Wednesday, April 28, 2021

My Sew Journey

In many respects, this past year has been one of reviving many interests and activities. As the months of staying home continued on longer than expected, I endulged more and more into long neglected crafting & sewing skills. I honestly don't know how I would have handled the restictions imposed on us without an interest in and love of creating things with my hands. Looking back over the months, I probably could have created even more if I had commtted to doing so sooner, given the amount of unscheduled time presented itself.

One of the minor making challenges I took on during the stay home months was the creating of fabric wallets. The most recent is pictured. I initially created them with the idea of having a wallet to hold the spiral bound cash envelopes we began using that are suggested in the Dave Ramsey budgeting system. The Dave Ramsey program provides info and resources for individuals and families to eliminate debt to take and maintain control of their finances. He promotes a budgeting system utilizing cash in a monthly predetermined amount. We've moved in and out of using this system ourselves but personally I appreciate the hands on and visual aspect of the cash system he promotes. 
With each catagory of spending planned in advance using a monthly budget, 
when the envelopes are empty, they are empty, when the cash is gone - it's gone! 

This year has presented some challenges to using a household cash system. We have done more shopping online utilizes cards instead of cash. There were a few places we shopped in person that weren't comfortable accepting cash and required digital payment for a period of time. So despite having made these lovely wrist walles suitable for carrying cash and a phone, I am just beginning to fill and use mine. And in the meantime continuing to make more. Sew on!

Friday, March 19, 2021

What I've Been Reading in 2021

I began reading 1984 by George Orwell enthusiaticlly. Thinking that having read it in the past, it would be a quick review. Unfortunately, 1984 is a read that I have had to push through every page due to the depressing experiences of the main characters. I don't remember this difficulty when reading it the first time around many years ago, but at that time it truly read like fiction. This time, however, there are just to many similarities to our current reality. 

For most of my life, reading novels has typically been a wonderfully looked forward to escape. These days I am trying to force myself to reading in areas where there are gaps in my own education and learning. The gaps filled by reading 1984 in 2021 could  just as easily be addressed with observation of the world around us. Reading it substantiates my own observation, that much in our current culture is not simply a natural social evolution but is backed by an agenda that is being persistantly pushed onto us by design. Humans have a desire for power and control and Orwell takes us down the road to where it can lead if left unchecked. Reading this title is an excellent exercise in awareness - a much needed awareness in today's world.

Just before I began writing this post, I grabbed the mail. The delivery included my paper copy of Imprimus, a publication of Hillsdale College. Imprimus typically presents the text of a recent speech given at the Michigan based college. Each issue consistantly provides a concise and thought provoking article. The December copies' include a presenteation by Larry P. Arn, President of Hillsdale Collge. His topic seridepitoiusly included passages from 1984. I was thankful to have Mr. Arn's thoughts on Orwells's novel appear in the mailbox. I repect his thinking and his references carried through to passages later in my reading of the novel. Many of the conclusions I've drawn while reading 1984 and those of Mr. Arn's have increased my aversion to completing this read. Overwhelmingly depressing is the final review I'll assign to George Orwell's prophetic work..

Do you read Hillsdale's Imprimis? If not you should consider it. They also offer high quality free online courses. If you'd like to explore what Hillsdale offers, here's the link:

Other reads completed on this year's list so far are:

America Imagine a World Without Her by Dinesh D'Souza 
Great references with the overview of many aspects of the United States of America. As an immigrant Dinesh retains much more optimism about the future of our country. He digs into current aspects and history in a fascinating and very educational way. This was a wonderful one to bring me back to the hope of the USA.

Prodigal God by Timothy Keller Christian inspiration. A thought provoking Christian based read.

Along Came A Dog by Meindert DeJong One of the pre-teen teen books still in our collection from homeschooling but one I hadn't read myself or aloud to anyone. A  sweet on the farm story that actually brought to mind my many childhood visits to the farms of extended family and family friends in southeast Nebraska. Empathy for the dog and his persistance in being accepted into a home was charming and provokes empathy for the four legged creatures.

Do you have any recent reads you'd like to add to my to be read reading list? Let me know if you do!

Monday, February 8, 2021

February Thoughts

Due to watching recent election and national politics, the last weeks have been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster for many, myself included. Even though really, so far, nothing in my own life has changed significantly as a result of the election or the decisions being made on a federal level. At least, not yet. 

