Monday, February 27, 2012

Common Miracles: Week #42

 “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

It's been a while since I've participated in the Common Miracles project, and if I wait for actual time on my hands to jump back in, it won't happen. Too much, on too many plates. And they're all spinning, madly. (But happily.)

This video may be overstating it (you think?), but boy did I laugh heartily when I was thinking of illustrating plates, spinning, juggling things:

Meanwhile, what's going on in my miraculous world? Here's what I noticed today:

* Smiles. You know how "they" always say smiles make a difference? True story, that. One of those things where legend and reality meet up.

* Boots and tights. Wonderful for cold mornings. Especially cold, sorta-snowy mornings!

 * Our dear dog. So after he learns how to text, I want to teach Chief how to make my morning coffee. Seems doable, don't you think? He watched me making my latte this morning with such rapt attention and intelligence, I have to believe he could get the hang of it. (Kind of like those Geico guinea pigs rowing, right?)

* Dreams. I have been having some whackadoodle dreams lately. Co-workers, dogs (duh), my dad circa 1978 (no beard though), therapy circles in the grass, and a child I once thought was really sweet, apparently not so much! Basically my subconscious, once removed. Hilarious and kinda makes my day/night. Knock on wood there isn't a crossing over into nightmare-land...

* Robins. Saw a robin with a bright red breast in the snow this morning. The contrast was stunning. Obviously the groundhog forgot to copy the robins in on the six-more-weeks-of-winter memo! I got it, I just didn't believe it.

* Spontaneous singing. Must say, I have the best kid. Bursting into Am I a Man, or Am I a Muppet? in the kitchen and having your son join in? Bonus.

* Cheese. I was talking with husband this weekend about food cravings--of which he has very few. How is that possible? Me, on the other hand? I have them quite frequently, and they almost always involve cheese, in some variety or form. Am I predictable or what?!

* Family read/prayer time in the morning. It's quick and we're often hurried, but it is one of my very favorite parts of my morning... my day, too. I am blessed, we are blessed, and stopping for just a minute and remembering that, saying thanks for this family I am so thankful for? Bonus.

* Husband's key in the lock, home after an evening meeting. Love that sound.

* Music that makes my heart happy. Case in point today:

There. A snapshot of my common miracles, on this day (just like any other day), in this week (just like any other week), in this month (just any other month).

Except it's not. It was today. And there will never be another one just like it. I'm glad I got to live it. And I'm glad you did too.

To learn more about the Common Miracles project, go here.

What miraculous happenings took place in your world today?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

Wild wind is howling, gusting around the house quite fiercely. This is *so* not how I wanted to head into the weekend, a weekend where I dream of peaceful sleep, rest, quiet--you know, the opposite of a windstorm.

But the wind is here, and I'm here, and I'm nothing if not resourceful. Earplugs at the ready, I will sleep No. Matter. What. And be grateful. Not for the wind per se, but for plenty of other things:

A day spent with husband, just doing our thing. It was a lovely time together, especially given that it was a weekday, and hookey days are really rare for him. For me they have been much less rare, but when he'll take a day off, I jump at it, and I'm grateful for our chats and discussions throughout our time together, too.

For morning energy, I am grateful... to get up and go, to meet each day with enthusiasm--no doubt helpfully fueled by coffee, but still, I'm moving, right? It's so amazing how our minds and bodies bounce back from fatigue. Given a bit of rest, we get up and go again. Thank goodness for that!

Spring is coming! I can feel it. The dahlia catalog has been perused, now to pare the order down. Seeds have been purchased. There's talk of rototilling on Sunday, but it will really depend on the weather between now and then. Regardless, it's warmer and warmer, and sprouts and such are appearing. Oh happy day!

The dear boy is off at a jazz festival in Idaho with his jazz band compatriots. We'll be so glad to see him tomorrow night when his bus rolls back into town. I am so grateful for his smiles and hugs and our talks. They may not always be the light-hearted chats of his tween years, but I am grateful to remember what being 15 was like (sometimes all too vividly), and also glad that I can empathize. I could not be persuaded to go back to the angst-filled teen years for ANYTHING. No thanks.

I am always so grateful when I see generosity in people. Not necessarily generosity of stuff, or money (though that's fine too!), but generosity of spirit. People who are big enough to give others props without thinking it somehow diminishes their own light. Those who regard others with an open heart, not worrying about what they will receive in return. I love those people. Those people make the world a better place.


I am SO grateful for Chief. I can't imagine what the house would be like without him right now. He is like a shadow for both husband and I, staying right beside us as we move through the house. That can be a little bit of an obstacle if you're looking to get somewhere quickly, but I can deal with it, knowing all he's been through this winter. He's seen his pack disappear, and when I took him to get his teeth cleaned this week, boy did he not want to go. Pretty unusual for our social beast, but he seemed pretty convinced that only bad things happen behind that door in the vet's office. Poor sweet thing, he did make it through OK and get the "great teeth" stamp of approval, too!

