spinning soul sisters

I hobbled across the street and up a block from my junior high school.  I had a full-length leg cast.  (Back in the olden days’ casts were plaster and boy howdy were they heavy.)  I was back at school after weeks at home.  I missed my friends.  I was more than happy to hand over saved babysitting money (my portion of some salty, greasy fries)  and willing to use those ugly crutches if it would get me where I wanted to be.

The promises of a pile of french fries we all shared and the latest gossip were more than enough of a carrot to get me moving towards the “Herfy’s” fast food joint.  I wanted to hang out and fit in.  Golly, I wanted so badly to be a part of the “gang”.  I wanted to have real grown-up conversations and figure out where we each stood on vital and important topics.

I  remember the noise of all of us talking at once.  I can recall the sound of laughter.  Talking with mouths full, talking over each other, talking…… it was the sound of friendship.  Somehow we all felt a bit important.  We each had something to share.

Yesterday, while having coffee with a friend we noticed a group of 8 junior high school friends.  They each had a coffee drink in front of them.  They all sat at a table 4 facing 4.  Each had either a cell phone, laptop or a tablet they were individually engrossed in.

They were silent.

Each absorbed in their own world of technology.  I wanted to tell them, put down your phones, close your laptops………your friends are right before your very eyes.

I kept my lips sealed, however, my heart cracked a little.

Spinning Elementary school

I was very grateful to be sitting with a friend from Kindergarten.  Neither of us could actually pinpoint when (at least 35 years ago) we actually last saw each other, face to face.   We have reconnected via social media (yes, we are mighty grateful for technology)…. however, we needed to sit and be in the same place.

We both felt an invisible thread tugging at our hearts.   I liked seeing her beautiful hair glimmer in the sunshine.  I needed to touch her bracelet, smell her perfume and hear her story.  My heart raced as I listened to her talk about her husband with respect and love.

We both played the “dance”.

Oh, you know?  The dance where you gently slip in little thoughts to see how the other reacts.  Religion, politics, television, hobbies, food……polite yet very interested and you actually care if it is all well with her soul.  You gingerly talk about the miracle love affair of your life and see where it lands.   When I caught a glimpse of a sparkle in her eye, my heart swelled.  I knew in a flash she had long been with someone who had loved her and held her heart.    During my turn, I could share how Mr. Right is my world and how well I am loved and cared for.  I could tell her and not hold back because she was telling me the same story.  We were speaking the same love language.

You don’t share sweet secrets like that via technology.   You just don’t.

Over the years, of course, we have both been forced to our knees with tragedy.  We shared our lost parents, our concerns, our troubles, our sickness, our fears as well as our glories and triumphs. We discussed new things we were trying on for size.   We asked about mutual friends and each other’s siblings.  Oh yes,  we shared how AMAZING our grands are.

WAIT  

Imagine for a moment, what if, when we were young school chums we didn’t talk about life and who we wanted to marry, our ridiculous siblings, or mean teachers?  What if after school, we didn’t sit and talk about the world, how we stood on issues, what we wanted to be when we grew up?  What if we didn’t say much?  What if we sat and ate french fries (or drank coffee) and did our own private thing on an electronic device and we never actually connected on a personal level? What if we had not shared our souls even before we knew what souls were?

Would any of us now be curious enough or feel the pull of friendship to contact our old school chums?  Would we make an effort and carve out time to reconnect?  Would we just check the box  (yes, I accept you as a “friend”)  or would we thirst for personal time together? Would the ties that bind us, hold our hearts and souls together while we went out into the world and came back again?

friendshipThe thing about childhood friends…. they know you.  They were part of you when you were still trying on who you were.   They are woven into our hearts from a very young age.

We were five or six when we met.  We didn’t know we were being given a gift.  It felt like the luck of the draw.  Our parents happen to live in the same school district, by chance we ended up in the same schools.

It didn’t seem serendipitous or magical.   I just knew her as my schoolmate, tall, pretty, a twin.  It wasn’t until we talked more and grew through the years that I figured out she was also kind & smart.  Part of being young friends is learning & listening & then borrowing the good parts we see and hear in our friends and tying them to our hearts.

I never dreamed she would be part of the thread that made up part of who I became. When you are with a lifelong friend, somehow you feel safe and comfortable.  You feel accepted because we already accepted each other back in 1967.  You open your mouth and spill things you don’t share with others.

Here’s the inside scoop:

She is much prettier than I remembered.  She has a beautiful spirit and soul.  She is kind-hearted, loving and smart.  She turned out to be an amazing wife and mom and mother in law and grandma.

She has always been part of my circle.  My chatty, talkative, opinionated, giggly, serious, thoughtful, tricky, hard, glorious circle.

