Saturday, June 30, 2012

what a week.

Celebrity tomatoes ripening on the vine.

See those tomatoes? They've since been turned into salsa and consumed in about 15 seconds flat. My husband has become The Salsa Master...he made our first batch of delicious salsa the other day with our own tomatoes and peppers. doesn't last. We say we're going to "taste test" it and before we know it, it's almost gone! Apparently, it's passing the test.

Last week we caught an injured bird in the backyard. It had an injured leg and wasn't able to fly very well and if it did fly it couldn't land or perch properly. We were able to catch it after seeing it in the yard for about a found itself caught in the chicken pen and the chickens were not happy about it, at all. Matter of fact I had to run out there in my pj's, cage in hand, to scoop up the poor little bird and get it the heck out of there!

We ended up keeping it overnight in the cage with a little bird seed and a bowl of water. It slept and slept and slept. We made the decision to take it to the local wildlife rescue the next day. They took it in and promptly gave it antibiotics and some hydration. Sadly, the leg was too far gone and infection had taken its toll...the bird perished the following day. We tried. And at least it perished in a safe environment rather than being attacked by chickens or a certain cat...that shall remain nameless.

Then on Wednesday I was getting ready to take a friend to the airport. She called me a couple hours before we had to leave and told me she had just found two tiny kittens in her shed. The mama was nowhere to be found so I told her to put the kittens in a box outside so the mama could hear them cry and come to them if she was around. Well, after a couple of hours the mama never showed up so I told my friend I'd handle the kitten situation so she could get ready and travel in peace.

In the meantime I called another friend who does feline foster care, just knowing she'd take them in without hesitation. And she would have, for sure, except for the fact that she already had 17 fosters in her home and garage at the time...five of them being nursing kittens. She asked if I'd be able to give it a try and I agreed. She brought me food, showed me how to care for them and assured me that if it was too much for me to handle she would definitely take them. She warned me that whatever I did, please do not take them to the pound as they would be euthanized for sure. She fosters through an establishment that always adopts out, never euthanizes.

Well...that was last Wednesday. And here it is, Saturday, and the kittens are sleeping peacefully in their cozy box with full bellies. They love to be held and cuddled. They are so incredibly sweet...and adorable. I am currently looking for good, loving homes for them. I do wish we could keep them...but we already have enough animals and a small home. So I am doing my best to remember that I am caring for them for someone else. Must.stay.strong.

Look at that face...who could resist?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

from kitchen to kitchen...

"If we were taught to cook as we are taught to walk, encouraged first to feel for pebbles with our toes, then to wobble forward and fall, then had our hands firmly tugged on so we would try again, we would learn that being good at it relies on something deeply rooted, akin to walking, to get good at which we need only guidance, senses, and a little faith.

We aren't often taught to cook like that, so when we watch people cook naturally, in what looks like an agreement between cook and cooked, we think that they are born with an ability to simply know that an egg is done, that the fish needs flipping, and that the soup needs salt.

Instinct, whether on the ground or in the kitchen, is not a destination but a path. The word instinct comes from a combination of in meaning "toward", and stinguere meaning "to prick". It doesn't mean knowing anything, but pricking your way toward the answer."   -An Everlasting Meal

* * * * * * *

I borrowed the book An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler from the library a few weeks ago. Actually, I placed a hold on it and waited weeks for it to become available. Then, when I got it in my hot little hands, I didn't read it right away. Then when I did start reading it, I didn't keep reading it. I set it on my nightstand and there it sat, unopened.

Well I finally picked it up again (after a failed attempt to renew it online...someone esle has the nerve to want to read it before I'm done.) And what I have read so far I have enjoyed. Her writing is beautiful, very descriptive, yet doesn't feel forced.

The excerpt I shared above makes me think of my family. Mainly the women. I have been surrounded by good cooks my whole life, my mom, my grandmother, my aunt. Food was, and is, always good at a family gathering. Always.

I have such sweet memories of being in the kitchen with my mom...sometimes helping with dinner. And sometimes just sitting at the kitchen table talking and talking about school and friends while she did the dishes and listened. In my teen years I would get dinner started for her while she was closing up at work. Inevitably I'd call her for do I season pork chops, how long to roast chicken, how much water for the rice. Between her coaching over the phone and spending time with her in the kitchen watching her "cook naturally" I learned how to feed myself and my family. Mom fed her family well, in more ways than one. (Thanks Mom. xo)

Her skills in the kitchen were passed on to her from her mom, my sweet Noni. And I imagine it was much in the same way it was passed on to observation...talking and helping...time spent together taking care of each other and living life. I cherish my memories of being in the kitchen with of my favorites is being the official taste tester of the salad. Noni made the best salads. Nothing fancy...just your average tossed salad. But the magic was in the way she dressed it...oil, vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper. A simple vinaigrette. She always had just the right combination of ingredients. Never too much or too little of anything. Every now and then when I would test it to make sure it was "right" we might add a pinch more salt...but that was it. Perfect. Every time. I'm convinced some of the magic was in her salt shaker that now lives in my kitchen. Every once in a while I use that salt shaker while making dinner and I am thoroughly convinced that it makes the meal taste better. Seriously.

