I'll Tell You Why You Want One

BEST Home Garden Ideas

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
BEST Home Garden Ideas

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll give you ideas on how to plant one, as well as why It’s important


BEST Home Garden Ideas

Do you want the BEST Home Garden but are afraid to start?

Have you ever tried having a garden?  Maybe a small one, or a large one?  Never dared one at all?

Well, I have so many styles for you, that I’m sure you will find a perfect fit for your space and situation.  And with these tutorials, you CAN do it and be successful to!

10 Reasons why having a BEST HOME Garden is worth the effort:

1- Having fresh food and produce readily available makes eating a more healthy diet easier and more delicious with the fresh ingredients too.

2- Having the food just outside your door lowers your budget since you won’t be running to the grocery store for the staples of vegetables and herbs.

3- This is a way to teach kids to work and helping them become more independent as they grow older.

4- Growing own food helps us, and our family members, become more self reliant.

5- You get the nutrients and better nutrition from food produced at home.

6- Time spent outdoors gives the opportunity to think from the distractions of technology and the daily ‘grind’.  It also give the chance to talk to your kids or family members who are working with you and get to know them better, and share conversation. 

7- You get to try so many new varieties of foods, such as tomatoes for example, that you can’t purchase at the store or even local Farmer’s Market. 

8- Exercise is a huge benefit because you are naturally moving as you care for the plants.

9- You get to share!  Any extra’s you can give to neighbors and friends to enjoy and that’s a huge plus!!!

10- The new world of flavors and recipes are opened to you as you experiment with what you are growing in the garden!


Best Home Garden Ideas

>Do You Have A Garden? I’ll give you ideas on how to plant one, as well as why It’s important


This is our family garden one summer, but it changes from year to year. 


BEST Home Garden Ideas

Reasons to have a garden and the various types


This is a wonderful way to plant if you want to contain a variety that likes to spread, such as these strawberries so they don’t take over the garden area, or if you only have a small space to plant in.

BEST Home Garden Ideas

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

Prepare the soil by removing any rocks and any debris. 

Dig holes large enough to accommodate the plants you have.

I'll Tell You Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll give you ideas on how to plant one, as well as why It’s important

These particular plants were meant to cover the pot, as it had special disintegrating properties that nourished the plants as they diminished. Check the instructions of plants you purchase.

I'll Tell You Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll give you ideas on how to plant one, as well as why It’s important

Place the plants into the holes, and make sure they go down deep enough that it covers the roots.

I'll Tell You Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll give you ideas on how to plant one, as well as why It’s important


This method is good for:



Herbs- mint particularly

And so many other vegetables

Choose a pot that is large enough for the plant.

Make sure the post has drainage.


Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

Pour a good potting soil into the pot, then dig out a space for the plant. 

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

Stan likes to add in a good soil moist granule to help hold moisture in the dirt and gives better results with watering the plant. 

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

Place the plant in the prepared hole and push the dirt over the top of the plant.  ***Make sure the plant is deep and covers up part way of the stem.

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

If planting tomatoes or another vegetable that would need bracing, place the cage, centering over the plant. 

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

Water the plant well, soaking deep into the soil. 

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!



This is allows a large quantity of produce in a small amount of space.  My friend Jami Tolman has a beautiful garden that she is creating using this method.  Jami kindly allowed me to take pictures and then sent descriptions to identify so you can make your own!  

This is our deep box set-up.   Each tier is 6 inches tall for a total of 2 feet at its tallest.  We wanted a variety of depths and like this set up best.  We planted carrots and peanuts in the top tier.  Potatoes are the next tier down.  We planted asparagus in the 2 twelve inch boxes.  Marigolds and nasturtiums are in the 6 inch box at the bottom.   

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A G
arden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

This is my pumpkin trellis.  The pumpkin vines grow up and over.  Since pumpkin vines grown so long,  I turn them around at the bottom and they grow up and over again.  The pumpkins fall throw the net and grow hanging down.  It makes it easier to pick and they don’t get misshapen or rotten bottoms from being on the ground. 

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

This box has beans on one side and kale, romaine lettuce and cucumbers on the other.  The cucumbers are right next to the center line and will climb up the trellis. 

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

Bush peas grow on one side of this box.  The lettuce on the other side came up from last year.  There was an empty space in the box so I planted a pepper plant there.   When the peas are done producing, I will plant either bush beans there or hold off and do a fall crop of peas.  

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

Growing tomatoes up a trellis like this allows you to grow one plant per square foot.  Pinch all the suckers off so your plant doesn’t get too bushy and help weave it through as it grows.

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

Last year my corn was about 5 feet tall and not done growing when a fairly strong wind blew it over.  I had to build support system to help them stand back up again which was time consuming and not very effective.  This year, I thought I would try to save them before they blew over.  I put a net over the soil and planted a corn in each hole.  Then I raised the net about 3 feet high and will help the corn grow in between the holes.  I will then place another net about 5 feet high and have a double support.  I am going to add 2 poles on each side of the long side of the boxes to stretch the net out seeing as it’s hanging down in the center right now. 

Let Me Tell Why You Want One

Do You Have A Garden? I’ll tell you the benefits of why you want one, small or large!

Thank you Jami for sharing your garden with us!

I hope you will start a garden, or prepare to have one next year!  Enjoy:)

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today

Home DIY Pedicure and healthy toes

How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Home DIY Pedicure and healthy toes

How to give yourself a basic home pedicure

How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

Do you wonder How to Give Yourself a Pedicure?

My daughter-in-law Tawni is our lovely foot model  going through the steps with a licensed and very knowledgeable technician, while she gets a professional pedicure so you will know how to give yourself a pedicure. 

Now you can give yourself a DIY salon spa pedicure at a fraction of the cost that will look professional and done correctly too by following the step-by-step tutorial.*

After the pedicure, you might want to pamper your hair with this Homemade Hair Treatment that works wonders.

And don’t forget your skin care. This Homemade Facial is perfect for any season to brighten and cleanse the face. 

Tawni:  I didn’t enter the world of pedicures until after I was married, and then I realized what I had been missing for most of my life! I had always thought that a pedicure was just getting your toenails painted, but it is soooo much more than that. Of course, a good pedicure can really add up ($$$), so a real professional showed us how to do your own at home! Side-note: Pedicures aren’t just for women. It’s important for everyone to take care of their feet, including you men out there! You don’t have to paint your toenails, but doing everything else will help your skin and feet so much. And no, it’s NOT girly!  

For an at-home pedicure you will need the following supplies (click for easy access to Amazon links)


Foot spa or large bowl big enough for both feet to fit in comfortably


Epsom salt foot soak (recommended by our technician) or this ONE


Exfoliator (such as a foot paddle. Try to avoid using pumice stones.)

A good lotion 

Nail polish remover with acetone (if removing nail polish)

Cuticle oil this, or this

Nail buffer (optional)

Manicure Set, This, or This

Orangewood or birchwood sticks  

If you are also going to paint your toenails you will need: 


Base coat & top coat, here’s a combination

Nail polish in color of your choice

Toe separators- this or this

Speed spray

Stickers/decals (optional)  

I know this looks like a pretty big list, but everything is really inexpensive, and once you have it all you’re set for quite a few pedicures.


