekend I’ve been trying to figure a way to come up with some quick cash. It’s easy for people to say ask for <whatever> but hard to do. It’s harder when some look down at the request in a negative way. Some fencing material has come up for sale, and needs disposed of. The price is fair – $250 - but if I use funds for that, it takes away from paying other things that needs paid. Without additional funds, the fencing will go to the scrap yard tomorrow.
I’ve been praying for some time for materials needed to put raised beds, a hoop and fencing around this spot. I thought the chain link was the answer to that, but alas, without the money it’s just not going to be reality. It could be discouraging – it is discouraging. There are critics, there are some watching and doubting intentions. There are ‘friends’ that won’t talk and others who have been a constant support.
But tonight two sirens went out – meaning someone lost a home. Somewhere tonight someone lost a parent, a child, a sibling. In the face of serious losses, a fence is nothing.
And I think of the path. Needing more room and a sunny garden spot – provided! And in a spot that can be done *right now* and at a price and terms that can be done…right now. Answers to prayers?! Done, done, done. So although it seems perfect to get the fence at a good price, for whatever reason, it’s not to be right now. There was a need last weekend that seemed impossible and an unexpected check came that covered it. So, for whatever reason, I have to see that it’s not ‘no’ it’s ‘not yet’ on getting the fencing material.
There’s a powerful thing about prayer, and it often gives us more than we imagined. Sometimes if we pushed for our own way we won’t get His.
Even if it’s just a roll of fence. Sometimes there are lessons in unanswered prayers.
Finding bargains on DVDs is not as difficult as it may sound initially. There are always bargain bins in many stores and thrift stores can yield great DVD bargains for Christmas but there is a better way also! Here are some places to find Christmas DVD gift bargains. You don’t even have to get up from where you are to do it! Saving money on commercially produced DVDs allows more money for other things.
1. Local pawn shops can be a source of many items including DVDs and CDs. These will often be fairly recent releases or popular ones but the price is usually right.
2. Ebay has a wide range of DVDs available in almost any interest you can imagine with many on a “buy it now” and others the standard auction format. While some have had issues with ebay and their sister site Half.com it remains a popular way to shop and good sellers work hard to get the DVDs out fast.
3. Amazon.com – Well known for books and music they also have the latest as well as classic DVDs for sale. Popular DVDs (and CDs) can often be preordered to insure that you get your copy. This is done without the hassle of getting out into the cold and snow or fighting crowds.
4. Turn to your computer for popular stores also. BestBuy.com Target.com and many other stores have online sales. I’ve ordered and preordered with BestBuy.com and found their service team very willing to help, with fast delivery right to my mailbox. This is a great option for those who can’t get out to shop or those too far from major outlets to shop at.
5. DVDEmpire.com has thousands of CDs including current bestsellers and discount of up to 36% off advertised on some new releases. Free same day shipping is listed and a wide range of niche interests and movie genres represented.
6. Movies television and even workout movies are available at mydvdonineshop.com with good prices and selection listed. From current season DVD of popular TV shows to classics like the Wizard of Oz this can be a shopping experience from where you’re reading this!
Shopping for Christmas doesn’t have to mean the mad crowds and ugliness that so often makes the headlines. Relax and find great deals from home without the stress. Not only will you find great DVD gifts for Christmas but you’ll have time to prepare so the season is joyful as it should be instead of a shopping/wrapping madhouse. Save money save time and save aggravation of the crowds and expense. Enjoy the season!
Some of the best Christmas music is country but there are many Christmas albums by other artists that are outstanding. Here’s my list of the best Christmas albums to share with you. Some will be familiar; others won’t but are worth a listen!
Jim Reeves “12 songs of Christmas ” is such a tradition for our family it just isn’t Christmas without this playing in the background. Jim Reeves was gone much too early but this Christmas album is a classic of songs that he made his own. “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells” have been covered by many but his telling of Old Christmas Card and “C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S” are songs that capture the beauty and meaning of the season. His version of “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful’ is among the best I’ve heard anyone sing it.
