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The Old Hen B&B closed May 31, 2014. We recommend The Roaring River B&B 425.888.4834 and The Log Cabin B&B 425.533.8278 for your North Bend get-away. Please stay tuned for Deanna's cookbook plans. Here's to starting from scratch. Talking about The Old Hen online? Our hashtag is #theoldhen .

Meet Neighbors and Spread Joy

Meet Your Neighbors

Such a fun way to meet neighbors! This might just be my favorite video I’ve ever stumbled upon on Facebook. Let’s reconnect this weekend and as a result, find joy. Do it now.

Meet Neighbors While You Spread Joy

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What Labels Are you Wearing?

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My daughter and I had a fun talk about being introverts recently. If you’ve been thinking introverts are shy, boring, and unsocial, I’m sorry to tell you that is inaccurate. We are very social and pretty darn fun. We just recharge our batteries alone. If we ever shut down in public, don’t worry. It probably just means we need a day or so to unwind.

In the same way, if you’re a kind person, it doesn’t mean you are a doormat.


If you’re a creative person but aren’t feeling inspired, go relax and play awhile.

If you’re making a mess of your life, it may mean you need to grieve something you got that you didn’t need or you didn’t get something you did need. Let yourself grieve.

If you’ve believed you shouldn’t cry, please let me invite you to try it. Tears are not for show or a method to get our way. Let go of the pain. Check out John 11:35. It’s one of my favorite verses even though it’s only two words. “Jesus wept”. You won’t fall apart if you cry, but may fall apart if you don’t.

You are lovable. You’re going to be just fine.

If you’re a right-brained person, maybe you feel like you come up short when in the same room with straight A students. I watched many friends make honor roll when I was in school. I always got a free ride to Mariner’s baseball games when my friends earned free tickets. It was always a happy-sad for me since I was the one that came up just short of earning an honor roll certificate & free tickets of my own.

Sometimes the labels we wear block us from making friends. They keep us from getting much-needed rest. Labels stifle us. They lock us into laws that aren’t true. They may stop us from being or doing what we are called to do.

So, here’s to challenging self-made rules.

Here’s to being you.

Here’s to the freedom to grieve. To cry.
Here’s to your future “hoorays! ”

Here’s to naps.

Here’s to being who your were made to be.
Here’s to removing labels.

You go, friend!

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How to Start a Conversation

Having authentic conversation all begins with showing people know you care about their souls.

I used to own a bed & breakfast. I had such a fun time teasing and chatting it up with guests. I learned a lot about people, talking, and laughter. So much so, I can’t hold it in. I just gotta share.

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A few of years ago, I wrote a blog post for my famous mud pie recipe and added some fun with the help of the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It remains one of my favorite footprints I have placed out on the interwebs. Be sure to check it out.

Although that post was all written in fun, there are some great ways to start authentic conversations that we can all apply.

Smile

A smile may only stretch across your face but people feel your joy for miles when you use it. A smile begins the conversation before one word is even said out loud. It states that you are open to conversation.

Compliment

Don’t be afraid to tell someone when he or she gives great service or that you really like their tie, earrings, or whatever. Be honest and they will feel special.

Be a little silly

When I owned a bed & breakfast, one couple told me of all their B&B experiences when we first met. They mentioned one inn had delivered McDonald’s breakfasts to the breakfast table. I couldn’t help myself. No, really. I simply couldn’t. I had to serve McDonald’s for breakfast as well. The gentleman turned white until his wife burst out laughing. I then gave them their real breakfast. Best. Morning. Ever. We’re still friends, the McRaes and I – yes, that’s their real name.

Sympathize

Sometimes we meet people while they are going through a really significant loss. Show you are sorry for their loss. Try to put yourself in their shoes in your mind. Don’t compare their story to yours out loud; but, instead, relate inside the best you can and focus on their story. Be a good listener. Sometimes the best way to show you care is to just listen.

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Ask Where They Grew Up

Some people think they’re too shy to start small chat but it’s not hard to do when you commit these conversation starters to memory.

Where did you grow up?

What was your first car?

What are you up to this weekend?

What kind of dog is that? How old is he/she?

Have you been here before?

Are you on twitter too? Here’s my card. I’d love to stay connected.

Make your own list that caters to the crowd around you. Create mom to mom questions or questions that relate to your children’s friends so you’re prepared when they visit. Use your questions often so it becomes easier & easier to make friends. Remember, people can feel artificial when it comes at them. Be sure to use these for starters then let the conversation flow naturally. Machine-gunned questions freak people out. Don’t be afraid of pauses – they are natural too.

