Archive | April 2013

Pet Peeves and the Grocery Store

We’ve had some good nature teasing going on behind the scenes with this group of bloggers over the last 24 hours since Susan Mires admitted to her pet peeve of inspirational overload! So I decided I better chose my blog post carefully today!

After deep soul-searching, I’ve discovered that I actually have many pet peeves. I definitely have seen the need to be more tolerant and patient!

But since it’s confession time, here are a few pet peeves of mine and they are all related to the grocery store.

  1. Customers who hold up the line at the cash register by talking on a cell cart
  2. Shoppers who leave their grocery cart in the middle of the aisle to browse the shelves while blocking traffic in both directions.
  3. Shoppers who leave their carts in the empty parking spots instead of returning them to the store or the cart corral.
  4. And the dreaded customer who brings 13 items in the “12 items or less” check-out lane.

Do you think I’m unreasonable?

Cherie GagnonCherie

Put that on an inspirational poster

Pet Peeves are the theme this week.

I’ve got a list a mile long of things that bug me. One, however, has really gotten under my skin lately.

applesofgoldI’m tired of inspirational plaques.

It’s impossible to walk into a decorating store or craft display at the local festival and not be bombarded with a thousand motivational sayings. Facebook is even worse. I can’t figure out what my friends are up to because of all the advice dished out in eight-word poems. Unwrap a piece of chocolate and it tries to tell you how to live life. I bought some cough drops this winter and they promised, “a pep talk in every drop.” Sure enough, each little wrapper was stamped with motivational thoughts. There’s only one thing I ask from a cough drop and it’s not advice.

I confess to have fallen under the influence. Here are sayings displayed on plaques in my home:

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.

Saddle up and follow your dreams.

Life is good.

A face without freckles is like a sky without stars.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, think on these things.

Amazing grace.

Friends are the family you choose.

Love hopes.

As Christians, we are some of the worst offenders. The gaudiest picture, with a few words of scripture penciled on it, suddenly becomes sanctified.

Why does this trend bother me?

  • Life is too rich and complex to always be summed up in a cute saying. There are situations where simple wisdom does apply, but much of the time, there are no easy answers and it’s a mistake to always insist on one.
  • It dulls me to the Bible. The living word of God starts to sound trite when it is stamped on every mug and coaster I own. Is it possible to have too much scripture? Maybe? I know it’s a pitfall for me to emphasize only certain verses and ignore others or to try to apply a verse to a situation where it doesn’t fit.

I probably need a plaque in my living room with this verse from James:  “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” I haven’t found that one at the store yet, but I also haven’t really looked.

Susie-3994-EditPS 72

Have I turned into a curmudgeon or is anyone else tired of all the motivation?

Or maybe I just have a case of the Mondays.

~ Susan

Coffee Swings and Memories

When I think of coffee and Swings, I think,  I should think of a warm sunny morning and sharing a just brewed cup of coffee with a good friend or mate . . . or perhaps all alone, just me, my bible and God. But I don’t. Coffee and Swings take me back to the summer of 2008. I was working, and going through radiation treatments for breast cancer. The hospital was right across the street from where I worked so it was easy to slip over for the ten minute treatment. It seemed like almost nothing in the course of my day. Nothing, that is, until I got home from work.
Perhaps it was somewhat due to the 30 minute drive. I would get in the car just in time to hear a chapter from whatever book was being read on “Stories of Great Christians” on my favorite station. I would relax. Drive. And arrive home almost too tired to get out of the car.
A cup of coffee would help. I would brew it. And quite by accident I discovered the magic. One day I took the cup of coffee and a passage of scripture that we were memorizing at church and migrated to the swing sitting under the tree in my yard. There, I discovered, I was transported to a quiet world where the breezes blew and the birds chirped. Our street was a quiet one but an occasional car would pass providing just a hint of distraction.
Coffee finished and a pillow added, I curled up on that swing and for a half hour would open my eyes only long enough to check the words on the passage I was memorizing. Quiet, with a bit of caffeine from the coffee, and God’s word circulating in my brain, the thirty minute rest was a miracle cure to my body, mind and soul.
I think often of the special time I spent with God that summer, almost desiring another excuse, but then I realize I don’t really need one. Every day God calls. Today, I will make  a cup of coffee and take the time to listen.