Without end.

TeresaGentle suggestion?  use technology to find an old friend.  Figure out a way, make an effort to have coffee or french fries with that friend, in person.

You owe it to yourself and to her, turn off your phones and then talk, hold hands, giggle and talk some more.  Talk for 4.5 hours over coffee.  Yes, yes, everyone in your life will worry and fret because you didn’t answer your phone.

Tell them the truth.  “I turned off my phone because I was TALKING with my friend.”

I am here to tell you it is good for your soul.  

In this together, friends.

Chat soon.

friendship 2

 

empty envelope

7 states, 2 provinces, 1 salt cave, 1 aero car, 1 boat, 4 airplanes, 1 rental SUV, 2 Ubers, 1 Buddist Temple, 1 Greek Orthodox church, 1 beach wedding, 1 Big Fat Greek wedding, 1 Great Lake, 1 Lighthouse, 5 hotels, 26 restaurants, 2 home cooked meals, 2 catered meals, 2 foxes, 1 beaver, 5 pheasants, 2 deer, 2 t-shirts, 1 sweatshirt, 2 pieces of Polish pottery and one empty vacation envelope.

I have been quiet as a church mouse. The reason?

 VACATION!

You read that correctly, for the first time in ages and ages (read that as 17 years) Mr. Right and I took off on a couple of weeks vacation.  No, not stay home and heal kind of vacation.  An actual pay way too much for a breakfast in a resort town, pay the toll twice in 2 minutes because you get turned around, buy a banana at a gas station for .99 cents kind of VACATION!!!!

As much as I enjoy writing, I/we also need to go out into the real world with real people and experiences. We needed to jump in and learn, giggle and come home plum tuckered out.

Mission accomplished.

We experienced so much good,  my mind is still swirling.  I want to sit on the porch and drink coffee (oh, I’ve missed you dark, rich, bold, Italian Roast from the Pacific Northwest, with cashew cream) and tell you about our adventures.

I’m guessing, for days to come,  I will slip in little moments of vacation happy, here and there.  You know the stuff you never dreamed about, however, somehow managed to make the hit parade of goodness when you think back?

Noticing the first leaves changing for fall in Northern Vermont.

Hands down, the best Italian meal we have ever enjoyed.

The moment you sit with your friend and her family around the kitchen tables with different colored Fiesta ware plates.  You eat, listen, giggle and share. Wishing you could already come back and you haven’t even finished your plate yet.

The exact moment, while standing next to your niece as she shares her completed piece of crochet work.  Stunning, inspiring and privileged that she shared with me.

Sitting in a hotel room, doing nothing, goofing off with your family, drinking Ginger Ale and eating a sinful, delicious piece of chocolate.

Shopping in the flagship April Cornell store.  I know, I know, I always say I don’t like to shop……….I mean I don’t like to shop unless it is one perfect shop in Burlington, Vermont.  Then….. actually standing there when April Cornell comes in and walks around like she owns the place  Wait!  She does own the place.   Something happened to me in that place.  Instead of me agonizing over one new blouse to buy……..I kind of lost my mind.  I bought 2 new gorgeous blouses, 1 beautiful, special dress, 1 lovely tablecloth and a grown up, beautiful pair of pajamas,  just like that.

Riding shotgun in a rental car for 1,873 miles.  Read that as talking time, singing time, eating snacks time and reading the map time. Yes, an actual paper map.

The feel & sound of your feet the moment you step on 4,000 pounds of ground salt inside a salt cave.

The water dripping off your face, on “the” (bucket list) boat ride.20170831_191906_resized

Opening your hotel door, to see your brother-in-law, waiting patiently outside, because YET AGAIN, I can’t seem to get my hair to do what I want and be early to breakfast in the same morning.

Meeting table mates at a wedding that you connect with seamlessly and want to be friends for life.

Drying dishes, while sis in law washes……….like we do it every day of our lives.

Maybe for today, I will stop talking and share some pictures?  They might speak more eloquently than typed words.

It was a beautiful thing to anticipate and save for a holiday.   The adventure will bring color to our lives for days to come.

Grateful for an empty vacation envelope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

friends share zucchini

When we were young, my mother would constantly remind us to choose our friends wisely.   “If you hang around sailors, you are going to swear like a sailor”.

cracker jacksOnce a month, our parents would go out to dinner.  The babysitter would give us each a box of Cracker Jack’s.   The boy on the box was the only sailor I really “knew”. He had a dog and gave away a surprise.  He didn’t seem that harmful.

Enter a new friend I made a few years back.  She is Greek.  Thus my curiosity in Greek cooking and dishes and customs has increased 10 fold.

