Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tonight we're gonna party like it's...

um...2009?  Here's to a new year full of promise and new beginnings for those who need them and for continued happiness for those who need that.  Best wishes to y'all for 2010.  Love ya'!

j

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Y'all.


I hope that this finds each of you enjoying the peace and blessings of the season. I wish for each of you a very, merry Christmas.

Jean
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Contest Winners!

Well, I had a team of unbiased judges standing by and a computer set to randomize the entries and a team of lawyers to make sure that the results were determined fairly.... ok, not really.  BUT, since there were only three of you that entered, that means it was pretty easy to determine the results.  So actually, it was really not even a contest - it's more like I'm just giving stuff away to everyone who comments.  I'm practically Oprah!  Are you amazed by my awesomeness yet?

Ok - enough about me... congratulations to Dawna, Kristen and Devilish Southern Bell on your gifts winnings!
Thanks for commenting.  I hope to hear from you again, and I'll be in touch about your prizes!

Merry Christmas!
Jean

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Little Papers, Christmas Soap and Christmas Contests!

First, some exciting news!  The hectic eclectic girl is now listed in the Best Green Blogs guide at http://www.bestgreenblogs.com.  This is a great place to go and find blogs geared toward green parenting, green living, gardening and more.  Thanks to Timothy Latz, the editor of BGB for including us!

Second - I should've included a link in my Healthier post to the Slim Shots website.  Their website is https://www.slimshots.com/ver11/index.asp.

Third -  Christmas Soap!



Which leads me to the first Christmas contest...


I am going to have several contests this month to help us all celebrate Christmas, because I love getting free stuff, and I'm pretty sure everyone else does, too!  The generous folks at Write on Main (http://www.writeonmain.com/) were nice enough to donate some Little Papers card sets to the endeavor (thanks, S!), so be sure to check them out and let them know they are appreciated!




So... your prizes for the first contest are a set of Little Papers cards with envelopes and a bar of Christmas soap from moi!  Three winners will be selected from everyone who responds with an answer to these questions...


Since we are talking about free stuff....  What are some ways that you control spending during the holidays (or DO you)?  And what are the best (and cheapest) Christmas gifts you've ever made or recieved?


Comments must be recieved by midnight on Monday, December 21st to be entered into the contest, but I'll be glad to read and enjoy later comments, too!  Winners will be notified Tuesday. December 22.

For an additional entry to this contest, please become a follower of this blog!  Leave a comment that you have done so, so I can be sure you get your extra entry.

I'm looking forward to hearing your budget saving ideas!


j

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Healthier

Ok - I admit it.  I joined the healthy you challenge and promptly did.... nothing.  Well, not entirely nothing, I have been watching what I eat a little more closely, but, let's just say... the gym and I are not on a first name basis! 

Several weeks ago, though, I had my mirena removed.  I feel TONS better, have more energy than I've had for a long time, and I lost 7 pounds without even trying! 

So... I am recommitting to my health challenge. I am relearning my way around the gym and I have started taking slim shots to help control my appetite. 

I should say here - I am not a diet fad/ diet drug/ what have you kind of person.  Slim shots seem to be more natural than some, and I had heard of them, but was undecided about trying them.  When they offered me a chance to try them out for a review on this blog, I knew that this was as good a time as any to test them. 

I have actually been pleasantly surprised!  It's not the best taste in the world... something between chocolate and a really oily sunflower seed.  But added to another drink (I put mine in a small glass of milk) it's fine.  The meal replacement shakes I've tried have been MUCH worse.  And if I take it in the morning, after breakfast, it actually does control my appetite for the rest of the day.  Which is helping me control what I eat at mealtimes, and especially during those times of the day when I just crave snacks.

Maybe now, with my renewed energy, and slim shots and my friend Gym, I can really make some progress toward becoming a healthier me!  If I can just steer clear of those Thanksgiving leftovers...

j

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Some local items on our Thanksgiving table

Let me start by saying, there are many things that could be on this list and aren't....  Many people who choose to focus on local foods have pretty stringent guidelines about what qualifies as local, and strive to be exclusively local.  I applaud this committment.

I also know, however, that many people make changes in baby steps.  Rather than skip the idea of including local foods because you see it as too difficult or restrictive, try starting with a few ingredients and commit to only buying those locally.  Or choose to have at least 1-2 local items per meal. 

