Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Love doesn't end...

My friend's mother just passed away. The day I heard the news, I just couldn't think about it and here's why... My mom passed away 16 years ago and I know just how she feels. I know, because I've lived through it. It was the single most devastating event in my life and it took me years to be able to talk about her without crying. Every time someone I know loses a mother, I revisit those awful, awful days.

I had an interesting childhood, for which I was very angry with my mother. I didn't have a father, she was estranged from her parents, so it was really just her. There was no one else and when you are a child, you cannot understand the complexity of life that leads you to a place where you and your children are not safe. So, I was angry. Unfortunately, my mom died before I could ever say that I realized she was just doing the best she could, where she was. Could she have done better? You know the phrase, when you know better, you do better? In her case she did what she knew how to do, she did her best. So, no, she couldn't have done better. Neither could I - even though I've spent a million years beating myself up for being so angry and difficult. But there is no value in that. We were both at a disadvantage because our need was greater than our ability.

Back to my friend and her fresh loss. I feel her pain. Losing your parent sucks. There aren't any words that help, it just sucks. What did help was the friends and loved ones who stood with me, in person and in thoughts and prayers. They stood with me and made sure I knew it and there were some days I only got through because I had their strength to draw from. So today and every day I'll be standing with my friend, saying nonsense or nothing at all, but standing with her so she isn't trying to stand all on her own, so she knows she's not the only one and so she can lean on me when she needs.

Life has to end, she said. Love doesn't. ~ Mitch Albom

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hugs by mail

Trying to stay connected with kids is tough. There are so many things to distract them and me, it's hard. I read an article once, that said kids need 6 hugs a day, minimum. I'm a firm believer that it does in fact take a village to raise a healthy, sensitive and caring human being. While I can't always be around to give a physical hug, I think virtual hugs are important and valuable, too.

Toward that end, I've begun sending mail to all the kids in my family. Snail mail-you know the kind of thing, with stamps and addresses and everything. Children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews. Every week I send one or two letters, notes or packages out. Kids are so funny and I've been enjoying their reactions to the mail. What's also cool is the sense of fun and enthusiasm I'm feeling through this process. Giving really is a gift for the giver, too!

Today's package is headed to a 3 year old.  I found this adorable Printable online (thank you Pinterest). See my version above. I glued the frogs onto sticks, so she can make the frogs dance while she's singing the song. I included the full version of the song that I printed onto white paper and glued onto green cardstock. It's cute, just a little silly, and I hope she likes them.

I may have mentioned it before, but I have an affinity for frogs as my mom collected them. So each time I see frogs, I get a little memory of mom. Love that.

This practice is another way I'm sharing the light of 2013. The Year of Light has somehow gotten a little lost in the clutter, but I've put my focus back on it. These little love letters are just what the Year of Light is all about.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Follow up

Yesterday I let myself be ticked. I don't like feeling ticked. It's not my best self. It's not love in action. And it doesn't make me feel good.

When I post things on this blog I wonder if I really want to keep things out there for all eternity.

Will I still feel the same in a few days or years from now? Maybe, maybe not.

Will I ever want to re-read these things? Maybe, maybe not.

Do I want other people to read this? Well, that's the big question. In the beginning of the blog, it was a thing I was keeping for myself. It was a place to put things I created and store aspects of my life and since I was the only person reading it, no biggie. As time went on, I realized the powerful benefit of blogging through some 'issues'. Since that is much more personal and now other people are reading it, I've had more than one moment of contemplation about what to post and what not to post.

In the end, the benefit outweighs the risk. And I seriously hope that the somewhat random ramblings that comprise this blog will help someone else.

In the 50 years I've been in this dance, here is one thing I've learned...  talking about it is so much better than not talking about it. There isn't anything to be gained from sweeping your feelings under a rug. So, here is a brief follow up from yesterdays' entry.

After a small, intense discussion with the IC, we have effectively communicated ourselves into a place of better understanding, each sharing our intent in yesterday's misguided conversation. It was a really good conversation, actually. It makes me see, once again, how each challenging moment has a gift in it.

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~ e. e. cummings

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Insensitive Comments

So, here's the question of the day... What do you do when someone makes an insensitive comment to you?

It's easy to be pissed, but is that really healthy?

Do you let it create hurt feelings and is that really helpful?

Do you ignore it, though on some level you are upset or else you wouldn't still be thinking about it? And if you ignore it, does the Insensitive Commenter (IC) just continue to plow through life saying stupid stuff? Do you care how the IC goes through life?