Is it any wonder that lately I am drawn to Greek recipes like a dog to a dripping ice cream cone?

I made so many Greek Green Beans last year, even I got a bit tired of that dish.  For a time, I added Spanakopita to the lineup. Awww, my love affair with Filo Dough is alive and well, people.

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A couple of days ago, a neighbor graciously shared some zucchini with us.  Goodness, it’s that season of an over abundance of that vegetable.  Everyone is “blessing” anyone they know or don’t know with that vegetable.   I will admit to not planting any in my garden.  I had a sneaky suspicion that someone would have an extra one or two they would share.

You know?…………it’s been ages since I rustled up some Zucchini Fritters.  Sounds really lovely for a nice summer dinner.  Slice up some cucumbers and tomatoes and onions………we were off and running.

I went to look up my recipe……….wait, what’s this?

Greek Zucchini Fritters?  Yes, please!

20170810_123041-1_resized_1Google can most certainly help you with a recipe.

Would you like two 20170810_182808-1_resized_2secret tricks to beautiful fritters?

Shred the zucchini, salt with some Rosemary salt and let it drain for a couple of hours. Then squeeze out all the moisture you can.  Go heavy on the dill.  No, add a bit more.  Okay, a touch more.  Ha, that’s about right.  Wait, maybe another sprig or two.  Geesh, you already have the cutting board & knife out on the counter.

You will need:

2-pound large zucchini, trimmed and grated (I used the fetafood processor), Rosemary salt, fresh ground pepper,  2 eggs, 1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, dill, mint, parsley ( you know I went heavy on the dill), 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 cup breadcrumbs or more if necessary, 1 cup of beautiful Feta (the really good stuff, with extra zip/tang, spend the money, go to the deli, I’m telling you, it’s worth it)

No, I didn’t deep fry those beauties.  I used a griddle and got them nice and crispy. So alongside those crispy edges and a warm, tender center, I served a luscious creamy tzatziki sauce, which is the combination we are all looking to create.

The very next time you come home and someone has “graciously” dumped 2 or 3 zucchini’s on your door step…………..instead of the “well, I guess I could bake some zucchini bread” which will never get finished…………………. Might I gently suggest a tasty alternative?

I offer up to you……………..TA-DA…….Glorious Greek Zucchini Fritters.

So easy, so flavorful, crispy outside, moist, “meaty” delicious inside.
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Oh, and in the choosing friends wisely department?

I chose wisely.

Chat soon.

 

 

poke update

June is knocking on the door, six months into the new year & about 180 days into my sewing goal.

20170116_200943-1_resized_2I thought I would give you a quick update on20170414_202404-1_resized (1) my pin cushion project of 2017.

 

 

 

In case you need to catch up, zip over to this post.    I decided to stitch birthday pin cushions this year.

https://sundayschildfullofgrace.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/a-good-luck-poke/

 

To date I have made & given 8 pin cushions.  Another one is sitting in a basket waiting for 20170427_100224_resized20170103_144545-1_resized (1)backing fabric and a new one is currently being stitched.

So we are almost 6 months into the year and I have 10 pin cushions almost under my belt.

 

 

Some observations so far this year:

  1.  I have not given one cushion in person. Giving hand-made gifts that you don’t get to see the person open, is over rated.  Most likely won’t do again (except my grands and family).
  2. I have a love of handmade stitchy gifts/projects, that is not the case with most everyone else.
  3. It is way more time (hours & hours, even a few days), energy, effort then I calculated.  Hard to stay motivated at times.  To mail in a timely fashion, I have to prepare and stitch a month or so before the person’s birthday.
  4. Making two the same is not that thrilling.
  5. I love choosing the perfect buttons.
  6. I have had to put some other larger counted cross stitch projects on the back burner, while I attempt to make all these pin cushions.
  7. Being thoughtful is at times, hard work.
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I think I needed this project to remind myself to be more kind and thoughtful towards others, even when I don’t feel like it.   A lesson I won’t soon forget.

I would love to hear what gifts you are making for friends.  Maybe we could encourage each other?

Please share,  in this together friends.

 

friendship eggs

Similar to Facebook, sharing pictures and writing a blog post, you get to decide your “true” colors to show off.  You get to put your best foot forward, every single time.  Creating the illusion that everything turns out perfect.  Every single craft project or idea is smooth and effortless, exactly how you envisioned it.

20170407_162726-1_resized_1On social media, I only shared a picture of two sweet little crocheted slippers.  I did not show the first slipper with extra big loops, too big an opening on the bottom and the button sewn askew.   The final picture makes me look like I knew what I was doing.

Earlier today, I was reading about Greek Easter.  I was learning about their tradition of dyeing Easter eggs red.   Tomorrow is Holy Thursday and most Greek households will be dyeing their Easter eggs red to represent the blood of Christ and rebirth.Greek Easter

Friends learn about each other.  When a friend is sick, you learn everything you can cracking-easter-eggsabout said illness and try to help them heal through knowledge and wellness.

When friends are of a different religion you read up on it and try and learn everything you can.  You don’t necessarily want to switch your religious beliefs, you are just trying to be respectful of other lessons and customs.  That’s how we polish our skills of tolerance.  Friends aren’t ignorant about one another.  Friends take the time to respect others choices, learn & celebrate with them.

While Mr. Right & I observe Holy week as Methodist followers, we are open-minded to learn about and learn from other denominations.  Jewish temple oregon

Last weekend, Palm Sunday, we spent some time at a Jewish Temple. Learning and experiencing the grace of a different religion.

As Methodists, we color our eggs with pastel colors.  Soft pinks, pale greens, light yellow eggs show up so pretty in a basket of green Easter grass.

Today, to celebrate my friend and her family who happen to be Greek Orthodox, I decided to dye some Easter eggs red.  I wanted to share a glorious blog post about the perfect red eggs.  I wanted it to be reverent and holy.  I wanted it to symbolize the blood Christ shed for all of us, no matter what our religious preference.  Though some of our religious beliefs are different, we could still celebrate sameness.

beet dyed eggsNow, we have all used beets to dye eggs “red”.  While beets do color the eggs, not quite the brilliant red I was searching for.   The color is more of a 1970’s shade of mauve.

I didn’t want to drive to the store to purchase “special” red dye powder packets (created for Greek red Easter eggs) to get the red I wanted.   Heck, I have red food dye in the cupboard.  No, not the liquid cheap version.  I spent the extra money and a few years ago, bought the “professional” kit with lots of intense gel colors.   Yeah, that will work. 20170412_105405-1_resized

It did work, just not like I had hoped.

While the eggs are brilliant in color, it is not exactly the shade I was looking for.

I present to you my egg dying project for today.

At first,  I was slightly disappointed.  Not the reverent Holy red I was aiming to obtain.

Then a smile came over me.  Like it was meant to be.  

Not the brilliant red I was hoping to honor her and her religion with.

Not the soft pastel traditional egg color of my religion.

The most wonderful shade of friendship.

All our good parts mixed together.

Friends bring out the best colors in all of us.  Somehow I just know, she will be tickled pink to celebrate what we have.  20170412_105109-1_resized

Here’s to the color of friendship!

ps.  I typed this post with pink stained fingers.  haha  a symbol of true friendship!

 

 

 

are you together

While ordering coffee, my girlfriend and I stood side by side.  The cashier said, “are you together?”  I answered, yes, forever and ever. anthem-coffee

I realize the cashier was asking if the order was on one ticket.  I honestly don’t know why I answered like that. I guess, saying it aloud makes it more real.

Do we worry and fret about each others kiddos?  You bet.  We celebrate kiddos successes and we help when things are off-balance, too.

Do we worry and share about our husbands & not getting enough sleep & not taking stress seriously & our families & people who are meanies……um yeah.  It’s sort of how we have survived.

Both of us are somewhere in our 50’s and have been friends since we were 12 & 13 years old.  We have shared good stuff and not so good stuff.

Sometimes we are “dumb heads” and let too much time go between meetings.  Sometimes, we forget to ask the other for help.

We are still at it.  Still sharing.  Yes, we pay for coffee for each other. anthem-coffee-2 Or we pay separately.  Or one pays 3 times in a row and the other pays next time.   Or we drink coffee out of big chunky mugs at home.  It sort of isn’t the important part of us meeting.  We seriously don’t want to waste time figuring out who pays for or who makes the coffee.

We have huge issues to shyly share or rant loudly about. Sometimes our hearts are broken and just being together, maybe it is the warm coffee, magically seals the cracks and puts us slightly back together again.

The beauty is neither of us keep track.  For a while, I had too many “not so good stuff” to share.  Before my bag-o- dodo, she had a few years of sharing messy days.

Get it? Some days I pay for coffee, some days she does.

We celebrate the good stuff in our lives.  Honestly, we do.  It’s just when things are rosy and upbeat, you don’t feel the need to hold someones hand.  Usually you are so busy, cheering and dancing with jazz hands you forget to talk it all over with the other.

All of a sudden, you hear someone hurt your friend………. and golly gee, that “sister girlfriend thing” kicks in and you want to protect your friend, hold their hand and take them under your wing.

