Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

I'm going to be mostly away from the computer for the next couple of days for a much needed sanity break, but I did want to leave some thoughts with you for Memorial Day. Actually, cartoons with a message that deserves our attention and sober reflection...

Remembering, especially, my grandfather who fought in France during WWI... my father and uncles who served during WWII and in Korea... several cousins and family friends who went to Vietnam... and many friends who fought in the conflicts in the Persian Gulf area. Most of you came home, not always whole, but we were lucky and got you home none-the-less.

You are my personal heros!

(A special THANK YOU to Andrew Sooter, a veteran of the Gulf War, who shared these images and many others on facebook this morning.)

Thursday Thoughts

This past week I've had a couple of moments of self-discovery...

First, I AM bothered by those pesky gray hairs that keep cropping up at my temples. And second, I NEED to feel useful and I don't.

The gray hair was an easy fix with a box of Revlon hair color, priced at $3.38 at my local Walmart but costing even less because there was a $1.00 coupon on the front of the box. Never colored my own hair before, but it wasn't an awful job and I'm pretty happy with the result. $2.38 (plus whatever the tax was) compared to $75+ at the salon... yeah, I can live with it.

Now for something useful to do...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Harvest to Harvest

Sometime in the past that's long forgotten I acquired a book named 12 Months Harvest published by Ortho. It chronicles life on a small independent farm by the Dewey family in Gilroy CA and how the projects they experimented with led to increased self-sufficiency. It says, in the introduction, "the reasons for using these methods today are varied -- for some it is the desire to recall that "old-time" flavor of homemade jam, others enjoy the security of knowing exactly what has gone into the foods they eat, and still others feel a sense of pride and independence from growing and preserving their own food." That sentence may have been penned in the mid-1970's but it is equally relevant for today. I know I've thumbed through my copy of the book until it is falling apart... If you see one, I recommend it for your personal library.

I like how they work with the rhythm of the seasons to grow, harvest and preserve their food. Since it's early spring here in Utah, it's time to have the garden planned and partly planted. I am woefully behind schedule on this as our spring has been unusually wet and cold so the garden has not been tilled yet and I only have a rough idea of what I want to plant where. This year, not knowing my job and financial status, I am going to plant a garden but keep the size rather conservative so that I have some assurance of being able to care for it.

Because I want to make salsa and need to replenish the stock of frozen tomatoes, I plan on 6 nice big beef-steak variety plants. Planning for salsa, I'll also put in a row of onions and a couple of jalapeno peppers and some cilantro. For fun and sweet little munchies, I also want to have 2 grape tomatoes. To make a few bottles of Aunt Bee's Dill pickles, and lots of fresh ones, a cucumber vine or two is in order as is a nice stand of dillweed. In past years we enjoyed the Blue Lake variety of bush beans so much that I want to plant a row of them as well and hope for as abundant a harvest so I can freeze some for next winter. I may also try canning a few bottles of Dilly Beans. Just to use fresh, I want a short row of Swiss chard. And I think I'll give carrots another try. If they do well, they can winter over right in the garden to be dug whenever we want some. Also have red potatoes well sprouted and desperately needing to be in the ground... And this year I really want to get the raspberry row looking good and filled in either by transplanting from my own little thicket or with plants offered by a neighbor's son. If I can get a place ready, he's also offered me strawberry starts. And if I can squeak out the funds I want to plant those fruit trees along the back fence as well... 2 apples, a pear, a peach, an Italian prune and a Santa Rosa plum. I have another neighbor who wants to use the extra space to grow corn and melons in exchange for sharing the produce so that will be a nice bonus!

Putting it in writing... that sounds pretty ambitious but surely worth the try!

If you want to try a garden, but need a little help getting started, here's an interesting link to explore:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I was thinking about making Tuesday's here a Grati-Tuesday kind of thing... but I just haven't been able to shake this dark mood the past couple of days so today I'm going to tell you what's going on in my head.

