“Bells of Christmas” Cover

Bells of Christmas Medley Cover 300dpiWhen I was a young girl, I LOVED Karen Carpenter’s music. LOVED. IT. When I found out she sang her own harmonies and backgrounds, a dream was born.

I wanted to do that.

Fast forward decades. My very first “single” is now available and every vocal harmony and background on it is mine. (Click HERE or click the cover art image to download it or listen to a clip.)

Why did I wait so long to release a recording? One big reason is that I knew how much it would cost and I just couldn’t justify spending the money when I knew I’d never recover the expense:

The studio time was free, but
Leasing the track for recording cost $140.
Mixing/mastering cost $50 (EXTREME discount)
Licensing and royalties were $42.
The distribution service was $15
(to get it on itunes, Google Play, Amazon, streaming services, etc.)

So why now? Why this song? Not because I had an extra $247 to burn, that’s for sure. I’ve been recording covers for nearly 5 years now and this is the first one that wasn’t actually a full out cover of a song by a popular artist. In the back of my mind, my thought has probably always been something like this:

Given a choice between listening to an original artist’s version of a song and my version, why would anyone listen to a copy when they could listen to the “real thing?”

But this song isn’t a copy of an original. It’s a Christmas medley that a music track making company created in 2009. The artist on the demonstration track is an unnamed studio vocalist that nobody will compare me to. It starts out slow and soft with I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, then transitions to Ring the Bells and build to one of my favorites, Carol of the Bells. It’s packed with harmony and overlaps. It was challenging to record, but it was flat out FUN at the same time.

Will I release another single in the future?

Probably at lease one more. A few years ago, I paid the $140 to lease a track for “How He Loves” (also affectionately known in my family as “the sloppy wet kiss” song) but never found someone to mix and master my recording. Having already paid for the track lease, it wouldn’t take too much more money to get it mixed, mastered and distributed.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep recording, singing my own harmonies. Just like Karen Carpenter did.

#GoodNews – the Christian faith isn’t about being “good.”

JSMGospelMeansGoodNewsThe Christian faith isn’t about being “good” and trying not to do anything “wrong.” ‪

#‎Jesus‬ wasn’t just a good man Christians should strive to emulate.

If I believe the eye witnesses, He was God himself, in the flesh. He came to restore my relationship with Him – a relationship severed by my rejection and indifference.

I suffer when I am separated from God. Without Jesus, that separation would be eternal.

Any parent will tell you they wish they could take their child’s place when the child suffers.

If you believe what Jesus said, that’s what God did. ‪#‎ibelieve‬ ‪#‎GospelMeansGoodNews‬

Christmas meme

I found this meme over at Lisa Writes and Lux Venit: The Christmas Meme and decided to give it a shot in an effort to jumpstart some Christmas spirit.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper for kids! There’s nothing like watching a kid tear into a present.
For grownups, I save a few trees and use gift bags, some of which I get back the next year. I admit, sometimes I wrap a gift in tissue paper before putting into a gift bag so there’s a little bit of a surprise left after looking or reaching into the bag.

2. Real tree or artificial?
Artificial. I LOVE the smell of a real tree, but I hate the kids on a nebulizer twice a day and I REALLY hate cleaning up cat vomit laced with chewed up pine needles. ewwww. Each kid has a small tree in their room. We had to get my son a new one last year and the cheapest one was 6 feet tall (skinny), so he has a full height tree in his bedroom now. I would have LOVED that when I was a kid.

3. When do you put up your tree?
The day after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Take the tree down? The first week of January.
When did the tree boxes get put back in the attic? Last year . . . I cannot tell a lie . . . sometime between Valentine’s day and St. Patrick’s day. It takes three very large boxes. I may buy smaller boxes this year. Boxes I can handle all by myself. There may be 12 boxes of Christmas tree parts, but if I can lift each one into the attic by myself, that’s fine with me.

