Friday, April 18, 2014

Love Doesn't Count the Cost

"It happens to a mother when she is giving birth
Her heart is filled with joy while her body's filled with hurt
She holds her baby close to her, despite the pain he caused
When it comes to love, you don't count the cost."

"It happens to a soldier, fighting for his home
Fear wells up inside him and yet he still goes on
Even though he knows he may be the next to fall
When it comes to love, you don't count the cost." 

"You don't count the heartache, you don't count the sacrifice
And all that counts is what you feel inside
It doesn't really matter what is gained or what is lost
When it comes to love, no, you don't count the cost." 

"It happens all around us, each and every day
Someone's giving all they got for someone else's sake
If you ever doubt it just think about the cross
When it comes to love, you don't count the cost." 

our daughter heard this song on the radio, from "The Best of Billy Dean"
painting by Thomas Kinkade 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Road Trip

Our spring road trip to the mountains...

...turned into this...

...we arrived home to this...
...and the next morning contrast of bright green spring growth with snow on the roof...
...spring popsicle, anyone?

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Stumbling would be more my theme word, lately, than stand. In the afternoon, Rascal Flatts singing away on the computer, these words popped out loud and clear:
"every time you get up and get back in the race, one more small piece of you starts to fall into place..." 
"start holding on,  keep holding on...stand..." 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Beautiful Salad

This is more complicated effort than I usually put out for a salad, but the results--yummy and worth the work. The recipe is from Flat Belly Diet Family Cookbook, a good reference for meals that are nutritious and family friendly.

4 medium beets, ends trimmed
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
2 pears, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
1/2 tsp.salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper (I forgot to use the salt and pepper)
2 cups arugula (I used baby spinach and a little bit of romaine, thinly sliced)
4 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese (I used feta on my bowl)
Serves four.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. (It says to wrap the beets in foil - I baked them as is because I avoid aluminum foil whenever I can). Bake beets for 1 hour, or until a knife easily pierces the beets. Remove from oven and let cool at least 30 minutes (I did this part the day before). Peel the beets, cut each into 8 wedges and transfer to a bowl.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until reduced by about half and thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Set aside to cool.

Place the chopped walnuts in a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium high heat, shaking the pan often, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Transfer to the bowl with the beets.

Add the oil to the skillet and return to med high heat. Add the sliced pears and cook for 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Add the reserved vinegar mixture, the salt and pepper to the beets and walnuts, tossing to coat well. Place 1/4 of the arugula (or whatever green you are using) on each of 4 plates, top with the beet mixture and pears. Sprinkle each with 1 tbsp of blue cheese (or feta).

As you can see, mixed all together it makes pink pears. But the taste - yummy! I didn't think the pears would cook well, but they were delicious - just the right sweetness for this salad.  And, now that I know all the steps, it won't seem so complicated next time.

Friday, March 28, 2014

March in the Rear View Mirror

End of March. One quarter of the way through 2014. Does that make you roll your eyes, too, and wonder where the days go?

Time for the link up with Chatting at the Sky, Emily Freeman, and her collection of thoughts, reminisces and randomness for what we learned in March. And maybe, even some profoundity. That's profound, not profane...

Thinking back over March, I didn't remember learning anything in particular. Picked up my journal, thumbed through March's pages. There was more there than I thought.

 I am coming out of - at least I hope I am coming out of - a time of brain fog. An actual term, actually, for a condition caused by: A - poor nutrition, B - hormonal mess, C - lack of exercise, D - vitamin deficiency, E - just because, F - lack of sleep, G - stress, H - any combination of the above. Take your pick. (This is an unofficial, personalized re-interpretation). A nutritional book I've been reading, and somewhat following, recommends not eating any grain. For the experiment, I drastically reduced any breads, cereals, or pastas. What I learned, is that I can focus on protein for breakfast, eat a big salad for lunch, and feel full. Didn't think that was possible without crunchy chips or slice(s) of bread. While I am not going completely gluten free, I am cutting way back, and discovering I do feel better without it. Except for once in awhile, when a little bit tastes extra yummy. Learning to find the balance point. And clear out the brain fog.

Finished up Grace for the Good Girl, this month, by Emily Freeman. It brought back to me lines from a very old hymn. Found the words in one of our ancient hymnals, "In the Secret of His Presence", by Ellen Lakshmi Goreh:
"In the secret of His presence
how my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons
which I learn at Jesus' side!
Earthly cares can never vex me 
neither trials lay me low;
For when Satan comes to tempt me,

to the secret place I go, 
to the secret place I go."

"When my soul is faint and thirsty,
'neath the shadow of His wing
There is cool and pleasant shelter,and a fresh and crystal spring;And my Savior rests beside me as we hold communion sweet:If I tried I could not utter 
what He says when thus we meet,what He says when thus we meet."

"Only this I know: I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs and fears;Oh how patiently He listens!and my drooping soul He cheers:Do you think He ne'er reproves me?What a false friend He would be,If He never, never told me of the sins which He must see,of the sins which He must see."

"Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?Go and hide beneath His shadow:this shall then be your reward;And whene'er you leave the silence of that happy meeting place,You must mind and bear the image of the Master on your face,of the Master on your face."
                 (sorry about the formatting, my computer and I are not working well together)

"Frozen" came out this month on DVD. I imagine you have heard the theme song, "Let It Go." If you live in a house with girls or granddaughters you have probably heard it hundreds of times. For me, "Frozen" tied in with the message of Grace for the Good Girl. Elsa learned to let go of her mask of fear, hiding from her sister, the people, not allowing them to see, to know who she was. She replaced that mask with love - love for her sister, her people, and she rediscovered the joy in life.

We received photos of two ultrasounds this month, both long awaited grandbabies. Woohoo! One, a little boy, due in August, the other, due in October. Our youngest grandson turns one next week. Exciting days of growth and learning and challenges for them and their parents - remembering the times I fed and fought with and talked with and taught and played with and helped our children to grow - now it is their turn, with their own children, and I am caught in this blurred time warp of it being just yesterday or ages and ages ago.

Two of the books I checked out from the library have a common thread. The Backyard Parables, a garden book, by Margaret Roach, an author familiar from her days as the editor of Martha Stewart Living magazine, and I also read her detailed and sometimes technical blog about gardening. Jeff Goins recommended an author, a writing book, Marion Roach Smith, The Memoir Project. Hmmm, similar names, so I looked them up. Yup. Margaret is big sister to Marion. Pretty cool that I would have both of their books, on unrelated topics, not knowing their connection. I like to discover things like that, life's little coincidences that make me feel like maybe, just maybe, I am on the right track.

March was a month of garden classes and symposiums, three Saturdays in a row. Good timing for me. Too early, too cold to get out and work in the garden. Good to focus my thoughts on planning and learning and visions of gorgeous gardens to come. The group of us who volunteer at the local xeriscape demonstration garden started our winter clean-up today, trimming, clearing up scattered leaves and tumbleweed, pruning back, and raking up winter's debris. I learned how much I could be doing in our yard, now, even though we can't plant yet. At the demonstration garden, the plants I helped plant last spring have tiny green shoots, the grape hyacinths bloomed, and the feeling of life, surging beneath the dead-looking foliage, encouraged me. Even though it is still freezing at night, the wind can be icy, and most likely we will have more snow, the plants know it is time to begin to grow. To reach for the sun. Me, too. To leave March behind with a glance in the rear view mirror, and look ahead to April and spring.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Friendly Year

Love the title of this book. Aren't we all looking for a friendly year?

Three hundred and sixty-five daily entries were compiled from Henry Van Dyke's writings, published from 1887 to 1905, this book published in 1906. The front page says, "From Ralph, xmas, '07." Would that be 1907 or 2007? Hmmm, I wonder.

I rushed the reading, anxious, I guess, to find that friendly year, reading two pages each day, four entries at a time. I tried to pick a favorite quote - the one I posted in January, A Footpath to Peace is probably the favorite, but there are many, many choices.

Because this book is out of print, I will share a few others with you.

"And if some of the rich of this world (through the grace of Him with whom all things are possible) are also modest in their tastes, and gentle in their hearts, and open in their minds, and ready to be pleased with un-bought pleasures, they simple share in the best things which are provided for all."
"...ready to be pleased with un-bought pleasures..." - love that line.

What a surprise to find pressed flowers, placed in this book over a hundred years ago?! You won't find that in a Kindle or a Nook (sorry, had to put that plug in there for books with pages you can feel). Was there a special quote on this page that inspired these flowers, which look like Johnny Jump-Ups? Maybe this one, from April twenty-fourth:
"By the breadth of the blue that shines in silence o'er me,
By the length of the mountain-lines that stretch before me,
By the height of the cloud that sails, with rest in motion,
Over the plains and the vales to the measureless ocean,
(Oh, how the sight of the things that are great enlarges the eyes!)
Lead me out of the narrow life, to the peace of the hills and the skies."

Henry Van Dyke makes reference to the fast pace of the age, the distractions and clutter of their busy lives. What would he think of today?

"Let me but live my life from year to year,
With forward face and unreluctant soul;
Not hurrying to, nor turning from the goal;
Not mourning for the things that disappear
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear
From what the future veils;
But with a whole
And happy heart that pays its toll
To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.

So, let the way wind up hill or down,
O'er rough or smooth,
The journey will be joy:
...My heart will keep the courage of the quest,
And hope the road's last turn will be the best."

May your journey be with joy, your year friendly, and the flowers you press last a hundred years!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Saturday morning I attended a waterwise gardening class. Thoughts of spring and planting and green danced in my head. I walked around the garden in the sunny afternoon noticing the tiny green plants beginning to revive and stretch toward the warmth of the sun.

Saturday night it snowed. Welcome spring. I realize we are not the only part of the country still under the icy grasp of winter. In order to absorb the moment and accept the quiet beauty of a snowy morning, I went out to take some photos. What I saw amazed me. I would have missed it entirely if I stayed inside reading my gardening books in the cozy chair.

It is an icicle starburst, tiny icicles hanging on all the branches.

This time of year is like taking a long hike in the mountains. Ahead is a high place on the trail and you are sure that from there, you will see the end of the path. But, you get to that spot and beyond lie several more peaks. You know there is still a long way to go. One step at a time. Keep moving. Keep looking forward to the day when it really will be spring. But don't miss today and  pay attention to the tiny details of beauty in every step along the way.

 The message those icicles shouted at me: Don't miss what you have today, wishing you had something else.