So as the mostly stay home, work from home mode continues in Chicagoland, I am enjoying another snowy morning from inside my warm and cozy house. There is honestly, nothing quite like a snowy winter morning with no obligations, no need to leave the house, sipping a full cup of hot coffee with the rumble of a bulky old furnace as the sound backdrop, to encouage me to see the glass half full.

The quiet softness of falling snow is blanketing the neighborhood. Following some morning devotional and prayer time, I am savoring this cozy comfort of my home. Despite the social upheaval in our country, a few uplifting thoughts have come to mind this morning. I am noticing for myself, my friends and the family members near to me that there could be some, or maybe even many, positive opportunities coming our way. Perhaps they are not ones that were part of anyone's plan, but there do already seem to be some unintended yet positive consequences of the extended shut down and other quizzical aspects of the mess that has been imposed on us. 

If we notice, lean in and take action, some of those consequences may even still move strong in the direction of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ourselves, others in our circles and everyone in our country. 

Here are some of the positive possibilites that I see:

1) A big one! A spitirual awakening that includes many applying sharper thinking and discernment with more commitment to the study of God's nature and His word. Time and interest in study, prayer and discussion.

2) Strengthed and continued strengthening of family relationships. Time together does that. Adversity shows us the importance of it. May we hang on to any and all realizations we have had about the value of our families during this time. May we also continue to invest more in those relationships going forward.

3) Strengthened communities, too. We need connections with others. We can look for and find like minded connections as well as those with differing views. In our associations we can engage in activities together with others who share our values and others who differ finding mutual concerns to work together for improvements. We need to include and encourage more involvement in local civic organizations and government.

In my own re-evaluting of associations and of adding new friendships, a classroom children's game comes to mind as an illustration. Did you ever participate in, or do you remember the game of fruit salad bowl, where in a classroom setting, everyone runs around tables and chairs until the music stops, then each student takes the chair closest and a new seating assignment is created? The frantic mixup creates a new arrangement and hopefully new associations for the students at the desks or tables. It was a bit chaotic and fun. It provided new views and opportunities for new interactions. New alliances were formed among students in the classroom. In life's current situation, I've experienced a bit of friut salad mix up. This has happened in my own circles. Some of it has been online or long distance but I feel a similar reconfiguration of views and associations. 

4) Awareness of our God given resources. Inventory of our abundance and scarcity; Where is our treasure? What do we have? Where should those resources be directed? What needs to be created? I'm looking at and considering every level; at home, local, regional and national.

5) Exposure (so much exposure)! Exposure of our own self awareness or lack there of. Increased awareness of our own understanding plus self imposed limitations. Exposure of falsehoods in our media and information channels, including false prophets, and self serving leaders at many levels of society. Where have we placed our trust? And where have we set aside doing our own research and thinking? It's time to re-establish trust in our own abilibity to observe, learn and discern.

6) Improved and continually improving communication skills for all of us! This is an important one to me. While keeping the peace by avoiding difficult topics of discussion has it's place, I think as a culture we have dropped the ball on sharing our own views and understanding based on personal life experiences. We have allowed the big voices of media to determine and direct the conversation and the conclusions. We keep our thoughts to ourselves (which is sometimes good, but also, sometimes bad). We have lost our ability to have hard conversations. We don't know how to share differing opinions face to face. We have failed to teach our children how to do this. We have gotten lazy in regards to the cultural messages circulating in our world. We have failed to voice our concerns about cultural decline. Verbalizing questions to others can lead to interactions and knowledge we won't find by always being quiet and polite.

I am sure that the current state of things in our country and world will continue to feel overwhelming at times but we do have a new place to view and act from. And act we should. Somehow. Somewhere. If even only in our own homes. I am aware of how I have coasted on the freedom and prosperity life in this country has afforded me. I was fortunate to be born in the United States. How easily it is to take it for granted. Every community needs input from it's members. Oversight from educated and informed citizens will benefit every village, town and city. I think we have (I know I have) as citizens in the USA neglected our responsibilities of participating and keeping watch in our immediate communities.

Think and act locally.
An historic train station in the
suburb where I live.
I'm not sure exactly how or what steps I will take myself but I will try to understand and work to due my part more diligently. A renewal of commitment by individuals to contribute in our communities could be the most important opportunity of our life times.

