Fishy Tradition Thursday, Dec 22 2016 

Hot dogs and parades on Fourth of July. Family dinner with turkey, dressing, and sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. Decorated evergreen trees, garlands, and stockings hung on the fireplace at Christmas time.

Some of our fondest memories are rooted in the ways we celebrate with family and friends.These traditions bind us together. We look forward to them, and we look back on those of the past.

One of the traditions practiced for generations in my family is a remnant of the Italian-American Feast of the Seven Fishes celebrated on Christmas Eve. The practice originated in Southern Italy in anticipation of the birth of the baby Jesus. Since the day was one of abstinence from meat, fish was on the menu, and the more the merrier. Seven different fish dishes is common but there can be more or less. Baccala (salted cod fish), shrimp, calamari, squid, octopus, mussels, and clams are often included.

I make two of my children’s favorite dishes-baccala salad and calamari in red sauce. Sadly, we rarely eat them together. Because of my family’s busy schedules, and the fact that we celebrate with a lavish meal at my sister’s home on Christmas Eve, I send containers of the delicacies home with each of them.

Both dishes are costly and time consuming to prepare, although today, the calamari is much easier as it can be purchased already cleaned cutting down considerably on prep. It only takes the time to simmer for several hours.

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The baccala salad is a longer process. The salted cod must be soaked for about three days to extract the salt, then drained, baked, flaked and dressed. It also is better after a day or more while it marinates.

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Merry Christmas to all of you, and thank you for reading my blog! Whatever your traditions, may they prompt fond memories and joy within you.

(See info on my books on my website and all my posts on my author Facebook page.)

 

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Socks, Please Santa Thursday, Dec 15 2016 

 

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The snow glitters in the blowing wind. Trees and decks and shrubs and ground are dusted in sparkling white snow. So pure, clean—and deceivingly inviting. The temperatures are frigid today, and so are we the moment we step outside.

It looks like we will have a cold winter this year in the U.S. Midwest and North, so we might think about adding socks to our list for Santa and purchasing a pair or two for someone in a homeless shelter. We’ll all endure the winter so much better if we do.

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Women’s fashions aren’t always thoughtful of what we ladies must endure. Live through a number of seasons and we encounter countless summers and winters when we are dressed for looks but not comfort. I know I’ve had too many summers when I was dressed too warm and too many winters when I could have had a few more yards of fabric on me!

A positive trend this winter season are knee and above socks. They’ve been out of fashion, and difficult to find, for many years. We have them back in full swing right now.

Neutral to an array of fun designs are available. We also have leg warmers again. I tried a pair yesterday, and I was amazed at how much warmer I was without the cold air penetrating my jeans. They were only $7 at Marshall’s, but the cute socks are more in the $15-$20 range.

(Why not check out my website or author Facebook page?)

 

Stop! Reflect! Give Thanks! Wednesday, Nov 23 2016 

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I’m not one to long for the past. My life’s been a mix of extremes—excellent and dreadful times. I look back on the good ones with gratitude and prefer not to relive those that were difficult.

However, I do miss the Thanksgivings of my childhood. Thanksgiving weekend was relaxing. We laid around through the weekend, savored the leftovers, watched tv, and visited friends and family. We were happy doing nothing! The Christmas chaos didn’t begin for weeks.

There’s no down time anymore. We clear the lavish Thanksgiving table without digesting that last piece of pumpkin pie, and are off and running through the New Year. There’s so much to do: shopping, wrapping, card writing, baking, cooking, and partying.

Please don’t let this very important holiday pass without a moment of pause. Reflect on our abundance and give thanks. Acknowledge our many blessings and appreciate the food and friendship around us. These are the riches of life.

The Election Aftermath Friday, Nov 11 2016 

Being of a mature age, I’ve had the privilege of voting in numerous presidential elections. One thing I know for sure is that voters are always disappointed when their candidate does not win. But, we pick up our feet, regroup, and move on.

I was concerned after several elections because the president-elect did not align with my ideals or beliefs. I was particularly shocked and baffled by Bill Clinton’s second term. He was re-elected in the midst of appalling scandals and controversies. I couldn’t understand why so many continued to support him.

This year’s campaign was perhaps more intense in emotions and hostility.We, who voted, took our decision very seriously. It came with considerable contemplation, evaluation, and research. Few of us fully trusted either candidate to fulfill our hopes in leading our beloved nation to peace and prosperity. What we disliked about a candidate played as much of a role in our decision as what we approved of.

In the end, the public has spoken. Donald Trump is our president-elect. He, and our country, needs our prayers and support. Our leaders have tremendous responsibilities in this very fragile world. And we have a responsibility to promote peace, equality, and happiness everywhere, every day with our words and actions.If we want a better tomorrow, we are the ones who must make it happen.

