Saturday, November 23, 2013

Checking in

It's hard to believe we've been in our little apartment for almost a month now. Oddly enough, it has felt like home from the get-go.  While the apartment is hardly 1,000-square-feet, there's a master bedroom large enough for our bedroom set, and a dining area that holds our kitchen table (scaled down without any leaves), as well as the china hutch (to make up for the lack of cabinet space in the teeny-tiny kitchen). I was nervous about storing the cherry wood grandmother clock that my Dad made us for a wedding gift, so we brought it along. The hourly chimes fill our little place with the bright, familiar chimes we've been hearing for 29 years.

It's fun having a 'real' wood-burning fireplace again. The mantle is wide enough to hold some candles and seasonal decorations. Our small balcony holds two comfortable lawn chairs and a small table big enough for a couple of mugs of coffee or glasses of wine.

The dogs have been such troopers. I just know that Lilly is sad because she misses her yard and 'her' squirrel. However, the complex has nice grounds with lots of trees and a Bark Park where she can run. Abby is getting a workout going up and down the stairs to the second floor, but we tell each other that the exercise is good for us. We're both taking the stairs a lot more quickly these days. 

I've found the simplicity I've often longed for. Our pantry is small, so grocery shopping and meals are kept simple. I can clean the entire apartment in 45 minutes. The spare bedroom is set up with two desks for our shared office. It also contains the dogs' kennels and our largest bookcase. I'm finding that I really don't need as much stuff as I thought I did. I've been quite productive and even started an online class last week. (More on that later.) 

The best part is that we're only a few minutes from where we used to live, so we're still living in our old community.  And the other best parts are not having to shovel snow or haul 50-gallon trash cans to the curb and back once a week.

After the first of the year, we need to seriously find a house! In the meantime, however, I'm going to enjoy taking a 'breather' and just be fully present to where we are right now. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Breathing lessons

 
How many times I've thought about updating this blog and then I put it off, thinking, "as soon as life settles down."  But, really.  Does life ever settle down?  (Does my Springer Spaniel EVER  "settle down?")  And how boring would that be?

We're in the process of moving.  We put our house on the market one day in September and we had a buyer the next morning.  For weeks, we scrambled about looking for a place, and last week we threw up our hands and signed a lease on an apartment. 

So, as you can imagine, I've been up to my ears in moving boxes, packing tape, and lists, with a black magic marker stuck in my bra (TMI?) trying to organize this move from 3,600 square feet to . . . well, first a small apartment and eventually to a smaller house.  The majority of our stuff is going into storage.  I'm on a first name basis with the attendant at our local Goodwill drop-off.  I am de-crapping in a BIG way!

Meanwhile, I keep telling myself to just breathe.  It's my favorite time of year.  The fall foliage is gorgeous, the days crisp and cool.  A beautiful season outdoors and a new season for Dan and I.  So much to write about. 

I'll keep you posted.
 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Patient Trust

I was reading an article about Michael J Fox and came across a quote that I just love.  He said, "My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance and in inverse proportion to my expectations."

He was referring to the onset of Parkinson's Disease, which occurred for him at the age of just 30. 

His positive outlook, accepting what can't be changed in his life, and embracing the good things, have given him a new kind of freedom.

I just love this, the idea of  preferring what IS in your life, so that you can go on and rejoice in the good stuff that will invariably come your way, sometimes because of those huge challenges. 

You ask any married couple, 'when was the best time in your marriage?'  Many of them will answer:  "In the beginning.  When we had little --a small apartment and big dreams, when we were struggling together and learning to lean on one another."  In my own experience, the times of struggle -- not necessarily with each other, but with situations that we faced together -- have become the glue that has made our marriage even stronger.

I don't share a ton about my personal life on my blog, because many of the stories aren't mine to tell.  But, the past couple years have been hell on wheels, let me say that much.  And there are many days when we're still rollin'!

I am forever striving to accept what is not mine to change, and stay in the moment. Because that's where I find peace.  Looking behind, there is often regret.  Looking ahead, I tend to worry, that things aren't moving in the right direction fast enough, or that they may never get better.  It's my nature.  I'm a worrier.

One of the things that has helped me keep things in perspective and given me loads of peace is a prayer poem that I came across a couple years ago. It has become a sort of personal Creed, and I recite it and pray it with as much conviction as possible, sometimes for myself and sometimes for people I love who are struggling so. Because sometimes it's just all you can do.

 
PATIENT TRUST
 
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability ---
and that it may take a very long time.
 
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually --- let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don't try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will  make of you tomorrow.
 
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
 
--- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
 


Friday, July 26, 2013

Thankful on Friday

I'm counting the week's blessings with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story. . .

