Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday 13: 13 sentences to finish, and I did!

This meme has been languishing, tucked away in my drafts for a long time. Since I can't quite get my act together for a more organized kind of Thursday 13, the more casual approach seems more my speed...

1. No matter what mood I'm in, I can always go for: something with cheese. Anything with cheese.

2. My favorite go-to outfit would have to be: comfortable dress or a skirt/T combo. I frequently remember the times in middle school when wearing a dress was just downright awful, and I only did it as a part of a "deal" with my mom (I still don't remember what I got out of the deal, I think it was "wear a dress or else!"). Now, I am most comfortable in skirts and dresses, by far.

3. A good source of inspiration is: Pinterest. Doh. If you're not there, you really should be. I use it to search for ideas on everything from recipes (of course) to the Maldives picture, below. It's a wealth of inspiration, frankly.

4. I am so glad my parents taught me: how to buckle down and get work done. And to appreciate manual labor and the feeling of accomplishment from a hard day's work. Might not have appreciated it WHILE hauling wood or weeding the garden, but I do respect it now. Thank you guys!

5. A song I like to dance to is: Superstition. (Not to mention, it makes me think of my SIL Kim. Bonus.)

6. I wish everyone knew about: the joys of a short, 10-minute nap. It would revolutionize the working world, I swear. Much higher afternoon productivity, from my experience.

7. The best thing in my makeup bag is: Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. It's been 8 years since I first discovered this gem (definitely memorable but funny I remember quite specifically, for a not-so-much makeup girl) and I haven't strayed. Love. It.

8. My dream spring break vacation spot is: If I'm really honest, it's somewhere tropical, in a hut (well, a Four Seasons hut!) on stilts over the ocean.

9. This may be a surprise, but I am passionate about: I can't think of anything that would surprise you, if you know me at all... I'm pretty much an open book. Things I am passionate about, though, include (but of course are not limited to, or in this order!) honesty, optimism, mind-body connections, God, love, faith, family, friends, good food...

10. A favorite book that changed me for the better: (The list is very long, so choosing is a bit rough.) I'm going to go with Girl Meets God. It found me at just the right time in my life.

11. One of my pet peeves is: People who market their life choices. (OK, real-speak would be: inauthentic actions make me want to hurl.)

12. I am trying to be better at: Not judging. Tough row to hoe, some days. Especially when I encounter #11. Seriously challenging.

13. The most recent rad thing I found online was: Definitely rad, and looking to explore it more.

There you have it; a few tidbits about me for your Thursday. Pick one of the questions (or more, but please at least one!) and answer in the comments. That would make my day!

Happy Thursday, and if you'd like to check out other Thursday 13s, go here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Midweek reminder: He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.

If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

-Matthew 5:38-47

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Link love for your holiday weekend

Too long, much too long, since I've posted links from my wanderings around the web... I've been tucking them away, but it would overwhelm you (trust me) if I were to haul them all out at once, so here's a manageable--hopefully!--sampling. It's a long weekend, after all, and I'm positively giddy with the 48 hours stretched out ahead, still, full of possibility and yard work!

Happy reading!

I recently stumbled onto this post-Mother's Day story about how the founder of Mother's Day thought it became too commercial... I had the hardest time reading this story without laughing the whole time. It struck me as absurd--and then toward the end it just became sad, but I still fought the giggles. I know, not very nice of me...

What do people in the midst of the information storm do about filtering through all of it? This great article was a little overwhelming to me, to be honest, but I did pick up a few tips and new-to-me ideas: Path and ifft. Also, she encouraged me to think about Twitter again. It's been a long time since I've used the site with any degree of consistency.

I have pointed toward this woman's courageous writing before, and this post is no exception on the courage scale.

Got a boy? Here are 25 rules for mothers with sons.

Got a girl? Watch this:

Build your own kaleidoscope. It's kind of a kick.

Also in the color world, my newest favorite app: ColorSchemer.

If you're a blogger and looking for some post ideas, here's an interesting graphic/map.

Two recent Tumblr finds that could cause you to waste a bit of time:
What should we call me?
Cute animals. Bad dates.

Another thoughtful read from one of my favorite bloggers: "It occurs to me then that it is hypocritical of me to believe I am a spiritual person when everything is going my way, and then to shake my fist at the sky when things get scary. I wonder if maybe the reason I am sitting in a bathtub trying to breathe has less to do with living on a Marine base and more to do with the fact that I am now having to face the part of myself I have avoided since becoming a Navy Wife."

The questions you ask yourself on a daily basis determine your focus, and your focus determines your results. These are some great questions. I should probably print these out and put them above my desk for frequent reminding, easily distracted as I am...

