Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Midweek reminder: Get your groove on

This video happened across my screen yesterday and brought a smile to my face. I can't imagine it won't somehow lift your spirit as well.

Also this week, Seth reminded me of our old crush on Philip Shebib by showing me this video. We no longer watch So You Think You Can Dance (it's just so not-cool anymore, Mom!), but my memories of Philip (and his dance-off with Robert Muraine) are very fond. Check out what he's been up to, it's amazing what that guy can do!

Happy Wednesday and don't forget to  dance, dance, dance!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Common Miracles, week #16: Callouses

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
– Pema Chodron

How completely ordinary are callouses? When I think about callouses, I immediately think of my Grandpa Goerlitz, who truly had the most calloused hands I can remember. As a child, his hands scared me a little. When I see callouses now, I think about the work that was done to acquire them. Grandpa knew a lifetime of hard work, and he handed down that legacy, in spades. (To take a peek at what my parents are up to, check this out. To me, my parents ARE opportunity in the saying by Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Grandpa's callouses didn't fall too far from the tree... so to speak.)

When I first started catering, I got a few blisters and small callouses from repetitive knife work. When you're peeling potatoes to feed 150 or chopping carrots and onions for soup for 50, or 100, it can kind of wear on your hands (to put it mildly). After a couple of years, I stopped getting blisters, but the callouses--one in particular--remained. When I stopped catering (more than five years ago now), I wondered to myself how long it would take to regain my non-calloused status, or whether I was stuck with it (that one real callous on my right index finger) for good... Sure enough, it didn't take long for it to go away and my soft skin to return. But, it also doesn't take much to get it back, go figure. It's almost like the callous is lurking there, just under the surface of my skin, and the slightest lengthy time with a big old chopping knife will bring it back to life.

Today I made sauerkraut, a sure sign of love as I am not a sauerkraut fan. Husband definitely is a fan, and when my girlfriends and I make pierogies each winter, I love to make him a little batch of his own with potato and sauerkraut. I have high hopes that the whole "homemade" aspect will change my thoughts on sauerkraut, that something about the cabbage will just be SO much better because it will be from cabbage we grew... I will keep you posted on that.

It was a lot of cabbage (I think about 10 heads worth, all told). I chopped it all by hand... the food processor tends to turn the cabbage into tiny shreds, no matter which attachment I use. So the solution was one head at a time, and my big old knife... and what do I have on my right index finger now? My beautiful callous is back.

I love it. My thumb keeps rubbing over it and happy memories of my old catering days keep popping up (helping out in those memories is the fact that interspersed with the sauerkraut, I've been making a bunch of cookies for a work event this week... many things going on in the kitchen makes Sher a happy girl...).

I love this reminder of something I really enjoy doing, still. It's an odd little celebration, to be sure, but it's mine, and I'll take this callous for as long as it stays.

To join the Common Miracle project, or see how it got started, go here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

Oh so very much to be grateful for this Friday night... and yet I'm almost too tired to type! Crazy tired from the heat. Or is it just from the week? Hard to say...

Seth's home! Whoo-hoo. Hearing about his first week of high school is all well and good over the phone, via IM, etc., but for the real inside scoop, ya gotta have the boy in hand. And we do, well in hand! I am so very grateful for that dear sweet boy.

The pond is doing well, the fish are all still alive (knock on wood, but husband did say he saw one swimming "funny" tonight... we'll see how that goes). I'm grateful for alive fish!

Our garden is bountiful, and I'm grateful that we finally have ripe tomatoes among the mix of other garden fresh vegetables. 

I'm thankful tonight that the people who mean the most to me--my men, my family a few acres over, my family further afield and then even further away--I'm just thankful that all are healthy and safe. I don't take that for granted.

Words have meaning, but actions speak louder, SO much louder. I'm thankful to know that distinction, and recognize it in observing life around me.

Beauty is everywhere. It really is. You just have to know where to look. I am grateful that most days I don't have to look too hard to see the beauty (and the magic) in my world.

Love is pretty fabulous. I am blessed and grateful to know abiding love.

Lunch with girlfriends is pretty fabulous. Laughter and sharing, catching up. Yep. I am very grateful for the women I am privileged to call friends.

Prayer is not to be underestimated. I am grateful for the impact I feel in my life because of prayer, both for its power in individual lives, and its comfort for the pray-er.

Warmth is good, heat is fine. Hot is not so great. I am so very thankful for air conditioning. As I read Facebook posts from Texans (well, mostly either transplants to Texas or locals who used to live in Texas) this week about hitting 100 degrees for 60 days in a row or some such nonsense, I decided to be extremely grateful that I live in the Pacific Northwest.

I am grateful for this small town we live in. Yes, it's one of those weeks when it's a good thing. Some weeks that's not quite the case... but this week it feels lovely, friendly, helpful.

I'm grateful for a heritage of faith. When I last visited my Grandma, she told me about the hymns that she sings each night before she goes to sleep. I wrote them down--one of them I had no clue about (It Is No Secret), the other two were familiar (I Asked The Lord--which I love!--and He Lives, which I have fond memories of singing as a child, while my dad played the piano). I am a hymn girl from way back. All that modern and happenin' Christian music is fine, and some I even like, but give me a hymn to know by heart and be able to sing in the shower... yes, please.