What's really amazing about Noni's cooking skills is that she was pretty much self-taught. She didn't spend much of her childhood with her mother so anything she learned (if I'm not mistaken) she taught herself. She loved cookbooks and clipped tons of recipes out of magazines and newspapers. She loved food and she enjoyed feeding people. She also loved to share her recipes. (Probably because it usually included a phone call and she loved to chat and hear what was going on in my life. She was an excellent conversationalist. Man...I sure do miss her.)

The only problem...and I do mean the ONLY problem...was that many of Noni's "recipes" were in her head. So now that she's in Heaven the rest of us do our best to emulate some of her specialties...potato salad, stuffed peppers, pinto beans, just to name a few of my favorites. And really, I have a feeling that even if the recipes were written down, my version would never taste quite as good as hers. And I'm OK with that.

I could go on and on with thoughts and memories about food and family...memories of my aunt in the kitchen...memories of my Papa in the kitchen...memories of my grandma in the kitchen. But I think I will save those stories for another time. For now I am going to just be grateful for family...and for time...and for good memories.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

this weekend....

flowers in her hair
  • Laps at Relay for Life with my mom and aunt, two of my favorite women in the world.
  • A drive to the lake to drop off two of my guys for an overnight hiking trip.
  • Picked two ripe tomatoes and two ripe peppers...they'll soon be salsa.
  • Laundry. Lots and lots of laundry.
  • Sleeping in...sometimes it's just necessary.
  • Sun tea without sun tastes like grass.
  • Picked up a hold at the library...Free Range Chicken Gardens.
  • Coffee maker broke, in the morning, before making coffee. NOT GOOD. Posted about it on Facebook and a friend sent me a message that she had a coffee maker we could have. Perfect!
  • Delivering an injured bird to the wildlife rescue.
  • Ordering out for pizza.
  • Survival show marathons...good for the whole family.
  • Perfect weather. Per-fect. Mid 70's all weekend long. I was in heaven.
  • Lots of looking at life through the lens.
  • Purchased a mini greenhouse to start our own seeds in the winter. Nice was on sale!
  • Searching out the best heirloom tomato varieties for next year's garden.
  • Drives in the country at dusk...just because.
  • Sister Wives season finale. read that right.
  • And because it makes me happy every time I listen to it...enjoy!

Friday, June 22, 2012

not much.

It's Friday again...the week's are whizzing by...sometimes I can't even believe how fast time is going. I knew this would grandparent's warned me.

But sometimes I think that it's going even faster than it did for them...and I believe it's spiritual. Just now I did a quick search on the "quickening of time"...makes sense.

The weekend is here again...we don't have any plans. I'm OK with that.

And just a reminder..."I love you, too." Remember? We love because He first loved us.

God loves you. Isn't that awesome?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday in the Word

Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom,
prisoners suffering in iron chains, 
for they had rebelled against the words of God
and despised the counsel of the Most High.
So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom
and broke away their chains. 
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men,
for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.

Psalm 107:10-16

"Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble" really is just that simple.

Psalm can read the whole thing here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

solitude vs. isolation

I have to admit, I am the type of person who enjoys alone time. I have never been one to always have to have people around me. I enjoy people. I enjoy social situations. But I also enjoy time by myself. As a matter of fact, I would even go so far as to say that I need to be alone sometimes.

Being alone (not lonely, mind you, just by myself) allows me time to think. It allows me time to be quiet and still. It allows me to rest and refresh.

I can't think of a time when I wasn't OK with being alone. As a girl I would spend time in my room laying on my bed listening to music, and reading magazines or drawing or writing letters to friends. I loved spending quiet time in my own space.

As a young adult I rented a small one-bedroom apartment (and I do mean small...maybe 400 sq. ft....maybe) out in the country. It was quite a drive from town so not many people just "popped in" to visit. I loved that little apartment. It was just the right size for me and Rosie, my cat. As a young single girl you can imagine I went out with my friends...a lot. But there were also those times when I opted to stay home, alone. I would watch TV or listen to music, I would paint or draw, I would cook, I would tend to my little front yard or sometimes I would just sit out front and watch the sun go down. can be a good thing.

