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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

forced perspective

How many times have you heard someone grieving a lost loved one say: "Appreciate the time you have. Hug your loved ones and don't take time for granted."?  

We've all heard it a million times.  We hug and love and a short time later....forget.  Because we don't know, we don't have that force and necessity to realize that each and every moment should be taken in because it's the only one, just like that one.  Eventually we all become the person who preaches to others to appreciate every single moment, because we didn't.

What if we knew, not the day or the hour or even the month, but a general sense of how much time we had with someone?  What if there was an awareness that 1, 2, 10 or even 20 years was all there was left?  Would we waste it in fear of the last moment or would we pay more attention in the little moments?  
Would we love more deeply?  
Would we tell them more often what we love about them?  
Would we wish for more time to "get more done"?
Would we get less done to spend more time differently?
Would we love more extravagantly?
Would we give more?
Would we take less?
Would we receive more easily?
Would we be more patient?
Would we be more helpful?
Would we be more kind?
Would we be more intentional with our words and actions?
Would we spoil them more?
Would we re-categorize what is really important? 
Would we be angry less?
Would we laugh more easily?
Would we blame less?
Would we apologize more?
Would we address misunderstanding with more grace?
Would we be more fun?
Would we work less?
Would we smile more?
Would we desire things less?
Would we desire time and touch more?
Would we be more creative in our expressions of love?
Would we ask for more, or less, of the people around us? 
Would we listen and hear more clearly what they say...and what they mean?
Would we concentrate more on the needs of others?
Would we concentrate on our own needs less?
Would we create a legacy worth remembering?
Would we create a legacy worth teaching?

What would be important to us if we truly understood what today was and wasn't?  Would our priorities be arranged differently?  Would we waste our time worrying that we are wasting our time?  Or would we simply slow down and have a greater appreciation for all the little things?

The conundrum is this: Some would receive knowing how much time is left as a gift and would focus on what they could do for others in the time that was left.  Others would receive knowing with fear and dread, they would live out the rest of their time using the end as an excuse to be self focused.  There are vast positions in-between those extremes where some would fall into place but I think those two would comprise the majority.

So if this kind of information would change our perspective for the positive, why can we not change our perspective without it?  If not knowing means we might waste today having no idea that tomorrow we will kiss the grill of a bus.....why then does not knowing make love and time less urgent?  It seems illogical that this not knowing gives us this strange false confidence that our time here is infinite.  It's strange to really think about how unaware we are of our choices.  We love and woo so deeply when first we fall in love because we know that a lack of effort might bring that "end date" more quickly than we'd like.  Later however, things change...fade.  We start holding more tightly to grievances instead of each other.  We overlook blessings in our lives, straining for the things we desire that are just out of reach. Why does not knowing not wake us up? 

Just something I've been pondering lately.  Watching how people love each other....and how they don't.  Wondering what it takes to change a person's focus, their perspective of time, effort, life...their circumstances and relationships.   

Is it better to know, or not to know? 

Don't be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.
~Matt. 6:34

I can't help but think that Jesus modeled this for us.  This man, all divine and all human, completely connected to His Father in heaven.  He knew the limits of His time here, He warned people He wouldn't be around to forever touch and hug.  They didn't hear Him.  I wonder if they had truly understood what He was telling them, if they would have spent their time with Him differently.  Would they have paid closer attention?  Would they have hugged and laughed more?  Would they have poured out perfume on Him themselves, instead of looking at it as a waste?  Would they have recognized how the God of the universe chose to spend His 33 years here?  Would they have seen that He chose to spend His last 3 with them? Would they have fallen asleep during His last moments, His prayers, tears and urging to stay awake? What was that like for Him? To know and know they didn't have a clue.  Someday it will be amazing to sit at His feet and listen to the stories.....though I suspect, sitting at His feet, I may not care about those questions anymore.

Blessings of easy, over-exposed love and a perspective on life that is beautifully unforced.
the Mrs.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Whats cookin?

Cooking ahead has been one of my latest endeavors.  Make it easy to have as many ingredients at the tips of your fingers for the healthiest choices to happen....right?  It's always when we are hungry and our brains are all "ohhhh, I don't know.....YOU pick!" that things run a muck and what could have been a healthy meal becomes pastry or chocolate or whatever you might pull out of a box or bag that you didn't make yourself.

So I gave up meat a while ago right?  Started to feel even better.   ...funny how you don't realize that you can feel better until you do....  So then I watched all those food documentaries....Food Matters and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. I also watched Engine 2 Kitchen Makeover recently and have been seeing stuff about this diet (in terms of nutrition lifestyle not "I'm going to do this for a few months to lose weight" diet) that this Texas firefighter has written about and researched in test groups.  Go figure that he's the son of the doctor who conducted the China Study mentioned in Forks Over Knives.  He and his family have been eating this way for years and he has lived and intimately known the benefits.  So he is sharing what he knows in very practical down to earth terms.

