Penny Pinching Peach


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Creative Comfort

Comfort Coloring

Comfort Coloring

Creative Ways to Comfort the Grieving.

If anyone has noticed my silence the past three weeks, it’s in the largest part due to a sudden death in our family. My husband’s mother, my children’s Ganna, unexpectedly passed away shortly after her 60th birthday. The last while has been a whirlwind of the overwhelming aftermath such a sad and sudden event leaves behind. This experience is not entirely new to me, having lost my own mom far too early and quickly in 2006 when she was only 44 years old. Every loss is different, though, in the same way that every person is unique and every family dynamic is all it’s own. Anyway, going through this loss with small children of our own has given me another perspective on grieving, loss and the process of laying a loved one to rest.

When a friend loses someone close to them, we are often left wondering what we can say or do to make things better. Truth is, there is nothing that can take away the sorrow or fill the void left by death. There are some things that can bring a measure of comfort, help the family feel less alone, and let them know you truly, actively, deeply care about them in a way that words alone just can’t express. You may never know the impact your small gesture made in helping a grieving person make it through. You don’t have to have a lot of time or money to let the bereaved know you are there and care. I’m going to share some ideas of ways you can help ease the transition into life after loss. Some are pretty conventional, some not so much. Hopefully you will find something you can use.

Comfort for Grieving Children:

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I’d never been through the loss of a close relative as a parent of small children, so this opened my eyes to some ways to bless the grieving that I hadn’t thought so much about previously.
Offer to help with the children in the immediate family. It may be babysitting while they make arrangements, keeping them occupied during visitation, letting them sit with you during the funeral or just offering to be on standby in case the parents realize that they do need help at some point.
Get busy gifts to occupy children quietly. Give the little ones “busy bags” filled with things to keep them content and quiet during a difficult and confusing time. Some parents won’t realize how hard it is for little ones to behave through all of the tedious rituals they don’t truly understand, and won’t come prepared. Things you could include: Crayons or Colored Pencils , Coloring Book , sketch pad, On the Go Water Painting Bundle ,Reusable Sticker Pad , candy or packaged snacks that are not messy (super important detail, so I’m repeating: NOT MESSY!!! 😉 ), a small stuffed animal, like this adorable Marmoset Mini Flopsie , or any small quiet & clean activities. My daughter literally colored almost the entire time we were having visitation, and gave a picture to nearly everyone who came. She said it was to make everyone feel less sad about her Ganna going to Heaven.

Pictures to Remind the Grieving of Good Memories:

Pictures are such an important thing when you are remembering someone who once lived life with you. Many people now do a photo montage at the viewing. If they need help scanning or copying photos so that they aren’t leaving originals with the funeral home, this is a way you could help. If you have a great picture in your personal collection of the recently departed, that would be an extremely meaningful gift to include with a sympathy card or even put it in a nice frame like this one that has one of my mom’s favorite sayings on it “Live Laugh Love” Picture Frame. When someone has passed away, you will never be able to take another picture of them, so this is a way of getting a new memory when you thought there were no more.

Music For the Funeral:

If the family is going to use recorded music and you have a knack for finding and burning just the right version of that perfect song, offer your services to help them. Chances are that they are overwhelmed and don’t really have the time to search it out. Just make sure that you communicate clearly and definitely have the songs they really want played.

Comfort Food For Grief and Loss:

Families who just lost someone dear to them often forget to eat, and certainly don’t have the desire to cook. If there is good food sitting there, they are likely to eat it just so it won’t go to waste, and it will keep them going. See where they need it most: At home, during visitation or after the funeral. After all, everyone needs to eat, whether they feel like it or not. A handy tip? Use Disposable Aluminum Foil Baking Pans so they don’t have to worry about returning a nice pan and you aren’t concerned about your nice cookware.

Financial Help:

Something we rarely think about is the financial burden a death can bring to family. It’s not only paying for the funeral, but lost work, gas money, and other incidentals that are unplanned. This is not a big deal if you are financially secure, but can be an added devastation if you are barely scraping by to start with. Ways you can help with this when you know the family is struggling? Let them know you included money, a gift card or a gas card in your sympathy card. Buy a small potted plant to hand deliver instead of a big arrangement from a florist, and give the difference, if you feel you still want to give flowers and can’t do both.

Share Your Favorite Memories:

In the weeks and months following a loved one moving on, the family settles into their new life without a significant part of their daily existence. Everyone else moves on, and often forgets they are still grieving and adjusting. Write a letter about a fond memory of the person who is no longer with them, and send it to them. Write a card letting them know you’re thinking of them. Dig out the pictures I mentioned before and share them. Visit and talk about the good times. Remember.

Death is never easy. Grieving is complicated. No one should have to go through it alone.

If you are reading this, you know someone who has lost someone dear to them. If you haven’t already, you will most likely lose someone one day yourself. We will all have our turn to move on. Show compassion, be a blessing, do what you can for others while you still can. Live life while you are living, and love on those who are still here with you.

To read about something that has brought me sweet comfort in the years since losing my mom, read my story about my butterfly greetings from Heaven.