I have joined an eat local challenge, and I really wanted to buy a local, heritage turkey for our meal.  But I am feeding 19 people today, and heritage turkeys were not even close to being in the budget.  So this is what I am doing... on our table today the following local ingredients will appear in key and supporting roles in one or more dishes...

  • cornmeal
  • carrots
  • pecans
  • green beans
  • herbs (dried and fresh)
  • crabapples
  • squash
  • apples
  • peppers
Try it out!  Not only does it save gas and result in tastier produce that was picked at its peak (instead of early so it could travel!), it's satisfying to know where your food comes from, and who grew it.  And the more connected to our food we are, the healthier we - and our planet - will become.  And that will truly be something to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving! and welcome back, me.

On the eve of this year's day of thanks, I pause for a moment in the chaos that has become Thanksgiving, to be truly thankful.  What am I most especially thankful for this year?

  • That my family has once again, managed to come together in body, if not entirely in spirit, to have a good time, to reconnect, to laugh and sing and play and BE together.  And that this family has come together from near and VERY FAR, safely.
  • That we have another Thanksgiving with my Nana.  Truth be told, I'm thankful for her every day.
  • That, financial struggles and all - we will still have more than enough to go around tomorrow.
  • Tha t I am finally back to this blog!  and boy, do we have a lot to talk about!  Here is the flash update, to be discussed in more detail in a day or two... slim shots, healthy you challenge, local food, bad mirena, soap!  
Stay tuned, dear reader, stay tuned.  And know that I am thankful for you during this season as well... and
please let me know - what are you really grateful for this year?

j

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Broccoli with pumpkin seed and oregano spread

For dinner tonight we had pork loin, potato with onion (home fried, really, just baked instead of fried), salad, and broccoli with a really yummy garnish that I used in a not-so-garnish sort of way (I just mixed it right in...).  I went looking for some pumpkin seed recipes, since I just roasted some yesterday, and found what I was looking for at Cookus Interruptus.  Their pumpkin seed garnish recipe calls for parsley, but mine is long since done in the garden, so I used oregano, which is still going strong.  It was delightful - AND the camp guy and the kids liked it, too!  I ground up about a handful of the seeds in the coffee grinder, then added them to the bowl with some garlic, salt, oregano (finely chopped) and olive oil.  Mix it up and toss with the warm broccoli - YUM.

Thanks to the folks at Cookus for the inspiration and the funny video...

Jean

Monday, October 19, 2009

So we were at Animal Kingdom yesterday, looking at birds and the camp guy turns to me and in a serious voice says "Do you think parrots are narcissistic? Everyone's always telling them they're pretty... "

I love that guy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Resources for a healthier planet

Since we're being so healthy this month, here are a few ideas for a healthier planet... and budget!

Try these free publications from Energy Star to help you save resources and cut your energy bills.  There's even one for kids!  And they have a kids page, to help you start teaching your children about good resource management.

Take the GE Lighting Pledge and get some free coupons for energy saving bulbs.  The statistics about if we all changed our light bulbs are pretty amazing!

Stay healthy!
Jean

Monday, October 5, 2009

Really, target?
Really?!
I'm sitting in the carpool line looking at your weekly ad flyer and turn the page to halloween costumes...
What has happened to the idea that gender stereotypes are bad? Can't we see some chef or dr costumes, please?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ten reasons to eat local food

Here is a list that I totally stole from the Eat Local Challenge website...

"10 Reasons to Eat Local Food

Chx
by Jennifer Maiser
Eating local means more for the local economy.  According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy.  When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction.  (reference)
Locally grown produce is fresher.  While produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmer's market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase.  This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time.
Local food just plain tastes better.  Ever tried a tomato that was picked within 24 hours?  'Nuff said.
Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen. Because the produce will be handled less, locally grown fruit does not have to be "rugged" or to stand up to the rigors of shipping.  This means that you are going to be getting peaches so ripe that they fall apart as you eat them, figs that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and melons that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute on the vine.
Eating local is better for air quality and pollution than eating organic. In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic. (reference)
Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.  By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste, are the most abundant, and the least expensive.
Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story. Whether it's the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal. 
Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism.  Food with less distance to travel from farm to plate has less susceptibility to harmful contamination. (reference)
Local food translates to more variety.  When a farmer is producing food that will not travel a long distance, will have a shorter shelf life, and does not have a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would probably never make it to a large supermarket.  Supermarkets are interested in selling "Name brand" fruit: Romaine Lettuce, Red Delicious Apples, Russet Potatoes.  Local producers often play with their crops from year to year, trying out Little Gem Lettuce, Senshu Apples, and Chieftain Potatoes.
Supporting local providers supports responsible land development. When you buy local, you give those with local open space - farms and pastures - an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped.
Download a printable version (pdf) of this guide.
Originally published by Life Begins at 30, August 2005."