Ian Mitchell – “The Gift” is a rockin’ up beat celebration of Christmas with traditional messages from the season. Starting right off with “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” there’s several guests appearing on the CD. “White Christmas” gets a “sitting around the piano” feel while “Amazing Grace” and “Oh Holy Night” are incredible renditions. “Coz It’s Christmas” and “Feliz Navidad” will get the toes tapping. There’s a bonus for New Year with “Auld Lang Syne.” This CD was recorded to help build a church, and there is good music for helping. For those who think the name sounds familiar – Ian was part of Rosetta Stone and, before that, the 1970s band the Bay City Rollers. This is an outstanding Christmas CD that shows the talent that has always been there.
Reba McEntire’s “Merry Christmas To You” delivers some traditional classics in a way that only Reba can deliver along with a few ‘new’ ones that for me are uniquely Reba’s. One of these is “On This Day” which sets the Christmas story to music. “The Christmas Guest” is a highlight reminder not all is as it seems. Another highlight is “Happy Birthday Jesus (I’ll Open This One Just For You)” where it’s a light hearted look at the meaning of the season. Traditional favorites like “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “Silent Night” are treats as is the Christmas Letter of wanting what we can’t seem to have.
Garth Brooks – Beyond The Season offers some outstanding music as well as the message of the season, Christmas stories and tradition. Some highlights – “The Gift,” “Friendly Beasts” and “Mary’s Dream.” This is an older CD and may take some effort to find but is worth the effort!
George Strait “Merry Christmas Strait To You” has highlights of “There’s a New Kid In Town” “For Christ’s Sake, It’s Christmas” and “What a Merry Christmas This Could Be.” There’s covers of “Winter Wonderland and “Frosty The Snowman” and a distinctly George Strait sound on “Merry Christmas Strait To You.” A nice collection of Christmas music that includes the light hearted “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas.” Worth a listen!
The Carpenters Christmas Portrait is an oldie but is worth another listen. Classic sounds, classic songs, deep in tradition it brings up memories of the Christmas specials they once did in the mid ’70s. It also brings forth Karen Carpenter’s beautiful voice, silenced far too soon, for those who remember her and introduces her to those who haven’t heard her. Along with several unique adaptations of traditional favorites such as “Sleigh Ride” “Christmas Song” and ‘O Holy Night” it’s this album we first heard Karen’s classic rendition of “Merry Christmas Darling” – a song that for me will always be hers alone.
Sawyer Brown “Hallelujah He Is Born” is just fun. While a serious message in many of the songs, fitting of the season. “Sweet Mary Cried,” “Where Christmas Goes,” “Christmas All year Long” and “He Sent A Carpenter” are songs that pay tribute to the holiday with a distinct Sawyer Brown sound. Too often overlooked these guys are an incredible talent and this cd highlights it at their finest. This isn’t just a good Christmas cd – it’s a good cd period.
Kenny Rogers has a few Christmas CD offerings but “The Gift” is a favorite. There’s a montage of familiar favorites but a list of unique songs like “Pretty Little Baby Child” “I Trust You” and “It’s The Messiah.” This is the CD that highlights with Wynonna “Mary, Did You Know?” and a powerful song “A Soldier’s King”. He’s a legend for a reason and this CD highlights a reason why.
Randy Travis “Old Time Christmas” is another older CD but it has held up as a solid CD. “Old Time Christmas” “White Christmas Makes Me Blue” and “Pretty Paper” get the Randy Travis treatment and sound so good. Other highlights include “Oh, What a Silent Night” and “How Do I Wrap My Heart Up For Christmas.”
Alabama’s Christmas CD is rich in the tones of the legendary band Alabama in songs like “Santa Claus (I Still Believe),” “Joseph and Mary’s Boy,” “Christmas Memories,” “Tonight Is Christmas” and the tale of “Thistlehair the Christmas Bear.” It is the CD that holds the memorable Alabama songs “Tennessee Christmas” and “Christmas in Dixie.”
