Merry Christmas from our home to yours…

 

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and BEHOLD, everything is softer and more BEAUTIFUL! ~ Norman Vincent Peale

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For all of you, my readers, I wish  for you and your loved ones, a wonderful, happy and blessed Christmas. I began this site, Living Winsomely, in February 2013 and I feel so very humbled by all of your kind words and responses. Thank you all, so very much for your wonderful and much appreciated encouragement and support. I am looking forward to  the time I will be able to start writing creative blogs once  again for the Living Winsomely site.  It is my heart,  to continue to bring forth an array of inspirational vignettes, that add a touch of  beauty and winsomeness, to not only your homes, but to your lives as well, .   For all of you in other countries, (not knowing if you celebrate this holiday, or a holiday likened to it,) as well as all of you who celebrate Hanukkah, I pray your seasons of celebration are filled with laughter, joy, an abundance of new memories, love, family and dear friends.

Here is a little “Christmas” from our household….TO YOURS!

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In celebrating the “REASON FOR THIS MAGICAL, JOYOUS SEASON,” I wanted to share one of our favorite Christmas Carols , written and sung by Michael McDonald.

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“On This Night,” ~  Lyrics by Michael McDonald

In a world of no hope, a light will shine brightly
That all men might know the meaning of mercy
And of love beyond all love, peace that rests the soul
The heart will open and search no more

Behold I bring You tidings
Tidings of great joy
The world has found it’s answer
In a child that’s born on this night

Sing out across the seas, cry out from the mountains
The son of man is born, let’s sing of His mercy
And the peace beyond all peace, the King of kings has come
Let every heart surrender, every soul reborn

Behold I bring you tidings
Tidings of great joy
The world has found it’s Savior
In a child that’s born on this night, on this night

Behold I bring you tidings
Tidings of great joy
The world has found it’s answer
In a child that’s born .

May your home be filled with beauty, joy, celebration, scrumptious cuisine and love!    Merry Christmas!  Susan, Kit and Grantham!

thanksgiving516PHOTOGRAPHS: All photographs are from Living winsomely, except the beautiful snowman greeting card at the top, which is from Google Images.

Yours always, HOPE!

 

HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS, THAT PERCHES IN THE SOUL, AND SINGS THE TUNE WITHOUT THE WORDS, AND NEVER STOPS AT ALL.” ~ Emily Dickinson

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When the ‘first flicker’ of creating my blog site, “Living winsomely” entered my heart, I envisioned it to be a site where every writing would be colorful, felicitous, resourceful and filled with beauty, as my whole concept of writing these blogs has been to inspire you,living winsomely my readers, to bring more beauty, joy and winsomeness  into your lives. I stared thinking the other day, about how much strength, beauty and life, HOPE brings to our lives. HOPE changes everything… The hard part of it is, that we usually have to be in a difficult place, or “season” of our life, to really appreciate the powerful gift that lays within this resplendent bestowal. I decided to write this blog on loss and hope, because loss is a part of all of our lives in one way or another...especially peaking its head out during the holidays, as we have such a treasure of golden memories during this festive time, of those we no longer have with us. In this blog, I want to share with you a writing about the loss of a love that only comes once in a lifetime. It is a true story that I wrote, when something magical happened, in facing the loss of my my best friend for 33 years, my mom.beautiful mom I want to  share it with you, because it is a writing of HOPE and when I  was given this gift in my ‘letting go stage of accepting her death,’ it truly changed me inside, bringing a peace I never wanted to leave my soul, and it changed me prodigiously… I will always love this word HOPE. ( But it is so much more than a word,) 🙂 …I look for it everyday in the small things that come about that are in need of its help, but always know I can count on it 100%, when the monumental storms of life hit. Hope never fails!

We all suffer losses everyday, in many forms… relationships, our health, jobs, a miscarriage, financial stability, our beloved pets, a friendship, a dream deep within our hearts, a home or the loss of  ourselves, from being abused.

When we experience loss, there are such a wide range of emotions that flood our soul…we try to “avoid those emotions,” for as long as we possibly can, but they always seem to surface and come out in some other way. (Don’t they?)   (I always have loved the “numb stage”.) 🙂  Someone very wise once told me that when we suffer a deep cut physically upon our bodies, the body goes into a place of numbness and we do not feel the injury’s “real effect and pain”  until later. The human body is built that way…it protects us. In the same way, our minds protect us from our emotions that seem unbearable to allow ourselves to feel. When we do “Feel” and embrace them, the  miraculous gift, that begins to unravel, is the gift of becoming whole again and  healing. I myself would not dare to “feel” loss, alone…that is where my faith comes in. We all have different ways of coping, different beliefs, faiths and tools for accepting and grieving our losses. For me, it has always been my faith in God. (Not to say that at times, it took longer to get to the place to be able to receive the precious gift of hope that comes in our losses, than others.)jim and I When I lost my brother Jim unexpectedly, ( who was also one of my best friends in life,) it took me a lot longer to connect with God and for some reason, I took the elongated way around!  But the HOPE came, then the healing and now instead of sadness and what seemed an endless well of despair,  when I think of Jim, I feel a warmth, love and a joy... I miss him now more than words can say, but  with such a gratitude that I was able to  love someone so deeply, that in loosing them,  I could feel such a magnitude of grief and loss. I thank God for allowing me to have him in my life on this earth  for 52 years, as he was one in a million.  I smile now, (inside and out,)  at all of our treasured memories, (which are many,) and my tears are happy tears, celebrating that I had such a phenomenal person as my big brother, in whom I KNOW I will see again one day. HOPE CHANGES EVERYTHING…

To give you some background for this writing, let me tell you a little bit about my mom and I… We were like two peas in a pod…knew exactly what the other was feeling, thinking, loved to spend time together, were each others confidants, and she taught me so much in life about Love, forgiveness, family, etiquette, cooking,snowmen27 decorating,beautiful kat  joy, fun, makeup, apparel, humor, laughter, truth, unconditional love and acceptance. She was actually the one who introduced me to the Lord , as she had been praying for me , (and all my 6 siblings,) for many, many years. I was blessed beyond words to have  her for my mom and best friend. My mom got married young and started her family early with a beautiful baby girl, then after four  baby boys in a row, (she whispered to the Lord;cathy “I’d like another little baby girl again…these boys are wearing me out.”) 🙂 (Sorry guys…) and low and behold, she had twin baby girls, my sister Kathy and I. (One of us was a BIG surprise as she had no idea when giving birth, she would be delivering two babies into this world, instead of one.) 🙂 It was a happy time for her as we were her special gift from God, fulfilling a place in her heart that she had prayed and longed for. Suddenly and unexpectedly,  my twin died when she was 8 months old and my mom , (as well as our entire family) suffered a tragic loss and went through a very dark time… I was told that It was in loosing my twin, that my mom and I began to form the close bond that we were blessed with in life…bebe 18192She protected me like a mother hen looks after her baby chicks, never wanting to loose her other precious ‘care-package,’ God had just given her. ( Three  years later, she did have one more baby boy,) declaring to the world; “Okay, 8 is enough!” 🙂  ( My baby brother was not only magical, but a true bundle of joy to my mom, family and everyone who knew him, and he still is, )  but that will have to be a whole other story! 🙂

As we enter  into this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, and you are personally going through the loss of a loved one, or a loss of any kind, I hope that “my story” will bestow upon you a ray of hope, and that in some way, you will feel a strength and peace in the midst of your journey and season of loss.

 Yours always, HOPEbeautiful kat2

I will never forget the arduous day that changed my life forever. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, late in the month of June. I drove from Irvine California to Laguna Niguel to visit my folks just like I did a few times each week. I loved going to parents lovely home. Every time I’d open their front door, I would always get that same warm, gregarious feeling.allabaster2 I don’t know if it was because of all the heavenly and familiar aromas cooking and simmering in my mom’s kitchen, (her legendary shriharbormp creole with a ‘southern touch,’ savory brisket stewing together with red potatoes,carrots and onions or  her scrumptious, (secret sauce,)  spaghetti and mouthwatering, “seconds please,”  beef stroganoff.)  Perhaps it was the buoyant and content sounds of laughter, a favorite television show playing,  melodic music wafting from my fathers study upstairs or the voices of one of my 6 siblings, harbor10conversing over a cup of freshly brewed chicory coffee with my mom and dad. All I know is I always got so excited knowing I was going  to my ‘second home.’ I headed upstairs to see my mom as I knew she would be resting. merriment14 Her cozy, southern style, beautiful bedroom had become “the gathering place” for our family since she had been recovering from her illness. Being a southerner and a connoisseur of coastal, daunting yet thrilling, summer lightning storms, (  Southern California did not offer that amenity very often,) 🙂  she always  asked me to put her “Thunderstorm tape” in her boom box beside her bed …she played it over and over again, as it soothed her body and soul. 🙂 ( Twenty-two years later, I find myself listening to that same tape, feeling its magical comfort  each time.) 🙂   Everyday, she looked like a radiant angel, in her pretty nightgown and matching robe, always smiling as she greeted us and asked us about our day… You see, my mom’s whole life was about her family and she was ALWAYS interested in every detail of our lives…each one of us could talk to her about ‘anything,’ and WE DID! 🙂 Even our friends felt the same way!

My dad met me on the stair landing, where he stopped me and spoke the very words my heart had dreaded and feared the most.

“Susan, after your mom’s appointment today, her doctor told me that her cancer has returned and has spread throughout her body. He doesn’t expect her to live beyond six to eight weeks time, though they are going to run more tests.”

