Thankful

I read a quote today that said, “It’s not happy people who are thankful, its thankful people who are happy.” I was really touched by this, because I feel it is so true. Yesterday was my 42nd birthday and I have to say I felt so blessed and loved. This blessing did not come from an abundance of gifts or a huge party; it was simply from so many of my family members and friends taking time out of their day to simply wish me a happy birthday.

I love that I was born in November, the month of Thanksgiving, the day we Americans take to say thanks. It saddens me though, because I have always felt like poor Thanksgiving gets gypped – Halloween (a holiday I have never been fond of) happens and then boom we start thinking Christmas. Even before Halloween the Christmas decorations hit the stores and then November 1 the music, toy specials, and commercials all begin and other than an increase in turkey sales Thanksgiving pretty much gets skipped. Just like everyone else the Christmas magic draws me in, I love the music, decorations and sappy movies just as much as the next guy, but I still feel sorry for poor Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving at Plymouth

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. **

Being a direct descendant of Gov. William Bradford, Thanksgiving has always had a special place in my heart; I have always felt like my family started the holiday so I should give it extra TLC. As much as I am tempted, I hold Christmas off until after Thanksgiving, and try to remember how I am blessed and why I am thankful. After all, Thanksgiving began because a group of people were so happy to be alive and have corn –  my blessings are so much greater than that. Something new I am doing this year, and a lot of my friends are doing as well, is for each day in November leading up to Thanksgiving, I am writing on Facebook what I am thankful for that day.

I am also taking this a step farther:

My friend Cheryl gave me this journal last year and its so pretty I didn’t want to put just anything in it, so I decided that starting on my birthday (yesterday) I would write each day throughout the year what I am thankful for, then on those days that I forget, I can look back and with thanksgiving, praise the Lord for all my blessings.

What are you thankful for? – How about starting your own journal of thanks and celebrate Thanksgiving throughout the whole year.

This November I have an extra special reason to be thankful – my hubby suffered a heart attack about a  week ago (my reason for having not blogged). He survived it and is now doing well – so I am extra, extra thankful to God this year for letting me keep the hubby. Thank you to all of you who have prayed for him and my family, I am also very thankful for you.

**Excerpt from History.com

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Posted in Wisdom | 2 Comments

Manic Monday

How does the song go –

            Six o’clock already
            I was just in the middle of a dream

Yep, that was me – right in the middle of a dream, when I should have been up getting the day going. As it happened, I didn’t actually rise until 7:30, which is the time the girl Crazy is supposed to be in orchestra class. Needless to say she didn’t make it. I would love to say the rest of the morning improved, but I don’t want to lie to you. Sunday night I put clean jeans into the dryer so the boy Crazys would have clothes for school, unbeknownst to me the dryer died and the jeans were still wet, so I had to pull semi-clean ones out of the Mountain and hoped they didn’t smell too bad. Mondays are the day I take the hubby’s suits and shirts to the cleaners. I had hoped he had them ready for me, but no, they were sharing space with his socks (for more info on this see Take Them to the Mountain). There was no coffee in the pot, my hair was flat, I felt fat, and I was running late to the oldest boy Crazys class, the first stop on my Monday volunteering marathon. Monday was not looking good.

On the way to school I was in my minivan sipping my Starbucks and having a pity party, when This Is the Stuff by Francesca Battistelli came on the radio.

            This is the stuff that drives me crazy
            This is the stuff that’s getting to me lately
            In the middle of my little mess
            I forget how big I’m blessed

            This is the stuff that gets under my skin
            But I gotta trust You know exactly what You’re doing
            It might not be what I would choose
            But this is the stuff You use     

I kid you not, at that very moment the sun came up. It had been an overcast morning but now the sun was up and all of fall was showing its glory. Beautiful colors of red, yellow and purple everywhere. All the stress of my country western song morning had just rolled right off and I realized that sure I might have some stresses, but when it all comes down to it, I am truly blessed. The rest of the day I continued to notice all those beautiful colors God paints our world with and I just had to smile. When I finally made it to the boy Crazys class, he and all his classmates gave me a very warm welcome and later at school I ran into my friend Kristin who told me she had been reading the blog and felt like I was having a conversation with her every time she read it (what I was going for), little did they know they had been part of my Sonshine (not a typo).

Monday had definitely improved. The dryer is still broken, but hey, now I get to go shopping for new clothes – we’re going to need something to wear. Shh, don’t tell the hubby.