Don’t Keep Inside Jokes Inside Yourself

If something hilarious happens in front of you and someone else, use it to giggle together and then introduce yourself. Ask them if they live in the area. Acknowledge that you just shared something funny. If it happens in front of the grocery store clerk whom you see weekly, bring it up again the next time you go to the store. People love being remembered and sharing memories with others.

There’s a small part of me that was filled with joy when I checked guests into the inn one day and the neighbor’s goats decided to come for a visit inside the B&B. The guests and I became goat herders. I’m pretty sure they’ll never forget that day and neither will I.

Make The Most Of The Moments That Mortify

Finally, one of the biggest fears we have when it comes to opening up socially is that we will fumble around. Fumbling is okay. As Russell Wilson said once, “My career will not be defined by one play.”

The worst that can happen is you will end up with a hilarious happening, which allows for a conversation in and of itself. People love to know you are human too.

Try these tips and let me know what happens! I’d love to hear your stories.

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Saying No to Tolerance

Wikipedia says “Toleration and tolerance are terms used in social, cultural and religious contexts to describe attitudes which are “tolerant” (or moderately respectful) of practices or group memberships that may be disapproved of by those in the majority.”

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For years I have been hearing about the act of tolerance from schools, government and well meaning people around me. I have tried and tried to grasp it as a way of life but I have finally wrestled with the concept of tolerating enough to have decided that I choose to say no to tolerance.

I tolerate you so much.

I love you so much.


Which sentiment would you rather hear from someone who you know?

I will not deny that tolerance has been a part of my life. It usually sneaks its ugliness into my heart when I have been hurt by someone or when someone reminds me of someone else who has hurt me in the past. A certain look or tone of voice will trigger a previous wound and I will quickly place a new acquaintance into a box of tolerance because I am scarred and scared to take the chance of them being different from the person that they remind me of.

I will not deny that tolerance has been a part of my life. It usually sneaks its ugliness into my heart when I have been hurt by someone or when someone reminds me of someone else who has hurt me in the past.

Other times that I have defaulted to tolerance is when I am not sure how to handle behavior that is intolerable. Those are the times that I might think that one sin as worse than another so it is easier to avoid interacting with those who struggle with those unspeakable sins. When in doubt, tolerate.

Good Lord, forgive me for tolerating. My poor choices are no better or worse than someone else’s. The consequences and levels of pain may vary but how dare I choose to hurt them even further by just tolerating them.

I have done nothing better than to reject someone when I choose to give crumbs of toleration.

Tolerance is a small part of love but it cannot even come close to replacing love. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” When we tolerate, we stay clear of the mess and there is no sharpening going on which means very little to no growth is happening. I will choose to love. What a wonderful, messy adventure to love.

Tolerance is a small part of love but it cannot even come close to replacing love. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” When we tolerate, we stay clear of the mess and there is no sharpening going on which means very little to no growth is happening. I will choose to love. What a wonderful, messy adventure to love.

Love requires more of us. Love will be uncomfortable but it is also so much more rewarding for us and those we love. Love is a choice though. It will not always come easy. I have noticed that when my family and loved ones go through busy and difficult seasons, we often slide into a daze of tolerating one another just to get over the waves. It is when we choose to love once again at a conscious level that we finally realize the difference between tolerance and love.

Have you been so busy tolerating that you have forgotten how to love. And yes, by loving, I mean loving everyone.

I hope that you will join me in saying no to tolerance.

 

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The Two Questions Every Mother of the Groom Receives

I am getting ready to attend my baby’s wedding.

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The first question one receives as the mother of the groom is, “Do you like his fiancé?” 


When the first question is asked, I light up like a Christmas bubble light from the seventies. You cannot get me to stop talking about how wonderful my dotter-in-law to be is. She’s creative and silly and kinder than necessary and real and, like me, she speaks in many accents & languages – even though the only one we really know is English. She makes my son so very happy and I love her. Tearing up just thinking about how much I love both of them. I could bubble on and on but I will contain myself.

The second most important question is, of course, “What will you wear?” 

Then the second question comes out of nowhere faster than you can say, “But I haven’t even lost the baby weight yet.” I mean, it’s only been 21 years since he was born. I mumble. I stumble. I sweat more than someone wrestling with skinny jeans on a humid 110° day in Pennsylvania.

I was once a banker girl who wore dresses, nylons, & high heels to work six days a week and, since that wasn’t enough, to church again on Sundays. Now, yoga pants are the meat and potatoes of my daily attire. They work well when meat and potatoes are the meat and potatoes of your diet.

Dotter was kind enough to gently coax (forcibly push) me back into a shopping dressing room. I can’t remember the last time I was in one for my own sake. It was a tough love moment. She won. And we both survived.  After two shopping trips and about seven stores, Dotter asked, “Mom, so are you saying yes to the dress?” We cheered for a few minutes and then she confronted me about my eyebrows. I tried to tell her even though I might not be entirely pleased with the results when I pluck my own eyebrows, at least I look like I am. She said, “Make an appointment.” I can tell this is going to be like the time my kids took me hiking and kept promising we were almost done. We had only just begun.