All of the hope, faith and confidence I had clung to that her cancer was  healed and gone, deserted  me. I felt as if the wind was knocked out from under my feet, and I truly  believe it was at that moment, that God Himself, filled me with His strength and grace. His arms were holding me on that stairway as I didn’t collapse or run out of the house, screaming in despair.  Without preparation, notice and totally unexpected, I was just told that the best friend I had ever had in my life was going to die. I was flooded with so many fearful and angst emotions. A deep sadness overcame me and I felt that a part of me inside was beginning to die as well. The HOPE was gone. I don’t remember what I said to her that day, (as she had not been told yet.)  I don’t even remember driving home…

merriment13My husband Kit held me close as I shared the news with him that evening. He tried so vehemently to comfort me in every way he knew how, but his loving arms and kind, compassionate, words could not penetrate the pain in my soul. Oh, the awful painI never knew a heart could hold something so massive.

 

The warm summer days passed. All I remember is  that I was merely functioning. Although brideI was a new bride and should have been feeling blissful joy, and pure felicity with Kit, the man that I had always dreamed of being married to, I felt lifeless. Going to visit my mom , with the knowledge that this time she was not going to recover, I felt empty, helpless, dismayed, fearful and my heart was overwhelmed with anguish, especially because she had not yet been told the full truth. ( Amongst my melange of multifarious emotions,  I TREASURED every moment spent with her, holding on so tightly to everything she said, her smile, touch, the scent of her favorite perfume that she wore everyday, (Carolina Herrera,) not wanting to miss out on even  one moment of the precious time we had left with her.)  I remember the afternoon I sat in my grandmother’s old rocker, caddy-cornered to my mom’s bed. She was sitting up that day, her animated, beautiful brown eyes filled with excitement as she spoke to me in her sweet southern accent about us returning to her home town in South Carolina the upcoming fall.

“Susan, won’t it be wonderful to visit Marion and see all of our cousins this autumn?harbor2 The fall leaves will be so beautiful with bursts of reds, amber and yellows, and the air will be harbor1so crisp and cold. Maybe we’ll get a few thunderstorms while we’re there?  We can drive down to Pawley’s Island and Murrell’s Inlet, see the Spanish moss on the huge old oak trees and eat as much fresh crab and shrimp from the inlet waters as we want.”

My heart was breaking inside as she spoke these words for I knew that this trip would never be. How I hid my pain from her that day, I will never know. (She knew me so well.)

I begged the Lord not to take my mom. I prayed like I had never prayed before for a miracle… (I believed with the faith of a child that God could do anything and I ached for Him to intervene in this paralyzing news my heart kept trying to reject.merriment1 The heaviness in my soul would not lift for somehow,  I knew in my heart, that this time, her cancer was not going to be healed, the way it was the year before or in the way we expected .  I had a knowing, deep down, that the Lord was going to take her home to be with Him and that would be her healing. At other times, when my mom was ill and I felt the fear that the Lord was going to take her home, (her cancer when it first  arrived, and the 90% blockage in the major artery to her heart), He would always assure my heart that it was not her time. This time, He was silent.

My visits to see my mom were much more frequent and more difficult, (yet in a  strange way, a bit  freeing,) now that my dad and the doctors had shared with her how progressively her cancer had returned, spreading throughout her body and that unless God gave us all a miracle, she was not going to live much longer. One of the hardest days of my life, yet now one of my most cherished, was the day my mom and I sat together on her bed talking.IMG_0272  With her captivating and warm smile, ( almost as if she was reliving time, 24 years earlier,)  she told me that she wanted me to have her grandmother’s Haviland rose china, because when I was a little girl, I admired and reveled in its beautiful roses, each time she took it out for special occasions. She cried as she shared how hard it was for her to know that she would never meet my children.merriment18 She and I had always talked about the day that Kit and I would have a little baby girl …’Kathryn Anne’, (named after her of course.) 🙂  She told me that she was so happy for me that God had brought Kit into my life, that he was a great man and that she  truly adored him, and knew I would always be taken care of. Lastly, we both acknowledged that God had given us a bond like no other and what a wondrous and special  blessing it was in both of our lives. Our tears at that moment were endless as we embraced and held each other, allowing our selves to feel the pain and fear of her death, our loss and having to say goodbye,  together.

One evening in the midst of all of the disquieting and daunting  pain and sorrow, Kit asked me to take a drive and get out for a little bit with him. (He is always so thoughtful.) We decided to drive down to Dana Point Harbor. (The place we met, courted, fell in love, and got married, so YOU KNOW it brought great comfort every time we visited it’s maritime charm .)  Upon arriving to this quaint port side community, we drove up to the marina . harbor5There before us were an abundance of admiral boats, tied up at the docks, bobbing up and down from the strong wind and choppy waters. The harbor was astir and alive with all of the summer visitors, bright lights and the sound of musical bands that often entertained during the summer season. I needed and longed for a quiet place where Kit and I could be alone. Kit drove further down the road, and we arrived to the jetty.  This long strand of jagged rocks with the ocean waves  calmly caressing their intricate banks, was perfect.  Kit and I were the only people sitting upon the serene and quiet quai that evening. It truly was the place my soul needed.harbor9 Kit held me so tight as we sat there in silence. It was a bit chilly with the  cool wind blowing off of the ocean,  but we did not care. Together with Kit, yet so terribly alone in my despondency, I looked out into the vast ocean, the grey, damp fog and the darkness. It was then, I cried out to God.

 

“I need you Lord so much! Please will you speak to my breaking heart.”

Loosing my mother, my dearest friend in life for 33 years was the hardest thing the Lord had ever asked my family or I  to walk through. harbor15 I was so frightened and terrified,  of what life would be like without her. Outside of Him and His power and grace, there was no way that I could go through letting her go. I absolutely, no matter how hard I tried to muster up the faith and BELIEVE we would all be OK without her,  could not surrender her to God.

As we continued to sit on the jetty looking out into the ocean, I saw two brilliant lights together out at sea, looking as if they were floating in mid air. They were the lights upon the main masts of two boats traveling side by side.two lights The darkness and fog hid their forms so that all I could see, were two shining lights nestled together. Suddenly, one of the lights disappeared. I found myself surprisingly impelled to look for the lost light. I searched everywhere to find it, but it was no where to be found. I only beheld the one light.  I felt a stabbing pain in my heart, as the lost light reminded me that soon, my mom would be gone and the ‘fearless duo’ and best friends we had always been throughout my entire life, would no longer exist. In this uncertain and capricious world, she would no longer be beside me to share my heart, laugh, cry and pray with. I would be without her presence for evermore. I became overwhelmed with a sense of devastation and fear, in an even greater amount than I had been feeling since my dad told me the news. I began to speak to the Lord again;

“Why God are you allowing me to feel this horrible pain as I am crying out to you? Where are you Lord? I felt chilled to the bone and so alone… It seemed like God was silent.

The fog began rolling in, becoming more dense.  As I looked out to sea, I could barely see any light at all as the heavy mist continued to thicken. I stopped searching for either light for awhile, very aware of my despairing emotions, until in a sudden moment, I looked up to my left and there to my surprise, adjoined to the shore line, were the two lights together again, beaming ever so brightly. merriment4It was at that moment that a peace, (I had not felt in weeks,) permeated my soul…  I Knew it was Gods presence and I felt the Lord begin to show me and minister to me in a way that changed everything…

This is what I believe He was speaking to my spirit;

” Susan, look. Now the two lights are together again, safely arriving to the shoreline. It was but for a SEASON that you did not see your light that you thought was lost out at sea. Like the fog, hiding from your sight the glowing light out in the ocean, the light was still there….you just could not see it… so it is with your mom’s parting.merriment5 Your mom is only switching places, she will still continue to live, only she will be with me in a new place. It will only be a season of time before you see her again. And Susan, oh what a glorious time of reunion the two of you will have together in heaven.”

With this new revelation, and the peace that had laid rest upon my soul,  my heart felt so much lighter. My spirit embraced a hope it had not known. I felt a new strength to face my days ahead, as hard as they may be. I thanked God over and over for ministering to me as He did, and enjoyed the  HOPE and peace that continued to fill my soul, praying it would never go away.

I  do not believe that it was a coincidence that Kit and I drove to the harbor that particular evening or that God used the ‘lights’ to set my heart free from it’s hopelessness.snomen 19 He knew that I could not bare to loose my closet friend, my mom. Gently, He showed me a new perspective, His perspective and through His mercy, power, grace and kindness, I was able to begin to let her go, with the knowledge that one day, she and I would be together again, and at that time, we would never have to say goodbye again.

 

It was but a few weeks later when we were all called to my parents home in Laguna Niguel. The day was August 14th, a Wednesday morning that will always be engraved upon my heart. The hospice nurse said that for all purposes, my mom should have died in the midnight hours, but she would not give up, and continued to fight for her life. It was not until the last of her seven children arrived to her bed side, and she had the opportunity to partake in her goodbyes, that she was free to “let us go.”  I remember when all  of us arrived that morning to the house, my father told us, that it was very important that  we each  let my mom know that it was OKAY for her to go. (She needed to hear those words.)   Because of the revelation and HOPE the Lord had given me that night at the harbor, I was ready and able to do just that, truly LET HER GO.

As she and I looked at each other, we both knew with confidence (and I spoke it as she could not) that our goodbye was but only for a season of time and not forever. I told her how much I loved her and would miss her beyond what my words could express, but for her, it would feel like only seconds when we’d all be together again…her yes smiled.  She took her last breath after the last of her seven children said their goodbyes. My father was holding her, and we, her devoted and adoring children, surrounded her as she was laying in her beautiful bed . What a wonderful gift that God gave us all to be with her, as well as with one another, as He took our beloved mother to be with Him.merriment6 She was no longer in pain or sick with cancer, but free and full of joy, already having a marvelous reunion with the Lord, her mother, her little girl,( my twin, Kathy,) her grand parents and all of her loved ones that had gone before her.