Well, that's it for this installment. It's windy out, and cool, but that grass won't mow itself! Off to enjoy some of this glorious extra time! Hope you're able to do the same.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pretties on the way to the (unsuccessful) morel hunt

 Does this look and feel like Memorial Day weekend to you? No, no it does not.
Mighty chilly for a morel hunt, but let's go give it a go...

There are little streams coming off the mountains... too mucky to power through in the truck, so we hiked.
Nothing will deter us from our morels!!

 The forest floor is covered with so many pretty things. When one is bent over like an old person keeping an eye out for the morels it is easy to get distracted by all the sweet green details.

Supposedly, the fact that the violets and wild strawberries are blooming means the morels should be sprouting... no one bothered to tell the morels. 

An hour later, here is our bounty... 

 Even Chief looks unimpressed.

A little reading upon returning to warmth and a fire:

Some great tips on when (seasonally) to look for morels.

An amazing news story of giant morels. (Must click through for the pictures, really.)

More hunting tips.

We came to the conclusion that we're a little early this year (we've had good success at the end of May in the past...). Temperatures this year in the area, at this altitude (around the treeline in Joseph, Oregon), haven't been warm enough, consistently enough, to sprout the fungi sufficiently. So, we'll be back.

Between now and then, I'll be working with Chief on his hunting skills... he was a bit scattered, a little distracted by the nearby cattle, excited about streams and deer scat... lots of room for improvement from him, for sure!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

Feeling very peaceful tonight, and especially grateful for a few things in particular...

A long weekend! A couple of extra days with husband! Nothing requiring our time and attention until Tuesday morning! A-mazing.

Conveniences of modern living that we so often take for granted. We were without power for a number of hours recently, and it really does bring to light (candle light, in this case!) how reliant we all are on little things like power and hot water and... well, those are the two that immediately spring to mind. I can live without a lot of things, but power and hot water? Those are favorites of mine.

Spring, renewal... all that comes with it. Calves hopping about in the pasture. Flowering pea vines. Freshly mowed grass. Gently falling rain. (Or in our case, rain, hail, slush and then more rain the past 24 hours.) Sunshine (even through the rain, sometimes). The promise of morels. (Well, "promise" might be a little too strong, implying I know they are out there to be gleaned... how about wild and unsubstantiated optimism?)

Anticipation of summer. I'm pretty excited about fun stuff coming up, visits with family and friends, oodles of work to get done--at work and at home--and long days to get a lot accomplished. And, how many days until school's out? Oh, only 9. Wow.

Having a young man who wants to make a little coin over the summer. Indeed, something to be grateful for! The lists of things I will assign to said young man? They are a growin'.

Time with Seth this summer. It won't ALL be work and no play...

A pup who loves to be loved. He just adores being with husband and I when we're home, and is a great traveler too. He is curled up by me right now, head on the rug, eyes looking up at me like the sweet beast that he is.

Great greens all over the place--from true greens (arugula, kale, lettuce) to great little zinnia starts, sunflowers poking out of the ground, dahlias starting to branch out... so many great things taking off in the yard!

Strawberries! I got a little present this week of some early, sweet and lovely strawberries. They were divine and I can't wait until our little strawberry patch has ripened too. I feel like I've been waiting all winter for berries. Oh, right, I have.

As you can see by my "salad feature" tonight, I have a hankering for summer eating. We had a mean potato salad today, and there are leftovers calling out from the fridge. If that's not summer eating...

I hope wherever you are at the start of this long weekend (in the US; you Canadians had a shot at relaxation last weekend, now it's our turn) you are ready for an extra does of family, friends and DIY. Memorial Day weekend is renowned for sunburns, sports injuries, overdoing it in the yard and the start of all kinds of home projects that will take all summer to complete! Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Midweek reminder: There will always be comfort for every sorrow

 "As long as this exists," I thought, "and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts, I cannot be unhappy." The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. -Anne Frank

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Breakfast options for the whole family!

Weekend breakfasts are special occasions around here. Well, especially Saturday breakfasts... Sundays (other than in winter...) we tend to have more get-up-and-go to our mornings, whether it's to hit the yard or errands or just general chores.

Omelets have been quite popular around here lately, and the lovely omelet pan I received for my most recent birthday has been put to good use, with great results. Omelet variations are easy to accommodate--husband has "the works" (which means all vegetables + light on cheddar cheese), I am *most* vegetables and a wider assortment of cheeses (my latest favorite is a white cheddar made from goat's milk), and Seth is a straight up peppers + cheddar. See, easy (once you get the hang of different bowls with different ingredients).