Thanks to Life Begins at 30 and the Eat Local Challenge website for this handy list!
Jean

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy October, y'all!

I told you that I joined the Healthy You Challenge, so I thought we'd spend some time this month focusing on health, since that's what I'm thinking about, and this is my blog....m'kay?  And ladies, since we're talking about being healthy, and October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I'll go ahead and remind you to do your monthly check of the girls.  If you're as helpless at this as I am, I suggest you find a doctor/website/friend that can give you advice on how to do it properly!  But it's important to give yourself a "baseline" of how your breasts normally feel, so that you can notice any changes more promptly.  Guys, I'm not leaving you out - you can remind the women in your life to take care of this simple step...

October is also the month for the Eat Local Challenge.  What does eating locally have to do with being a more healthy you?  Well, for me, when I pay attention to where my food comes from, I eat better and appreciate it more. We'll talk more about the benefits of eating locally, and get some handy tips for incorporating more local foods into your regular menu in some upcoming posts.

On a more personal level, I did pretty well with my own healthy challenge today.  All except for the birthday cake...

Baby steps.


Jean

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Goodbye, fatty boombalatty....

Alright folks.  I am officially joining the Healthy You Challenge in an effort to GET HEALTHY.  This is it - the end of the proverbial road.  I am giving notice to chin number 2 and arm flab!  My main goal is not a weight loss number, but a general state of health and energy that has long been lacking.  I'm also hoping to regain some control over this wonky heart rhythm, which should also help with the energy reserves.  I'm resolved.  So resolved that... I'm going to bed before 11 o'clock! Healthy sleep is one of my goals, after all.

Good night dear readers.  I hope tomorrow is a healthier day for all of us.

Jean

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Friday, September 18, 2009

I'm getting a pedicure right now.
Right now.
I'm getting a pedicure AND blogging.
I'm just that dedicated...


You're welcome.
Jean

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I have issues.... and a contest winner!

Attention all waitstaff….

I know that you sing happy birthday at least a zillion times a day.

I understand that you don’t know any of those people, that you aren’t
hired for your singing voice, that it can be embarrassing singing the
crazy song in front of the whole restaurant.  I get it – I do.

But I went to dinner last night with the camp guy, and we sat and listened
to some of your peers do their birthday chant twice for different
diners and it was…. Well, let’s just say it sounded by their tone like
they were actually singing something resembling, “Happy Birthday,
loser, you don’t have anything better to do on your birthday than have
total strangers sing this stupid song to you….*gah*”

I guess what I’m saying is, we know it’s not your favorite thing.  It’s
really not ours either, but it makes our friends and families happy,
and us a little bit, too, so could you just PRETEND to be a little bit
excited?  Just for us?

Cause after all, it is our birthday.

Jean


Ps.  I told you I have issues…

Pps.  Congrats to Chuckles66, the winner of last week’s contest!  Your soap will be in the mail this week!

Ppps. What is with the formatting on this post?  I cannot figure it out!





Thursday, September 10, 2009

What's in a name?.... and my first contest!

I had the great fortune to be a summer camp counselor for several years when I was younger and made some great friends in the process.  Some I still talk to pretty regularly, and some not as much, but they all still hold a fond place in my heart.  One of them got married last weekend and when her invitation came in the mail, it had, of course, her given name on it, instead of the name we know her by.  "Bacon" is a nickname whose origin I don't know, but which has stuck with her since way back when, and has just sort of become her name to us.  Of course we knew her actual name, but it was just a name.  The girl, the person, was Bacon.  And I got to thinking about other people I know with nicknames like that.

I had a nickname with my family growing up, but my friends never really called me by it.  And today, only a handful of my friends even know that it was ever my name.  Only my sisters ever call me Bean anymore.  But I know other people like Bacon whose nickname has stuck with them.  People like Scooter, Spam, Moose, and Grits.  And although some people have unfortunate nicknames that they don't like, these people are, for the most part, happy with theirs.  And I will probably still call them these names when we are old, and trying to be dignified, because, in my heart, that is who they are.  And because I'm a little bit jealous of them...

