Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Favorite Cat Joke in Honor of All Dad's Cats & My Moe

A cat died and went to Heaven. God met her at the gates and said, 'You have been a good cat all these years. Anything you want is yours for the asking.'

The cat thought for a minute and then said, 'All my life I lived on a farm and slept on hard wooden floors. I would like a real fluffy pillow to sleep on.'

God said, 'Say no more.' Instantly the cat had a huge fluffy pillow.

A few days later, six mice were killed in an accident and they all went to Heaven together. God met the mice at the gates with the same offer that He made to the cat.

The mice said, 'Well, we have had to run all of our lives: from cats, dogs, and even people with brooms! If we could just have some little roller skates, we would not have to run again.'
God answered, 'It is done.' All the mice had beautiful little roller skates.

About a week later, God decided to check on the cat. He found her sound asleep on her fluffy pillow. God gently awakened the cat and asked, 'Is everything okay? How have you been doing? Are you happy?'

The cat replied, 'Oh, it is WONDERFUL. I have never been so happy in my life. The pillow is so fluffy, and those little Meals on Wheels you have been sending over are delicious!'

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

What will you give Jesus this Christmas? After all, it's His birthday we are celebrating. Turn on your sound and check this out: What Would Jesus Want?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Harry's Tip to Parents--A Favorite Christmas Tradition

My favorite Christmas tradition as a kid was getting a package at the bottom of our bed the night before Christmas. It was usually pajamas, slippers or a robe. Something like that and all four of us got the same thing, but a different style or color. Although it was usually some kind of clothes, it was always fun finding a package at the bottom of our bed. My mom and dad figured if we got new sleepwear, we would look good in the pictures that dad always took on Christmas morning.

One year when the three of us girls shared a room, we had triple bunk beds! I was on the top in case you're wondering. Anyhow, one of us woke up at 2:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve (technically, it was Christmas morning) and opened are packages right then. My parents heard us and came in telling us to go back to sleep because it was too early to get up. We were just excited.

Why not surprise your children this year and put an early present at the bottom of their bed tonight? I bet they'd like it!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Are You Sending Christmas Cards This Year?

Every year I debate if I'm going to send Christmas cards and then end up doing it. I know it's nice to hear from people at Christmas time, especially ones we don't see throughout the year, but I know our cards just get tossed into a basket. Then next year we throw them away to make room for the new ones. I update my "card" list throughout the year and usually buy cards for next year when they go on sale after Christmas.

When I used to ask my dad if he was going to send Christmas cards this year, he always would. He'd always be sure to buy a religious one to send. They are getting harder and harder to find. Most say "Happy Holidays" or "Holiday Season." Many have very cute pictures of animals or beautiful scenery, but those aren't really projecting the true meaning of Christmas. Therefore, I too always buy the religious ones. I figure if the Christians don't, who will.

I used to call my dad a "fuss budget" because he always made extra unnecessary work for himself in my opinion. He'd fuss with stupid things. His Christmas card "ritual" is one example. He kept track on paper of who he got cards from and would make sure to send them one back if they weren't on his list. But just a check mark wasn't good enough. He put the date he received a card. Then he'd also have a list of people that he sent cards to and keep going over and over his lists.

Harry sent out cards every year in December. The last six years or so of his life, I printed out mailing labels for him so he didn't have to write as much. It was a bit difficult for him to write because of arthritis in his fingers. The last Christmas before he died (2006), he got behind schedule and didn't get his cards out on time because of the medication he had been taking that made him so drowsy that he'd fall asleep for long periods through the day and wouldn't get anything done. I felt bad for him and offered to do them for him, but he wouldn't hear of it. He said, "Oh no, I can do it." I suggested that it wasn't mandatory and that maybe he just shouldn't bother with it this year, but he said, "Oh, I want to send them out so people know I'm still alive. Otherwise, they may wonder."

So, his last Christmas, came and went and he didn't get his cards done in time but sent them out after Christmas so people would know he was still alive. He said he wanted to put a note inside explaining to the people why his cards were sent so late so I offered to type up little notes for him to just insert inside. After I explained he could tell me what he wanted it to say and I would type it up, and print them from the computer, he finally understood and started dictating away. He died the following February, two days after Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Save That Paper and Those Cards!

Every birthday and Christmas, we would hear my dad say "Don't throw that away, we can reuse it again." He would salvage the paper if we didn't rip it up in the process of opening it. My dad would actually use his pocket knife to cut the tape on his presents so he didn't rip any of the paper. It does seem like a waste to buy nice paper and only use it once. I always thought he was being silly saving it but now that I buy it, I can see his point.

