• March 30, 2016

    Dad’s Surgery

    Feature-Image

    Despite the beauty of spring and freshness of everything in March, this month has been extremely hard for me.  My Dad had back surgery in mid-March and was confined to his bed for 3 days and the hospital for about a week.  Fortunately, everything went pretty well and he’s made great progress in his healing.  But, for that time before and just after the surgery, we were all exhausted.  Daily trips to the hospital were taxing not just because of the change in routine and so on, but because of the emotional toll.

    My Dad is the strongest, most manly man I know.  He’s a big, tough cowboy who fixes everything and never shows weakness (until you get him talking about his girls or his pets).  He hunts and fishes and camps.  He wrangles and brands cows.  He fixes cars and spent his life working a tough blue collar job despite his college education.  A former Boy Scout, he always knows how to tie the right knots and prepare for whatever may come.  As a child, he awed me with his physical strength and I was pretty sure he could never falter of fail.  He was my hero – still is, in a lot of ways.

    So, now, to see him in such pain and so reliant on others for their strength… it’s hard.  He suddenly seemed small to me – shrunken from his former strength.  I suddenly had to face his mortality and what that means for me.  And for my mom.  It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do and I had no idea it would hit me so suddenly.

    Through all of it, though, he has kept his humor.  In the hospital, he joked and flirted with the nurses.  He had late night talks with one of the male nurses about hunting and camping in the area – getting ideas and making plans for this fall.  He was already planning his next adventure from his hospital bed!  I think this speaks enormously of his character.  My Dad doesn’t do the whole sitting around doing nothing thing.  He always has a project or plan going.  He may have slowed in his old(er) age, but he’ll never stop.  If he ever does, that’s when I will know he’s in trouble.  If he ever can’t joke around or find something to work on…

    But that is not today!  That is not now.  Someday, maybe… but not any time soon.  I admire his strength and his trying to stay positive.  He wasn’t really raised that way, this attitude is all his doing.  And it’s amazing how much he has to give even when he’s feeling his worst.

    I hope I can be so strong and so positive when I ever have trials to persevere.  I hope I can make people who are there to care for me laugh and get excited about their passions.  I hope I have half his strength.

  • March 23, 2016

    Throwback Thursday on a Wednesday: Easter Edition

    Feature-Image

    Happy Easter, friends!  I hope you feel especially close to your family and friends this season!

    I’ve been thinking a lot about my family traditions and things that were meaningful to me in my younger days.  Easter was never a very religious holiday in my house – we didn’t go to church on Sundays and that didn’t change on holidays.  Instead, I would hunt Easter Eggs and enjoy some form of lovely breakfast with my parents.  When I was done searching out eggs, I’d beg my folks to hide them again and again and when they tired of my little game, I’d toss them all over the yard (if there wasn’t still snow on the ground) and hunt them myself.

    Along with the little candies and pennies hidden in the plastic eggs I would hunt, my parents usually would give me a little gift or two.  As you can see in these pictures, I must have gotten a new teddy bear, tricycle, and coloring book that year:

    Easter

    Now, as an adult, the holiday takes on different meaning and different purpose for me.  I still feel lost in this season and no closer to God than when I started my little project for Lent (actually, I never even finished my project… I don’t really know what happened), but I am trying to keep faith and seek out the good in it.

    I hope you find renewed hope and peace in this season, no matter what you believe or don’t believe.  I hope you feel close to your life’s purpose and confident in your place in the world.  I hope you worship what you choose with all your heart and know that you alone are enough – you alone are wonderful.

  • March 16, 2016

    Easter Eggs

    Feature-Image

    Dying eggs is my most favorite Easter tradition and reminds me of quality time I had with my mom and a good friend of ours while I was growing up.  I don’t remember how my mom’s friend got involved, probably because her boys had outgrown the tradition, but she became an integral part of our celebration.  It has now been years since I last dyed an Easter Egg, but it’s such a beautiful tradition, so I decided to learn a little more about the history behind it all and try my had at naturally coloring some eggs!

    My research has shown me that, like Christmas, many Easter traditions were borrowed from pagan celebrations and repurposed into something new.  Eggs symbolize fertility and rebirth, so early Christians adopted them as a symbol for Christ’s resurrection.

    Understanding the coloring part of the tradition is a little less obvious as there are many different theories as to how it all got started.  Some believe eggs were decorated simply to beautify them in celebration of Lent coming to an end – eggs were not allowed during Lent.  Other’s believe Mary had eggs at the crucifixion and Jesus’ blood dripped on them – coloring them red – and so we color eggs red in remembrance of his sacrifice.  Other legends claim that Mary had the eggs with her and they miraculously turned red when she saw the risen Christ or, alternatively, when she told someone he had risen and he replied that Christ had no more risen than her eggs were red, so they turned red.

    Whatever the historical reason, I enjoy the tradition because it reminds me of home, of simple joys, and of familial closeness.

    Now, on the “show” part of this little show and tell!  *grin*  Because we try to eat cleanly and don’t buy dyes or foods containing dyes, we were determined to try and color some eggs naturally this year!  I didn’t have the time or desire to test lots of different recipes – frankly, I don’t even really like hard boiled eggs all that much – so we’re going to try good old Martha Stewarts recipes out and see what happens!  *grin*

    We decided to try to achieve pale yellow, light blue and chartreuse for our eggs.  There are a lot of other colors that require different ingredients and techniques listed on the website, so I would encourage you to check it out!