(For posts relating to topics in regards to my books, see my blog: Mary K Doyle Books)

Loyal Like a Cub Fan Monday, Oct 31 2016 

The Chicago Cubs baseball team has brought exhilaration to a city that’s seen its struggles in recent years. Even non-sport fans, such as myself, have been tuning in to the World Series and riding the fever of excitement. The play-off games have been competitive and stressful to watch, but when they win like last night, it is life at its best.

The highlight of the game for me was seeing the relief and joy with the final score on the faces of the crowd. The win unites fans citywide and families separated by distance and even life itself. How many signs have we seen that read, “This one’s for Grandpa,” or hear people talk about how much their deceased parent would have loved this day?

Cubs fans are noted for their loyalty. Win or lose they stand behind their team, filling the bleachers, cheering, and ever-hopeful. When there’s a loss, sadness is deep. But they never give up on tomorrow.

Such loyalty is harder to find today. We no longer live in a town our whole life or work at a company our entire career. The connection and obligation to protect each other’s back has switched to every-man-for himself. And nothing is more hurtful then when that close friend or relative not only isn’t there when needed, but outright causes harm by speaking against us or sabotaging our happiness.

Since Roman times Irish mothers have handed down their Claddagh ring to their daughters in hopes that their children find true love. The ring symbolizes friendship, love, and loyalty. These are the most prized characteristics of every relationship.

It’s easy to be there when friends and relatives are fun, have money to share, and are happy. True friends and relatives are there when we struggle, they share that never-give-up spirit. They are like Cub fans, loyal and supportive in good times and bad.

Go Cubs, Go!

(Check out my website or author Facebook page.)

Not Voting is Voting Friday, Oct 14 2016 

The current presidential campaign is not a proud moment in American history. Although there are voters who strongly favor one or the other of the candidates, many, perhaps the majority, find ourselves in a quandary. We dislike both candidates so much that we defend the one we believe to be the lesser of two evils. We are placing our hope for the future in someone we cautiously think will do the least harm to our economy, security, principles, and image.

The current point of contention between the candidates’ is their treatment of women. Both are trying to draw women voters to their side, not because of what they will do for women, but the despicable manner in which the other candidate treats them. One has video and sound tracks making demeaning comments about women and allegations of groping. The other is accused of bullying and intimidation after numerous women claimed her husband sexually assaulted them, causing a double-punch to those victims.

So many voters are so unhappy with both candidates that they will not vote at all. However, that does not change our responsibility to do so. In fact, it is as powerful as casting a vote because not voting is voting for the winner.

We can’t get out of our responsibility to participate in this election. We have to make a decision.

Please God, bless America.

Passionate! Tuesday, Sep 27 2016 

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Our passions are the frosting on the cake of life. Mine are evident from my blog posts. The majority are in regards to my family, faith, and writing. I also am passionate about healthy living and Alzheimer’s research and support.A day without at least one of these, is a sad day indeed.

My relationship with God is primary. My family is my greatest joy. And writing allows me to utilize my creativity in a ministry of offering readers credible information, guidance, and hope.

Living and breathing these passions is the fuel that keeps me going. I’ve faced, and am facing, a tremendous amount of challenges in several areas of my life, and I’m keeping afloat because of the blessings of my passions. They give purpose and value to my pain and growth.

Studies repeatedly find that people who have a purpose live longer and healthier. Our passions make us happy, and when we are happy, blood pressure and stress lowers, both of which positively impacts our health tremendously.They give reasons to drag ourselves out of bed. They offer an outlet to express ourselves and make us feel like our lives matter, what we do matters, we matter.

We typically have several passions. But if you are contemplating what yours might be, think about how something makes you feel.Most often, passions are ways in which we share the best of ourselves with others. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who or what means most to you?
  • Do you use your talents and gifts? How so?
  • How do you express your creativity?
  • What do you do for your closest circle of family and friends?
  • What types of goals do you set for yourself?
  • How do you help other people, animals, or our planet?

Making time to be aware of and delving into our passions every day brings joy. However, maintaining balance is essential. Anything we take to an extreme, can develop into an addiction.We are more than one thought or activity.I enjoy a piece of chocolate in the afternoon. But it wouldn’t be a treat if it was the only food I ate.

(Take a look at my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books, and author Facebook page.)

 

Essential Oil Pendants Wednesday, Sep 7 2016 

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As you’ve read in previous posts, I’m a fan of high quality essential oils. They have so many uses to support health and happiness. I use them for everything from cleaning and air freshening to flavoring water.

One way to benefit from essential oils is by diffusing. Most often this is done with a small appliance that spreads drops of the oil into the air with or without water.