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Take Pictures With Your Kids

Take a Picture With Me, Mommy!

Take a Picture With Me, Mommy!

“Take a picture with me,  Mommy! “, my five year old daughter chirped this afternoon.

Excuses immediately ran through my mind of why I would really rather not.  I have a headache,  my hair is a mess, I am wearing no makeup and I have hardly slept in days, so I am not looking my best.

Then I had a flashback to being that girl begging for pictures with my mom, who hated having her picture taken. She usually said no, but those times she actually said yes live on as treasures for me. They are beautiful reminders of the loving,  joyful childhood I had with a mom who put aside her own insecurity in how she looked for long enough to make a record of a moment with her daughter.

My mom passed away at age 44, long before I had my own little girl.

Each snapshot of my mom is an irreplacable memory, frozen in time.

I cherish them, and the ability to share them with the grandchildren she never met. Because of this,  I don’t care if I look like a homeless crazy person,  I will take that picture with my babies whenever they want.  They don’t care about how I look now. Later they will look at that photo and remember that moment with Mom, regardless of what my hair looked like.

Take those pictures with your kids.

How you look right now doesn’t matter.  You don’t have to look like a fashion model to be a fabulous mommy. How they feel and the memories preserved in time do. You won’t regret those messy moments captured in a picture. Those messy moments make up the beautiful, crazy life filled with the love you have for your children….and that’s what those photos will represent to them when they look at them.

Here is a letter I wrote to my mom on her birthday during my pregnancy with our little Sweet Pea, if you would like to read it…

Dear Mom


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Dandelions Are My Favorite Flower

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

Dandelions are my favorite flower!

A lot of folks look at dandelions as a weed, a nuisance, something to be combatted removed at any cost. I see a dandelion and I think of dimpled hands, smiling faces and bright yellow bouquets offered with lots of sunshiny sweetness and pride in a gift well chosen.

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”

Many people see dandelions as pesky plants they want to eradicate. I see a beautiful bloom that speaks of love and innocence.

♥ I love this beautiful Real Dandelion Seed Pendant Necklace! ♥

 

I’m sure most people list something fancier as their favorite flower, like roses or tulips, and I understand that. I love those, too. They are lovely to look at, last longer, and smell sweeter than the humble yellow blossom that I’m so fond of. Fancy flowers can’t compete with dandelions and the feelings they evoke in my heart, though.

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

These plain and simple flowers have been handed to me by sticky hands, accompanied by the biggest, most genuine proclamations of “I love you!” that you can imagine, with slobbery sweet kisses and tight hugs from dirty little arms. I have very early memories of running to my mom with a sunny bouquet picked with all the love in my little heart and seeing the smile it put on her face. Dandelions bring up so many memories of sunshine and love, that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Dandelions may be a nuisance to you. That’s okay.

♥This is a beautiful story of a dandelion seed in The Dandelion Seed Book!♥

To me, dandelions are a symbol of all things sweet and special, generous and innocent about childhood and the love of the children God has allowed to touch my life!


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Black and Blue Butterfly Greetings From Heaven

Butterfly greetings from heaven

Butterfly greetings from heaven

Losing my mom to cancer changed so much about me.

It changed my personality, my perspective and even my life plans. Everything about myself was intertwined with her, and suddenly a huge part of the fabric of who I was, the life I had and my hopes for the future was ripped away. I was left feeling torn apart, broken and irreparable. Visiting her grave was no comfort to me, and I felt at a loss for any tangible way to feel that connection with my mom while she was gone. It hurt in such an achingly empty manner, I can’t even explain it in words.

One day as I was walking outside, praying & crying & wishing I could talk to Mom about whatever crisis I was coping with or just get another one of her warm, loving, mama hugs…it happened. God sent the comforting symbol I needed. I was randomly surrounded by fluttering blue and black butterflies! To most people, this would seem magical and beautiful. To me, it was a sign from Heaven of my mom’s continued love. You see, her favorite color combination was blue and black. One of my favorite things in the world is butterflies, and she would often give me little things to do with butterflies. The unique combination of those two things that were so special to each of us and personally significant between us was a symbol to me, and something I latched onto. Finally, something tangible to bring me comfort and help me to feel connected to my mom!

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”

These black and blue Butterfly Greetings from Heaven have recurred over the years many times, usually at moments when I was thinking of my mom or dealing with something difficult and feeling alone.

Sometimes it’s a lone butterfly, others an entire swarm of them, and at times they even land on me as I watch them and try to listen to whatever message may be whispered to me by God in that moment when He has my attention.

The butterfly hello has also become an unexpected and beautiful way for my daughter to feel connected to the grandma she was never blessed to get to know.

When she sees blue and black butterflies- after hearing my story of the time the black and blue butterflies swarmed me when I was feeling sad and missing my mama and how they always make me think of her when I see them now- she will say “Hi Grandma! I love you, too!”. It brings bittersweet tears to my eyes every time it happens, and is yet another thing that is special about these particular butterflies for me.

