Sunday, April 13, 2014

Love Our Old Radiators

There are so many things that I love about our old radiators.  Radiators dry wet mittens and scarves.  Radiators topped with a small pan of water can humidify a room.  Radiators heat rooms evenly and gently and stay warm for hours after the heat is turned down.  In winter, the top of a radiator is a great place to put clothes while taking a shower....it is heavenly to step into warm clothes when temperatures are freezing.  Although 12 years ago radiators were new to me, I quickly learned to love them.

Well I am not the only one who loves the even and gentle warmth of radiators. In winter, I place some of my favorite summer plants on my radiators.... and they thrive.  For the most part, the plants keep blooming for several months after I bring them inside emitting a Spring-like fantasy well into December, but by January, they go into their dormant and quiet stage.  It's almost as if they go to sleep for a few months.  Then in April when the sun gets warmer, the plants begin to bloom again with renewed energy.  Bloom by beautiful bloom, the plants afford us a change of scenery that announces that Spring is here!  Inside this old house, we can witness firsthand the changing of the seasons.  Thank you to our old radiators that help preserve some of our summer potted plants....over time, these plants have become friends.

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In six weeks, my potted friends will find a new home outside in the garden.

 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My Favorite Sunday Breakfast

I often make Swedish pancakes for breakfast on Sundays, and whether they are filled with fruit or with veggies, the pancakes are a wonderful beginning to a Sunday.....the day before work-day.  The recipe is so simple that I feel a little guilty (well, not really).

There are only four ingredients in this glorious pancake recipe.  Since I love textures within my recipes, I take a little time whisking the eggs and milk together......nothing beats the creamy silk texture and rich yellow buttercup color of milk and eggs. 

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I happen to have a favorite pan that I make crepes and Swedish pancakes in.  Nothing fancy, in fact the pan has a slightly warped bottom and so nothing sticks to the bottom.

I place a small amount of butter in the bottom of the pan and melt it thoroughly (without browning) over med. heat.  Then I pour about a cup of batter into the pan and pick the pan up and roll the batter around so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan. When the top of the pancake is filled with tiny bubbles, I turn it over and cook the other side.  When the pancake is finished cooking (about 5-7 minutes), I place the pancake on a piece of paper towel on a plate. I stack all of the pancakes on top of each other with paper towel between each one so that they do not stick together. I keep them in the oven at 250 degrees to stay warm while I prepare the filling.

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These pancakes can be filled with anything.  I especially enjoy a fruit filling (be creative), but a spinach, mushroom and cream cheese filling is wonderful also.

I place the berries on one half of the pancake and then I fold the pancake over.  I place more berries on top and sift powdered sugar over the entire pancake.

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A little topping of whipped cream looks and tastes awesome. 

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Since I have recently decided to take sugar out of my diet for a while, I am going to have to take the sugar out of the recipe.....so sad.  I am happy however, that I made these pancakes three times last month.  Here's the recipe.

Swedish Pancake recipe....(makes eight pancakes, half the recipe makes four large).
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
5 teaspoons sugar.  (you can use as much or as little sugar as you would like.  I only use three teaspoons).

I always keep eggs, flour, sugar, and milk on hand so there is never an excuse to go hungry.  I've even filled the pancakes with bananas or blueberries, and once when we had unexpected guests for breakfast, I opened up a can of strawberry pie filling (with no added sugar).  Our guests were so surprised.

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For our unexpected guests, I added sliced bananas to the top.....needless to say, with a few slices of bacon and hot coffee, the last minute breakfast was a big hit.  I almost felt guilty (almost).  Enjoy!


Friday, April 11, 2014

We All need A Break

Sometimes we all just need a break, and while I didn't take a break from writing, I did take a break from posting on the blog.  New jobs, new places to live, and a new baby.....all within four months.  In order to experience these events in the moment I could not blog about them because they seemed too private, and because we were all too busy.

  I always thought that when I became older I would have more time on my hands.  Somehow I pictured myself rambling around the house polishing silver, arranging flowers, putting things in their places, straightening throw pillows, and finally starting my book.  Funny!

Instead......... I am training with hand weights firming muscles I didn't know I had, I am driving an occasional carpool, I am making big dinners, I am working outside of the home, I am managing our family's air traffic, and I am living life to the fullest.......with very little free time for meandering around the house and yard.

Oh, and yes, I am back to the blog. My equilibrium is solidly in place, and so here we go........

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Five birthdays in the last few months (including the new arrival) have given us reasons to celebrate family.  Candles, singing, and gift and card opening are heart warming activities that are all part of the ceremony. The birthday rituals are excuses to indulge in creamy and rich desserts without feeling guilty. We can enjoy the frosting as much as the cake, and for those of us who do not care for the frosting and only eat the cake, we carefully save and pass the frosting to another family member.......all without embarrassment.

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We enjoy our simple pleasures and the special moments with family as our celebrations take on a flair of their own.  My husband and I may have a strong heritages, but our children follow their own visions.  As life goes on here within the walls of this grand old building that we lovingly call Three-stories, we still take care to saver as many special moments as possible.  Until later.......




Friday, March 21, 2014

I Stole Precious Moments

I stole some precious moments this month.  I had the opportunity to tuck these moments into my heart....to bring these moments out any time that I wanted to re-live them.....and I have.  My husband and I are fortunate to have a large and very active family.  With daughters who live in town, and sons who travel back and forth from the East Coast and the South West, our home is always bustling with activity.  Over the past two weeks I have made five round trips to the airport.

The special moments in our family are many.  The pre-dinner conversations in the kitchen with our grown sons are always entertaining and most times humorous....and the comings and goings of the household sometimes need a traffic controller.  That's me!!  And although I love the greater community of our family, I treasure the quiet moments that I get to spend.....one-on-one.  

Our daughters and grandchildren are packaged as a unit, with three-six or mostly eight at a time.  It is rare that I have those one-on-one moments with any of them, especially our granddaughters who usually come as a pair.

Cookie baking with one granddaughter turned out to be a last minute activity on a recent conference day off from school.

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It was fun and productive and filled with meaningful conversations.

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Another special one-on-one moment happened when I drove our other  granddaughter to ballet practice after school.  Sitting and waiting with her at ballet was not only a memory in itself, but it reminded me of the hours I spent in the same waiting room with my daughter (her mother), many years ago. 

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Watching the ballet company rehearse for their next performance, our granddaughter was quiet, meditative, and very still.  I was mesmerized.

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And while these  one-on-one moments may be few and far between......

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........I will remember them forever!!!







Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Children's Room

A few days ago I was up in the children's room (in the attic).  I found the cutest note from Momo and Bobo taped to a hula hoop.  It took me a moment to decipher the content  of the note, and then I realized that they were asking my husband and I if it was OK to put a hula hoop in the back room of the attic.

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I have no idea what prompted the girls to ask if they could put a toy in the children's room, but it was one of the sweetest notes that I have received and I love that it caught me by surprise.  And of course, Momo and Bobo could put anything they wanted in the children's room.........but to ask by writing a special little note.....well, so sweet.  And leaning against the book shelf was the hula hoop.

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This little room tucked away in the attic on the third floor has always lent itself to a playroom, or a nursery, or a library, and through the years it has always been a great room for books, toys, and make believe.  With possibilities galore, the little girls can play here for hours by themselves hidden away in a "room of their own".  Momo and Bobo have named it the "children's room".  I know that child driven free play is essential to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well being of children and youth.  It allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive and emotional strength.  Through undirected play, children  learn how to work together, share, negotiate, and resolve conflict.  When play is directed by adults, the children lose the benefits of free play.

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Children love small secluded rooms that are hidden away in private spaces.......away from adults.  In this attic room after dark, our granddaughters love to use their flash lights to light their way. 

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Too often, children are passively entertained through television, computer games, and tablets (screen time).  This passive entertainment is not protective and most times has harmful effects.  Let's provide creative spaces for our children......before we think of our own needs.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Living The Good Life

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I have often written on the subject of setting a beautiful table.  Preparing a meal, picking the right serving dishes, choosing a center piece, are all part of a daily rhythm........the rhythm of breaking bread together.
This is just one of many daily rhythms that feed our soul and give us something to look forward to.  Positive rhythms bring forth positive outlooks.

Just recently I read a quote from the Dalai Lama....."Achieving genuine happiness may require bringing about a transformation in your outlook, your way of thinking, and this is not a simple matter".

Many of my friends like to tease me about my positive attitude.  I can find beauty almost everywhere but most importantly, I find beauty in my home and with my family.  When I get up each morning I look forward to the day and the wonderful experiences the day is going to present to me.  I'm certainly not saying that an early morning wake-up call is fun, but once I am up, I cannot wait to "seize the day".  On my way to school, I think about how I can make my students and colleagues happy.  It puts joy into my heart.

I work on a beautiful campus and each morning as I approach the school, I think of a few words of thankfulness.  I might say....."what a beautiful school, I am so fortunate to be a part of it.

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Although short and sweet, these words mean a lot to me.  Then, throughout the day, I give thanks for little things.

What is the good life?  The good life is made up of positive experiences that we set ourselves up for each day.  It takes only one second to flip a negative thought into a positive thought.  It takes only one second to form a smile and find something to be thankful for.  In flipping our thoughts from negative to positive we change the energy that surrounds us......but it works the other way around also and that is why it is so important for us to train, or re-train our attitudes and our minds.  Living the good life makes us abundantly richer and much more alive.  It is in our power and easily within our reach to change our way of thinking.

Now I digress to setting a beautiful table.  Many years ago, with four small children and a husband who worked late into the night, I decided that I could change the dinner hour from being frustrating and tiring, to being fun and nurturing.  Candles, flowers (from the woods behind our house), colorful place-mats and classical music (to set a relaxing environment), turned an ordinary noisy evening meal into a dinner party.
That was my awakening to the power of cultivating positive energy.  The children felt a sense of well being and importance.  Our positive energy filled the room and turned dinner time into an evening ritual that I looked forward to.

Begin the day with a positive outlook by saying thank you for something in your life, choose to have a great day by flipping negative thoughts to positive thoughts, cultivate good energy, and begin to live the Good Life"!


   


Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Gaggle Of Grandchildren

Oh my goodness, this gaggle is getting older and noisier.....and even more fun to be with.  When 11 and 12 year old boys talk about ballroom dancing, when 9 year old boys talk about saving money, and when seven year old girls talk about cooperation, the conversations around the dinner table get more and more interesting.  I love listening to back seat chit chat while I am carpooling the cousins.  It's so......so.....grown up, and it touches my heart. And as long as the adults do not ask the children questions, or break into their special moments, this gaggle of grandchildren can go on forever with their thoughtful and meaningful conversations.

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I know that they will remember these weekly dinners together.....forever!

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And so will the adults.