Sunday, March 30, 2014

old photos

Don't you just love old pictures?  Not only are they fun to look at, but they bring back memories that sometimes would otherwise be lost.  Seeing details in a photo help us remember events and even how we were feeling at a given time.  

Realizing I love fireplaces and woodwork inside houses is no big surprise.  I grew up in a home with the warmth of both.  I remember this stone fireplace and the wood burning in it much of the time in the winter.  My bedroom was right around the corner from the living room, so I could even hear the crackling of the fire.   A vivid memory I have is one Christmas Eve.  I was nearing the age of unbelief in Santa Clause and I heard my mom rattle the screen in front of the fireplace that year while I was lying in bed.  I heard her say something to Santa as he left by way of the chimney and I just knew he had to be real that year!

In this picture I can see a manger and a musical Christmas tree on the mantle.  I am assuming we were just beginning to decorate because there were always many decorations especially around the fireplace. Mom was very artistic and creative.

The table on the left is a drop leaf that mom and dad refinished.   Mom wanted a round table at some point and dad cut off the four edges of the square to make it round!   The eagle mirror over the fireplace is now in my dad's house in Oregon.  It was one of my mom's favorite things.  The love seat also had an eagle pattern on it.

I remember the radio in the corner by the fireplace.  It would announce school closings in the winter when we got a bad storm and the buses wouldn't run.  Those were the best days of all for a kid!  I also remember hearing other news coming from that radio.  One memory I have is of hearing how many soldiers died on a given day in the war in Vietnam.  Seems every day the numbers were announced.

My memories of this house are ones of it being strong and sturdy.  The stone fireplace, and hardwood mantle are etched in my memory.  Heat emitted from the four metal grates in the stone and more than once I woke on Christmas morning with soft or melting chocolate in my stocking!!

Mom and Cocoa 1972

Moments in time.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

very simple veggie recipe of the week #3

I'm ever conscious of wanting and needing to eat more vegetables so this simple recipe will help me do just that.  Especially since I've planted zucchini squash and hope to have some growing strong in my garden soon.

Spray a sheet with olive oil spray.  I like to put down foil first since it makes cleanup almost nonexistent.  Slice the zucchini and spread on top of the foil.  Spray the slices lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with garlic salt and parmesan cheese.

Bake in 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes…

That's it!

Quick.  Easy.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

this week, this day

It was a lovely day.  It's been a lovely week.

How can that be?  The last two years have only brought heartache and pain to this final week in March.

How could I lose the best person I've ever known and loved to cancer one year and then my beloved mother the next year?

It seemed too much to bear… and horrible timing.

My gratitude is what drives me on and sustains me… gives me strength and courage to move forward…

I grin at the thought of "getting over it"…. Ahhh…. that just doesn't happen. 

But back to gratitude.  When you have lost a lot you realize some never have that much to lose.  I have been so blessed.  And I am still… so blessed.

I'm still a seeker, still one who is looking for the wisdom that the universe contains.  Still trusting in what I cannot see.

Oh, there is so much that we cannot see….

So I want my life to be used still… to be a fragrant offering somehow…

I've been given examples of strength and love and courage... loyalty and belonging.   Those gifts remain.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

recipe of the week #2

The new recipe I made this week is one I'll make again and again.  My goal is to use less meat but buy better quality cuts in my dishes.  I feel good using fresh ingredients.

I can't believe I've gone so many years of my life without cooking regularly with sesame oil and ginger.  The flavors are wonderful.

100% Sesame Oil…. get the good stuff.

sliced ginger

broccoli blanched for a few seconds 

all heated through with sauce

Ready to eat!

Beef and broccoli.  Easy and simple.  Of course you can add white or brown rice to compliment.

I loved it!

Recipe is here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

same girl but different

I look at the picture…. this little girl with her beautiful brown eyes looking back at me …..  and I feel compassion and love.  I see the future in those eyes… and I know much of the story she will live.

She was born into a family with parents who were good people… she knew she was loved.   I can see from this picture that she had a mom who cared about little things like bows in little girls' hair and necklaces on school picture day.  Her hair didn't have a natural flip on the end, so her mom somehow gave it a curl before she got onto the school bus at noon time.

