Archive for January, 2012

Facebook’s “Like” Button – Not Always an Easy Choice

What does Facebook’s “Like” button mean to you? Does it have a different meaning depending on the status to which you’re responding? Does clicking the button without commenting seem impersonal at times?

“I’m totally loving all the snow!”


“A friend is having surgery tomorrow. Please pray.”

“My neighbor is such a mean person.”

If a friend posted any of the above as status messages, would you click the “Like” button”? Would you hesitate as I do sometimes before deciding whether or not a “Like” is an adequate form of support for a friend?

Usually, making the decision to click the thumbs up icon is an easy one for me. If a friend is posting a celebratory message or an opinion with which I agree, a quick push of the “Like” button lets them know that I, well, like what they’ve posted.

Take the first two statuses above. Liking snow and Fridays is pretty straight forward, so I can “like” those without commenting and move along without feeling awkward.

However, what about the status that announces surgery and requests prayer? Would you be so quick to “like” that one and move on without commenting? Would it seem impersonal?

At times, I’ve hesitated before pushing the button without at least leaving a comment, such as, “Praying for you…” Something about just liking this kind of status seems impersonal to me. I figure that if someone took the time to put themselves out there and request prayer, the least I could do is respond with words of comfort and affirmation. (Oh, and as a side note, when I tell someone that I’m going to pray, I stop whatever I’m doing at that very moment and do just what I promised. I pray. After all, it’s not like I was really busy; I was perusing Facebook.)

How do you feel about liking a status that informs you of some kind trial that has been, or will be, faced? Would it seem odd to like a status that announces bad or sad news? “My car troubles are a bummer”, or, “I think I’m coming down with the flu”. Pushing the “Like” button doesn’t seem like the right thing to do in these instances.

While I’m on the topic of potentially improper use of the little blue thumps up button, how would you respond to a status like the above one about the mean neighbor? Would “liking” that status signify that you agree about your friend’s assessment of their neighbor? Or would it mean that you agree with the neighbor’s alleged bad behavior – secretly thinking that your friend deserves what they’re getting?

Sometimes, we push the “Like” button and move on without commenting. I’m guilty of that. So, I’m trying to slow down a bit in order to really communicate my sentiments about a status update that a friend took the time to share.

I push the “Like” button at least a dozen times each day, but each “Like” has its own meaning. Sometimes it means, “Cool”. Other times it means, “Please let me know what I can do to help”. Frequently it means, “I agree”. Regardless of what it means each time I click it, I love the show of support that it allows me to demonstrate toward my friends. I never want it to mean that I’m too busy and impersonal to be there for a friend, so when called for, clicking that button is followed by something else that Facebook encourages – comments.


Warm up with This Chili Recipe

Time is of the essence in my house when making meals during the week, so there’s no time to try on my Martha Stewart hat in an attempt to whip up something that’s fit for royalty. Most weekday meals must be quick, and hopefully, tasty.

Among the handful of quick and tasty recipes that I alternate cooking on cold winter days is chili. The ingredients are simple and stove-to-table time is approximately 30 minutes. Not bad!

If you’re looking to warm up with this easy chili recipe, you’ll need these ingredients on hand (I have no brand allegiance, I just buy what tastes good and suits my wallet):

  • 2 large cans of kidney beans (drained)
  • 2 cans (or jars) of pasta sauce (I prefer Hunt’s “Zesty” or “Meat” flavors for chili)
  • 1 small to medium can of chili seasoned tomatoes
  • 1 small can of corn (drained)
  • 1 packet of chili seasoning
  • 1 pound of ground beef


  • Brown ground beef thoroughly in large pot and drain excess fat
  • Add packet of chili seasoning and can of seasoned tomatoes, stir until ingredients are mixed well
  • Mix in 2 cans of pasta sauce and 1 can of corn and stir well
  • Add 2 cans of kidney beans and mix well with all other ingredients
  • Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes stirring occasionally
  • Adding ingredients slowly allows the flavors and seasonings to mix well; it also makes it easier to stir.

To stretch the recipe, or simply to make it heartier, add 1 pound of boiled elbow macaroni to the prepared chili and mix well.

Note: This recipe yields enough servings to feed my family of six for two nights and also yields a few servings for lunch and/or snack.

Serve with cheddar corn muffins and/or salad.

Cheddar corn muffins

Prepare 2 boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix as directed and add 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar to the batter before pouring into baking cups.

Tip! Add 1 tbsp sugar if you desire sweet corn muffins or try adding jalapeno or pepper jack cheese for a spicy kick!

P.S. – I don’t fuss with homemade salad. I use salad mix and toss in whatever suits me at the time be it cheese, croutons, grapes, nuts, strawberries.

Drive-in Movie Theater: A Welcome Flashback

My first memory of having visited a drive-in movie theater is from 1986. My parents loaded us all into the family van and made the trek to a local drive-in theater. The featured films that evening were “Back to School” starring Rodney Dangerfield and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” starring Matthew Broderick. You know, Sarah Jessica Parker’s husband.