If by under your wing, it means, make plans to wear jeans, bring the husbands along and order a beer or two and some casual, comfort food like burgers and fries and just “be” with them.   Than yes, that’s what we are going to do.

I think all our hearts and souls need those kind of people in our lives.

One of the things I just wrote at the top of my 2017  “to-do” list was,

Make an effort to be with friends.  Be more present in their lives and invite them to be more apart of ours.

I feel like I am stumbling, off balance.  I need to steady myself and go have coffee with a friend, more often.  I want to make more of an effort to help her/our kids.  I am feeling much too isolated.  I need to be with her, just so we can be …. oh and drink really good coffee.

In this together,

forever and ever

ps.  and I don’t just love her because she gave the most fan-tab-u-lous , housewarming/Christmas, amazing gift.  What I love most?  Is that she KNEW I would be smitten in love,  with “Pearl,the Polish pottery chicken” who came with a carved Polish wooden egg, of course!

love, love, love

her and the chicken

 

 

Guest Author, Chef Natalie

It gives me much happiness to introduce to you,  my guest author, Chef Natalie.20161220_131129_resized_1

I wrote about our adventures in a previous post.   https://sundayschildfullofgrace.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/5-star-soup-10-star-chef/

Housekeeping:  Because my guest is under 18 years of age, I have asked  and was granted permission of her parents to share some pictures.  

I am delighted to share this post with you my kind hearted & charming readers.

Please leave a positive, uplifting comment, send my guest Good Karma and by all means please share this post on your blog or on Social Media.  Thank you, kindly.  I appreciate your kind feedback and I know for sure, she will.

I have this funny feeling, we are all in on the ground floor of ……. something pretty special. 

Please welcome my friend, Chef Natalie!

Hi, my name is Natalie and I’m 10 years old and I love to cook. I started cooking with my mom when I was 3. I love helping my mom cook and I love seeing people like my food.

I spent the best day ever at Miss. Daleens house. We started the day by making a delicious 20161220_090844_resizedsmoothie. It was a banana, strawberry, spinach, lime juice, chia seeds and coconut smoothie. I got to crack open a coconut with a hammer and a coco jack. we used the meat scraper to get all of the meat. The tools that we used to open the coconut were so much safer than using a knife and a hammer which did not work out for me before. I had to get 3 stiches! Oww! Once we were not hangry any more we made palmiers. p.s hangry means your so hungry that your grumpy. The palmiers are like a light fluffy 20161220_105041-1_resized_1crossont covered in sugar. They were my favorite cookie of all because they were sweet but not too sweet. They were super easy but looked like you spent hours on them.

Next we made the dough for Daleens Famous molasses cookies. While that was chillin we tried facon!  Its coconut, tamari, liquid smoke and maple syrup. It tasted surprisingly like bacon. After that the dough was chilled so we scooped it into marble size balls. We baked them for 14 minutes. Once all those were finished we moved onto the pizelles which tasted wonderful.

20161220_124152_resizedPizelles are like a flat pretty waffle cone. But it was not a cone. They can be flat or you can wrap them around a wooden cone shaped mold but you have to wrap it around when it comes out of the burning hot pizzelle iron. It was really hot. I think I20161220_125817_resized_1 burnt of 3 layers of my skin! Even though it hurt, in the end it was all worth it. For my family I filled them with ice-cream and put whipped cream on top. We loved them. You can also fill with ricotta and powdered sugar mix. For a fancy vibe you can add whipped cream on top. They 20161220_131653-1_resizedwere delicious and beautiful.

 

Ok time for a break, Im getting hangry again. Lets have lunch. For lunch we made vegetable bisque and cheese crackers by putting parmesan on a baking tray with parchment paper and baked it at 350 for 15 minutes. The soup and the cheese crackers together were fenomenal. We laughed talked and had a good time. We

talked about presentation for our food and how important it is because people eat with their eyes first. Also you need to put some of the ingredients in your food on top so if 20161220_115822_resized_1people are allergic to something they can see it on top and know they cant eat it. You have to be careful of allergies when your cooking for other people. Ask them ahead of time if they have any allergies and stay away from those things. For example nuts are a very common allergy

Back to work.

First we did the dishes and cleaned up. Into the sewing room to make the last thing, pot holders. We made a practice one and then made my mom two. They were so 20161220_144736_resized_2easy to make. It was good for my first time using a real sewing 20161220_155827_resized_1machine. Its cool to see how it works. Miss Daleen taught me a little bit about the parts. Its important to iron so you have clean

 

sewing lines and it looks more professional. Later when my mom came home I gave the pot holders to her for an early Christmas present. She loved them so much

All in all it was a great day hangin out with my best pal Miss Daleen. Hope we can do it again soon.