(This is where I confess how dorky I've gotten about Chief. When we were having lunch out today, I told husband I wished Chief could text, just so we could check in on him. Good grief, that's a level of doggy closeness I hadn't anticipated. I used to make fun of my friends who would leave messages on the answering machines for their dogs, but I think I'm about half a step removed from that nonsense. Seriously, wouldn't that be cool? "How's things?" "Fine, bring me back a treat." Kind of like a teenager, eh?)

Color continues to make my world go round, in these early spring days when green still feels a bit sparse. Can't wait for all the colors of spring and summer in our garden; but until then, I've sprinkled some of my favorite colorful flowery finds (well, other than Chief!) throughout my grateful list, for you.

I hope your weekend brings you all the good things you need to face another week!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday 13: Thursday link love

The past couple of weekends have been busy with home things, actually getting things done! But of course I have taken *some* time out for my usual wanderings around the internet, checking out bits and pieces that intrigue me. And you know I have to share, I'm just the sharing type, right? So I'm not waiting for a "Weekend link love" opportunity, I'm taking advantage of NOW, and sharing 13 interesting places/stories around the web.

1. Why is this news not being blasted from the mountaintops? BPA is found in canned goods as well as plastic? Good to know, even if the researchers are unsure what health effect this has, long term. Good thing we don't eat from tin cans very much. Grrr.

2. I enjoyed this post from one courageous mother, blogging about her cancer journey. Well, she didn't mean for it to be about cancer when she started it as an artsy-jewelry kind of blog a few years ago. But circumstances unfold (cancer, ugh, yuck), and she responded...

3. Have you heard of If you haven't, you should check it out. You have to sign up, but that's a minor whatever. There are many fun, pretty items, on sale. I have yet to buy anything, but it sure is fun to look. Check out these pretty iPhone covers:

4. Remember when Facebook used to update you with information on the pages you followed? I think they were called updates, right? Then they changed the whole "pages" thing and went with more of a business-page idea, and if you like something, updates end up in your feed. But sometimes, you still get messages, apparently. Where are they? Just below your messages themselves, in that left-hand column. I had not looked there in more than a year, and when I read this article, I decide to go looking. There were mostly updates from people/companies/blogs I'd followed for a while, but there were also a couple of "hey, wanna be my friend" messages from people I DO NOT know, and have no desire to know. Maybe I'm the only one who hadn't kept up with the "other" messages, but I'm glad to now know. (Creepy people now blocked, thank you very much.)

5. This interesting story about a small weekly suburban publication in Boston caught my attention. Seems the publisher can't figure out a reason why he'd want to publish online. Given that he doesn't seem to have any competition (print or digital) in his area, I say let's start an online rag to compete! Give him a reason to get digital. OK, that might be mean, but he's pretty much advertising for someone to do it.

6. I have had good luck with interval training in the past, and this post reminded me why I should take it up again. I did a couple of days at the beginning of the week, and enjoyed it. Now to make it a regular thing!

7. So apparently cupcakes are only for the middle to upper classes now? I guess at $2.50-$4 a pop, that makes sense...

8. Take a look at these paper dolls that have been crafted especially for Downton Abbey fans. What a hoot! The scary thing would be to find adult women actually playing with them (I have my eye on you, Jen! And Megan! And all the rest of you!)

And of course, in keeping with the ongoing (and sadly, now waiting for season 3) Downton Abbey obsession, this explanation of the highs and lows  of British cuisine was quite interesting to me. Also in the Downton vein, an article on how Downton Abbey has made PBS "cool" again. (For some of us Masterpiece/Nature geeks, it always was...) Just yesterday I was sent a link to this hilarious recap of the Downton finale. (Language warning. Really. Don't say I didn't warn you.) Just about wet my pants laughing. Thanks, Robin!

9. I enjoyed this blog post about the various kinds of commenters out there in blogland. Glad I only have the kind and thoughtful ones, so far... What's your experience? Any trolls out there in your world?

 9. This "what I really do" meme has taken off like a rocket around the interwebs, and a wide variety of themes have arisen. Mashable has a compilation of career-related ones, but I think my favorites are the ones like the North Dakota one above, where all the pictures are the same. But then I see another one, and then that one is my favorite. I am a sucker for this meme, true story.

10. This piece about how our media diets mimic our actual diets (ie, cheap and easy) is an interesting way to look at both phenomenons. (Here's an interview with the author on NPR, if you'd prefer to listen.)

12. And to follow the point of the article just mentioned (re: media diets), the picture above pretty much sums it up. The fact that I know who that is really bothers me.

13. And back to more enlightening topics, this piece about sleep really woke me up! I never knew that there had been other kinds of sleep patterns, hundreds of years ago. Makes sense that we have tried to jam it all up into one 8-hour slot, so we can get more done! Maybe I shouldn't fight the 3 a.m. wake-toss-thing?

That's it from me this week. Hope there was a link or two that piqued your interest! What have you read lately that kept your interest? I would love to know.