I remember hearing how we are more than our present age…. mine being 53.  We are an accumulation of all the ages we have ever been at the present moment in time.  I can still remember being five and I can still remember being 18.  The nice thing about being older is being able to hold that experience of living within you as well… and seeing the world differently than you did at an earlier age...

That little girl has some incredible joys ahead of her and some sorrows that will break her heart into tiny little pieces.  But right now she is growing strong and learning about the world as a five year old should.

The longer I live the more I think I wouldn't have changed a thing because each and every event brought me to the next step, the next life lesson and a new experience.  I'm still curious.  I'm still a seeker at heart and feel such gratitude for all I've been blessed with.

Today I was in a place where I listened to the stories of others … and in contrast to what they were going through in their lives I was keenly aware of the enormity of belonging and love I've experienced in mine.  Sure I've been a recipient of great loss, but we can't have enormous loss if we don't have a lot to lose can we?

Many people never have that much to lose.

I'm learning about courage and how it relates to vulnerability.  Not being afraid to truly be who we are and letting go of who we think we're supposed to be.

I've often been told that I come across as "authentic" and I consider that a great compliment.  Our society often tells us we're not good enough or acceptable enough just as we are.

So I guess if I could tell this little girl anything I'd say to enjoy today, because it's all we have.  Love fully those whose opinions matter to you.  Don't let the world squeeze your uniqueness into a mold that wasn't meant for you.  Don't be afraid to be who you really are and let others see it.   Don't be afraid to be authentically you. Vulnerability is risky but it's full of courage.   It hurts to have our hearts broken, but it shows we were willing to live life wholeheartedly and with full engagement.  I've heard it said that the dark doesn't destroy the light; it defines it.  It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.   Don't fear… we were meant to experience joy.

“To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.”   Brene Brown

Friday, March 7, 2014


Gardening is in my genes if that means anything.  My paternal grandmother had the greenest of thumbs when it came to flowers and through her example she made me want to plant and grow beautiful things.  I can remember her digging up Lilies of the Valley from her yard and bringing them to our home when I was a kid.  We replanted them together and they produced a bumper crop of the sweet-smelling little white bells.  They came back every year and are possibly my favorite flower next to hyacinths.  At least for their fragrance.  My dad grew all kinds of vegetables when I was growing up.  I remember zucchinis and cucumbers and other squashes, tomatoes, peppers and beans… asparagus and eggplant.  New Jersey was wonderful for gardens.

I tried to grow tomatoes when we first moved to our home here, but that didn't work out very well.  I didn't commit to giving them the best soil in which to thrive and they didn't produce healthy fruit.  I've since been pretty successful with herbs and flowers so this year I decided I'd try to plant my own vegetable and herb garden.   I bought a small 4' x 4' raised garden kit and some soil to put into it.  It took a while to figure out where to put it, but once I did I just willed my body to pick up those heavy bags of soil to add to the space where hopefully my baby plants will grow strong.  It's still early in the season and hopefully the freezing weather is over.   Though the extended forecast looks fairly good, I took a chance putting them in the ground today.

Tomato plants, peppers, zucchini, cucumber, parsley, cilantro and basil....

Spring comes a little earlier to Texas than it does elsewhere in the country.  I know my Northern friends are chomping at the bit wanting the warmth of a new season to begin.  The winter has been a hard one this year for so many.

I figure I'll watch what does well and maybe take out what doesn't... replanting along the way.  This year will be a learning experience for me because as usual I'm flying by the seat of my pants and just giving it a try....

.... learning by doing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

recipe of the week

One of my goals is to make at least one new recipe every week.   There are so many wonderful foods and with just a little bit of effort and forthought we can eat so much better and more healthy than we do.  The one I made tonight is full of nutritiously dense ingredients and flavor.

Boneless chicken breast, asparagus, fresh ginger, garlic and lemon juice.   Just perfect.

Try it!  Chicken and Lemon Asparagus Stir Fry