If you have lost anyone close to you, is there something special that makes you feel connected to them in particular, like they’re saying hello, or just plain brings you comfort when you see it? Read my Letter to My Mom.

Below are some beautifully touching products following the sentiment of butterfly inspiration:

Girl Nursery Quote – Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,she became a butterfly – Wall Decal Sticker (Black, Medium)
DaisyJewel Azure Blue & Silvertone Butterfly Hoop Earrings
Vietsbay’s Butterfly Collection Necklace Pendants Pewter Silver


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Happy Birthday, My Big Little Brother!

Brother & His Daughter A Few Years Ago

Brother & His Daughter A Few Years Ago

Today my big little brother turns 31.

Most of my childhood memories involve my brother one way or another.

I still remember him at 3, chasing our youngest uncle around practicing his ninja moves on him because someone thought it was a good idea to give him a karate costume. Watching that scene in my mind, it was pretty doggone cute and funny, but then I was just glad he was attacking our highly amused and much stronger than he was uncle rather than my scrawny little behind. 🙂

I recall my kid brother at 7, with that classic gap toothed grin, chattering up a storm at everyone who entered the pool hall and bouncing around the pool table whacking the balls in right and left, earning the nickname “Little Lightning” for both his prowess at the game of billiards and the fact he was always talking and moving at a rapid pace.

I can see in my mind’s eye my crazy 12 year old brother, soaring over fences, propane tanks and woodpiles he was jumping all over the farm with our Blue Heeler dog. He was all arms, legs, speed and energy…and guaranteed that dog would never make a good city pet.

Mom & Brother At a Family Reunion, 2005

Mom & Brother At a Family Reunion, 2005

I have memories of my bottomless pit of a growing brother at 16, sniffing around the kitchen to see where I hid the batch of cookies he smelled from all the way outside, then happily devouring all of them when he found the stash. That kid could (and still can, the brat! LOL) eat as much as he wanted and not gain an ounce.

I see my brother as a man, when he held his beautiful new daughter in his arms and beamed at her with pride and wonder. She opened a whole new part of his heart the moment he laid eyes on her, and it was amazing to watch.

My Brother Playing

My Brother Playing

I remember walking down the aisle to become my husband’s wife, to the sound of my talented brother strumming beautifully on his guitar exactly as I’d requested.

No matter the ups and downs life brings, I remember.

Life is a gift. Celebrate. Happy birthday, my one and only forever kid brother!


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Grandma’s Sunday Special Ritz Cracker Chicken

A Family Favorite!

A Family Favorite!

This is a treasured family recipe, dating back at least to my great-grandma. My mom told stories of going every Sunday to her grandma’s house for this Ritz cracker chicken and a good time with her huge, close-knit clan of kinfolks. This was one of her stand-by meals for our family growing up, and one we looked forward to every time. When I was dating my now-husband, I fixed this chicken for him. He had a fit over it, and insisted on taking me to his parents’ house and having me fix it for him. Maybe it brought on a proposal? 😉 He requests it from time to time, and my little Princess Peach and her baby brother are already in love with what she also calls Grandma’s Special Ritz Cracker Chicken. She thinks it is a “recipe from Heaven”, though, because it is so yummy and she knows it is a recipe I learned from her Grandma, whom she never met ’cause she went to live in Heaven before Princess Peach was born. This recipe has so many good memories attached to it for me, in addition to being delicious! I’m happy to share it with you, and hope you can make memories with your own family while feeding them this scrumptious chicken treat.

We don’t always make this with chicken breast, for the record. You can use any pieces you want. We just like breast meat better in our house, so I buy huge packs when we find it on sale. I also frequently add chicken liver, made the same way, in with our chicken breast. It stretches the budget, and  the hubby and I love liver. I usually serve this chicken with mashed taters and either green beans, corn, baked beans or mac & cheese, but it would go well with just about anything. It is truly that good! 🙂

With no further ado…

Grandma's Sunday Special Ritz Cracker Chicken

Grandma’s Sunday Special Ritz Cracker Chicken

♥Grandma’s Sunday Special Ritz Cracker Chicken

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large strips

1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed

1 stick butter, melted

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Mix crushed Ritz crackers, melted butter and black pepper until all is moistened.

Coat each piece of chicken well with the Ritz cracker mixture, and place in medium sized baking pan.

 Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly browned.

Enjoy!

She was enjoying her chicken and wouldn't stop to pose. :)

She was enjoying her chicken and wouldn’t stop to pose. 🙂

This recipe doubles well, and I usually do at least double the recipe so we can eat it

Chewing his chicken with a cheesy grin

Chewing his chicken with a cheesy grin

multiple times. You just have to cook it a few minutes longer for the extra chicken. The pan shown is about double the recipe, for reference. We love it so much that we’re always happy to eat the leftovers the next day!

No coupons this week, but this is a super frugal main dish.

So, now that I’ve shared one of my favorite family recipes with you, what’s a dish your family has long term ties with? If you don’t have a recipe like that, what dish do you fix that appears to have the potential to become “Grandma’s special recipe” for your own future generations?

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