All right, here we go with our pedicure!

1 – First fill up the bowl or foot spa with water as hot as you can stand it (it will cool quickly).

Add about a half cup of Epsom salt foot soak and stick your feet in. You’ll want to soak them for about 20 minutes, so this is a good time to catch up on your TV shows!How to Give Yourself a Pedicure


2 – When you’re done soaking, take your feet out and dry them really well with a towel. 

You can use a blow dryer to make the feet as dry as possibleHow to Give Yourself a Pedicure


3 – Now it’s time to exfoliate! Do you have dry skin and little cracks on your heels and toes like this?How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

This is where you want to exfoliate. Using slight pressure and quick motions, rub the paddle, up and down along those little cracks and dry skin until you can see them disappearing.

If you see a little more moisture, dry it off with your towel.

After exfoliating there may still be some small wrinkles on your heel; How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

these are part of your skin, so please don’t rub them off!

How to Give Yourself a Pedicure4 – If you have nail polish on your toenails, remove it with nail polish remover and a cotton pad or cotton ball.

Remember to use nail polish remover that has acetone, as that has more of a drying quality and you want your nails to be dehydrated before painting so the polish stays on better.  Acetone also kills bacteria!  

5 – Using an cuticle pusher, push back cuticles. How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

It is important to make sure that the cuticle stays connected to the nail, so don’t shove the cuticle back. Just push gently.

How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

If there’s a piece of cuticle hanging off or if you have hangnails, use the cuticle nippers to cut it off.  Do not pull them or rip them.

How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

6 – After pushing the cuticles back, rub a little cuticle oil on them.

7 – Using the orangewood or birchwood stick, go under the sides and tops of the toenails a little bit to get out any dirt or gunk that might be stuck in them.How to Give Yourself a Pedicure8 – The next step is optional.

If you have little ridges on your toenails, you can use a buffer to smooth them out if you want your polish to lie more smoothly.How to Give Yourself a Pedicure9 – Next clip and/ or file your toenails.

Filing will give it a smoother look, but either way make sure you clip or file in a straight line. If you go too short on the sides of the nail, it could cause ingrown toenails.How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

10 – Now for the best part, the foot rub! You can do it yourself or bribe your significant other to do it for you.

Work a good amount of lotion into the foot first. Then starting at the heel, and working your way up, use long, smooth deep strokes upward to rub the foot. How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

You can use your thumbs, fist, and/or knuckles to do this. Make sure you really work out those knots in your arches! Also, stretch the foot back and forth. When you get to the toes, pretend like you’re “milking” them. 

How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

Pinch at the bottom of the toe and pull away.

How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

If you’re not painting your nails, then you’re done! If you are, then follow these steps:  

1 – Dehydrate nails with acetone (or polish remover that has acetone in it) and a cotton ball or pad  

2 – Use toe separators to separate your toes. Either invest in a pair of sanitizable gel separators, or use disposable ones BUT make sure to throw them away when you’re done.How to Give Yourself a Pedicure3 – Apply a base coat first. This is like a primer and will make the polish stick better.How to Give Yourself a Pedicure4 – Apply the polish color. It’s important to not flood the cuticles or it will cause the polish to lift and chip as the cuticle grows.

Paint one coat on all toes and then paint another coat.

You can use any polish you’d like, but a higher end polish has more pigment in it, which means fewer coats to paint and faster drying time.

5 – Apply the topcoat. How to Give Yourself a Pedicure

6 – It is a good idea to invest in a speed spray. A speed spray has conditioning oil in it and keeps debris (lint, etc.) from sticking to the nail

7 – If you like stickers or decals you can put them on your nails after you apply the top coat, and then apply another top coat. And you’re done!

Some professional tips:

– Make sure you keep things very sanitary. After using the foot spa, clean it out well (such as Scrubbing Bubbles) and store it in a dry place (not under the sink). Then before you use it wipe it out with a Clorox wipe. Also clean your exfoliator when you’re done. Use rubbing alcohol and a little brush to scrub it off, then clean it with Scrubbing Bubbles. Even if it’s your germs that are on it, you don’t want other ‘things’ growing. Also make sure you sanitize the toe separators, cuticle nippers, everything you used.

– If you have acrylic nails and want to remove polish color, don’t use polish remover with acetone. Just use regular polish remover.

– Put a rubber band around the lid of the nail polish so if your hands are still greasy from the lotion, you can still get it off.

– If polish gets on the skin around your toes, it won’t stick very well because of the lotion you put on earlier. Use your fingers or an orangewood stick to get it off easily.

– If you start having problems with your feet, please go see a podiatrist!

I want to thank all who helped make this very informative post, it’s really helpful:) Carrie

*No medical doctor or physician of any kind was referenced for this post.  Giving yourself a pedicure is at your own risk, these are all tips and guidelines, but no one involved is in the position to give advice and cannot be held responsible for any injury, infection or damage that may result. 

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2013, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

The Reason For Memorial Weekend

Why Do We Have Memorial Day?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
The Reason For Memorial Weekend

The reason for Memorial Day Weekend

WHY do we have Memorial Day?

Is Memorial Day just a weekend to watch parades, get together to eat food, take the kids to play at parks, or simply have a vacation from work?

It is a national holiday, so there should to be a good reason behind it- right?

And while we are on the subject, is there much of a difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day?

If you have ever wondered about these questions and more, I have some other interesting information for you so you can understand the significance and magnitude this day represents.  Please teach and help others understand how precious our freedoms are, and how others have sacrificed for us to have them. That is how we maintain our liberty, otherwise it is easily lost.


Did you realize that there IS a marked difference in Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day?

Memorial Day is set aside to honor all in the military personal who sustained wounds while fighting for our country, and died as a result from injuries.

Veterans Day is a time to remember and honor everyone who has served honorably, at any time of our country’s history, whether it be war or peace time.

Now,  lets talk about the Flag.  Do you know HOW it’s supposed to be raised and lowered?  

Here is the correct way: 

Flag Observance

On Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country.

At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

When did Memorial Day become a National Holiday?

Memorandum to the nation on May 2, 2000

As Memorial Day approaches, it is time to pause and consider the  true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day. In this time of unprecedented success and prosperity throughout our land, I ask that all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate we are to live in freedom and to observe a universal “National Moment of Remembrance” on each Memorial Day.

This memorial observance represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and honor the struggle to protect our freedoms.

A few ideas of how to celebrate this holiday’s true meaning:

Read a story of history about a battle for our freedom Watch a documentary about a leader, or a war, that was vital for our life today Visit graves of deceased soldiers Say a prayer for our soldiers and military serving us today Provide or organize a project for “Adopt A Soldier”. Click HERE for information.

At 3pm, your local time, is the official time to observe a moment of silence, or the playing of “Taps” We are incredibly blessed as a people, and nation, to live in a country of opportunities and independence.