Mocha Tiramisu

I’ve only been drinking coffee for a few years and I doubt I’ll ever drink it without flavored creamer! This is one of my favorite summer recipes and it has about as much coffee in it as I like with my creamer!

Mocha Tiramisu

1 1/2 cups milk

2 T instant coffee granules

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened

1/4 c. sugar

1 (3 oz) pkg vanilla instant pudding

2 c. Cool Whip

1 Pound Cake (I make mine in a bread loaf pan and slice in three layers)

1 1/2 oz  semisweet chocolate, grated

1/8 teaspoon rum extract mixed with 2 T water

Bake, cool and slice cake.

Stir together milk and coffee granules until coffee is dissolved. Beat together cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth and blended. Add pudding mix and milk mixture, beating until smooth and thickened. Gently fold in whipped topping. Place bottom layer on serving plate and spoon on 1/3 of pudding mixture and sprinkle with 1/2 of grated chocolate and 1/2 of rum extract/water mixture. Repeat layers, ending with pudding mixture. Chill at least one hour before serving. Cut into slices.



Coffee or tea?

Picture courtesy of this site.

Coffee-lovers abound in this country. But I’m not one of them. I love
the smell of coffee, but don’t care much for the taste.  I can drink it, but I have to be really cold. Or have a sweet cinnamon roll accompany it.   But then that makes that cup of coffee really high in calories.

All the specialty coffee terms are enough to make your head spin.  Or at
least mine.  I think it’d take a lot of training for me to become a coffee-house
barista. However, I do love a challenge and it might be a fun job.

Picture courtesy of this site.

I’m more of a tea-lover myself. There’s nothing like a good cup of tea to start off my day.

Does that stop me from enjoying walking down the coffee aisle where you can grind your own beans? Nope. It smells good! But give me a good cup of tea–hot or cold–and I’m a happy girl.

When my daughter was younger, every afternoon we’d have tea time. It was such a neat way to spend time together. The traditions of “tea” in the United Kingdom really appeal to me. Maybe I should just adopt them.

I don’t know if there’s nearly as many options or choices with tea as there are with coffee. But I love tea so much, I even enjoy a good cup of Lipton. I am trying, however, to branch out and experience more variety with tea. I’m thinkin’ it’s going to be a very enjoyable journey.

Whether you favor coffee or tea, savor it and the time it takes to drink it. And if the ritual allows you to share it with someone you love..all the better!


Susan Hollaway

Mom cover original

Coffee communion

Like Kathy–I LOVE the smell of coffee.

Like Cherie–I LOVE the communion of coffee.

But not just with my mate–which actually becomes more a communion of silence. He likes to drink his first cup of coffee of a morning in front of our south-facing windows in a still darkened living room. I join him there often, but we commune in silence. Just knowing we’ve been given another day, and watching together for the first tinge of pink that tells us morning has awakened.

I love coffee…perhaps not so much for the brew itself, but for the fellowship that often surrounds it. For the late night visits with old friends, for the conversation across the table at the church social, or poured from a thermos on a cold, rainy day while you watch your middle-school track star buck his head against the headwind and pump for all he’s worth toward the finish line.

And other times–like in waiting rooms, a cup of coffee in a styrofoam cup allows you to make eye contact across the room and somehow there is an unspoken understanding, a bond that allows questions and conversation that might not otherwise take place.

Coffee…the great communicator…served by kings and paupers alike.


road 2 we like!

Coffee Dates: Marriage Pick-Me-Up

Two Coffee Mugs with HeartsWhile making date night plans, I used to try to talk my husband into seeing movies. Rarely would we go to the cinema because Grant preferred to spend our time together on a coffee date instead. His reason? So we could talk. You read that right. A man preferred to talk than to see a movie (sorry, single ladies…he doesn’t have a brother).

Our favourite coffee shop is a cozy place decorated with dark wood tables and comfy chairs. The walls are covered in warm earth-tones. Over steaming cups of java, Grant and I reconnect while delicious aromas filtrate the air and soft jazz plays in the background.

