Friday, July 29, 2011

They're Not Really Really Free, But...

Dinner for tonight was mostly from our garden. Yummers. As I was talking to myself, which I make a daily habit, I noticed to myself that these "free" vegetables and fruit from my garden were actually not free. I had to purchase seeds, fertilizer, and soil (hopefully this year only), build raised beds, spend countless hours weeding and watering, and spend time picking, washing, and prepping...Nope. Not free at all.

Delicious? Yes! Beautiful? Yes.

Despite all the time, money, and energy I spent on my free vegetables, I know the One who freely made them grow so wonderfully. He lovingly sprouted the seeds and keeps them growing and producing. He has created them fresher and healthier than those purchased in stores. Few pests (so far - the insects can probably smell the richness and are quickly crawling, winging, or creeping closer), no added chemicals, no wax or preservatives added. Ahhh.

What the Creator of the universe can do! Amazing. Not for a second do I believe in a big bang that formed all of the intricate details evident in my garden, not to mention every puzzle piece of life that fits just so. I love seeing evidence of His imagination and creativity, available every day, everywhere, free for the looking.

A recipe of tasty summer...

Sweet Summer Salad
(The more that comes from outside the back door, the better!)

Fresh lettuce (I like the mixed seeds for at least 4 types of greens)
1 yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
Strawberries, thinly sliced
Small radishes, left whole
2 basil leaves per person, thinly sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced or diced
Yellow pear or round tomatoes
Grated Parmesan cheese, fresh not powdered
Black pepper, fresh ground
Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1. Tear lettuce leaves into bite sized pieces. Divide between plates (number of plates depends on how many salads you need).

2. Divide the rest of the vegetables and fruit between all the plates. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and black pepper.

3. Lightly sprinkle each salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

4. Enjoy!

Balsamic vinaigrette:
Add 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar to 1/4 c. olive oil in a glass jar or salad dressing bottle. Add about 2 tsp. oregano and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Shake well. Ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The ICK Factor

Disgusting. There is nothing worse than using a public toilet. Maybe not having any toilet around to use, but that is another blog.

But using a public potty which appears to be clean and is inside a fairly respectable establishment and then the 'after use perusal' shows details to the contrary. ICK.

Case in point. Today, while doing reconnaissance about a future building project for my honey, I needed to visit the WC (water closet, loo, toilette, potty). Happily went my way to take care of business.

The individualized stalls of personal convenience were adequate. The stall I chose looked clean and relatively unused. So I used it.

And somehow, upon completion of my business, viewed the undercarriage of the throne. UGH. Let's just say that someone missed very visibly and ick-ily.

Did I get any on me? Are my clothes contaminated? Should I just toss it all in the trash and go au naturel throughout the store to avoid contamination? Perhaps as I was kicked out or arrested, the employees would wonder why, and I could explain the pew-ee features on their commodes.

Ick. Gross. Nasty.

Of course, by the time I saw the evidence (not number one, btw), it was too late. I had fallen for the appearance of cleanliness.

Come on people. Seriously. There is someone out there right now that should be taking a shower and doing some laundry (AFTER scrubbing their hands). How one can do that?...Well. OK. Sometimes accidents happen. But how bathroom cleaning persons can clean (and sanitize, I hope) only the TOP of the potty, is, should be, illegal!


I need a shower.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

If the good outweighs the bad...

I went to a memorial service today for a dear man who has a loving family and many friends. One of the speakers was sharing about the popular theory of life after death, and that set me to thinking.

Many people believe that there are scales for each of us. All of your good and bad deeds are put into the appropriate sides of the scales. At the end of life, if the good outweighs the bad, then you go to heaven. If the bad outweighs the good, then you go south...

I've heard that saying spoken by many people, and hadn't stopped to consider what the saying really meant.

The minister went on.

But in reality, that's not what happens at all when a person dies. After a person dies, and he is standing in front of God, God doesn't look for scales at all. The ONLY thing He looks at is the person's heart and whether or not that person has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

That is the only decision that makes a difference about where a person spends eternity
(and eternity is a very LONG, unending time).