Freedom always comes at a cost someone paid the price. As we celebrate this day, may we pause to recognize, appreciate and say a prayer of gratitude for those who have valiantly sacrificed, to allow us the liberties we enjoy today as citizens of this great nation. What a wonderful day to remember this great gift, and ponder ways we can live to improve life for all.  

For an beautiful and quick outdoor cemetery DIY grave decoration, that can also be a door wreath, click HERE.  

On this post there is also information on how to easily clean a grave marker. 

DIY Memorial Grave Decoration

DIY Memorial Grave Decoration










Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

Best Mother's Day Gift For ALL woment

The PERFECT Mother’s Day gift for EVERY Woman

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Best Mother's Day Gift For ALL woment














The PERFECT Mother’s Day gift for EVERY Woman

It’s that time to find the perfect gift for the woman, or women in your life – your wife, girlfriend, mom, mother-in-law, aunt, cousin, anyone!

  • You are probably waiting for me to tell you about cooking utensil, bake ware, or kitchen gadget, that’s a must have in my kitchen – but no.
  • Or link to foot and hand scrubs, or beauty products – nope.
  • Maybe it’s a recommendation on a few books I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading with my book-club – wrong again.
  • Something for relaxing like bath bombs? A new outfit? That to-die-for treat? Flowers? Jewelry? Oh the list could go on and on, but T.H.I.S IS the BEST gift you could give and I’ll explain.

First I’ll confess I don’t particularly like to exercise.  It’s not my favorite thing to do. And I’ll get to the Mother’s Day gift if you’ll indulge me a bit please.

Now my neighbor Ashley, gets up early (and likes it – WHAT????) to teach at a local gym.

Me, I’ll get up early, but not to excitedly workout….geez….

I realize that in order to stay functioning at an active level, I need to exercise.

HOWEVER, I have some challenges with this, and it’s not just my attitude about exercising, it’s real, I assure you.

See, I have terrible knees, and pretty much always have.

From totally dislocating my knees as a young teenager, to several surgeries trying to repair them, to my first complete total knee replacement on BOTH knees at forty-four years old due to arthritis (which I only did so I could walk down the block again), it has left me in a bind.

Because of all the surgeries, then after the first total knee replacement our health insurance at the time wouldn’t allow physical therapy (…I know what you’re thinking..I know, no therapy…unthinkable – right??!!!) to rehabilitate them, I had to do what I could to walk and strengthen them. I functioned.

Consequently I don’t run.  I simply can’t understand the mechanics of it and it’s impossible for me and sadly has been that way while raising five kids.

Then when I was fifty-three (a couple of years ago) I had to have both knees totally replaced again because the arthritis caused too many problems with the first set.  They are doing really well now, but the rehab (which I DID get this time:) was extremely difficult the second time around.

NOW to the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

I’m sure you’ve already guessed that it’s exercise related, however I’d like to tell you about two of my favorites and encourage you to look into them for yourself, and everyone on your list.

ONE CHOICE is a this incredible DVD I happened on and oohhhh how I wished I had found it years ago!

Now Do NOT let the ‘Seniors and Older Adults’ throw you.  Seriously this is one of the BEST resources I think there could be for strengthening after surgery or injury*, maintaining or regaining balance and strength for moms, grandma’s and great-grandma’s.

I am so impressed with Jane and her programs on this dvd, which really is for ALL ages and here’s why:

Balance & Strength Exercises for Seniors: 9 Practices, with Traditional Exercises, and Modified Tai Chi, Yoga & Dance Based Movements.

  • The exercises are broken into sections for all abilities and levels, from sitting to standing, from holding onto a chair to free-standing.
  • Jane designed this program to be done in sections, or all at once.
  • Even if you are a die-hard exerciser like my friend Ashley, you will stretch your body in ways you haven’t since you were a child out playing – it’s wonderful.
  • If you get tension knots in your neck and back like I do, it’s a rare occasion when they are not pretty tight.  I was amazed that after doing the Upper Body Strength & Mobility Exercises, which is only 12 minutes they released incredibly!
  • Did you realize the risk that those of us who sit for a couple of hours at a time working at a desk in an office or at home have of contracting blood clots?  I’ve encountered a few people who have had this issue and it’s awful.  After doing the Lower Body Stretches, only 13 minutes, it was apparent that making that a daily routine would be extremely helpful preventing this as it would keep the blood flowing and it felt SSOOO good too.
  • I’ve never tried Tai Chi before until this dvd and Jane’s modified Tai Chi and Yoga is so cool!  I really like the Full-Body 17 minute as a rotation in my routine.
  • The reasons are many and I could go on and on why this is for EVERY age and EVERY woman – and man:).  Jane did a fabulous job on this dvd.  It’s very approachable in style, worth the time to do her practices and beneficial in what you gain as you stretch, gain balance, maintain mobility and help prevent injury or a fall.*

You can easily find Jane Adams dvd BALANCE & STRENGTH here


ANOTHER GREAT CHOICE is one I’ve loved for years and years.  It’s Walking with Leslie Sansone and I am absolutely thrilled with her new ‘ MIRACLE MILES!’

Walk at Home Leslie Sansone's Miracle Miles!

I’ve really liked the WALK at HOME workouts over the years because you fantastic exercise, and so much more than just walking outside. With this new dvd there is a MIRACLE MILES BAND that provides resistance for a boosted work-out.

This dvd is also for ALL ages and here’s why:

  • If you can walk, you can do this dvd
  • Your ability and level is challenged by how much effort you put into the ‘walk’, so everyone can walk along and get a workout no matter your level of ability
  • No fancy footwork to learn – just walking and 4 basic steps
  • You can get healthy and body changing results in a short time
  • So many choices with this amazing set to fit any schedule for any day.
  • The band was surprisingly a great alternative to hand weights, with an easy adjustment of resistance, and does not smell of latex
  • Fun and motivating.  You can watch with voice coaching of Leslie or the music only option .

You can get the Walk AT Home Miracle Miles dvd here and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone!!!

The gift how to stay active, strong, able to interact with family, play with grand kids, do everyday activities, fulfill the goals and dreams still yet unfulfilled, as well as lessening the risk of injury, is a GREAT present we can give with these two dvds.

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2018

Recognize A Blessing And Be A Blessing Today

*Disclaimer – I am not a physician, or in any position of medical authority.  I am only giving my personal opinion and do not take responsibility for any injury, damage, etc that could, would, might happen if you exercise or even contemplate getting off the couch and moving.


The reasons why we don't write birthday cards, but I have a post that tells you why we should.

Why Should I Write A Happy Birthday Card?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reasons why we don't write birthday cards, but I have a post that tells you why we should.

Do I CARE Enough to write YOU a Birthday Card?


Why Should I Write A Happy Birthday Card?

Why Should we Write A Happy Birthday Card?  Really, does it matter anymore? 

Seriously, we can text it out, or wish it to them on social media, isn’t that the same?

And if we send a card, then do we have to send a gift card, cash or a gift?