So, I leave you with this: As you live your adventure today, try to remember all the ways you are blessed and enjoy the Sonshine.

Posted in Wisdom | 1 Comment

Bring Them to the Mountain

I want to start today with letting you know I’m able to sit. If you have no idea what I’m talking about you’ll need to read Coffee with God, Alton Brown and My Posterior. Today I’m going to talk about my mountain, the laundry mountain that is. I’m also going to give you a recipe, but please do not eat this one it’s for laundry soap. It probably won’t kill you if you do eat it, but you may have to increase how much toilet paper you purchase this week.

This morning my hubby, the salesman, was frantically searching the house for socks, and when he couldn’t find any he asked me if I would help. Being the good wifey I am I did. We checked the drawer, hamper and dryer none were to be found. This was odd, because I was sure that the darks were something that had made it to the machine yesterday, so I asked,

“Did you put them in the laundry room?” I already knew the answer to this question.

“No, they’re on the floor in the bedroom where I always put them.”

“Well if you want them washed, you need to bring them to the laundry mountain. Even the Crazys know that.”

“So, you’re punishing me because I don’t bring my clothes to the laundry room.”

I never really thought of it that way, but I guess I kind of have been. I just think of it this way – I don’t run around the house picking up clothes for the people I am Momma to, so I’m definitely not going to run around and pick up the clothes of the one I’m not Momma to. If you want your clothes done, you are just going to have to bring them to the mountain. This is, after all, the same man who not too long ago told me I baby the Crazys and that I need to make them take on more responsibilities – things like laundry. So, I apologize to my hubby’s clients for the stench coming from the direction of the floor today, but you know what they say, “What’s good for the goslings, is good for the gander.” No one says this? Well, they will now.

Laundry Soap

 What you’ll need:

  • 5 gal bucket
  • 1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda    *not baking soda*
  • 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax

 Directions:

    1. Grate soap and add to a sauce pan with 4 cups of hot water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
    2. Fill a 5 gal bucket half full with hot tap water. Add the soap solution, washing soda and borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let set over night to thicken.
    3. Once soap is cooled you can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons, but this step is optional.
    4. Stir and fill a used clean laundry dispenser half full with soap and then the rest of the way with water. Shake before each use.

This liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons. All the ingredients with the exception of the bucket can be found in the laundry aisle of most stores. You can usually find buckets in the hardware section. The first time you make this recipe it will cost you approximately 5 cents per load. The next time, since you will already have most of the ingredients, it’s less than a penny a load. And, if you are wondering, it works great.

Well, I’m off to conquer my mountain. Until next time, have fun living your adventure.

Posted in Recipes | 5 Comments

Coffee with God, Alton Brown, and My Posterior

Incase you were wondering, I did not fall off the planet; it has just been one of those weeks. This is actually the first time I’ve been at my computer in days.  I actually had two people call me this week and ask if I still check my email, I am also having serious Pinterest withdrawals, and don’t even get me started on the laundry mountain – oy! Ok the mountain has nothing to do with my computer, but let just say I’ve been busy. Even though I have been MIA, writing to you has been on my mind, so much so I gave myself a stomach ache. I guess that could have been all the coffee I’ve been drinking to stay awake this week, but never-the-less, I have some things I love that I want to tell you about – God, coffee, Alton Brown, and my backside. Ok, my backside is more about a giggle and/or warning for you than love, so hang in there until the end (no pun intended), my embarrassment might save a heinie.

Lets go back in time about ten years ago, it was the start of a four-year period of a series of unfortunate events for my family and me– my MIL and my dad both died from cancer, I lost my job, I didn’t have insurance and I became pregnant with not only one but two children, one of my sons was born with a heart problem, we started and lost a business, we nearly lost our house and our car, then the car died, and we were sued twice. My husband and I were both dealing with all of this in our own ways, which resulted in fight after fight. The LHOTP was not a happy place to be. As I think of these events today I am thankful they happened, but in the middle of it I was a wreck and daily had my own little pity party. I was raised in church and through all of this turmoil I was praying, but my prayer sounded something like this – “Lord, please give us the finances to fix this mess and if You don’t want to do this, can you please just come back to earth so I don’t have to go through this anymore.” Yes, I’m rolling my eyes right now too. How pathetic was I. I didn’t want to die; I just wanted God to end the world for everyone. Well, as you know, He didn’t, but looking back I can see He was listening and working in my life.