This morning we employed a further customization of breakfast items... And for all you mothers out there who will proclaim me a bad influence for making every person an item of their choosing, just remember: there are THREE of us. Not four, or five, or more. And I like doing this, so deal. It's how we roll.

Seth wandered through the kitchen as the hash browns were hitting the pan and mused about a pannekoek possibility. Pannekoek is a dish we had while visiting Grandma Kandt in Canada years ago (at a specific pannekoek restaurant), and was an immediate hit: a thick potato pancake with cheese (and meat if you're so inclined; the gevulde pannekoek, if you're into looking it up online, though the description of "Dutch meat-filled pancakes didn't really do it for me). Seth's long been a potato pancake fan, so the idea of cheese being an added ingredient? We'll let's just say he comes by the cheese love honestly!

In another pan, husband's omelet came together nicely...

And in yet another pan, I decided to stray from my original plan to mimic an Israeli egg dish I pinned just yesterday, shakshuka--eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. I took one look at all the glorious asparagus and couldn't help but deviate in that direction. And, I was feeling less saucy, so it really strayed more toward a vegetable hash with eggs.

We enjoyed a lovely morning family interlude, enhanced by warmed sticky buns and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Pannekoek a la Seth
2 cups hash browns, uncooked
2 eggs
1 cup diced sweet peppers (we had red, green, orange and yellow on hand; precooked in the microwave, 2 minutes)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 Tbsp. jarred queso (special request this morning by the teen boy, completely optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.

Heat a medium frying pan (an omelet pan works nicely) over medium-high heat and spray with a little non-stick spray. Add the potato mixture all at once and spread out to cover the whole pan.

Let the mixture cook, until lifting the edge slightly, you can see that the bottom is crisping up nicely--about 5-6 minutes depending on the heat. Using a pancake flipper, loosen the whole pannekoek and slide onto a plate, then flip the whole thing back into the pan, uncooked side down. This is not nearly as acrobatic as it sounds. If you use a medium-size pan, you can put it on top of the plate and, using hot pads, flip the plate and pan over that way.

However you do it, return the pan to heat for another 5-6 minutes, and then slide out onto a clean plate and serve. We've sliced a larger pannekoek up between several eaters in the past... today it was all for Seth!

Sher's "shakshuka"
1/2 cup peppers, sliced thinly
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 cup thinly sliced asparagus spears
2/3 cup halved grape tomatoes
2 eggs

Heat a saute pan over medium heat with a scant drizzle of olive oil. Add the peppers and onions and saute for a minute or two. Add the asparagus and continue to saute, followed a minute later with the tomatoes.

When the vegetables have wilted a bit, create a couple of holes in the vegetables where you can see the bottom of the pan and crack an egg into each hole. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan until the eggs have cooked to your desired consistency. Put a cover on the pan to get the egg whites cooked properly before the vegetables have turned to mush.

This was very yummy and springtime fresh!

I hope your weekend breakfasts are as yummy as ours... What's your favorite breakfast special?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

It's the end of a very quick week. On one hand, I can't believe I haven't posted since Monday; on the other hand, wasn't that just yesterday? Crazy but good.

Crazy but good and tiring. Tonight I felt the need to hunt around for others' words, to let them do the talking for me... let's just see if I can hold to that thought, eh?

Seth called me to the deck not 15 minutes ago, and stretched his arms out to the darkening sky, and told me (rather instructively, if I do say so) to do the same. He then said, "Look at all that blue, that dark blue, isn't that just amazing?"  I am so grateful for that kid, for his attitude, his resilience, his kind heart and his affectionate nature.

I'm grateful for promises, and reminders. Now, to only remember the reminders...  therein lies the rub!

I'm grateful for time to reflect on life, for flexibility in my work, for peace and quiet in country living, and a sweet, companionable dog. I'm grateful that the sun shines more than it doesn't shine right now, and for my husband, who brings me flowers, "just because."

I'm grateful that sleep will come easy tonight (just putting it out there, optimistically, because it has generally been so), and that tomorrow there will be naps in the hammock in the sun. I'm ticked and grateful for seed starts that are almost ready to hit the garden--okra! corn! butternut squash!--and that zinnas and bells of Ireland and forget-me-nots will be ready for the flower beds soon. I'm grateful for the asparagus that is in ample supply in the fridge, and for the breakfast I am eager to make in the morning.

I'm grateful, too, that my mom made a lot of sticky buns before the family visit in April, and that I froze a number of them and can warm a couple up in the morning and it will be like (sort of, but not really) we're having family weekend all over again.

