Can you do the can can?

We are growing a garden.  Something I haven’t done in quite a few years now.  It is so fun to watch the hard work start to develop into something.

This week the green beans have come on in a big way!  So we are canning beans.

I love watching the shelves fill up with canned foods!

My hubby is one of the few men I have met who cans food.  He even did it when he was a single dad.  So he is great at working together with me to get all of this done.

Beans are one of the simplest items to can.  Make sure you wash them well.  Trim off the stem.  Just add a teaspoon of canning salt, some water, and green beans.  Then cook in the pressure cooker.  Keeping at 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes.

Our goal is 50 quarts of green beans.  We got 28 quarts from the first picking.  So we are well on our way.

We have cucumbers, peas and zucchini that are also ready to pick and use.  In fact we had some zucchini for dinner last night.  I love fresh from the garden vegetables for dinner.

Next we are on to making relish!  Yum yum!

What are you growing in your garden?

This is a most amazing story of God’s grace.

celtic straits

(Updates follow article)

Four years ago today, I posted a blog about my emergency room “miracle experience” after the Aurora Theater shooting. The post went viral, and created some controversy. Does God really do miracles? Why for one person and not another? Does a good God even exist?

I don’t claim to have all the answers. But I saw the miracle with my own eyes. Thank you to those who have asked me to repost this story for a reminder: God is still at work.

July 23, 2012

At Columbine High School, I have seen this before. But not up close.  As a church pastor in Denver, I have worked as a chaplain alongside several police and fire departments. I was privileged to counsel parents just hours after the Columbine shootings. However, in this new tragedy at the Aurora Theater Dark Night shooting, one of the victims was a 22-year-old…

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My how time flies!

Earlier this week I turned 50 years old!  Yes, it’s true.  I am officially old!  Ha ha!  When I was born John F Kennedy was president.  The world had never heard of or dreamed of the internet.  Black and white TVs were the norm, and not every home had one.  One time when my daughter was little I told her that when I was growing up I had a black and white TV, not color, and we didn’t even have VCRs.  She gasped with amazement then said, “You didn’t?  Then how did you watch your videos?”  Oh what a funny kid!  Now we have DVD and Blueray instead of VHS tapes.

In 1962, the year I was born, Nelson Madela was arrested by police.  The Beach Boys released “Surfin Safari”.  The house passed a bill requiring equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.  Martin Luther King was jailed in Albany, Georgia.  Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best as drummer to the Beatles.  The Beverly Hillbillies premiered on TV.  The world’s population hit 3 billion.

A lot has changed in the last 50 years.

Sometimes you look at your life and you think, “If only I could go back, armed with the knowledge I have now.”  I think that we go through the steps we do for a specific reason.  We aren’t supposed to know everything.  How else would we learn?  How else would we have a need to rely on each other?  Would we marry the same people?  Would we have the same number of children?  Would we get an education or change the direction of our education?

The thing is even small degrees in course directions would result in HUGE differences in the end.    Pilots know that getting off course even a couple of degrees can result in missing their destination.

So if I had done things differently in my life I wouldn’t have arrived where I am.  I have been through things I would rather not have gone through.  Made choices I regret.  The thing is… I like where I am now.  I have the most amazing husband!  The most amazing children and grandchildren!  So I cannot linger on the past.  Only what it has taught me.

I have learned to be patient with those we love.  Patient with those we meet.  Enjoy life more and worry about things less.  Failure won’t kill us.  Success won’t last. Forgive people or you give them power over you. Most of all you have to be comfortable with the person in the mirror in order to be comfortable with life.

As you can see above, my sweet husband made my birthday cake.  He added black food color to the frosting!  So fun!  He made me breakfast and dinner for my birthday.  What a sweetheart!  He takes good care of me.

My youngest son called me for my birthday (amongst other people) and we had a good long talk.  He and his wife sang happy birthday to me.  He thanked me for the way I raised him.  He reminded me of the good I had done in the world.  The people I have helped.  He made me cry.

Sometimes, especially as women, we have a tendency to under estimate our own value.  It is nice to be reminded that we have done some good in the world.

I don’t think I’ll hang around another 50 years, but 30 or 35 sounds good.  It will be fun to see what else changes in the world.


Ole Toothless One

One of the joys of having epilepsy is breaking my teeth.  Sometimes I have a vision of a pirate with a parrot on my shoulder and only one or two teeth left in my head.  Aargh!  Avast ye mateys!  Here comes Ole Toothless One!

Sunday I broke my 5th tooth in the last year and a half.  The dentist should be delighted.  I called them Monday and they weren’t open.  I felt too crappy yesterday to go in.  So I called them today.  They are in staff training.  Really?  All of them?  So I left a message and I wait for their return call.

Why is it that when you have a broken tooth, your tongue just can’t leave it alone?  I’m an adult, I can control myself, but no, I find myself playing with that broken tooth.

Modern dentistry is a wonderful thing to have.  You have to wonder though, who chooses to be a dentist?  You know that people HATE to go to the dentist.  You get to play around in people’s mouths all day.  You smell whatever breath they may have… a scary proposition in itself.  No wonder it costs so much!  Well at least I have some very kind dentists that I go to.

So, look out dentist office!  Here comes Ole Toothless One again!

This was so cute I had to share!

Mike Apsey

Children warned name of first pet should contain 8 characters and a digit

Popular pet names Rover, Cheryl and Kate could be a thing of the past. Banks are now advising parents to think carefully before naming their child’s first pet. For security reasons, the chosen name should have at least eight characters, a capital letter and a digit. It should not be the same as the name of any previous pet, and must never be written down, especially on a collar as that is the first place anyone would look. Ideally, children should consider changing the name of their pet every 12 weeks.

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Write it down

The day before I met my ex-husband I started a journal.  I kept it all through our marriage.  After the divorce I was too busy raising kids alone, and working, to write.  I regret that so much!

The other day I ran across a rare journal entry written during those single parenting years.  It really brought home the difficult time I had being a single parent. I was transported to this specific day in time.

I had a go-around with my oldest two boys who refused to live by my rules.  The oldest was old enough that he could have just left if he didn’t like my rules.  My second son, however, was still in high school and did not have that option.  On this particular occasion, I had reached such a level of frustration that I called my ex-husband to give me some back up.  Now what on earth made me think, that the man who wouldn’t back me up as my spouse would back me up as me ex-spouse, is beyond me… but I called him.

He came over with his second wife.  I wasn’t thrilled to see her I’ll tell you, but I understood that she wanted some solidarity.  I explained my situation.  His wife actually got it.  She got it!  She told the boys that if they thought my rules were unreasonable they really wouldn’t like hers.  She guaranteed that living with me would seem like a blessing compared to living with them.  I thought, “Thank you!”  My ex shushed her and said that wasn’t what they needed to hear.  The heck it wasn’t it!  It was exactly what they needed to hear!

He told the boys to take care of their responsibilities (they had refused to do chores amongst other things).  My oldest son started crying and told his dad, “Why don’t you take care of your responsibilities?”  The second boy went downstairs refusing to hear any more.

At this point his wife was insightful again.  She turned to him and said, “If this is about your boys being angry at you, and taking it out on their mom, you need to talk to your sons.”

Oh he really didn’t like that!  He told the boys to just work it out with me, and nearly pushed her out the door as they left.

I felt let down by my ex-husband again!  I felt like I had to scoop my boys up off the floor and put them back together again.

They did their chores.  One of them apologized.  The other took a few more days to apologize.  I never called their dad like that again.

The next day my ex-husband called and asked, “So did you get things worked out with your boys?”  It was like reality slapped me in the face!  They were MY boys.  My job to raise… my sons.

Reading that after all of these years I was transported back to that time.  I remember the house, the carpet,  the smells that were there at the time, all of it.  Back to what it took to be a single parent.  Back to how much I love and care for my children.  (All four of them)

I wish I had written down more days than this one.  Occasionally I find one or two that I wrote down, but they are few and far between. I wish I had written down more of our happy days.  Of how it felt to watch my children grow up.  Days that I just enjoyed watching them play basketball in front of our house.  What a kick I got out of the kids jumping on the trampoline, or digging a hole in the garden.  How good it felt to sit down to Sunday dinner together and say a prayer over the food.  Playing on the computer together.  Or the day I kicked their butts playing a video game.  All I did was push buttons having no idea what I was doing and I beat them!

So, no matter where you are at in your life, write it down.  It will matter some day.  You get old, you forget.  Having it on paper and reading it again, you suddenly remember, even more than what you wrote.  Write it down.