Thinking of each of you!
Have a week!


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

New Year - And A Much Needed New Word of the Year - Courage

For the last couple of years, I have responded to a prompt often used by other bloggers, to choose and write about a word of the year. A one word focus to use as a guide to the thoughts, choices of activities and experiences in the new year. 

My word of the year in 2020 was TRUST. It took on significant meaning as I, my family and the world navigated through the questions and concerns of a pandemic and political upheaval.

It was truly a word that I repeated over and over to myself to stave off the intrusion of the much more often heard word of  2020 - FEAR.

Courage to plant and
courage to bloom!
Fear was not only one of the most prominent words of 2020 but the dominate emotion in many of the corners of life during the past year. It has been a hard one to shake these last months. Feelings of fear have been stoked by the media, by information, by mis-information, by political rhetoric and by my imagination. Sometimes, it has been fanned during conversations with friends and family or even in exchanges with strangers. It has altered our lives and damaged our health both physical and mental and dare I speculate that panic has possibly caused as much damage as the virus itself even as we have manuvered to avoid and/or recover from it. 

As I contemplated the idea of choosing yet another word for another new year, my biggest hope is to counteract the imposition of fear in my life, in an even bigger and stronger way. So the word I have chosen for myself for 2021 is - Courage. Despite feeling very little of it over the days of 2020, I am choosing it as an anchor to my thoughts for the days ahead. I can only hope that pinning that word to the top of my mind will bring the much needed virtue as I step into the uncharted territory of the future in 2021. 

Courage - After the year we've had, this year of 2021 will require it. Courage will be needed to continue to take steps forward, to plant without certainty of a harvest and to bloom despite messy surroundings and without guarantees of the hoped for results. There will still be beauty and joy and love. To open my eyes to see it may require courage but I'm up for it. How 'bout you?

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Friday, December 18, 2020

Elvis Presley - Blue Christmas (Audio)

We are all missing something this holiday season. Maybe a beloved annual tradition or activity won't be happening this year. Or possibly, the saddest of all, a loved one you won't be able to see this year during what is meant to be, a season of celebration. Are you missing something or someone this Christmas?

Sing it loud with Elvis. It might bring a bit of joy.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Important Update

 This is important information with links to do your own reading:

American Medical Association Rescinds Previous Statement Against Prescription of Hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 Patients

CHICAGO, IL – The American Medical Association (AMA), in a surprising move, has officially rescinded a previous statement against the use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, giving physicians the okay to return to utilizing the medication at their discretion.
Previously, the AMA had issued a statement in March that was highly critical of HCQ in regards to its use as a proposed treatment by some physicians in the early stages of COVID-19. In addition to discouraging doctors from ordering the medication in bulk for “off-label” use – HCQ is typically used to treat diseases such as malaria – they also claimed that there was no proof that it was effective in treating COVID, and that its use could be harmful in some instances.
However, on page 18 of a recent AMA memo, issued on October 30, (resolution 509, page 3) the organization officially reversed their stance on HCQ, stating that its potential for good currently may supersede the threat of any potential harmful side effects.
So, there we have it. HZQ could not be approved before the election, because President Trump had recommended it. Meanwhile, with an 8o +% reduced risk of having to be admitted to the hospital if administered with Azitromycine and Zinc as soon as testing positive or symptoms occurred, many (70000+) lives could have been saved.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Looking for Safe Travel Options?

When planning to travel, my go to for accommodations has become airbnb. Most have heard about the  online website that allows travelers and those who have spaces to rent, to find each other. Searching for places to stay in advance through the app has become my first choice as I prepare to travel. The experience of staying with locals at my destination creates an experience that conveys the reality of living in a new place and of potentially finding new friends in each new location.

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai

Each airbnb host provides a unique place based on their own property and personal design taste. Some hosts go above and beyond in the thought they put in to what they offer. Some hosts create a warm welcome with a tasty plate of home baked cookies, others provide breakfast options, some are just bare bones and cover the basics with a clean safe space. The photos included are examples of a Nashville host going above and beyond. This sweet space is a welcoming and cozy retreat. It was here that I discovered and had time to read a bit of the beautifully illustrated devotional Beholding and Becoming by Ruth Chou Simons. I even bought a copy later for myself at home. 