I fondly remember my dad hanging a receiver over the driver’s door in order for us to hear the audio that accompanied the video. The sound was a bit staticky and the screen was a little fuzzy, but not so much that those things ruined the experience. After all, we were enjoying the only technology that existed at the time.

Another memory that floods back from that night is how incredibly difficult it was for everyone to get a good view of the screen from inside the van. Portable chairs like the ones that you see at soccer games and outdoor concerts of today hadn’t yet been invented and we didn’t have those bulky lawn chairs that would have allowed us to comfortably enjoy the movies in the great outdoors.

Despite the inability to get a clear view of the entire screen from within the van, I have nothing but amazing memories from that evening with my family doing something that was almost unheard of by the mid-80’s as drive-ins were almost a relic.

Nearly two decades later, having moved to another state, I was surprised to see that one of my favorite past activities was still available for me to begin making memories for my children. The technology is different, but the experiences are much the same – fantastic! The audio is now played via an FM station in your vehicle, the movie screen is crisp, and the vehicles that we drive are much more comfy than what my parents had. Oh, and camp chairs allow moviegoers to comfortably sit outside of their vehicles for unobstructed views of the screen.

The nostalgia of old and comfort of new collided on New Year’s Eve 2011 to create new memories when my 12-year-old daughter and I enjoyed a visit to the local drive-in theater. We missed the company of my husband and teens who all declined to go along on this memory-making, quadruple feature adventure. I think their reluctance had something to do with the first two movies to be shown (Happy Feet 2 and The Muppets).

Although this wasn’t our first visit to this drive-in theater, it was the first mother-daughter trip there. We had a great time laughing and talking about silly things in a way that you can’t when “the boys” are around. In wonder, at times mockingly, the youngest (and most adventurous) member of my brood asked questions about and commented on the concession advertisements that played before the first movie. I’ll admit that watching advertisements with a copyright date of 1959 is nothing like the colorful, musical, and noisy pitches that she’s used to seeing on Nickelodeon, and even though I wasn’t born until over a decade after those commercials were made, I found them quite nostalgic and actually enjoyed them. I felt entertained. That experience was the equivalent of enjoying a game on an Atari console having already played one of today’s video game systems. Simply fun and funny!

As we reclined in our comfy seats, snuggled into blankets and pillows that we brought from home, we laughed and giggled our way through three movies of the night’s quadruple feature. Right after the third movie of the evening, which starred Sarah Jessica Parker and featured a cameo by Matthew Broderick, a co-owner of the theater announced that it was finally time for us to make our way into the concession area to get our New Year’s Eve treats: hats, noisemakers, and sparkling or hot cider. So my daughter and I made our way through the line picking out each of our items (we chose hot cider, since the outside temperature was 41 degrees) and posed for our picture that was being taken by the same co-owner.

What a wonderful evening this had been and it wasn’t over yet! Once back to our van, we eagerly awaited instructions for how to proceed with the celebration. At the appointed time, we were directed to watch the screen as it displayed a decades-old animation counting down to the start of the new year. Alas, shouts of “Happy New Year!” could be heard from every corner of the lot. Honking horns and fireworks marked the momentous occasion. And cups were raised in honor of the promise that the new year would bring.

After a few more minutes of celebrating, the final movie of the evening began. We tried to stay awake long enough to enjoy this experience to the fullest, but it just wasn’t in the stars, so we headed home soon after to join the rest of our family and nestle into our warm beds.

While streaming video, mail-order video rental subscriptions, ubiquitous video rental kiosks, or local video rental stores (which are becoming relics themselves) are more suitable for the busier lifestyles that we lead today, in my book, they could never hold a candle to the experience of sitting in my own vehicle (or outside of it in a camp chair) with my family while enjoying a great set of movies on a big screen under the stars.

The time warp to when life was slower and simpler is the perfect antidote to the toxic schedules that many of us keep. I welcome the experience of taking a step back into time and look forward to future retreats back into the wonder years.

The $8 cost per person for 2-4 movies paired with the freedom to bring my own food and drinks into the facility is far less expensive than a family outing at any community megaplex. However, regardless of the cost of admission, the memories that are made from visiting a drive-in theater are priceless.

Search the Drive-in theater database to find the closest auto theater near you.

Happy New Year!



Happy New Year!

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118: 24

I pray that 2012 brings about much joy and thankfulness for whatever God brings into your life this year. If you don’t know Him, or have fallen away from a relationship with Him, my prayer is that He will reveal Himself to you and that you will accept Him as your Lord and Savior and make the choice to follow him for the rest of your life. May your heart and actions outwardly show your dedication to Him.

If you’re the resolution-making kind, here’s to hoping that you’re able to accomplish everything that you set out to change about your life.

With God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26