For other Thursday 13 participants, go here. And have a great Thursday, while you're at it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Midweek reminder: There is so much sky beyond our roof

There are so many dreams beyond our nights, and so much sunshine beyond our gray walls. But we can't see it when we stay at home. There is so much sky above our roof. Is the door so old that it won't open, or are we at home because we're afraid of catching a chill? -Francoise Hardy

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Starting the day out right: Breakfast cookies

Years back, in the catering days, I made breakfast cookies a LOT. First for my own consumption, and then for my personal chef delivery clients. The cookies were quite popular, and then for some reason, post-catering, I just stopped making them. 

I fear the original cookie from in the day will never be reproduced... but what I came up with might be even better! Really. I used the original recipe from my previous experimentation for inspiration, but my notes are lacking. (I know, you're shocked. Me too.)

But, not to be deterred, I went with a bit of memory, a bit of what was currently in the cupboard. Three adaptations later (husband and I liked all three versions), we decided this is the one we like best.

Breakfast cookie
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp. chia seeds (or ground flax meal)
2/3 cup oat bran
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup almond butter (could use peanut butter, easily)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup applesauce
1/3 cup water
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted walnuts (or hazelnuts, or any nut, really), chopped roughly

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredient, including the cranberries and nuts; create a well in the center. In a smaller bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. You may need to warm the applesauce and almond butter together to make the butter smooth enough to mix easily. Pour all wet ingredients into the well. Mix well.

Scoop cookies using an large spoon or ice cream scoop, making the size that you prefer. I have always wanted a large breakfast cookie look and feel, so I go big (or go home, right?). One recipe makes 12 4-inch cookies, and the recipe doubles well, too.

Bake for 10 minutes for smaller cookies, 15-17 for larger cookies. Make sure to pull when they are still somewhat underbaked, so that they are soft and cakey. Cool on wire racks.

These cookies freeze well, and for those mornings when getting out of the house in a hurry is important, they are fabulous for on-the-go eating.

Enjoy and happy breakfasting! I'm looking forward to having one with my coffee tomorrow.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Popular posts, because I know you care :)

Blogger and it's good friend (well, OK, boss) Google have made things a lot easier in tracking traffic to blogs. I used to look at my stats every few months, just checking to see which posts got the most views, which ones didn't. Nothing regular and nothing I've ever written towards. For me, this blog has evolved from part-recipes-part-gratitude to recipes-gratitude-inspiration-journal-pretties-poetry. It's worked for me, and I've really enjoyed playing around with the format, the content, getting to know other bloggers and generally staying up on this technology-lite platform.

Taking comments or stated "followers" alone as an indication of readership is not accurate--such a low percentage of readers comment, and there are supposedly ways to increase that (notice my little questions at the end of posts, sometimes?!), but other than flat out begging (and that always strikes me as WHY?) it is what it is. I know how many blogs I peruse and/or zip past on a regular basis and very few do I actually comment on (but apparently I would/could also increase my own blog traffic by doing so more often). And, some of the super-popular blogs have a gobzillion comments already, adding to that mass always strikes me as WHY, again?

So back to Blogger and the revised interface for the blogger--it's pretty cool. While signing in takes you directly to posting, there's a tab called "Overview" that opens up to your traffic stats and where in the world they are coming from--no, not to the IP address level, don't worry I'm not stalking you--but as general as United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Russia, etc.

Google/Blogger also track popular posts. So after a couple of months of just looking at daily post tracking every few days, I finally drilled a little deeper and looked at page views for posts. Here's what I found (I know, interesting to me, maybe less so to readers? So bear with me!):

*Most popular post ever: 13 things I love about Canada, with 2,657 views. Who knew? I bet it shows up in some "Canada love" Google searches... (see below!)

*That post is followed by two food-related posts, sort of: Cupcakes! and Gingerbread houses galore. Both are curated-style posts, with links to cupcakes and gingerbread houses from around the web.

*Interesting note: All three of the above posts are Thursday 13 posts--actually the top seven most-viewed posts are Thursday 13s. Probably that's the reason they're so popular, but I'd be hard pressed to figure that out concretely without some help; part of me thinks it must be something more... usually Thursday 13 has a general weekly participant range in the 30-50 range... not in the 1,500-2,500 range. But who knows, it could be some general cascading effect... (Thursday 13 is also my highest referring website, so there you have it. But again, the numbers don't quite add up...

*In my pages region--that line-up of titles on the right-hand side of the blog--the most-visited pages are the quotes and recipes. Which tells me I need to update the quotes more often, and probably the recipes too...

*Oh, and because I know you're dying to know about the audience and what browsers you're all using (ha ha, sure Sher), the audience is primarily viewing with Internet Explorer, with Firefox, Safari and Chrome trailing behind. Here's where I put in a plug for Firefox. Love it! Very user-friendly, intuitive, and not a lot of junk in the toolbar area; very editable, which I like. My last computer had IE on it and crashed and flickered and did all sorts of nutty things. I stopped using IE and switched to Firefox and it's been great, though I might give Chrome a spin sometime soon.