However, I have learned that I have to be careful. I have to be careful that what begins as solitude doesn't morph into isolation. Isolation is not the same as solitude. Isolation is an avoidance mechanism. To isolate is to avoid people and social situations as opposed to solitude which is more like taking a purposeful break from social activity.

As a person who deals with anxiety and depression I have to be careful that my times of solitude don't become times of isolation. Being alone is good for me, yes. But I have to be aware not to take it too far. Because I can if I allow myself.

Solitude vs. isolation...healthy vs. unhealthy...I'm so glad that I have learned the difference.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday morning..

Last night's sunset. It must have been 90
degrees almost 9pm.

It's Father's Day. We celebrated with my dad and brother last night...grilled burgers, mom's macaroni salad, corn on the cob (my fave!) and I made a juicy fruit salad. It was all so delish. Mom made a chocolate cake for dessert...that was delish, too.

It was a nice afternoon...easy. And relaxing.

Not sure what's on the docket for today. No big plans. Probably more relaxing seeing as how Chris has been on the go, go, go working on jobs and then coming home and working here, too. (He and Ian have been steady working on the side yard's coming along nicely.)

I've got plans to grill something for dinner. (Better get to the store soon...steaks, maybe? Shrimp? Both..?) Other than that the day is open...

Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Garden Update.

It's Saturday. It's going to be 107 degrees outside. I'm mad. On the bright's like heat. Especially tomatoes. So at least there's that. The garden is coming right's what's happening.
  • The tomatoes are doing great. There are lots of Early Girls, Better Boys and Sun Sugar tomatoes on the vines. We've been snacking on the little Sun Sugars...they never make it into the house. Ever.
  • We pulled out an Heirloom plant, Big Rainbow, as it had maybe 6 blossoms on the whole plant. And the plant was almost as tall as me! It's leaves were also curling a bit. So we made the choice to yank it and replace it with a volunteer Roma Chris rescued a few weeks ago.
  • The zucchini plants finally had a growth spurt. I don't think they're getting pollinated though as there are lots of possible zucchini but only a few have actually began to grow. At this point I have two Eight Ball zukes and maybe a few regular ones. I'm kind of worried...I haven't seen many bees lately. So we'll see... (I told you I need bees!)
  • The beans are doing great...I'll be able to harvest some beans from the bush plants soon. And the pole beans will probably be ready in a week or so. Can't wait. I love fresh green beans.
  • We planted a cucumber plant late...but it's coming along and climbing up the support. No blossoms yet...but they'll come. (We actually planted five little seedlings but only one took.)
  • Chris planted two cantaloupe plants and they're doing pretty good. They've each got a couple of blossoms, so that's good. They're a bit of an experiment seeing as how we have limited space and limited sun exposure. But we're hopeful...we do love cantaloupe. And it can be so expensive!
  • Chris also planted watermelon seeds in the front side yard. Two of them are doing pretty good. I'm not sure they get enough sun...but he's holding out hope that they produce. I hope they do! We love watermelon.
  • The blueberries are growing great and establishing themselves nicely in the planter. There aren't any blossoms, but I'm thinking that next year they'll show us what they can do.
  • Our strawberry plants are producing. We only planted two plants, just to see how they'd do. And they're doing great. And whatever it is that is eating our nice, ripe, juicy berries is very appreciative, I'm sure. Darn varmints. We think it's an opossum. I saw him walking along the fence early yesterday morning. Brat.
  • We planted two eggplant plants and they are blossoming like crazy. But so far I haven't seen any fruit. Maybe the pollination problem? Or maybe they just take longer? The jury is still out on that one.
  • And last but definitely not least, the peppers. Oh, our pepper patch is doing great! The plants are heavy with jalapenos, cherry bombs, Anaheim's and lots more blossoms. I better figure out a way to preserve them...pepper jelly, salsa, roasted and frozen...any ideas?
I have to say, I'm concerned that we have not had success with any heirloom tomatoes we've ever tried to grow. Well, we are able to grow the yellow pear. But we haven't had luck with any large varieties. This concerns me as eventually I'd like to grow all heirloom varieties and save our own seeds from year to year. But if we can't get them to produce, I'm not sure what we're going to do. For now we'll just continue to try new heirloom varieties until we come across a few good producers. Wish us luck.

The garden...the saving grace for this oppressive heat. Luckily the crazy temperature is only for today...the rest of the week is supposed to be in the 90's. You know it must be hot here when I am almost glad it will only be in the 90's.

Have you had luck with any heirloom tomato varieties? Which ones work for you?