Well, here's my situation. I made a random off the cuff comment about someone else this morning, who was wearing much too short shorts. I said, "Why, why, why, is she wearing such short shorts?" She did not hear it, nor did anyone else except the IC. Today the IC decided to 'teach' me a lesson, by likening the sweater I was wearing to the teeny tiny shorts. He said "Why do you wear that red sweater with that little white top? Because you like it. She must like those shorts." There was more, but that's more than enough.

Here's the thing, I could spend some time explaining to you that I don't live in Hollywood, or NYC or the Bahamas and that shorts that just cover your butt cheeks are not really a good idea for anyone, let alone a woman well into her 40's. I could tell you more things, but in the end it is just trying to justify my opinion, which I don't think I need to do. My opinion is my opinion. I'm entitled to it.

What's upsetting to me about this is that he felt the need to guilt me about my opinion. What the hell! This is someone who is supposed to love me. Does he have to love every opinion I have, no. Should he shame and guilt me about a dislike of tiny shorts on full grown adult women? Hell, no.

I could have saved myself this aggravation by staying in bed, this morning. Or keeping an inside my head thought inside my head.  But, I didn't do either of those things. So, now I'm stuck with this thorn in my side. Freaking IC.

Have I ever mentioned before that guilt is a totally crappy emotion, both to have and to impose on another? Shame and guilt are two of the most destructive ways to hurt other people. Probably also contributes to my reaction, here.

Here's another point of contention... I could just fluff off the IC as stupid or thoughtless or a jerk. But I know he is not any of that. He is smart, and caring, and loving. Which makes this morning's exchange even more frustrating.

BLAHHHHH. Communication is a complicated business.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Easy dinner - totally delicious

Egg and quiche cups I made last weekend. Spray a regular sized muffin/cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray. I used won ton wrappers, two per muffin cup, as the crust. Just fiddle with it until you get good coverage. Then I put a piece of thinly sliced deli ham. Next comes shredded cheddar. Half of the cups have a whole egg, which the others are quiche cups (scrambled eggs with cream). Top with salt and pepper (can you tell we like pepper?) Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until the quiche eggs are no longer really jiggly.  It's not an exact science and I'd like to  be able to tell you exactly how long or what to look for, but it's about preference here.  The quiche eggs can go from runny to dry fairly quickly, so I tend to take them out while there is still some movement when the pan is jiggled and let them sit in the pan and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.  This way the eggs are creamy inside. I focus on the quiche eggs as opposed to the whole egg cups as a little runny yolk is good stuff. Or a little set yolk also good stuff. So, notice the weird lighting on the eggs...  It was a bright sunny day and the eggs looked beautiful to my eye, but through the lens... weird.  It also seems as though the won tons are burnt, but they were not. Here's what I will tell you about these egg cups. I made 12 on Saturday afternoon and they were gone by the next morning. I had hopes they might live in the fridge for a couple of days for breakfasts or snacks, but they didn't last 24 hours. I've made these several ways, using a lot of different items for crust and even made some crustless versions, but the wonton wrappers are my favorite choice. They have a crispiness, even on the bottom, without overpowering the ingredients inside. Also, the wontons come out cleanly every single time.  It took less than 10 minutes to prep, 15 to bake. Very nice.

This is also a good, quick breakfast for dinner option!

Adventures in Sourdough

I've begun a sourdough starter.  What a learning opportunity (have I mentioned I'm the kid who liked school?)!  I've enjoyed researching the topic and I've enjoyed working with the sourdough.  I have pictures of two of the items I made.  The most beautiful, I forgot to photograph. :(

After much consideration about whether or not to start my own, obtain one from a local source or purchase from a company, I decided to purchase from King Arthur Flour.  It arrived 11 days ago and I've been playing with it ever since.  I really had no idea how much attention a starter is "supposed" to receive.  That being said, I've been able to give it attention and make some delicious items while working full time.

The first thing on the agenda, classic sourdough boules.  The recipe makes two, but I"m only showing one because it looks so good.  As we all know, I'm not an experienced food blogger and my pictures reflect that.  I think they turned out pretty well for my first attempt.  They were (cause they're gone) crispy and firm on the outside, with a satisfying thump.  The inside was moist and it had a good chewiness.  The only down side, was it lacked the sourdough tang.  It was really tasty, but did not have the tangy-ness you might expect when eating sourdough.  So, more research.