 

1,000 eggs

It was a dark and stormy night……………..

No, wrong guess.

Picture this:  It was a beautiful, blue sky, warm, sunny June afternoon, 2013.

I was extremely sick.  It wasn’t pretty.  It took effort just to get dressed and put lipstick on. Not the “movie star” kind of sick.  The real life, not good kind of illness.

My wise friend was stopping by to visit and bring something. I was thinking a nice, pretty card or a cheerful bouquet of flowers.

No, wrong guess.

Out the kitchen window, I saw a huge truck pulling a horse trailer pull through our circular drive way.  Along with her, were 4 teenagers.

Next they unloaded a brand new chicken coop, 3 chickens, bedding, organic feed, treats, water & food containers.  They caried it and set it all up in the backyard.

In the same whirlwind that they arrived, they left just as quickly.  They were headed out to pick up a load of hay for their horses.

That left me and our Golden Retriever, peeking into their coop, looking at 3 very young chickens.  Alone.

How the heck is this going to work?  (She had made a side deal with Mr. Right, if it didn’t work out, she would graciously take them back to her ranch.)

Remember earlier, I called her my wise friend?

Somehow, she knew I would have to turn on the computer and read.  She guessed I would have to get dressed and have Mr. Right drive me to a book store, to buy a couple of books.  In her smarty, awesomesauce, cowgirl way, she knew, I would have to get up off the sofa a couple of times a day to feed, water, fluff straw, check on my new animals.

My wise, amazing girlfriend had a feeling, that I would need to clean the coop.  Carry water, lift bedding, fill the food container.  In the beginning,  I was not able to lift a 25 pound bag of bedding, so I took small buckets.

My wise, amazing, thoughtful, beautiful friend, Kristy, knew that I needed organic eggs to eat.  She knew that I needed to be around “farm dirt” and straw and outdoor good germs to build my immune system.  In her wisdom, she knew I needed to feel grateful and thankful every single day.

Surprise, surprise, Mr. Right, only helped when he absolutely needed to.

I took care of them myself.  I never skipped a day.  Some times, it took me a half hour just to change the bedding and straw and give them fresh water.

One day, my little grand girlie was helping me and she said, “egg”.  WHAT!  I couldn’t actually believe that we had gotten an egg!  I had to take a picture.

Then somehow, a week went by and another.  People asked me how many eggs I had collected.  I kept track on the calendar.  I started taking pictures to share.  I didn’t want the eggs to roll off the counter during the photo shoot, so…….. one thing led to another and ……..well.

I started setting the eggs in things.  A basket, a dish, a creamer shaped like a frog, I put them in a fruit basket, and a bowl that had coffee beans.  I used anything I could find. I even made a calendar showcasing 12 pictures.

Here’s the update:

I still have one of the original chickens.  Since then, a couple more chickens have joined the party.  I currently have four chickens.  Yes, I still keep track of how many eggs I collect.  (It’s the best part, sort of like an Easter Egg hunt everyday!)  I am healthy enough to lift the bag of bedding.  I can move the coop.  I can walk to the neighbor’s to share my bounty.  We donate 20 chicks a month, so others can flourish, just like me.

Today, Friday, November 18, 2016, I am celebrating my 1,000 egg!  20161118_123658-1_resized_2

I am grateful.

I am healing.

Thanks in a huge part to my friend.  She was the only friend who believed I could/would do it.  She knew that I would get out of bed, put on my boots and tend to other creatures that needed my help.  I felt needed.

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Those dang chickens need me in the beautiful, blue, sunny skies as well as the blustery, wild wind, cold, pouring rain, boot wearing, dark stormy days.

Oh, I get it!

My friend.  She was there for me in the dark, stormy days…and yes, today, on a clear, beautiful day, she is in my corner, celebrating 1,000 eggs.

Boy Howdy, I am one grateful chick!

Who knew chickens could help me heal?

She did. 

 

 

 

 

5 star soup, 10 star chef

Ah, the soup. The flavors were spot on.  You could taste layer upon layer of flavor building.  It started with a well crafted vegetarian broth.  A sprig or two of rosemary, a couple stems of thyme and a few choice pieces of parsley, all freshly picked from the garden, added to the broth to simmer in the background for another hour or so.

Once the flavors developed in the broth & herbs removed, gorgeous chunks of zucchini, garlic and onion were added.  The heat was gently brought up to a simmer.  The vegetables were allowed to play together, absorb and share their glorious flavors.   As soon as the onion and zucchini were easy to pierce with a fork…. out came the immersion blender.  The chef did it on slow and took her time.  She made sure all the timber was blended well.  Next,  3 heaping spoonfuls of lush sour cream was added.  The immersion blender reappeared and was once again instrumental in producing a creamy soup, almost silky in texture.  You could see the steam rising. 20160802_122906-1_resized

The bowls were heated before the chef used a ladle to gently ease the subtle green colored liquid silk into each.