Hadn't thought much about that 'scale theory' until today. From now on, I think I will listen more closely to the idioms, metaphors, and analogies I hear people say. Some may be accurate. Some slightly true. But many are way off the mark.

Toss out the scales. Get to the real issue.

You. Jesus.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Recycle X 2

I have this cool bag. Well I HAD this cool bag. It was so cool that I carried it back and forth to school all last year, full to overflowing with teacher stuff - books, papers, craft projects, dirt, science objects, food, prizes, garbage, recycling...If you can think of something (within reason), it was probably hauled in my bag.

It's called le joie de vivre avec stuff and features 60's style illustrations with French vocabulary words. I found it at Inklings (Yakima). All sides were covered with pictures and labeled in French words, including the bottom, which hardly anyone ever saw. (That is good, as it featured a naked man in the shower...didn't notice that part when I purchased my cool bag. He WAS artfully modest.)

My bag was made from recycled materials. A big plus for me. Cool theme, recycled goods, purposeful, large and roomy, solid straps...My kind of bag.

I loved my bag. Loved it too much it seems. By the end of the school year, the bottom was wearing through. I was devastated to have to put it out to pasture, but resigned. It was that or continually pick up things that fell through the holes in the thinned out bag bottom.

Aha! I told myself! (I often talk to myself, and not always in my head. Just ignore me.)

Self, you can remake this sack! Just cut off the bottom and sides. Sew them together and make a smaller but just as cute le joie de vivre avec stuff bag.

So, myself and I took the idea one step further and cut two additional pockets from the side panels (there was already one sewn inside), added the two pockets to one side, pinned the sides together, and double sewed the seams.

Voila! A stylish, lovely, twice recycled bag...

The naked man had to go though.

Scream Door

We have a scream door!

Remember mom (or myself at my own children and the assortment of their friends and pets) yelling, "Shut the screen door?" Scream door may fit better than screen door.

The sounds of our new screen door slamming brings back so many summer memories! Just the noise alone should scare off the flies and outdoor pests trying to gain entry into the food and cool zone. But the banging sounds like summers in and out. Cat and dog in and out. And in and out.

But we finally have a screen door. My honey worked several hours to attach an old-fashioned wooden screen door to our, as we discovered, odd sized back door. Good thing the screen door frame is wooden. He had to shave several inches off of the top and bottom to make it fit. He was so careful to match the hinges and hooks to the illustrations. So what if the inside handle is at knee level (otherwise it hits the regular door handle and they won't close). It is great for the cooling of our home. We can even hear the fountain on our patio through the scream door.

And then he tried to open it.


Duh! Only on our porch would there be a weird 1 x 2 about a foot from the door along the patio ceiling. Uhm. Only skinny people need try the screen door. Haha!

Now our screen door has a lovely cove corner on one side. And it still hits, but we can also use the 1 x 2 as a door stop when unloading the car. So there, weirdly placed 1 x 2. Take that!

Gotta go open the scream door. It's getting hot.

Developmental Stage in the Life of a Truck Dude

A. Under the rig fixing his bike, after watching Uncle Taylor on his back under a truck.

B. Not just bricks for parking, as I had originally thought, but actual 4-wheelin' obstacles to drive over.

C. He wasn't satisfied with only one vehicle hitched to the back, so Papa helped hook all 3 together.

Two years old and a definite interest in tires, engines, trucks, vehicles, 4-wheelin', working on stuff, tools, taking things apart...

I think this may be a developmental stage in the life of a mechanic and 4-wheeler dude. Pretty sure. Mirrors the stages of a certain uncle (and daddy).

As long as there are freeze pops and bungee cords.

What I Can Eat from My Garden

There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.
- Ralph H. Blum

It's early to be thinking about Thanks-for-giving, but at the same time, just as in Christmas being celebrated every day of the year, we have hundreds of reasons every day to be thankful!

My garden is such an example...What can I eat from my small, city, backyard garden?
~ peas ~ zucchini ~ yellow squash ~ strawberries ~ raspberries ~ sunflower seeds ~ squash flowers ~ pumpkins ~ tomatoes of all sorts ~ green beans ~ chives ~ peppermint ~ basil ~ lettuce of varied shape and color ~ radishes ~ thyme of two names ~ lavender ~ oregano

And there are probably many flowers that may be had for flavor. But I grow them for bees, butterflies, and beauty.