During my pity parties I would spend a lot of time on my porch flipping through my Bible, but not really reading it, and then one day I happened to be out there just looking around the yard when I noticed the birds – we have lots of birds at the Little House. The birds were just flying around going about their business, not even carrying about my little party on the porch, and I felt lead to read Matthew 6:26 – “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Well yes I am I’m the apple of my Fathers eye. After that, each morning I would grab a cup of coffee and my Bible, go out onto my porch and have what I now call “Coffee with God”. Up to this point in my life, I didn’t really have a relationship with God, in fact I didn’t even know you could, I pretty much just asked God for things and told Him how to do His job. While out on the porch I would read, actually READ, my Bible. I would also tell God what I was feeling (He already knew) and I finally gave up the control and told Him I didn’t know how to fix my life (He knew this too). At this point, something wonderful happened, my life started to change. I was happier and I had peace.

Philipians 4:19 says, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory in Jesus Christ” and in the middle of my mess, He was supplying for all my needs, not my wants, but my needs. We never lost our house, when the car died friends of ours gave us one. Because I didn’t have a job and we had lost the business we didn’t have any money, so we qualified for state medical. Because we didn’t lose the house and there was enough equity in it we were able to pay the bill both times we were sued.  Because my husband wasn’t tied up in a business I think we both kind of hated he was free to take the fabulous job he has right now along with the fabulous benefits (medical) that came with it. And my sons heart problem; well he still has it, but he’s healthy and it’s healing, so we’re still trusting that God will come through with this too. Don’t get me wrong, I still have problems, but these days I just sit and have coffee with God and He gives me peace. God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want Him to or the way we think He should, but He does ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS take care of us and provide for our needs.

Now that I have told you about my first love (God), I want to tell you about my newest love, Alton Brown. Ok, relax, my love for him is not the “I’m wrecking my marriage and moving to Atlanta to wreck his marriage” kind of love. I love his views on food, because they are the same as mine: “God made it and do it no harm”. I didn’t even know Alton Brown was a Christian. We do not have cable, so my experience with the Food Network is limited, but I had seen parts of his show Good Eats, and I now hate to admit it, but I thought it was a little weird. If truth be told, I never really gave it a chance, but I was recently reading through a Christian magazine, when I came across an article on Alton (I call him Alton) called “The Miracle of Food”. In this article Alton speaks of his belief that God made food, He made it delicious, and we should not mar or in any way malign the creation. I love this man! He also speaks of how cooking for people is an act of service, and how many of Jesus’ miracles were food-related, and how he feels the kitchen table is the most important tool in the kitchen. Well, my interests were piqued, so I headed to the library (we don’t have any book stores in Puyallup anymore) to check out one of his cook books. LOVE! If you can get past to kooky cover (sorry Alton), the book is great.

In his cookbook, Good Eats – the Early Years, Alton not only provides his readers with some super yummy recipes using real food, but he gives us the history of this food and explains how to cook it the right way. This is definitely going to be one I purchase and use regularly. The following coffee (of course) advice is from the book:

  • Buy whole beans and keep them in an air tight canister.
  • Grind fresh right before brewing
  • Use enough coffee. The golden ratio for drip or press coffee brewing is 2 heaping tablespoons for each 6 ounces of fresh water. Brewing with less coffee most often results in over extraction of the bean, and that’s what leads to bitterness. If you like weaker coffee, brew full strength, then cut it in the cup with hot water.
  • Use fresh or filtered water. That’s right for a great cup of java; you’re going to have to nix the overnight timer.
  • Heat kills. The longer the pot sits on the heat element the faster the subtle flavor compounds in your brew go belly up.

I have to say I gave Alton’s coffee advice a try this morning and let me just say that was one good cup o’ jo.