Because that adds up and what if we don’t have the extra budget for that?

Besides that, cards are so expensive now-days in the specialty shops, how can we afford them?

No worries! 

I have answers for all of these issues and more, as I explain why we SHOULD write Happy Birthday Cards and send them out.





If you read my post on writing a Thank You Card, you read about my sister-in-law Ruthann and what a rock star she is about those.  Well, this is another one of her many strong talents.

She sends a card to every sister, brother, in-law, niece, nephew…I don’t believe she misses a relative and as a family we have talked many times about how much that means to us.  My grand kids know that she and her husband Brad care about them.  They know that they can go to them and talk.  Now, as they get older, that means the world, because we may not be here, or possibly they will open up to one of them about a situation that might come up while they are talking together at a family event.  It’s so important to build family relationships and bonds in anyway possible.  And a simple card, like Ruthann does, truly builds bridges that spans generations, any age and is an honorable legacy to set.

There are other reasons to write a card, including:

  • Strengthening and maintaining friendships
  • Being able to put into words a sentiment such as a handshake, embrace or heartfelt smile as you wish them a wonderful year
  • It is a tangible reminder that you care, that you took the time to sit down and write to them!
  • It gives the opportunity to connect again as life gets busy and rushed, oftentimes we don’t talk to communicate with family or friends for long periods of time
  • It brings a closeness and appreciation for each other
  • There are so many reasons that the list could go on and on and on……




I have a free chart made specially for YOU that is editable/fill-in so you can write in the names and birthdays of your family and friends along with anniversaries if you’d like. Now you won’t have to miss one!

1- click HERE to download the free file that is EDITABLE /FILL-IN, there is also a version to download the file if you prefer to WRITE in it and not have it editable

*The link will take you to WooCommerce, which is a FREE option

After you fill it in, which will take maybe a minute or two to gather the information, you will have it for years to come.




This is easy-peasy!

  • I have free downloadable cards for birthdays and anniversariesfor you and the kids to use.  See them below at the end of this post to print off.
  • My friend Natalie makes the most gorgeous homemade cards. You can find Natalie HERE 
  • If you prefer to order some on-line to have on hand, HERE are some birthday cards you might like, THESE would work well for the kids, and THIS will be great for anniversaries
  • Looking for fun colorful pens for you and the family to use, try THESE
  • And for pens that dry quickly and don’t smear, won’t skip and write smooth, this looks to be a great ONE





I’ve thought long and hard about this one for you because I wanted to make sure the ‘gift’ was:

1- very affordable

2- useful or would be wanted

3- would go through the mail

Here are some ideas I came up with for men, women, teens and children; just send what THEY would like and use your imagination:)

Ideas of items that could send in a birthday card through the mail

Ideas for Birthday gifts

  • GUM is a treat for most kids, so if you put 2-3 sticks in the card, wrap them in a plastic bag like THIS, same as if you use unwrapped candy as shown, it will withstand any humidity or heat. Just make sure it lies flat and you don’t over fill it! 



  • Nail decal link below


  • Soft, flat individually wrapped candy is another idea; one option is  Swedish Fish




Ideas of items that could send in a birthday card through the mail

deas for Birthday gifts to send in a card

  • These Punch Balloons will be fun to send to kids and teens!  You can find them HERE



Ideas of items that could send in a birthday card through the mail

Ideas for Birthday gifts to send in a card

  • Hair ties made from Elastic Ribbon are fabulous for all ages as they are twisted to accommodate pretty much any amount of hair.  You can make them yourself and send, or you can purchase them and send 2-3 in the card without any trouble.  If you need a small amount you might want to look at THESE  if you have a lot  you are gifting, you might want to look at THIS



Ideas of items that could send in a birthday card through the mail

Ideas for Birthday gifts to send in a card

  • Nail decals/stickers are always popular with all ages.  These designs are for young and old, are individually packaged and thin enough to put in with your card and mail regularly.  You will find them HERE



Ideas of items that could send in a birthday card through the mail

Ideas for Birthday gifts to send in a card

  • Here’s a link for JAR GRIPPER PADS  These are wonderful to help with getting a grip on those tight fitting lids and taking the lids off, but also for setting your cups, utensils – anything on so they don’t slid around or scratch the surface.




Ideas of items that could send in a birthday card through the mail

Ideas for Birthday gifts to send in a card

  • These are the coolest things!  They are seed paper.  Which means it’s handmade eco-friendly paper with flower seeds pressed into the shape so when it is planted flowers grow!  There are SO many shapes and types to choose from.  HERE is a SMILEY FACE to get you started


For older kids and TEEN BOYS especially, here are TWO great ideas: 

  • Flying Sticky Animal Frogs.  Each frog is individually sealed in a bag. They are made to stretch from the front legs as well as the back as they are pulled, then let go to fly—and stick 🙂  You’ll see them HERE


  • Vinyl Glitter Stretchy Sticky Hands and Feet Stretchy are individually wrapped.  What to do with these?  Besides ‘slapping’ them on windows, try to pick up small objects!  Find these are HERE



For older teens and adults

  • A Credit Card Pocket Magnifier Ruler Emergency Solar Fire Starter would be great for anyone.   I would like the handy magnifier when I forget my reading glasses, and the teen guy and man in your life would really enjoy all the features of this little tool.  Check it out HERE


  • Or this type of Plastic Reading 300% Magnifier Lens Credit Card Size Fire starter looks great too.  See that one HERE


  • Another very useful idea is to give in your birthday card  RFID Blocking Sleeves Credit Card Holders or Passport Protectors. These are lined with an electromagnetically opaque shield to block signals from high-tech pickpockets and  unauthorized electronic scanning devices; you could give one or two to your birthday recipient. Those are HERE

As you start brainstorming, you will come up with some great ideas yourself, and please share them with us!





1- Make it personal, think of whom you are writing to.

2- Are you going to be cute, funny or sincere in your message?

3- End with a quote if you’d like such as these (from https://www.americangreetings.com)

  • Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. –Sir James Barrie
  • And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. –Abraham Lincoln
  • A friend is, as it were, a second self. –Cicero
  • You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. –C.S. Lewis
  • We turn not older with years, but newer every day. –Emily Dickinson
  • Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! –Henry David Thoreau
  • A true friend is someone who knows all about you and likes you just the same. –Elbert Hubbard
  • Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together. –Woodrow Wilson


4- End with your choice of closing, here are some ideas (from https://ideas.hallmark.com)

  • Warmly,
  • Love,
  • With love,
  • Lots of love,
  • Love always,
  • Much love to you,
  • All my love,
  • Best wishes!
  • Best wishes on your birthday and always,
  • All life’s best to you,
  • Happy Birthday!
  • Wishing you happiness,
  • Warmest wishes,
  • Gratefully,
  • Blessings,
  • God bless,
  • Hugs and kisses,





I hope you will start, or keep on sending those BIRTHDAY and ANNIVERSARY cards because it is one of the most simple, yet gracious and connecting acts we can do.



