Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Project Blessing

“The Lord bless you and keep you . . .” Num 6:24 NIV

I came across a blog yesterday called The Happiness Project, written by Gretchen Rubin. Here’s what the side bar on her blog says–“The Happiness Project is the account of the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier. Here, she shares her insights to help you create your own happiness project.”

That caught my interest. After all, who doesn’t want to be happy? So I clicked over there and read. She has a book, a blog and daily happiness moments you can have delivered right to your inbox.

A little way down on her blog, she has an interview with Margaret Roach who was part of the Martha Stewart Omnimedia and left Success in the Big City to garden. (I haven’t read her blog yet, but as a small time gardener, I intend to.) 

While the Happiness Blog was more than worth the time I spent reading it, one statement in the Roach interview stopped me.  

To the question–

Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
Margaret Roach answered, “A very close friend says I am not Type A, but AAA. Even since I left my “successful” career a few years ago to live in my rural garden, away from the city and largely in solitude, I remain inclined to take on too much. It’s something I have to note daily, and work on still. Overdoing leaves insufficient time for savoring.”

Did you pick up on that? Overdoing leaves insufficient time for savoring.

I haven’t read the book, haven’t decided if I want to invest the time and dollars to read it. But I started wondering, how hard is it for most people to recognize when they’re happy? 

And when you come right down to it, how hard is it for people to recognize when they receive a blessing?

Think about it.

When the Creator of the universe, God, who spoke everything that is or was or will ever be into existence gives you (out of approximately 6,890,309,333 living people on this planet) a blessing, do you recognize it?

Do you savor it? 

Do you remember it?

Maybe we should all start our own project–a blessing project, of sorts–where we take note of our blessings, collect, appreciate and savor them. Keep them close to our hearts.

And thank HIM for them.

What out of the blue blessing have your received recently?


The bald eagle that flew overhead on my way home from church yesterday. (This isn’t mine, but I was driving and couldn’t focus to take a picture.)

Riker, everyone’s little blessing at the office.

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Happy Birthday to You, Marsha Lou

Happy birthday, funny girl! Thank you for being so much fun all your life.

Thank you for finding the people I liked friendable (is that a word?) like Bomber. For loving people I’ve always liked, such as your husband. And my sister. For finding the college I attended  worthy of your time and study.

Thank you for being someone I’ve always counted among my friends.

You’re a joy to be around and a shoulder in time of trouble.

The Lord bless you and keep you . . . .

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Where’s Waldo–er–Susan

Today I blogged over at WRITINGSLUTS. (Sluts stands for Smart, Literate and Undeliably Talented.) It’s kind of a joke, because we have a sweet group of writers who pen everything from inspirational to romantic suspense to horror blogging there.

I talked about critique groups–one of the biggest helps on my way to being published. And in the dedication in my two books, I thank my critiquers! Honestly, I couldn’t have done it without them.

So pop on over there and while you’re there, say hi. I can never have too many Small Town World friends hanging out with me. 😉


Chicken and Rice–YUM!

 I love church cookbooks. You know the ones I mean. They have all the best recipes the women in a church prepare.

In C-Town our church has rotating committees for funeral dinners, and happily, the one I’m on is headed by one of the best cooks around. (I don’t mind a bit!)

When I was in Pryor Creek, one woman did most of the cooking for funeral dinners by herself. Joy (the perfect name for her) was what I call a master chef. 

To be truthful, at that time I was a working mom with three very active boys. I learned to cook from my mom, who had six kids and cooked a lot of fast and easy recipes. Spaghetti sauce from a mix, taco sauce from an envelope and pizza dough from Bisquick. 

I probably deemed anyone who made her own Alfredo sauce instead of pouring it out of a jar a master chef, but Joy truly was fantastic.

She was very organized, and did everything–at least the things I knew about–just the way they should be done. Especially in the kitchen. (If I can find my shoes in the morning when I’m getting ready for work, I’ve scored a victory!)