 

I will never forget how God rescued me that chilly summer night… His peace, loving words and the HOPE He bestowed upon my soul and spirit was undeniable.harbor6 His  Hope changed everything. The days were not easy, as grief never is, but there did come a day, I was free of the devastating pain, and instead of that heaviness and mourning, my  heart began to fill up once again with joy and happiness and a grateful heart that I was given such a beautiful gift and stupendous mother and friend  for 33 years of my life. I knew  in my spirit that she was not “gone”, she was alive, just in a different place.I think of her every day, always with a humongous smile or tears of joy, I miss her augustly, but I am assured and looking forward to that reunion day that God so graciously showed me. His wondrous gift of Hope…

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Hope never fails…Hope changes everything…Hope is not a word, Hope is God and a very real gift to us, His kids.

 

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the graphics or photos, it will display where the picture originated from.

“Angels in Fur Coats.”

 “All God’s Angels come to us disguised.” ~  James Russel Lowell

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fountainThese angels are filled with  UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, likened to a bursting fountain that never run dries , a welcoming smiling face when we arrive home everyday, our biggest cheerleader in life, an endless listener and jump at the chance to protect us from all danger, (real or imagined.)  They are the most wonderful co-pilots we could ask for, on long road trips, a true and faithful companion on the gloomiest of days, a  teacher, companion and best friend to our children,  the best medicine that could be subscribed on a sick day and an overflowing fountain5bucket of wonderment, surprise and awe. They bring us more laughter than any classic comedy, are a warm, bundle  of assurance, they love us even when we don’t love ourselves and are more fun to cuddle with than an eiderdown comforter.  These amazing bestowals to our lives are indeed an amazing and very patient  teacher  to us of new languages for they have a unique and captivating vocabulary all their own, are a welcomed sleeping companion, (even when they take up half the bed, ) and the best ‘sound machine” ever… calming our souls more than a babbling creek, the ocean waves or songs of the night birds. They never say “no” when we dress them up in (our human clothing) for the holidays, and motivate us to exercise when we know we should, but really ‘just don’t want to.”  fountain6  Their presence alone lowers our blood pressure, releases the ‘happy endorphins’ within our bodies, reducing our stress and they would gladly give up their lives for the ones they love in a second, if needed. They are a God given gift for those who do not have a child of their own, not minding one bit, being called “your baby, and adore playing the part. 🙂 These grandiose creatures are a constant and steady reminder  with their faithful  devotion and love, that “yes, you are fully accepted,  needed and loved every single day.”fountain4 Their presence creates a warm and cozy home, they make a great photography wall as well as ample, showy and felicitous scrapbooks. They will allow you to dote upon them no matter their mood, are a whimsical melody of  music to your ear and a beautiful site to your eyes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Without even taking credit, they are a noble and tangible source of comfort in times of  great loss, a gift to teach us to nurture and love…( and they turn around and give it all back to us, and then some.) These ANGELS may be in disguise but they do not remain anonymous…They freely give you the privilege of  giving them their name,  yet they are known  within our society as the DOG…AKA, doggie,  canine, pooch, hound, tyke, pup or puppy. (and many ‘nick names, I am sure.” 🙂

Cutiepie5 If you are a dog owner and a connoisseur of these miracles on paws, then you have probably already thought of a few things I did not say in my introduction.For each person, their experiences with this beloved creature is very unique and heartfelt…In this vignette, I want to share with you “just a few ways,” in which these little, (and big) guys,  “Rock our world.” In America as well as nationwide. I know that I could pick just one of the above descriptions of what these angels mean to our lives to blog about, because each proclamation is a definition of what Grantham is in our life…I know that many of your have an entire novel you could write on just what your dog(S) mean to you. I have countless friends who are parents of 4, 5, 6 , even 7 of these furry sensations…these friends are rescuers  to an abundance of little lives that would not be present today, if not for their ‘bringing them home and loving them.’ What a wonderful ministry within itself…my highest regards to  those of you who have a heart for taking in and loving all these precious lives. I also hope to reveal to those of you who do not own a dog, that they have indeed touched your life in some way, for they truly are a wonderment, fabulous entertainers and  inspiration to our lives as well as a “hearts wrapped in fur.”

 

DISTINGUISHED QUOTE CORNERrose100 “Dogs are miracles with paws.” ~Attributed to Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy “My little dog — a heartbeat at my feet.” ~Edith Wharton                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.” ~George Eliot doggy70

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. “~Ben Williams

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.” ~Gilda Radner

“One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why. “~Author “Unknown

angel500“I talk to him when I’m lonesome like; and I’m sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that.”~W. Dayton Wedgefarth

If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them. ~Phil Pastoret

Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails. ~Max Eastman, Enjoyment of Laughter

A dog can express more with his tail in seconds than his owner can express with his tongue in hours.”~Author Unknown

doggy71“Did you ever notice when you blow in a dog’s face he gets mad at you? But when you take him in a car he sticks his head out the window.” ~Steve Bluestone

Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear. “~Dave Barry

“We have a queen-size bed, and the dog sleeps in the middle. John and I are sort of these little quotation marks on either corner.” ~Rachael Ray

angel508“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”~Roger Caras

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself. “~Josh Billings

 

“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, filling an emptiness we don’t even know we have.”~  Writer Thom Jones

angel501“Whoever said that DIAMONDS are a girls best friend, NEVER OWNED A DOG.” ~ Author unknown

“Once in awhile a dog enters you life and changes EVERYTHING! ” ~ Author Unknown

“No one appreciates the genius of your conversation as the dog does.” ~ Christopher Morely

 

When you pick up your newspaper or turn the evening news on, every once in awhile , you can be sure to hear of an extraordinary Dog story…You put everything on hold to get to the ending as these stories will undoubtedly bring you hope, laughter, joy, sometimes a lump in your throat and a few tears welling up in your eyes.

 

Whether your cherished canine(s) are a purebred or a ‘mixed breed,’

  flanders80 mixed breed flanders 81 purebread

rescued from the kennel, or bought as a puppy,flanders 68 rescueflanders 70 litter of puulies

inherited from a friend, a family member or found on a street comer in the rain, flanders 78 inheritflanders 65 rescue to you, YOUR little, (big) guy, will always be one thing for sure….your real life Hero.

 

 amazing dogs22 HERE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE  EXEMPLAR DOGS WHO HAVE MADE THE HEADLINES AS HERO DOGS! 🙂

 

 

 

brutisMy old pastor used to tell me, “Susan, Graham is just a dog, not a human being.” (Those were fighting words. 🙂 ) He never met Brutis. A vivacious and courageous 7 year old Golden Retriever who has an enormously huge heart for the little ones… One day, a coral snake was sneakily slithering directly towards a child…in seeing this, Brutis jumped up and ran interference, attacking the snake and saving this innocent little life. This bold and gallant dog was bitten by the snake, but was able to get the medical help he needed and after a time of recuperation, Brutis was flown to Los Angeles to receive a National Hero award.

 

brutis7Neo, an alert, exceedingly intelligent and loving 11 month old Siberian Husky rescued his owner Marci Snead from a life and death situation. Being a diabetic with fibromyalgia and arthritis, she had gone into hypoglycemic shock. Neo, knowing that something was drastically wrong, left her and ran to a near by building, grabbing the attention of a few people who followed him back to his unconscious owner…they called 911 and Marci  was saved…The paramedics commented that they got to Marci in time because of Neo’s call for help! (Seems’ pretty humanistic to me.) 🙂

brutis2Katrina, (Its  ironic, this stunning dog’s name fits perfectly with the timing as well as the life that she so heroically saved.)  A gorgeous Black Labrador saved the life of a drowning man as the flood waters arose after New Orleans horrific hurricane Katrina had devastated their land. After her  brave and ingenious endeavor, she too had to be delivered from the waters by a rescue team . At the Genesis Awards ceremony, she as given a standing ovation. In my book, she gets the most selfless award as she truly did lay her life down for a stranger.

brutis5HERO, (yes, this dogs real name.) This crafty and honorable Golden retriever,  came to the aid of a former soldier, Gareth Jones who was paralyzed.  Hero saw that he was trapped within a bank of mud in his wheel chair and was in need of help to get out. When Gareth threw out some rope to Hero, he began to vigorously pull the rope until he released Gareth’s wheelchair from the mud embankment. It amazes me how our dogs have the innate ability to know when help is needed and are so willingly ready to assist us however they can.

 

 

 

brutis6Trakr! This handsome and brave German Shepherd, (posing with police officer James Symington,) helped dig through 30 feet of unstable debris at the World Trade center, Ground Zero Site and located the last survivor of the 911 Terrorist attack. Heartening and astonishing!