*One last thing, one thing I thought would be funnier than it is--I don't know what I was expecting--is looking at what search terms bring people to my site: "Upbeat music" is the number one search, which explains why my video post for Thursday 13 of my favorite upbeat songs is in the top 10 most viewed. "Canadian money" is next, and combine that with the seventh-biggest search "Canada money," sort of explains the "13 things I love about Canada" popularity. Sort of. Total of 523 searches, and 2,657 page hits? Hmmm. Naturally, "gingerbread house" and "cupcakes" show up next, followed closely by "sweet tea and sunshine," "happiness quotes," and so on. Nothing too shocking. Darn.

There you have it. Fun to research, however shallowly, and share with you, my readers. Gentle readers, as some would say...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

She was indeed a precious, sweet doggy. A very unique dog in many ways, not your average affectionate, "pet me now, please" kind of pup. Nervous around people, anxious from birth, she was happiest with her brother, Jack. So when she passed this week, almost exactly 3 months after Jack, and at the ripe old age of 13.5 (or as Seth likes to put it, "almost 98, Mom.") it was both sad and awful, and not surprising. We will miss your sweet spirit, Darby, and your jumpy, dancing ways. I am grateful you were a part of our lives.

I'm greatly thankful for Chief, our one remaining dog. He brings comfort and lots of opportunities for petting, indeed. The past week he has been aware that lots is up, and seeing him alone in the yard, without his pack, is quite disheartening. So he is with us as much as he can be, and it's good for him, and good for us too.

I'm thankful for my men, who are kind and thoughtful and protective of me. They both looked out for me this week, in my more tender times... I am one lucky and very blessed girl. And our sweet Valentine's moments made my week brighter, for sure.

One of the things on my list this week, one of my favorite things, is an annual fundraiser I help with for a local non-profit, Children's Home Society of Washington. I wasn't able to be AS involved this year, especially on the day-of, because of work commitments, but I enjoyed attending and appreciating the stories shared about the difference individuals can make in the lives of children. I'm grateful for our community, and the strength in numbers when gathered together--both figuratively and monetarily!

Seed catalogs! I am SO grateful for those little reminders that show up in our winter mailbox, happy, sunny reminders that spring is coming. No surprise that they put beautiful, colorful flowers on the front most of the time... But then I turn the pages and all the fun vegetables pop out at me too--should I do two-toned radishes? Purple carrots? Striped beets? Yes, please, to all of that, and more. Can't wait for those warmer days (and nights).

I'm grateful to have spent the bulk of the week with four guys who, while often speaking a different language than I (computer language stuff), were able to dissect and discuss and probe and question and challenge and engage... and learn. It was good. I am glad our three days in the developer "cave," as I called it, are over, but I'm also very glad they happened. Oh, and there were stories and jokes and laughter, and they were very kind to me when I got a bit mopey about Darby too. Good times.

My friends are wonderful. I may have mentioned that a time or two in the past, eh? But it's true, they are. I am grateful for them.

And, because it can't help but be mentioned at least once or twice a week, I am grateful for color. When I saw this video, I knew I had to share.

How was your week? Any fun tidbits to share? I could use fun tidbits...

What's on your grateful list as you finish out the week? Tell me! And above all else, have a great weekend. Peace.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Midweek inspiration

Via The Happiness Project's Moment of Happiness for today:

Contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and then at least cease to admire worthless things.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's a-s'mores-ay!

Apparently I've reached new dork heights (or is it depths?) with that post title, I'll give you that. But this recipe? This amazing blend of flavors? It can take any amount of dork teasing you dish out. And I'm sharing, just in time for Valentine's. OK, technically I'm late if you're going to make it for THIS Valentine's day, but it's so good and easy, you could still make it in time, really.

It has been a long time since I've been so gushy about a sweets recipe... at least a month or two anyway; I'm sure there was something at Christmastime that I was ga-ga over... but that's so last year. This recipe is very now. Very yummy indeed.

I'm a one-s'mores kind of girl, around the campfire. Give me one, and I'm done. They are usually too sickeningly sweet, too much chocolate to the bite (reminder: chocolate is not the first sweet thing I go for, go figure). But this recipe, with its soft, graham cracker-ish top and bottom... well, it is quite sweet, there's no denying that, but it's also very more-ish. As in, one bite leads to another bite, and then just one more. Get it? And warm from the oven? Just all the more more-ish!

I did a few online searches to arrive at this recipe, and I am so glad this is where I landed! It may be called s'mores pie, and I did indeed make my Valentine guys a pie just tonight, but I've also made it in little individual cups, and a massive pan of bars, and a small pan of squares, too. Seth happened to take a bar or two to school and shared, resulting in a big request for more, and before I knew it I was whipping up enough for his English class. So whatever iteration is your pleasure, it will work. It doubles, triples and even quadruples quite well.

I know traditional Valentine's treats center around red, with hearts. While this recipe lacks both, it does have that one critical Valentine's ingredient: chocolate. I think it makes a thoroughly enjoyable sweet, Valentine's or not!