Friday, June 15, 2012

"I love you, too."

So I'm still reeling from Wednesday night's bible much and all of it so good.

Another thing Beth Moore talked about was a time when God told her that every time she wanted to tell God she loved Him, rather than saying, "I love you, God."....He wanted her to say..."I love you, too."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

God is love.

For the past 8 weeks or so I have been attending a women's bible study at our old church. It's Breaking Free by Beth Moore and it has

Last night during her video session she was talking about loving God...and really digging deep in asking us, much like Jesus asked Peter, if we really love God.

I have always thought that I truly loved God. But last night, as Beth dug deeper and deeper, I realized that I don't. I mean, I DO. I DO love God. But not the way that I want to love Him. Not the way that He deserves to be loved.

I was a good way. Coming to the realization that I don't love God like I thought I did was a good thing. It was enlightening. Not condemning. It made me want to dig deeper and allow God to penetrate my heart so that I can love Him better. Fully. With my whole heart.

During the video session Beth has the viewer fill in blanks in the workbook as she speaks. And one of the blanks was very simply....God is love. Just like that. Simple.

We've all seen it, right? On t-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers. And to be honest, because it is everywhere, I often overlook it.

I overlook those three simple words...God is love. I dismiss them. Not in a way that I don't believe them. More in a prideful way of, "Well yeah He is. Everyone knows that."

But as I wrote those three little words in my workbook it was as if a shock went through from my hand to my heart to my mind to my soul and suddenly I truly realized...GOD IS LOVE.

So simple. Yet so incredibly profound.

God is love. And without Him, we are incapable of loving.

So. Now what?

Admittedly, I have been in a spiritual slump for a good long while now. I'm stuck. So I think the place to start is a simple prayer...thanking God for loving me and asking Him to help me to love Him back...for real.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:16

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday in the Word

Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths; 
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O Lord.

Psalm 25:4-7

Monday, June 11, 2012

let the summer begin.

Volunteer tomatoes...we're not
even sure variety they are!
Good Monday morning. I, my friends, am not at work. Not that work is bad. I am grateful to have a job...absolutely. But I am also grateful that it is with the school district where I can enjoy the benefits of having the summer off!

The weekend was nice. Slow. For me, anyway. It was productive for Chris...he's been getting lots of things done around here.

The heat is here, but thankfully it is accompanied by a breeze. Tomorrow we'll escape the heat for a while...a friend and I are taking the kids to the beach for the day. Get this summer started right.

Chris potted some volunteer tomato plants that came up in random places in the garden. We're not even sure what variety they are. Maybe a Roma of some sort? Or maybe one of the heirlooms we planted? Now I can't remember what kind it even was...I know it was orange. (Note to self: keep a dang garden journal.) And we got one, big, beautiful orange tomato from it. (Yes. One. But it was quite tasty.) That's what I'm hoping it is (even though it was obviously NOT productive at ALL). I'd like to see how that variety (whatever it was...) would do in a better location. Last summer I planted it next to some pole beans and they used the tomato plant as a climbing support. So the poor tomato got dominated and couldn't do its thing. Time will tell, I guess. It'll be a fun surprise.

As for store. We need beach food. And I need to make sure my camera batteries are fully charged. And I need to clean out the cargo area of the car...gotta make room for coolers and chairs and blankets and beach bags. Oh, and the camera bag.

Hmm...where did I put that sunscreen? Might be a good day to organize that dang hall closet while I'm at's been a long time coming.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

around here.

Me and my babies...12 years ago.
Good morning. It's windy today. Like, really windy. My other least favorite weather condition. :) Sounds like a good reason to use some bullet-points!
  • It's graduation day today at our local high school. I just want to cry for all the moms that I know whose babies are headed out into the big world. And cry for myself because it will be my turn to send my baby out this time next year.
  • It is officially summer vacation. In a couple of months both of my babies will be at the high school. I'm not sure how I feel about that.
  • Chris is off today so he's planning on finishing up a project and starting another. He started building a small storage shed along an unsightly back wall of our house. I wasn't sure at first, but I think it's actually going to make that area look a bit better. The back of our house has always been unattractive. I don't think anyone that has ever lived here ever did anything to this backyard. It's been a long time coming to show it a little love. It's coming along...
  • Seth is headed out for the day to celebrate with his friends that are graduating. I figure I won't see him much at all today.
  • Ian will probably be helping Chris out today. He is a good builder. And a good designer. A couple of weeks ago he designed a fish tank stand using the computer program he learned to use in his Drafting class. Then, using that plan, he and Chris built the stand and then Ian painted it. It is now in Ian's room holding a gigantic fish tank (and a smaller one on the bottom shelf, too!) and looks great.
  • As for me? I don't know really. I know that a grocery store run is in my near future...and cooking some dinner. And of course a load of wash or two. But other than that I don't have any big plans. Which is fine with me. I feel like I just need to go slow for a I will.
I hope you all have a beautiful Saturday...take care of you, remember to breathe, and say a prayer of thanks. There's always something to be thankful for, ya know?