 

 

 

Moti. Youbrutis3 would never know by looking at him, but Moti saved the life of his family as he took a bullet from an intruder. One day, the Patel household was broken into and the this big guy didn’t waste a minute by barking loudly and continuously, drawing all the attention to the Buttinsky with intentions of harm…not expecting or appreciating the alert  Moti was giving to the family member’s,  the gunman shot Moti and fled the home. Moti had a total rectory and not one member of his family was hurt. BRAVO Moti! 🙂

 

brutis4Honey. What a cutie pie. This adorable 5 month old Cocker Spaniel actually saved the life of her owner Michael Bosch. One afternoon while driving, Micheal’s SUV was involved in a horrible car accident and rolled into a deep ravine, the car laying upside down. His only hope was to get his faithful pooch Honey released and out of the car, telling her to “go and get some help.” She was unharmed and able to run for about a half a mile where she found a man who would actually listen to her…she continued to bark, leading the man to the truck. Again the rescue team concluded that Honey had saved the day as Michael  was able to get to the hospital and get the help he needed.

brutis9Nemo. This Burly and quite noble German Shepherd was a veteran of the Vietnam war. Nemo was fortunate in the fact that he actually got to come home to the states after the war. After being trained to be a sentry dog at Lackland Air force Base in Texas, he was shipped to Vietnam in 1966. After his original handler left, he developed a strong bond with Robert Thorneburg, a second class airman.On December 3rd, 1966 after a night of fighting, Thorneburg and Nemo were out on patrol when Nemo sensed something was up. Before he could radio for backup,  Thorneburg was shot in the shoulder and Nemo was shot in the muzzle. The bullet entered under his right eye and exited through his mouth. Shrugging off his own wound and the pain, Nemo ran after the 4 gunmen which enabled Thorneburg time to call for reinforcements. Both Nemo and Thorneburg  were rushed to the Emergency Room. Nemos’ right eye had to be removed and he received skin grafts on his wounds. Eventually he was flown home, where he would receive the best veterinary care possible. After living out his life on the Lackland Air Base, Nemo died on March 15, 1973. (And I truly believed that only happened in the movies.) 🙂

 

DOGS THAT SERVE, with their only reward being  the smile and love of a patient.

 

Is this not the cutest photo ever? This is “Ralph” a very popular therapy dog to many pediatric patients. Not only does his  animated, gladsome face, wagging tail and galvanic personality bring hope and cheering up to his little residents, but he also helps in getting his patients  through rigorous and challenging chemo- therapy and radiation treatments, as well as physical and emotional rehabilitation. fountain500

Here is precious “Ralph” again, helping a little girl to take her first steps in her healing  process, after a difficult surgery. fountain 500

This arresting and charming hospital joy is “Bailey,” a popular and much loved Labrador retriever at a children’s hospital, eager to help his little patients recoup form surgeries, and long stays in the children’s ward. The children immediately bond emotionally with these therapy dogs, which is a wonderful inspiration for them to begin to move and heal. fountain503

Beautiful and friendly “Annie” is a therapy dog at the hospital in Columbia South Carolina, helping both the little ones as well as the elderly in physical and emotional therapy. fountain505

Living in  Michigan , this gorgeous German Shepherd is “Moose”…he works with children who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. With his love and warm hugs, he comes with a big incentive for them to stretch and move in their physical therapy.  It is just amazing what the presence and love of a dog will do! 🙂 fountain508 Last, but certainly not least, little Zoe, a 3 year old Yorkie loving on a 13 year old heart patient in Covenant Women and Children’s Hospital in Lubbock, Texas. I can’t tell who is kissing who? 🙂 fountain509

 

 

HOW ABOUT A LITTLE DOG TRIVIA?

Q: Which gender, male or female, owns more dogs in America? Britain? briard and girlboy-hugging-newfoundland A: In a recent poll, it revealed that in America more than 3 in 5 people own pets. Women 69% are more likely to own a pet than a man at 55%. In Britain, the canine race is twice as likely to have a woman owner than a male.

 

fountain22  Meet the dog with the longest tongue in the world, “Puggy,” a male Pekingese from Forth Worth Texas.  His tongue measures 4.5 inches.  Do you think he has  ever been asked how long it takes to get to the end  of a Tootsie Roll Pop?

 

amazing dogs 11The highest jumping pooch in the world is Cinderella, an amazingly beautiful greyhound. Her record is 68 inches. “You go girl.” 🙂

 

 

amazing dogs14The tallest dog in the world is a sightly, rare greyhound named Zeus. He is 7 feet, 4 inches tall weighing in at 155 pounds. He gained his world record after Big George died in October of 2013.

 

 

Zues great daneThis is Big George. (He looks like a little pony!) 🙂 He weighed in at 245 pounds and was 43 inches tall. Both of these awesome dogs are a wonderment and sight for sore eyes. Absolutely amazing.

 

 

 

zues hercules for realThe  LARGEST dog in the world is none other than Hercules, an English Mastiff weighing in at 282 pounds. I would sure want to be on his good side. 🙂

 

 

 

amazing dogs12The  tiniest dog in the world is this darling little creature, Miracle Millie, a Chihuahua from Puerto Rico, only a mere 3.8 inches tall. This is one dog I would be afraid to let sleep on our bed… 🙂

 

 

fountain 11The tyke with the longest tail is a very dapper and debonaire, Irish wolfhound from Calgary Canada, “Finnegan” with a tail measuring 28.46 inches. Beautiful dog!

 

 

 

amazing dogs3The most human looking dog…his name is Tonik, a 2 year old poodle mix… (You know , he actually does remind me of someone I went to high school with.) 🙂

 

 

 

 

amazing dogs2The oldest dog in the world… “Bella.”This faithful and much loved Labrador cross, living in Lincolnshire with her family, lived to be 203 years in “doggie years” and 29 in human years. Now that is amazing!

 

 

amazing dogs4 This is Champ. AKA One of the Worlds happiest Dogs! (A Google POLL 🙂 )

 

 

 

 

 

amazing dogs 5The runners up? “The Happy Twins.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

flanders 86 most expensive dog Lastly, the worlds most expensive dog… A Tibet Mastiff puppy…bought for a mere 2 million dollars! 🙂

 

 

 

I don’t know about you , but Kit and I love to watch The Westminster Kennel Club, Best in show…They never pick the dog that “we would pick,” as the winner, but it is so much fun to watch , just to see all the amazing breeds of dogs that exist.  This years 2014 winner was SKY, a distinguished  Wire Fox Terrier.flanders51 sky winner of best in sow

Two absolutely breathtaking contenders were SWAGGER and ALLIE… Swaggerflanders66 contnerder in show

 

 

Three eminently “Exotic breeds” I had never heard of or seen before that will melt your hearts.

These two adorable dogs are called ‘Cotton de Tulear’s.’ Originating in Madagascar, they are eager to please, playful and exceedingly intelligent.exotic2 The Schapendoes is from the Netherlands. This shaggy dog is very friendly, affectionate, lively and smart.   exotic1 The Komondor. This winsome dog is very affectionate with children, friendly, loyal and a great protector of his family. exotic

 

 RARE BREEDS.

I was amazed to see such a beautiful array of mixed breed dogs…some of these dogs are rare breeds from birth, where as others are created by breeders, mixing 2 different breeds together. Either way, these dogs are worth seeing…showstoppers for sure!

Natures rare breeds…

The  Catahoula Leopard dog. Intelligent, energetic, a great protector and loyal.amazing dogs 20 The Otter-hound. There are estimated that there are only 1000 Otter hounds in the world. They originated in Britain and are a hunting dog. (What a cutie.) amazing dogs 17 The Tibetan Mastiff does not like apartment living. 🙂 From Tibetan, he adores being outside, is very friendly, strong willed and gives great bear hugs. 🙂 tibetan-mastiff_ph The Leonberger. This beautiful creature is from Germany…nicknamed “Leo the Lion,” is definitely  a family dog, loves children, loyal, playful and a faithful protector to those he loves. (You have go to love that face.) 🙂Leonberger_curious.ashx

 

Here are  a few beautiful and heartening breeds  that were created when two breeders got together… 🙂

The Dalmachshund, a mix of the Dalmatian breed with the dachshund. fountain30 The Goberian. A mix of the Siberian Husky and Golden Retriever fountain 34 The Yorkshire Terrier and poodle. (NO name given so I guess you can make up your own.) 🙂 Maybe a Yorkie-poo? fountain33   This is The Sharp Asset, A mix of the Basset Hound and a Sharp-Pei . fountain 36 And one of my all time favorites; The Labradoodle…An adorable mix of a Labrador Retriever and Poodle. fountain 38

 

 

The AKA has not yet created a device to measure “Love-ability” in a dog, but they do have a top ten list of the BEST dogs for your little ones. (Great family dogs!) (In order of photos,) The Pit Bull, Beagle, Bull Terrier, Newfoundland, Collie, Vizsla, Golden Retriever,  Irish Setter, Poodle and Labrador Retriever

Pitbull1pitbull2pitbull3 doggy101pitbull5 pitbull6pitbull7 pitbull8pitbull9lab

The top five recommended dogs for elderly people who are wanting to add a new member to their family are the French Bull Dog, ( Martha Stewart’s “babies,”) the Poodle, Shipperke, Maltese and The Pembroke Welsh Corgi, ( Queen Elizabeth’s royal companions.)

