Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gratitude for New Lunch Things

I am grateful today for collapsible eco lunch boxes and new style thermoses. I got these lunch boxes on zulily.com and I'm really pleased with them. They store flat, pop up for use, have their own spoon/fork/knife combo in a protected space, and hold a wide variety of stuff without squishing. I'm impressed. The kids love them, too. I'm grateful for a lunch holder that the children like, will use, and that snaps together in a fun way which encourages them to bring home ALL the pieces!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gratitude for school

Tomorrow morning at 7am, our children will be unceremoniously dumped out of bed and expected to function like normal human beings. I expect this to be a challenge, but it's one I'm up to.

I'm organized. Lunches are already made (did it while I was waiting on dinner to cook). Backpacks are ready and hanging on hooks by the door. School clothes are picked out and laid out at the end of beds. Shoes are in their spots, for last minute foot stuffing. All necessary paperwork is in the backpacks.

I'm grateful that the kids are going back to school. They're smart, and they love it. They're out and about all day, and I get a wee bit of time to myself. I can fit myself back into a comfortable schedule for writing, garden work, house work, cooking, baking. I might even fit a game or two in there, or perhaps some study time for a new subject (did you know MIT and other schools offer University level courses free online?).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gratitude for a down day

Today was a quiet day, really. I didn't do a lot. I played a couple of silly online games. I read a bit. I spent some time talking to and cuddling with kids. Today I'm grateful for quiet time, normal time.

Another recipe exchange

I've posted up my Autumn Chopped Salad recipe at Little House Living's recipe exchange again. :) She has such lovely and delicious recipes that get posted up! Go have a peek!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gratitude for fresh bread

There's something wonderful about the flavor of truly fresh bread. When you sweat and ache because you turned the hand crank on your flour mill to make the flour, it's extra sweet. We all had a hand in today's bread, because the hand grinder is pretty tough to work and the arms get sore fast. Still, that "payment" is for something incredibly healthy, with an ingredient list of four items: flour, water, salt, yeast. I've been making a "no knead" rustic bread lately, something new for me. It's very moist and spongy when you make it, but it turns out a delicious and nutty loaf of bread. It's great with soup or stew or just plain with butter and honey. So today I'm grateful for fresh bread made with my own hands and the sweat of my family's brow.

Pray a requiem for Neil Armstrong - Manchester Prayer | Examiner.com

Pray a requiem for Neil Armstrong - Manchester Prayer | Examiner.com: Let the world take a quiet moment this week to say a prayer of goodbye to Neil Armstrong, a true pioneer. He was a man of great convictions, humble and down to earth despite the accolades he earned. He was the first man to step on the moon, and said the historic words so many today know:

"This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong, July 1969

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Autumn Gratitude

This is the salad I made tonight - Autumn Chopped Salad. It's really yummy. It's incredibly easy to make, too, and is nutritious to boot. In fact, I can't think of a bad thing to say about this. It will happily be the salad on my Thanksgiving table this November, and I will serve it every chance I get between now and then.

I'm grateful for the chance to make and eat this delicious salad, and to bask a bit in the glow of the compliments I received about how good it was.

Autumn Chopped Salad

Ingredients:
  • 6-8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 2 medium pears, chopped 
  • 1 cup dried cranberries 
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
  • 4-6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • poppy seed salad dressing
  • balsamic vinaigrette

In a very large bowl, combine the lettuce, pears, cranberries, pecans, bacon and feta cheese. I have sometimes switched out walnuts for the pecans, and tonight I only had one bit of romaine so ended up adding a little bit of leaf lettuce from the garden and a couple of handfuls of finely chopped cabbage as well. Drizzle generously with poppy seed dressing, followed by some of the balsamic vinaigrette. I would estimate that I used about a cup of dressing: 70 percent poppy seed dressing and 30 percent balsamic vinaigrette. If you prefer your salad to have more dressing, feel free to experiment with the combination.

Do not skimp on the ingredients. Whatever you get, get good quality. We got a sale on dried cranberries and so bought several packages, which was nice. I use raw walnuts a lot of the time, so that's what went in tonight's salad. We had BLT sandwiches for lunch and so we made up extra crispy bacon and that was what got tossed into the salad tonight.

I use Brianna's Rich Poppy Seed dressing, which is sweet and rich and incredibly tasty. I sometimes make my own vinaigrette but this time I used a Kraft one that was in the fridge. All natural, and in the case of the vinaigrette, organic. Yum!

Seeds of gratitude


August 25th, 2012 - No, really... I'm grateful for seeds! I have managed to put up both pea seeds and cilantro seeds for next year. This picture is from a few weeks ago, of the seeds before they were fully dry, but a couple of days ago I took them off the dead plant and sealed them up in a vacuum sealed baggie with a desiccant pack in with them. Hopefully they'll be all dry and ready for planting come spring!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Gratitude for life

There's really nothing in particular that I'm grateful for today. I'm just grateful to be alive, to be in my family, to be in my town, my profession, my world.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gratitude for seeds

Today's gratitude goes out to my pea seeds, which are finally all packed away. I've been drying the seeds in the pods on the porch for the past couple of weeks. Today, they were all finally dry enough that I could seal them up in a properly sealed bag with desiccant pack. They're labeled and ready to go into my seed bucket for next year's spring planting!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gratitude for lobster

Today I'm grateful for lobster. For whatever reason, Gray decided that today he was going to go purchase lobster. He did, and we ate. And ate. And ate. Then he was full and all his little legs were left in a pile so I ate those, too. I'm stuffed full of fresh lobster. True gratitude comes with a side of butter...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Grateful for drying herbs

I'm grateful today for the bunches of herbs hanging in my kitchen, drying. Currently I have two thick bundles there. One is of basil, and the heady scent of it wafts around every time you brush it. The other is dill, which is aromatic as well, though not in quite the same way. Some of the dill has gone to seed, and I'll be collecting those for storage separately.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Organizational gratitude

Today I'm grateful because my pantry is all organized and cleaned up. Thanks to a happenstance shelving unit (the big beige block in the back right of the picture) that opens on two sides, we were able to get most of our stuff all tidied up and put away on the shelves. Admittedly, there are several bags of rice to seal up in bags tomorrow, but at least I have something to do, right? :)

This particular bit of organizational joy was put together by myself, sis, my friend Russet, and her incredibly helpful daughter Mo. The four of us worked our tushes off and got it cleaned top to bottom and then got all the various packages and bags and boxes put away.

Yay us!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thank you for fresh spinach!

Today I'm grateful for spinach salad with egg and bacon and dressing made from scratch. I haven't made it in ages, maybe not since last fall! Today I felt like making it, and I really did a great job on the dressing, which was zingy and sweet without being too sugary. The spinach was fresh and local, and I did the eggs just perfect. It came together wonderfully and I ended up eating two helpings of it and now my tummy is bulging. LOL!

What if . . . ?

What if those involved in political races were required to use their own money for their campaigning? I know there are some people who think that would be unfair, because it would theoretically put a class of people (those who are not fiscally afloat, ie rich) out of the running. The problem, of course, is that those of us who aren't making a bundle aren't going to be in the Presidential race anyhow. Why? Because it takes money to get there.

I'm using the race for the Presidency as an example because it's looming before us, but this should apply to all politics. Don't get me wrong - I don't mind that the President is paid for what she or he is doing. It's a job, it's a stressful job, and it deserves pay.

I'm not sure I understand why we have to keep paying the President a salary for life, though. I believe they call it a pension, but since when does someone get a pension of that amount for a mere four (or even eight) years of work? Every President that sits should be a working President. He or she needs to take off their four or eight years from their regular job in order to do the work of President, yes, but that job should still be there when they're done. Or failing that, you have to admit that having "President of the United States of America" on your resume is a fairly good reference.

Bill Clinton was the last President to get "Secret Service for life". From Bush Jr. onward, the American people cover ten years of SS protection, which doesn't seem unreasonable to me. Again, the job is pretty stressful. I could even go for "full medical equal to or less than what they would get from work as a high ranking officer in the Armed Forces" since technically that's what the President is (Commander in Chief).

Regardless, though, if someone wants to be President they should be able to sell their merits on their own. Take a train from city to city rather than flying in a personal jet. Or if you want to jet, fine, but pay for it yourself. You want the job; show me why you'd be the best person to hire for it.

As I do every four years, I remind people, this "race" to the Presidency is not some kind of popularity contest (or should not be). It's a chance for those who wish to hold the job (which is about to become vacant) to show us their resume, to show us their skills and abilities. It's their time to show us, the American people, their employers, why they should get the job.

One talking point is not enough to sway me to hire someone. The Presidency is not about abortion rights or gay rights or fences in Mexico. It's about all those things and more. Just because a person running for President doesn't agree personally with abortion doesn't mean that they will (or even have the right to) up and change the law to make abortion illegal. That's why we have the Senate and the House. That's why we have Congress. The only "overreaching power" the President should have, to my understanding, is the power to say NO (veto). That doesn't make laws/bills pass; it simply shuts them down without making changes.

What would make me want to vote for Barack Obama? What would make me not want to vote for him? What would make me want to vote for Mitt Romney? What would make me not want to vote for him? What would make me want to vote for the other candidates, probable or possible? What would make me not want to vote for them?

It's not one issue. It isn't even ten issues. Look at the bigger picture. Look at the resumes of these people who apply for the job of running our country. What skills do they bring to the table that will make our country better? What drawbacks do they have that will need to be improved on the job or worked around? What items do we, the People, need to address about the candidates before we're willing to give them a try?

More importantly, what are they doing now and what have they been doing for the past four years, to show that they are the person who should hold the position of President? What is their job experience, so to speak? I don't mean how many babies they've kissed or even how many political jobs they've necessarily held. I mean what are they good at that they bring to the office of President? Are they good with people? Do they know how to balance a check book? Are they aware of the various problems affecting the country right now? Do they have suggestions and ideas for how to fix those problems? Are they physically, mentally and emotionally capable of holding the position of President?

Please, everyone... remember that this is not and should not EVER be a popularity contest. It doesn't matter if Obama looks good in a Speedo or if Romney is a good guy who goes to church. Look at the Big Picture. Don't vote for your favorite cause - vote for your country's health and welfare.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Three days of gratitude

Thursday, August 16th

Today I'm grateful for the ability to ask others for prayers, and for receiving those prayers. A wonderful mentor has an issue going on and asked for prayers. I was able to talk to all those on my seminary list and an interfaith minister support group online for help for that mentor and for myself dealing with it. 

Friday, August 17th

Today's gratitude is for movies from the library. I picked up The Black Cauldron and Redwall and we watched them. The kids loved them, and they brought up many old memories for me. It was nice to cuddle up on the couch during the scary bits.

Saturday, August 18th

Today I'm grateful for half-off green beans at the grocery store. Because of them, this winter we won't have to buy expensive ones at the store. We'll have fresh ones in our freezer from this sale. They're all blanched and in FoodSaver sealer bags, resting happily in the freezer. There's even one big one all set for use on Thanksgiving, and so labelled so we don't lose it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gratitude for cooking


Today I am grateful for the opportunity to learn better ways of cooking old favorites. I made sweet and sour meatballs but couldn't find my original recipe. Going from memory was an option but instead I decided to find the recipe online. It ended up being a wonderful article and an even more amazing meal. It was just tangy enough to keep your interest, and just sweet enough without being enough to make your teeth ache. Over the jasmine rice, it was just perfect.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fashion gratitude

I'm grateful today for the opportunity to run away from responsibility for 3 hours and go "window shopping" at Fashion Bug with my "big sis" and my "little sis." We tried on dozens of outfits, chose things for each other, ooh'd and ahhh'd over sexy lingerie, and then sighed contentedly and walked out without purchasing a thing. It was fun, carefree, and it made me really smile.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gratitude for snuggles


Sunday, August 12th - I'm grateful for tonight's Mike Mike snuggles. He was asleep before I'd even gotten the light off, his woobies piled around him like a nest. I just sat and stared at his cute little form, his mouth open, soft snoring coming from him.


Monday, August 13th - Today I'm full of gratitude for a garden that continues to produce. The life giving rain came, and things began to renew themselves. That's a lovely little acorn squash forming, there.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

They're coming home!


While I've enjoyed my week without kids (they were visiting their older sister in Maryland for a week), I'm so ready for them to be home, and they'll be home any minute now! I can't wait to hug them and kiss them, and maybe take one of them up to snuggle with me tonight. :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gratitude for helping a friend

Today I'm grateful for the opportunity to be there for a young friend. I got to hold a hand and take photographs as she got her ears pierced. It may not be a big deal to most, but it felt incredibly good to be asked to go along, to be there to experience along with her. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gratitude for work


I'm grateful today for my job(s). At one point I wasn't sure I would ever really be working again. Fate seemed to have settled me as house mistress and while that's "work" as in "effort", it isn't the paying kind. Now, I find myself doing pulpit supply, weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies. I also do html coding for a few friends, which doesn't bring in a huge glut of cash, but it's enough. And then there's my writing, for Examiner and for other places.

Do I earn a living wage? Nope, not even close. My family does, though, and what I earn tends to go for fun things that otherwise are outside our budget. On the few opportunities I get to pay a bill or pick up the week's groceries, I get all a-flutter.

I like earning money, especially so doing things that call to my soul. I hated answering phones, typing letters, and running offices. It was something I was good at (still am), but it never was a spiritual calling. All it was, was a paycheck. Now, preaching and doing ceremonies and writing... now I feel my spiritual side springing free.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Gratitude for gardens

The days get busy so fast around here. I've been having my moments of gratitude every day but I haven't made time to write them down. I am hoping to do better!

Saturday, August 4th

I am grateful for the opportunity to marry a beautiful couple on the day of their 20th anniversary. Watching their shining faces as they stood before their family and friends, on the beach that was their meeting place, was just so amazing. "With the horizon our only walls, the sky our only ceiling, and the earth our floor," I joined them together in a very heart felt ceremony. This is one of  those days I love my job.

Sunday, August 5th

I am grateful that I got to preach this morning at Nelson Congregational Church. The people there are always so welcoming, and I had a great topic which spoke to me and to them. I also did my first solo Communion, which was not perfect, but went well enough.

Monday, August 6th

I am grateful for a day to sleep in, work on writing, and generally relax.

Tuesday, August 7th

Today, I am grateful for ibuprofin and the chance to put my foot up. I walked up to the bank to deposit some checks in the business account, and while it isn't a horridly long way, it was long enough. My ankle swelled to almost twice its normal size, but thanks to the ibuprofin, it's gone down again. The world is good; better living through chemistry!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The changing of the garden guard


The peas are done. I let them go an extra five days just to dry out a bit, but there really wasn't anything going on with them. I had left a few peas (ones I missed that had gotten big) to swell up and become seed for next year. Today I pulled out the whole lot of them.

I loaded them all into the wheelbarrow and took them to the porch, where I proceeded to go through every single stem, one at a time, pulling off every pod I found. There were a few (very few) edible ones, but most of them had gone completely to seed. I got a medium bowl worth of pods. Some of them were very dry, and others were just beginning to yellow. They're all out on the table on the porch, where the sun will hit them for a few hours a day and dry them out.

Now the garden bed looks like this, instead of the above mess! I've left the (drooping) trellis in place, with the idea that I will plant a nice shelling pea on the weekend. I think a Lincoln would work nicely, to be honest. We all loved the snap peas but... there's just something about sitting and shelling the Lincolns or similar. It's like unwrapping sweet candy! Not to mention the pods make very nice wine...

The corn bed is looking extraordinarily good, if I do say so myself. I'm incredibly pleased with myself. It's growing fast and thick, and even the heavy rains of the last few days did nothing more than encourage it to grow a bit faster. We've had about five or six stalks fall over a bit, but the rest are just fine. It looks pretty impressive from all angles, and I get all happy inside when I see it out the bathroom window. I'm thinking we might just get corn cobs out of this! I wasn't sure, planting as late as I did, but... I am holding out hope.