There are options to stay in single family homes independently, separate apartments or rooms within homes as a house guest. Over the time I have used aibnb to find places to stay as I travel, a variety of offerings have been added. It is possible to find tree houses, tiny houses and even places to camp. All of the listings have been verified and each is complete with reviews. Guests are reviewed, too (don't leave a mess) for those providing a places to stay. I highly recommend giving it a try for your own unique travel experience.

“The journey itself is my home.”
― Matsuo Basho

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Recent Reads

Blackout by Candace Owens
My rating: A must read!
Recently published, this political commentary, is in my opinion, a must read for anyone interested in current events. Candace Owens has positioned herself as a major contributing conservative voice in the USA. She speaks from personal experience with thoughtful understanding of issues and events in our world today. As a young Black woman, she speaks from first hand knowledge with clarity and understanding about the issues of racism, sexism and important issues facing Black Americans. She defines the ways she believes will provide opportunity and overall improvement for her community and every American.  I have listened to Candace Owens enough to hear her voice as I read her written words of personal accounts and honest thinking. This book is clearly her own voice, (no ghost writers here). Her's is the voice of a powerful young Black female who has begun with great momentum to inspire and rally other young voices to a better understanding of how and why it is important to engage in civic participation to effectively shape the future for all citizens. 

History through
Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
This is a deep read into the life of  pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Living and working in Germany during WWII. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of a number of Germans conspiring to dismantle the third Reich during it's years in power. Metaxes' shares a detailed and thorough account of Bonhoeffer's life and dedication to organizing attempts to overthrow an indescribable evil. Reading history through biography bring events to life in a way that emphasizes the reality of their occurrence and the effects on the individual lives of the times. Eric Metaxes is a prolific biography writer. His writing gives a look into the lives of people of the past. He has written a collection of accounts that look into the lives of notable people worth knowing more about. Understanding real people and their real lives from the past gives us a more believable understanding of history and the realization that we are all connected by the human experience despite the timeline of history.

Awaken by Priscilla Shirer 
I was first introduced to Priscilla Shirer's work at a women's bible study. She is a motivational speaker and actor, as well as, a writer. Her ability to communicate in front of a camera and on the pages of a book are profound. Her presentations are easy to grasp and inspire deeper individual or group reflection. I have worked my way through a couple of her published bible studies and this daily devotional. Awaken provides thought inspiring content and questions for personal reflection all in two pages per day. In some seasons of life smaller amounts without the overwhelm of a lengthier study are what is necessary to insure actually having time to invest on daily personal devotions. This one will be getting another trip through the pages from me.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Watch and Learn More Mask Info

Informative and thought provoking interview with Dr. Simone Gold by Maggie VandenBerghe of FogCityMidge

Dr. Simone Gold is a board-certified emergency physician. She graduated from Chicago Medical School before attending Stanford University Law School to earn her Juris Doctorate degree. Dr. Gold has worked in Washington, D.C. for the Surgeon General as well as for the Chairmaqn of the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee.

Despite her stellar credentials, Youtube censored Maggie VandenBerghe's interview with Dr. Gold. If you'd like to continue doing your own research and learning, you can find Dr. Simone Gold at this website:

Be well!


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Once Upon A Time in Germany - MemoriesThat Inform My Views Today

In the late 1970's, shortly after I graduated from high school, I headed to Kiel, Germany for a year of living, studying and a bit of volunteer work abroad. 

Homesteading in Nebraska.
My own family of origin's ties to Germany were pre-WWII. My ancestors immigrated to the US during the late 1800s, three generations before me. My knowledge of German history was vague and incomplete. As I set off for Europe, I was primarily interested in travel and adventure in the present. I was in many ways oblivious to the influence on the country of the events of the past. Traveling to new places, was my focus. Fortunately, first hand experiences always offer education, sought after or not. 

While in Kiel, I lived with a host family. My host family consisted of my host mother, father and their teen daughter, an only child. The family had regular contact with and consistent in person visits with aunts, uncles and the grandparents of my host sister on both sides of the family. These visits gave me the opportunity to get to know three generations of Germans in an extended family. However, until I had the ability to understand and converse in German, I didn't have many conversations of substance with the grandparents.