When feeding the sourdough, you discard half of the starter with every feed.  That's a lot of waste, which is disturbing to me, so recipes to use the discard became a priority. Luckily, there are lots of them. Obviously  I'm not the only person who thinks it's crazy to pitch half the starter. These waffles are one of the discard creations.  I hope the picture does it justice.  They were a caramel color, with the crispness and loft that makes waffles so appealing. In addition, these had that sourdough tang! Awesome. The waffle mix is a two step process, where you begin the night before and leave the 'sponge' on the counter till morning. Sounds intimidating, right. Starting them the night before was no big deal and finishing them this morning for breakfast was super easy. The best part is the dough bubbles and rises, when all the ingredients are added in the morning and it's fun to watch. It's also much lighter than my previous recipe, creating a light, crispy waffle.

I'm pretty excited about this sourdough adventure and this morning I'm going to make new boules with the starter testing some adjustments I've made to bring on the tang. The waffles give me hope.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A thought to ponder this day...

Today is my son's birthday. Each birthday of my children is this wondrous moment to celebrate what were the very best days of my life. Meeting my kids face to face for the first time was magical and empowering and humbling in a way that is like nothing else I've ever experienced. It's an everyday miracle to be a parent.

As I was posting birthday love on fb this morning, I found this quote and I wanted to share:

“...if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will be the same again.” William Paul Young

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My List...

I finished my list. I woke up this morning inspired, which is the best time to do anything.

When I first posted about making a new list I thought I'd whip it right out, but each time I'd start, I ended up not writing anything or jotting one thing. Then I made a long list of anything that popped into my head, but that didn't feel right either. So, in the end, I took a step back, letting the ideas process in the back of my mind and then this morning I woke up and I was ready! I love it when that happens.

I ended up with 6 things on my list. It's a good number. How are you doing on your list? I thought I'd share some of the things on my list, for those who might be curious:

Work that is satisfying, rewarding and creative.
New windows for the house.
To be love.

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” Sophocles

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sandwich topper

In researching fermented and pickled food online, I discovered this blog entry with a simple refrigerator vegetable pickle with a Vietnamese twist. It looked so good, I had to try it. The picture is my version. I actually made two, one in small jelly jar and the one pictured, which is a tall pint and a half. I'm admitting, right here and now, that I ate the entire little jar on my sandwiches last night. Embarrassing! But, they were different, delicious and crunchy and I could NOT Help Myself. Carrots, cucumber and daikon radish, in a sweet and sour pickle.

We had shredded chicken sliders, with the veggies as a topper. For me, the veggies were enough and I didn't add any other topping, though I think BBQ would be really good. The next time, and there will be a next time, I make these, I'm going to come up with some way to spice them up a little. They are good, but a little spice will make them great.

If you are looking for an easy and different twist, give these a try.  The most time is spent julienne-ing the veggies, but worth it.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Science right in the kitchen

Who would've guessed, but there is science happening right in my kitchen.

These are the fermented foods from today: Another batch of sour pickles (yes, we totally love them), pico de gallo, garlic & dill carrots and ginger carrots.

If you look around the top of the carrot jars, you will see the bubbling action, which is the fermentation in process.  I'm using small glasses to hold them down. Though you can't see it, there is a small jar holding the pickles below the brine, too.

The pico de gallo is an experiment, I've been told it doesn't need to be under a brine. I'm cautiously optimistic. It smelled so freaking good that I had to make a second, small batch that I pretty much inhaled the moment it was mixed.

So, how is your list going? Did you make one? I started making one and then decided I needed a couple of days to ponder. Tomorrow is the day.

Tomorrow is also the day to try fermented ketchup. More science.

Also found on Pinterest:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Natural Abundance

This picture is today's harvested items. The last time I was in the garden to harvest was one week ago. Not an exaggeration. Last Thursday, I picked all the ripe veggies in the garden. Today I did the same. There are still more tomatoes and peppers out there - probably as many tomatoes as are pictured and even more peppers.

See the basket of grape tomatoes? All from one plant. And if you've been reading the blog, you know that I've already harvested a ton, which have been canned.

What's my point? All of these tomatoes and all the ones I've been picking since July are from just 4 tomato plants. Just four. One grape, one roma, two traditional. What's my point?

These plants illustrate the way life really is. Life is naturally abundant. If you disagree, I refer you back to the picture - remember 4 plants yielded all of this, in essence 4 seeds.

If life were not abundant, then a single seed would yield at most one fruit. As you can see, that isn't what happened.

Abundance is all around us, but when you are speeding through your day and your life, sometimes you miss it.  It's good to stop and take it all in.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

This is a good thing to remember!

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt