Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday night grateful moment

Such a peaceful evening here, with the sun going down earlier and earlier, and the nights cooling off. I know it's only July, but I can already feel summer waning, even as the days are 100 degrees. So quickly, the long days shorten and before you know it, I'll be complaining about the frost on the tomatoes. Except (wait for it, you know what's coming, don't you Jen?), autumn is my favorite season. I almost forgot, I love summer so much too. And spring. Spring's not bad. Winter's really the low point on the season radar for me, but you can winnow that to January and February, really, because anything up to the first of the year is the holidays, and who doesn't love the holidays? So, 10 months to love, 2 months to be "meh" about? That's not bad.

Now that I've got my seasonal musings out of the way, I can move on to gratitude. I can't seem to pull much more together on the blog lately than gratitude. Gratitude and kale. Really, aren't those the same thing?!

The garden does continue to produce, and we continue to enjoy kale, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and this week our first little lemon cucumber. Still to come will be the avalanche of tomatoes, when all the plants are producing daily. Right now it's still mostly the Early Girls and some yellow cherry toms.

Today husband and I went to the funeral and it made me think about a lot of things to be grateful for--community, family, love, tradition, faith, health, and a host of other things that have complicated emotions tied to them. A friend, without knowing that I was headed to a funeral, sent me an essay to read about two recent funerals she and her family attended. One lovely takeaway line: "Joy and sadness often intermingle as we grieve." Too true.

Seth and I had such a great trip to Canada last weekend, road tripping together through the wilds of Washington. I am so very grateful for a teenage son who is so much fun to talk with, hang out with, listen to audiobooks and laugh with. We have done so many of these road trips together, and each one holds a special place in my memories.

I am grateful for sleep, which I know will come easily tonight.

I'm grateful for air conditioning during these hottest of summer days. I'm grateful too, that when I open the sliding doors in the morning, the cool of the morning will fill the house.

I'm grateful for husband, and his loving ways.

I'm very grateful for my faith, even as it is sometimes as short-sighted and ADHD as I am. I saw this video over on Donald Miller's blog this week, of Mark Wahlberg talking about his upbringing and decision to turn his life around and the role faith plays in that, and I was encouraged. So many people don't feel (especially in the public eye) like they can speak of their faith without a certain amount of scorn coming their way, and his matter-of-factness was refreshing.

I wish you a weekend of peace and gratefulness for wherever you are, and whatever life has brought your way this week, this month, this year.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday night grateful moment

I am in the land of nostalgia (Canada, in case you didn't know) tonight, surrounded by family. Much to be grateful for, even as I miss husband and my mind and heart are with him in many ways tonight.

I was grateful for good conversation with Seth on the ride up. Lots of chit chat about college choices, areas of study, and a little Monty Hall Problem thrown in for good measure. David Sedaris read to us for a bit today--his most recent book "Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls;" it was as amusing as David's writing usually is. We threw in a little Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan, and the miles flew by.

Seth helped with driving part of the way, too. That was wonderful and I even got to snooze a little.

I am grateful for a grandma who is still going strong at 94. I don't know if "going strong" is the best term for it, but she's still here, and other than not being able to hear a lot of the conversation, she's pretty with it. I feel lucky, especially, to have Seth know her too.

The garden is chugging along beautifully. Kale is flourishing, potatoes are ready for harvest, the okra is coming along, tomatoes too. Oh and the summer squash and zucchini? Blink and they've multiplied, by leaps and bounds. I'm grateful for the plethora of produce, and for the watering/harvesting/weeding time each evening with husband.

I'm grateful for the camraderie my mother enjoys with her sisters. It is very lovely. I have great memories from my childhood of their giggle fits, and they still have a way of getting each other going, now. So good for the soul.

Seth said something tonight about being grateful, and it made me smile and feel grateful myself. I'm a blessed mom.

There were many long days this week for dear loved ones with health issues. So grateful for healing bodies, for amazing caregivers, for love and loyalty.

I'm grateful for the sleep that is calling me, right now. I shall heed the call!

I hope your weekend is as lovely as I'm sure mine is going to be.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday night grateful moment

Driving home from post-work errands, I wasn't entirely sure I could muster a list of gratitude tonight. It's been a loooooooong week. Count every "o." Indeed.

But, once I pause and refresh, I am usually up for a little remembering of the gratitude, and of course this night is no exception. I'm fed, my feet are up, husband is near, and the evening outside has been just simply beautiful. Gratitude? In spades.

For family that cares, and reaches out. Thanks, family. (Group texts are the bomb. Am I right or am I right?)

For friends who care, and reach out. Thanks, friends. For responding to my voice messages/texts with sweetness, for encouragement and humor. (And music. Always for the music.)

For blueberries and nectarines and raspberries and blackberries and watermelon and tomatoes and cucumbers and corn and kale and potatoes; I'm grateful that every item I just listed is now ripe within 50 miles. Awesome.

For the weekend. For a day of rest, then a day of productivity, before we get to do it all over again.

For the power of words. I am daily reminded: Choose. Your. Words. (Someone's listening and will be influenced, I guarantee it.)

For joy.

For sadness, because it reminds me that joy exists in so many (unexpected) places.

For sweet puppies who greet me each night with hops and circles of happiness and licks and smiles.

For clouds that look an awful lot like they are lit from within. For sunsets that feel special, night after night. For wheatfields that go on and on, acre after acre of gold.

For anticipation... I do love having things to look forward to, and there are just enough summer teasers out there to keep me smiling. Nice. :)

For the amazing human body and the ability to heal. I'm especially grateful tonight for caregivers, a special breed of people, truly.

Color, color, color. Always grateful for color it its many forms; right now there are colors everywhere, from sky to earth to foliage to produce. Lovely to live somewhere with seasons.

I wouldn't have imagined in my earlier years how much I would grow to appreciate and be grateful for nature. I was talking with a friend today about our ideal kinds of trips, and I arrived at a few key points that make an area more appealing to me: fewer people (no crowds, please), more nature, and definitely good, fresh food choices; also, being able to walk and not rely so much on transportation. I know my love of NYC doesn't really fit that bill (though you can walk, and can find nature, there's no avoiding the crowds...), when I think about traveling for any length of time, having some wide open spaces to just breathe on occasion really does factor in.

For the habit of prayer, for the mindfulness to stop in the midst of stress and be calm (mostly), to look in the mirror, and breathe.

But especially, to know I am a child of God, and to rest in that knowledge, in peace.

I wish you a weekend of peace. And blueberries.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The gospel according to kale

I am in the midst of a love affair with kale. I eat it every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I talk about kale, and get kale articles sent to me via email and Facebook. I am a kale nut. And I make no apologies! I get a little bit of a ribbing about it at work, but only because I eat kale salads in front of co-workers. If you don't want to be teased, eat in private.

Kale shows up in my smoothie every morning:

In salads I've enjoyed many variations. There's the one below (a twist with a basil-tomato-parmesan flavor) and a peanut-sauce dressed version as well:

And, finally, I recently broke down and made kale chips. These have been popping up as a healthy option, all over the interwebs. I've read a number of different takes on how best to make them, and decided I would give it a whirl, plain and simple, none of the fussy, flavored types.

I made a batch, and husband and I nibbled away. I made another batch the next day, and have made them a few times since. Each time I make them, they disappear. I love the flavor and the texture, I'll just be honest. Mock me all you want. :)

I used this recipe from David Lebowitz, and his rationale on heat made a lot of sense to me. I went with 350 for the temperature (rather than the widely touted 425) and it took about 35-40 minutes (with a mid-time rack switch) for them to crisp up to the desired chip texture. I would recommend playing with your oven and getting to know what temperature works, what timing works, etc.

Before and after oven time for the kale chips. Nothing like a little time in an oven to get the green out and crisp up!

Give it a try, and let me know how it goes. I would love to know what you think too. (And if you're local and need kale, give me a holler! We have kale to share.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday morning inspiration

A few days ago (Friday, I think), I remarked that I had completely lost track of days... the holiday during the week rather than a Friday or Monday kind of threw me off, I guess. But in the best of ways. What day is it, anyway? Friday felt like a Monday all day, because the night before felt like Sunday. Or some such logic... Well, yesterday did feel well and truly like a Sunday, replete with all the things that make a productive Sunday shine--husband and I both got good and filthy doing some yard work, I did some deep cleaning in some areas that hadn't seen my Swiffer strong arm in a good long time, and we did a little road trippin' with the dogs with a stop at one of our favorite soft-serve ice cream joints (they sell a lot more than ice cream, but that's all we ever get) on the way home. A really lovely summer day!

A few things have come across my path lately that have inspired me, and of course I wanted to share them with you!

This letter written to an author was a great reminder to me that taking the time to let someone know that they have made a difference in your life is a really worthwhile thing. Last week, partly prompted by reading this, I took the opportunity to write a note of thanks to a local oncology caregiver for the color she breathes into a room when she enters it. Her cheer and positive words have made all the difference in the world to a local woman I know who is currently fighting cancer.

All that is to say, if there's someone you've been meaning to write to, or has been in your thoughts in a way of gratitude for an action, big or small, take the time to say something. Do it. You won't regret it, even if (maybe especially if) you never hear a word back about it. It's just a good thought, out there in the universe--and YOU put it there!

Viral wedding toasts and dances are all the rage these days, but every once in awhile one will stand out as unique and sweet. This one was, for me. (See my note below the video about how to actually know what she's saying.)

Click over to YouTube and watch the video there (rather than above), and click on "transcript" below the video to read along as she sings. Very clever for old ears like mine that don't hear every word in a rap!

If you think about writing, about putting your thoughts out to the world, but can't ever seem to make it happen, this post might be for you. I am warning, as the writer of the post does, that the language in the post is Not Safe For Work (for those of you who may not know what NSFW is). Which means you probably also shouldn't start reading it aloud to your mother (or mine) on a road trip. But put the language aside, and grab the gist of it: just get writing already.