1.  Paid bills this week.  One of my least favorite jobs to start, but I always feel so productive when I'm finished.  And I'm always thankful that there's enough in the piggy bank to go 'round.  DH has always made sure of that for us.

2.  Girlfriends coming for dinner tonight.  The kind of friends that I don't have to clean for, they'll just show up and I'll cook something new, along with a fabulous dessert.  DH is making the gin and tonics and we'll 'back porch it' for the evening.  Lots of things to be thankful for, just in those last few sentences.

3.  Being able to record past episodes of my favorite shows on TV or watch them online whenever I want.  It's something we all take for granted now, but when I think back to the "old days" when I was a kid, and if you missed an episode of your favorite show, you had to wait until summer reruns -- being able to watch them whenever you want is pretty miraculous. I'm having such fun catching up on the first three seasons of The Mentalist.

4.  A new laptop!  Oh my gosh, this should've been Number One.  After limping along with the old one for the past year, and seeing the "blue screen of death" at least daily . . . what is that, anyway?  . . .Number One Son took me shopping and we picked out a new laptop.  I'm giddy over this thing! 

5.  Lilly and I were on one of our walks this week, and we found this at the end of the trail.  A little person's lost shoe that another hiker had thoughtfully placed at the trailhead on top of a pile of rocks, hoping the owner would come back to reclaim it.  It just made me go, "Awww."


If you'd like to share what made your week special, link up with Susanne and the rest of the crew!  You'll be glad you did;)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fruit Salsa

This has become a family favorite.  It's a nice complement to spicy Mexican dishes.  Serve with cinnamon sugar pita chips, and you'll think you've died and gone to heaven.

Recipe for Fruit Salsa
Chop up 1 cup strawberries, three kiwis and one navel orange.
Add an 8-oz can of crushed pineapple.
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Drizzle one teaspoon of lemon juice on top.
Mix together gently.  Enjoy!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Ordinary days



This past week has been summer at its best.  It's been fairly quiet around here -- no big trips or big events for us this year.  Just regular old, ordinary days.  How sweet, savoring the ordinary stuff, the day-to-day stuff.  There's comfort in it that's hard to find on even the best vacations.

I met my stepmom for lunch one day.  She is one of my favorite people to spend time with.  We always find lots to talk about, including our latest favorite reads -- this time The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  (I really need to do a post about summer reading, because I've come across so many good books this summer.)

One morning, my dad, my brother, my favorite 8-year-old in the whole wide world, and I went on a hike. Then we went to Caribou for iced coffee and chocolate milk:)


I've reconnected with a long-time friend and we've been enjoying fabric shopping together. I love shopping for fabric and it's double the fun when I have someone to go with who loves it as much as I do. On Wednesday, we had a ball.  I found some pretty fabric to make some tunics for fall, and Kristan found some quilting fabric.



Our book club met one evening and we discussed this wonderful book.  Then we drank more wine and solved most of the world's problems.


On Saturday, Dan and I went to a Rockies game.  Sunday was spent just doing stuff around here, then we went to hit golf balls, and then had a late, late dinner on the back porch.

Target is already carrying school supplies, but I'm not even looking.  There's so much summertime left to savor.




Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Daybook

Muchas gracias to Peggy for hostessing the Daybook!


For Today. . .  Monday, July 15, 2013

Outside my window. . . the sky is gray and the air heavy and damp.  As I write this, I am sitting on the back porch.


 I am thinking. . . that simple, routine days can be a good place to rest in times of struggle.

I am thankful. . . for the good friends my kids surround themselves with.

In the kitchen. .
Meatball sliders
Coleslaw
Sliced Watermelon

 I am wearing. . .pajamas;)

Over the weekend. . . Dan and I went to the History Colorado Center downtown, Joe came over and we made dinner together, I started a new book (see below).

I am creating. . . a new blouse.  After years of taking a break, I have this desire to start sewing again.

I am going. . . to meet my stepmom, Carol, for brunch today.

I am reading. . . The Book of Summers, by Emylia Hall

I am praying. . . for a young man struggling with substance abuse issues; a young couple who lost their baby.

I am looking forward to. . .going fabric shopping with a friend on Wednesday.

I am hearing. . . the dog next door barking at a squirrel.  The flap of the doggy door as Lilly rushes out to check on the situation.

I am learning. . . that some lessons are NEVER over. (Still working on this one.)

Around the house. . . I'm running a laundromat!  On Saturday, we had laundry going for ourselves and my mother-in-law (still recuperating at a rehab facility), and number-one-son came over to do his laundry.  It was an exercise in choreography, but it was all done by Sunday.