These offer some outstanding performances of Christmas songs without being the same songs. Many have released Christmas CDs but these are favorites for the songs, the performances, the memories.
The quest for unusual gift ideas starts long before the Christmas holiday season. Unusual gifts may be tailored to the person. The cost is usually more expensive than some other gifts but here are five unusual gift ideas over $50 and five under $50. Of course we have several options both under and over $50 right here too! Shop our store!
Ideas Generally Over $50
Do you spend a lot of time at the pool in the back yard? Need a durable phone that stands up to the poolside? Better yet how about a waterproof floating phone for just over $50. This is a waterproof phone that is backlit for ease of use in the dark and if it drops in the pool it can remain submerged for 30 minutes without harm. This is a cordless phone that has a handset that can be mounted on the wall under cover. A poolside phone is a good idea in case of emergencies as well as the convenience of being outside yet still accessible.
Walking sticks and canes are a popular and sometimes needed item. From hand carved works of art to bull canes these are decorative and for those with occasional balance or other issues are a chance to be a little more steady without feeling helpless as needing a cane. A wide selection of handmade and unique canes are found in the under $100 range. These can ease the embarrassment some feel needing a cane by gifting a useful and decorative work of art.
The music lover will love the Bose radio/CD player. Yes there are cheaper systems available and they may do the job well. I thought that too until I visited someone who had an awesome sounding system that I couldn’t find in the room. You guessed it – there was a Bose music system in the corner of the room. It’s about $500 and basic colors only but the sound is incredible. A larger system is available also including with a 5 CD changer. Bose also has theater systems and – for the traveler – headphones.
Western art from hides to coasters to pillows and rugs bring the West indoors. A longhorn hide gives a one of a kind gift that adds a western flair to a room on the wall. For those who want more of the west finished longhorn skulls or taxidermy mounts are another one of a kind gift as they are available.
Perhaps your gift recipient bought a home, had a child, got married or had other life changes. One of the biggest gifts you can give is home security protection or an emergency preparedness kit. Either of these can save a life and that is the best gift at all. You can purchase entire kits or put together kits on your own.
Ideas Often Under $50
Personalized items are a hit! A good clear photo lends itself to a personalized mug, on up to a throw blanket of the person’s pet, child, scenic photo or other image. These can be mail ordered or as close as your local Walgreens store. Easy templates allow placing multiple photos in a collage. A beautiful throw blanket can be created for right at $50 that is distinctive and truly one of a kind.
Calendars with their favorite photos are another thing that can be created on places online such as Lulu.com or VistaPrint.com – both allow creation of calendars at a very reasonable price. These use your photos and you can order just one or more of them. Be very careful in approving as what you approve (including errors) is what will be printed. These can be a beautiful way to share their life in pictures throughout the year for under $15. You can also choose from the many beautiful calendars and items other people have up for sale and make it a good Christmas for your recipient and the small entrepreneur. Some may be certain topics such as dogs or flowers while others are more general such as a country theme or city images.
A spa day at home. Asking women for their dream gift and it is common for “a day at the spa” to be an answer. While many may not be able to do a gift certificate at the spa there is a way to provide a wonderful gift at home for well under $50. Check your discount stores for some basics. Get candles or incense in her favorite scents. Check for soaps in those scents as well as bath oils, bath salts and other things. Get a pretty towel in her favorite color to roll up and go with it. You can see examples of many ‘spa gift baskets’ online and duplicate it very inexpensively. Ladies – remember men often like these too! They’re more likely to like the earthy scents than florals but don’t overlook the idea!
Toys! We often don’t leave behind toys when we grow up. From Breyer horses to remote controlled cars or air planes many adults still retain an interest in toys and enjoy a new item. These can sometimes be as little as $10 and, for custom one of a kind items, well over $50. The standard off the shelf items however are popular even with adults.