So the other day when Joy commented on Facebook that she was making my recipe for Chicken and Rice, and that it’s THE BEST, I nearly cried with happiness! I couldn’t have been happier if Paula Deen had bragged on my recipe.

But it’s really not my recipe. It’s Eunice Posten’s and I got it from this cookbook.

If you can’t read it, it’s from the Lakeview Christian Church in The ‘Ford. Published in 1981. I’d show you the actual page, but I used it so many times, it was torn out years ago. That didn’t keep me from submitting it to the Southside Cookbook in Pryor Creek. (If I ever had a copy, I can’t find it now. Somebody tell me how to get one or loan me yours so I can copy it.)


This recipe is easy and  Y-U-M-M-Y!!! Here you go–

1 stick of butter or margarine
2 C Instant Rice
1 C Chicken broth
2 Cans Mushroom Soup
Chicken breasts
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a baking dish (in the oven.) When the butter is melted, add rice, mushroom soup, chicken broth, salt and pepper and mix well. Smooth rice mixture and top with chicken breasts. (I lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts, too.)

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until breasts are done.

Rather than topping with chicken breasts, sometimes I  take small pieces of breast meat (such as for fajitas but cut into bite size pieces) and stir them into the rice mixture and cook as above.

Everyone in my family loves this dish. It’s a golden tan color when you take it from the oven, and right around the edges is the best crunchy goodness! Yuuuuuum . . . . 

Like my grandad used to say, it’ll make your tongues lap your brains out! Try it and let me know what you think!


Do You Remember

Skating when you were a kid?

I loved it. Not inline skates. I tried those once a few years ago and landed right square on my . . . well, I landed hard! 

The kind of skates I had were the ones with four wheels–two in front and two in back–and a key. (For anyone too young to remember, the key didn’t start an engine on the skates. It made them tight enough to stay on your shoes.)

Remember these? They were what made these

stay on your feet. One-size-fits-all. 🙂

My neighbor, Marsha, and I skated on our sidewalk, back and forth, and on our porch (we had a big front porch) but never on the driveway. Mom had the cement guy who poured it put a broom finish on it, and that’s way too bumpy for a good ride.

But after Grandmother and Grandad built the house next door, we could roll down the connecting sidewalk and skate on her nice, smooth double-wide driveway–if all the pickups, cars and trucks were gone to work.

We couldn’t skate in the street. Not because we had a lot of traffic in our Small Town World but because our streets in the summertime were hot, sticky and nearly liquid tarry stuff. If we’d tried skating on them, we would have been stuck fast. (Think the La Brea tar pits.)

On Sunday nights in the winter, our church rented the local skating rink and we’d all skate for free. The rink was right behind the Dari Diner (if you haven’t been there, you’re missing a real C-Town treat!) in a quonset hut.

This is a quonset hut, not THE building where our skate rink was. I don’t know why it was there or who owned it, but I remember lots of nights, skating with our church and having a ball. 

The floor wasn’t perfect. It was wood and fairly smooth, except in one place on the return leg of the big circuit we skated. I don’t remember if the floor changed height or if it didn’t quite come together, but you had to watch for it or it would grab your toe and jerk you down.

One night I was working hard to stay in front of a herd that had bunched up as they skated to “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands” and I forgot about that toe trap. I fell so hard, it knocked the breath out of me. There I was, unable to see or gasp or even think and sprawled in front of what seemed like a million little wheels that I was sure would make mince meat out of me.

But rather than smash me, someone scooped me off the floor and carried me out of the way. I don’t remember if it was Dad or the preacher or who saved me, but I was very happy they did. 

That old skating rink has been gone for a long time now. In its place is our post office, which isn’t nearly as much fun as that skating rink was and not nearly as beautiful as the old post office.

I need to go to Ebay and see if I can buy a pair of those skates before they all disappear from the face of the earth. Someday I want to be able to show them my grandchildren and tell them all about it. When I have grandchildren, that is.

Hint. Hint.