The Gospel tells us that in the pre-mortal realm we made choices about many things. One of them was a decision to come here to Earth and work out our eternal salvation and it involved agreeing to specific and individual problems and challenges to teach each of us the exact lessons we most needed to learn. But I have to confess there are some days I look around me, or at me, and ask "I made a conscious decision to choose THIS?" On those days I often wonder if there is a serious flaw in my decision making ability...

The past few days have been one of these occasions.

This past February, my 89 year-old mother fell out of her wheelchair. She got a concussion and for several days had a black eye that covered half of her face. For two weeks she couldn't (wouldn't?) get out of bed. With no support system, and no family willing to help, I did what I had to do in that crisis situation. I quit my job suddenly to stay home and take care of her... at least until the savings account ran dry. And that day is coming. My life suddenly became full of granny diapers, endless panic attacks when she couldn't immediately see me in the room, having the same 3-4 sentence conversation fifty times a day at increasing volumes, mountains of nasty laundry and days that often stretch 40+ hours at a time. I am utterly exhausted!

And depressed. And isolated much like a virtual prisoner. And worried about what the future holds when that day comes to find a new job and be gone from home all day long again. And torn between institutionalizing my mother or piecing together some kind of in-home care for the rest of her life. And stressed about how to pay for it all either way.

Basically... my life seems like a botched up meaningless mess.

And I feel like the proverbial deer in the headlights, frozen in place and waiting to be mowed down by oncoming traffic while thinking to myself "I really chose this? Damn, that was a stupid decision!"

That is where I am stuck. If you can offer hope, or better yet a solution, you will have my eternal gratitude. Can you make this a Grati-Tuesday for me?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Simply Saturday

I wanted to devote Saturdays to ideas for simple living... but today, I've got blueberries on the brain! Awhile back a neighbor gave me 6 gallons of frozen blueberries. Yes, six. Six 1-gallon bags of wonderfully yummy blueberries. So guess what's been on the breakfast and dessert menu quite often?

Blueberry Banana Smoothies
Blueberry Pancakes
Blueberries over ice cream... and french toast... and waffles
Blueberry Muffins

And yes... that delightful sounding blueberry bread pudding I've been talking about for a couple of weeks now. I think I'll be making it tomorrow. (First I have to clean out the fridge to make room to refrigerate it for 8 hours prior to baking. That would be today's project...)

Sometimes I wish we could grow blueberries here in Utah but I'm told our soil doesn't have enough acid for them to be happy. And adding it doesn't really help much because the soil is self-alkalinizing.

Yum! Blueberries...

Oh, and if you want to try the smoothie, put 1 generous cup of apple juice in the blender and add a big handful of frozen blueberries, half a banana cut into chunks and a small container of vanilla yogurt. Blend smooth. Drink... and be in blueberry heaven!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Favorites

And this week's Friday Favorites are:

1. Just discovered this site by a local interior designer and feel inspired to look at the spaces in my home in whole new ways. Be sure to enter the contest for his book on creative kitchen spaces!

2. I remember watching this every day after school as a kid... silly and sentimental but it makes me smile!

3. Browsing sites like this only makes that longing more intense to adopt a sibling group. I really gotta get me together and do it...

4. Just like a good friend - comfortable, comforting and full of sage advice, Sunday School lesson plans and other spiritual ponderings.

5. Speak with kindness; Act in love. That's the saying I want a vinyl of for this certain space in the hall between some bedrooms. I've known I wanted a vinyl and been thinking about what I wanted it to say for a long while. It's on my list of little treats for when I have income again.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

Okay... so my dedication to doing this is going to need some work! Getting back on track. Again. I hope.

