Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Strength to Love

Love is not just a flush, a blush or a treat. It is not just an excitement or a catch of breath. Love is also a requires us to not only care for those who please us but commands that we also include those who live to hurt or hate into our hearts and prayers. Some people are almost impossible to love and some spit love right back at us. But we must learn to love all the same. It does not mean that we allow behaviours to hurt us or that we not set up boundaries. But we are required to hold love in our hearts and banish anger and bitterness, even when we feel such negativity is justified. We do not act in love for the sake of the other person or for ourselves but because love is a force that must be wielded and set upon each and every living thing. It is our responsibility, our duty to love... and we must find that strength to love even when it is, oh, so difficult.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Last January's medical mishap turned into March's medical emergency. Next thing I knew, there was heavy duty "interior remodeling" going on and I was a recuperating patient who'd had major surgery. I've had surgeries in the past but this time there was a much longer restriction period which I handled with my customary fretting and impatience. I was a good patient but there was whining...definitely whining.

Unfortunately, I could not turn all that down time into working on this blog and that is why there have not been any posts for some time. I am very sorry about that for I really would have liked to have been writing more. Time passed very sloooooowly...**sigh**

But there is light at the end of the tunnel...I still have a few more weeks to go, but I can go out and do more. And  I will post again. Finally, I feel like I am getting my life back.

They say patience is a virtue. Patience is not a is a test of endurance.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spring and Shepherd's Pie

There is a beautiful green that covers the hills here every spring. It is a breathtakingly blinding green that looks like a bright velvet. Lush. Fresh. Green.

A favourite place is on Kiler Canyon Road where these hills play host to many lovely almond orchards. In the spring, the almonds sport soft petal pink blossoms that stand out on this verdant green colour.

The hills roll one after the other into the distance.

These hills are reminiscent of the countryside of Ireland or England. You can almost picture sheep dotting these hillsides, although here it is more likely to be deer or wild turkey.

Another thing reminiscent of those countries is yummy Shepherd's Pie. Although Shepherd's Pie is traditionally made from lamb, hence "shepherd," this version is recalled from long ago school days when there was actually a kitchen and staff at the schools to prepare the daily student lunches. It used ground beef and frozen mixed veggies with a comforting mashed potato topping.

The following version then evolved using chopped celery, frozen corn, chopped and steamed carrots and broccoli. Peas are also traditional, but somehow they were dropped out of this family recipe...don't be afraid to throw some in.

Shepherd's Pie

1-1 1/2 lb. ground beef
salt, pepper, garden seasonings to taste
dried chopped onion to taste
4T. butter, divided
1/4 C. flour
1 T. beef bouillon granules
2 C. water
1 C. (approx.) each of the following vegetables: broccoli, sliced celery, sliced carrots, frozen corn
4-6 C. boiled cubed potatoes
1/2 C. fat free sour cream
1 T. dried chives
1/2 C. milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown meat in large skillet, seasoning with salt, pepper, garden seasonings (opt.) and dried chopped onion.

Remove cooked meat with a slotted spoon and spread in a large, greased baking pan.

Add cut and steamed or frozen vegetables to the browned meat.

In same skillet, melt 2 T. butter with the drippings. Add flour to skillet and brown, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Sprinkle generously with bouillon granules.

Add water and cook gravy until golden brown, thickened and bubbly.

Add gravy to the meat and vegetables in baking pan and stir to mix well.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. In the meantime, prepare mashed potatoes by combining hot, boiled potatoes with remaining butter, sour cream, dried chives and milk. You will want to add to enough milk to make the mashed potatoes extra soft and spreadable. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the meat mixture comes out of the oven, mound potatoes evenly over the top of the hot filling.

Spread mashed potatoes to cover the top. You may brush the mashed potatoes with milk if desired.

 Reducing oven temperature to 350 degrees, return Shepherd's Pie to the oven for an additional 20 minutes. When done, remove pie from oven and allow it to cool and set for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

It is wonderful to savour this warm, comforting dish during the tempermental days of early spring. It can be enjoyed when the days are still cool while dreaming over seed catalogues or watching the mist roll out and the sun come into play. In Ireland, there can be the pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. Here on the Central Coast, that would be found in the promise of spring and its awakening varietal beauty.

Come on, Spring! We're ready for you!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sad January

January has such a tough job....

First it has to follow December with all its sparkle and winter festivities...

And then it is soooo cold and wet and windy.

January gets the promise of the being the start of the New Year, but it often becomes the start of...

The flu season.
Or head cold at our house.
You know, that wicked, nasty head cold that hangs on and on...all through January.
That leads us to the other thing that January is famous for...

