Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After...

Yesterday was lovely! Friends, yummy dinner with a variety of shared dishes brought by said friends, games, a movie, good conversation and plenty of leftovers for all. After all that, the best part was when I got to talk to my sister while doing dishes.

I usually dread dishes, taking an approach to cooking and cleaning that Lollychops would describe as "Hurricane Andrea with FEMA (AKA hubby) disaster recovery", as she did in this post. (Btw, I made the cranberry sauce in that post and liked it much better than the canned stuff. Still pretty simple and traditional, but better.) However, last night I looked forward to the slow rhythm of doing dishes. To get to chat with hermanacita while I worked made it even sweeter.

came in for a round this morning, but here's what's still left.

I must admit to not minding this last batch too much, but I better get to it soon. I've started bread which will grow the pile and we haven't made dinner. Leftovers anyone?

And then there's this...

We did finally get some (ha!) laundry done yesterday and today after our basement and laundry room has been closed for repairs for nearly a week.

So back to the regularly scheduled program of cooking and cleaning. Perhaps we'll have a short word from our (crafting) sponsors later. 'Bye!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving All...

Just made myself this....

....and I'm ready to relax and enjoy the long weekend. Hope yours is filled with family and friends, wonderful food, relaxation, football (if you are hubby) and a peaceful reminder of the blessings in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thankful for....

In the middle of some not so fun things right now, I'd like to remind myself of things I am grateful for. Such as.....

........looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner with a few friends.

.......yellow roses in my yellow kitchen.

.......a very good man as a husband. I'm grateful we find ways to talk and work through tough things.

........concord grapes from the Farmer's market for juicing tomorrow morning.

..........and last, but not least, finding a few friendly & helpful insurance employees. A small but significant answer to prayers.

Hope you see a few small blessings in your day today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bindhis and Bollywood...

Today I am grateful for friends who have fabulous adventures and when they return, generously share bits of those adventures with me.

Tonight we will celebrate my friend Marin's successful project in India this past summer choreographing a piece on a professional company in Mumbai. There will be Indian food, Bollywood music, bindhis to wear, video of her project and lots and lots of stories. She'll be showing off her gorgeous sari and other fun souvenirs. I think I'll wear this silk scarf she brought me. Isn't it beautiful? The colors remind me of dawn...

What's your favorite "brought from the far corners" gift? What do you cherish that someone brought you from a place you've never been?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Headlines Imitating Life

While I am not an avid New York Times reader (I have yet to figure out how to include it in my regular time and money budget), I really enjoy the Times. So discovering a Sunday Times left behind on the train last week was a real find. One headline on the front page almost made me laugh out loud. Looks like Mr. President-elect and I are facing the same question...

I don't know what he'll decide, but usually I am a BIG fan of "quick and broad". My m.o. is to take on a lots of things (all of them fantastic or interesting or creative or important, of course), but I am having the unfortunate realization that that is not necessarily the road to success and happiness. I am reluctantly examining what "pragmatic, slower steps" might look like, might be like.

First response? Boring!

I'd much rather dance and sew and make raspberry jam and blog and learn Spanish and create photo albums of the past 10 years (oh yeah, and everything from my childhood too) and design patterns and invest in the stock market (crazy huh?) and knit and participate in a book club (and a women's club and a quilt group) and establish a food storage plan and....and....and.....

And it's not working.

Let's take Spanish.

I am coming to the following realizations about my Spanish studies:

1. I believe a new language should come easily...intuitively almost. Learning my first language was pretty straight forward, right? I just listened to my parents, blah, blah, blah, then BAM, I could write excellent college level research papers and debate about important issues. That's how it works, right? So if I drop in on Spanish class, mostly do my homework, listen to a few discursos in Spanish, read the ads in Spanish on the subway, by the end of the year, I should be fluent. Especially because I'm smart. Right. Right?

2. It's not working like that.

3. I am very, very behind where my current class level is. (But I thought I was smart, right???)

4. Ah ha! I am smart! I just need to study like a mad-woman, make Spanish my life...drilling myself on the subway to and from work, watch only Spanish movies, make hubby only correspond with me in the espanol, read periodicos instead of the Times (because I have so much time for that in my schedule already), make 10 new hispanic friends and hang out with them every single week-end, only read Spanish craft blogs (I did find one!), etc. etc. etc. Project! Exciting! I could do it!

5. This would be sustainable for about 36 hours....or more accurately, 3.6 hours. .36 hours?

6. I either need to forget about Spanish or come up with a new plan.

7. New plans might be boring. And make my tummy hurt.

8. A new plan would probably mean I'd have to study consistently, a little bit each day. Yes, Andrea, each day. It would probably mean I will continue to be behind and say things incorrectly and not know how to communicate well for some time, even though I am studying. Yes, each day.