SO, that said, here is the contest.  I am offering two bars of Jean's Garden Soap to two lucky winners, selected randomly.  To enter the contest, you must:
1.  Become a follower (not in an existential way, just click that you want to follow the blog, if you aren't already)
2.  Leave a comment telling me some fun nicknames you know - they can be your own, or your friends or loved ones, or someone you don't like, but you think they have a hilarious nickname.....
3.  Do both of those by midnight, Monday, September 14th, because that's when this contest closes!

Thanks!
Bean

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Asparagus, dressed up




mmmmm.... the asparagus at Publix today looked so good I couldn't resist it. really. i tried, but I honestly have no willpower when it comes to that sort of thing.

So I brought it home with me, just in time to scramble around for dinner. I washed and trimmed it, tossed with a generous amount of olive oil, and a splash of lemon juice, and then sprinkled it with some kosher salt, some garlic, and some parmesan cheese and broiled it for 5 little minutes. Voila!

Some leftover pork roast and a little mac and cheese later and what a yum dinner, in practically no time at all!


Which was good because it left me a few minutes to deal with the mountain of pillows and blankets that the boys had piled up in the room to make jumping off the top bunk "safe"....
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Christianity...but not the way you think.

Get ready people.

*she clears her throat and climbs Mt. Soapbox*

I think it's time for us to clear up a few things, but in order for us to do that we're gonna have to put on our big girl panties (or big boy pants - whatever. i don't judge.)

I have heard and read a lot of discussions about what it means to be a Christian in my lifetime. A lot of them. Many of the ones I've seen lately have centered on how bad we are, or how wrong we are, or how politically in one direction we are, or how hypocritical we are because our lives aren't perfect OR because we don't accept someone else's imperfections. And while I agree that SOME Christians are hypocritical to the extreme, and SOME Christians are extremely political, and SOME Christians... (insert offensive example here)... I certainly don't believe we can be all lumped together like one giant brain.

So... that said, there a few things I would like to say...

1. Christianity is not charm school, business school, marriage counseling, parenting classes or Gold's gym. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. We screw up. We cheat. We go bankrupt. We have imperfect relationships. This does not mean that we don't try. Christianity is not a magic pill of perfection. It is a lens through which we see the world, that colors our response to the way things are and our motivation to try and be better than we are. Are some of us more well behaved than others? Yes, but...

2. Christianity is not a get out of jail free card. Our lives do not instantly become perfect the moment we learn the secret handshake (ok. there is no secret handshake. but you want there to be one now don't you?). If you don't believe me, see number one, above. We are still responsible for our own actions. If I do something I know to be wrong, I still have to live with the consequences of my actions, and hopefully the people around me will lovingly hold me accountable. Let me say that again. Christians are supposed to hold each other lovingly accountable. That doesn't mean we don't screw up. It doesn't mean we don't have to live with the consequences of our bad actions. But it also means that we should love each other around those problems (or at least try!). That all people are worthy of our effort and love, whether they are capable of good choices or not. This is NOT EASY.

3. Faith does not equal religion. Religious people have faith (one would assume!), but faith is a belief while religion is more of a construct (I know someone is going to come along and tell me that I am not using this word correctly. I defer to your supreme intelligence and say that my only excuse is... well, it sounded good to me). The church at large (whatever that may look like to you) is not the full extent of what our Christianity can be. It is made up of imperfect people, therefore, must be limited as an imperfect grouping. However...

4. Faith does actually equal religion in some respects. Or perhaps they lead into one another? I know better than most, the imperfect nature of the church, and because it is full of imperfect folks, the priorities of many congregations/denominations/communities can become skewed, or misaligned with what others in the community might think is best. And that the church can sometimes be an "institution", with the same self-preserving concerns of other institutions. But I have been a witness to the power of the church community. Both on individual lives, and on the lives of communities. Churches provide community support, food, shelter, water, time, money, education, housing and so much more, to many, many people around the world. And we, as Christians, are supposed to be a part of that. If you are a Christian who snubs the church, then what are you doing to help your fellow man? How do you worship in community or educate yourself about your faith? You can do some of this on your own, but Christian community is one of the most powerful tools around. Think about it. As my, oh so wise husband once told me, "It much harder to change a thing from the outside, than it is from the inside."