I'm grateful for technology, that we'll skype with family tomorrow as is our weekend tradition. And I'm grateful that my little family gets another weekend together to enjoy each other's company and rest and worship together.

I'm grateful that Seth has only 13 days of school left, though that also kind of freaks me out a bit. I'm grateful that all our summer projects are coming along pretty well in the planning process, and can't wait for the planning to turn into doing in the next few weeks.

I'm grateful for coworkers who make me smile, and laugh, and care about getting good work done. I'm grateful for coffee with girlfriends, sharing our lives and challenges and supporting each other.

See, it just kind of happens... The momentum builds, and as I actually slow down and reflect on the week, my gratitude for all that is in our lives--the good, the challenging, the less-than-pretty--rises up and I can't help but take note of the things to be grateful for. I'm grateful for the challenges too,

How was your week? I hope it was good, even if there was a little crazy and tiring in there for you, and that the weekend brings the rest and respite you need.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Common Miracles: Week 53

 “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 been mulling this one over for a bit (see Saturday's post), and it's become more obvious as the spring has progressed... our yard is my Common Miracle. Not just this week, but every week so far this spring, it seems.

I guess, more to the point, the real miracle is my attitude toward the yard, yardwork and all things weed/grass/dirt/plant related. I am loving it. All of it. Even the stuff I don't particularly enjoy, like mowing the weedy pasture space outside the yard proper, sneezing 65 times and displacing poor little groundhog babies; even that chore feels good.

But there really is so much good stuff, it makes the dirt mowing easy (easier) to deal with:

*Being outside, being warm and feeling the sun on my back? Loving it.

*Getting the pots full of annuals, and new perennials tucked into the beds. So much fun.

*Keeping the lawn edge tidy with that amazing edger husband got me last fall? Fabulous.

*Plotting juniper removal and planning replacement shrubs? Great! (Watching an incredible tractor contraption clomp down on a couple of boxwoods this afternoon and lift them fairly effortlessly out of the ground was icing on the cake.)

*Seeing the fish in the pond come nibbling for food? So pretty. And the birds at the feeder? Always a bright spark to my day.

*Watering newly planted seeds--whether green beans or sunflowers--and imagining 60 short days from now... blossoms and beans!

*Keeping an eye out for each new bloom, whether peony or rhododendron or pansy or hydrangea or... Lovely.

Yes, the weeds will come. The garden is already in need of a hoe or two, and I've applied heave-hoe to other beds as well... that will only escalate, and round about August I'm pretty sure I will not be feeling quite so miraculous about each and every aspect of the yard. But for now, I'll take it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

This is a repost from 2010. This morning, as I pondered what to post about this special day, I read through the words below and realized it still holds some of my favorite musings about what being a mother means to me. 

As I write this, Seth is downstairs making me coffee (he just learned the ins and outs of the espresso machine yesterday, so between that and learning to drive, he's on a roll!). We're going to spend the day in the yard--more or less; the sunshine is glorious, and I imagine that any meal I dream up later today, Seth and husband will make a reality (within bounds, of course. If you can call and order it, I can have it!). I talked to my own mom yesterday, but I bet skype will be buzzin' a bit later today as well... My grandma called late last week--to tell me a couple of funny stories and reassure me that June is okay for a visit (we had been planning on going up this weekend, but work/life/school...).

 Life is so good. 

My mother and my son

here are certain things in life that you don't understand until "later": What love really means, what core values to actually base key decisions on, how to whip up a dinner from what looks like an empty refrigerator, how many times you can squeeze the tube of toothpaste after the last remnants appear to be gone, and why a good night's sleep doesn't come in a bottle. To name a few.

When "later" arrives is different for each of us, but for me, much of my "later" understanding has been revealed through being a mother. Being a mother is a daily seat at the table of learning about myself (and others). From mundane conversation about everything from homework to friends to girls to "consequences;" discussing how different individuals and households operate and function; ever-present politics and the variety of opinions that abound; the beauty of spirituality and life choices that stem from a belief system; there is never a lack of opportunity for learning and growth, for both of us.

For me, Mother's Day is a celebration of my mother as well as a celebration of my own mothering. Which is not to say it's an ego-fest; rather, it is a truly delightful day when I am able to relish one of my very favorite roles here on earth, and that is being the mother of an amazing and loving child. My mothering, though, would be quite different (and lacking), I know, without the influence of my own mother, who has taught me many things, including (but certainly not limited to) the true meaning of kindness, forgiveness and unconditional love, as well as a hearty work ethic. She has also passed on many other qualities of worth, including an appreciation for the art of a home-cooked meal and the comfort a thoughtfully appointed home can provide at the end of a long day. The list goes on, I assure you.