Next stop, Spanx. If you ever consider telling others you are considering Spanx, don’t. Stuff it in.  You will get the same reaction as when you announce you are pregnant. You get advice. You get horror stories. You get a lot of “good luck”s. You get scared.

I imagine things will turn out similar to my high school graduation where the audience thought I was singing off tune because I was crying; while, actually, I was crying because I was off tune.

I will, indeed, be emotional seeing my baby get married; but, I might actually be in a straight up panic because, well, Spanx.

Inside I’ll be bubbling over and at the same time just trying to contain myself.

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Attention! Attention!

I have a friend who is full of fun one-liners. Often he will say, “Attention! Attention, everyone!” I turn around quickly to hear his important announcement and he declares, “Thank you. I just love attention.” I fall for his joke every single time.

But isn’t it so true that we all love attention? Valentine’s Day is just a couple weeks away and wouldn’t it be awesome to feel more connected to those we love on this sweet holiday and every day? Today, I’m going to give you one simple secret that will change your relationships forever whether you practice it at the grocery store, church or with your own family.

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Attention! Attention! Here’s how you can love people better. Whether you’ve just met or have known one another for years, this is the best way to connect.

Connect With One Person At a Time

Simply focusing on one person at a time will change your relationships forever. If you think back to the last group event you attended, how special and heard did you feel in the group setting? You may have felt a bit lost, overwhelmed, or unimportant. Perhaps, you even felt like you could leave the room and no one would’ve even missed you?

Now, consider the last time someone stopped to have an actual conversation with you. You know, one on one.  I’m not talking about the five second chat where someone asks how you are, you answer and they walk away after closing with “Well, it was nice to see you.” I’m talking about the kind where they take the time to hear about how you are really doing and share how they are doing. I’m talking about the person who truly cares how you are and invests in your friendship through commitment, touch, spending time with you, and eye contact.

There is value in being in a group setting. Teamwork is essential to our growth and we can learn who we do and do not want to be by watching people operate in a group setting. But one on one time is how we truly connect with others – every single time.

I sat in group settings for years while feeling like the fifth wheel. Then, one day I realized the people who took the time to get to know me one on one were onto something special I hadn’t learned yet. They got to know the real me. They validated my love for writing, my secret dream of being a comedian, and even told me I could be a hand model. Once I learned what they were doing that made me feel so special, I couldn’t help but pass it on.

The more you connect with people one on one, the less alone you feel in a group setting and, honestly, this short, little introvert finally broke out of her shell of insecurity simply by loving others better through one on one lunch dates, chats, shared tears, and inside jokes. The wonderful symptom of being better-connected one on one, is that groups will thrive better because of it. When everyone knows they are valued, the group becomes more positive and is and accomplishes more.

So, “Attention! Attention! Please give one on one attention this Valentine’s Day.” And then take a little break to recuperate your introvert side and start all over again next week, loving one person at a time with your full attention.

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A Successful Breakfast

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What is a successful breakfast?

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Recipes: The Old Hen’s Danish Pastries and Spiral Omelet

A successful breakfast at my table is not defined by the perfect oily, French-pressed coffee.

Breakfast here is not defined by my witty personality and mischievous, sparkly brown eyes and humble ways. See what I did there?

Breakfast is not defined by the number of guests at my table.

Breakfast here is not defined by the clean plate club – although, admittedly we do rejoice when this occurs.

No, breakfast here is not defined by those things.

Breakfast at my table begins with laughter over foreign language misunderstandings, it is where friendships are made, and where conversations end with address exchanges, international hugs and cheek kisses.

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I love my breakfast table and you are welcome anytime.

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Memorial Day

Memorial Day. The day we remember and honor those who died while serving while in the United States Armed Forces.

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This is my grandma and grandpa on their wedding day. Grandpa served in World War II.


Fortunately, grandpa made it back from war to raise five children with grandma. He lived a long and happy life until he passed away a few days before his 90th birthday. He was one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known.

This makes me appreciate the meaning behind Memorial Day even more. To those who have served our country and their families who supported them while they were away – thank you. And to the families of those who were lost while serving – thank you.

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30 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Graduated From High School

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An open note to Dotter and to all the girls of this year’s graduating class:

1. Never stick your wet hand in the freezer. For that matter, don’t stick any wet limbs in the freezer.


2. The easiest way to learn something is to watch others. If they make great choices, take note. If they make bad choices, take note. If they make good choices but get bad results, watch how they deal with it. If they make bad choices and get good results, watch how it all catches up with them sooner or later.