5. All Christians are not members of the religious right. (Seriously people - did I really need to say this?) But even members of the religious right, or religious left or religious somewhere in-between(although that does NOT have the same ring to it!) have a right to be a part of the political process. We're trying to change the world, remember?

6. Why are you listening to me anyway? (We do have the best music, though, religionally speaking.... i'm just sayin'....)

play nice, people.

love,
thehecticeclecticgirl

Monday, August 10, 2009

Free Food!

ps. Speaking of giving away food, if you're like me and the camp guy and you love free stuff (well, who doesn't?), you may want to check out this offer from Schwans...

http://www.schwans.com/promos/freefood/freeFoodBegin.aspx

Food, Glorious Food

A few days ago I had the privelege of making a food delivery to The Good Neighbor Shelter. The camp guy and I had been cleaning out the lodge kitchen, and were trying to figure out what to do with the extra (and there was a good bit of extra!), and thought about them.

Now, I'll be honest people - I have been to the Open Door, and to MUST Ministries, but I had never bothered to find out much about the homeless shelter that's LESS THAN 10 MINUTES FROM MY OWN HOUSE! But we had all that food and it didn't seem right to drive right by it to get to one out of town.

So I called. After some discussion and directions, I loaded up the van with this...



....and headed over. The shelter is relatively new, built in the mid-nineties, and relatively small, but makes a big difference for those in this community that need it (and beyond - while I was there they had a call from someone on the other side of Atlanta). The fact that it looks like a house, and has a large eat-in kitchen makes it feel more like extended family area than "hotel" or "shelter". And of course, as so many important programs do, it needs donations. If you live in the metro-Atlanta area, I encourage you to look into the Good Neighbor Shelter, and see if you can help them in some way. Or for those of you farther away, look into the shelters in your area and lend them a hand, or some groceries. Even if it's just some extra bread and cereal from camp.

love,
thehecticeclecticgirl


Thursday, August 6, 2009

I have two frightening words for you - car pool! (Ok, i think that's one word but it sounds more dramatic with the pause in the middle). More specifically, first day carpool, but that's like 3 or 4 words- either way, it is scary!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The End of Summer

We had an event tonight that signals the official end of summer for us - dinner with the summer staff! They are headed home tomorrow, which means that the camp guy will be home a bit more often now - hooray! (Have I mentioned that I really like that man? All in all, it's been a good summer here.

Here's hoping that yours was a great one as well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Weird Events...Big Changes

We had open house today, which is a nicer way of saying, we milled around in a school full of people, none of whom had a great deal of direction. I think the reason for this is that although everyone thinks that open house is a good idea, and wants it to happen (knowing who your child's teacher is going to be and starting a relationship with them is important, after all) - no one really knows what to do.

Or what to say.... *awkward silence*

But it's good to meet the teachers, and get information about other school stuff, so how about some open house mixers?

Like, "all the parents of a second grader in the middle!" or "if you did NOT go to the beach this summer, put your hand on your head?" Or even, "You put your right hand in...."

No? Too much?




On a more serious note, this child is starting Kindergarten THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW! He's so BIG. (Have you noticed I like WRITING IN CAPS TODAY FOR EMPHASIS?) When we were getting ready for open house, he put on a pair of jeans that fit him just right this spring and today they were at least an inch too short. Has he grown that much in just a few months? Oh, little man, I hope you love big school. Good luck, buddy. I love you.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Herby Wheat Bread

Made some really yummy bread yesterday. I used a basic honey wheat recipe and added some extras.

First you add 2 1/4 tsp. of active dry yeast to 1 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let it sit while you work on the next part (for at least 10 minutes).



In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup milk, 3 TBS. olive oil, 2 TBS. honey, and 2 tsp. salt. Heat to a simmer, and then cool to 110 degrees F.



Pour the milk mixture into the yeast mix, and then add 2 cups organic white flour, and 2 cups organic wheat flour, 1 tsp. black pepper, 2 TBS mixed dried herbs (I used rosemary, lemon thyme and oregano). Mix to form the dough.



Turn the dough out on the counter and knead for 5 minutes. You'll know it's ready when the dough bounces back after you press on it. Rinse the large bowl you had from before, dry it, and coat it with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl until it's coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise for 2 hours, until it doubles in size. (This picture is when I first placed it in the bowl. By the time it was done rising, it was to the top of the bowl.)

Punch the dough down, and split into two pieces. Knead again for a few minutes and shape into 2 loaves, and place into loaf pans that have been buttered and floured, or shape into round loaves and place on a cookie sheet. Cover and let rise again for another hour.



Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes. Leave in the pans for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto wire racks to cool. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

World on Fire

So the last few weeks I have been in Montreat, NC. An amazing places that hosts 6 weeks of youth conferences every summer (in addition to MANY other great conferences). The theme this year is "World on Fire" which deals with the issues facing the world today, and what our response to them as Christians should be.

I'm not really someone who journals on a regular basis, but I ALWAYS do when I'm in Montreat. So I sat down with my journal several times over the last few weeks and here is one of my prayer excerpts -

God, we live in world of isms...

racism.

sexism.

egoism.

absolutism.

a world on fire! full of
hatred.
greed.
self interest.
self importance.
violence.
injustice.
hunger.
poverty.
pestilence.
apathy and indifference.

and so many more of those words we are only comfortable talking about in conversations like, "wouldn't it be nice if someone somewhere would do something about that!"

we agree that they are problems, but are hardly willing to even really discuss in depth, much less willingly face our complicity in.

we live in a weary and beleaguered world. a world that is burning - and we're home and acting like we can't hear the fire alarm.

what is it going to take?! to get us to be

alert.

aware.

awake to the plight of our neighbors?


I hear stories all the time about people who climb out of the comfy padded room of their lives and face a new, dangerous and exciting world. a world of hopeful possibilities where the idea of people having what they need is not just an impossible ideal, but a goal to be worked toward at all costs. a world where injustice is not to be tolerated, and tolerance for differences abounds.

How do I become one of those people? How do I gain the courage to take the leap out of the box? I mean, it's not that I don't do anything - I do. I give alternative Christmas gifts. I support fair trade. I buy organic and turn the lights off when I leave the room. And those things are important.

But are they enough? are they REALLY the only changes You are calling me to make? Can I honestly convince myself that there's not more to be done?

O God of All Creation, give me the courage to use my life more for others, and guide my efforts.

Help me.

Help us.

Amen.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Have any earth day plans?

Tomorrow is Earth Day! Do you have any plans for celebrating? Or for being more earth friendly?
Let me know what you do tomorrow. I'll be celebrating with the preschool, so I'll post some photos of our festival. I hope, if nothing else, that you'll at least take a moment and appreciate this home that we've been given.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lavender Castille Soap


Made some lavender castille soap last week. This is one of my favorites, wonderfully fragrant and very mild. It's also a nice hard bar that lasts for ages. My two boys, who have sensitive skin, can both use this in the tub. My friend's girls call it their princess soap, because it has lavender blossoms all over the top!

There are really two trains of thought about castille soap. Traditionally, castille is made entirely of olive oil from the Castile region of Spain. More modern soap makers, have added other oils and butters, to make soaps that still contain a lot of olive oil, but that make more suds, or contain more moisture, or [insert desired effect here]...

I, myself, am a castille traditionalist, I suppose - not in the sense that the olive oil must be from Castile, but in the sense that the oils used for the soapmaking process, but be exclusively olive. Feel free to disagree. I am not suggesting that soaps that contain olive oil blends aren't great - I make several myself. I'm simply saying that it really is a different type of soap. Soap that is simply olive oil is SO mild and wonderful, that it just seems like it should be in a category by itself. Does it lack suds? Yes, but the "slip" that replaces them, makes it a great shaving soap. My suggestion? Try out some different types of "castille", blends and not, and decide for yourself. Whichever you choose, there is sure to be a soapmaker nearby, willing to supply it for you!
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

have i told you...

that I think bipartisanship (Is this actually a word? I heard it on the news today, but I sort of think they made it up!) is a bad concept? Bipartisan has sort of become the buzz word lately, as a sign of the higher standard, but it never really works out like we hope that it will. Why? Because we're too busy being BI-partisan instead of listening to the issues and trying to work things out. Why can't we be multipartisan? or we're-actually-trying-to-work-through-the-issues-the-best-way-we-can-instead-of-worrying-about-the-stance-of-our-parti-san? or how about non-partisan? how do we make that work? Because, frankly, I don't believe either party when they talk about bipartisanship anymore, except as it applies to their pr campaigns.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The problem with honey bees...

I've been reading a book on bees that i picked up at the library last week. I've read several articles on honey bees and the problems with pesticides that kill even our bee allies, but I wasn't sure I had the attention span for an entire book about the bee situation. I'm glad I picked it up, though, because it's actually been a fascinating look into how bees and the hive work, and the problems with our current agricultural system.