Click HERE for all of these: Children’s Color-In Birthday Card, 2 Birthday Cards, 2 Anniversary Cards and a Birthday Card for a child

The reasons why we don't write birthday cards, but I have a post that tells you why we should.

Here are a few sites with more ideas of what to write in your card:



from https://ideas.hallmark.com

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today

The polite and proper EASY way to write a thank you note

How, Why and When to Write Thank You Cards for All Ages

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The polite and proper EASY way to write a thank you note

The proper way to write a thank you note.

How, Why and When to Write a Thank You Card for All Ages

With technology right at our fingertips, it hardly seems necessary to hand write a letter or note now-days.  

However, that is not the case, which leads me to explain why I wrote this post: How, Why and When to Write a Thank You Card for All Ages.

Yes, to hopefully help you, but also to get myself into a GOOD habit and life skill again.

Here at A Mother’s Shadow, the motto is: 

Learn and Better Yourself

Practice Life Skills

And Become Better

I readily confess, my sister-in-law Ruthann is my example and guide in this area of writing Thank You notes.  She and her family write them regularly and often.

When my kids were young and growing up, I did much better at helping them get theirs off in the mail when a gift would arrive, or after a birthday or holiday.  I even did alright some years later delivering them to neighbors for kindnesses done and help given.  But the last years have taken their toll on my energy, time and drained me of focus on some important details – this being one of them.


I personally believe that when we sit down to write, we are unimpeded by electronic devices to interrupt our thoughts, or to quickly pull up a meme to ‘speak’ for us.  As we sit with a pen and paper, we can reach deep down, think about what we want to say and how we feel, then put it on paper and feel the sentiment and thankfulness to that person as we write.

It’s a connecting and emotional bond between you and the person you are writing to. 

1-For you, because you are taking the time and making the effort to do something on behalf of another person who took the time, or made an effort for you.

2- They can physically hold and re-read your thoughtful note. Feel the emotion that would be a hand-shake, an embrace or a genuine smile as you express your gratitude.

As we write more thank you notes, we feel more appreciative, more in-tune with our many blessings, and that makes us more joyful.

A big condition to writing a thank you note is not to expect anything in return.  Remember, this is about them, and helping them feel better about what they did.  You may never, ever hear from the person you thanked, and that’s OK!  Keep in mind this process is making us better and bringing us happiness to pass on to those around us – what could be a greater reward than that!?!


Are you ready?

I hope you will make a commitment with me to write a Thank You card every week, and involve your family if possible.  I have it laid out in 5 very easy steps HOW, WHAT and WHEN to write a thank you note, at ANY AGE, with all the tools you need.  

If you take on this challenge, please let us know how it has changed your life, or that of your family as they participate.


How, Why and When to Write a Thank You Card for All Ages

Card to write a note of thank you and gratitude

The Purpose of How, Why and When to Write a Thank You Card for All Ages:

This is a really simple, but it’s important, it’s called KINDNESS.

We are going to write a THANK YOU CARD!

You know, to tell someone thanks for_______whatever________.

There are a billion reasons to say how grateful we are for a kindness and it’s never too late to express it!

Sometimes we may not always know what to say, or wonder where to start; so let’s get the how’s, why’s – and the WHEN is NOW.

How to easily serve others and show kindness

It’s So Simple with these 5 EASY Steps!

You only need TWO Supplies-

Paper and Pen, or whatever you prefer to write with.

  • I like a good pen that dries quickly, doesn’t skip and writes smooth.  THESE look to be a great fit. I like how many come in a package – mine always seem to ‘borrowed’, lol 
  • My friend Natalie makes handmade cards that anyone would be proud to send and thrilled to receive.  You can find Natalie HERE 
  • Or if you’d prefer to order cards online, you might like THIS or THIS STYLE





  • Anyone of course!
  • Someone who helped you out
  • Anyone who could use cheering up
  • The mail carrier
  • A friend you haven’t seen in years
  • A neighbor who took in your garbage can for you
  • Someone who brought in a meal
  • Someone who shared a treat at work
  • Think of someone who made a difference in your life for good
  • Anyone who did anything positive!




  • Make sure you have the spelling correct of the names.  It’s so easy with social media to look it up.  Call your mom or grandparents if you can’t find it. Also, use the proper title when appropriate such as –
  1. Hi Uncle______
  2. Hello Aunt______
  3. Dear Grandma______
  4. Etc.  It’s really nice to have some recognition, and a little formality in its proper place. 




Phrases like these are perfect, to make sure the person KNOWS what you are expressing gratitude or thanking them for in this note; that’s the point, right:) 

  • You really made my day when….
  • I want to say how much I appreciate…..
  • Thank you for…….
  • It meant so much to me……




  • Let the person know you miss them
  • Tell them what an inspiration they have been to you
  • Tell them what a difference _____ has made (for good here) in your life
  • Thank them for the time they took to teach you in school, to cook, to learn to change the oil in your car, to fix the chain on your bike, in a 4-H club or other youth organization.  Time is precious and that they gave it up for you is a treasure.
  • If they gave you a gift, let them know how you will use it
  • If you stayed with them, be sure to thank them for their hospitality 
  • Thank someone for listening to you, taking time from their day to be with you, for being a friend
  • This list could go on for pages, but this is a springboard to hopefully get you thinking




These closings are generally acceptable in most situations –

  • Sincerely 
  • Many thanks 
  • Kind Regards
  • Friends

Other closings to consider as appropriate –

  • Yours truly
  • Warmly
  • Love
  • Affectionately 
  • Friends Forever
How to easily serve others and show kindness

Card to write a note of thank you and gratitude

That’s it, 5 easy steps to make a huge impact on someone else’s life, and you will be amazed at the enjoyment it brings to yours along the way.

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2019

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today


Ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more

Helping A Sick Friend and Comforting In Heartbreak

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more

What do I say, or do when I want to help and give service?

Helping A Sick Friend and Comforting In Heartbreak

Have you ever been sick, or caring for someone and needed some some extra help? 

Or had someone close to you, who you knew could use a lending hand in some way, but you wondered what to do that would be comforting and useful?

Helping A Sick Friend and Comforting In Heartbreak is one of the most thoughtful and rewarding things we can do. 

However, too often we shy away and not do anything, because we may not know what to say, or what to do, or how to best give service.

So that we can bring relief to the weary who are physically drained from caring for their family and loved ones; and comfort those who’s heart is breaking from any type of tragic and adverse situation, I have put together some resources to guide us in being a true comfort, such as:

  • How can you help a friend who is overcoming a loss from suicide, infant death, pet loss, or any other situation of deep mourning. 
  • What do we say, or not say?
  • How can we actually help without saying the cliche: “Let me know what I can do”?  and then do nothing….
  • What can we do to show we care that is meaningful and helpful? 

As you read on, you will find there are several excellent ideas here; however, the secret is to act and reach out.  They will greatly appreciate your kindness and show of support, in often unspoken words. Just do the best you can and serve.


Mourn with those that mourn

Have you ever experienced a trial or hardship that was extremely difficult, though maybe not as recognized as a disease or accident?  I think we all have, and during those times, we still need an encouraging word of reassurance and friendship.