S'mores pie
adapted from Hershey’s
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup salted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla 
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp. baking powder
6 regular-sized Hershey Bars, broken into pieces 
1 7oz container of marshmallow creme
Wax paper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray a 9-inch pie pan with baking spray. Beat butter and sugar together, either in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, until combined. Add egg and vanilla, beat well. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, graham cracker crumbs and baking powder. Add to the wet mixture and combine well. Divide the dough in half. Press half the dough in the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie pan.

Evenly spread the marshmallow creme over the bottom crust. Spread the broken chocolate pieces on top of the marshmallow creme.

Form the remaining dough into a ball and place on a piece of wax paper. Top with another piece of wax paper and flatten into a 9″ circle. I used a rolling pin to gently get the dough to the right size and thickness. If you just haul away on your rolling pin, the wax paper will break. Trust me.

Carefully peel the top piece of wax paper off. Flip the crust onto the top of the pie and peel the other piece of wax paper off.

Pinch the dough together to form the crust. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.

I guarantee a happy Valentine with this treat!

I think that funny little pinch job I did around the one edge looks like a smile, don't you?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Poetry memories: Theodore Roethke

Back in ye olde college days, I took a couple of poetry classes. Not to sound too dramatic, but it really awoke in me a different way of appreciating the world, and how to fumble my way forward to write about it. One class was more analysis and critique, the other was actual poetry writing (which of course also had analysis and critique; it felt like dumping my soul out in front of a dozen other collegiates, horrors). In the analysis class, I was exposed to poets I hadn't previously heard of, and Theodore Roethke was one of them. I remember reading the poem below, one of his better-known poems, almost like it was yesterday.

The Waking 
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.
Theodore Roethke

Our professor would bring in recordings of poets reading their own work, if possible, and I really enjoyed that part of the class. He showed an old and grainy video of Theodore Roethke, probably shot in the late '50s (the poem was published in 1953). In it, the poet leaned against a mantle, and as he recited the poem, he would sway back and forth, sort of using the mantle to hold on to. I loved his voice, which seemed a little monotone and sad (in fact, I remember learning the word dolorous in connection with Roethke, odd to remember so specifically), and I also loved how the swaying added to the overall melencholy.

I had high hopes of finding that exact video clip to share, but alas, all my interwebbing has turned up naught. So, here's his voice to the poem.

It never occurred to me that someone might take these words and turn them into a song. But in my YouTube wanderings, sure enough, I found a few versions of this song, which is now on repeat in my head (well parts of it, there are other parts that are a bit too note-chasing for me...). Could be an interesting way to memorize a poem, eh?

"The Waking" was brought back to my mind by The Writer's Almanac, which highlights so many good poems to my computer every week. (I highly encourage signing up.)

Do you have a poem or poet that stays with you, years later? Tell me, please!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

So dearly wanting a nap right now, but as it is evening already, and will be actually time for bed when I finish this, more or less, I will forego the nap and just mention sleep/rest/chill time, oh, like 45 times or so in this post.

It's been a good week. A few bumps in the road, but nothing too mountainous. Just very very glad to be home, with both boys, and warm.

I posted the above picture to Facebook today, saying something along the lines of "really? still foggy?" and one dear commenter reminded me that I could possibly make my own sunshine. Yes, tis true, and I'm grateful for those reminders, even though we are a couple of weeks into this particular inversion, more or less. But it sure wouldn't hurt to have a little help!

I'm grateful for people. People to laugh with, people to share with, people who love me and I love, people to work with and get things done with. People are good. Someone posted a song recently on Facebook, "People Are Crazy," and I watched the video. Funny, cute, and somewhat on point, but I am glad not to have too much crazy in my life. But songs titled "People Are Good" just aren't as catchy, I suppose.

I'm grateful for our pups. Darby is showing her age, and Chief has stepped it up in the neediness department lately--somehow I think in Jack's absence he has a heightened sense of what's to come with Darby, but maybe I'm imagining a brain cell or two more than reality... Regardless, they are sweet and unwavering in their affection, and I so appreciate them.

So grateful for my guys. Having them both home and tucked up for the weekend is just bliss to me.

Grateful for family, near and far. Got a call from my Grandma this week, and those always make me happy happy happy. They are getting shorter, the calls... I don't think her hearing works too well over the phone anymore. But, I'll take what I can get.

Music makes my world go round, quite often. I can't listen at work--I'm not doing the kind of work where that would even remotely be beneficial, so I have been listening in the car! In the mornings! This video popped up this week, and not only is it a Carpenter's song (!), but it's Zooey, so what more could one wish for?

I am grateful for music, always... the power of lyrics and the catchiness of some tunes. There can, indeed, be other tunes I am much less grateful for... anyone seen that ad from Toyota with Kelly Clarkson and a few grayhaired men (I think there's a food guy, James Lipton, and some sports dude?). Well, that song they burst into? Drives. Me. Nuts. I don't usually watch ads because we're blessed with dvr technology, and why watch ads when you can whiz past them? But maybe it was the Super Bowl? Something has made me watch a bit of live TV lately, and that ad seems to air a lot. Too. Much. Between that the the yelling JCPenney ad at the end of January? Crazy. Which ad wizard exactly thought that was a good idea? (OK this has taken on a rant quality, rather than a peaceful, grateful tone. I will stop. Now.)