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DOGS THAT HAVE MADE HISTORY

GREYFRIARS BOBBY -The famous Skye Terrier of Edinburgh. When his owner, John Gray, a Police officer died, he was buried in the old Greyfriars churchyard in Edinburgh. Bobby spent the rest of his life, (14 years,)  sitting and sleeping at his masters grave. Later, Lady Burdett-Coutts had a statue and fountain erected to commemorate this very faithful and loyal dog. ( It is just amazing how these little guys have a heart full of love for their masters. 🙂 histroydog10

 

OWENEY This precious pooch was a stray dog taken in by the Postal workers in New York. Oweney loved the smell of the postal bags, (but I think it was much more than that, ) 🙂 that he followed the workers on all their mail runs, including an abundance of train rides. The New York Postal branch gave Oweney a collar and ID in case he ever got lost. Many other branches did the same , including medals of honor. He  became the Post Office’s ‘unofficial mascot.’ His medals can be found in the Postal Museum in Washington DC.history dog5

 

 Meet STRELKA and BELKA. These two cuties were launched on Sputnik 5 in 1960 for a one day mission into space. They were the first to return alive. Strelka later gave birth to a litter of puppies in which one of them was given to President John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline. histroy dog 9

 

This awesome dog will bring a tear to any dry eye. FAITH is a bipedal female who was born in December of 2002 in the U.S. Her back two legs were fully developed, but her one front leg was deformed and had to be amputated when she was 7 months old. Her owner, Jude Stringfellow rescued her at 3 weeks old and even though she was told by several veterinarians that Faith needed to be ‘put down,’ she and her family saw things differently. They had hope. With using spoons full of  p-nut butter as an incentive, Jude taught Faith to hop…but it was Faith (along with the help from the family Corgi,) that taught herself to walk. She brings joy , inspiration and awe everywhere she goes…People say she hops like a rabbit and walks like a human. 🙂 Her perseverance and the love of her family is both extraordinary and amazing.   histroy dog 7

 

BOBBI. A story of hope… Bobbi left with her family in Oregon to go on a family Road trip. While stopping over in Indiana, Bobbie disappeared. Her family looked everywhere for her and stopped the search when they felt she was nowhere to be found. 6 months later, Bobbi showed up on their front door step, having found her way back  home, from 2,800 miles away. Upon her return, Bobbie became a National celebrity.  bobbi

 

These stories are not about dogs that have made the headlines, the history books or America’s greatest hero list…they are just a few heart warming tales of some precious, beloved dogs that have brought joy, smiles, tears and a will to live to their very blessed owners.

CHEYENNE, AN ANGEL IN DISGUISE.” ~ A true story written by Catherine Moore (This heartwarming story is a bit longer, but truly worth the read. ) :)

“Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!” My father yelled at me. “Can’t you do anything right?”

Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn’t prepared for another battle.

“I saw the car, Dad . Please don’t yell at me when I’m driving…” My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt. Dad glared at  me, then turned away and settled back.

At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts… dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him? Dad had been a  lumberjack in Washington and Oregon . He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the  forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack  competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his  prowess.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn’t lift  a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him  outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever  anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn’t do something he had done as a younger man. Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor’s  orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone..

My husband,Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small  farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would  help him adjust.  Within a week  after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed  nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At  the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad’s troubled mind.

But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it. The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed,”I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article..” I listened as  she read. The article described a  remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had proved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.. I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon.. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair.

As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world’s aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hip bones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly. I pointed to the dog. “Can you tell me about him?” The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. “He’s a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we’ve  heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.” He gestured helplessly. As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror.. “You mean you’re going to kill him?” “Ma’am,”  he said gently, “that’s our policy. We don’t  have room for every unclaimed dog.” I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. “I’ll take him,” I said.

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me.. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch… “Ta-da ! Look what I got for you, Dad !” I said excitedly. Dad looked, then  wrinkled his face in disgust. “If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don’t want it” Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house. Anger rose inside me.. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. “You’d better get used to him, Dad. He’s staying!” Dad ignored me.. “Did you hear me, Dad ?” I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.. pointer1Dad’s lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees  hugging the animal. It was the  beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne . Together he and Cheyenne explored the  community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams,  angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet. Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad’s bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends.

Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne ‘s cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night.. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father’s room. Dad lay in his bed, his face  serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the  night. Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad’s bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad’s peace of mind. The morning of Dad’s funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church.. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” “I’ve often thanked God for sending that angel,” he said.  For me, the past  dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article… Cheyenne ‘s unexpected appearance at the animal shelter ..his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father. . and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.

 

“A LADY, friend and companion like no other.”

Living in a new state, feeling down, missing family and friends, and dealing with physical pain from an illness, a dear friend of mine was surprised with a gift that would not take away all of her ailments, but it was sure to “lighten them”… This gift? A mixed breed dog that was given to her…She had always owned show dogs, purebreds…but this little dog, (named Lady,)  was totally the opposite… As they began to get acquainted…a bond she never expected birthed…suddenly, she did not feel so alone, she had a new joy as well as a new little friend to take care of...Lady needed her. They began doing everything together, watching classic movies, cooking, (Lady loves the delicious tidbits that just happen to fall upon the  kitchen floor,) 🙂 they snuggle at bedtime, plant their beautiful spring  garden together  and keep each other company in the ominous  mid west weather. Who would have known that such a loving heart and handpicked companion would show up like she did ‘at just the right time.’ virginia

 

“Hey guys when I said I wanted to be a part of your family, I really meant it.”

The perfect weekend….Kit , graham and I arrived to one of our favorite places on earth…Mystic Connecticut. We had rented a little cottage adjoined to an old seafaring Bed and breakfast on the Mystic River.We got a fire started in the living room hearth, poured a glass of wine and went out to the jacuzzi…(another one of our ‘fav’s’ in this world.) 🙂 It was the most beautiful night, crisp with a soft breeze, the sky, Stygian black embellished with thousands of glittering stars…Graham was happily laying down on the wood planked deck. (If there is one thing he absolutely hates, its  water  and ‘hot water‘ is an absolute “No -Way-Jose,” in his little world.)  If you just say the word  bath, he goes running.  As we sat in the hot tub, reminiscing and relaxing, suddenly, without any warning, Grantham jumped into the jacuzzi… His eyes were as big as saucers…Kit and I were shocked, perplexed and quickly guided him to the deck where we got out and dried him off…He just kept looking at us…(130 pound of wet) as if to say, “I just want to BE WITH YOU , that’s all. 🙂 We went inside by the fire, got warm, and put on a movie. (The three of us snuggled up together…does it get any better? )     graham111

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Who is the alpha in this family anyway?”

  I laugh so hard when I think about my friend Sara and her black Lab, Obediah…”Obie” for short. Obie arrived to her  new home at only 8 weeks and had turned 6 years old when it all began… (now we are talking about a dog that was trained, exceedingly obedient  and well, almost perfect.) First, Obie began “marking her territory”  whenever Sara’s company left from a wondrous evening of entertaining. (It took a lot of ‘Natures Miracle cleaner‘ to get her carpet back to normal.) Then Obie began sneaking food, (anything left out on a table..chocolate chip cookies, a whole stick of butter, but what really did it was an entire block of Brie cheese.  Obie’s tummy reacted, (very predictable) but it happened in the middle of the night before Sara’s (very classy) ladies luncheon the next day…she was up all night cleaning, but just could not get rid of the smell. A call for help was needed…(For Obie, not the carpet.) 🙂 When the dog trainer arrived, his questions to Sara and her husband were quick and easy to answer. (In which they answered yes to everyone.) “Do you allow Obie on the couch? Does he sleep with you? Do you walk him without a leash? Does he walk ahead of you every time you go outside?  Has he stopped responding to your “No’s?” His final answer?  “You have allowed Obie to become the alpha in your home.” …Who would have thought? I am happy to say, everything turned around after a few changes were implemented and Obie now knows who the Big cheese is in the family… and it’s not him…(no pun intended. ) 🙂

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“Hey Susan, I think you dropped something.”

It was a beautiful, sunny South Carolina morning. We were staying with my cousin and his family who lived on  several acres of beautiful land out in the country. My exercise routine was to run (OK, walk-jog) around their property until I couldn’t breathe any longer. 🙂 I always jog-walked with two hand weights…Graham just had to come outside with me every morning… either because he loved being with me  so much or he was protecting me in case a big bear came out of the neighboring woods…anyhow, as I ran each lap, he just stared at me, wagging his tail playfully as I would run by him. (His endearing presence made my endeavor a lot more bearable. 🙂   I decided to lay one of my hand weights down after about 20 minutes and run with just one….a few minutes later as I looked up, there was Graham…running towards me with a pink hand weight in his mouth….he ran right up to me and dropped it at my feet and sat down, out of breath. I could not stop laughing at this hilarious and captivating moment…how thoughtful of him to bring me my weight…but that is just who Grantham is. 🙂

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(My last story about Grantham, I promise.) 🙂

“Don’t worry guys, I am not going anywhere.”

Suddenly, out of nowhere, our 12 year old Grantham could not get up…It shook our entire world. Kit began using a bath towel supported around Grahams waste to help him stand up to a limping-walk to get outside or he would carry him…We took him immediately to our vet and upon examination was told he had literally torn the tendon in his back leg off the bone. Their thought? “Because he is so big, (105 pounds,)  surgery wouldn’t work so it may be best to put him down.” Our hearts were broken as he is our baby… The other option, was to begin laser treatment and massage therapy…we prayed and felt that was the way to go. The one thing the tech told us was; “The Laser therapy will only help if Graham will take walks every day, even if he doesn’t want to…” (and he has to lose weight.) Graham became our full time job…Laser therapy three times a week, massages day and night and  walks and exercising his leg several times daily. What began happening was truly a miracle…He stopped fighting us with his walks, (the diet took a little longer as HE LOVES TO EAT,) 🙂   he was eager and ready everyday to ‘get moving’…(he loved his massages and his therapist. 🙂  In a matter of months, he was out running again, chasing the bunnies and squirrels…just like he did as a puppy. He has lost weight and is very healthy and happy, and we just celebrated his 13th birthday this month. He knew all along, it was not his time…his body, (at the time,)  may have felt like it needed to give up, but his big, beautiful brown eyes were saying something entirely different…He wanted to live. I thank God everyday that He has given us more time with  one of the most wonderful gifts He has ever given us.

(Grantham now.) 🙂

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Lastly, for those of you who do not own a dog, I am sure that you got a “tug at your heartstrings” from one of these Hollywood movies, where the lead actor/actress was none other than a famous, loveable D-O-G. 🙂 .