3. In all circumstances be humble. Even during those times when you know you are the only one who “gets it”.

4. When God talks to you:

  • He won’t mumble, waste your time or be confusing. Although he may have you wait on his answer for his loving reasons.
  • He won’t go against his own word, the Bible.
  • He won’t tempt you to take the easy route.
  • And he won’t let others vote on his plan for you; nor, will he broadcast his plan for you through someone else.

5. Eat real food. Eat a rainbow of colors for your health unless the rainbow comes in candy form. Stay away from the middle grocery aisles as much as possible.

6. When you have a family of your own, you don’t have to make the same mistakes you saw us make while you were growing up. You will make plenty of your own – and that is okay. Then, God will use our mistakes to remind us of how hard life is so that we can support you empathetically.

7. Pray for Mr. Right until and after you meet him. When you find Mr. Right, put him through the test to make sure he can handle it when you disagree or say no.

8. If you lose your children in the clothing department, don’t panic. They are probably just under the clothing racks.

9. It is perfectly okay, and normal even, to cry. Just don’t use tears to manipulate. Make sure the people you cry in front of are safe people and never cry during a business meeting.

10. Things you must have in your kitchen: a bench scraper, a great spatula, a KitchenAid mixer – if it has not been inherited then it should be in your favorite color and glass jars which are awesome in oh so many ways (who knew they could be so handy?).

11. Accumulated interest can work terribly against you when you have credit cards or incredibly for you when you put your money into a savings account. Save at least 15% of what you make and increase that by putting any pay raises into savings as well. Learn to live on less.

12. Learn something new everyday. Be delighted by this when you do. I learned how to cook noodles at 25, found out I didn’t know it all at 30, learned to drive safer and slower at 35 and learned how to make good gravy at 40.

13. Friendships are started and become meaningful one person at a time.

14. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know until you find out what you didn’t know that you thought you did.

15. Never put noodles in the water before it reaches the boiling point and never cook them too long.

16. You will begin to think like those you spend time with. Surround yourself with those you want to grow up to be like and help the other people who are hurting.

17. No one in any position is any better than you are. You are equal in value to them. Don’t allow them to make you think otherwise.  Respect their position but never place yourself lower in value.

18. God won’t show you something new until you learn what he is showing you right now. Don’t avoid today’s lesson. It will be uncomfortable but you can do it.

19. Remember, a woman brings life into her home and her community. Your role is so very important. You can never be replaced.

20. Google does not have all the answers. Everything put into computers is generated by humans and they are, well, you know, human.

21. Bullies aren’t out to get you. They are out to fix something that is broken within themselves. Don’t let angry people get you down.

22. Take advantage of every sunshine-y day. Take walks, go on hikes, and play frisbee with people you love. Especially if you continue to live in Washington.

23. Even when you are done with school, keep reading.

24. Just when you are about to give up is probably when you will break-thru the hardest part of your journey. Learn and be patient during those times. It’s more about who we become in the process and less about where we end up.

25. Always choose like-minded roommates and always write a check or get a receipt for your rent or house payments. Don’t ask me how I know these things. I just do.

26. Always remember a salesman’s job is to sell you something. Again, don’t ask me how I know this.

27. Some people are deathly allergic to peanuts. If you make something with nut products, always place the same kind of nut it’s made with on the treat as a garnish. Never lie about a product containing nuts, caffeine, etc. It applies to many areas of life that someone’s well-being could depend on your honesty.

28. Integrity isn’t just about being honest with God and others as it begins with being honest with yourself.

29. Men have feelings too.

30.  From the time you were born until you were 18 months-old, you learned trust. From eighteen months to the age of three, you learned autonomy. From the ages of three to five you learned initiative. Between the ages of six and twelve, you learned industry. From ages twelve to eighteen, you have now learned who you really are. While we have given you a good life so far, we know there will be areas that will need healing. You are not alone for there are no perfect parents and therefore, no perfect upbringing. We are here for you if you feel broken in the areas of trust, autonomy, initiative, industry and for the times you might struggle with knowing who you are (see number 9).

You are beginning the journey now until the age of thirty-five to learn intimacy in your relationships. Your kids will think you are too old to be cool when you are about thirty-five, but this is when you will  learn how to better everyone’s life – not just your own – in a much deeper way. I know you will enjoy giving back and those you give of yourself to will be so lucky to have you in their lives. Finally, when you are even older you will gain integrity. You will have been real with yourself, God, and others and will have a true sense of the meaning of life. There is so much more ahead, so please drive safe.

Love,

Mom

My friends and I (front right) on our senior trip

 

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© Deanna Morauski 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016