Saturday, February 13, 2010

Technical Difficulties

I am so sorry that the Photobucket labels are showing up all over the blog. I had help putting this blog template together and that person obviously does not have the appropriate sized Photobucket account.

I hope that this is rectified soon or I will delete my blog and start over. I am so sorry!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Down Home Pinto Beans

Comfort Food means many things but one of them is Down Home Pinto Beans. I love making pinto beans in the winter. They are so good and good for you. I don't use a recipe per say as I make them as I feel each time but here is my generic recipe and how-to.

For this pot I soaked 2 lbs of pinto beans in cold water for 4 to 6 hours (I can't remember!). Make sure you sort your beans first and remove any bad ones or little rocks from the bag. After they soaked I rinsed them well. I threw them in my slow cooker along with chunks of ham. The ham had been leftover from Christmas and was in the freezer for just such a use as this. I also chopped up an onion and added that. We love onion at our house so we always use more than most people would. I added salt and pepper, a dash of cayenne, a couple of shakes of chili powder and some garlic powder. I then covered the beans up with chicken brothe and water. You see the pot of beans below right before the cooking commenced.

And here are the beans at the end of the cooking spell. You can cook them on high or low or whatever. The beans are very forgiving. I like to go low and slow. So, if it is the weekend I soak them Friday evening. Put the beans on low right before I go to bed and then they are ready for Saturday lunch. But high and fast is ok too or even less time on low than I did for these.

This gives you a better idea of the finished product. Look at those yummy beans, chunks of ham and onion. Mmmm, mmmm! You can see the bowl of beans above. I love adding raw onions to my serving. A lot of raw onions. Muah!

These may not look pretty but I guarantee you that this is southern down home cooking at its' best. These are so dadgum tasty! I am always asked for my recipe and everyone wants seconds and thirds.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hugs and Kisses

Aren't these two adorable? :) I was so excited to show them to you that I brought them home and snapped their picture. I haven't even had time to press them up. These are so so so cute! I haven't decided where they will actually spend their Valentine season but they will be previous no matter where they land. If you want a set or two of these for yourself then get on over to your local Cracker Barrel!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Blooming Patience

For me, a Christmas miracle is coming a little late this season. Even with a late appearance it is nonetheless joyful!

I am a longtime admirer of the Christmas cactus plant. For years I have ooh'd and ahh'd beautiful - and blooming - Christmas cacti. I remember being a teenager and gazing upon my mother's plant in full bloom and feeling a happiness.

In due time I set up housekeeping as a young adult. I asked Mother for shoots of her Christmas cactus and she willingly obliged. I nurtured this plant, and with the feelings of an expectant mother, I anxiously awaited Christmas. The holiday came and went but my little plant never bloomed. In fact, year after year, it never bloomed. It would hang out, drink water, look pretty, but it never bloomed! Years came and went and finally I re-homed the plant (aka trashed it). I could not take the "rejection" every Christmas when my plant would not bloom. I mean, I really felt as if I was some sort of unfit parent. (I never said I was sane).

Finally, this past year I decided to give it one more try. I got another shoot off of my mother's longtime friend (the plant has now become a part of her circle of friends; fitting since they have been together all these years). I was quite sure that this wasn't going to work (again) so I selected one of the ugliest pots in my potting shed.

If there is a PETA for plants then I should be turned in. I was not very good to the plant this year. I either over watered or under watered it and I certainly didn't talk to the plant. It has not been a lush green like other Christmas cactus I see gracing glamour magazines. Ok, just kidding about the glamour magazines. But I have seen some pictures online of some pretty plants. In short, my cactus has looked a little pitiful.

Again this year my Christmas cactus didn't bloom. I didn't really expect it to. But seeing as it was the holiday season I didn't "re-home" the plant. I didn't have the heart.

About a week and a half ago I noticed that things have gone terribly haywire. A little scary actually. The dadgum cactus had little buds appearing! Lawsy Mercy!

I have taken pictures every four days or so. I am not quite sure why I am doing that. Perhaps to prove to myself in future years that I really did have blooms once. (gotta plan ahead, it could be another 25 years until it blooms again for me)

Today I woke up to my very first, full fledged bloom. The picture you see here is one of a gazillion I have taken so far. I am going to have to add memory to my computer just to hold all of the bloom pictures.

My lesson for today is patience. Even though it took over 20 years, I finally got a very sweet Christmas miracle.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Beginning

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

It is difficult to believe that not only is it a New Year but it is a New Decade! I think of all of the things that have been accomplished in the past year and decade and all that was not. I hope that this wisdom will enable me to make better choices in the future and seize all of the opportunities that will enrich my life and those of my loved ones. What we have is today and we should all seize each day as its' own new beginning. I wish each of you a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kennedy Center Honors

Does anyone else love the Kennedy Center Honors tv show as much as I do? It seems that year after year I find it one of the highlights of my TV viewing. Quality performances with humble, deserving people. Why can't we have more shows that are of this caliber? I so enjoy the live music and performances. Good stuff.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reflection and a Look Ahead.........

