Small Business Saturday: November 24, 2012

I am really intrigued by this idea of "Small Business Saturday". The premise is the Saturday after Thanksgiving you go to your local family-owned, small business stores to do your Christmas Shopping.

I got this 'chain email from my mother-in-law a couple weeks ago.  Usually I immediately hit delete on chains.  I get over 100 emails a day so the delete key is my friend.  But this one caught my eye and hits right along the Small Business Saturday concept:

Full of Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by far.  Christmas and Easter shape my life but have become way too commercialized and, in general, we've lost the meaning.  There's not much pressure with Thanksgiving though.  Wednesday I'll turn the music up, bake some cookies, pies and bread.  I'll enjoy having the kids' help once in awhile (especially with the cookie part) and then Thanksgiving, this year, we'll head to hub's family gathering; sixty to seventy of his closest relatives.  No fuss, just family. 

I also love taking the time to enjoy what we are thankful for.  This year, at dinner, we have gone around the table each day and said something we are thankful for.  We've heard good things like, fish (our "pets"), friends, new opportunities, recess, autumn leaves.  We've talked about finding the good in the bad sometimes too, like conflict (& resolution!).  November has been a great (and very important) lesson in thankfulness.

I didn't jump on the Thankfulness bandwagon on Facebook; although I regret it.  Instead, I present 22 things I am thankful. You get it all at once instead of little snippets at at time:

Apple-Oatmeal Yeast Bread

Thanksgiving is zooming at us with rocket speed.  Today might be Monday... but watch out!  Thursday is coming into focus.  Slow down and make some yeast bread.  This recipe calls for apple cider which is prominent in the aroma.  Welcome Thanksgiving week with a fresh loaf of bread.  I think we all need something 'to hold us up' for the hard work of eatting a fantastic meal later!   Oh yes, bring it on.  Simple to make and bake, and totally wonderful to relax and taste the wholesome goodness of oats and apples.

Yeast Bread
Apple-Oatmeal Bread
1 c quick cooking rolled oats (not instant)
¼ c packed brown sugar
1 T butter
1 ½ t salt
¼ t nutmeg
1 ½ c apple cider
1 pkg or 2 ¼ t active dry yeast
About 3 ½ c flour, divided
Melted butter

In large bowl add oats, sugar, butter salt and nutmeg. Bring cider to boil, pour over oat mixture, stir well and cool to 110 degrees, (warm), about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with yeast and mix well. Let stand about 1 minute, then stir in ½ c flour. Mix well, then stir in 1 c flour. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Stir down, add 2 c remaining flour or enough to make firm dough that leaves sides of bowl. Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

  Shape in loaf and place in greased 9 x 5 x3” loaf pan. Cover loosely and let rise in warm draft-free place until dough comes to top of pan, about 1 hour. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 50 minutes or until top is quite brown (it will not sound hollow when tapped).

Turn out on rack and brush with melted butter. Store in cool dry place; will keep about 1 week. The loaf can be frozen. Makes 1 loaf.

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Two Very Different Veteran Day Celebrations

Last week I was privileged to be invited to the 3d Annual USAA Influencer Conference in San Antonio, TX.

Today, I was invited to Pine Ridge Elementary School in Ada, MI.

Both had Veterans Day celebrations that impacted me but in two very different ways. Both sent and had a wonderful message! USAA is built around veterans and their members are veterans and their families so there is a natural appreciation and their Veterans Day program certainly showed their affiliation. A dignified and respectful ceremony with flag officers, wounded warriors from the nearby medical center, family members, USAA team members and a crowded, standing room only audience.

Captain Smiley speaking at Veterans Day Celebration at USAA
The headline speaker was the only blind Army active duty officer, Captain Scotty Smiley. Captain Smiley was terribly injured in Iraq by a terrorist car bombing while shielding others with his Stryker vehicle. While blindness was certainly central to his story, it was not the whole story. The story was one of hope, depression, caring, family support, a Christian testimony, love, marriage and the future. The USAA veteran celebration in San Antonio was video taped and played live on the Pentagon Channel for a national audience. It thrilled the audience and left us feeling proud to be Americans.

Veterans Day - The Battle Hymn of the Republic

I can honestly say I've never cried for the song 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'.

Until today.

It had been too many weeks since we made it to the pews of our church.  Between a special monthly kids service (called Kids Stuff) for the parents too, nursery duty, lice (ya, bleck!), an annual soccer tournament that was on a Sunday (boo hiss), and Frankenstorm Sandy (no heat, no electricity that week) I hadn't sat in the sanctuary to worship since September.

I missed it.