Despite several years of taking German language classes in high school, my German was very limited. My host family actually didn't mind. Learning English themselves, was a factor, in their motivation to host me. Hosting an American student was an opportunity to have an in house tutor and to improve their own and their daughter's command of the English language. Over time we all improved our communication skills in both languages, plus quite a bit in pantomiming.

At the time I took these photos, the Berlin
Wall was still very much a reality. People
attempting to escape East Berlin 
were still shot.

As my fluency in German improved, my interaction with the extended family members of my host family increased. One of the grandfathers made attempts to speak English with me. He made it known that he was interested in having a conversation once my understanding of German improved. Living in a setting where learning a second language is a necessity, provides an optimal opportunity for becoming conversational in that language. Eventually, having conversations of substance in German became a possible and proud reality. 

As a young adult, I was surprised when the grandfather in my host family broached the subject of Germany during WWII with me. I listened, respectfully, to my elder, who had clearly been anticipating the chance to address me, the young American about Germany's history. He was anxious to describe and explain the participation of the German people in the Nazi movement. He clearly wanted to explain his own membership as a teen in Hitler's youth.

Another American exchange student and I
had the opportunity to visit Berlin with a
family whose siblings were separated from one
another by the Berlin Wall. They had
been unable to see close family
members since the end of WWII.

He described the hardships in Germany during his youth. He described economic depression, the prevalence of crime, violence and unemployment. He explained the hopelessness, the lack of opportunity for self determination and personal advancement. He presented a story of the impossibility of providing for oneself and one's family. There was in his view, nothing available for himself or his fellow German citizens of the time, to better ones situation, or improve one's life until, it seemed, the rise of Third Reich and the hope it offered.

He was led to believe, at the time, that participation in the organized youth movement of the dictatorial government was the only opportunity to work to improve ones life and the prosperity of their country. It was a chance for the people to be a part of something bigger and important. There were no other options. That is what he was told and what he believed. 

Basically, what he was saying to me, was that he and his fellow young countrymen bought the propaganda of the time and place. It promised safety, security and prosperity. The lies promised prosperity without risk. Little did they know (Did they have any idea? I still wonder.) the huge cost to themselves, their Jewish neighbors, to their country and ultimately to the world. They were headed into a life without choices, a life of complete tyranny. They did not anticipate the horrors that were the result of handing over personal belief, integrity and responsibility to those obsessed with power. Life without freedom. Life controlled by the state. A state without, accountability. Or morality.

Visiting the Berlin Wall with a family whose
lives were  so profoundly affected by it's
presence was beyond eye opening.
That was another experience to write
about on another post.
As an older German, this grandfather had lived through an atrocious time in history. He carried the lifelong burden of having followed lock step with the powers that controlled everything. It was hard to determine from what he told me, if he had ever truly felt his participation was optional. Personally chosen or not, he carried the burden of joining in enough to feel a need to explain himself, even to an unaware and na├»ve American student.  

I see similarities in our current political environment to what I learned about the time described to me by my host Grandfather. 

There are parallels in our current culture, with mandates to follow new guidelines without question. There are restrictions in our movement, interactions, businesses and worship. There are requirements to wear specific clothing items, and to conform. There is a silencing of dissenting ideas. Views different from the mainstream are shunned. Many are afraid to voice an opinion that differs in anyway. In real life interactions or on social media platforms one risks being verbally attacked for sharing independent thought. Symbolically, we wear covers over our mouths, quieting our voices and hindering even our breath. The forced conformity is being easily implemented by the extreme fear that has been fostered upon us though the natural human desire for safety. The conformity is enforced by critics, neighbors and even friends who have now risen to new levels of condescension, those around us have become the snitches, dubbed the "Karens", they are the enforcers in our lives, in our own times. 

An attempt at life with every risk eliminated, of complete security and with all of our desires met without any effort of our own, is not likely to result in growth or deep understanding. If all of our basic human needs are to be supplied by someone seemingly more intelligent, with more resources and more personal power than ourselves, where is our own growth and self actualization? If only another can provide, what happens to our own power of choice? We will ultimately view those providers with envy.  Will we only participate begrudgingly in a system from which we will always want more? Will we always look to others to provide easy solutions for ourselves without assessing our own responsibility?

The conversation I had with my host grandfather, so many years ago has come to mind frequently in the last months. As we  have all acquiesced to following the ever increasing limiting rules for our own safety and security, I remember his need to explain. As we continue to obey every new level of restriction, we are relinquishing control over our own lives at each step. We are trading our own individual judgement and power for the false promise of complete safety and life without risk. 