One of the best purchases I feel I ever made were fabric gift bags from a co-worker whose wife made them and sold them. They came in three sizes and were especially good for odd shaped things. They can easily be used over and over again. My parents thought they were great! They are also nice for people who do not like to wrap presents, for whatever reason. They look very easy to make too. I found some free instructions for them at Craft and Fabric Links. I must admit though, it's more fun to tear off wrapping paper than untie the fabric bag bow and be careful not to pull out the ribbon like my husband does. If I had a sewing machine, I think even I could make these! If you are not a sewer either but would like some, you can buy them from

My parents were always looking for ways to save money, after all, they were raising four kids! One of the things I used to help my mom do was to make gift tags. My parents would recycle the Christmas cards they received by cutting parts of them up and using them for the "to" and "from" tags for gifts. Here is a video of me making some to demonstrate this very difficult procedure!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thanks for the Lemonade Award for having an Attitude of Gratitude!

Thank you, thank you, thank you as Harry would say. I got this award for having a great attitude or an attitude of gratitude from Flitting on Fiction last month. Since I only post on this blog weekly and had so much to post about in December, I waited until now to pass this one along.

Here are The rules:

Put the logo on your blog or post.

Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!

Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

Share the love and link to this post.

10 blogs that show great Attitude and/or Gratitude…. hmmm…

Positive Men
Red Pine Mountain (Fenced in Family beat me to it, but I will still pass it on to her as well)
Work at Leisure
Made To Worship
Parental Instincts
Rising Thinker
Father Blogger
Heart At Home
Guy's Wife
Coming Back to Life

We Have A Winner: Congratulations to Abelle at Only In Silence!

Congratulations to Abelle at Only in Silence for guessing the cost of the NEW YORK TIMES ad to be $2,000! I will send Abelle an autographed copy of "My Funny Dad, Harry" as soon as I receive her address via email. In appreciation to all others who ventured a guess, they will receive a "My Funny Dad, Harry" bookmark as a consolation prize if they wish to give me their address via Entrecard email or This is my first contest on this blog and I thought it was pretty fun. I'm just glad some people participated!

I regret spending $2,000 for this little ad and here is the email I sent to Outskirts expressing my disappointment as well as the response I received back. I thought you may be interested to see their reaction to the ad.

-----Original Message-----
From: Karen Arlettaz-Zemek
Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2008 6:18 AM
To: Outskirts Press; Outskirts Press Marketing
Subject: Re: Outskirts Press, Inc Customer Receipt/Purchase Confirmation

This was such a big disappointment, a real gyp and I believe that buying this ad was the stupidest thing I ever bought. You should have mentioned the one-page Outskirts ad would be buried inside a special book section among other colorful and bigger ads. I feel we got ripped off here.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
From: Outskirts Press Marking
Sent: December 11, 2008

Hi Karen,

We’re sorry you feel that way. Most authors wait their entire lives to appear in the New York Times, and they never get mentioned, much less along with a picture of their book. We feel this was an exciting opportunity for the 12 authors who were selected. Many more of our authors expressed interest and were not able to participate. This was one of our most highly-requested marketing opportunities by our family of published authors, and that was the main reason we offered it. Of course, we always want our authors to be satisfied with the services we offer, which is why we mentioned all the specific details about the opportunity in advance.

The New York Times Book Review always includes both color and black/white pages; and our opportunity was clearly described as being presented in black/white in the New York Times Book Review section. As you can imagine, pages in the New York Times are very expensive. Even in black/white, a single page in that issue of the New York Times Book Review has a rate card price of over $40,000. Color ads are much more expensive; our goal was to keep the cost down for our authors as much as possible, considering that 5 million people would see it. There were 12 books on our page, for an average cost of $3,333 each. Our co-op price of $2,000 was a very attractive savings and opportunity. In order for the ad to have been “bigger” (I assume you mean 2 full-pages rather than one full-page), the cost would have doubled, too. We don’t have control over where the New York editorial staff places pages, unfortunately, although we feel our page was the most attractive and appealing black/white page in that section.

Thank you for sharing your feelings with us. Feedback like this is always very valuable.


OP Marketing

I was bummed out about this and embarrassed but yesterday a scripture came to mind that encouraged me: Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (NIV) I believe "all things" even includes my stupidity. Only time will tell, but I do believe God can make good things happen, even when we make mistakes and use poor judgment. My God is great and good so I will trust His word and not beat myself up over this anymore.

I am also currently reading "Love Your Life" by Victoria Osteen and she advises not to dwell on our mistakes but to look back on our accomplshments which is exactly what I am going to do now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad Contest!

Harry's birthday was December 9 and mine is this Saturday, Dec. 13. Harry lived to be 89. We always used to celebrate together since they were so close. My dad wasn't big on cake, but he loved pie so my mom always used to make him pie and me the lemon cake with cherries and whipped cream on top which was my favorite.