Cabin fever.
Oh, yeah....there's nothing like being stuck in the house, weekend after weekend, sneezing, coughing, hacking, sniffling and wheezing. It's not a pretty sight.

January. It comes in with such a bang and often goes out with a whimper.

Sorry January...better luck next year.

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's the Big Rain

There was a change in the could feel it...

There were some who seemed disgruntled with the upcoming change...

Even Brooke wasn't too thrilled. You see, not everyone likes the rain.

Sometimes not even Westies whose ancestors were bred on the wet Scottish Highlands. What's up with that?

But I enjoy the rain.

Of course I don't enjoy it enough to move to where they have lots of rain, all the time. No, I live where drought is more common and you have to watch your water usage in the summer. Rain here is more of a "sometime" visitor who doesn't come often enough to wear out its welcome.

So I enjoy the rain. I love the soothing rhythm it makes pattering outside my window. I listen to the squalling of the wind during a storm and watch the drama of the grey clouds shoving each other across the wet sky.

There is the  metallic scent of rain in the air, and I enjoy how quiet it is outside when everyone chooses to slow down and stay inside. As for the few who do venture out, I love the sound the tires on the cars make as they pass by on a wet, rainy road. But mostly, I enjoy the songs the leaves make as the wind and rain play upon them like some ancient natural instrument.

Of course, to get the most benefit from a rainy day, you have to prepare for it. Like having a stack of books that have been waiting to be read. Or a project that needs to be worked needlework...or a quilt would work...

It doesn't hurt to have a few candles to light...or something in the biscuits...

Oh, that reminds me....I found my biscuit recipe! I remember promising to share it so that is what I am going to do on this rainy day....

Buttermilk Biscuits

4 Cups all purpose Flour
2 T. Baking Powder
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Cup Shortening (or 1 Crisco stick)
1 1/2 Cup Buttermilk (room temp is best)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and melt 4 Tbs. butter in a dish. Pour melted butter in a large baking pan, coating well. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and just starts to stick together on the pastry cutter. Making a well in the center, add all the buttermilk at once and stir with a fork just until the dough begins to cling together. Knead gently on baking board and then roll the dough to about 1/2 " thick. If this is your first batch of biscuits, remember to handle as little as possible to keep them tender. Cut biscuits with a drinking glass or biscuit cutter, dipping them in the butter in baking pan and then turning them butter-side up in the pan. Bake for approx. 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Serve hot with butter.

Mmmmmmmmmm....There is nothing in this world that cannot be fixed, at least for a little while, with a homemade buttermilk biscuit, dripping with melted butter and homemade jam. Now don't you feel better already? The sun will come out the meantime, I am going to snuggle in with my soup on the stove and my biscuits and my old movies and enjoy this little bubble of time that the rain has made.


And I will see you again on the other side of the rainbow!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What I really like is ....

I like quiet early mornings. I like having a few moments to myself before I shower and dress and start the new day at the job. I like my job and the people I work with. But now, especially after losing last weekend to a medical mishap, I am really liking the idea of a three-day weekend. Like Pippi Longstocking who never had a Christmas vacation in her life of complete freedom, I like that I put in a full week and somehow the bills will get paid and I can now have a weekend!

What opportunities await me this weekend? Oh, joy and rapture! Well, to start off with, my room and closet are a mess, I have some work-at-home stuff that has to be caught up on and then there are the bills to look at and see who gets paid this week....but then! I think I would like most to do some cooking and freezing this weekend to avoid any more quick and easy options for dinner. How about some real food, guys?

So I have this list that is far too unrealistic (oh, and asking those who know me, I am very obsessive about making to do it, do it a lot!) So I have this list of all the things I will need to accomplish to make me feel like I am right again with this world and already telling myself that if only a third of it gets done, it will be okay. I am having my daughter come and visit, bringing the beau to meet her mother....and I think she has in mind preparing a huge Sunday breakfast, which is just what Mom likes to do. My son and my Belgian son will be here to eat that up, especially as pickings have been pretty slim with the Mom laid up.

And saving the best for last..with all these techie minds around the house this weekend, happy and content with Mom's home-cooking, I think a tutorial on the new camera is in order and I will finally get to blog! No longer will I have to "steal" photos from my daughter to brighten up my posts...I can do my own..

Let the creative juices flow! I really like that too!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Waiting, waiting...

I was planning on posting something this weekend but a bit of a medical emergency has put this on hold. Again, I ask for patience....for myself as well, as I am truly champing at the bit to be posting on my new blog!