Ok, so I’m sure you’re wondering what my posterior end has to do with God, coffee, and Alton Brown. Well, other than the fact that God created it, pretty much nothing. I tell you this part of my story, pretty much for comic relief and/or as a warning. Let’s just say that, this baby’s got back. Short of being able to find a decent pair of fitting pants, this has never been too much of an issue. I mean it’s not quite the shelf my grandmother had, but it’s there. This story takes place in the shower – don’t worry its PG. When I shave my legs I like to stand leg up on the side of the tub and have my back to the shower, I mean who wants water in their face while they’re running a sharp razor up and down their leg. This morning I was in the shower shaving my legs (using a new razor), just as I have done for one score and seven years now (that would be 27 years for those of you who do not speak Lincolnese), and as everyone who shaves knows in the process the razor must be rinsed. Well, as I reached behind me to stick that brand new razor in the shower, I had it angled in just a way that it ran across my hind end. OOH Momma did that sting! Well, I looked behind me to assess the damage and my initial prognosis was that I had just nicked it and I would be fine, so I finished my shower. As I was drying off, I discovered my prognosis had been wrong and I was gushing blood all over the bathroom. Now, I was in quite a quandary as to what I would do next, because last summer when we went camping I had purged the bathroom of all first aid supplies and the bandages were still with the camping equipment.  My other dilemma was the only other people home were the two boy Crazys, and I did not want to traumatize them with their mother’s bleeding booty, so I grabbed a towel and some TP to wrap my wound and went in search of the bandages. Thank the good Lord in Heaven the bin was in the house. The good news is the gash was not so deep that it required stitches. Thank goodness, because I did not want to have to repeatedly explain to everyone at the ER that I had indeed been shaving my legs not my butt. The bad news is it hurts to sit down. Now, you can call this a blonde moment it you like, but I choose to believe that this could happen to anyone. The moral of my story is, make sure that razor is facing away from your ample lower end when you reach behind you to rinse it off.

Stop laughing, go make yourself some coffee (Alton style) and have yourself a good conversation with God.

Until next time, have a great day.

Posted in Wisdom | 4 Comments

South of the Border Chicken Soup

TGIS! Thank God it’s Saturday. I love Saturdays, they’re so relaxing, I don’t ever have to go anywhere and usually the Crazys just sit around in their PJs watching TV or playing board games while I bake and prep the next week’s food. I know that spending the day in the kitchen may not sound relaxing to a lot of people, but I love it.

Today in my kitchen the following will be either in a slow cooker, in the bread maker, in the food processor, in a mixing bowl, or in the oven:      

  • Yogurt              –          slow cooker    
  • Bread                –          Bread maker and  oven   
  • Hummus          –          food processor   
  • Harvest Oatmeal –     mixing bowl  
  • Kale chips        –          oven   
  • Applesauce       –         slow cooker    
  • Black Beans      –         slow cooker

I love my slow cookers!

Over time I’ll probably share these recipes, but today I’m going to give you one I created last weekend and LOVED. I had a hankering for taco soup or tortilla soup, but didn’t have all the ingredients for any of the recipes I had, so this is what I came up with:

South of the Border Chicken Soup (I’m not sure about this name)

  • 1 lb chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 med. onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (4oz) can chopped fire roasted green chilies
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 C. water
  • 2 tsp. chicken base
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 ½  tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ C. cilantro pureed
  • 1 (10oz) pkg. frozen corn
  • 2 C. cooked or 1(15 oz) can black beans   

Add all the ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

I served it with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and cilantro sauce (recipe for this @ Thy Hand Hath Provided) -mmm. Like I said, I loved this soup and my family did as well. Everyone had at least seconds, and I think my daughter went back for thirds and fourths.

Enjoy.

Posted in Recipes | 2 Comments

My Dirty Little Secret

I have a dirty little secret, and the weight of this secret at times has been more than I can bear. I hear that many other people walk around with this same secret, but unless they’re keeping their secrets as well as I am, I don’t know any of these people.  I want to fix this problem, but it has just become so overwhelming I don’t even know how to start.  I’ve bought books, hoping they would help – they didn’t. I have stacks of magazines with articles that talk about my problem, but it has only become worse. I have even kept new friends from coming to my home; for fear that this secret might be exposed. I just can’t live with this secret anymore, I have to do something about it, before I lose my mind – I’m coming clean…..

I have family members who know about my problem – my mother has even tried to help me with it. My two oldest friends also know and yesterday at lunch I told my friends Heather and Annie, they were very understanding; they said they have even struggled with it themselves. I couldn’t believe it, they just don’t seem like the type, but then I guess to most people neither do I.  I was so relieved after telling them; they made me feel so much better.  They told me that it would be ok, that they wouldn’t judge me; they made me feel like I could overcome this dirty little secret. They gave me the courage to tell you.

There has been several times over the years I have prayed, “Oh Lord, please give me the strength, desire, and energy to deals with this”, and now I am finally ready to be free of it. However, since I have had this problem for so many years, there is a lot of stuff I will need to release myself of to be truly free, and this will take some time. I’m ready, enough is enough. I no longer want the weight of this, I’m just going to open the door to this problem and deal with it – that office is getting cleaned!

Wait – What did you think my dirty little secret was?