The delight-some “Air Bud,” and comical and entertaining “Zeus and Roxanne.”

flanders50 airbudflanders47 zues and roxanne

Who can forget the suspenseful classic, “White Fang,” or ingenious “Fire House Dog?” flanders41 whitefangflanders40 firehouse dog

I loved the heartwarming story of “The adventures of Yellow Dog,” and who doesn’t love “Scooby Doo?”

flanders35 adventures of yellow dogflanders33 sccoby doo

One of my all time favorites is “Fluke,” (the master of the home coming back as a dog,) and the adorable, flirtatious Chloe of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua?” flanders28 fllukeflanders25 bev hills chi Chloe

Diane Lane and her gorgeous “newfie” in “Must love Dogs,” as well as the hilarious Jim Belushi in K-9 with Jerry lee, the infamous dog.

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One of my favorite actors Tom Hanks and Beasley in the slap happy  movie “Turner and Hooch” and everyone’s favorite “Snoopy”, (whether he is celebrating Halloween or Christmas with his “gang,” he is a welcomed sight in all of our homes. 🙂 flanders11 Turner and hoochflanders10 snoopy

One of the most renowned dogs in the world, Toto, in “The Wizard of OZ” and the frolicking, lovable Dalmatians  we all grew up with, as children…in  Disney’s “101 Dalmatians.”

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Loyal, faithful and the dog we all wish our dogs took after in the “obedience” factor, LASSIE!  I don’t which way I enjoyed Tim Allen the most… as a dog or a human being in “The Shaggy Dog.”

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In elementary  school, when our teacher read “Old Yeller” to us, I must have used up an entire box of tissues…and as a movie, it was just as tear jerking. A beautiful  classic. Another great film is “Marmaduke”… He looks like he has found his “Lassie.” 🙂 flanders4 old yellerflanders3 Marmeduke

 

Two more fantastic movies…”Snow Dogs” and one of my top five picks, (if you have not seen it,) “Dog of Flanders.”  There is nothing as  heartwarming as the bond between a boy and his dog.

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Life seemed so carefree and simple when “Please don’t eat the Daisey’s” was on with Doris Day and Ladadog,  Hollywood’s prestigious English Sheep Dog.  “101 Dalmatians 2” was another hit with the wickedly funny Glen Close as Cruella  deville. flanders hobo in please dont eatthe daisysflanders 102 dalmations

The adorable, lovable pup in the film  “CHOMPS,” and Diane Keaton giving her new found puppy a bath in “Darling Companions” …another great family movie.. flanders chompsflanders 49 darlinng companions

 

The endearing coonhounds in “Where the Red fern grows” and the gleeful, jovial dogs in “All Dogs go to Heaven.” Two inspirational movies for both the young and old! flanders 31 where he red fern growsflanders 30 all dogs go to heaven In “Oh Heavenly Dog,”  Benji (AKA) Browning, captured our hearts over and over again. This dauntless and brave little guy in the Benji movies stole our hearts as well…a mixed breed known as Higgins in real life.

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A dynamic and lovable little beagle finds he has super powers in “Underdog,” and if your in the mood for a very emotional and tenderhearted tale of a boy and his dog, “My Dog Skip” is a fabulous pick.

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A face every mother could love. 🙂 The  St. Bernard in the movie “Beethoven” will steal your heart! Disney’s  lovely Lady and the Tramp will live on forever in all of our hearts. flanders 15 beethoven 1&2flanders 14 lady in the tramp

Once living in an animal shelter, with only 24 hours to live, (his true life story,)  Rudy was rescued and became a Hollywood movie star in “Marley and me.” This Yellow Labrador retriever stole my heart and I am sure all of America’s. Another heart string puller, is the love story between Richard Geer and Hachi….beautifully filmed and written. (A true story about an Akita dog.)

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gentle giants1I hope somewhere in this vignette you have found your little, (Or big) angel in a fur coat, are reminded of the one you already have…are tempted to go out and get your new addition to your family or perhaps have smiled at some of these stories in realizing what a miracle and wonderment these critters are to our lives. 🙂

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHS: If you place your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.

“Goodbyes are not FOREVER!”

Goodbyes are not forever.
Goodbyes are not the end.
They simply mean I’ll miss you
Until we meet again!
~Author Unknown

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“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard! ! ~ Carol Sobieski ~ Thomas Meehan

Dear Living Winsomely readers, I wanted to share with you that I am saying goodbye to this site, but with the words, that ring true in my heart, “Good bye does not mean forever.”

For those of you who have read “And the body just keeps on giving,” vignette , then you know that during my time of healing both physically and spiritually, I began this website with such an excitement and joy. I can not tell you how much having this blog site has been a blessing for me .

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It started with a few, and has grown in leaps and bounds! 🙂

To look back in February of 2013 (when we started the site)  we began with only a handful of readers. This year Living Winsomely has grown “in leaps and bounds.” 🙂 Because my husband owns the server that my site is on, he keeps me informed of the amount of readers coming to Living Winsomely. We both have been in awe at the growth. I am amazed at all of the different countries that are visiting the site, as well as how many readers here in America we have. I never dreamed Living Winsomely would have so many wonderful visitors.  I can’t tell you  how happy that makes me and how honored I feel.  It blesses me so much that you, the readers have enjoyed this  site and the writings.  Your comments to me over this last year and a half have blown me away.  (In a good way.) 🙂 Thank you from the bottom of  my  heart for supporting me, encouraging me and for all your kind words of affirmation, even for those of you who told me I had spelling errors 🙂 (I know…I don’t have an editor and  have tried to catch all my mistakes, but know they are out there.) 🙂

I have a new writing commitment that will be taking up all my time, thus I have to stop writing on Living Winsomely for now.  Its at this time, I wish I would have written much shorter blogs that didn’t take a week to complete, (so I could just write one up quickly whenever I had an hour to spare as I am staring this new writing commitment .)  🙂   But as we all know, I write kind of long blogs. (OK, really long blogs.)  🙂  I still have a few I have started and hope to come back when this commitment is over and put those up, with new ones… I will  miss writing on this site immensely, as well as you, the readers.

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~~~~~ LIVING WINSOMELY~~~~~

I  will be leaving the site up for all of you, the old and new readers as well as the readers who will come in the future. For those of you who have written in that you read the site daily and are on the lookout each week for a new blog, I am sorry…Maybe you can go back and read one of the old ones as you may have already forgotten it by now. 🙂 (Just joshing.) I did just post my last blog for now, “The  Joyous wedding of the old and the new.” I tried something new with adding a very classy (as well as classic,)  music video. (I hope you enjoy it.) 🙂   I know there are a tremendous amount of sites  on the internet that are exemplary.

My hope and heart when I began Livingwinsomely (and still is,) that you, the readers would be blessed with ideas of how to bring more beauty, fulfillment, joy, felicity and winsomeness  to your everyday lives.

I will have to turn the sites comment/ reply ability off as I am currently receiving about 250-300 spam comments a day and it takes a lot of my time to go through them all , especially when my time now will be fully dedicated to my new writing commitment. My computer program will hold all the replies that have already been made, they just won’t be showing up on the site, when I turn that service off.

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“Home”for the holidays!

I wish you all the very best and again, thank you so very much for reading, coming to the site, sending me such wonderful comments and for being such a great audience to write to… The site will stay up so enjoy!

I may occasionally sneak over to Living Winsomely and change the blogs in the main section according to the season.   Especially At Christmas time. 🙂 One of my all time favorite vignettes of Living Winsomely is “Home” for the holidays! (I will take that tour myself once again, this Christmas.)  🙂

 

 

If you have any questions, please know my “CONTACT US” icon at the bottom of the ‘Living  Winsomely’ Home page, is still open. (That comes directly to my e-mail address.)

May God bless you all and thank you so very much.

Sincerely, Susan, Kit and Grantham too.

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“A heart full of thanks TO YOU! “

 

 

 PHOTOGRAPHS CREDITS: In placing your computer mouse over any of the graphics or photos, it will display where the picture originated from.

A murder mystery at the old Carmine estate in Mystic.

Picture this in your mind… It is the gloaming hour… the chilly wind is starting to blow, the skies are filling with rain clouds and you hear on the news; “Heavy thunder storms and ponderous winds will be hitting your area within the hour. Keep safe and stay inside.”MM-3

The storm has hit… As you look out your window, you see lightning rods shooting down from the heavens… Your front gates light up…  You notice it is half past  six as the antediluvian  grandfather clock chimes…MM-61

 The storm has now hit the once serene harbor close by… The Mystic River is filled with choppy, restless waves. The winding road that leads to your estate is lit with tiny, amber lights, making a pathway for all your guests… It has been a long time since you have had company to the Carmine mansion… Within the hour, all of your guests will arrive and then,  the drama and mystery shall begin.  

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Welcome to  “A murder mystery at the old Carmine estate in Mystic,” You are the host and hostess of this entertaining, suspenseful and  mysterious evening.

Do the words “thunder storm, opera music, jealous man, woman with glasses, blackmail, marriage problems, suspicion, novelist and cigarette smoking, ” mean anything to you?  They are Key words for the shadowy evening ahead. 🙂

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Inclosed in this blog is EVERYTHING you will need to create this memorable and fun evening.

Your job is to choose at least 6 friends or family members that you would like to be your guests. If you choose to have your Detective played by one of your guests and neither you or your mate want to play that character, invite 7. (Perhaps talk to who you are interested in asking to come and make sure they would be up for it.)  (I don’t understand it, but some people just do not like ‘drama.’)  🙂

Your party invitation is ‘Envelope #1.’   Two weeks before your ‘Murder Mystery dinner,’  send out your invitations. Each invitation will have a detailed description of the character they will be playing…Describe the character in full, (how they dress, what their style is…elaborate on your descriptions.)  Remind them, they will be arriving dressed in their full attire and should transform themselves into their assigned character as they enter your doors. Before you write up the invitations, decide who the murderer is, as well as the victim… On those two invitations only, write down who the killer and victim is and which one of those characters they will be acting out.  Also tell them how the murder will occur and the motive so they can act out their parts to a “T.” They are the only  two people , (outside of you and the Detective,)  who will know how the game ends.  (Make sure you only put that information on those two invitations, (and on your Detective’s invitation as well if you choose for them to be a guest.)  Remind  them all to keep it hush-hush.) 🙂

Here is your “setting” as well as six characters for the night.