Books or magazines can be an inexpensive item that keeps our minds alert. Whether it’s to learn a new skill or pursuing an interest books can help. There are a wide variety of both available for under $50.
It is a small effort to choose creative gifts, but these will make a memorable gift. Unusual gift ideas abound!
Recently a dairy myth came up on an online forum along with the predictable cut and paste (and wrong) arguments of why Americans shouldn’t use dairy. You see, America is so unhealthy because we eat dairy products, and if we just do without dairy we’d be healthier. Go vegan. Go vegetarian. Go grass fed.
Yes we all have choices. Let’s take a brief look at statistics and some basic information, however. First step – let’s look at the healthiest countries in the world. Of course this is subjective! Japan, Sweden, Iceland, Switzerland and Germany are top 5 according to HealthFiend, with France, Italy, Denmark, Austria and Australia rounding out the top ten.
The New York Daily News lists the Netherlands, France and Switzerland as countries to emulate.
And the NPR announced many of the same countries in the healthiest eating, specifically:
The Netherlands ranked as the easiest country in the world in which to find a balanced, nutritious diet, the advocacy group Oxfam reported Tuesday.
France and Switzerland shared the second slot. And Western Europe nearly swept the top 20 positions, with Australia just edging into a tie for 8th.
Where did the U.S. land?
We tied with Japan for 21st place, despite the fact that we have the most cheap food available. Our friendly neighbors to the north, Canada, took the 25th position out of 125 countries.
2. France, Switzerland
4. Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Belgium
8. Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Luxembourg, Australia
So let’s look at statistics as to how much less meat and dairy Americans need to eat in order to be like the healthy countries, per capita. Pork and poultry from 1999 data, most recent here. Cheese, Butter, Dairy sources linked.
USA – Pork 31.7 pounds Poultry 67.2 Beef 45.3 (note 37.8 in 2009) Cheese 31 butter 2.5 Dairy (kg/Milk) 253.8
Netherlands – pork 43.7 Poultry 22.8 Beef 19.6 cheese 31 butter 3.3 milk 320.15
France – pork 38.4 poultry 24.1 beef 26.8 cheese 53 butter 7.4 milk 260.48
Switzerland – pork 31.6 Poultry, cheese not listed beef 21.3 butter 5.2 milk 315.78
Germany – pork 58.8 poultry 15.1 beef 15.2 cheese not listed butter 6.2 milk 247.24
Sweden – pork 38.5 poultry not listed beef 20.2 cheese 31 butter 1.8 milk 355.86
Top three pork countries – Denmark (73.7) Czech Republic (67.7), Spain (64)
Top 3 poultry – Hong Kong (67.2), USA, Israel (43.8)
Beef top 3 – Argentina 70.2, Uraguay 50.4, USA
Greece leads cheese consumption at 68 pounds per capita.
A vegetarian site had some other figures for meat consumption (general) – USA 279.1 pounds per capita was third (behind Lexumbourg and Hong Kong). Netherlands 171.5, Switzerland 159.4, Germany 183.6, France 195.3 and Sweden 179.
Lots of statistics for the agnerds and foodnerds! So here we find that while we could cut back a little on beef the healthiest countries drink far more milk and much more butter and cheese than we do. Fascinating discovery! Of course, when I mentioned the dairy part of that it came back that we don’t need dairy because we don’t digest it well. Hmmm…seems like the healthiest countries in the world are digesting it just fine! Obviously, there are many more factors to consider. How about another food ingredient many love to hate. It’s been said, according to a Facebook meme, to be more addictive than cocaine and heroin. Sugar.
Americans per capita consume 28.1 kg per capita. The other countries consume less so that’s the secret, right. Hold on to your Hershey bar dear reader – Sweden checks in at 33.7, Switzerland tops at 49.2, Netherlands 40.6, Germany 34 and France 31.9 – all are much higher than the USA no matter how many bus loads Jamie Oliver wants to say we eat.