In the best of senses, I'm the filling in a great Mother's Day sandwich--happily between my son and my mother. I am blessed beyond what I deserve to have my mother alive and well, and my son also thriving and flourishing. I know in this world that those two simple things are often taken for granted; today, and every day, I give thanks for the gift of motherhood.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sunny Saturday in May

It was just the perfect kind of day to relax and appreciate the season... a little wander in the yard with my iPhone and Instagram app later, and my love of Walla Walla in the spring is at full bloom.

The one thing I wish I could have captured was a bunny frolic in the front yard. I caught two young ones hopping and jumping over each other in an almost-choreographed dance. Absolutely precious, but you'll have to take my word for it, as I was inside, upstairs, no camera within arms reach, and I couldn't pull myself away from watching to go and find one. A priceless moment.

I had brief hopes of a balloon floating over the house this afternoon (this is the annual hot air balloon festival weekend around here), as we are out of the flight path for morning lift-offs. In years past though, given the right conditions in the late afternoons, we've seen them land in the fields around us, quite close. Such was not our luck this gorgeous afternoon... 

What's blooming in your yard these days?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

Quite the typical week, in my world. Moments of joy, moments of frustration, moments of peace and calm and then hurried bluster.

Through it all, a great deal of gratitude for each slice of my life.

I am so grateful for the beauty in my world. There seems to be so much to marvel at right now. This season just stuns me, every year. And it's not even my favorite season, which as you surely must know by now, is autumn.

We had varied weather again this week: rain, sunshine, clouds, wind, warmth, cool (Jack Frost, even); combined with blossoms on so many plants and bushes, little green shoots poking out of the dirt, baby cherries and apricots growing (so happy about the apricots especially)... all very much in the mode of spring, and all quite beautiful. The change of seasons make me grateful, always.

Seth called multiple times this week, which always makes my day. I am so grateful for our ability to have conversation, even when it's not easy, and be honest with each other. I am so grateful that he's growing into the kind of young man who thinks of others, and is learning to think for himself too.

A great night's sleep always reminds me how much I appreciate it. A night, or two, of less-than-stellar zzzzzs, and I'm even more grateful for the sweet slumber. 

Asparagus. Radishes. Baby lettuce leaves. Spring onions. I'm thankful for all the textures and flavors of spring. Yum. Lately I have been craving summer fruit like crazy. Daydreams, practically, of strawberries (real ones, picked straight out of the garden) and raspberries and blueberries... can't wait for bowls and bowls and bowls of berries...

With the increase (sort of, though it seems slow) in temperatures, it's been nice to ditch the sweaters and jackets and long sleeves. Layers still seem quite important for those afternoon temperature drops and/or seasonal storms, but by and large, I've been thrilled to ditch the woolens. And grateful to see something come out of my closet other than brown, black or gray. Hooray for color! If you see me wandering the streets in my rainbow socks, I cannot be blamed, it's just a sign of spring.

Working, always, on the word for this year: grace. I am grateful for reminders of grace--grace extended to me, grace that exists in spite of me and my pettiness, grace as something to strive for. I have a charm that says "Grace 2012" that serves to remind me to return to a place of grace, and of course there are always the reminders that just fall across my path, like the one below. The whole verse reads: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. I love that, God's grace in its various forms.

Gratefulness seems to multiply, and at the risk of completely overstating it, I'm grateful for that! Good grief; but it's true. I am always bouyed by others' gratitude expressed, and have been told on occasion that my constancy with this tradition is something that bouys others. Sing kumbaya and hold hands, it's a gratitude circle. OK, I'm making light of it now, but I am serious, somewhere between the lines. As Mr. Chesterson said: “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”

I enjoy flash mobs in general (in concept, at least, not having been an in-person spectator or participant), and a friend of mine welcomed her son back from a seven-month missionary trip recently with a dear flash mob. I couldn't believe she got all the way through the dance without busting out to hug her boy! Seeing this video reminded me of so many precious things I'm grateful for: friendship, family, love, faith, music, and a whole lotta happiness. (Shari, your jumps for joy at the end never fail to make me smile and cry at the same time!)

Here's another lovely flash mob that made me smile this week. What a beautiful energy to inject into the morning commute.

This song is like a lullaby for me. I heard it for the first time recently, and have really enjoyed exploring this artist's music. Try listening to this song with your eyes closed, and I swear you will almost drift off... This is my wish for you and your weekend: Rest.

Blogger Template By Designer Blogs