You live in an old mansion in Mystic Connecticut. You love the beauty of the placid river, cobblestone fences, historic graveyards, old, colossal trees and the wondrous eateries nestled upon the water with superb, fresh seafood.  You have lived in Mystic for all of your life, but the newly inherited family home is now entirely yours as you are an only child.

The 6 characters, (all fictitious of course,)  that your friends will play are your 6 college buddies from your Harvard days.  You were all intimate in your happy-go-lucky “Dorm-days,” but somehow, over the years, you’ve lost touch and don’t talk as often. For this murder mystery, I chose for you three females and three males.

Character number one. This is Ava Terran,  a “Best Seller” novella writer from France. She absolutely adores hats! (Rarely do you see her without one.)  She is single, aggressive, flirty,  is known to over react and  is  a closet smoker. Ava is  very wordy and loves to get to know people. (She is a people person.)  Everyone is attracted to her quirky style and gorgeous accent. She definitely loves to talk about herself and is always sharing  about what a ‘troubled childhood she had.’

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Character number two. This is Isabella Giovanni. She is a mother of three, unhappily married, very bored and ready for change. She loves her children and doesn’t want to break up the household. She lives in Rhode Island, loves the serenity of the water with it’s fishing boats heading out to the ocean’s deep in the early mornings. (At times, the charms of  living life on the water mesmerizes her and she forgets her troubles.)  Isabella  has a problem with anxiety, is very shy and only wears her glasses when she absolutely has to. She takes great joy in her new  chic look…( she bought a pair of  beautiful contact lenses.) She remembers her college love with great admiration and is looking  forward to seeing him when she hears he is coming to the party. She dated both Ryan and Zachary in her college years. She was very hurt by one of these men towards the end of their Harvard days…You know what they say about a woman scorned. 🙂

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Character number three. This is Alexis Brine. She is one of New York’s top models and adores attention. She is married to hubby number two and adores traveling world wide. She is quick tempered, critical and always likes to be the best at all she does. She also feel deeply in love with one of the 6 college buddies.  Alexis was best friends with Jacob. He was her confidant and always made her laugh. Inside, her heart is very tender but she only lets the world see her tough guarded side.

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Character number four Is Ryan Scott . Ryan is a single, handsome pediatrician who lives in Noank Connecticut and practices medicine at Hartford hospital. His practice is booming and so is his love life. He is charming, flirtations, very wealthy, loves children and has a an outgoing personality. He is always the clown at every party and loves to make people laugh. He has been known to date more than one woman at a time. (Sneaky!) 🙂 He actually dated all three of the ladies coming to the party at one time or another…

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Character number five. Introduce yourself to  Jacob Wiles. He is a very much, want- to – be- actor, but for now, settles for being Johnny Depp’s understudy and loves every Pirates of the Caribbean movie ever made.  He is very eccentric, has a serious, deep side, loves to watch re-runs, (especially his own,)  🙂 plays cards and  adores Las Vegas, where he wins almost every hand of cards he plays. (And that’s a lot! ) He resides in Laguna Beach California and loves the ocean. (He really does look a lot like Johnny  Depp doesn’t he?) 🙂 Jacob had a secret crush on Ava but she did not feel the same, or did she? (She was very secretive.)

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Character number six. This is Mr. Zachary Glover. He has two homes,  a summer get-a-way in  Grotin, Connecticut, over looking the water  and a ranch in Texas. He raises horses on his hacienda and is dating a young nurse…they are fairly serious, but as of recent, they are  having relationship problems. He loves the outdoors, hunting,  and is very much admired and liked. He almost seems ‘to perfect’ if you know what I mean. He is a little nervous to see a certain someone at the Murder Mystery party, but catching up with them again will be a good thing, he has decided. He adored Ava but felt her late night, jet-setting, Hollywood life style at the time did not fit his love of serenity and nature.

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The Detective,  (Theodore, known as Teddy for short,)  is a person who is very inquisitive, married, older, has a large vocabulary and is very sneaky… He likes to switch words around and it can get very frustrating. He has a very hard time trusting people, but is trying. (He is actually in therapy.)  Being a detective is so much a apart of him, (he knows it like the back of his hand, ) as he has been doing it all of his life. Quite routine . He has a dry wit about him, is flirtatious and very loud. (He sure loves that pipe!) 🙂

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Don’t forget, if you or your mate do not want to play the part of the Detective, then treat that character as you would any other guest, (of course they would not appear until after the murder occurs.) They would have the same invitation as the murderer and murderee with the knowledge of who the murderer is , the victim, the motive, how and when it is done, also where to find all the props for the investigation and evidence, so he can present it to your guests.

  When each person enters the mansion, place their character’s name tag on them and give them envelope #2. Once everyone has arrived, take some time to introduce each character.   In  envelope #2, you will be giving each character their goals for the evening. ( Goals, meaning the right, ( handpicked by you,) questions for them to ask as they mingle. Make sure the questions you give each person will in no way give any ‘hints’ as to their being the murderer or victim. Here are a few examples of questions you may want them to ask one another…Did you ever get married? Are you happy? Where are you living now? What do you do with your time? Also have them ask questions to get ‘clues’ of who would even be capable of murder?  It will be up to these people to ACT out their parts to whatever is asked of them as they are in Character …they can make up anything they want.. Their is no script, it is all impromptu acting. (A lot of fun and imagination.) 🙂  You are the one who will write out their  goals/questions, for your reasons, as you are the creator of the murder mystery.  Before they begin mingling, welcome them to your party and share a light description of how the evening will go…(Again, this is up to you and your vivid IMAGINATION.)

In the 2nd envelope for your Detective, the murderer and the murderee, (amidst their questions to ask,) be sure to tell them approximately what time the murder will occur and what  the signal will be. Perhaps it will be that you wink at the murderer when you are ready for them to begin their ‘knock-off.’ Explain to them what their props will be, where they will be hidden and where you would like them to put them after the murder takes place. (The Detective will need to know where to find the props as he is solving the case.)

 During the week before the Murder Mystery dinner, get all the things you will need for a successful evening. (They are all  illustrated below,) props, music, candles, your appetizers, dinner and dessert, award certificates, “charge of wrong doing” sheets,  questions and goals for envelope #2 and your small trinket gifts for all of your guests.

 

THE DAY OF THE PARTY…

Start allowing your imagination to ignite…

Okay, you already know that it is  going to be a dark, stormy night…

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And that you are all gong to be in a Brobdingnagian mansion. You know the exact time the guest will  be arriving, when to give each guest  envelope # 2 and their  Characters name tag.  So your only job the day of the party is to make your home into ‘that mysterious estate’ and prepare your cuisine. (Or you can prepare the food a day ahead of time and just heat up everything  that evening.)  Have a couple of rooms picked out that guests can saunter in and out of, (mingling with others,) and maybe a deck of cards or game of chess going.

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Turn your lights off or keep them very low and use candlelight wherever you can…as well as your dimmer switches and petite white lights. (Having a cozy and inviting fire burning in the hearth is ideal as well if you have a fireplace.)  Set a beautiful table for dinner, (either formal or everyday china is fine, just create a pampering setting with lots of flickering candles and flowers.)   Make sure you have plenty of drink choices out, and ample appetizers to keep the party going before dinner is served. (Make it as simple as possible.) Costco or Sam’s club has great appetizers and I have given you a few ideas of delicious Hors d’oeuvre’s below.  I would make something simple for dinner like a big pot of homemade chili and cornbread, with your finale being some type of a chocolate confection.  (Don’t go to a lot of trouble cooking all day… You have more important things to do. 🙂

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The musical background for the evening is also an important part of the party. I would suggest any classical music from  either Mozart symphonies or Victoria Secret symphonies. I also discovered two CD’s that play a haunting combination of  thunder and rain… Very befitting for your evening.  (Keep it soft and low…make it intriguing.) Some other music that would be ideal  for this puzzling and  engaging evening is Opera Music. I believe that all of these CD’s can be found on Amazon.com or check with  your local library for rentals.

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Here are some ideas for a variety of scrumptious appetizers. Deli meats over fresh greens with a dip, exotic and delicious sushi, (don’t forget the ginger and wasabi,)  pita bread, or better yet, get some homemade pizza dough rolls  from your near by Italian eatery, chips along side a delectable vegetable dip, fresh grilled shrimp atop a Caesar or garden salad or a  mesquite chicken and black bean salad with arugula and fresh greens. Create your salads in a large bowl and let each guest serve a spoonful or two onto their plates as they enjoy mingling and acting out their part.  🙂

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Have plenty of beverages for your guests…I suggest, a pot of coffee, Ginger ale, sparkling waters and cider, fine wines, cold beer and maybe a bottle of a nice heavier liquor for martinis or a mixed drink. (If you know anyone that is coming that enjoys a mixed drink.) 

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You may want to put your confections out on your hutch or a sideboard for display before serving at the end of the party…(Another fresh pot of coffee would be a great idea  when it is time to serve dessert.) 🙂

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Amongst the ambrosial appetizers, desserts, savory aromas of your homemade chili, romantically mystique fire and candle light, display the beautifully wrapped gifts upon a table, reminding everyone that there are prizes in this game. (It won’t be until the very end that they will see that everyone gets a gift just for participating.) It’s  a lot of fun and a great addition to any party.