Despite my own struggles with the fear and anxiety due to the threat to the health of myself and my family, I have lived long enough to know that life without risk really just doesn't exist. It just doesn't work that way. We take precautions but none of us really live a single day without risk. If we do, it is not likely to be a very satisfying life. Living  life while attempting to be completely safe and watching others around me attempt the same, the fear that has grown in me has been the fear of our entire citizenry living in complete compliance. The anxiety churning in me during this ongoing lengthy crisis is of being surrounded by others controlled by the power of false safety. I fear living in the midst of the willingness of others to march lock step without evaluating the situation. Seeing completely unquestioned compliance with power terrifies me beyond the fear I have of an illness.

It all has served as a reminder to think for myself, encourage my grown children to do the same and to value the freedom we have had the good fortune to be born into. I pray that I will have the courage to continue to trust my own thinking, speak it when helpful and to act on it when needed.

He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security. - Benjamin Franklin

As a result of current events,
I've been digging more into
history. Currently reading
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas.
Find good books!

Another thought provoking resource for deeper insights, I found:

Friday, September 25, 2020

Shelter At Home Rewards & Memories 2020

As our time sheltering in place with everyone at home has come to a close, it is with anticipation that I am looking to the future again. Our three young adult offspring have all headed back to their own individual residences, to their now, somewhat altered lives and activities, that were only just beginning and abruptly interrupted last spring. I am thankful for any and all of the opportunities for them to begin again, to take even small steps back into the world, beyond our home in lockdown. 

However, the transition back into the world warrants some reflection as well, especially given that the unexpected extra time together provided many joyful moments and a significant amount of productive activities together. 

Below are a few photo highlights documenting some of the goodness we redeemed while being forced to stay home together for an extended time. We attempted to maintain a tone of gratitude during the unusual circumstance that was so frequently and accurately described as unprecedented. Reflecting on all we gained, I hope to hold the many precious memories as reminders to approach the future with courage and even awe after seeing what can come from such uncertainty. I suspect that ongoing courage will be needed as we continue 2020.

So as for the many memories, first and foremost; food, delicious food. Our kitchen got busy again with more people to prepare and have meals with. The unscheduled extended time offered the chance for lots of baking to happen and breaking bread together. 

Creativity and making... sewing and embroidery. My daughter and I both enjoy making things; both the process and the results. Needles, thread, scissors kept our hands busy and led to more ideas than we could actual bring to fruition. 

Sewing, knitting, teaching Adah new sewing skills with the added advantage of being available to answer her questions on technique immediately was a delight. Making is a joy we have cultivated together. I am thankful to have so many shared interests.

Adah produced new items for herself and added items to her Etsy shop. Online shops provide an easy opportunity to learn about having a business. 

My sons and I enjoy photography. We work in collaboration sometimes and have all contributed to documenting Adah's making, modeling and dancing. We took advantage of the shut down's slow traffic and relative empty local business district for photo walks together.

Asher, son number two, has moved into video editing, he was the guy behind the camera for a dance video idea I had. Communicating that idea to him and collaborating with him as videographer and Adah as dancer and choreographer was great artistic fun. Can't wait to see his final edit on this one!

And finally Adah, had the opportunity to get in enough drive time practice to be ready to test at the DMV once it was open again. She tested successfully and obtained her driver's license. She is happy, proud and enjoying more independence as a result.  We are all ready to get on with this journey that is 2020!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Trust in 2020

For the last couple of years, inspired by other bloggers, I have chosen a personal word of the year. Just a single word to return to throughout the year, to keep a particular idea or goal in mind when I need a simple reminder to return from the drift.

Early in 2020, one word, as a likely candidate  for my word of the year, didn't come readily to mind. Since it didn't come easily, I didn't force it and I didn't write a 'word of the year' blog post. Sometime during the weeks, (or was it months?) after the beginning of the new year, a word surfaced that resonated for me. That word that kept surfacing was 'trust'.

Appropriately, given the adjustments to our new family configuration of teens and young adults moving out of the house (mostly), I was in a new season. I needed to trust the process, as I re-imagined and restructured my life with more options for myself with time to pursue my own individual goals. Somehow during that process in the early months of a new year, I skipped writing about and sharing my 2020 word choice.