20160802_123013-1_resizedThe garnish was quickly, yet thoughtfully applied.  Grated Parmesan, freshly snipped chives, fresh, stunning green pea shoots,  a couple of garden fresh picked peas, a chive flower and a generous amount of fresh cracked pepper. 20160802_122833-1_resized

The offered bowl of soup was a feast for the eyes.

That first bite.  Eyes closed, the warm, creamy liquid did a slow dance in our mouths just a moment before it slid down our throats.  I just barely caught the slight salt of the cheese garnish and the bite of the fresh pepper.  The mingling of savory delights was a symphony of flavors any restaurateur would be more than proud to offer to their guests.

Well done.  5 star good.

Yes, that good.

A simple, elegant lunch, however I thought I could going on eating that delicious offering all afternoon. I knew I would remember that meal for some time.

Oh, did I mention the creator’s name?  I am proud to say my friend, Chef Natalie, age 10.

You read that correctly.  AGE 10.

Because of her parents, she is respectful, smart, thoughtful, curious and a hard worker. She is over the moon enthusiastic and eager to learn, as much as she can, as fast as she can.

20160802_094355-1_resizedI had the privilege of spending the day with her.  Somehow, just by working side by side, she elevates the game.  You bring your A game, because, well, quite honestly, she is watching your every move.

She is serious.  Oh sure, she has an infectious laugh, is quick-witted and asks purposeful questions.  Don’t for one moment, let your guard down and causally  think this is child’s play.  This is the real deal.  She listened to and wanted to learn how to use a Coco-Jack to open a young coconut.  She was listening to every single safety rule about how to use the immersion blender.  She was already comfortable with the Blend-Tec, food processor and Kitchen-Aid.

We tied our hair back, we put on fresh aprons, we wore closed toe shoes, we washed our hands again and again and again.  We tasted and then flipped the spoon around and used the handle to taste again.  We went through a drawer full of spoons and I folded 11 freshly laundered kitchen towels this morning.  We worked the day through. 20160802_121402-1_resized

She made a meal for her family. Eyes on the prize.  Serving her brother, Dad and Mom a meal she could be proud of.  She never once lost focus.  She is fierce and determined.  She served them an appetizer, a soup course, the main meal and a dessert to finish.

The day began for us with glorious smoothies using fresh young coconut and the water, strawberries, mango, spinach and lime.  Chefs need to be well nourished so they can concentrate on cooking well for others.

The days’ list unfolded like this:

Smoothies

Zucchini Soup

Chihuly Salad

Pot Stickers

Molasses Cookies

She picked & gathered green beans, tomatoes, radishes, herbs and a fresh egg. She learned about and started a batch of sprouts in the kitchen.

It was a full day of learning, giggling & oodles of fun.  It was the good kind of tired.  You know?  So tired from cooking all day, yet somehow re-energized with pure joy and enthusiasm to serve the meal to your family.

I was the sous chef.  I helped and washed dishes. I scrubbed carrots, beets and a pear.  I washed bok choy & spinach.   I sent pictures to mom and dad throughout the day. I got out fresh kitchen towels, different tools, appliances and kept things moving along our time line.

When she says “I made pot stickers”.  She really means, she chopped the ingredients, made the savory filling, learned to make dumplings and took 46 home to her family.  The chefs in the kitchen each got to cook and sample one.  Oh, be still my heart.  Lush, moist filling inside a plump, perfectly steamed dumpling wrapper. Oh yeah, she made pot stickers and a lovely sauce to serve alongside.

*Housekeeping note:  Because my friend is under 18, I asked for and received permission from her parents to share these pictures.

I wanted to write this post as sort of a thank you to my friend.  I loved spending the day together.  The day flew by and I can’t remember smiling as much as I did.    Then I got to thinking.  I wanted to share this because, it’s what many of us are looking for.

You know when we (grown up adults) all sigh and complain that we are not sure what our mission is, or what our calling is?

Maybe, just maybe our calling is to be the “sous chef”?  Maybe, our mission is to lift someone else up and help them stretch up on their tippy toes, while they stand on a kitchen stool to reach their potential?

May you be a “victim of Grace” as I was.  While washing dishes and gently reminding a young chef to keep their fingers curled under while using a mighty big knife…….may you be gobsmacked by the Grace and Goodness of a young person who is looking to you.

In this together friends, all covered and splattered with grace.

Bon Appetit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

one smart cookie

This blog post is to celebrate my friend, Natalie.