A favorite quote for today. . . From The Book of Summers, by Emylia Hall . . .
"Family.  .  .  . rambling dinners with elbows on tables and old jokes kneaded and pulled like baking dough.  Or dotty aunts and long-suffering uncles, awkwardly shaped shift dresses and craggy mustaches, the hard press of a well-meant hug.  Or just a house on a street. Handprints pushed into soft cement. . . "

Some of my favorite things. . .  libraries, porch swings, ruby red grapefruit juice

A peek into my day. . . 


Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Favorites

Five Things I'm Incredibly Thankful For This Week . . .

1.  Puppies! -- I got to go 'puppy shopping' today with my brother.  He's in the market for another hunting dog, so we went to check out a litter of German Wirehaired Pointers.  Oh.My.Goodness.  Is there anything cuter than a litter of nine, three-week old, squirming, bumbling puppies who waddle about like little drunken sailors?  It's a good thing I wasn't making the decision about which one to choose. . . I wanted them all.


I picked them up one by one, smelled their sweet puppy smell and rubbed their little tummies.  Held them up to my cheek and said, "Oh, pick me, pick me, Mark! Please!"

My brother gave me a weird look and rolling of the eyes that I've come to know so well through the years.  I don't know why he does that:/

2.  Starting a new book -- I haven't even cracked open the cover yet, but doesn't this just look like a perfect read for summer?  Besides the title, it's just so pretty.


3. Southern Blackberry Cobbler ice cream -- TO.DIE.FOR.  My new favorite flavor.

4.  Writer's seminar -- Attended an amazing workshop sponsored by our local chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers.  I met THE nicest people and learned so so much!  What a great group of women.


5.  Rain today -- We had the most spectacular thunderstorm today, and the rain poured down in buckets.  Just what we needed, and it was awesome watching it all happen from our back porch.


Share your favorites for the week, and link up with Susanne and the rest of the crew over at Living to Tell the Story!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Random thoughts from the weekend. . .

1.  Our grill is dead.  And I'm trying to create meals from our freezer, because there's a lot of stuff in there.  Friday night we had cheesy-olive bread (a half of a loaf that was leftover from somewhere, so I stuck it in the freezer) and homemade pea soup.  And wine.  Everything goes better with wine.

2.  The top two floors of our house are so easy to keep clean, since the lone remaining child has taken up residence in the basement.  The child prefers it there (it's a finished basement, lest anyone think I'm truly wicked!)  So, it takes no time to clean the house, do laundry for just Dan and I, and iron the few things that require it.  I spent much of Saturday finishing what is my new favorite read of the summer.

3.  Lilly and I took a walk through our neighborhood and made notes for ways to dress up our mailbox.

4.  For supper on Saturday (see #1) we had BLTs.  Without the "L" so I added cheese.  Not as healthy, but definitely tasty.

5.  After supper on Saturday, we went shopping and bought a new grill:-)

6.  And then went for frozen custard.  I had banana custard with chocolate chunks.  He had the chocolate and peanut butter chunk.  Which is highly unusual because I hate it when fruit messes with my chocolate, and he almost always gets something with fruit.  After 29 years together, we are still full of suprises:-)


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Friday Favorites

Some of the best moments in the week ~~

1.  Hitting golf balls with my nephew, my favorite 8-year-old in the whole world.

2.  A long, lazy afternoon at my dad's for the Fourth of July.  Trading books and recipes with my stepmom.

3.  My mother-in-law is making progress, slowly but surely, from surgery she had a month ago.  Her grace and dignity in this long recuperation has been an inspiration to all of us.

4.  Starting a new book:

5.  Breakfast with friends, only working one day, a fabulous year for rosebushes, and popsicles on the back porch.  I know that's more than five things, but sometimes I just can't help myself:)

Share your favorites for the week and link up with Suzanne and the crew over at Living to Tell the Story!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

In honor of the 4th of July

In honor of the holiday, and in special honor of my mother who loved Independence Day and the American flag and everything it symbolizes, I'm going to share her potato salad recipe.

Potato salad recipes are kind of a personal thing.  Some people like lots of stuff in theirs.  This one is very simple and for some people might seem rather "plain Jane."  But, that's a good thing, because when you're filling your plate with a myriad of mouth-watering flavors, this is something that all those other foods want to be next to, because it brings out the best in them all.

First things first.  Boil 10 to 12 medium red potatoes.  And don't peel them first, leave the skin on.

Then, after they are 'fork tender', let them cool just enough to handle, and peel them.  No, I don't know why I do it this way. My grandma did it this way.  I think it gives the potatoes more vitamins.  Because you will need them after consuming the bajillion calories in this salad.  I actually enjoy this part of the process,  getting to know a potato this way. . .