This sweet thing was posted to my Facebook wall just yesterday by dear friend Jen. It reminded her of me, I guess. I'll take it, even though I'm Northern, not Southern. But the tea is sweetened there too...

I do love love and family, and I've been known to adhere to a tradition or two, as well. :)

Hope you have a sweet, inspired week ahead!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday night grateful moment

One of these days I'm going to do better than posting once a week. (Remember that month, not that long ago, where I posted every single blippin' day? Ha.) There are drafts in my folder at various stages of... drafting, I guess. But between now and that magical time, when I have a few more moments than currently available to transfer photos, fiddle with them, and compose more than just a sentence or two... I will make do--and I hope you will too--with Friday night grateful moments.

A week with a holiday smack in the middle is a good thing. It makes you think that this should be the way weeks always are. Of course, the 4th wasn't exactly *smack* in the middle of the week, falling on Thursday and all. It made Friday just a blip on the map, but that's not a bad thing. All that is to say: quick week!

This week I found myself grateful for many things, which isn't unusual. But it felt-extra grateful, for some reason. I don't argue, I just go with the grateful.

Grateful for communication, for the ability to share thoughts, ideas, notions, whims even, and be heard. To process with my safe person (husband) and even if we don't arrive at the same place at the same time, we're on the same train. I know, not the most solid of analogies, but you get where I'm going.

Grateful for the son. He's a precious one, that Seth. Texted me mid-morning during his last day of work while at our place, and asked if husband and I wanted to meet for lunch downtown. He's been in the habit of a solo lunch break, which I think he really likes most days, but he knew I was wanting just a little more time with him before he's off for the coming week and a half, and made my day so much brighter with that text. We had a lovely visit before he was off to his second internship job (unpaying, but still good experience...).

Grateful for organizational skills. Whenever I feel like I need to get things done, it always always always helps me to get my stuff organized (don't look at my home office right now!). I moved work offices at the end of last week to make room for some training and doubling up for a couple of months, and took the time to get re-organized in my new space. I'm a little chagrined to realize (and admit) how much I still need/value/require paper to do my job. It's all in the computer, why do I need to hold it in my grubby little paws? I'm unclear. But will ponder. Regardless, I'm grateful to be able to put my stuff in order (translate: recycle/shred a bunch of old papers) and be able to move on to the getting things done part of work!

Grateful for laughter. I love, especially, making husband laugh. He's got such a good laugh, and many days don't hold enough laughter for him, with the pace of decision-making and go-go-next-meetingness of work life. Getting a chuckle out of him is a great deal of fun for me. Poor guy.

Grateful for sunshine. Just the right amount--meaning, not 110 degrees! We've settled into a nice mid-80s hum, now that we moved past the quick heat wave, and it's lovely. Lovely working in the yard, lovely watching sunsets and not sweating, lovely waking up and seeing the pups romp in the grass. Sunshine is so good.

Grateful for each new day. Every morning as I go down the stairs to make coffee, start breakfast, get going on the day, the sun is just coming up (yep, early bird gets the worm!) and I am filled with joy for the day ahead. I know, such a dork. But it's true. It's a new day, there's lots of interesting work to do, interesting people to do it with, and there are bound to be a few surprises along the way. What's not to love? I'm also grateful that, in the words of Emerson, I can...

“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

I have always enjoyed pieces of that poem, but had no idea they were all together... at least that's what Goodreads told me! But I do love the sentiment--let yesterday go, move on to today. If there were mistakes, just don't make the same ones again. Learn, grown, move, don't be encumbered by old nonsense!

And too, the obvious: there are some for whom the morning did not dawn. This fact is not lost on me, with friends of friends going through extreme and dire health circumstances. It makes me cherish the new day even more, when I remember that for some it could be their last new day.

Greatly grateful for summer flavors. Had my first tomato and basil combo from the garden this week. Earliest tomato we've ever had, it surprised both husband and I when we were out in the garden earlier this week and spotted the lovely red hue poking out from one of the Early Girl tomato plants. The salad (I will share soon, a twist on caprese) was as good as I always remember fresh tomatoes and basil being. As well, blueberries are here, in droves, and nectarines and watermelons too. I'm a little sad that our fruit trees bore zero fruit this year. Zippo. Can't really remember that happening before. We had a pretty aggressive (and overdue) spring trim this year, but we also had frosts that were timed just so, to zap the flowers at the right moment to eliminate the promise of fruit. Boo. But I'll make do with the markets and farmers and whatever highways and byways I have to travel down to find my fruit! What is summer without fruit? It's like winter without Christmas, I tell you! Narnia before Aslan. Not good.

I'm grateful for sleep. Knock on wood, that's been going better lately. I'll take it, and add a nap to boot. Yeah for a good night's sleep.

Ever grateful for the weekend, for this time of rest, praise, recuperation. Time to recharge for the new week.

What are you grateful for tonight? I hope the list is long!


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