And in spite of loving actions (see above), I am always grateful for words. Here are some that touched me this week, in light of Steve Jobs' resignation. These are words to take to heart. I know I've been angry at Steve in the past (I mean that rather tongue-in-cheek, I mean, we're talking about the iPhone here...), but I am sad that his illness appears to have gotten the best of him, and that his genius will be cut short.

"Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." -Steve Jobs

What has touched your heart this week? What are you grateful for? Please tell me!

I hope your weekend is filled with all kinds of joy and gladness. And cookies. I hope your weekend has some cookies in it, too. I know mine will (I have a cookie party to bake for next week, so I need to get crackin'!).


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday 13: Daybook musings...

I have this fantasy about actually participating again in Thursday 13, you know, a real post with 13 things I found here or there, or 13 videos... where have my video posts gone?! Those kinds of posts take a little planning and effort, things that are in rather short supply in my blog world, as I'm using them up in my "other" life. You know, the life that involves actually getting something done!

But for today... I'm sticking with the tried and true 13 questions of the daybook, a little window into my life. (I know, you're thinking, really? More about the yard? Really, Sher? Sorry...)

Outside my window... (writing this Wednesday night) there is a massive lightening storm in the mountains. A while ago there were a few moments of wild wind that caused me to run around like a crazy woman and make sure I didn't have any garden implements lying about the yard. We have not had any big storms in ages, so I am very much enjoying watching this. Wish there was a little thunder and rain to go with it--it's very still and hot out there... I'm sure a few pasture fires will pop up tonight; I bet the fire guys are on high alert!

I am thinking... that I love life. Such a sap, I know. But I do. With all of it's ups and downs and sideways turns, it is so good to feel this appreciation for my life and the people in it. Bo-nus.

I am thankful... that our rototiller is working really well. I caused mild consternation when I reported some fits and starts (and little puffs of oil smoke) to husband a couple of weeks back and he asked if I'd added oil recently. "Um, I need to do that?" was my sweet little response. Well, NOW I know. (Actually I'm pretty sure I've been told that before, but my memory... sigh.) Anyway, he added oil last weekend and it's working like a dream. Whew.

In the kitchen... the countertops are overflowing with zucchini, summer squash, red onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and one beautiful eggplant. I made a really cheesy batch of pesto at lunchtime and thoroughly enjoyed it with some orzo and tomatoes. Summer heaven!

I am wearing... running gear. (It's now Thursday morning. Keep up, would you?) Had a pretty so-so little run this morning, one of those one-foot-in-front-of-the-other trots... but at least I did it, so there's something to that!

I am creating... plans for next-ups on the crochet list. And the embroidery list. And the calligraphy list. And most of all, creating some structure to my daily schedule to get some things accomplished! Chop chop!

I am going... nowhere? That sounds kinda lame... there's no real plan for a trip coming up (until October, then November). I would really like to go and see my Grandma in Canada, but Seth is tied up sixteen ways (so to speak) with band stuff in the foreseeable future, so it may have to wait until closer to Christmas.

I am wondering... why people include their photo with a resume (I'm helping with hiring at one of my volunteer gigs). Well, actually, I know (they're pretty people). I just wonder where they got the idea that that is a good thing? It's kind of odd, I think. Most people can be Googled, anyway, especially if they are on Linkedin or Facebook. But sending a picture along says, to me, "Look at me! Aren't I attractive?" Oh, and the other thing I really find odd--when people refer to themselves (either in person or on their resume) in the third person. I can't tell you how much that just makes my eyes roll.

I am reading... Born to Run. Finally. My parents gave it to me at least two years ago. I'm cracking it, guys, finally! And getting the old 5-fingers out again too... still can't run in them (for more than a minute or two), but I'm working toward it... I also just finished Women, Food and God--listening in audio--and I'm actually going to go through it again. My attention span with the nonfiction and listening... not the best. And the content is good enough that I know hearing it again will be helpful. I really appreciated that book much more than I thought I would. Lots of things applicable to life, not just our relationships with food and God. I wish, though, that it didn't have the "Women" in the title; I think everyone should read it, not just women... but, she probably thought guys wouldn't pick the book up anyway, so why target them?

I am hoping... that this fall is everything I want it to be. I have high expectations for what I want to get done, and in general I look forward to this season more than any other, though I suppose spring is a close second...

I am looking forward to... doing my own Shellac nails today. I have done a couple of experiments with this system, but used other nail polish (Gellish) and wasn't wild about the results (probably user error, mostly). Tomorrow it will be the real deal, with a friend. A very girly thing, I know... 

I am hearing... tractors in a field somewhere nearby. The sliding doors are open for the morning breeze, and it's a lovely morning out there.

Around the house... I keep tromping in dirt from the garden. Go figure.

