"All of us are watchers of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway, but few are observers.
Everyone is looking not many are seeing." Peter Leschak

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gratitude Monday

Our old next door neighbors are visiting, and I'm thankful we didn't have to make the 6 hour drive to see them.  They came to us.  She also brought along her homemade chocolate chip cookies which we miss almost as much as we miss them.  I'm also thankful I get to visit an old friend this week in Connecticut. I will be spending next Monday in New York City.   I can't seem to get enough of that city.  I have been several times and there is always something new to see.

On a different note back to school shopping is right around the corner.  I love all of the fun notebooks, pens and markers.  I'm always grateful for a new journal or cute folder even though I'm not going back to school.   I will always be a student in some way.  I'm always taking some sort of on line course and  I love learning new things.   I'm also loving all of the dorm room items that are on sale this time of year.  It takes me back to my college years.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spare Change

I recently came across a baggie full of change on my kitchen counter.  I asked my husband what it was for and he explained it was spare change which was sitting in his car.  You know the little compartment in your car that you throw quarters, nickles, dimes and pennies in after going through a drive through window.  You never know when you might need spare change.  It reminded me of a post I had written on my former blog www.dawnpasco.blogspot.com about Mattie Stepanek.  I thought I would share it again here.

Oprah describes Mattie Stepanek as one of the brightest lights to ever grace her stage and the planet. Poet, Mattie Stepanek, appeared on the Oprah show numerous times before his passing in 2004 from a rare form of muscular dystrophy. It is impossible for me to watch a show about him without going through a box of Kleenex. Oprah interviewed his mother Jeni on one of her favorite guests of all times shows. Jeni has written a book about her life with Mattie called Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie Stepanek. Jeni also suffers from muscular dystrophy and has buried all four of her children who died from the disease. She said Mattie's spirit continues to inspire her every day. She shared the story of how Mattie learned of Oprah. The story brings me to tears just retelling it. They were going into a thrift store and Jeni spied a nickle on the ground. She told Mattie it must be his lucky day and Mattie said that means someone else is unlucky because they lost their money. He was six years old at the time and insisted they give the nickle to the store manager because someone would be looking for it. The manager sort of laughed and questioned what you could buy with a nickle. Mattie's response was a gift. The manager told him to keep it and find a gift. He loved books and discovered one about a girl who went from rags to riches, Oprah Winfrey, and inside the cover it was marked 5 cents. He didn't know who Oprah was, but the book caught his attention. He read the book on the way home from the store. Later he told his mother that God put it into his heart that he and Oprah were to be together for a few years and are part of each others reason for being.

 Ever since I learned of this story in May of 2011, I look at spare change a lot differently.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Good Combinations

I can't say enough about Trader Joes.  They  have so many unique items that you can't get from your local grocery store.  My friend Anne told me about this delightful food pairing:  Buffalo Wheat Thins which you can find at your local grocer and Trader Joe's Blue Cheese Roasted Pecan Dip.  I'm warning you it's very addictive and the nice part is you don't have to cook anything.   Pay no attention to the nutritional content and it will taste even better.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gratitude Monday

My husband and I saw the new Batman movie Dark Knight over the weekend.  At one point during the movie I became a little anxious when several gunmen opened fire in the stock exchange building.  I thought of the gunman in Colorado who randomly shot over 70 people at a midnight showing of the movie just two days before. I choose not to watch the news much anymore.  They can be masters at repeating the same story 50 different ways.  The nail place I go to has a television and normally Ellen or some game show is being televised.  This time it was a news stations and for the entire hour I was there all they talked about was the Colorado shooting.  Unless there is new information to report I don't see the point in endlessly rehashing this tragic story. What is normally a pleasurable experience,  left me feeling sick and stressed out. I can't imagine how those who were present must be feeling.

Gratitude Mondays are about making a conscious effort to focus on the positive things in life.  It's something I try to do every day, but can easily forget.  I have a natural inclination to gravitate to the negative. I'm thankful for the flowers, plants and trees that are still thriving despite the heat wave we're experiencing.  I'm grateful there are more sane people than insane people in this world.  I'm grateful for the many people who choose to do good in this world and help instead of harming others.  I'm grateful for people who use their extraordinary God given talents to make this world a better place.  Batman would be one of those people if he were real.    

