Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Funerals - Unpleasant but Inevitable

I've attended more funerals than usual this past year, and I'm constantly amazed by the differences in how people deal with them. I've been surprised by people's reactions more than once, but there is something that remains constant: Faith in Jesus as our Savior brings hope. Without this faith, the loss can be overwhelming.

Most of the people who attend funerals would rather be somewhere else, but they know that their emotional support for the survivors is important. Plus it provides an opportunity for closure and a sense of community among people who cared about the deceased. It gives them a chance to share stories and remember the good times with the person who will be missed.

Be aware and respectful of the general mood of the funeral. If the death was sudden and tragic, you'll probably encounter a more somber atmosphere. However, if the deceased lived a long, joy-filled life, the mood will probably be more celebratory.

As an etiquette writer, I'm often asked about how to act before, during, and after funerals, so I have come up with some articles that offer tips for most situations.

Here are some things to read before you attend your next funeral:

If you have a question, please feel free to ask. You're probably not the only person who wants to know, so I might even write an article around it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Decadent Delight

I asked my husband if he would like for me to make a lemon meringue pie tonight or wait until the weekend. He said, "Whatever you want to do is fine with me, but I will never turn down a lemon meringue pie." Well, I know what that means, so I went ahead and made it tonight.

Although I believe in healthy eating, I think it's okay to have a once-in-a-while treat. The pie is in the fridge now. It's taking a lot of self-restraint to wait until it's cold enough to call it a lemon icebox pie. Otherwise, it'll be a warm, gooey (but delicious) mess that you have to eat with a spoon.

Here's my recipe. I have to eat gluten-free, so you can adjust the recipe if you can have wheat.

Lemon Meringue Pie (or Lemon Icebox Pie)

  • 1 cup gluten-free graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • Juice from 2 large lemons
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Spray a pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Melt the butter and stir in the graham cracker crumbs.
  4. Press the mixture into the pan over the bottom and up the sides. Sit aside.
  5. Separate the egg yolks from the whites into medium sized bowls. Set aside the whites.
  6. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into the bowl with egg yolks and beat until well blended with a mixer. Add the lemon juice.
  7. Pour the mixture over the pressed graham cracker crumbs.
  8. With clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites until they form a stiff peak. Add the sugar and cream of tartar. Beat for another 15 seconds to make the meringue.
  9. Spread the meringue over the pie filling. Tap the top with a fork to make little peaks.
  10. Put in the oven and bake until the peaks turn light brown. Remove from the oven and let the pie cool for about 15 minutes.
  11. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
It's almost time to cut the pie. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Not in My 20s Anymore but Still Making Plans

Okay, so I left my 20s years—no, decades—ago. In fact, I'm even past my 50s. But does that make me old? I don't think so. Old happens when you give up on life. Old happens when you quit learning new stuff. Old happens when you always look back at the life you lived rather than think about everything you have to look forward to.

That's not me. I'm still making plans for the future. Maybe most people wouldn't call me young, but they'd better not call me old—at least not to my face.

While some people might wait until New Year's Day to make "resolutions," I think we should keep our lists close and make changes as needed. So here goes. Rather than call these plans resolutions, I'll call them adjustable strategies to make life as good as it can be.

The Important Stuff

My family and faith will always come first, so I don't even have to write down any goals for that. I attend church, study my Bible, and keep a running dialogue with the Lord throughout the day.

We see our daughters, sons-in-law, and granddaughters every chance we get. I suppose we could do more, like plant ourselves on their couch and just stare at them until they exchange glances and roll their eyes, but I don't want anyone to remember me as the "crazy granny." So we go often and stay for just a couple of days. Then everyone is happy, and so far, we haven't had anyone pushing us out the door.

Other, Less Significant Stuff

One of the first things I'm planning is my next meal. Yes, I realize that's pretty basic, but we all have to eat, ya know? After cooking a bunch of Thanksgiving food and eating leftovers, I think we'll probably go out for dinner tonight. I got a Chili's gift card for my birthday last month, but we didn't have a chance to use it yet. 

Next, I'm planning my fitness routine for next year. I could write down some lofty goals of running 5 miles per day and doing 100 crunches. But I won't. One of the things I've learned over the years is to be realistic and understand that it's too easy to make excuses when the plan is too difficult. So I'll set a goal of walking 2 miles at least four days per week and jumping on my rebounder for 5 minutes every single day. If I do more, it's a bonus. 

Now back to eating. You didn't think I'd stop at my next meal, did you? I remember people from my grandmother's generation saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Then that became a tired old saying that no one ever took seriously. But ya know what? An apple a day just might help keep the doctor away. Not only is each apple packed with fiber and vitamins, but it also fills us up and keeps us from eating too many brownies. So I'll eat more apples.

I'm tired of dieting, hoping for a svelte figure, but winding up frustrated. So I've decided to eat as healthy as possible most of the time, cut back portions, and indulge in an occasional treat without regret. I know this won't make me skinny, but a little bit of fat helps smooth out the wrinkles, right?

My wardrobe could use a bit more weeding too. I'll go through it again and get rid of anything that I'm sure I won't wear over the next year. That's hard for me, but it's time to do it. 

I'll continue writing etiquette articles for About.com, and fiction that reflects my worldviews. I believe that good manners are important but rather than worry about which fork to use, I'll double-down on the importance of kindness and showing respect for others. As for my fiction writing, I have a very long list of stories I want to write—some full-length fiction and some shorter novellas and novelettes. I doubt I'll get all of that done in 2016, but whatever doesn't get done I'll add to my 2017 list.

I've had several requests for more books in my Belles in the City series with Southern women moving to New York and charming everyone they meet. The mother of the heroine in my third book, Can't Fool Me Twice, is practically screaming for her own book. So I think I'll give her one. After all, everyone deserves a second chance, right?


Now It's Your Turn

What are some of your plans for next year? I promise I won't hold you to any of it. I'm just curious.