Saturday, January 02, 2010

Favorite things #1: Blogging with my eyes open

Image found at redfinblog.
Favorite things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Sometimes as the holiday season begins to wind down, the gifts have been exchanged, the tree is ready to come down and the decorations need to be packed away; I begin to feel a little blue.

I don't think that I'm alone in this phenomenon, in fact another friend was talking to me about how empty and naked the house seemed after she put the Christmas decorations away. It's also sometimes hard for families to go back home, get back to school and say farewell to cozy nights watching watching movies together on the sofa. It's all back to business too soon, I think.

As I scrolled down my list of labels for this blog I came across a tag for the words: Favorite things.

To my surprise, I only found 3 blog items in that category for all of 2009! So in light of pushing back the blues and taking note of the blessings in my life I will every now and then be adding to the list of 'Favorite things' here on a somewhat regular basis.

So out of the gate in 2010, I vow to keep my eyes open, take note of the blessings in life and take the time to share what I discover along the way by blogging about it. Somehow it makes sense that blogging is #1 for my favorite things in this experiment for 2010.

Feel free to share some of your favorite things in the comment sections along the way. Here's to favorite things and the blessings they mark in our lives.

How many Favorite things do you think 2010 will hold?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Quick Spaghetti

Image from TLC Cooking.
What's so magic about quick spaghetti?

Here are the ingredients for quick spaghetti: Tomato sauce, ground meat, various herbs and spices, pasta and a group of hungry people. The magic happens when you gather good friends around the table. That's what make the most common of dinners become so uncommon.

Our company was family and people we work with everyday, but we learned something new about each person. We shared stories about family, adventures from when we were young, and concerns for today and tomorrow. We all needed some extra warmth and laughter on that chilly winter night and that spur of the moment meal we shared together delivered.

Many times I have ignored opportunities for quick spaghetti nights because of the clutter of daily living and my fear of missing the mark as a hostess. You know what? I don't care about the clutter or mark anymore. Martha Stewart doesn't live with me, but if she wants to come over for quick spaghetti, she's welcome at my house anytime - because quick spaghetti is magic.

This Quick Spaghetti Sauce recipe is from All

* 1 green bell pepper, chopped
* 1 onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes
* 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste


1. In a hot skillet, saute bell pepper and onion on medium-high for 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute one more minute. Stir in tomatoes and chicken broth. Remove from heat.
2. Place mixture in blender and blend until the desired level of chunkiness is achieved. Return to medium-low heat. Stir in tomato paste one tablespoon at a time until desired level of thickness is reached. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

This short essay was written by me sometime between 2002-2004. My sweet husband, Ian found it, dusted it off and submitted it for his weekly column in the Warren Times Observer to be released the week of January 29th. Here's to quick spaghetti and the memories it has a way of making.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

You've gotta' move

It's a brand new year. It's a totally new day. The number for this new year 2010, reminds me of many science fiction movies filled with exciting plots and never-ending opportunities. I'm not suggesting that this year will be one filled with flying cars and robots, although that might be cool, but I have this gut feeling that 2010 is a year for forward looking and brave step taking.

While I write this note on the Eve of the new year, I find myself in the gear of looking back to what 2009 was. I keep thinking those thoughts like: what if I did this, that or the other thing? Would this last year have turned out different?

If permitted to, I suppose I could spend all this upcoming year fussing over what could have been in 2009, but spending my time in this way would not be wise in light of the hope and newness of the year to come.

Isaiah 43: 16,18,19 says, "This is what the Lord says, ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

God understands the human tendency to look to the past, to romanticize the past, and to strive to re-gain it. No doubt, the lessons we learn from life experiences in the past are valuable. However, those past experiences are ones we can't return to. We may wish for a time machine to address all of our would haves and could haves, but the fact remains - the past is past.

One of my favorite sections of this verse in Isaiah is, "See, I am doing a new thing!" It is so inspiring that God, who created the universe, time and all of creation; gets excited and likes doing new things! So if God gets excited by new things and encourages us not to dwell on the past; shouldn't we get a little amped up over the new year and the opportunities it holds?

So as the new year begins, I know I will do my best to stop looking to the past and trying to reclaim it. I will try to think optimistically, creatively and even (gasp!) outside the box that I call my life.

I may have to move into some new, challenging and unfamiliar territory to meets this new year with a smile; but I'd rather move forward into 2010 like W.H. Auden so beautifully expresses,
"I want to approach the future as a friend, without a wardrobe of excuses."

Happy New Year 2010 to you and yours. May your days be filled with opportunity, possibility and the courage to keep moving forward. Come'on all, we've got to move!