I feel like I kind of fell into it naturally.  Processed food has been out for quite some time. I took meat out a few months ago. Quit the coffee and gradually ended up reducing dairy to the point where I kinda don't need or miss it - except for those few drops in my black tea...mmmm.

So here I am, eating "plant strong" and feeling better than I realized that I didn't feel.  My energy has started to return and my mind seems clearer, sharper than it has in a long, long time.  I am so much more productive...its kinda crazy.  Though most of my productivity has been in the kitchen.  I don't quite have this cooking ahead thing down to a smooth science yet.....in terms of planning exactly what I'm going to make and thinking ahead about how much of it I'm going to make.  So I've spent about 3 days in the kitchen this week.  I'm trying to expand my cooking horizon.  Its really learning all over again.  It didn't take much thought to just throw things together before but now....for now....it takes time to really think about not only what to cook but how to cook it.  I'm the only one in the house that is skipping the animal products....so that means I need to make sure that the rest of the family has things that are appealing to them.  Dude hates beans....unless its a green one, his nose is turned up in the most disgusted manner at just the sight of them.  Mr has been fine but is oh so tired of the mexican themed food.   Generally that spice palate is incredibly easy to throw together and I love it.

I've been avoiding the whole label of "Vegan".  Cuz I'm not.  "Vegan" has this more political, environmentalist, fist shaking, yoga doing, save the animals and don't eat anything that casts a shadow, hippy vibe about it.....that it's way more than just about food nutrition.  I'm not a vegan, I just eat like one.  I love my leather boots and I love the leather jackets that I hope to fit back into by fall.  I believe that the cutest of farm animals are generally the tastiest and bacon is still meat candy and I'm sure I will forever call every pig I see, Bacon.   But my body functions better with a vegan diet.  My mind actually works better on a vegan diet...that in and of itself is the greatest blessing.  I still have pain issues and probably always will.  To think...clearly and freely is something that so many people take for granted.  While my brain will never return to the beauty it was at 15 before my car accident, it is a true source of joy to be aware enough, clear enough, to realize that I AM thinking more clearly and quickly.  What a gift the Lord has given us in FOOD!

Clean, God designed, natural food.  For that reason, I will promote eating this way.  Think of the canary that miners brought into the tunnels with them.  The bird was tiny and oh so sensitive to unclean air.  If that bird dropped over they knew they needed to get out of there.  Think of me as the canary in the tunnel of the food world.  Stick to the good stuff.

So what have I been making while spending all this time in the kitchen?
Grilling up tons of peppers and onions.
Peppers and onions have become a wonderful staple.  They grill up and keep so well.  I chop them a bit smaller and put them on rice, salads (who needs dressing with that kind of flavor?), wraps and sandwiches.  
Method: chop peppers and onions of choice (I used green bell and a combo of red and sweet yellow onion),  place a big sheet of heavy aluminum foil on the grill (enough to fold in half so its double layered), lightly spray with olive oil spray or your favorite spray oil to help with sticking, sprinkle with salt and pepper, garlic powder (crushed garlic tends to burn really easily).  If you want to add more zip, try chili powder, chipotle powder, oregano and squeeze a lime over the top near the end.  SO YUM.

Pico de Gallo
Fresh chopped tomatoes, green pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, onion, lemon/lime juice and a bit of salt. SO good!  Put that on salads, wraps and rice bowls.  So fresh, so good, we run out so quickly!
Veggie burgers.
Not something I thought I'd like but wanted to try.  I know that I can't eat the processed ones from the store so I found a recipe...where else but on Pinterest.  These are so easy and so good.  The original recipe calls for what else but chili powder and a mexican flavor.  The first time I made them I followed the directions.  The second time I changed the seasoning a bit and used, garlic, onion, thyme and parsley (all dried). It was wonderful!  Smelled like meatloaf even before I cooked them! YUM.

I have made Vegan Enchiladas with sweet potato and black beans that I am totally in love with. Sorry no pictures.  Make them, you too will fall in love.  I honestly have yet to make the avocado cream sauce simply because I can't get past the amazing filling to even think that it could get any better.  BUT here's a tip: inside your enchiladas, put a little brown rice, some of those grilled peppers and onions and the enchilada filling....and die happy....and healthy. :)

This week I made Banana Oatmeal Cookies to have for breakfast. My alteration was to use diced prunes instead of raisins and I added walnuts. Again, awesomeness. SO yummy and the crunch of the walnut is the perfect addition.  