I am pondering... how this question is different from wondering? Feels similar to me. But in terms of pondering, I'm pondering an approach I want to take with a new fabric project, and how to get it to look like I want... It will take a bit of fiddling around, but I think I'll get it eventually... hence, the pondering.

One of my favorite things... is sleep. When I am shy on sleep I am not a happy camper.

A few plans for the rest of the week... more yard stuff, more house stuff, some volunteer stuff, a very happy pick up of the boy from school on Friday, and then family stuff. You know, the usual stuff. The stuff that makes me smile so big.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Can you believe that color? I just adore that floor. Shocked, aren't you?!

I hope your Thursday is off to a great start, or middle, or finish... well, wherever you are in your day, make it a great one, OK? And if you have some great plans for the rest of the week, I'd love to hear about them in the comments--somebody out there certainly MUST have more going on than I do, right?! Tell me!

To see other Thursday 13 participants, go here!

To participate in the daybook concept, go here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ten Word Tuesday: IM convo on first day of high school

Seth: Today was BOSS.
Mom (heart melting): That is WONDERFUL.

Reading roundup #7, not like we're counting or anything...

I haven't posted a reading round-up lately, maybe because I've been quite abysmal about actually doing any in-depth reading... (I have been pinning on Pinterest, don't get me wrong--I DO have my priorities in order after all! Can you imagine my husband's eye roll as he reads that? Count on it.)

But in cleaning out my Google feeds over the weekend, I did stumble across a few goodies to share:

Letters of Note: The link goes to a letter from Phil Hartman to an aspiring comedian; it really shows how nice/genuine a guy (Canadian, of course!) Phil was. Which also prompted me to go and look up the circumstances of his passing. I had forgotten how very sad that was... There are also some other interesting letters on the site, so be sure to click on over.

Effervescence: A post about flexing your extrovert muscles. Even though I am technically an extrovert, and when I get out and about I do enjoy it... there are times when that takes effort, and when the size of the crowd is more than I want... I really enjoyed her thoughts on this, especially when she equates it to running. That, especially, I get.

Ken Jennings: Remember this guy, that amazing run he had on Jeopardy? He posts quirky trivia on his blog and this piece about mental_floss magazine I wanted to be sure and bookmark for Seth, as he really enjoys that magazine. It's been purchased by the publishers of Maxim (yes, go ahead and snort now), but the founders still have a big say on the content... hmmm. We'll be keeping an eye on that!

Food52: Oh, this one I need to try soon... green chile country gravy (above). That sounds pretty much up our collective alley. Yup.

Robert Lee Brewer's blog, My Name Is Not Bob, focuses mostly on his writing and the writing process... this specific post spoke to me in it's reminder of the fragility of life and the absolute need to let your loved ones know that they are loved. So much. Every day. At least twice this past weekend I heard news of loss, and each time, it broke my heart for the individuals involved.

This post about What Your Favorite '80s Band Says About You made me laugh out loud. You must read through and tell me who yours is. (The closest I would say I came to having a favorite band in the '80s would be Air Supply... go ahead, mock it. OK, maybe Chicago too... my music tastes have improved a bit since then, I like to think...)

That does it for this roundup! If you know of a fabulous blog or site I need to be viewing, please let me know! I'm trying to keep it pared down around here, and if a new one goes onto the reading list, I try and weed out a few that have me less-enthralled...

Obviously this is not a Ten Word Tuesday for me! But I hope you have a marvelous Tuesday anyway.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Common Miracles, Week #15: Back to school rhythms

 “Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.”
–Pema Chodron

I have remarked on many occasions, the past few days, how quickly the summer has gone. Over and over, I have heard myself say it, looking for affirmation from whomever I'm currently visiting with that, "Yes, this summer really did go by quickly!"

Yet as sad as I am to see the summer vanish, with it's looser schedules and sleeping in (well, for the boy...) and (a few) quiet afternoons (and yes, piles of yard work), I am also really excited for fall. Autumn always fills me with so much energy and joy, a real renewing in my brain... another fresh start for me, too, as Seth starts another year of school.

As Seth begins new rhythms, I too have high hopes of turning my energy of the summer away from the yard and back to the house, and my office and craft spaces specifically.

I roughed out a schedule for myself today, and was horrified by how quickly the hours of the day fly by when you put them down on paper and assign a task to them, whether that task is actual paying work, or volunteering; calligraphy or exercise or devotional time. It all seems to fly away on the wind. I feel infinitely blessed to be able to currently set my own schedule, and if I miss the opportunity to live out my days productively, I will truly have only myself to blame. 

This year the boy trots off to a new school... high school. As I attended the parent orientation today and saw all the familiar faces of our particular slice of this small town assembled to send their kids off to begin their high school experience, I couldn't help but be grateful for the ordinariness of it all. These are just parents, like me, sending kids, like Seth, off to learn and grow and become responsible young adults. There is something very comforting in that, to me. (This does not, however, mean that I don't believe my boy is the most special of the lot, for sure!)

As we both enter into the next season, the Common Miracle takeaway for me is the beauty in the rhythms, the routines. The mundane aspects of our mornings and our afternoons, the rituals of homework and trumpet practice, the joy in our amazing gift of time together. What's not to celebrate in that?