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Melody Ross

Melody and Me

While browsing at a gift shop at the Crazy Horse Memorial site in South Dakota, I spotted a woman who is an inspiration to me.  That woman is Melody Ross.  I first came across her from a book I had called What to Write.  The book gives ideas to help you incorporate journaling into your scrapbooks which is a favorite hobby of mine.  Fast forwarding many years later, I bought a publication called Artful Blogging.  I was drawn to the photography on the cover, and to be honest I just love buying books and magazines. At the time I had started a blog about What I've Learned from Watching Oprah and I thought it might have some helpful blogging advice.  I read an article by Jeanne Oliver whose blog at the time was www.bushelandapeck.typepad.com and she talked about her experience at a place called Brave Girl Camp.  The article intrigued me enough to google the brave girl club.  I was hooked in by the positive messages and vintagey artwork of Melody and her sister Kathy.

I later put two and two together that it was the same woman whose book I had purchased years ago.  I read her blog and have taken her online courses Soul Restoration I & II.  She has a new course called art school which I'm also considering.  I am one of those people who wishes they had a natural talent for art and drawing.  I enjoy photography, crafts and design, but my artistic abilities could use a lot of assistance.  Melody's classes and daily emails came into my life at a time when I was really struggling and sometimes still do with finding my calling and overcoming self doubt.  She is one of those people whose soul shines.  She is as beautiful, friendly, sincere and out going as she appears to be on her videos.  She is not a woman without struggles and has shared her personal experiences on her blog.  It takes a very brave person to do that, but as a result it has helped so many women with their own inner turmoils.

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet Melody.  I wish I could have told her more, but I didn't want to keep her from her family.  Mine were waiting outside wondering what was taking me so long to buy a postcard.  I also didn't want her to think I was some strange stalker.  I was thrilled her husband and son offered to take a picture of us.  It is physical proof of the moment.  I highly recommend checking out her website www.bravegirlsclub.com

On a side note, it occurred to me hours afterward I had written in one of my journals that I would like to meet her one day.  It wasn't quite the way I'd pictured, but it happened none the less. I also don't believe it was by chance.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

South Dakota

The Badlands, South Dakota
Crazy Horse Memorial
What Crazy Horse will look like when completed

Mt. Rushmore
Different view of Mt. Rushmore

Buffalo Roaming on Wildlife Loop Road

This one got away from the herd and was meandering among cabins.

Harney Peak Lookout Tower
View from Harney Peak, Elevation 7,242

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park

This summer our family took a road trip to South Dakota and Wyoming.  Mt. Rushmore has been on our bucket list for several years.  We stayed in the town of Custer which was close to Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park.  The above photos were a few our favorite places in South Dakota.  The view from Harney Peak was worth the seven mile hike to get there.  Sylvan Lake is where a scene from the movie National Treasure 2 was filmed.  It is the place Nicholas Cage sticks his hand in the rock with the eagle symbol on it.  I think we found the rock, but no eagle (Hollywood magic).  We also had our best meal on the whole trip at the Sylvan Lake Lodge.  It was so good we ate there twice.  If you've ever been to South Dakota please feel free to comment on your favorite places.   Now we just need to get to Yellowstone and Yosemite one these days. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ceviche Tostadas

Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas

This is a great recipe my friend Anne made for us when we were at their lake house this summer.  It  requires minimal oven time and is easy for those perpetual hot summer days.  She got the original recipe via www.kraftfoods.com and just tweaked it a bit by using store bought guacamole instead of a cream cheese avocado mixture.  I have tried some other recipes from their site and they have all been good and easy.  I'm not a very patient cook so I like fast and easy.  No pun intended for those whose mind went to the gutter.  Enjoy!