9. New plans definitely give me an upset tummy.

But alas, I'm trying it anyway. I am trying to be a bit more patient, pragmatic and persistent. (Although I might get distracted writing alliteration poems...) Ahem...I AM trying to be more focused, consistent and realistic.
I am slowly learning how to reflect on what matters most and how to keep my focus on it. And when it comes to Spanish, I am going to try studying a little bit every day, (yes, each day)...tortoise-like, diligently.

So, better watch out "slow and pragmatic"....I am going to kick your behind!

(Well, unless there is a knitting project that just has to be done right now. Then I might have to get back to slow and pragmatic later. Or if it keeps making my tummy hurt. But otherwise, behind? Totally kicked!)

p.s. Did I mention I am learning this slowly???

Monday, November 10, 2008

What's more American than....VOTING?

When I was a kid we learned a song in school that asked that question with a silly variety of different endings....corn flakes, the Fourth of July, Uncle Sam, ice cream, baseball, football, etc. (Aside, can anyone explain why the song includes pizza pie, but not apple pie in the list of "American" items?)

In any event, in honor of my friend May's naturalization party, I am asking YOU this question...What is the most American dish I can bring to help May celebrate? She'll already have hot dogs, Coca Cola and little apple pies. What do you think folks? What shall it be? Please exercise your rights as a reader of this blog and let your voice be heard!

I will report on Thursday what I take, just how badly I humiliate myself on her citizenship trivia games....and just how often we all (including May) shout, in answer to the question above, "I AM, I AM, I AM!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Banana Bread & Sharing

I'm grateful to have banana bread in the oven! I wanted something a bit healthier (and caramel-ier) than the usual banana bread. Are those two things mutually exclusive???

Anyway, I found an epicurious recipe to tweak. It's in the oven now and it smells so yummy! Optimistic that it will taste yummy, so I'll post my variation recipe here. (Just checked on it and it looks GOOD!!!) (Update: Yep. It's good!)

End-Our-Dependence-on-Oil Banana Bread

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (half brown sugar, half white)
3 bananas
1/3 cup yogurt
1 T oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4-1 cup white flour
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Toasted nuts (optional)
Honey (optional)

Beat eggs and sugar for 5 min (til light and thick is what their recipe said...not EXACTLY sure what that means. Light and think? But I beat it for 5 minutes). Add bananas, yogurt, oil, vanilla. Mix. Add dry ingredients and mix. Pour into greased and floured pan. Sprinkle toasted nuts on top. Drizzle with honey if you'd like. Bake at 325 for about an hour, until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Also enjoy these giveaways on some blogs I check from time to time....

Dragonfrye News is having her monthly giveaway of a baby blanket/comforter/quilt. Tina is very nice and I love the quilt I won from her. Take a look...maybe you'll be lucky too!

Apron Thrift Girl is giving away a beautiful necklace. Wait, maybe don't enter...I want to increase my odds!

is giving away a pendant to be made into a bracelet or necklace...winner's choice. She's also compiling a massive list of favorite craft blogs as part of the giveaway, so check back if you want new inspiration! (And maybe drool over the yummy looking chocolate cobbler in her more recent posts!)

'Bye folks! Have a yummy day!

Watching this historic day....

Barack Obama, President-Elect
November 4, 2008
I have many thoughts about this, but for now I will simply say, today is an historic day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A month of gratitude....

Sunday, the guest chorister in our primary started our singing time by asking the kids what month it was. ("Wow, it's November!" I thought.) Then she asked what holiday we will celebrate in November. The littlest ones immediately shouted, "Christmas!" Logical, right? Halloween is over so the next big kid-fest is Christmas! They then tried "fall", "winter", "snow" and finally "turkey". (I think they are a little unclear on the concept of "holiday".) Eventually, they got to Thanksgiving.

Yes, Thanksgiving. As I thought about it, realizing it was in fact November and would be Thanksgiving in a few short weeks, I felt glad to have been reminded that it was a month for thanks-giving. Rather than only thinking about Thanksgiving in terms of what we are going to do for our "feast" and the often related stress, I felt excited to shift the focus to the spirit of the season...recognizing and expressing gratitude for our blessings. It reminded me of Amy's post about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and the sacredness of rituals and holidays which allow us to revisit the things which matter most in our lives.

So here at the little collection, that's what I am going to focus on for the next month...thanks-giving, abundance and gratitude. Wanna join me? While not all of my posts will be specifically about that (there are yummy recipes to share folks!)*, I am grateful to have the excuse to draw my attention to the abundance I enjoy, rather than areas where I think there is lack.

Can I share a quote with you I recently heard from President Thomas S. Monson on this topic?

“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.” -- Sarah Ban Breathnach

Hoping for a little more heaven on earth for all of us. Have a blessed day.

*p.s. I am grateful for yummy recipes, I admit it.