I'm thankful for simple meals. This week we ate quite simply... soups, popcorn a couple of evenings, salads... quick to prepare, yummy to eat, not too time consuming. I'm all for time-consuming recipes, at times; and at other times, easy peasy pleasey.

I am grateful that it's not minus-something-or-other, even with this fog nonsense. At least there's that.

I ordered up a white board this week at work, so I could get a more visual sense of what we're working on. It really helped. I'd write, then take a picture with my iPhone, erase, start over using notes from the first version, and repeat. What did we do before our phones could capture things for us? So so helpful, I'm very grateful for technology that actually assists in the process, and for the ability to lean into a learning style (visual, for me) rather than chafe and fight against it.

I am really, really ready for summer fruit. Even spring fruit would be good--though I'm hard pressed to actually think of much that's any good before local strawberries in June... In the meantime, I am grateful for some variety in the winter fruits. Red pears are a big favorite around here; you have to get them on the right day or they go to mush, but we tend to stick toward the slightly crisp side, so we're usually safe! I like mixing up the apple/orange/banana routine a bit, for sure. And grapes? They're currently running in the $4-6/lb., so I think we'll be giving those a miss for a while!

I hope you have lovely things on tap for the weekend. Grateful things. Joyful things. Tell me what's going on with you, what you're grateful for, and if there's any sunshine where you're at!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday 13: Favorite Thursday 13s

Got a little carried away with looking at previous posts recently... one link led to another, to another, and so on. Which of course got me thinking, as Thursday approach... what have I posted for Thursday 13s in the past? Which were my favorite? I remember my very first Thursday 13, like it was yesterday... 3.5 years later, here we are. I like that I've stuck with the meme, and have certainly met a few lovely folks around the interwebs because of it (yes, you).(If you're new to this blog, Thursday 13 is a meme whereby people around the world share lists of 13 things on Thursdays, and go around and visit each other's lists.)

After a little looking around and getting distracted by some lovely walks down memory lane, here we are, in no particular order:

1. 13 favorite pictures of our trip to Hawaii, Dec. 9, 2010. A friend was recently on the Big Island, and I loved seeing her pictures and living vicariously through her adventures... this time of year, a beach and some sunshine sound sooooo goooood.

2. 13 favorite summer desserts, June 18, 2009. If I can't have summer, I can at least think about fabulous desserts with fresh fruit!

3. 13 favorite summer salads, July 23, 2009. Ditto to above. Yum, can't wait for summer eating!

4. 13 random things, Feb, 18, 2010. I seem to do random every once in awhile when the idea bank runs dry or I am simply out of time. This one brought back some happy memories, which I enjoyed thinking back on. From time to time I've also done the Simple Woman's Daybook as a Thursday 13, but I think of that as rather random, with a side of structure... good to pull out every once in awhile!

5. 13 favorite books from childhood, May 7, 2009. Again with happy memories!

6. 13 quotes, Sept. 29, 2009. I tend to post quotes fairly often. Additional quote-related T13 posts are here and here and here. There are also a few here and here and here. OK, seems I like the quotes a lot! That's by far the most posted-about Thursday 13 topic...

7. 13 tidbits about the royal wedding, April 28, 2011. I have such fond memories of spending this early-early morning time with dear friend Kate, and remembering another royal wedding from many, many years prior.

8. 13 wishes for Seth at his 8th grade graduation, June 9, 2011. Love that boy in his suit. So handsome and grown up! Reading back through those wishes, I got a little verklempt!

9. 13 rainbows for St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2011. Who, me? Rainbows? Alas...

10. 13 random items of inspiration, Oct. 15, 2009. Remember the world before Pinterest? I know, me neither. But this is what it looked like, sort of... pretty images culled from various web sites. I know, I still do that kind of sharing here, but usually the images come from my Pinterest wanderings now. Heavens, life is easier in a Pinterest world, isn't it? It is certainly more beautiful, for sure.

11. 13 ways of looking at Seth, Oct. 1, 2009. This is probably one of my very favorites, the day Seth turned 13 and I wrote a la Wallace Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird for his special day. Such good memories, some of the pictures I posted there as well...

12. 13 videos for your amusement, May 5, 2011. I know video posts are rather time consuming, but I do love to collect and share... I just can't help it!

13. 13 favorite Etsy shops, March 4, 2010. I've only done one other Etsy-related Thursday 13, just a couple of weeks ago, but I do like the "treasury" approach to Etsy, and now that I've got that figured out, I will do more of those! (source)

If you had the time to click through, which one was your favorite? What would you like to see more of (less of?)? I'd love to know!

For more Thursday 13s, go here! And have a great day, while you're at it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Midweek reflection: Quiet sits with me when snow falls

I wrote this poem almost exactly a year ago. Last night I saw it languishing in my drafts folder and with the fog of the past few days, I am compelled to finally share. It wasn't particularly foggy, per se, when I took the walk depicted below, but the gray was quite relentless, as it feels now.