Ahhh. The pleasures to be enjoyed in working the soil and savoring the bounty.

Thank you.

Quiet peace and calmness...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Flotsam Jetsam

"(Flotsam, Jetsam, now I've got her boys) the boss is on a roll,"... sings the sea witch, Ursula, on Disney's Little Mermaid. Ursula certainly knows what to do with the items she finds around the ocean!

I found my own flotsam jetsam. Lots of it. Bricks, partial bricks, mini bricks, white rocks, rocks with circles, beach glass, shells, driftwood, rocks with holes, even a rusted shovel head. Determinedly I gathered them all into my trunk and brought them home for somewhere in my garden...somewhere...

Before departing the beach, I stacked rocks and bricks on the shovel head in hopes of keeping them from rolling around in the trunk. Not much chance of that, careful driver that I am. But it's those other drivers!

As soon as I drove into the garage, I started unloading my beach treasure. A few may call it trash. Then I say I am recycling and cleaning up the beach and am green.

To forestall beach stink (stuff left in plastic bags, buckets, and trunks) I quickly spread my treasure on the patio to dry out. Dumped is more like it. I was tired.

And that's when I saw it. My flotsam jetsam pile on the shovel head. Perfect for my front garden. As is. No arranging necessary. Just carry it to the front yard and place it next to the azalea and a few pieces of mysterious driftwood. Nature's beauty on display.

Now what to do with the remainder of my treasure haul?!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cherry Walnut Chocolate Chip Scones

A yummy use for all of those extra cherries! And who can go wrong with chocolate!

Cherry Walnut Chocolate Chip Scones

3 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
2/3 c. white sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. Smart Balance Light
1 c. half and half
2 large eggs
1/2 c. crunched bran flakes
3 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 c. toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 c. cherries, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (pitted)

Oven: 375 degrees
Servings: Makes about 24 round scones

1. Spread walnuts on baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes. Cool and coarsely chop.
2. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl and mix well. Add Smart Balance and chop in with a fork or pastry cutter.
3. Whisk together eggs, cream, and vanilla in a small bowl.
4. Add the egg mixture to the dry mix. Knead until combined. Add nuts, cherries, and chocolate. Knead gently. Dough will be slightly sticky.
5. Use lightly floured hands and scoop up a handful of dough and form into a round, biscuit shape. Place on baking sheet and gently pat down. Continue with remainder of dough. Leave about 2" between each scone. You may have to bake in two or three groups.
6. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Do not overcook.
7. Cool on wire rack.
8. Serve warm or reheat in microwave. Yummy with coffee or tea. Store lightly covered.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kindles are great, but...

My sister, the awesome, let me borrow her Kindle to take on a road trip so I could read the newest book in the Green Rider series, which we all enjoy (mommy, sister, and I). For convenience, let me tell you, the Kindle rocks. It has games AND shopping on it! With a click of the finger you can buy a book and read it. I love that. Maybe one day I'll have to have a Kindle of my own. The possibilities. Especially when I travel.

On the other hand, nothing can replace a book held in my own two hands. Bookmarks, dog-ears, scraps of paper, sticky notes...illustrations, bookshelves, collections, decorations, anticipation...It just wouldn't seem the same to line up a Kindle on the bookshelf and call it good. I would have to name the bookshelf the 'Kindle and assorted objet d'art shelf.'

And then there are children's books. Je les livres d'enfants d'amour! I love watching children love a book to pieces, literally. There is magic in the story and illustrations. Snuggling with a child and a great book is dreamy.

I've heard the comment many times. One day, with all of this technology, we won't have books anymore.

Hogwash. Too many of us bookworms would protest. Hmmm. I think there is a place for both. I can't wait to secure more books for my collection. And I look forward to when I own a personal Kindle to use as I adventure around the world.

It is difficult to stop trying to reach to the upper right corner and turn the paper page on a Kindle...Nevertheless...I'll persevere and enjoy my books and my future Kindle (hint, hint, honey).