I know that it is a cliche' but really, where did the time go? I remember waiting not-so-patiently to turn 16, to turn 18 and to turn 21 years of age. The waiting to drive a car, order a mixed drink, vote and finish college seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Now, with each passing year, time seems to fly by way too fast to suit me. How did this impatient girl turn into a reminiscent lady? It seems like yesterday that everyone was buzzing about Y2K!

I am not sorry to see 2009 go but I did learn some amazing lessons; and for that, I am grateful. My dad told me last January that this would be a defining year for me; and I think he was right.

January 2009 started with a bang. I returned from Christmas vacation and on my second day back to work over forty people were downsized. Yours truly was one of them. I had been there six and a half years and thought that I would retire from the company. I had become wrapped up in my job and it had become my identity. Almost all of my friends were work associated. The financial concerns of losing my job were also quite scary. How does one recover from such a blow? Quite nicely as it turns out.

You always hear that when tragedy strikes you find out who your friends are. This situation was no different. I am absolutely humbled and completely overwhelmed with how kind people can be. I was shown true love from people and I will cherish those precious souls forever. I also learned who is not a friend in times of trouble. And oddly enough, I am grateful for that as well.

Eight days later, I found myself in a serious situation. I was diagnosed with bilateral blood clots (PE's or pulmonary embolisms) in my lungs. By all accounts I should not have lived through this situation. Yet, I did! I spent a week in the hospital and left a few days before my doctors were comfortable. Again, during this time of trouble, I was overwhelmed by love and care and concern. One girlfriend heard the news and immediately walked out of her job during the middle of the day and drove an hour and a half to be with me. Former co-workers visited and sent flowers. My husbands work family was so wonderful as well. My family rallied and dropped everything to be with me. How fortunate to feel that kind of love I am. My sweet just-turned-twenty son stayed through the night with me and rubbed my back when the pain was so unbearable and the high level painkillers didn't seem to be helping. He fussed at the nurses to help me with the pain management. While the fussing wasn't so nice of him he assures me it was warranted. It took me over two months to start feeling anywhere near normal. I am so fortunate to have lived through having blood clots in my lungs and I do not take a day, even a minute, for granted. I have had a couple of nurses say to me that they feel that a miracle happened with me and that I am here for a reason. I submit to God's will.

Some of my bloodwork was questionable during my hospitalization. As it turns out I also have an autoimmune disorder. I am not symptomatic at this time so it is good to know to watch out for signs and symptoms so I can jump on it when the time comes.

I had to undergo genetic testing because of the blood clots. It turns out that I have not one, but three genetic markers that predispose me to blood clots! Two are paternal and one is maternal. Isn't technology amazing?! My children will soon be tested also so they can know their standings. As a result of the markers, I have been advised to stay on blood thinners for life. The blood thinners were difficult to regulate at first but I am now on a pretty normal regime. Instead of blood work every two to three days I am now at once a month. I bruise easily and am gosh darn scared of knives and the smallest scratch bleeds forever but I have learned to deal. Pretty good huh?

I like to joke that I am a little leery of the month of January now. No one can blame me right?

I discovered Facebook in 2009~! What a blessing! I have been able to reconnect with hundreds of my friends. Oh my gosh; how much fun it has been to reunite with friends from kindergarten and all through the years. Logging onto Facebook is like feeling an instant rush of familiarity and love.

I got a new job in 2009! As it turns out, I am in a much better job now with better everything! I love what I do, I love my reduced stress level, I love the people I work with. How lucky can a girl be?

We are buying a new house in January 2010! How fun and exciting! We found a darling little house on three and a half acres half way between my job and my husband's job. The house is 2000 square feet and just the right size for us now that we are empty nesters. It has a creek running through it and some amazing trees. We also have fenced pasture land. There are guineas that run through the property and deer as well. We back up to a vacant 131 acre farm that is just gorgeous. We are putting our current house on the market in late February, early March. Our current home is 4350 sq feet. I am not sure what I am going to do with all of our "stuff" when the house sells but it will all work out.

My children continue to do well and for that I am so very grateful. They are in college and doing well and are just wonderful people.

We hope to become debt free, or pretty darn close to it, in 2010. We have always paid our own way, haven't won the lottery or any settlements, so this is a big deal for us.

In reflection, 2009 has been bittersweet. As we look ahead to 2010 I suspect it will be bittersweet as well, However, with lessons learned, I think I am better able to handle what is in store. Dad was right, this was a defining year and I like to think that I did him proud.

I bid 2009 farewell and look eagerly to 2010.

Oh, and as a nod toward the future, I have attached a picture of our Master Bath Shower at our new little cottage house. I can't wait to enjoy the future!

Happy New Year Everyone! May your life be blessed with good health, friends, family and lots of love.