I was a little emotional to begin with (Congregational Worship stirs up an emotion I cannot explain.  It is my soul, the Spirit, unleashed.)  But then to top it all off it was Veterans Day, a day that stirs up so much emotion for me as well.  A reminder of the sacrifices US Military Members (and their families) have made since at least the Revolutionary War. 

There we are before the offertory and our choir leader asks all the Veterans to stand up.  My husband leans over and asks, "Do I have to?" and I nod, yes.  The congregation gives a rousing round of applause and the veterans from 20 years old to 80 years old quickly stand and just as quickly and so very humbly sit back down.

The offertory begins and the choir starts "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".  About half way through the entire congregation stood, almost like a standing ovation, but mid-song.  We recognized that this emotion we all were feeling was not something we could handle sitting on our dufts.  It was a moment to stand and say 'Thank you, God'  Thank you for the soldiers, coast guard, sailors, the marines and airmen.  Thank you for their sacrifices, for the freedom that you have given us.  Thank you God for the freedom to be Americans.

The choir director turned around to have us join in the last few verses and she was astonished.  She had no idea she was going to turn around to an already standing room.  And my tears started flowing.  The lyrics coming out of my mouth were shaky.  The moisture on my cheeks a little uncomfortable in the crowd.  Then I saw the kleenex wipe tears away from the lady right in front of me, the young woman doing the same across the aisle, it was happening throughout the room.  There was gritty emotion in that song, in that moment.

My son, 4th grade, told me that they are also going to be singing that song at their Veterans Day Concert on Wednesday.  I certainly can't wait to hear it!  I'm pretty sure it will be just as beautiful.  (And today's was the most beautiful rendition of that song I had ever heard.)

To all US Veterans I say, "Thank You".   A special Thank you to my husband, prior Marine and current Army National Guard; my dad, Air Force Retired; my grandfathers, Army Soldiers in World War II; both of my Uncle Johns, both served during Vietnam; my cousins Bob (Navy), Jason (Navy) , Luci (Marines), John (Marines), Tony (Navy), Cory (Army), Fred (Marines).  You have all served our nation with honor.  Thank you!

His truth IS marching on!

- Leanne from

PS I was honored to be asked to take part in a Veterans Day presentation from Veterans United.  I stand very strongly by what I shared with them.  How will you thank a Veteran today?

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Away for the Holidays - Care Package Ideas and More

There are a few Christmases that stand out in my life. I remember our first Christmas in Iceland after being separated from my dad for six months while we waited for a house to open up at Keflavik NAS.  He had to report without his family but just before the holidays new friends opened up their home to us so that we could be together as a family.  Our house would be ready when they returned from a vacation back to the states.  That was the Christmas of Homecoming.  (Although a new home, but home none the less).

Another very memorable Christmas for me was the year my husband was in Iraq.  I remember the laptop sitting on the coffee table with the webcam all setup.  We opened up gifts at my mom and dad's.  It was the middle of the night for hubs and we would look over to see him dosing in and out of sleep.  Yet, I could just feel his presence.  He sent me a gift to open under the tree and a little something for each of the boys.  He worked so hard at being there even though he was so far away.   That was the Christmas we were apart.

If you are looking at a Christmas apart empower yourself!  You can start now to put together Christmas themed care packages.  Get the kids involved.  Find ways to put Joy in the Season, even if you have to work a little bit at it.

Away for the Holidays - Find ideas for your Holiday Care Package Ideas and More

Frankenstorm and Gratitude

My friend, Ann Marie over at Household 6 Diva recently posted on Facebook this epiphany:

There is always, always, always, always, always,
something to be thankful for. #pinterestproverb

We were really walloped by Frankenstorm Sandy. Folks in my area lost power in the storm on Monday, October 29th, and finally had it restored Sunday morning, November 4th.  (I'm one of the lucky few to never have lost it.)  Kids were out of school for 'inclement weather' (to say the least) for two, three and four days. Basements were flooded.  Trees were down. Roads impassable. Yet, there were SO FEW posts on Facebook from my friends that were negative.

A Hurricane and Gratitude? Can it be?  Keep Reading

November is Military Family Month

As a fellow member of the Military Family I want to take time to say 'Thank you'.

Thank you to our

Thank you to our Veterans
Those that have served (and continue to serve today) in:
World War 2,
Persian Gulf,
and around the world.

Thank you to our Families
Moms & Dads,
and Prayer Warriors

101 Ways to Thank a Veteran

I appreciate when the 'powers that be' send out notes or in this case videos of thanks and appreciation.  Enjoy these two videos geared for you the Veteran and Military Family:
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