And in my own time, to make the most, the very best, of that time and find rhythms that work for me and bring meaning to my days. I'm pretty excited. I have some new comp pads that husband found on the school supply sale table, a couple of new calligraphy pens all set and ready to go, my current craft projects are completed and a new slate of projects is ready to take their place... and too, some work projects beckon and a few volunteer ones as well. All aspects of my brain--right AND left!--will get some muscle flex this fall. Excellent!

Common Miracles began in May 2011 over at gingerblue. If you'd like to know more about it, or join in, go here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We know how to do up Saturday night around here!

What's a whoo-hoo Saturday night for you? Well, around here, things are a bit mellow tonight... just my speed. So, when I found a new blog (via another blog that has already slipped my memory, sigh) and did a little looking around, I saw this survey and thought, "Hey, it's been awhile since I did one of those, let's have a whirl!"

So here goes. Me, laid bare. Ha.

A. age :: forty-two

B. bed size :: king, massive and lovely

C. chore you hate :: poop-scoopin'

D. dogs :: they for whom I scoop: Jack, Darby and Chief

E. essential start to your day :: pills and coffee (sounds naughty, but both pills and coffee are completely necessary, I swear!)

F. favorite color :: green, still

G. gold or silver :: both, and sometimes even together, scandalous!

H. height :: five eight and a bit

I. instruments you play :: plink plink on the piano

J. job title :: wife, mother, crafter, cook

K. kids :: one precious Seth, 14

L. live :: Washington, the state. (Thank goodness, I could not do that "other" Washington.)

M. maiden name :: Goerlitz (or Girl Zits, as they said in high school...)

N. nicknames :: Sher

O. overnight hospital stays :: for the boy's birth (1996) and the thyroidectomy (2003)

P. pet peeve :: negative, defeatist talk

Q. quote :: Many, many that I enjoy. Here's one I just found today: There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. -Washington Irving

R. righty or lefty :: right except for hockey, where I shoot left.

S. siblings :: one dear brother, Shelby

T. time you wake up :: with the sun in the summer (too early) and generally around 6 a.m. the rest of the year (with an alarm when it's pitch black at that time).

U. university attended :: one Walla Walla University. It was Walla Walla College when I attended... oh and Avondale College in Australia for a semester. Most expensive semester you can imagine.

V. vegetables you dislike: can't think of any I dislike, but I tolerate beets, usually. And peas.

W. what makes you run late :: miscalculating the time it actually takes to get downtown. I always think it's six minutes when it's really 12. And, I think it should take me 10 to get across town, and it's really closer to 17... I know, such a commute!

X. x-rays you’ve had :: dentist

Y. yummy food :: so so much, but I will be brief and just say figs, basil, artichokes, pasta, custardy desserts, anything and everything with cheese, eggs in many forms, all fruit but especially berries and nectarines and watermelon

Z. zoo animal favorite :: koala bears

Have at it! Answer in the comments or on your own blog, but be sure to let me know about it, so I can come and visit.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

Our gorgeous weather just keeps on coming! As I write this, the sun is setting, and while I don't think it will be one of those rockin' Walla Walla sunsets, it's still pretty amazing to have these pleasant evenings capping off a day of pure sunshine and warmth. I am so thankful for our weather this summer (when it finally arrived).

This week I am also so thankful to have almost completed another yard project, this time a small pond that has been in our minds for years, seriously, and in the works all summer. I gradually dug away at it and then when the brick/edging was done I concentrated on it... I am so thankful to be in a place to sit back and enjoy the yard a bit more, even though there are still things to be done.

And when I was getting stone to edge the pond, I asked the lady at the nursery if she had any pond plants. She didn't, but told me about a couple across the street from the nursery who have ponds and lilypads and fish, and sometimes sell the plants... so I wandered on over and said hello and saw their pond setup. They offered me two plants and seven fish! Fabulous. The pond is now semi-stocked, and I'm thankful to live in a small town with friendly people who are gracious and lovely and generous. Great energy.

On the grateful food list this week are figs (of course) and watermelon... I feel like the "good" watermelon has finally arrived! Some summers it seems like you can't get a bad one all summer long, but maybe my watermelon mojo has been off this year, because I've picked some pretty sad ones out, so far... until now! There is nothing like a sweet, juicy watermelon!

 cheese (My mother pinned this on Pinterest this week, and attached my name to it. Ha. Does she know me, or what?!)

Also grateful for the tomatoes... they are slow this year... but finally coming on, which makes me very happy. I wish we could extend the tomato season for another few months (I know, pipedream!)... the difference between home-grown and store-bought is so profound with all vegetables, but feels especially so with tomatoes. I'm grateful for our garden patch, and all the squash, beans, onions, potatoes and other miscellany we have going on... and corn! Corn will be along here soon as well...