When I say office, I use the word loosely. It hasn’t been used for an office since, oh…ever.  I know, you’re thinking – “so what she has a messy office, big deal”. Well it is a BIG deal, the room is small and the stuff is stacked up high and wide. In fact there’s only a single, narrow path through the room. And that door I spoke of opening doesn’t actually exist.  If you sit in certain places (I try to avoid these places) in my living room, you have a full view of the office. We don’t have a garage, basement, attic, or even closets, so everything ends up in this room – bins with decorations, tools, craft supplies, the Crazys’ art work, books, and pretty much everything that doesn’t have a home.  I’m not Hoarders bad, although I do have one friend who would disagree, but then he thinks a stack of books on your night stand qualifies you for the show, so I’m not taking his opinion into consideration; most of the things in there get used at some time throughout the year, but some stuff definitely needs to go. What I really need is a good organization and storage plan – feel free to send me your ideas.  

I’m ready.

I’m starting today.

I’m not stopping until I’m free and I have an office.

I want an office!

My name is Heidi, and I have a messy office.

Posted in Organizing and decorating | 3 Comments

Not Really Goulash-Goulash

I have decided that the theme song for my life is going to be Sabre Dance. It sounds like the name of a sexy salsa dance doesn’t it? It’s not. You probably have heard it before and just don’t realize it; it’s been around since 1942 and has been used in lots of TV shows, movies, and commercials. I’m making it my theme song, because my life is non-stop go, go, go – just like this music.

Yesterday, I wanted to put together a craft for you and post it today, but by the time I made it home I was that kind of tired that makes you just want to weep, and I still had homework to help the Crazys with, housework, and dinner. Now most people would just go pick up fast food at this point, but remember I have my fear of preservatives, so off to the pantry it was. Luckily, in my freezer was some of my homemade spaghetti sauce, in the frig I had some ground beef, and in the cupboard was a box of whole wheat macaroni – I could make Not Really Goulash-Goulash.

Not Really Goulash-Goulash is a dish my mother invented when we were kids. It’s called Not Really Goulash-Goulash, because it’s not really goulash – it’s basically spaghetti made with macaroni.  When I was a kid and my mom made it, she would just make the macaroni, brown the ground beef, and pour a can of tomato sauce over it all and there you had it– dinner.  I’m not really sure why she started calling it goulash (my mom just calls it goulash), because it’s nothing like goulash, but the name stuck and I’m not sure my siblings even know it’s not the real thing.

I like a little more spice in my life, so I have changed it up a bit. Back before I was afraid of preservatives I would make it much like my mom did, except I would use a jar of spaghetti sauce from the store. You can do this too, but it won’t be as good as the recipe I’m about to give you. This recipe was quick for me, because I had already made up a big batch of sauce and had it frozen in my freezer.  If you do not have sauce already frozen, it will take you a bit longer.

Not Really Goulash-Goulash

Ingredients

6-8       Roma tomatoes

1          green pepper

1          yellow onion

4          cloves garlic

1 Tbs. fresh basil

1 Tbs. fresh oregano

1 tsp.   salt

½ tsp   pepper

1 tsp.   sugar

1 Tbs. olive oil (I use Smart Balance Omega)

1 (4oz) can tomato paste (you can make this fresh too if you want)

1 lb.     ground beef

2 ½ C. whole wheat macaroni

Directions

Sauce: Add the following to a mixing bowl: tomatoes halved, green peppers cored and seeded then cut into 8 slices, and the onion peeled and cubed. In a mini chopper (a food processor or blender will work too) blend together the basil, oregano, salt, pepper, sugar, and oil. When well blended empty the chopper contents into the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well. Next, pour all the ingredients of the bowl into a 13×9 baking pan and bake at 350* for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tomatoes are roasted. Take the warm ingredients and pour them into a food processor or blender, add the tomato paste and puree until smooth. Proportion however you like, and freeze.

Not Really Goulash-Goulash: Cook macaroni according to package directions drain well. Brown ground beef. Mix macaroni, ground beef, and 24 oz.of sauce.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it really is very easy, even if don’t already have your sauce made. You can also use this sauce in any recipe that calls for red sauce.

My family loves this recipe – I mean loves it! I personally think its lick your plate good, but I usually try to wait until I’m out of view of the Crazys first; I’m trying to set an example after all. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Now before you go and start your Not Really Goulash-Goulash, go check out my theme song on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcUJ8sW8AzM), you just might want to make it your theme song too.

Posted in Recipes | 2 Comments