5. Do you like eggnog?
yuk. My husband makes REAL eggnog and loves it.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I can’t remember. I’ve thought about it for days and I can’t remember. Here’s the thing that came to me, time and time again. Christmas at my house, Santa brought everything. Everything was from Santa. Christmas afternoon at my house, I laid all my gifts out on my bed, so that my neighborhood friends could come see. Couldn’t see the bedspread, so much stuff!! I remember visiting my friend Cindy down the street. Santa brought her a cross necklace, a Bible and a doll. One doll. She had four brothers. Her mom didn’t work. Her dad owned a gas station. I remember asking my mom why Santa left me so much and didn’t give her hardly anything. I don’t remember the answer.

In my house, Santa leaves a few gifts, but mom and dad bring most everything. Santa is fair. Mom and dad are the source of stuff.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene?
We have two:
One is white bisque and sits on the middle of our dining table (the ONLY place the cats have learned NOT to jump on in the formal living areas).
The other is a tiny wood set I bought for my daughter to play with. She performs elaborate dramas which include everyone in the Bible Christmas story, all the Rudolph characters and all the characters from Santa Claus is coming to town. It’s quite interesting. Did you know that Rudolph gave baby Jesus a ride? This year, Hannah Montana is actually an angel.

Eclectic Nativity

8. Hardest person to buy for?
It’s funny. The people I find it the most difficult to buy for are the people who tell me exactly what to buy (and where to find it, how much it costs, etc). Sucks the Christmas spirit right out of me. I actually enjoy thinking about a person and finding a gift they might like. Sometimes I ask their close family ideas. I never ask them directly. Sometimes I’m wrong. But I think the real gift isn’t the thing in the wrapping paper, it’s the sentiment behind it. I’m teaching my children to be gracious gift receivers.

The same goes when people request that I tell them exactly what to buy for me (and where to find it, etc.).  I just try to pick something easy and fast.  If someone doesn’t know me well enough to pick out a thoughtful gift, I shouldn’t be on their to do Christmas list in the first place. Or at the very least I should be on a “gag gift” list.  Now that’s fun.

9. Easiest person to buy for?
Anyone who understands that buying a gift is not a functional, irritating, time sucking task. A gift is just as much for the giver as the receiver. Remember that saying, “It’s the thought that counts?” I get it.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
hmmmm. I left this empty for a few days and still can’t come up with anything. Probably because I don’t just see the item by itself. I see the giver, not just the gift.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. With a Christmas letter in which we completely make fun of ourselves. No bragging here. We try to be as authentic as possible. Sometimes the letter goes out in January. Sometimes we send two years at a time because we wrote, but didn’t actually mail the previous year’s letter. Last year we didn’t even write a letter. Life is too busy.

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
Has to be “A Christmas Story.” “You’ll shoot your eye out!” “I can’t put my arms down!” “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie.” “Thtuck? Thtuck? Thtuck!!!!”

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Usually I buy a few gifts all year long, but we really buy the majority of the stuff on the annual shopping day my husband and I usually take. He takes off work on a weekday, we shop together when most people are at work and we knock out a significant percentage of it that one day. We make time to have a nice lunch together, and depending on the child care situation, maybe a nice dinner too. This year, our son, is 12 and (we hope) is old enough to babysit his sister for $2 per hour. If they call us, fighting, we’ve already decided our response: “Well, okay. We’re at Best Buy, but if you really need us to come home, I guess we will . . .” heh heh heh.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Recycled? nah. I either return stuff to Walmart, sell it on ebay or give it to charity. But I’ve often given used items as gifts. Especially books! Everyone who knows me, knows I think used books are a treasure! If it doesn’t stink like cigarettes or mildew, and hasn’t been completely highlighted by someone else, bring it on!