I'm thankful that post-wheat-harvest, the bunnies have found their way back to the front yard... for quite a while I would see them popping in and out of the wheat, and it worried me that they might get sacrificed in the harvest... but I can see three "generations" of bunnies out there now, and the babies are just precious. Yesterday I came out the front door and startled a very tiny bunny who, rather than bolt, decided to do the "if I lay really still and low with my ears and body flattened, she won't see me" thing, and I got really quite close before he decided that bolting might be the wiser choice. Hilarious, little white tail bopping along. Now, if they would stop eating the plants I try to cultivate in the front flower bed, that would be swell... I came home from vacation to both perennial geraniums and echinacea laid low by bunny nibbles. So, those plants got moved and replaced with something hopefully a little less tasty...

As every week, I am thankful for love. From husband, especially... I am a blessed woman, and I know it.

Color comes up on my thankful list so frequently as well, and having color in the yard makes me happy happy. Color ANYWHERE is great, but having color in the flower beds is always a bonus... next up: turning the herb garden green jungle into something more colorful and orderly... wish me luck!

And my gratefulness list would never be complete without noting my thankfulness for prayer and meditation. When I slow down and take the time, it always always always impacts my outlook for the positive. I can't say it always always always impacts my actions, since I'm a rather stubborn and forgetful child of God. I swear, the memory of a gnat. But that's the journey, eh? I do know that my days are better, by leaps and bounds, when I start out with the heaven-ward gratitude for my life and all the opportunities I have on a daily basis to give and live as I ought.

What are you thankful for this week? I'd love to know. I hope that in the midst of life and all its muck, you're able to find a few precious things to hold on to.

I wish you a peaceful weekend, one filled with gratitude and grace.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Figs and orzo with goat cheese and basil

Figs are a well-documented favorite with me (here, here, here and here, just to get the party started). My goodness, I love that fruit! And it's been with quite a bit of glee that I've watched local merchants bring them to town the past few years... the fruit's popularity has grown, for sure, and with that, thankfully their per-pound price has gone from the "OK, Seth's obviously going to community college to support Mom's habit" to a more reasonable place.

So when I have figs around as well as all my other favorite summer ingredients, I can't help but want to put a few of them together. The past few days I have been caught in a serious basil-tomato-parmesan-pasta loop. Tonight I thought... what if I swap out the tomatoes for figs? And then, because figs and chevre go together so beautifully, a bit of goat cheese found it's way into the bowl too. Heaven.

If figs are your thing, you gotta give this a try. And if they're not, you should still have just a bite... it might convert you.

Figs and orzo
Serves 2 as a side dish
1 cup cooked orzo or other tiny pasta shape
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced finely (optional)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
10 fresh figs, quartered
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/3 cup crumbled chevre
Salt and pepper to taste

Place orzo, garlic and olive oil in medium bowl and stir to toss well. If pasta is freshly cooked (ie, warm), this should suffice to wilt the garlic, if you choose to go that route. (I found the garlic helped cut the sweetness of the figs just right. I also felt like a walking garlic clove for a bit, so it's your call.) If you are using leftover pasta (as I was tonight) warm for a minute or two in the microwave. (Room temperature would be great with this dish, but cold-cold is not my preferred state for most dishes.)

Add the figs, pine nuts, basil and parmesan and toss again. Add the chevre last and toss gently with salt and pepper to coat the rest of the ingredients. Serve immediately!

Oh yum. I will be making that dish again. Soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ten Word Tuesday

Tired to the bone: my preferred way to fall asleep.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Common Miracles, week #14:

 “Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.” 
– Pema Chodron

This week my Common Miracles are coming at you in list form. I am focusing on Pema's words: "Rejoicing in ordinary things" such as:

Painting a wall a really pretty color, enjoying the process of covering over another color, and the ability to be precise (most of the time). (Only having to do one coat feels like a miracle, too! Modern paint technology...)

The breeze. Until it really picks up into WIND, I love a breeze and the sound it creates. Having wheat on our acreage for the first time this year, I really loved the noise the wheat would make when the breeze would come through. Sometimes I felt like it was talking to me. (I know...)

Taking the time to have a more relaxed approach to getting up and going on mornings when that extra time is needed. Every once in awhile, I really feel the benefit of a slow start. And not beating myself up for NOT getting up and going immediately, that's good too.

Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of my parents, and the first anniversary of some dear friends. Remembering where we were one year ago, and the joy of that day... and also acknowledging the power and strength in a 45-year union. New love is lovely, but old love is truly inspiring. ("Old love is gold love, old love is best.")

I'm going to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, squashes, basil... whatever else is going on out in our jungle. Love the harvesting process, and how each plant replenishes and re-produces so quickly.

Cooler mornings. This is my very favorite time of year. Between now and the holidays = bliss.

Cooler mornings mean more inside time, and I unpacked some projects I want to get done between now and Christmas. Oh, the happiness of fabric and color and even the concept of repurposing one thing into another--upcycling I think they're calling it these days, how hip!--I'm ready to spend some time in my crafty space again.

These are my miracles today, common though they may be...

I hope you are feeling like common miracles can be a part of your day too. What are you counting as miraculous today?

To see how the Common Miracle project began, go here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

Tonight I'm grateful for home. I'm grateful that home is where my heart is, but more than that, for our actual abode. I love coming home to this place.