I have been (very) shy with sharing this style of writing on the blog, but it's a way I do enjoy putting words together, and I appreciate when others share along a similar vein, so... here goes.

Snow prayer
Gray expanse of land
and air meet at the horizon in dull agreement.
Thick layers of fog and cloud
wrap the house, the pasture,
and spread across the valley,
up up up the hills
until they are pushed back
down by the sun, unseen below.

Cold in my chest but breathing
freely, I walk a brisk mile.
Hawks swoop, pheasants strut,
caught between seasons they eye me
through rows of forgotten grapes, across
damp acres of dirt, the promise
of wheat sprouts.

I yearn for snowflakes,
thick and fast.
Quiet sits with me
when snow falls. Blanketed
by soft flurries, the rushed world stills,
my anxious mind mothered
and soothed to sleep.

Give me the seclusion and distance
of snow for a little longer.
Insulation, denial.
Just one more snow, I beg.
A silent day, or two,
to pull the covers up, sit with myself.
This is my prayer
to the winter gods.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ten Word Tuesday

Fog. Day six. Would really appreciate some sunshine. Please send.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekend link love

This internet round-up starts a little deep and ends with complete fluff. Just a warning. I thought about rearranging links, but figured you could handle the digression. Here are a few things that have caught my eye in the past week or so:

What's wrong with the teenage mind? Need I say more?

Two posts really spoke to me from my feeds: A reminder that things can change any day: Life is short, and this one, What I know now, about the little and big nuances that make up who we are.

The questions you ask yourself on a daily basis determine your focus, and your focus determines your results. Maybe that sounds a little self-helpy, but this post about 10 questions to ask yourself daily is a good straightforward way to look ahead.

What's wrong with the teenage mind? Hmmm. Need I say more? Thanks for the link, Kim. It's taken me a couple of years to catch on that indeed I DO have a teen, but I'm there now, and adjusting accordingly.

A blog I follow about a young man who suffered very devastating injuries in a car accident a few years back, Pray for Ian, posted that they're doing a fundraiser with these T-shirts. I thought I'd spread the word just a little further. Ian and Larissa are a sweet, God-fearing couple trying to make their way in this altered reality.

I somehow let today slip by without officially noting that it was World Nutella Day. I have lately been taken by this site that posts every food holiday and what day it is celebrated. Rather fun to know when Soup Day is, or Carrot Cake Day, just in case you were looking for menu ideas, you know.

Piecaken. This (above) must be attempted. Sooner rather than later. To not try would be completely unAmerican. (If you are of other nationality, you can just bring your distainful looks and come have piecaken at my house, you know you will.)

Bagel making, coming up!

Catching up on Slate: Wished-for changes to the modern keyboard (I completely concur on the need for an em dash!).

A couple of posts relative to the faith-filled life: the differences between religion and the gospel (drawn from the sermons of Tim Keller, yeah!) and a post by Donald Miller about church leadership, which I really appreciated.

Ever wanted to know who the top 100 jewelry sellers on Etsy are? Here they are!

So the Downton Abbey obsession continues... a Facebook friend posted a quiz just today: "Which Downton Abbey character are you?" with some humorous questions to answer. I turned up as Anna (the head housemaid, if you're not yet a fan) and Alan came up Matthew Crawley (duh, of course! Matthew's the new heir and one of the main men.). Take the quiz yourself. I'd love to know which character you are!

And further down the soapy end of the spectrum is the new-ish ABC show Revenge. Pretty much fluff of the finest fluff. I find this fan tribute video quite campy and humorous.

And since I can't actually bring myself to post anything fluffier than that last bit, I'll just call it good with that!

Hope you have enjoyed a lovely weekend, and that wherever you are you got to enjoy a bit more sunshine than we had. Other than a glorious two-hour sunshine break today, we wallowed in a bowl of fog all weekend. Ready for the inversion to end, for sure.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My first Etsy treasury: For the love of green

Etsy treasuries have been around for quite a while; I really don't know why I haven't played with making one before--whole sites/blogs have been dedicated to the curation of Etsy pretties around a theme. (Though, for the life of me, I cannot recall the name of the most famous one... it will come to me, maybe. See: my brain gratitude from yesterday... ha ha.)

I believe, in looking at the how-to information on the Etsy blog, it's gotten easier over time to fill in the template and save, so maybe it's good I waited so long? Regardless, I just got a bee in my bonnet and decided today is the day!

I named this first treasury after my Pinterest board with the same leanings: For the love of green. It's true that green and I still have a bit of a love affair after all these years. Maybe it's not as passionate as it once was, but the flame still burns... nothing says fresh and springy like a board of green!

Here's the link to find the treasury on Etsy.

Here's the link to my "For the love of green board" on Pinterest.

Here's a reality check: In the 32 minutes since I posted my treasury, 82 (EIGHTY TWO!) additional treasuries have been curated and posted, moving mine back 5 pages. By the time you see it, who knows!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

Fly, little week, fly!