Last week I even tried non-dairy frozen banana based ice cream.  It turned out wonderful and creamy.  I made strawberry.  I think this could be tweaked to suit your individual sweet tooth and the flavor changed in many ways.  

There are still SO many things to try!  Its all so exciting and a tad overwhelming at the same time but when you feel this good - and over 4lbs falls off without doing a dang thing to make it happen - it is amazingly worth it.  In time I know that I'll figure out a new rhythm and not have to spend so much time in the kitchen. Until then....I think I'll be there a lot.  I really need to find things that Mr will like and mix flavors up a bit for him.  As of now he's not joining me in this Engine 2, vegan, no animals in my food diet adventure BUT he has said "if you make it, I'll eat it".  He loved the enchiladas by the way.  Apparently he forgot there was no meat in them until I reminded him....they are that good.

Have a wonderfully long weekend and I'll keep you up to date on how this is going.  I can't believe there are only 2 weeks left of school....I'm not sure I'm prepared for summer yet!

Blessings for a luxuriously long recharging weekend, filled with memories and fun!
the Mrs.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"You've ruined me!"

My teenage daughter tells me this all the time.
It may be the highest compliment I receive.

"No ones banana bread is as good as yours!  I hate guacamole - but I LOVE yours!  I hate baked beans - but I LOVE yours!!  You've ruined me!"  She says to me...more than once a month.  

Recently I was making something totally new....I don't remember what it was now....but I was on the phone with her and telling her I was nervous it would be totally gross.  "It can't be YOU are making it, it will be awesome."  If you find planet wonderful - this is where my kids are from.  Seriously.

This weekend is her Sweet 16 party.  BBQ, Bonfire, girls sleeping over in the big tent and in the morning.....a mockery of all things "Sweet 16" has been made to be.   They will be getting themselves totally fanified and beautiful in the twirliest of dresses.....to go bowling.  Just one reason we call her WonderTeen.  She is brilliant, beautiful and hilarious all in one.

And all this falls right during the "Great Purge of 2012"......I am crazy.  Driven there by the messes and the sweetest of requests to make all her favorite "you've ruined me" things.  The Purge is on pause.  The house certainly better for how far we've come but priorities are priorities, right?   This week I am cleaning and putting things back together, cleaning up the purged messes, sending donations with the hubby to drop off after work.  

Today is baking day.  Raspberry Lemonade tartlets.  English toffee.   My famous baked beans.  3 kinds of muffins for breakfast.   I think I'm forgetting something.....oh, guacamole will be made fresh on Friday.  Right now it smells of toffee in the house......
So yummy!

Lots of foody things are happening here.  I'll share next week when I have more time.

Til then....
Blessings of abundant awareness of all the treats He prepares for you, 
the Mrs.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Breaking up....it's not me, it's you...

Coffee.  I love it....hot or cold but doctored into creamy sweet submission.  It is a delight to the senses of sight, smell and taste.  I think I'd drink it all day if I could....and not get fat or incredibly jittery.

Yet, we've been "on a break".  Last week I altered my coffee consumption.  A cup one day, none the next.  Reason?  Attempting to see if my physical and mental function is affected by the delicious nectar.  Pain and discomfort has been loitering around more than usual.  My brain running at a slower pace and the afternoon crash has been hitting harder.  So I felt prompted to experiment....with a potential break up.  "Time apart to evaluate".

The conclusion?  Yeah.....coffee, while oh so smooth and suave, smelling wonderful and oh so sweet.....isn't good for me.  It doesn't enhance my thinking or even allow me to maintain the way I thought it did.   It slows me down, adds too many calories and pushes me into a foggy, but tasty, swirl of thought.

On the days we didn't speak but merely passed in the kitchen as it went out the door with my husband....I found I felt clearer, more steady and certainly more productive in my day.  On the days we started together, I was off track, unproductive, more distracted, oh so tired and all together not my best.

So last week was every other day.  This week, so far, only the sip needed to taste if Mr's cooler has been mixed right.  That's it.

Coffee.....I'm glad we can be civil but I'm breaking up with you......for your cousin, tea.  It's not me, it's you...perhaps it's in your processing or just in your nature.  You just aren't good for me.

Green tea, black tea, lemon water, detox water or a combination of green, lemon and detox.  Black tea to replace coffee and it takes less than half the cream and vanilla syrup to revive the memory of coffee.  A way to not feel totally deprived of something so yummy.  Yet, my brain still feels clear and no crash.

The next step in the experiment...how long will it take before I see the full effect of this break up?  