Fireworks and neurotic dogs

I just read that the 5th of July is the busiest day at pet shelters.  I’m not surprised.  If our dear dog, Athena, could run for the hills she would have been long gone.  The poor thing has tried to hide under the computer desk, under our legs, anywhere possible.

Dear hubby had to put her in her kennel after giving her something to calm her nerves.  It still took her almost 45 minutes to calm down. My toy poodle, Rusty, is not as unruffled, but he is still breathing hard.

I know that fireworks will be going until the wee hours of the morning.  It is a great day to celebrate!

I will be up babysitting our little furbabies.

Happy 4th of July everyone!  And take care of your pets too!

Whose kitchen is this anyway?

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are cooking dinner, the kids are under foot, the phone is ringing and the doorbell rings?  I think most of us have had that at some point or another.

My hubby and I have a unique situation.  He works six days a week, 10 hour days.  So he is pretty tired when he gets home.  Having been a single dad he is used to getting home and cooking dinner.  I am used to working all day and coming home to an empty house and eating something I cook in the microwave.  So to put it plainly, he is a better cook than I am.  It has been so many years since I had people to cook for that I just don’t do it as well. I have some recipes that I make very well, but it is limited.

Honestly, I hate cooking.  I don’t mind it occasionally.  The everyday grind of cooking is not fun though. If we didn’t have to eat or sleep just think of how much more we could get done.  No dishes to do.  No groceries to buy.

However, I know that the most important time of the day is when the family is sitting around the dinner table.

My hubby has some specific ways he likes his food too.  Vegetables and pasta need to be al dente (to the tooth).  No soggy food!  He is also very good about using up what is in the fridge.  Me, not so much!  I kind of throw something together.  My kids used to clean out my fridge and find some very interesting biological experiments growing in there.  Who knows, I could have invented some new form of penicillin.

So we have found that as I try to get used to being a stay-at-home mom again, and take care of my family, we have a clash.  Dear hubby is so quick to tell me what to cook sometimes that I don’t even get a chance to decide on a menu.  There are days that I don’t really mind his suggestions.  He has a wider variety of food ideas.  I’m just having a struggle feeling like I’m independent in any way at all.

So whose kitchen is this anyway?  Maybe we need a menu that is predetermined so that I don’t get so frustrated.

Pinterest makes it that much more challenging.  There are always great recipes on there!  Do people eat like that every night?  I’m already over-weight.  If I make all those recipes I would be SO HUGE!  I’m still tempted to make each recipe and review it.  What do you think?

Well I tried the recipe from Pinterest for a Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake.  It was FABULOUS!  We have our own blueberry bushes, so I picked the berries and put fresh blueberries on the cheesecake.  It was so good!  The lemon in the cheesecake was the perfect amount.  Not too strong and not too mild.  Miss E even ate it!  She hates blueberries.

So that is my little review for that recipe.  YUMMY!  Check it out here .  If I can make it and have everyone love it, anyone can!

What we find beautiful

The other day I saw some pictures a friend of mine posted from Yellowstone Park.  I thought instictively of how beautiful the area is.  I grew up around there.

Then I wondered if other people find it all that beautiful.  It is pretty dry and brown.  It’s not the green lush area that I live in now.

My hubby and I are growing a cactus garden.  (His idea)  Most of our cactus came from starts that his mom gave him.  It is kind of fun to watch him enjoy watching these plants grow, bloom and divide.

A few years ago a friend and I went on a cross-country trip with 5 kids in tow.  It was amazing!  We had so much fun!

I loved seeing the country first-hand.  The further east we went, the greener it got.  Upstate New York is beautiful!  New York City is crowded.  The taxi divers, delivery drivers and everyone else on the roads honked at each other even when no one could move.

On the way back we spent three days in Nauvoo, Illinois.  It was great to see.  It was hot and muggy and there were the biggest bugs by the river.  It was like being dive bombed by helicopters instead of a mere bug!

As we came into western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming my heart started to beat a little faster.  The terrain was brown and the brush was dry.  I saw a couple of antelope and I thought, “I’m almost home!”

As a kid I thought my mom was one of the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.  (still do)  She has blue eyes and skin that tans.  I have brown eyes and freckles.

A while back an aunt of mine said that I have hands like my mom’s.  I was first startled and then I smiled.  I have always loved my mom’s hands.  I am happy to have hands like hers.

I think that the things we love most are seen as beautiful in our eyes.  So I smile when I see our little cactus garden.  It is a reminder of where we both came from.