This week was a quick one, for sure. No sitting around wondering if we're at Thursday and it's only Wednesday... zoom zoom.

And here we are at Friday night. What what what to be grateful for? Hmmm. So much, but where to start?

Maybe it's because of the foggy day, or the time of year, but color is something that I am particularly grateful for right now. I culled a few of my more memorably colorful Pins of late, to share with you. I have interspersed them throughout my grateful list, just for kicks. I know, hang onto your hats, it's a wild night!

what fun to make these crochet balls

I'm grateful for my brain. I thought of this a number of times this week--especially when I completely spaced the name of someone I know well enough, as she was walking toward me. It was right there, right at the tip of my tongue, and I could not recall it. So that might make you think I should not be grateful for the current state of my brain, but the truth is, if that happens to me I know that my brain is full-up with other stuff. Which it currently is. All kinds of stuff like data fields and organizational structures and lists and print outs and schedules. So names of people I see every few months? Not so much. Thankfully I covered, well enough, I hope.

 I'd love this chair anywhere in my house!

Emotional resilience is something I'm thankful to have a helping of. There have been varying opinions on my resilience; I've been told I'm extremely resilient, I've been told I'm somewhat resilient, and I've been told I'm not even remotely resilient. All at different times in my life, by different people. Maybe I was those things, at that time. What I know at this moment is that I am resilient. I bounce back. Depending on the situation, it might take me a minute or two (or three), but I'll get there. I will usually find a way to look on the bright side, and barring any bright side at all, I will pragmatically slog through to a way to deal with whatever is in my path. With an understanding (faith) that allows me to believe in a bigger picture beyond my little circumstances on this particular day.

 salad that makes me dream of summer...

The above leads me to list faith as something I'm grateful for. Seth and I talk about faith quite a bit, usually in the evening, as we are having our winding down conversations before bed. I've shared my path, somewhat in generalities, in other ways quite specifically, and this last week I told him more concretely what my path back to faith looked like. I've thought about writing it here, but as it is intensely personal, I am reluctant and shy. Reading the multi-post story by hollywood housewife last weekend really made me think about it more seriously--at least writing it down for myself, and then shoring up the courage to share. We'll see.

  rainbow pompoms across my ceiling, yes please!

I'm so so grateful for sunny days. Today was not one of those, it was foggy and cold and everything the groundhog foretold. But yesterday, the day of the shadows, the sunshine was fierce. I am not yet back in the habit of having sunglasses with me at all times, so my squinting was a bit intense, but I would not complain, no way. I have great doubts about six more weeks of anything resembling winter, and am hopeful that more sun is on the way!

adorable dotty boots

My men. I am grateful for husband and his appreciation, affection and our laughter together. I will admit that sometimes I say some pretty crazy things, just to get him to laugh. But it's totally worth it! I am also grateful for my teenager, even though there are times lately I think I might be going a little nuts with some of his arguments and reasoning. Thankfully, his sweetness and affection still comes through.

My sourdough starter did what it was supposed to do, and I'm grateful it worked. I suppose I might be stepping out too quickly as I haven't actually used it yet, but it behaved as the recipe said it was supposed to, and now it awaits whatever concoction I choose to create this weekend. I've read that it takes a while to get really sourdoughy, so I'll be patient for those baguettes I adore...


I'm grateful to live in a community. I have only lived briefly in an urban environment, and while I imagine that there would be things to enjoy and appreciate in that setting, I am quite happy in a smaller community where--having been here now 25+ years--I can see friends and acquaintances quite readily. I have some friends that do not enjoy that particular aspect of small town life, but for me, it makes the flip side--imagining (or just plain knowing) that everyone knows your business--more palatable.

  let's take rainbow cake to the next level!

Living in a beautiful community is wonderful too. I'm grateful we have hills (with snow!) to look out on, and that the storms that come up the valley or over the mountains are interesting to watch, and also that the horizon off to the west provides us with beautiful sunsets on many evenings. We have had some amazing sunsets this winter!

I'm grateful for sleep, and for the promise of extra sleep over the weekend. I feel like I've been on the short end of the sleep stick for a few weeks now, so looking to fix that with some sweet snoozes.

colorful dress, what joy!

I'm grateful for friends, near and far. The variety of ways we keep in touch, whether it's frequent or infrequent, never fail to make my day better. I had a friend leave me a voice message recently that laughingly said my day job was cutting into her ability to call and have me pick up any old time, which is true! So seeing friends and communicating is a bit different at the moment, but very worth my time and energy.

 talk about a wake-me-up shower: rainbow tile!

makes me want to knit!

I really tried not to make it too rainbow oriented, really, I did. But oh those tones, they do speak to me...

For me, the weekend will involve sleep, reading, quiet time/prayer/meditation, cooking/baking, naps (separate from sleep, of course), eating of the cooking/baking, maybe even a little exercise, some office cleaning/organization, bill paying, more naps, a little football (if it gets interesting), movie night with husband, possibly some craft time (especially if the football doesn't get interesting)... all very precious to me, this time and space of the weekend.

I hope your weekend involves all the things you hope for. Peace.

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