In other foody news.....I spent all day in the kitchen yesterday.  The refrigerator was cleaned, veggies were chopped and food was cooked.  A huge amount of peppers and onions were cooked for fajitas, and entire chicken was roasted and shredded for the boys, cilantro lime rice was made, cumin spiced black beans were sauteed, fresh pico de gallo was made and avocado, red cabbage and cilantro was chopped.  Today I'll be peeling and cutting up several apples and seeing what else I can think of doing.  Ease of use was my thought.  Need more plants and when they are easy and quick, they get eaten.  When they get eaten in large doses, I feel better.

So....breaking up wasn't so hard to do.  Not like I thought.  No headaches....cravings yes...but no headaches or crabbiness like so many people talk about.  Not too shabby.

Blessings to you for clarity to see all the wonder of life and the brilliance in who and what you are,
the Mrs.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Making memories

The Drive-in is a near extinct experience.  There are not too many left.....in our state maybe only 3-4.
Its sad that one day the drive-in will only exist in history books.

There is one about an hour from us here. Its very family oriented, no movies over PG-13, pets welcome, bring your own food and you can even bring a small propane grill to make dinner!  I've seen people bring folding tables and chairs and serve dinner out of a crock pot.  We've brought dinner in a crock pot ourselves a time or two. It's like a small community that sets up for just a few hours.  If someone bigger than you arrives and blocks your view, you can pack up and move a spot or two to clear your view.

We make a real point to go several times during the summer. Sure we could show up, find an available spot and watch the movie sitting in our car....but....that's not what we do.  We pack the car like we are leaving for the weekend.  Lawn chairs, cooler, bug spray, blankets, speakers, bags of treats, games.....STUFF.

Sit in the car? Noooo.....not us.

We arrive near the time the gates open so we can pick a good spot, away from lights, near the bathrooms.  The car is backed into the chosen spot, tailgate open and layered with blankets and cushions for the kids.  A cooler is packed with beverages, fruit, candy and whatever baked treats I came up with.  Mr and I sit in our lawn chairs with the kids old toddler ones in front of us as foot rests.  This year we may even have an extra speaker hooked up to put on the ground in front of us to enhance the sound. Blankets and sweatshirts come out as the air gets chilly and everyone slowly gets doused in bug spray.  If the night is clear, we point out shooting stars and that the refinery off in the distance looks like a sparkling crystal city.....which is so opposite of what it is.  But at night, from far away, it is beautiful.

Its always at least a double feature.  This weekend it's the Avengers and Mission Impossible.  Great combo!  Lots of adventure and explody scenes on the huge screen!  Most often the night ends with me waking up to realize I didn't see 70% of the second movie and giggles that mom was snoring.  The kids fall asleep in the back and we don't arrive back home until near 3am.  We all fall into bed exhausted but having had the best night.

Saturday night will be this years first venture out for what looks to be this drive-in's last season.  Memories in the making.  One day when the kids are grown we'll be telling their kids about how we used to drive far away just to watch movies outside.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate this weekend.  We are all excited about the first trip out.  I'm baking like crazy so we have fun treats.  I'm not telling what though cuz I know my Mr will be reading and the surprise will be ruined. :)

Blessings to you for a multitude of memory making opportunities,
the Mrs.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

efficient dream

The easy flow of a rhythmic routine.

The steadiness of moving from one task to another.

Knowing the timing of your day.

These are just a few things I would love to be in my day.  I want one day to be able to move through the tasks of keeping my home without thought because they are like the blood in my veins...a part of me that requires no conscious thought.   Learning and modifying, adapting to changes and new awareness of how things work best in our season of life, my day, my issues.

Don't accuse me of striving for perfection....not true.   I strive for improved.  "Good, better, best"....when I know better I want to do better and I will only do that by trying.  Its like anything you want to improve upon, you must practice - but not to be perfect....to do your best.   I don't feel I do my best.  I am the picture of inefficiency.  I flit from task to task, often leaving the last unfinished....not intentionally.  I am excellent at making lists and horrible at following them.

I dream of the day where I can meander through my day on auto pilot, merging from task to task easily and without thought.  Loving what I do, even if my head is under the toilet.  To feel the easy rhythm of a finely tuned routine and be interrupted without a surge of panic that things won't get done....but to welcome the interruption with open arms as the most important thing in that moment.

Today, I decided that coffee would be taken from my menu.  Gasp, I know, I am too.  Currently my brain feels as though it's in a tub of water and someone has carelessly bumped it quite hard.  Yep....it feels a bit sloshy....maybe that's not a proper word but I'm going to use it anyway.  It fits.  I decided that since there is really nothing really redeeming about coffee...from a nutritional stand point.....especially considering that I can't seem to stand it without loads of coffee syrup and cream......perhaps I should try tea again.  It is so good for you.....maybe I'll see some benefit either in clarity of thought or in removing that mid afternoon slump.  It's worth a try anyway.  

Underwater blessings to you for a clear and efficient day,
the Mrs.