During a particularly difficult time, Natalie delivered this card to me shown just below, and it filled the heart with joy.   

To find beautiful cards like this, Natalie’s link is HERE 

You can also download a free THINKING OF YOU CARD  here

Being there to lift another’s burden by simply saying you are there as a friend is priceless. Remember, a ‘real’ card is never out of style. 


You will find many more ideas of how you can help in useful and creative ways, including a SUNSHINE GIFT for all ages at the end of this post.

Ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more

What do I say, or do when I want to help and give service?


In distressing circumstances what do you say– or not say?  

There are numerous conditions under which a person or a family could use help.

  • Severe handicap
  • Mental Illness
  • A loved one chose suicide
  • A death, whether old, young or newborn
  • Terminal illness
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • New baby (adopted and foster are just as much of an adjustment)
  • Job loss – long term, or repeated can be very disheartening


1- Now that we identified WHEN to help –

2- WHAT can we do if it’s not obvious?

3- Look hard and pray about HOW to help.  Here’s an example from my own experience.

Some years back, a family in our neighborhood had a very young son who was diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say, it was a scary and trying time for also their extended family and those of us in the neighborhood who knew and cared about them.

I wanted to somehow be a benefit, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I included it in my prayers that I’d know how to help.

After prying a little one day, I found out that the mom did not have the extra means to buy food from the cafeteria while she was at hospital; which was daily while her young son had treatments.

That was my answer!

I packed a sturdy durable bag that closed tight with food that could be warmed in the microwave, or eaten as it was, but none that required refrigeration.

Mainly high protein foods and a few treats.   

Another time this same mom asked me to watch her other children because she had to take her son to his doctors appointment. While she was gone, I arranged with other women in our church to come in for a cleaning blitz who had wanted to help, but didn’t know what they could do.

While we cleaned, older kids of the women who had come to help clean, did crafts with the kids I was in charge of for the mom at the hospital, making them feel special and keeping them entertained.  This was a great gift and service to them, as their life now had to often revolve around all the hospital visits and that very sensitive situation of their brother being ill.

It’s a cherished memory of how to involve others.

What if I SAY or DO the wrong thing? 

How do I know THE BEST way to serve them?

It’s unfortunate, but a part of life that illness, tragedy or hardship will come to one of our loved ones,  a friend, or a neighbor at some time. 

And then –

  • What do we say?
  • What do we do?
  • How can we help?
  • What’s the best approach?
  • What about when the person or family has lost a loved one to suicide?

I have some tips and suggestions so that you will ALWAYS know how, when and the best ways to be of service and comfort.  Remember!  Just Do SOMETHING with the best intention of loving them and it will be alright.




This was a situation for one of my dear neighbors and I didn’t know what to say, or what to do myself as I hadn’t encountered this situation before. So I researched a bit and I’m sharing with you the information I found.

Heartbreaking position for those grieving with the loss of a loved one to suicide

To read the helpful tips and ideas of what to do, click GRIEVING THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE TO SUICIDE





This is another delicate issue and so tender for everyone involved.  

I have tried to gather information for us so we can be the most helpful in this situation. 

Click here on  What Do You Say When A Friend Or Family Member Loses A Baby?




Losing A Pet can be as devastating as losing a family member to those who love and care for their pets.

I have a tips and ideas you will find helpful here in How To Comfort When There Is A Pet-loss





Treat them the same

It’s important to remember and treat the person, or the family as you always did.  This new diagnosis, or difficulty they are having isn’t ‘them’.  It isn’t a way to identify them, or take over their personality, it’s just the new situation or ‘normal’ for the time being.  Remembering that will help you treat them the same as you always did, and it won’t be as awkward with the new circumstances because it helps them feel ‘in control’ and somewhat their usual self.


Try to do something ‘normal’, out of the ordinary and FUN

For example

The picture of the baby at the top of the post is one of my grand daughters.  Right after being born, she was in the NICU also known as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Her brother had been in the hospital for several days which was terrifying.

Stan, my husband, spent much of his time after work at the hospital with the sick grandchildren.

But when he was home, he took the other kids to Sam’s Club (their favorite) for lunch, then to the store to let them pick out their own match-box car.

When they came back to the house,  I gave each of them a few washable markers and their own empty toilet paper roll to make a car ‘power station’. They had a blast and it filled the time with creativity and imagination.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, just out of the ordinary and something THEY will enjoy.


Another day does begin

I had some of the grand kids at my house, giving their mom a chance to recuperate with the sick baby.

I put on the musical ‘Bye Bye Birdie’, the one with Ann Margaret. They had the best time watching something they had never seen, and dancing with Birdie as the whole town swooned and fainted – they thought that was pretty funny; acting right along and falling to the ground with the character’s in the movie, as Birdie played his guitar.

Get them up and MOVING

Laughter is a wonderful release from the stress for ALL ages.
kids 1
Try to provide as much normality as possible in their day by keeping them busy, as appropriate of course.

This provides a way for even little ones to feel somewhat in control, despite the drastic changed schedules and even living circumstances. 

‘Helping’ Uncle Dallin clean.kids 2


Here is my son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter getting ready to come home from the hospital.

Our little NICU grandbaby was finally allowed to come home!baby 8After taking baby CPR classes at the hospital, learning how to run the oxygen machine, classes on how to use monitoring and other devices to help our little grand daughter stay alive, our son Derek remarked:

“Who said kids don’t come with instructions.”

Always try to keep a sense of humor, it goes a LONG way in putting these stressful situations in perspective and dealing with them in a healthy manner.

photo 6

It seems if we live long enough we will have family and friends who will face challenges of some sort that will require help.

I have complied a little list of ideas that might be useful if you are ever in the situation of wondering how to help and be most useful:

  • Keep in mind that when a person, or family are in a crisis, they may have much different priorities then before. Be sensitive to their ‘new situation’ and that ‘normal’ things may not be a current concern.  Just understand and be supportive.
  • LISTEN, do not judge or give unwanted advice. Sometimes the other person simply wants to talk and get it out in the open.  Realize it may not be how they really feel; actually, it probably isn’t. Be kind about not repeating or passing on anything that is best kept between trusted friends. Venting is part of grieving.
  • Offer to clean the house or gift a professional house cleaning service.  Do not just offer, be proactive and DO something. 
  • Sometimes when asking what you can do to help is almost more stressful because the person/family may not be able to process everything that does need to be done, such as  the real necessities. You could ask about arranging to pick up other children for school, sports, scouts, etc. That would be a great relief to the parents and family.
  •  It is critical that the family members have a way to recharge and have the energy to face the ordeal at hand. By arranging for the parents/care giver to have the opportunity to exercise, get sleep, have meals brought in and babysitting the other children would be such a relief.
  • Offering to stay with a child or family member for a few hours at the hospital to give the adult(s) time to leave for a bit, would allow them to take a moment for them self, while knowing that someone was there and their loved one wasn’t alone.  
  • A SunShine Gift or Basket would be perfect, click HERE