The book is Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis by Rowan Jacobsen. It's really well-written. I encourage you to pick it up at your library, or if you're more of an online researcher, check out more about the link between honey bees and your food. The destruction of honeybees means more for our food supply than you might think.

And most importantly, buy honey from someone local! There are plenty of local bee-keepers looking for a market for their honey, and you'll know that what you're getting is actually 100% honey (which is not a given when you buy it from the grocery store! didn't know that? the honey you buy there may be as little as 40% honey!) Honeyish, anyone?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

one of those moments

I had one of those moments today - or more accurately WE (my youngest and I) had one of those moments today. And I don't mean a moment of the kodak variety...! What seemed like a simple trip to the store to do something nice for him, turned into this hostage negotiation, where the 5 year old was the perpetrator, the rest of the innocent bystanders were the hostages, and I, as his mother, was some weird combination of hostage, negotiator, and swat team. And I started out with flying colors - I was rational, I was firm, but understanding, still willing to find some negotiation, so long as it stuck within the guidelines I had already set. And I even had a moment of thinking, "we're gonna get through this just fine!" ......

(I feel the need to tell you that I have worked with enough kids in my life, and know my own children well enough to know better than this.... but, what can I say? I am ever the optimist!)

What's that syndrome where the hostage begins to identify and even care for their kidnapper? This is just one of many mental illnesses that parents have to deal with, because, let's face it, parents are already head over heels for their kids. (Sorry for the mental anguish, mom!)

Anyway, back to the drama at hand. I was negotiating away, and even as the situation is sadly deteriorating, I realize that EVERYONE IN THE STORE is now blatently staring at us, me and this beautifully stubborn child. Granted, his behavior was BAD, but we were working our way to the front and we were not being louder than... oh, let's say, a jet engine?

As we grow up we learn how to extricate ourselves from situations that are getting bad. I have realized, as a parent, though, that removing yourself, and someone else (who does not wish to be removed!) increases the difficulty exponentially...

So anyway, they were staring, which somehow lent fuel to his drama, and made me less together...BUT, you'll be happy to know that I'm not writing this from the shoe store. We did make it out - despite the disapproving onlookers, and without what we went for. And I love that boy now more than ever... but we will not be going back to that store for a while!

So if you happen to be in a store in the near future with some small hostage taker and their negotiator, give them a small smile, or a thumbs up - you never know what might make a difference in someone's day - for the parent and the child!

Monday, February 16, 2009

We took a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium today for little bit's birthday. Thought I'd pass along this photo of the blue macaws we enjoyed there.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

now just exactly where did that canary go?! hmmmm....
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Monday, February 2, 2009

Double Wedding Ring Quilt

When Kel and I got married, my Mom asked me what I wanted for a wedding present, and since I had always loved her double wedding ring quilt, I told her I wanted one, too. She laughed. Last year, at some point in a family discussion, this moment was brought up again, and it was decided that the quilting ladies in my family should make one for us. So for our 10th wedding anniversary last year, they surprised us with this one! It is beautiful! This picture does NOT do it justice. It hangs on the wall in our bedroom, and makes me smile - I love it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Garden Spaces

Here are photos of some garden spaces as they look right now. Lots of work ahead, right? Bear in mind, folks, that I'm not really posting these to impress you (because how could they?), but more as a way to hold myself accountable to making them look like something different so I can post photos here of what they look like later! How messed up is that? Do you do this to yourself? Play games to get things accomplished? Or make to-do lists that you add things to after you've already done them, just so you can cross them off? Such is the life of a hectic eclectic, I suppose.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Verdant Dreams

O dreary, drab, garden space, how you haunt me,
Beckoning me to the kitchen window to stare out at your barrenness!

I long for luscious, ripe tomatoes, fragrant sweet basil or some frumpy, bumpy squash,
For the warmth to return to the soil so I can go put my hands in it and be renewed.

*sigh*

For now, dear garden, just rest, sure in the knowledge that fresh compost and warm rains are not too far away. And I'll try to sit tight, too - poring over my seed catalogues, planning my strategies to thwart the deer, using up the rest of the canned goodness from last year's garden.