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For “the big pot of chili,” I use lean, ground beef, finely chopped red onions,  10 OZ. can of stewed tomatoes, 10 OZ. can of tomato sauce, 1 can of red  pinto beans, 1 can of  black beans and 1 can of Bush’s chili beans… I add lots of seasonings, (Tabasco, ground pepper, red pepper, cumin, chili powder and a McCormick’ s Chili mix, a touch of sugar and seasoned salt.) A hidden trick I have is to pour in an overflowing TBSP. of BBQ sauce… It adds a nice, subtle smokey flavor. This is my recipe just in case you don’t have a homemade chili recipe. This can be used with ground turkey or steak as well. I use Krusteaz  Southern Style corn bread mix in a box and it is to die for…(no pun intended. 🙂 You can make some of your appetizers a day early as well as the chili for a much calmer and less busy ‘Party day.’ 🙂

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You will also need some props, depending upon what your murder plot is going to be… A knife, a fake toy gun, envelopes for your notes to your guests, and six -seven gifts, creatively  and stunningly wrapped. You will also need a poison bottle, (homemade of course,) award certificates filled out by you… (you can make then yourself or buy  them at Staples,) a crumpled up piece of paper with writing on it,  a black mail letter, peel off name tags, (also at Staples,) a thick rope, large blunt rock, wine glass, an abundance of candles and “Charge of wrong doing” papers, (examples below.) Your guests will fill these out out at the end of the gala,  as they will guess who the murderer is as well as vote for their choice of the Best dressed and Best actress and actor.) Don’t forget to have your background sounds set up, either music or a thunderstorm CD.

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Your gifts do not need to be extravagant at all.  The guests who are voted as “Best Dressed for their part,” Best Actor, Best Actress, ( and perhaps you will have more than one winner of solving the murder,) will all be awarded with a ‘certificate of honor.’ (You can write those up how ever you choose.) So, your six to 7, creatively wrapped gifts are for everyone… everybody gets a gift, (just for participating,) and let me tell you, they will love it! 🙂   Some suggestions for the gifts to have wrapped,  CD’s, DVD’s in the $5.00 bin, (they have great ones at Wal*Mart,)  movie passes,  a popular best selling novel, a scented candle, a quaint picture frame, box of Dove Chocolates, or nice bottle of wine.  🙂

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It is now 7:30  PM and your guests are beginning to arrive. (Great costumes!) 🙂  MM-100

 As your standing at the front door greeting your guests, the storm is still brewing, but now a damp, foggy mist is rolling in as you glance to the side of your property at the “Old Carmine Graveyard.”  (Why do grave yards always look the scariest at night and in a storm?) 🙂

You introduce everyone, give them and encourage them to get  drinks, something to eat, enjoy the fire and getting to know one another again. As they are enjoying your delightful ‘happy hour,’ and you begin to mingle with your guests, tell them to take a look inside their 2nd envelope.

 The time will pass quickly with everyone  mingling, enjoying their  appetizers and a drink and  having a good time. (They’re probably secretly admiring the desserts and enjoying the aroma of the homemade chili on the stove top as well.) 🙂  When you feel there has been ample time, perhaps an hour or an hour and a half, wink at your murderer, (or do whatever signal you’ve decide upon,)  and let them know it is time to begin their ‘bump off.’ However it  is set up to happen, it should be in a room where no one see’s them, perhaps the porch,  backyard, a back room, or (drum roll please…) ‘The Old Carmine Graveyard.’ At this point, after the murderer returns and gets a drink and thinks no one has noticed his or hers departure for a few minutes, the Detective, (a new guest and character to your party,) unless you play the part yourself,  will come forward and announce that someone has been found dead in or on the grounds of  the mansion, thus revealing the name of the ‘victim.’  He also will  announce  that it is not known if their death was of “natural causes, or mayhem.” (He needs to stall and keep everyone in the Mansion as he begins his investigation.)  He will give a  short breviary of what will happen next and  that everyone is to stay  in the house until further notice.

 It is time for your guest to mingle again and try to find out as much as possible by  asking questions and looking for clues, but subtly…staying in character.  You could serve dinner at this time as it is a perfect place for conversation. Allow the murdered victim to come and sit with all of you, (of course they can not say a word.) 🙂 Tell them to just enjoy the chili and cornbread…( bring them a glass of wine to unwind, after all, they were just murdered.)  🙂 And yes, the Detective can come to the table and eat as well. He can just say he is waiting for  a phone call and is ravenous. (Again, he has to continue to remain quiet to all he is privy to.)

Next, the Detective (after seeking more info,) comes back and  announces that  it was a murder and not a death from natural causes… He then shows the evidence, (all the props you chose,)  of the murder and what he thinks the motive is. He reminds everyone to stay in the house as it is not clear WHO committed the murder...OK, it’s ”sleuth time ” again… it’s everyone last chance to get info. (Who LOOKS guilty?)

 

As you all exit into the living room for coffee and dessert, the detective will hand everyone envelope # 3, (with their name on the front.)  This envelope contains a ‘Charge of wrong doing list’ to fill out. (It also asks for your guests votes on  the best dressed actor for their part and best actors and actresses, as well as “WHO” the murderer is.) All of these winners receive an awards certificate. (There may be more than one winner for guessing who the murderer is…)

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Have everyone fill the paper out, place them back in their envelopes and hand them to the detective. (Yes even the murderer.)  Treat them the same as everybody else the entire evening as to not give any clues away of “who-dun-it.”) 🙂   After he has had time to tally their sheets, have him return, announcing who the murderer is and their motive. The names of all the winners are announced, (according to their guesses  and votes on their sheet and performances during the evening.)  Award certificates are handed out and everyone gets a gift  before they go! (You can even give your murderer and murderee an awards certificate at the the end for doing a great job! 🙂   Now everyone can relax and introduce themselves for who they really are… Get out of character as the Murder Mystery Party is  now officially  over. (Some of your  guests may already know one another.) 🙂

Remember, you are the creator of the entire evening…you get to choose your props, ( I have given you a few character possibilities and prop ideas,)  but you can choose any characters or plot you would like. You chose who your murderer is, your appetizers and menu. IT is your night to shine...A very  successful gala and an evening to remember by everyone.

Okay, I am dying to tell you (again, no pun intended. 🙂 )  my synopsis of this Murder if I were the one giving the party..

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Ryan dated all three of the ladies in college but he was deeply in love with Alexis.  Ryan was the first man Alexis ever gave her heart to completely. There was even talk of wedding bells after they graduated.  Isabella also adored Ryan and felt slighted that he chose Alexis over her. Years later, with her anxiety becoming more intense, added to the boredom of her marriage, mixed with her ample medications, she began plotting to get rid of Alexis. (She certainly was not in her right mind.)  The party was the  perfect place. She had thought of sending Alexis a black mail letter she had made but forgot and left it folded in her coat pocket…The black mailing letter stated that Alexis’ life  was in danger if she didn’t stay out of Ryan’s life.  (Little did she know they weren’t even in touch anymore.)  (She was still jealous of Alexis, even to this day because Alexis won Ryan’s heart.)   Of course,  there came a time during the evening that Isabella and Alexis mingled, reminiscing  over their years away at college. With the storm having lightened up a bit, at Isabella’s request,  they both get a glass of wine and saunter outside to the back verandah overlooking the shadowy waterway. The water seemed placid…the stars were just beginning to peak through the clouds as they placed their wine glasses down on the table. Isabella lights up a cigarette but  Immediately, drops it to the ground, putting it out with the spiked heal of her new shoes. (Her nerves were getting the best of her as she stared at the grave sites through the foggy mist.) She did not want to prolong what she knew she had to do and let her fear take over. Isabella mentions how amazing the  fragrance of fresh rain is. She chuckles as she looks at the sky and remarks on how the fluffy clouds had shapes of  cuddly, chubby, teddy bears, causing Alexis to look up at the heavens.  Underhandedly,  Isabella pours some of her poison into Alexis’  wine glass. It’s tasteless and promised to work quickly. (At least that is what HE told her.)  Before they return to the mansion, Isabella, quietly places a “crumpled” suicide note  in Alexis coat pocket, written in what looked like  Alexis’ handwriting, explaining she was not getting any more jobs modeling and felt her husband was getting bored with her. She felt like she could not go on, (all to the contrary.)  Once inside, mingling with all  of the guests at the gala,  Alexis, feeling dizzy and nauseous, excuses herself to the  ladies room where she dies instantaneously. Isabella goes into the kitchen where she quietly and quickly disposes of the empty poison bottle. No one has suspected anything so it looks as if Isabella has gotten away with murder.

I only used 5 of the props…a crumpled suicide note, poison bottle, the blackmail letter in Isabella’s coat hanging in the foyer, a cigarette on the back porch slightly scented with Isabella’s perfume, as well as the wine filled glass. (All of the  clues / props that the Investigator finds as he is solving  this horrific tragedy, he will  present in the end to your guests for their final clues…) You might as well give  Isabella and the Detective an award certificate after all their hard work too! 🙂

 

There are so many plots to come up with, ideas and great fun to be had with a Murder Mystery party. I know just the perfect friends and family member’s I would pick,  who LOVE to be the center of attention and live for ” drama, drama, drama.”  🙂 It’s all make believe and impromptu, but maybe, just for an itty-bitty moment,  it feels real!

Have a wonderful evening,  a lot of fun and ENJOY!  Let me know how it goes or if you have any suggestions or questions! 🙂

PHOTOGRAPHS: In placing your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where the picture originated from.