Friday, June 8, 2012


Can you see her?
Someday I would love to have bees. I know, I know...not all of you will think this is a good idea. But that's OK. I understand. A few years ago I might have thought it a bad idea, too. But not anymore.

Over the past couple of years I've read several books about bees and beekeeping that only enforce the fact that I would love to have bees someday. Yes, yes...reading a book about keeping bees doesn't automatically make you a beekeeper. I get it. But you've got to start somewhere...and reading books is where I like to start.

That's how I ended up with the chickens. I read a blog or two or 10, checked out some books at the library, learned and thought on it for about a year and then finally I felt ready to keep some chickens in my backyard. And I have to say, I've never regretted it.

But back to the bees.

I remember my first encounter with a bee. I was about seven years old waiting at the bus stop to go to school. I was wearing my pink flowery coat and a bee landed right on my zipper just as the bus pulled up. I was terrified. Mom and Dad had taught me to hold real still if a bee should ever land on me so it wouldn't get scared and sting me. So I froze. The bus driver had to get off of the bus to gently shoo the bee away so we could get on with gettin' to school!

Since then I've always been cautious of bees. I wouldn't say afraid. But I am careful when they are around. A few weeks ago our Japanese maple was FULL of bees. The whole tree buzzed. It was amazing. Of course I ran in and grabbed my camera then stood under the branches watching the bees do their work, letting them fly around me, snapping photos all the while. I felt a little like Idgie Threadgoode.

If I could have my way I would have a beehive right here in my suburban backyard. I would. I have got the perfect spot for a nice little hive right along the back fence. It's shady, it's protected...all we would need would be a water feature for them to get a cool drink.

I am convinced that there are people in town who keep bees in their backyards. But this isn't something people just blurt out at a dinner party. Especially with the fear of Africanized bees. And then of course the many rules and regulations that have been placed on what we can and can't do on our own property.

It's funny, when I tell people I have chickens in my backyard many times they will tell me how they're grandparents had not only chickens, but goats and rabbits and, yes, bees, too. And right in the middle of town. Not as pets but to provide food for their family. And this was within the last, oh, 50-60 years or so? That's really not that long of a time to go from being a bit more self-sufficient to what we are today which is totally dependent on someone else to provide our food. And really, to call some of it "food" is a real stretch.

But again...back to the bees.

The reality is, I won't become a beekeeper anytime soon. Making that big of a decision isn't just up to me. And right now just isn't the right time. And honestly, I'm not ready. I have a whole lot more learning to do. A lot. So in the meantime I will continue to read and learn and gather up information. I will continue to borrow books from the library about bees and beekeeping. I will continue to thumb through the beekeeper's catalog and read helpful and informative blogs. I would even like to attend a class or two.

And then...someday...I will have some bees of my own.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

the garden: June

Click on the photo to see what's what.
The garden is coming along. I took this photo two evenings ago. We've got tomatoes, peppers, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, cantaloupe, eggplant and one lone sunflower plant. I planted 8-10 seeds and only one made it. Oh...and Chris planted some watermelon seeds that are coming along, albeit a bit slowly.

We also planted strawberries and blueberries. These are a bit of an experiment as we've never grown them before. Hopefully they do well. So far so good.

We harvested our first tomatoes this afternoon...two little Sun Sugar tomatoes. I rinsed them off and Chris and I each ate one. We said, "Mmmmmm." at the same exact time. Tomato season, here we come.

Today was the last day of school. Summer is here. I feel like I could sleep for a week. I just might...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wednesday in the Word.

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.
Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

John 16:24

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I wish I was a cat.

Pablo...making sure I'm gardening correctly.
Not just any cat. But a cat that belonged to my family. They sure have it good around here.

I am very tired lately. I feel like I can never get enough sleep. Pablo gets enough sleep...that's for sure. Usually in someone's open drawer. (Silly cat.)

When school gets out I'm going to sleep for a week. (Yeah right. But it's a nice thought, isn't it?)

Did you ever see Overboard? Remember when Goldie Hawn finally loses it and can't stop saying, "Buh buh buh buh buh buh buh..." as she stares off into space? Yeah, come Thursday, that's gonna be me.