I'm grateful for meteor showers and memories of watching them as a child, out on the lawn, with my brother. Trying trying to stay alert and awake and watch for the stars as they slipped and fell across the horizon. I can't wait to watch them tonight...

As I was thinking about sibling relationships this week, and admiring the ones I know that work well, and feeling sadness for friends who don't have the relationships they wish for with their siblings (this seems to happen more often than not), and feeling grateful for my brother. My memories of our childhood are very dear, very strong, and if they ever fade I know that a conversation with him will bring them back into full color again. This week I thought about how we used to just lay on his bed and read Peanuts cartoons and cackle with laughter. That seems so long ago and far away, but very sweet in my memory.

As Seth and I walked and talked this week, I felt ever so grateful for a son who will (still) communicate with me. I am truly blessed. (Though, someone needs to explain to me about the whole My Little Pony phenomenon and why, apparently, young males are the leading demographic for viewing these strange little episodes. Seth has tried, but I'm still baffled.) Regardless, we're walking, and talking, and I'm grateful for that.

I am so grateful we haven't topped 100 degrees yet this summer. Husband reminds me that there's still plenty of August left and it could easily happen, but I'm not convinced. These days of cool-ish mornings and lingering evenings with temperatures in the 80s during the peak sun hours = bliss.

As the fruits work their way through the seasons, I seem to find a new favorite as new fruits ripen. Blueberries? So last week (well, not quite, but they are definitely on their way out). This week it's nectarines. All nectarines, all the time. I put them on everything... salads, cereal... well, OK, so not on EVERYTHING. I am so grateful for a plethora of fresh fruit this season has brought us.

This week my Pinterest love is all about the words. Oh, I pinned other things too, but I always go back to the words. So grateful for the ability to express through words (even if they are someone else's, occasionally...).

proud (Trying to remember this. Every. Day.)

anxiety (Also, this.)

this life (For those going through tough times. You know who you are.)

fort (Oh for a fort...)

love (Love this. So much.)

I went to the fabric store today. Well, not just any "fabric store"... our local quilt fabric store, Stash, where color and texture and pattern never fail to make me giddy with joy. It was a lovely but brief time, and I left with a few pieces to add to my stash and help finish my present projects. Oh, color; I am so grateful for you!

I'm grateful for health. I think I could (and should) say that aloud every day that I am well, for the rest of my life. Health can't be underestimated. Energy can't be underestimated. I am so appreciative of both in my life, and do not take them for granted.

I'm grateful for the pause that the weekend brings, for the opportunity once a week to worship and celebrate and just BE.

I hope you have had a good week, and have arrived at the weekend in one piece! What are you grateful for this fine Friday night? Tell me!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday 13: Daybook musings...


Outside my window... the sun is shining and that makes me so happy. I got a little too much sun yesterday, I was so eager to get the garden back into shape. What a nut. But I'm feeling fine this morning and ready for round 2.

I am thinking... that I can't quite believe our summer time with Seth is drawing to a close. One more week before school starts, he's with his dad for that, and poof, there you have it, summer gonzo. We are eeking out the last of our walks and talks, for which I am so grateful.

I am thankful... well, besides the walks and talks, I'm especially grateful for people this week. I learn so much from watching and listening to people. And I appreciate so much having real connections with people too. The lesser connections... well, those I am happy to do without.

In the kitchen... the tomatoes are starting to come on gangbusters! So far just the orange cherry toms and the yellow pears. But I've had two big bowls of tomato-basil-parmesan-pine nut goodness, and boy is it goooooood.

I am wearing... clothes for going walking... exercise gear, if you will.

I am creating... some crafty gifty things. Don't you like how I add a "y" on to something and it just "makes it." Ha. I have a deadline, so I need to get cracking on a couple of them that need to hit the post next week. Thank goodness there's a weekend between now and then!

I am going... to go for a walk-n-talk with Seth this morning, then coffee with a friend and making lunch--I'm thinking homemade pizza sounds about right today. My men will cheer!

I am wondering... what to do with my plethora of cabbage from the garden. I had some thoughts of making sauerkraut, and still may, but am also looking for other options. I'm open--if you have one, send it my way, please! We will make soups and stews and coleslaw and salsa, so maybe that's enough? I just seem to want something new, different...

I am reading... another Donald Miller book. This one is A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Very DM, quite meander-y, but I know there will be a number of a-ha moments along the way. The book is about his life and how film makers wanted to make a movie about it, and when they came to "work on the story," they ended up essentially telling him his life was boring and the story needed to be juiced up. Ha. Seth and I were talking about that last night when we were done reading; he asked me whether I would allow my life to be represented differently than I believed it to have taken place. It's a pretty easy answer for me (now, with no movie crew banging down my door) to say "No," but I can see how intoxicating it might be for someone to tell you: "We like your story, we think you  have something to say, so let's just tweak this and this and this," until it's unrecognizable as YOU. I mean, how much do we all do that every day any way, tweak ourselves for various reasons... See! Donald does have a point!