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Natalie is a pre-teen, her “Happy Place” is the kitchen. She is all over becoming a chef.

I love her spirit, her smarts and her willingness to learn. She has the best laugh that goes right along with her sense of humor.  When you meet N, it’s her smile that wins you over. Right away you notice she is a bit short in stature however, amazingly head and shoulders above the crowd.  (between you and me?  She IS going to become a chef, I just know it.)

Good gravy, when I was 11, I had excellent table manners and could properly thank anyone who brought me food.  My sisters nor I, were even allowed in the kitchen.  Apparently, “the stove was HOT”?

My young friend has amazing kitchen talent with skills to back that up.  We are not talking about “making” rice krispie treats and toast here folks.  She makes a Cilantro Lime Rice that will make you swoon, bakes, cooks up science experiments, operates a juicer like a pro and the list goes on and on.

N shared a wonderful scone recipe with me, so I am sharing this recipe (blog post) with her.  We trade recipes.  Sometimes we text (she uses her mom’s phone). Sometimes I send a recipe via  e-mail or snail mail.  This time, I thought I would shout it to the world that I know a smarty pants girl who has already found her calling.

I love that N is fascinated with cooking, baking and creating.  Her willingness and interest to do the research, the prep work, the serving, as well as the clean up, are evident with the final product.   I adore that she isn’t shy about asking food questions and then listens to the answers. You can actually feel her excitement towards learning about cooking.  Heck, she went as Giada for Halloween one year!  Now that is passion!

When you watch her serve a homemade treat to her dad, mom or brother…. you notice that she already “get’s it”.  By making quality food, N figured out that she can show love and respect to her family.  She figured out in short order,  in her own home, how sincerely good food nurtures both mind and body.

Yesterday, I made these really good, seriously good, moist Strawberry Granola Bars (vegan).  While baking, the aroma had my mouth-watering and I thought instantly, oh, I have got to share this one with Natalie.

strawberry granola bars, veganI found the recipe on http://wonkywonderful.com/strawberry-oatmeal-vegan-breakfast-bars/   A great food blogger is like a window to the world.  Thank heavens they share so much.

So between you and me girlfriend…. Very simple and straightforward recipe.  I will make again.  I switched the oatmeal and used gluten-free oats.  I used parchment in place of foil. I replaced the flour with Better Batter Flour mix which is gluten free,  I used my own homemade strawberry jam and it calls for Almond Butter or Cashew Butter… this is where you will use Cashew Butter for your family’s allergy.

Cooking tip of the day:  My girl Gabi is a real live chef.  She wears shoes in the kitchen.  No, not flip-flops, not cute gladiator sandals, real shoes like sneakers or clogs.  While I know you are very careful while cooking and baking, accidents happen to everyone.  Hot liquid spilled on your tootsies or a knife dropped could spell trouble for your cute toes.  Observe any accomplished chef and look at their feet.  Yes, shoes.  enough said.

Every chef worth their weight in salt (a world of beautiful and amazing salts filled with minerals await you), feels giddy that moment you offer up delicious food that feeds both body & soul.

This recipe is one of those good ones, with excellent ingredients to produce a final product worthy of sharing.  Put this recipe in the column of such high quality and wonderful flavor, not a person will ask if it is vegan.

Make food so good, so flavorful, no one will put a label on it.  Your mission should be to cook and bake sustainable, high quality, tasty food that friends will just say, may I please have seconds?

The color is stunning.  The flavor combination is spot on.  That first bite into the moist bar will lead to another bite.

So, I raise my Strawberry Oatmeal Bar to you my friend!  Cheers!  Yum!

Here’s to you and your calling!chalkboard cooking

It is a pleasure to watch your dream unfold right before you.

A tip of the hat to your wonderful parents for raising such a kind & smart cookie. Parents who are giving you such a strong foundation of love and support that you have the freedom to explore who you are, what you want to be.

Natalie, my friend,  keep studying,  a smart chef is always a very good thing.  You have before you the ability to heal the world through nutrition.  Yes, my friend food heals, but you already know that.  Just for a moment, use your imagination and think…. how many people will I be able to feed and heal in my lifetime?  The number will surprise you.  Thousands upon thousands of people will be Bathed in Grace by your skill and fed by your hands.

Stay curious & creative….yes, we can taste the love in food prepared by a chef who embraces what they do.   And for heaven sake…….keep asking questions and trying new things.

You got this girlfriend.

Bon Appetit

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.  Virginia Woolf

ps.   I feel the need for Asian food.  We have to get together to make pot stickers, soon!

*****Housekeeping note:  Because my friend is under 18 years old, I asked for and received permission from her parents to post a picture of her.