Those following along here conclude the healthiest countries eat more sugar, more dairy, more butter and sometimes near the meat consumption of Americans yet are far healthier. It’s more than food!
Oh but wait – it’s the source of our food, right? Sorry – looking up pork imports Germany and France are 4th and 5th, with Sweden and Netherlands 13th and 14th for pork imports - they can’t grow as much as they need. Germany leads, with Switzerland, Netherlands and France ahead of the USA in rabbit meat imports – perhaps we should eat more rabbit!
Of course there is another major factor – the ability to feed yourselves. Many of the healthiest countries are reliant on importing. Population and volume matters. Sweden has 9,728,498. Switzerland 8,183,800 and Netherlands 16,876,800. Germany and France weigh in at 80,767,000 and 66,050,000 respectively The USA is feeding 319,094,000 and unlike others importing basics, our leading ag import is coffee. We can’t farm like Sweden unless roughly 3,190,000 million people starve or grow everything themselves, and that isn’t going to happen folks.
We also export much to China, with the leading world population of 1,367,900,000. India is 100million behind China, still far more than the USA. With volume the US and China lead world imports but Germany is 3rd and France and the Netherlands are in the top 10.Added to the quandary among the leading exports for both Sweden and Switzerland is…chemicals. The horror of American activist psyche is the bread and butter, literally (pun not intended) for the healthiest countries in the world.
Under it all – be happy, strive for healthy, don’t believe all of the don’t eat <whatever> you see. We’re blessed with an abundance of food and food choices in the USA. Among our ag imports…coffee. Luxury items! Wake up and smell it folks – dairy, meat, sugar alone is not the determination of ill health. Increased consumption by healthier countries is an inconvenient truth indeed.
The storm clouds rolled in with a threatening appearance. Dark. Angry. Ahead of the storm there was blue sky and puffy clouds. Those are the ones we found pictures in…perhaps a dog or a heart or an alligator. But the dark ones held her look.
They held the darkness of the days ahead. They held the coldness of starting over. Of being without her much as the storm is without sunshine. It’s covered up. Above the clouds one may not see the same thing. But from this angle there was only one message. She’s gone.
What defines a life? How do we know if we’re successful? When do we know we’re “there” – at that point in life where it’s enough? These were questions they pondered many times on hot summer days. When it’s too hot to do any more than talk it was easy to kick back with a beer at the end of a too long day and ponder such things.
It’s not fair. She thought bitterly 50 is too young to die. It seemed just last year that was ancient. She remembered dad turning 50 and teasing him about being a half century old. He laughed and said “thanks kid – you just wait you’ll get there soon enough!”
Where does the time go? A ray of sun peeked through the dark edge of the clouds. She remembered a warm summer night sitting out talking with her. Had it been 12 years? It was a lifetime ago but then seemed like yesterday.
The memories flowed like snapshots in a slideshow. A beer behind the counter. Laughing at the ghostly footsteps in the back of the store long after closing. The many days that started together early in the morning and ended after dark. They shared more than just a job it was a life.
A life that now seemed off. The rain started to fall but she didn’t want to leave that spot, as if it would somehow change the finality. It wasn’t suppose to end this way. They were supposed to race wheelchairs down the hallways. They were supposed to have sunny days on the farm overlooking their own spots. Not this.
“It’s not fair.” The voice behind her broke and she closed her eyes, fighting tears that had been brimming for months. She wiped her eyes and turned.
“No it’s not.” He held his hand out to bring her back to the present. They walked in silence to the car as the cold wind blew through the graveyard. The raindrops made her smile. She always said someday when she died she’d make sure it rained at the funeral. The darkness was comfortable.
She looked back one last time…a silent goodbye much like the times words weren’t needed when she was here. She’d remember. But it didn’t make the storms easier to face.
This was for a fiction prompt, and is mostly true part fiction. Today would have been Helen’s birthday. She’s missed.