I am hoping... that we have a glorious fall. Long and warm. Is that too much to hope for?

I am looking forward to... the weekend, with husband. Planting some of our fall garden--kale, greens, etc. (See, already planning on the long and warm fall!)

I am hearing... the dogs barking. They are quite the pack. I think the wheat is going to be harvested today, which will throw them into quite the tizzy, I'm sure. Machines! In the fields! Quick! Run this way! No, that way! Bunnies!

Around the house... we're in the unpack-from-vacation mode. It's getting some semblance of order, but it takes a minute or two... laundry fairies would be helpful, don't you think? They come along and do your laundry while you sleep--kind of like those cobbler's fairies in the old story where the shoes would be all fixed in the morning. Brilliant. Now to find some fairies...

I am pondering... how very much I admire a friend of mine who has stepped up to a monumental task of caring for a loved one for the long haul. Not one of those assumed, "well of course you would" kinds of things--as in, not a parent or a child--and something that I know countless people would back away from with very well rationalized excuses. I'm just very impressed and heartened by her conduct, and inspired too.

One of my favorite things... basil. Can't help it. Just love it to the moon and back. I'm thinking I should do a 30-day basil challenge, but then I worry that maybe I'd get sick of it?

A few plans for the rest of the week... not much of the week left to go, but there's coffee with a friend this morning, then more yard-ness, a bit of chill time with the boy, maybe watch a movie (and nap)? A few errands tomorrow and then the blissful, happy, weekend!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Isn't that the truth? This is from one of my newer Etsy finds, love this shop!

Thanks for reading, hope you have a fabulous Thursday!

For more Thursday 13s, go here.

To play with the daybook concept, go here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ten Word Tuesday: Best things about coming home

Fresh basil and tomatoes, hummingbirds humming, happy-to-see-us* dogs, and sunshine!

(Yes, I pushed it with that "word." Deal with it!)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Common miracles, week #13: Keeping an eye out

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.” 
–Pema Chodron

Somewhere in the past decade, I have become a staunch believer in the concept that what makes itself evident deserves attention. I know, that sounds pretty basic. Kind of a "doh" moment, for some people, I suppose. For me, more like an "a-ha" moment... In past years, I wouldn't have given it a lot of thought, but now I think about it almost daily. Maybe that's a product of growing up, maybe of personality... perhaps a bit of both.

At times, the universe has had to shout quite loudly to get my attention over the noise of the day. Other occasions, I have a more finely attuned radar, and I pick up the "signals." As time marks its swift passage, I have worked harder on the finely tuned so as to avoid the shouting... (I know I'll regret writing this, as something is going to smack me upside the head tomorrow. Mark my words. Happens every time.)

Getting into signal mode means paying attention to people, circumstances or information that comes across my path. Being "present," in the current hip vernacular; what I think of as "keeping an eye out." (Or an ear...)

I can't count the number of times I've ruminated "that was exactly what I needed, and I didn't even know I needed it" about something I read, listened to or saw. Be it a sermon podcast, a song, a poem, an image, a rainbow, an animal, a passage in a book, an email... every day I feel like the world opens itself to me in so many ways. It's no small task, but my job is to pay attention.

Most of the time I see these signals through the lens of God revealing Himself to me, and if I just slow down long enough to learn the lesson I know is there for me, I can trust that all will be well. And then other days, well, I just seem to barge on ahead, not paying any attention to signals left and right. Yep, too true. It's not exactly a straight shot to growth and awareness, is it? Sigh.

But, the clueless days are a great counterbalance to the aware days, even though the clueless ones annoy me. And make me appreciate the "keeping an eye out" days all the more... and feel the miracle in each moment of awareness, as it comes.

The Common Miracle project began in May of 2011, and you can learn about it here. It's been a pleasure to take part in the project, and I feel the benefits of contemplating Pema's words above, often. Thanks, Chel.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday night grateful moment

This week I am so grateful for a time and place to relax and get away with my men (plus one), and for some really fabulous sunny days to make the cloudy ones seem less gloomy.

I'm grateful for apple bread, and all things cheese-related (grilled cheese, quesadillas, mac-n-cheese... can you tell I've been cooking for two teen boys?), for blueberries that are still in season (yeah!).

I'm grateful for coffee, and computers that work. I'm thankful for Psych marathons with the family (and for family-friendly media, in general), for open doors and fresh air to sleep by. And for sleeping-in boys... quiet mornings!

This week I've been reminded that people (could possibly) have layers, and I'm grateful for that reminder. I've also been daily aware of the fragility of life, and the importance to love on each other while we can. And hug. Lots of hugs. I'm grateful for the innate human drive to fight and claw for life, and for the support that families can give to each other through rough times (cancer sucks, but you knew that already, didn't you?).

I'm grateful for waves, and tides, and the good old common sense that told me to turn around while driving on the beach the other day (whew!).

I'm grateful for thin crust pizza, and for really good black licorice.

I'm grateful for the ability to read and absorb information, and for helpful filters so that I don't (always) feel overloaded with too much information. I'm grateful for my iPad. A little downtime to explore, and I have renewed belief in it's ability to save the world (j/k) (mostly).