Thursday's, I think, are going to be dedicated to random thoughts... And today's is:

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined." Henry David Thoreau

For the first time in awhile I feel like my mind is waking up to the possibility of imagining a life lived the way I want to live, not one filled with obligations to live a modified, perhaps reigned in, version of that life. I think that for the remainder of this year I'm going to be quite selfish with my time and means and focus a whole lot on me. Focus on mending all the shattered little shards from broken dreams that have never healed quite right before. I'm going to assume nothing is set and test every boundary and limit. I'm going to ask a whole lot more 'is this really true?' kind of questions.

So what does this life I want to live look like? No matter how grand my imagination gets, I keep coming back to one simple truth.

Home is where my heart is.

I love my house... [almost] everything about it delights me anew whenever I pause long enough to look. I love the location on a quiet tree-lined street surrounded by friendly neighbors. I love the floor plan so much that if I were to build a new house, I'd ask for this same exact floor plan. Yes, it's mid-1950s bones are that good! I love the finishes, furniture and art I'm getting slowly in its place. At home is where I want to be.

I like the cooking and cleaning and organizing and endless repairs and decorating projects. I enjoy the hunt for a good sale or freebie and giving something old new life. I need to take and share more pictures!

So one place I want to put those broken shards back together is... my habitat. Even with [nearly] no budget I think there are some things I can do and my quest this afternoon is to find one.

That thought makes me smile!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Favorites

As the first themed post on my (finally!) newly resurrected blog, I am introducing Friday Favorites... intended to be a random collection of 5-10 favorite things that I've come across in the past week. It might be web links, or photos, or something else entirely that catches my fancy.

This week I'm sharing links to some websites that I am currently enjoying. Here we go:

1. Don't these just sound like the yummiest appetizer? And I was quite tickled how she described her obsession with muffin tins in the accompanying blogpost!

2. Another foodie link. If you cook, you could easily get lost in this site and think you've died and gone to heaven! Up on my 'have to try it list' is this recipe for a baked Blueberry French Toast though I think I'm going to choose to call it a bread pudding and serve as a dessert.

3. I know, I know it's from an era when I wasn't even a twinkle in my daddy's eye yet but quite possibly my favorite song ever... This is romance music, baby!

4. I so want a few of these pieces!

5. A blog I've been following for some time now... scroll back to the very very beginning and read forward so you can see all the amazing projects and ideas in the right order. I have so appreciated the ideas, humor and talent she shares in her artwork but even more I love Tricia Smith's passion for getting the message out to be prepared both temporally and spiritually for whatever lies ahead.

6. I blogged here for awhile because of the amazing community support their members offer and then came a big life curve ball and I didn't blog at all for many many many months... When I went back to look a couple of months ago the site was for sale and I thought perhaps it was a goner, but low and behold I think it has a new owner and is alive and well! Yay!! Always a source for ideas, inspiration, and things I find fascinating even when I didn't know I'd ever want to know about them.

What are some of your favorite things?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Out my kitchen window

The big shade tree that I don't know what kind it is, is starting to leaf out and as usual it's full of chattering birds.  I see a few robins, some finches, a woodpecker and the ever present family of starlings that took over the birdhouse.  Beyond the world seems a thousand shades of brilliant green.  Salt Lake City has seen a very wet, cold springtime this year with very many more gray cloudy days than sunny ones.  It's getting time to plant the garden... sigh... if only the soil were dry enough to till.  And it's way past time for me to spend some major time weeding out flowerbeds.  I think I could nearly hide behind the tall grass now so I better be getting it out there this afternoon!  So far it looks like mother nature will cooperate with that plan!

One thing I noticed a few days ago is that the rhubarb is getting big.  I think it's ready for the first picking of the season so that means I'll be making a Rhubard Crunch for dessert tonight.  Pictures and recipe to be posted then.

The folks next door are mowing their lawn... love the smell of fresh cut grass!

Since the clock is signaling lunch time I'm gonna go throw something light together for mom and me, do a bit of clean up work in my neglected kitchen, find the gardening tools then move her wheelchair to the front porch and get me started on those front flowerbeds.