Gifts Growing up, us kids got him mostly ties or flannel shirts which were always his favorite kind. I always thought it would be so much easier if he liked sports because then I could get him sporting equipment or team apparel, but he had absolutely zero interest in sports. As I got older, I got more creative. Here are some of the gifts I got for him:

(1) a mail holder that said "With love . . . a Father is a Special Friend, thanks."
(2) a bird bath.
(3) Lumberjack jacket.
(4) a gift card to Home Depot.
(5) Tim Conway and Harvey Korman video.
(6) a sign for his desk which said, "Please Don't Straighten the Mess on My Desk, You'll Goof Up My System!"
(7) an L.L. Bean bomber hat.
(8) a cap that said "I have one speed, slow."
(9) Fleece shirts with a zipper instead of buttons when his fingers didn't work so well anymore.

He Bought Himself A Present:
The best though was when he called me on his 86th birthday to say he just bought a van for his birthday and wanted me to go with him to the dealership so I could sign to have my name on the title as well. He was always looking to make things as easy as possible for me when he died. The main reason he even bought the van was to fit the kitchen door in it that he made for me and Gerard, but it was also much easier for him to get in and out of than his station wagon. Click here to read about the "See Through Door For Cats".

Here's the Contest Part:
My dad always said not to go spending a lot of money on him. He was always thinking of others, even on his birthday. That's why I know he would not be pleased about this ad. In an effort to advertise my book, I jumped at the opportunity to get this ad in the NEW YORK TIMES which has a huge circulation. It was in there for one day, Sunday, December 7, but I had a hard time finding it even though I knew it should be in there. It was buried inside a special book section that was filled with other colorful and larger ads. I knew it would be black and white, only 2" x 2" and on a page with other similar ads when I purchased it; however, I did not realize there would also be so many other bigger colorful ads at the same time. (This offer does not apply to authors published through Outskirts Press because I'm sure we all received the same email about this "great" opportunity.)

To make matters worse, in chatting with some other authors at Author and Book Event Center. I learned that newspaper ads are pretty much a waste of money when it comes to marketing a book. All I can do at this point is hope they are wrong. I am embarrassed to admit how much I paid for this little ad but if one of my readers guess the price before Christmas day, I will send you an autographed copy of "My Funny Dad, Harry" in honor of his birthday. (hint: It's a nice round number.) I know he would say I was very foolish to pay what I did, although he would be nice about it. Live and learn!

Leave your guess in the comments and the first one to guess the correct amount, wins. If you have a blog, I can let you know on there if you are the winner. If not, you can leave me an email address so I can contact you if you win.

I miss you, dad. It's hard to believe it'll be two years without you in February. I still think about you and mom every day!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Attention Readers and Authors!

I discovered a new interactive site for readers and authors when visiting A Book Inside. It's called Author and Book Event Center. I just joined myself on Wednesday. If you like to read or have published a book, it's really worth checking out. I hope to find you there.

This is a networking site geared to readers and authors. Authors can load photos of their books, their websites, and set up a profile for readers and other authors to see. Readers can participate in on-line chat with authors. If you would like to chat with me there, pop in at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesdays and I will try to be in chat over there on a regular basis at that time.

View my page on Author and Book Event Center

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Save That Paper--Scheduled for Posting Dec. 16

Ooops, I meant to schedule this post for Dec. 16 and hit "publish post" by mistake before putting in my "post option." Trying to multi-task is not a good idea when doing your post (on the phone at same time). I just read a post about this by Kathy at The Junk Drawer today too! Even the best bloggers goof sometimes so I don't feel too bad.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Are You Decorating This Christmas?

When I was little, my dad always put up the colored lights on our house. After some were stolen, he never did it again. Instead, my parents used to hang the lights inside the house on the mirrors and around the archways. We always had big live Christmas trees.

Later though, as we got older, they quit putting up the lights altogether and they bought an artificial tree--a silver one no less that had two spotlights. A colored plate spun around so the colors projected on the tree would change. After my dad died, I found out that silver tree and those spotlights were an item that the estate liquidator was very interested in getting. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the spotlights anywhere. I guess dad did throw things out sometimes.

After all of us kids grew up, they purchased a smaller artificial 3-4 foot green tree that they decorated with tinsel and ornaments. After Christmas, they kept it decorated and Harry just took it up to the attic and covered it with some plastic bag until next year. Not a bad idea--it certainly made decorating simpler. The other decorating they did at this point was to switch the artificial summer flowers that were in mom's sconces with artificial Pointsettas.

When my mom and dad were in their 70s, even the small tree got replaced with a ceramic table top tree. I always thought it was sad that he didn't decorate for Christmas anymore but as I age, I understand it. It's just so much of a fuss and a lot of extra work. Clearly, dad was just being practical by not decorating.

I myself am not much of a decorator, but I do manage to at least set up my nativity set, sometimes my little village that my parents gave me, and an tree, mostly for my cats' pleasure.

"My Funny Dad, Harry" Book Giveaway

Congratulations to all the winners of the giveaway for "My Funny Dad, Harry" at Red Pine Mountain. I am so happy that four of my regular commenters won! Read what Tim thought of it at Everyday Living.