And dreaming verdant dreams.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Myakka



Ran across some old photos today and thought I'd share them with you. These were taken a few years ago on a visit to my Nana. If you're ever down around Sarasota, Fl., you should check out Myakka River State Park. You can take a guided air boat ride, picnic, walk the trails or walk through the treetops in the canopy walkway! It's a great way to see a more natural view of Florida. A few years ago, when these photos were taken, Kel and I took Nana and our boys. It was fun to introduce our boys to the beauty of the place, and the adventure of discovering the local wildlife! "Mama, Mama! Look at that...(and then in hushed tones of reverence)....ALLIGATOR!" Nana and Gramp used to take me there when I was young, and I remember having pretty much the same reactions and feeling that same excitement (in fact, I pretty much still do). Isn't coming full circle interesting?

Monday, January 19, 2009

the artist



Here is Mr. Philip, our artist in residence. Recently he had two pieces chosen for special honors. The first one is one that he did during afterschool, in conjunction with a lesson from the Booth Western Art Museum. It was chosen to hang in the museum in their Kids Cowboy Up Art exhibit. The other is one that he did at school that was chosen to hang in the library. So we had two "meet the artist" receptions in one night, and he was thrilled (as, of course, were his proud parents)!

This, I think is one of those moments when having our family close together finally really hit home for me. We were able to travel from one to the other with his adoring entourage of family members in tow, and it meant so much to me for them to be able to be there. I know that one day, when he looks back on that moment, he will appreciate the gift of having his extended family close, too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Soup

Had some friends over today that we haven't seen for awhile. We played with the kids outside, chatted together and hiked around camp. It was a really nice day. After all the time outside in the chill, we were ready to come in and hang out by the fire, and have something warm to eat. Next time you have some leftover chicken, (and aren't on a diet!) try out this recipe that I made today.

Cheesy Chicken Soup

Combine the following ingredients in a large stockpot and cook over low heat.

6 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 gallon skim milk
2 TBS. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
pinch of dried cilantro
dash of celery seed
4-5 chicken breasts, chopped or shredded
1 can chicken stock
2 cans cream of chicken soup
8-10 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 block light cream cheese
2 cups water

While the above ingredents are getting hot in the stockpot, add these to a frying pan over med-high heat until cooked.

6 stalks of celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 stick of butter
1 large carrot, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Add the ingredients from the frying pan to the rest of the soup, and simmer over low heat for another 30 minutes or so.

You could start with a whole chicken, instead of the breasts and make your own stock and everything, but I was trying to use up some things I already had on hand.

I served it up (added some extra shredded cheddar for garnish) with some fresh salad and some dinner rolls our friends had brought with them. It was yummy!

edited to add: it does make an enormous pot of soup, but there were 9 of us, and not that much left over, so I think it was good that I made that much! You can always cut it down to fit your crew...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Seed catalogues!

I got my first two seed catalogues in the mail this week - hooray! I love going through the pages to see all the variety of things there are to be had. And learning a ton of new plants in the process.

I love circling, highlighting, and otherwise marking them up as I dream and plan the garden each year. The garden this year will have to be different than last year's, so I have some new constraints, but I have begun the dreaming process, and each catalogue gives me permission to dream bigger.

I can't wait until the next one comes!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Are we afraid of having too many fish?

In the beginning of Luke 5, the disciples have a bad day of fishing. Jesus, to have some space from the crowd, gets in a boat and teaches from there. Afterwards, Jesus tells them to lower the nets to fish some more. After some discussion, they finally do, and bring them in so full, they nearly sink the boats.

It is at this point that Peter pretty much freaks out.

The nets were filled and yet, instead of rejoicing, Peter was afraid. Aren't we all a little bit like that? Afraid for things to be too good? And so we sabotage ourselves, just a little, to make sure that our nets never get too full - as if losing a half -full net would hurt less than losing the whole thing.

We don't really intend to, but I think we listen to our inner critic (or our outward critics), or we allow people in our lives to get in the way of our success, or we think we're not worth what it takes to get where we want to be.

Peter is suddenly afraid because he is faced with the true person of Jesus and he can't handle it. In this pivotal moment, he freezes and essentially says,"You don't want me!" - and yet Jesus claims him as a disciple anyway, and gladly.

What a hopeful moment that becomes then for the rest of us! Peter, Moses, Isaiah - all say to God, "You've got the wrong person. I am NOT good enough." And yet, God chooses who God will - for reasons unbeknownst to us.

Not that I think God intends for us to all be successful in every endeavor. But perhaps understanding that our creator loves and accepts us, can give us permission to do the same for ourselves.

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