SunShine Gifts and Baskets













More Suggestions on how to give comfort and relief:

  • A gift certificate for a massage, a facial, a haircut, a manicure, a pedicure, a movie, favorite meal, etc., would be so appreciated for them to use while a trusted friend or family member sat with the sick/hospitalized patient.
  • Provide rides to and from school,  or activities for other family members. Also, rides to the hospital so the children can visit the parent(s).
  • A personal planner to keep track of all the details if this is an extended situation.  THIS ONE would be a great one. 
  • Take, or send, a care package to the sick patient. Part of this could also be gift cards to local restaurants or even a way to purchase food at the hospital for the parents/adults.
  • If it is holiday time, offer to shop for them, or even arrange a ‘Secret Santa’ for the family to take the pressure off them financially, as well as the overwhelming time it can be.
  • A journal is incredibly healing.  HERE is a terrific choice. 
  • And ONE for kids
  • If it is another child’s birthday time, offering to hold the party would be a tremendous burden eased for the parent(s) so the child does not feel left out or ‘on-the-back-burner’ so to speak.
  • Grocery shop for family. If the funds are tight for them, you might want to purchase the necessities or even see if neighbors want to go in with you.
  •  Do, or arrange for, housecleaning or yard work to be done.  That’s a HUGE help.
  • If they have pets, help or provide a source to feed and walk them.
  • Take siblings out for a fun activity or babysit them.
  • If you know them well, books and CD’s that will inspire and make them laugh would be a great choice.
  • Provide THANK YOU cards and stamps for them to send out. THESE would be a fabulous choice.
  • If it is overwhelming to keep family and friends up to date of the patients treatment and circumstance. You could offer to keep up a blog or even Facebook page for them; with their approval of EVERY SINGLE post/entry
  • Help the other family members feel useful. It empowers them and takes their mind off the situation at hand.
  • A small decorated vase with a narrow opening is a great idea to take to your friends or neighbors if you are on a budget. If taking flowers, ask to be sure if they are allergic to any one type of flower.
  • Balloons are always fun.  
  • ***If you are taking flowers or balloons into a hospital check with the staff first o make sure it’s alright with the hospital policy and into the area you want to take them.

If you are looking for ideas on taking in a meal, I have GREAT information, lots of useful tips and recipes at: 

What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal They Will Want To Eat

I hope this post has given you tools and resources to empower you, so that you feel comfortable reaching out to anyone in need; whether you barely know them, or they are close family or a dear friend. 

We all have ordeals to go through some time in life – that’s just the way it is. 

Having a person, an angel, who cares enough about us, our comfort, our family, to ACT and DO something selfless, means more than words can express.

Copyright A Mother’s Shadow, 2014, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal They Will Want To Eat

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Taking in a Meal to a neighbor or family

What food to make and tips to make it easier on you and the person you are helping

 Have you been asked, or even offered to take in a meal to someone?

I’ve got you covered here in  What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal that They Will Want To Eat, and I can help you with this situation.

Even though you want to do this act of kindness, does the thought of taking in a meal, send panic running (or galloping) through your body?

Or do you get cold sweats worrying about what to take that they would want to eat?

And how in the world do you approach them in the first place?

Don’t worry, I’ve brought together valuable information just for you!

  • Everything from how to comfortably ask the day and time for bringing in the meal; making it convenient for all involved.
  • What type of food they would actually want to eat while keeping you in control of what the meal is, so you can stay in your budget.
  •  Ideas for you to know how to be approachable when wanting to help, so it’s not awkward for anyone.


So, if you’re looking for tips on taking in food when there is a new baby,  someone had surgery, there’s an illness in the family, unfortunately a death – or just because you know it would cheer them up—

I’ve got What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal They Will Want To Eat, along with recipes that are easy and varied for you to choose from.

These handy tips will  make your meal not only one that is enjoyed, but remembered as thoughtful and extremely appreciated.  

What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal they Will want to eat

A meal is always welcome and a VERY thoughtful gesture of friendship and kindness.

However, it can be a scary idea to think about feeding other people,  or their kids; especially if you don’t know them very well.

So, when do you take in a meal? What are the circumstances that says: FEED US PLEASE

Then, what do you say when contacting them about taking in a meal? 

Most importantly, how do you find out what they like, so they will enjoy it, meaning your time and resources are useful and not wasted?

I have it all covered, so you don’t need to worry.  


When should you take In A Meal?

There are so many opportunities, but here are the most common:

  • A new baby.
  • Someone is ill or had surgery.
  • There has been a death in the family.
  • A job loss.
  • They are getting ready to move and everything is packed away (*see special moving tips below in this post)
  • Moving in (*see moving tips, again below in this post)
  • You know they are struggling with something personal, a family member’s situation, or outside circumstances that are challenging.  A meal can make the world seem gentler and a more compassionate place to be.
  • A traumatic event of any type. I have a post you might like How Can I Help When Someone Is Sick And Show I Care?
  • Anytime you want to help out, be kind, and especially when you feel impressed to, that is the perfect reason to take in a meal.


The Appreciation Comes From The Details

Let’s be real, we all say ‘thank you’ to a meal and that we ‘like it’.

However, if we ask a few questions, we are going to be HERO’s as well as taking in a meal that will be REALLY enjoyed and EATEN.

Details such as:

  • Use disposable pans, bags and dishes to deliver the food in. I like to prepare as many of the items I am taking  in the same type of pan if possible. The reason for this, is that I only have to have one to purchase and store one type; saving money and space.  Something like THIS would be good for everything from salads, to jello, to rolls to a main dish. You could  use two of these pans  for the main dish if you are taking the meal to a large family.


       Using something disposable avoids situations such as: whose bowl does this belong to?                Which unmarked pan does the young boy at the door want returned while his mother                  waits outside, not wanting to ‘be a bother’, as you are frantically trying to find the right lid          to ‘her pan’ in the myriad of  dishes stacked on the kitchen counter….which makes you                want to scream/cry/wish you had ordered out pizza that night.  Disposable dishes all the            way baby. They make everyone happy!

       Or there’s the well-meaning neighbor stopping by to collect their dishes – when you’re not           feeling well as you recover, or finally just got the newborn to sleep… gggrrrr….So if that’s             you, neighbor….please do a favor and call ahead:) Actually, please just use disposable.


  • Ask if anyone in the family has food allergies, or if there is anything they simply will not eat.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Of course you, kind person, need to stay in your budget and fix a meal that you are comfortable making.  However, if you take in something they cannot, or simply will not eat, it’s a waste for all involved.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For instance:  Some people really cannot force themselves to eat rice – it’s a texture thing. And some cannot tolerate the taste of spaghetti sauce.                                                      Despite your best effort in making a meal, and their gratitude in your gift, it will not be as useful as it could be. (For example, I will not, cannot – not in a boat, not with a goat, not in the rain, not on a train….I will NOT eat eggs as the major ingredient.  So a beautiful quiche would be devoured by my husband and family, while I would have to open a can of something or other.  I would still send a thank you note of course, but if the meal were to help me out—-hhhmmm—–you get the point)


  • If you know your neighborhood well, and others are also taking in a meal(s) to the same family, it would be a good idea to ask the family what food(s) they have already had brought in. You don’t want to be the third well intended person in a row to bring in, say…. chili. 