As parents of younger children, sometimes you forget that you can have a conversation without a million interruptions…or that it is possible to finish a story.  No phones ringing, questions to be answers, permission forms to sign, spills to clean up, nor reminders to finish practicing the piano.

Just the two of us temporarily pulling away from the demands of life and enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company.

Sitting across the table from my significant other, I remember why I fell for him in the first place – his boyish smile, his bratty teasing, and his big heart of gold.

By the time we work our way to the bottom of our large mugs, it’s time to go back the duties of parenting and everyday life…and we can’t wait to get there.

Cherie Gagnon– Cherie

Do you connect with your spouse or close friends over coffee?

Spice up coffee

Mornin’! Like Kathy, a cup of coffee invigorates my morning. I really like her idea of opening a fresh jar every day.

My sister gave me a cookbook full of recipes that use coffee as an ingredient. Mostly drinks and desserts, I’ve tried some that are delicious. Some of the others sound…. interesting.

One tip is to add cinnamon when you brew a cup of coffee. Shake a little spice on top of the coffee grounds in the brew basket. It’s an easy – and calorie free! – way to add flavor to the morning brew.

Susie head shotTo make a mocha, put chocolate syrup in the carafe and let it mix as the coffee brews. One I haven’t tried but would like to is to put raspberry jam in the carafe.

Do you have a favorite coffee add-in or do you like it black?

~ Susan


Do you ever wish you would be profound instead of ordinary? Spiritual instead of human when you react to some unexpected aggravation? Affecting humanity instead of thinking only of yourself? I thought about that this morning when my coffee container was empty and I had to open a new one to make the morning brew.
I love the smell of coffee when you first open the can. I love that swish sound that tells my nose that momentarily I am going to smell that wonderful just ground aroma. Once in a while I will smell it again, when a new pot is brewed but it’s not a sure thing.

Did  you ever think about how your life would change if you had lots of money?  When I open a new can of coffee, I know. I wanted to be profound but today I am just ordinary.  My nose won out.  If I had a million dollars,  I would buy thirty one pound cans of coffee every month, one to open each morning. Ummmmmmm

Bad Things Happen and I Can’t Make Sense of It

I was going to share a recipe today, then it just didn’t feel right with all that’s happened recently.

Bad things happen and I, for one, don’t always understand it. But because we live in a sinful world, bad things are going to happen.  That fact doesn’t always make it any easier to digest.  Our hearts and minds still ache. And we grieve. I felt shock, then numb, when I heard about the Boston Marathon and the tragedy there.  It seemed so unreal, yet it did happen and so many were affected.  I can’t imagine what those directly involved and their loved ones must be feeling.  Then a fertilizer plant had a horrible explosion and lives were lost and numerous injured. Lives change or end in the blink of an eye. SO very hard to grasp.

Bad and inexplicable things are happening all around us.  Why does a young baby get cancer?  Why does anyone get cancer? Why was a young life cut so short?  Why was someone hit by a drunk driver? Why? Why? Why? We could ask those questions all day long.   And I don’t suppose I’ll ever have the answers.

So I cling to Jesus. And I pray. And I cling. When words don’t come, I cling some more, and the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf to pray the words I can’t bring forth.

My heart truly aches for those across this country that have suffered injury and lost loved ones. We know about them because the media has informed us. But Cherie and Julane are right. There are many in the world who are suffering, and their losses and tragedies don’t make the news.  Let us never make assumptions about others.  And let us never cease to pray.

As we pray for those we know about, let us also lift up those nameless to us suffering or grieving quietly. Maybe even doing so alone.  Ask our Almighty God to comfort them, for HE knows their names and every need.  God hears every single prayer from every single person.

I may not ever know the answers to so many of the questions I have of this world. But I have hope. How does one continue to have hope in a world so messed up? Where things don’t always make sense?  I have the answer to those two questions. His name is Jesus.

You truly can cast ALL your cares upon Him. If you don’t know Him, any one of us here at Pages From Stages would love to share Him with you.

Because He Lives, I can face tomorrow.

Bless you,

Susan Hollaway

Mom cover original