    Following the instructions given, we simplified them a bit and came up with the following:

    Pale Yellow: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 3 tablespoons turmeric to a boil.  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Turmeric

     

    Light Blue: Bring 1 quart water, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 4 cups chopped cabbage to a boil (add more water and vinegar in their correct proportions if needed to cover the cabbage).  Once it has boiled, lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain dye into a bowl and place already hard boiled eggs into solution and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Cabbage

     

    Chartreuse: Use the dyes already used for pale yellow and light blue.  Soak eggs in the turmeric dye for 30 minutes and remove.  Then, place in the cabbage dye briefly – about 5 minutes.

    Coloring-Eggs

     

    Eggs

    Pro Tip: When removing the eggs from the color, pat them dry with a paper towel – don’t rub!  If you rub too much, the color will come off!

    Expect a bit of variation with your eggs.  I don’t know what makes the color stick or not stick, but some defiantly turned out better than others and they were all done the same.

    Cabbage, turmeric, eggs, and vinegar all stink, so try to plan your egg dying time for when you can have an open window!  Otherwise your house will stink and everyone will wonder what kind of mess you’re making for dinner!

    I hope ya’ll give this little project a try!  I was very pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy of the colors and how easy it all actually was.  Way more interesting and fun (as an adult at least… though, you could totally turn this into a mini science lesson for your kids) than the little kits you can buy!

    Easter-Eggs

  • March 9, 2016

    Greek Salad with Lamb

    Feature-Image

    Sometimes you just need an easy meal that is healthy and quick, you know?  That’s not an easy combination to come up with, so I end up making my go-to easy meals kind of a lot.  I’m ok with that, especially with this Greek salad recipe!  The lamb makes it hearty enough for dinner, but the veggies keep it fresh and crisp.  I especially love this meal after a good work out at the gym.

    Greek Salad with Lamb Recipe

    By Erin Published: March 9, 2016

      Sometimes you just need an easy meal that is healthy and quick, you know?  That's not an easy combination to come up with, so I end …

      Ingredients

      Instructions

      1. ComponentsGather Ingredients.
      2. Cook-it-upCook ground lamb and season with oregano and dill.
      3. Greek-SaladFill bowls or plates with lettuce, top with cooked lamb, feta, olives, tomatoes to taste. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy!

      Pro Tip: If you can’t find lamb or it’s too expensive, you can substitute ground turkey.  Or, for a more traditional and vegetarian option, leave the meat out altogether!  Just toss the oregano and dill with the lettuce and you’re golden!

      Pair with a yummy glass of pinot grigio or merlot and you’ve got yourself a classy meal that you can really impress your friends with!

    • March 2, 2016

      Bicycle Race

      Feature-Image

       

      Ooooooh boy, I can’t imagine those ladies are comfortable riding their bikes.  But, hey, I’ve never tried nekkid bike riding before, so who knows.  *grin*

      Anyway…. I finally got my bike, ya’ll!  It’s so shiny!  I don’t remember if I ever actually brought up my bicycle dreams here or not, but it’s something I’ve been working towards since we decided to move.  You see, there is a beautiful park near our home as well as some fabulous restaurants and shopping all within walking/biking distance.  So… I’ve been dreaming and scheming for quite some time now!

      By-the-Water

      With the weather getting nicer every day, I decided it was time to take out my savings and bite the bullet.  Lucky for me, the bike I wanted went on sale at the same time I was ready to go and I got a screaming deal on it!  *patience is a virtue for a reason*  Also lucky for me, I have a coworker-friend who is super into bikes and her husband graciously offered to put mine together for me so I could save some money on the shipping.

      In-the-Park

      So, now it’s all put together and looking beautiful – I’m almost afraid to take it anywhere, lest it get scuffed or marred.  Of course, that doesn’t really stop me… but I do think about it every time I take it out.  I realized while we were putting it all together that I haven’t ever had a brand new bike… and I haven’t really ridden one since high school.  High school, ya’ll.  So I’m a little rusty.

      All this talk about my excitement, I’m sure you’d like to know more about this bike that has me so enamored.  First, she’s a Public bike.  I decided to go with a Public brand bike over others for several reasons: 1. style 2. quality 3. affordability 4. they had exactly what I wanted.  I did a year’s worth of searching and reading and pouring over reviews before landing on this one.

      Public

      The bike I got is the Dutch Step Thru C1 which means that it only has one gear.  I went back and forth a lot about one gear vs. 3 or more and ended up deciding on the one gear because of the terrain I’ll mostly be riding on – park and neighborhood only.  I don’t have any plans to take her on main roads or try to commute to work and there aren’t any major hills in my nearby area.  Once I get better at riding again, I might look for another bike with more gears and that can travel faster on main roads, but that’s probably quite a ways off!

      Bike

      And, one of the best things is, because I got the bike on such a great sale, I was able to also get some really amazing accessories too!  There’s nothing like customizing stuff so it genuinely reflects you as a person.  I have some other customization goals in mind… but I’m totally broke now… so it’ll have to wait.

      What was that about patience being a virtue, again?  ha!