You gotta move
You gotta move
You gotta move, child
You gotta move
And when the Lord
get ready
You gotta move

You may be high
You may be low
You may be rich, child
You may be po'
But when the Lord
get ready
You gotta move

You may be up
You may be down
You may be buried
livin' in the ground
But when the Lord
get ready
You gotta move

Lyrics to "You've gotta move"
by the band Lost Dogs. For more information on the Lost Dogs and their music, click here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

For giggles sake...

Just in case you need a little chuckle in the days after Christmas, here is a silly, nice treat for you.

SWB: Flickers from the North

Northern lights image from Redbubble.

Throughout this last week, its been a combination of joy and struggle. Joy for the holiday and struggle for ongoing back problems for my husband. We're going on week 3 with the challenges of disk problems all during the busiest time of the year.

Thankfully though, there have been flickers of joy and hope in the midst of all this. These may not be visible like the beauty of the Northern Lights pictured above, but they are reminders that all will be well.

Flickers like:
Family dinners where taking a prepackaged veggie/cheese tray is totally cool as a dish to pass.
Opening gifts with my husband and kids after midnight worship leading into Christmas wee-hours.
Seeing my husband happily distracted from discomfort by the books and music he received.
Enjoying a salon therapy afternoon with my daughter.
Play Wii games all week-end long. DJ Hero is the best!
Reading a whole novel in a day.
Making headway with the specialist, physical therapist, and plan of action a full week ahead of what we were originally told.
Learning that surgery is NOT an option and PT and Chiropractic care is!
Seeing my husband feeling better and getting around more independently than he has been for weeks.

All week in these flickers, I feel G-d has been reminding me of the words a friend told me, "It's going to be alright." I've had them echoed to me in the voice of my children, in the call back from the specialist that an appointment was available on the holiday week after all, and in the comfort and prayers of family and friends.

In the moments that I become truly aware that things are going to be alright, I feel blessed and most alive. In this time of giving and receiving, my heart goes out to others who also are waiting for health, comfort from a friend and maybe a phone call delivering their own version of good news. Funny how waiting for your own needs to be fulfilled makes you more aware of the needs of the many others in limbo.

Blessings to you all in the new year to come. May this statement ripple from my heart to yours.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

SWB Host Post: Giddy dinners, broken dish washers, alternative Christmas trees, and a new-old book

Image found at Life.

The Tate Unveils The Alternative Christmas Tree

LONDON - DECEMBER 3: A woman looks at Tate Britain's Christmas tree dressed by sculptor Richard Wentworth on December 3, 2004 in London, England. The traditional Norwegian Spruce tree is decorated with broken halves of plates and strings of dimmed domestic light bulbs also text panels on the base of the tree describe the histories of the tree's four elements: the light bulb, the plate, the Christmas tree and the plinth.

There is so much preparation, anticipation and excitement in the days just before Christmas. Even adults become giddy with moments of child-like joy and frivolity, at least I know I do. I feel its effects in the holiday songs I find myself humming, in the flutter of joy in my heart, and in the smile plastered across my face as I sat down to share Christmas Eve dinner with this years entourage. I had been touched and filled with a healthy dose of the Christmas spirit. The faces around my table may change and grow older, but the feeling of that night is reliably giddy and contentedly silly. For me, it's moments like this that I feel very, very alive.

One of my favorite gifts receive this holiday season was a previously unreleased, but first novel of one of my all time favorite authors, Madeline L'Engle; it's called "The Joys of Love. This book was Ms. L'Engle's first novel, but went unreleased until 2008 by the prompting of her granddaughters. Up to this publication, her grand daughters were the only ones that had read this coming-of-age, placed in 1946 summer theater, about a young girl and her first loves. It's a lovely book that I've just begun, but the quote that follows speaks to the contrast of our Monday examen. Take a moment to read this short excerpt as you ponder the question,
"Where this week did I feel the least and the most alive?"

"I've always thought about the theater like a Christmas tree, all shining and bright with beautiful ornaments. But now it seems like a Christmas tree with the tinsel all tarnished and the colored balls all fallen off and broken. That's a corny way of saying it, but you know what I mean."
"Sure, I know what you mean, Liz. And it's both ways...Some of the ornaments fall and break and some stays shining and beautiful like the nights before Christmas. Nothing's ever all one way. You know that. It's all mixed up and you've got to find the part that's right for you."
Excerpt from "The Joys of Love, by Madeline L'Engle

There are times all we see and feel is shimmer and light, and times that all we experience comes across as shabby and worn-out. Just like my Christmas Eve dinner, in addition to my giddy mood and happiness there were dishes to do as the dishwasher decided to go on the fritz, and thankfully guests that chipped in on the clean up. Truth is we have the light and the shabby mixed together and that is what makes our lives experiences authentic and sincere.

What was your experience this week of Christmas? What was whole and what was broken?

Maybe in sharing our bread with each other we can find beauty even in the broken parts, just like the Tate tree,and Madeline's finally published first-novel.