Diffusing is also done by placing a couple of drops of essential oils on cotton balls or a pendant and allowing the oil to penetrate into the air. Pendants made of clay look attractive and work particularly well. They can be made simply or intricately depending on your creativity.

I had fun making some of these pendents for gifts and myself. I kept the rejects-which were many-and hung them in closets, my car, lingerie drawers, the laundry room, and placed them in my handbag and luggage. They also can be worn as a necklace which offers a way to enjoy the fragrance of your choice all day long.

To make them, purchase clay that air dries, string, leather, or ribbon, and beads or stones of your choice. You also might want to look for stampers, but check around your home first for buttons, leaves, jewelry, or other items that can make a deep enough impression into the clay.

Begin by taking a small amount of clay and knead it until soft and pliable. Roll out to the desired thickness. Thinner pendants are easier to wear. Thicker ones are best for larger spaces like closets. Cut into desired shapes. Gently press stampers or objects into clay being careful not to spread the clay. Take a straw, chopstick, small doll rod, or other round object to push through the top of the pendant for a hole for the string.

Loop the string through the hole and then slide the desired beads onto the string. Another option is to glue a magnet on the back and use the pendant for an air freshener on the refrigerator door.

Allow the clay to dry about three days. Then slowly drop essential oils onto the pendant. Be careful not to let the oil run to the back which can mark your clothes or object you place it on.

(See my newly updated website, Mary K Doyle, my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin and my Facebook author page.)

 

 

Check out My New Site! Sunday, Aug 28 2016 

Businesses of all sizes today must have a website. If you don’t have an online presence, your existence is limited to those you can reach out and touch, which might be the best option in limited circumstances.

I’ve had a website for nearly as long as most of us have been online. It’s hard for us to remember not being media present but relatively speaking, it isn’t all that long, about 15-20 years.

Thank you to web designer, Brittany Gauss, my site has a fresh new look and enhanced optimization. There were countless hours invested in content and design. I’m happy with it. Take a look for yourself, and please, let me know what you think. marykdoyle.com

 

America’s Poor Thursday, Aug 11 2016 

My sister, Patti, a stock broker and financial adviser, often says, “It’s personal. The daily numbers are mostly irrelevant to investors. If they’re making money, then they feel the market is good. On the other hand, if their losing—not so good.”

Statistics typically tell such a story. Everything depends on how those numbers affect us personally.

The federal poverty level is a measure of income issued every year by the Department of Health and Human services. This level determines eligibility for certain programs and benefits, such as Medicaid and CHIP. The 2016 levels are $11,880 for an individual, $16,020 for a household of two, and $24,300 for a household of 4. In Alaska it is $14,840, $20,020, and $30,380 respectively. And in Hawaii, those numbers sit at $13,670, $18,430, and $27,950. No doubt, millions significantly above those numbers feel the poverty pinch.

The top 1% of the US population owns 43% of the country’s wealth. That leaves 99% with vastly lower income levels.In 2014, 14.8% of Americans were considered living in poverty. (However, the Supplemental Poverty Measure stated it was 15.3%.) That comes out to 1 in 3 Native Americans (two of the US’s poorest counties are located on Native American reservations), more than 1 in 4 African Americans and Hispanic Latinos, and 1 in 10 Asians and non-Hispanics living below the federal poverty line.

Women and children face the brunt of these numbers. If things continue as they are, more than half of all children below the poverty line will live in families headed by women, as two-thirds of the minimum wage earners are women, and one in seven women lives below the poverty line.

Three fourths of the poor are unemployed. The causes and cycle of poverty and unemployment are complex and many. Job shortages (there is only one job available for every 4 unemployed people) and job outsourcing, automation, limited education, illness and disabilities, elderly and children caregiving needs, inadequate transportation, over-spending/credit debt, and lack of mentoring lead the list.

I don’t know about you, but I believe it’s challenging to live at two to three times the federal poverty levels. Rent, utilities, food, insurances, medical, phone, and auto or travel expenses are basic needs yet take a substantial amount to keep afloat.

Food is the one area we can cut when short on funds. That results in a good number of Americans going to bed hungry. This is especially so for those who make more than the level to receive assistance but too low to purchase nutritional foods.

Children comprised 21.1% of this group and seniors 10%. Every county in the US note levels of food insecurities. The states of Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky are the hungriest. And households with children reported the highest rates overall.

If we have an extra buck, feeding and caring for the poor can be the best karma. Four out of 5 (79%) Americans live in danger of poverty at some point in their life. According to the government website, most Americans will spend at least one year below the poverty line between the ages 25 and 75.

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page? I also have a Facebook page for each of my books with information specific to that title.)

 

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