And it gives them a nice texture that you don't get from a peeling-the-potato-prior-to-boiling method.

This next part is very important, too.  Heck, it's all important, so listen up. . . Slice the potatoes thin, about 1/4 inch thick.


Meet the key ingredients for the dressing. . .Now, in the interest of remaining true to the original recipe, Canola Mayo would never be permitted.  But it's what I buy.  So, if you're reading this, please don't let on to my family that I've tampered with the purity of this family jewel.

Step One:  pour 3/4 cup Italian dressing over potato slices and let marinate while preparing the remainder of ingredients. But first, take a minute to admire how gorgeous the potatoes are, glistening in oil and vinegar with specks of herbs and spices dressing them up. . .

Mix 3/4 cup mayo, one cup sour cream, and about 1/4 cup milk (or whatever amount is needed to make mixture creamy and thin).  Add a couple tablespoons of sugar, too.  You won't regret it.

"Fold" the desired amount of dressing mixture into the potato mixture. I don't always use all the dressing, but it's better to make too much than run out and have "dry" potato salad.

Sprinkle the top with a little paprika or parsley.  Or both!

Oh, my gosh.  It's a work of art.  I love making this recipe.

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rocky Mountain High


Dan and I spent a really nice day with some good friends up in the mountains on Saturday.  Our state has been in the news for weeks now, with all the forest fires we've had.  The mountains are a virtual tinder box, due to dry weather and the devastation of millions of acres of forest by pine beetles, leaving trees dead and forests particularly susceptible to spreading fires.

People throughout the mountains have been taking measures to reduce the risk of fires around their property by cutting down trees close to structures.  

In spite of all this, there were many signs of new growth and brilliant colors.  New trees are popping up where trees were cut down just a year or so ago.

This little tree is loaded with pine cones.




Wildflowers grow in abundance.  Blue lupine was out in all its glory.


Not sure what this is, but the splashes of yellow were sure pretty.

My favorite, wild roses. . .

Saturday evening, we took a train ride on the historic Georgetown Loop Railroad, for a wine tasting and appetizer party.


Beautiful scenery. . .


Great fun. . .



And just more than a little nerve wracking when we stopped on this bridge for 15 minutes . . .especially for those of us with window seats!


Such a beautiful day, with wonderful friends.  It doesn't get any better than that!



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Daybook

Thanks to Peggy for hostessing the Daybook.


For Today. . .  Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Outside my window. . . a beautiful summer day.  Luke was washing his truck, and Abby and I sat outside under the maple tree watching him.  Blue skies, light breeze, just a perfect day.

 I am thinking. . . that today is my brother-in-law's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mike!

I am thankful. . . that Dan has found a job that he really enjoys.  And that it is close to home and requires NO travel!

In the kitchen. . . menu for tonight:
French Dip sandwiches
Homemade coleslaw
Sweet potato fries
Popsicles for dessert

 I am wearing. . .shorts, tank top and flip-flops.

I am creating. . . a letter to a friend.

I am going. . . to the library this afternoon.  

I am reading. . . The Bride's House by Sandra Dallas

I am praying. . . for a speedy recovery for my mother-in-law.

I am looking forward to. . .going to a wine and cheese tasting with some friends this weekend.

I am hearing. . . Tim McGraw, Don't Take the Girl

I am learning. . . that some lessons are NEVER over.

Around the house. . . we are enjoying suppers on the back porch and letting go of projects for the summer.  

A favorite quote for today. . . 
" True generosity is acting on the truth -- not on the feeling -- that those I am asked to forgive are 'kinfolk,' and belong to my family.  And whenever I act this way, that truth will become more visible to me.  Generosity creates the family it believes in." ~~Henri Nouwen

Some of my favorite things. . .  discussing books, Snapple iced tea lemonade, the soundtrack from "Cider House Rules."

A peek into my day. . . 
best read so far this summer. . .

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Days

I've been taking pictures, hoping one of them might inspire me to write something for my blog.  But the lazy days of summer have taken over, so all I have to offer is just a lot of pictures:)

For the second year in a row, a pair of robins took up residence on our front porch.  Just like last year, they produced three offspring.  This little guy was the last to fledge. . . he just didn't want to leave and kept returning to the nesting site.  I named him "Luke." (wink)


Another spring baby. . . his name is Bubba.  He belongs to Emily's boyfriend.

An afternoon with the Rockies . . .

A view from my morning walk.  The mountains are way off in the distance, and look teeny tiny.  There's still snow up there, but the temperatures here have been in the high 90s.

It's been a great year for roses. . .



My little herb garden has been keeping us well supplied, too . . .

We attended a beautiful wedding.  We've known the groom since he was three years old.  Where does the time go?

Loving the colors of summer. . .