Ceviche Tostadas

1 lb. small shrimp, peeled, cleaned and cooked
1/2 c fresh lime juice
1/4 c Kraft Zesty Italian dressing
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c thinly sliced red onions
6 tostada shells
shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese

Toss shrimp, lime juice, dressing, tomatoes, cilantro and onions in glass bowl.  Refrigerate 20 min. or more to marinate.  Warm tostada shells.  I usually warm them at 300 degrees for 10 min. Spread guacamole on tostada shell.  Drain shrimp mixture, spoon on top of tostada and sprinkle with cheese. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gratitude Monday

Hubby with Baby Charlie

I'm grateful for visits from friends who have moved away.  I've had several good friends move out of state over the years.  This past weekend my friend was in town with her six week old baby boy, and I got to hold him for the first time.  I'm also thankful we made it safely home in time to see them from our 12 hour road trip to South Dakota.  We had a great time on our trip, but I am even more grateful for my morning cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee.  We had a hard time getting a good cup of coffee in South Dakota.  I love traveling, but I enjoy my little comforts of home.

I'm also glad the ten loads of laundry we had are washed and put away.  I've even printed my pictures from the trip which is record time for me.  It's usually a good six months by the time I get around to printing pictures.  Last but not least, I'm grateful I had the opportunity to meet a woman who is an inspiration to me.  It was totally by chance while browsing in the gift shop at the Crazy Horse Memorial.  For those of you that know me well, it wasn't Oprah.  I'll post more on our serendipitous meeting later this week.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite children's books.  It's the story of a relationship between an apple tree and a boy.  Every day a boy visits the tree and swings from its branches and eats its apples.  As the boy grows older he lies in the shade of the tree and sells the apples to make money.  The boy loves the tree and the tree accommodates his every need as the boy becomes an old man.  Eventually there is nothing left of the tree, but a stump.  The old man sits on its stump and the tree is happy.

At this point you might be asking yourself, what does that have to do with the picture of peaches I've posted?  We have a peach tree which is about 12 years old now.  The tree looked like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree when we bought it.  I was embarrassed to put it in the middle of our big backyard.  To be honest, I wasn't happy about the tree at first because I was under the impression my husband was going to come home from the nursery with a big tree.  After it sat in its container for several days my husband finally planted it in a corner of our house by our deck.  The tree flourished and after a couple of years produced delicious juicy peaches.  Some years the peaches were better than others.  A few times the leaves developed a fungus and branches broke every year from either storms or the weight of the peaches.  We built a sunroom this year next to the tree and had to cut some of it back yet the tree continues to produce fruit.  This year we had a bountiful harvest of peaches.  We have shared them with friends and neighbors and I made peach cobbler and peach crisp.

This may be the last year for the peach tree, but we have thought that several times before and it continues to give.  I hope it's happy because it has made us happy over the years.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Red Beet Eggs

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When I was a kid, my Mom used to make red beet eggs.  I particularly remember her making them for camping trips in our pop-up camper.  Most kids probably associate foods like smores or hot dogs with camping, but I remember red beet eggs.  My family thinks I'm weird and no one else seems to like them, but me.  If you are feeling a little adventurous and you like the flavor of beets I suggest you try them.  Here is the recipe:

Adobe Eggs or Red Beet Eggs

6 hard cooked eggs, shelled
1 can beets
1 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp salt

Put eggs in a quart jar.  Combine remaining ingredients pour over eggs.  Cover, cool and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gratitude Monday

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
I'm extremely grateful for air conditioning on these 100 degree hot summer days and when my husband grills dinner and I don't have to prepare a main dish.  Meat just tastes so much better when it's grilled.  Last week was my birthday week and I'm grateful my friends could help me celebrate. If they weren't able to help me celebrate they still remembered me.  Having a summer birthday can be a catch 22.  You can have fun pool parties, but alot of times your friends are on vacation.  As a kid it was also sometimes hard to get in touch with friends.  There was no such thing as facebook, cell phones or twitter back in the 70's.  The mailman, telephone or physically going to someone's house were how you communicated.  As much as I sometimes get annoyed with new technology, I'm grateful there are easier ways to reach people.

I discovered an ecourse on blogging through the website www.abeautifulmess.typepad.com.  I am so grateful I came across this class because it has had some great blogging tips.  I'm excited to implement some of the ideas Elsie has shared.  I'm also grateful for lists because they help keep me on task, and I honestly just love making them for the heck of it.

As the Fourth of July approaches and the fireworks begin to scare my dog, I'm grateful for the freedoms I enjoy living in the USA.