  • If you are dropping the meal off early, or a freezer meal, be sure to label the food with what it is, the date to use by, along with any special cooking or reheating instructions.


  • Ask if there is a certain night they would like a meal brought in. Or let them pick from two or three nights that are convenient for you. 


  • If you have the means, taking in a freezer meal, along with a meal for that night, would be very appreciated.  


After delivering 5 cesarean babies,  several knee surgeries,  then total knee replacements on BOTH knees TWICE, adding in several other surgeries myself; not to mention all that has happened with 5 kids and a handsome hubby over upwards of 40 years of marriage; I have been a blessed recipient of numerous meals.  Truly they have been such a gift.

I have also taken in, or delivered more meals in my adult life now than I can begin to count. 

So, from receiving, and giving, so many meals, I’ve learned some tips that I’ll share with you about how to make it a win-win situation for everyone involved, as well as EASY too! 


Did you know there’s Etiquette to taking in a meal?

1 Ask what time they would like the meal brought in to avoid any embarrassing complications.


2- Should you take in a homemade or pre-made/frozen/purchased meal or dish? That’s up to you.


3- Make sure whatever the meal is, that it’s completely ready to serve to make it easy on the person you are helping. Meaning, they do not have to prepare it in any way, shape or form.


4- This is not the time to try to impress them with your amazing culinary skills of grandeur – imagined or real, lol.  Good old fashioned – comfort food is a winner every time.


5- Let the person know who you are bringing the meal into that you are:

A) just dropping off a meal (hot or one to be warmed up)


B) helping the kids have their dinner, cleaning up the dishes, getting the adults their dinner and tidying up afterwards – maybe you could even do a bit extra with the help of the kids:)

Only do what is comfortable for that person you are helping and best for you also.  You don’t want to put yourself in a situation that is awkward, anymore than you do the person you want to help.  It is very important to get the details clear before the meal is brought in.  Either way, let them know you have only the best intentions and can leave it with the kids at the door if that’s best.


6- Give a couple of choices that you are able to make or provide for the meal; meaning within your budget and ability.

For example, I have a grand daughter who at the age of four will eat Kim-chi and we are not Korean.  The girl will eat about anything and try everything that doesn’t run faster than her.

I have another grand daughter who likes……fast food pizza….oh and donuts:)

So ask the parents what ALL their kids will enjoy. Because you aren’t doing anyone a favor if they have to pull out the pans and make dinner after you leave to feed the kiddos. 

It’s not being picky in my opinion, it’s just life, and if we are there to support a friend in that situation, let’s be a help and not a hindrance. (Meaning no comments or judgments, that are not charitable in nature or nice in tone at this sensitive time for the family.)


7- Let the person know if you are bringing in the entire meal; meaning sides and dessert.  Or if you are just bringing in the main dish so they know what to plan on, and can make arrangements for the rest of the meal if needed.


8- Do all you can to NOT to be late or cancel.  Confirm the day or night before so it is clear that you are bringing in what you have discussed, as well verify the time.

If something does come up that is completely unavoidable and prevents you from taking in a meal, make sure to apologize and take in a meal soon as possible, along with one for the freezer due to the inconvenience.


9- If taking in meals for a new baby, I have special ideas in my post ALL THINGS BABY


10- Sometimes the situation is more complicated and you need to know how to handle the emotions and what is happening with the person or family that you are serving. It can be hard to know what’s appropriate when illness, tragedy, suicide or any other situation of deep mourning occurs.  What do you do? What do you say, or not say, is even more difficult. How can you help that is actually of benefit?  I have some great information at my post: How Can I Help When Someone Is Sick And Show I Care?

ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more


TIPS for taking in meals when someone is MOVING in or out

Take everything needed for the meal including:

  • ALL the paper products such as paper plates, cups, utensils, napkins


  • Drinks. Ask what they like and allow the kids to have; such as water bottles, type of perferred soda pop and kids punch pouches.


  • Ask if they will have access to the oven or stove to warm up the food.  If not, it would be considerate to take in (on a smaller scale of course) as I show in my post a COLD PASTA BAR or build-your own sandwiches with the ingredients and condiments in separate containers.  Or simply a variety of Sub Sandwiches for them to choose from. 


  • Find out if it would be more convenient to have the food transportable if they are moving from one location to another, and take the food in a disposable foam cooler.  THESE DISPOSABLE BOWLS  would be great to have on hand for this reason.  These recipes would work GREAT for this type of meal:



A cold pasta salad using rotini pasta that has grapes, celery, crisp apples, smokey Gouda cheese and toasted almonds. All topped with a creamy poppy seed mayonnaise dressing for a perfect dish


Asian Chicken and Orzo Pasta Salad

An oriental style bowl filled with a refreshing salad made with Orzo pasta, rotisserie chicken, fresh vegetables and a light refreshing dressing with a little spice from chili sauce and cool from Ranch dressing


The Easy Chicken Pot Pie and the Best Homemade Manicotti can be made and baked the same day or frozen for later use. 

Both come with printable baking instructions to include with the gifted dish

Click HERE for the Easy Chicken Pot Pie

This easy Chicken Pot Pie recipe tastes like homemade but it's with premade pie crusts, frozen vegetables and rotisserie chicken. The homemade savory sauce is gourmet and brings it all together. Freeze one for later

Best Chicken PotPie






Click HERE for Best Homemade Manicotti

A plate with green beans and manicotti stuffed pasta shells. The shells are filled with ground beef, cheeses and seasonings. They are topped with marinara sauce and more cheese then baked till warmed through

Easy Stuffed Manicotti Pasta







More ideas:

Best Chicken Fajitas

Delicious Chicken and fresh Vegetable Fajitas baked in the oven with green, red, orange and yellow bell peppers and onion. Seasoned with a wonderful homemade fajita seasoning. Serve with your choice of condiments.


Best Anytime Chicken Tacos

Two chicken tacos in hard shells with shredded rotisserie chicken. Chopped tomatoes, lettuce are on top of the tacos for a delicious meal that's quick, easy and delicious for a busy weeknight or lazy weekend meal.









Easy Vegetarian Fajitas also Gluten Free, and these are really

A beautiful plate of sauted peppers in several colors along with other vegetables all combined with the perfect spices to make this vegetarian fajita dish perfect for any meal.


Best Homemade Meatballs








Easy Pizza Pasta Bake

A hearty casserole full of pizza flavors from the hearty sauce, pepperoni, olives and cheese all mixed into pasta.

Easy Hot Cheese & Ham Sliders on Sweet Hawaiian Rolls

A Hawaiian sweet roll with ham and Swiss cheese in the middle along with a complimentary mustard sauce. Topped with the traditional Poppy Seed sauce all warmed up to melt the cheese and heat the ham.

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.