I'm grateful for such a good buddy for my son, who can be so sibling-like in affection and also in teasing. We miss you already, Jake.

I'm grateful for dreams and hopes and plans. Especially those that husband and I share for our future together. Those are my favorite.

Bunnies seem to follow me wherever I go! It must be a sign... I'm grateful there's a bunny that I get to see every day, a baby bunny that you can get oh-so-close to...

I'm grateful for friends who take and make time--thanks for a lovely catch-up lunch today, Jen. It's always lovely to see you!

I'm ever so grateful that this weekend is here, that husband's birthday will be celebrated tomorrow, and that the weekend means no working! Whoo-hoo. Now, if we can only plot the return of the sun, all will be well.

Blessings to you for your weekend. Peace.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Polenta panzanella

My love of panzanella and it's many variations has been documented a few times on the blog... here, here and here, at least. Any kind of chopped salad with fresh seasonal ingredients gets me pretty excited...

When I had a few girlfriends over for lunch recently, I concocted a variation I hadn't seen around before, but it seemed like it should exist: panzanella with polenta cubes standing in for the stale bread. I did a google search (my first line of research, naturally) and found it listed on a few restaurant menus, but no recipes themselves appeared in a cursory search. But, I figured it couldn't be too hard to figure out... I had the polenta left over from a weekend breakfast and was bound and determined to find a use for it!

Polenta panzanella
Serves 4 as a side dish
2 cups cooked and cooled polenta that's been spread to about a 1/2 inch thickness, then cubed
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1.5 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 can (16 oz) artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup cucumber, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped roughly
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Toss the polenta in bread crumbs and parmesan to coat, and then fry lightly and quickly in a hot saute pan so they brown and crisp up.

Drain the polenta cubes on a platter lined with paper towels to soak up any excess grease, and set aside.

Combine the next six ingredients in a mixing bowl until well combined, and then drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar lightly over the mixture. Stir again. Let sit for a half hour at room temperature to allow flavors to mingle.

Arrange polenta cubes on a serving platter and top with the tomato mixture and parmesan-bread crumb crumbles, if you're lucky enough to have a few of those fall off the polenta.

Serve immediately.

The frying step was the most challenging for me, but the fried crumbles of bread crumbs and parmesan that were left behind in the saute pan were one of the highlights of the dish. Truly yummy. I sprinkled them over the dish as I tossed the other, non-polenta, ingredients. Another google search found others with similar issues/concerns... I think next time I will have the pan hotter, and maybe coat the polenta in an egg wash before tossing in the bread crumbs and parmesan...

In all, this was a lovely surprise of a dish. I can imagine having it as a warm dish in the winter as well, making a kind of ratatouille stew over the top of the polenta cubes...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Common Miracles, #12: Being still

“Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.” –Pema Chodron

I find it takes a bit of energy to be still. Not unlike the discipline for meditation and/or prayer, being still, for me, requires working against my natural state. My natural buzzy-busy state. But I want to be still, sometimes. I at least want to have the option to be still, and not twitch.

So I took my little buzzy and busy (and oddly, for vacation, a little out of sorts) self out to the sunniest seashore this afternoon and just sat. And watched the boys play a multitude of made-up games of long jump and frisbee soccer and some sort of tackling each other... I lasted about 15 minutes before I started texting and checking my calendar. Good grief.

But I've been thinking a lot about it, ever since I said to husband on Saturday night, "I'm going to work real hard at relaxing," and promptly started laughing at the preposterousness of that comment. Yes, Sher, do that, would you? Work real hard at relaxing? Crazy.

But busyness cures a lot of mind stuff. Well, doesn't cure it, but certainly puts off thinking about it. When I'm still I think about "things" a lot more... things that most days I don't want to think about. Unsolveable things. Things that make me angry or at the very least annoyed, or even just unsettled.

Dear Pema, she of the above quote that begins every Common Miracles post, also talks about the scab that humans pick at, all the time. The scab of our pain. (Sorry if that grosses you out, but that's the word she uses, and I think it's apt.) The pain that everybody has, generally the result of living life. And rather than just sit with our pain, and allow our scabs to heal, our tendency is to return to the scab over and over and pick at it so that it doesn't heal. Her advice is just to sit. To let the pain be what it is, unsolveable as it may be, and that in the sitting, the healing takes place. Slowly, but eventually, we heal.

I pondered that today in my brief stillness... and felt so glad to remember her words, and feel their applicability to my life. I know this stuff. Healing does happen; I've felt that in my life. Sitting does help; I've also felt the benefit of peaceful stillness. I just need to return to that thinking, over and over again.

I sat on the softest sand and burrowed my feet, watched the young man I love so much with his dear friend, carefree and laughing, the sun as bright and beautiful as I've ever enjoyed it at the ocean. The sky had a million shades of blue going on, and the palette of colors, between the sand and the sea and the grass and forest beyond, is so completely MY palette.

Being still was pretty wonderful. I might just do it again tomorrow.

For a look at the Common Miracle project's beginnings, go here.
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