That there on the vine to the right is a watermelon! There are actually two growing already, but this is the larger. It's about the size of a cherry tomato (which we have a ton of right now, though all green yet) but growing every day. The second one is only the size of a pencil eraser, not worth looking at a photograph of. Still... two watermelons would be a lovely thing for September's harvest festival.

There are billions of cucumbers on my vines. With 20 feet of them (10 on each side of the trellis), I expect to have enough to make some pickles with. We've lucked out, in that someone around here has honey bees. There are bunches of them that come visit our plants, along with a variety of other pollinators. I like watching the fat, furry bumbles as they flit from blossom to blossom. I've already snitched a few of the small cucumbers. They're only about two inches long, but they're HUGE on taste, let me tell you! Sooooo good.

Our sole sunflower has finally opened to the world. It has a little "curl" on its forehead, a stunted petal that never grew correctly. It's so pretty! It stands about 8 feet tall, and it towers over the girl twin's garden. We've got some acorn squash coming along, and our zucchini is still producing nicely. There are beans, although the last of them will be harvested tomorrow and then pulled (that spot is now destined for garlic!). The cabbage is starting to expand rapidly, and I'm thinking we might actually get a real head or two out of this!

I yanked the last of the beets a while ago, and the broccoli and a few other things. Today, I added a bit more compost to the tire with the veggies in it, and we planted more beets in there. I'd like to pick up some kale for this fall/winter, and maybe a couple more types of squash, though that depends on a variety of things.

It's my intention to build two or three more raised beds, and fill them with good compost this fall. I'll cover all the raised beds with black plastic and newspaper for the winter, hopefully doing a good job of cooking any weed seeds and volunteers that are still in the beds. It should give me a good start in the spring, with warmer beds that I can plant in earlier. At least one of the beds is going to have a hoop style frame built over it, allowing me to cover it in clear plastic in the spring. This will mean that I can put the peas and beans and broccoli out in March rather than April or May. It means that my second "season" of crops are more likely to succeed, because they'll have a longer time to grow before it gets cold.

What's growing in your fall garden?

Friday, August 3, 2012

I did have a moment of gratitude for yesterday but forgot to post it up. So...

Thursday, August 2nd:

I am incredibly grateful for silly sleepovers with younger girlfriends who are like sisters. I had a "pj party" with the 16 year old daughter of a friend, and we watched a movie together, then talked until 1am. I haven't done that in years, and it was just a wonderful thing.

Friday, August 3rd:

Today, my gratitude goes out to my gods for inspiring my writing and helping me keep focus today until my work was done. I had a ton to do today, and while I didn't finish every last piece, I got a lot more done than I thought I would. I'm completely prepared for tomorrow's wedding that I'm officiating at, and that is due to my gods.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gratitude

The Gratitude Project is a pagan observation that apparently began on LiveJournal about eight or so years ago. The idea is to post  up at least a sentence each day, saying what you're grateful for. No repeats, although you can be grateful that your spouse kissed you this morning, and then tomorrow be grateful that he said loving words to you. The more specific you make your mentions of gratitude, the easier it is. The project runs from August 1st, Lammas, through to autumn equinox, which is September 22nd this year (at 10:49am EDT for those who care).

What am I grateful for today? I'm grateful that I am once again teaching and touching on my old Wiccan and neo-pagan roots. It's been so long, and a young lady is learning with me now. I got one of those "magickal" pats on the head when I started doing this, so apparently I've avoided the clue-by-four this time.

So I'm sliding a bit back into my pre-Hellenic style. I never gave up all of it, but I've done almost exclusively Hellenic rituals for about five years. Now, I'm using more Wiccan style rituals. It's not that I'm moving backwards. I'm moving forward, taking what I've learned and doing something new and exciting with it.

As I pull out all my old notes, the things that I used to teach, I find my mind grasping things that I did not really notice before. Two days ago was my class on ethics, or rather the start of it (does one EVER truly finish teaching about ethics??), and I found there were things that I had written so many years ago that have morphed into much more solid morals for me personally. It's interesting seeing the progression.

What are you grateful for?