15. Favorite things to eat at Christmas?
Our version of Toll House Cookies. I made a mistake one year and the cookies turned out wonderful! My husband dug through the trash to see if he could tell what I did wrong and – the engineer he is – he figured it out! We buy a 10 lb. bag of chocolate chips from Sam’s Club and make cookies for . . . everyone. Friends and co-workers beginning nagging the week after Thanksgiving. Last year, we had to switch to cookie bars because we just didn’t have time to scoop hundreds of balls of dough. Still great!

Oh, and Crown Royal with Diet Sprite. We only buy it in December. Soooo smooth. The buttah of whisky.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Both. A base of white programable twinkle lights and some retro looking colored LED lights. We program the twinkle lights to “dance” to the Christmas music. We tried C7s for the colored lights, but the heat they generate could roast a marshmallow. These LEDs look the same as C7s, but with no heat. (NOT cheap to buy, but easy on the electric bill.)

17. Favorite Christmas song?
One? Pick one? Not going to happen.
Christian: So many, but one of my favorites is O Come O Come Emmanuel
Kids: The 8 Polish Foods of Christmas (“What’s a kielbasa? Pretty much just meat”)
Traditional: The Christmas Song (but only by Nat King Cole).
I also like “Bleak Mid Winter” by Pierce Pettis.
All played to twinkling Christmas tree lights.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Stay home. Always Christmas morning at home. Used to do Christmas dinner at my parents, but a few years ago, we wanted to start making our own family traditions and memories, so we stay home for dinner now too. Everyone’s invited, sometimes they come, sometimes not. We always have a wonderful time. The kids each pick out a new recipe, we let them eat off china and drink out of crystal. My daughter decorates the table. It’s really wonderful. We’re making memories, not just dinner.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Well. Yes. I think. But is it Donner or Donder? I can’t ever figure it out! I’ve heard both. I bought some Christmas coffee mugs with a reindeer on each and it reads: Donner. I have no idea. I just sing it softly and hope my daughter doesn’t call me out.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Star. I don’t get the Angel thing at all. Looks uncomfortable if you ask me. Definitely rude.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Well, we actually have a tradition we call “Twelve Day” at our house. It started out as a way to give gifts that get ignored on Christmas morning, due to the overwhelming amount of stuff. We give a single gift to our kids each of the 12 days before Christmas. We gave a globe to my son one year and he and my husband sat on the couch and rolled it around, looking at the world for 20 minutes. Never would have happened on Christmas morning. Also a great way to turn a seasonal purchase into a gift – like a Christmas CD or DVD, Christmas clothes or jammies, ornaments, etc.. This way we enjoy them all Christmas season.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
People who buy the hottest items and then resell them for a huge markup. What goes around, comes around. Big greedy scrooges.

23. What is the “corniest” family tradition you do, or miss doing?

Gotta be the Mickey Wreath. Still do it. Can’t imagine Christmas without it.

Mickey Wreath

24. Ugliest Christmas Decoration ever invented?
Plastic nose gays. Okay, maybe it’s just the ugliest NAME of a Christmas Decoration ever invented. The word “nose” should not be in the name of anything Christmasy.

25. Which looks the best, theme trees or homey trees?
Homey trees. Family trees. Memory trees. Unconditional trees.

26. What does Christmas mean to you?
When I was younger? Stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.

This year?
“Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.”


“It’s still a mystery to me
that the hands of God could be so small
How tiny fingers reaching in the night
were the very hands that measure the sky.
Heaven’s love,
reaching down,
to save the world.
Son of God,
Servant King.
Here with us.
You’re here with us.”

(hey Son! what happened to the) sausage balls?

1 lb. hot sausage
2 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3 c. Bisquick (biscuit mix)

allow cheese to come to room temperature.
combine all ingredients (just get your hands dirty, it’s easier).
roll into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
serve immediately (or keep them under lock and key until ready to serve).

makes 40-50 sausage balls when served immediately.
makes 3 sausage balls if served later (if you’re lucky).

(hey Son, what happened to the) sausage balls? (print friendly version)