Fast forward into the second half of 2020... now.

Here we are - all of us, myself, my husband, my young adult children and undoubtedly, you, too, in the wildest overtly most uncertain year of most any - in our lifetimes.

My unacknowledged word of the year has come in handy and not in the ways I initially imagined it would. I have turned it over and over in my mind. I have turned to it regularly and clung to it. It might have begun as a word to focus on, as a hopeful hedge against the concerns of my children's forays into their new beginnings, or as simple motivation to keep taking the next step myself, as I restructured my own time and goals, but for obvious reasons, it became a word, a thought, a concept that has meant much more. Trust in those expected areas of transition, in the first few months of 2020, was it seems now, relatively easy. Looking back, those changes were just par for the course, hardly an overwhelming challenge. Trust - no problem - I've got this!

And then..... mid-march, it all hit the proverbial fan. Pandemic, bring and welcome all three kids back home, additionally my husband began to work from home, online work from home for everyone, online classes to complete the year's educational goals for two, including dance classes via zoom in the living room for my daughter. No in person church, gatherings or even meetings with friends,  shopping for groceries equals a whole new adventure. Each of those experiences individually haven't been too hard, but piling them up, one on top of another has caused some trembling.

You know - you've been adjusting to the same things.

“Scared is what you're feeling. Brave is what you're doing.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room
Somewhere, in the midst of all of this, is when my word of the year, chosen but somewhat forgotten and not publicly shared, became internally louder. It remains, my one word hold on peace. I think it, I speak it, I pray it - daily and not because it is automatic for me to do so. I use it against the other word that comes more readily and unbidden to mind.

I use my intentionally chosen word against the word that comes more naturally, viscerally invading so much of  my experience these days. I use it against that word, that feeling, that comes oppressively heavy handed in 2020. Trust, repeated again and again. Breath in, breath out - trust - to fight the thief, and replace the the word that is, fear.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Shelter In Place Low Cost Meal Ideas

We began stocking up on staples a week or so before the official #stayhome directive. The most important ingredients on our grocery lists were inexpensive, easy to store, healthy ingredients to keep on hand. (We weren't really thinking toilet paper, at that point). The following recipes (loosely defined)  and the listed ingredients are all ones that we have generally kept on hand in our family larder. Beans and and rice have consistently been a staple in our kitchen because of the low cost and easy storage.  They also provide substantial nutritional value especially for the price.

If you happen to be a Dave Ramsey follower, you will know that he frequently recommends "rice and beans, beans and rice" as a low cost meal suggestion to reduce food costs and assist in attaining financial goals. I don't know how many people take his suggestion literally but we've been using those two ingredients in our family's diet long before we ever knew who Dave Ramsey was.

We have always included beans and rice as regular meal items in our family menus. Dried beans are inexpensive and healthy. Thy are an excellent source of protein that store well for long periods of time. The only downside of dried beans, in my opinion, is in the planning and preparing side. Dried beans need to be soaked in advance to allow for a shortened cooking time, so failing to plan ahead can lead to a change in plans for a meal. One fail to plan back up is to keep canned beans on hand as well as dried.

A few of the basic meal ideas that we start from are below. Most include the extraordinary high value per $ power of dried bean nutrition. All are easily adapted to personal taste or what is on hand in the pantry.

Kidney and/or black beans. Canned stewed tomatoes.
Diced peppers and onion sauteed lightly.
Frozen corn kernels.
Ground turkey or ground beef.
Season with chili powder, garlic.

Navy Bean Soup
Navy or white beans.
Sliced carrots. Cubed potatoes.
Saute onions and garlic.

Soft Tacos served with rice.
Pinto beans in tortillas (flour or corn).
Serve with rice and other yummy additions, like sliced avocado, sliced sauteed peppers, cheese for individual garnishing.

Split Pea Soup with potatoes carrots and onions.
Yellow or green split peas. Add chicken broth if you have any.

Garbanzo beans, sometimes referred to as chick peas blended with the following;
Olive oil
Optional additions: Pumpkin. I try to keep canned pumpkin on hand.
Serve with bread.

Other low cost, easy to store ingredients to create from:

Pasta. Any kind of noodles.
So many possible variations:
All the options can include serving with veggies on the side or over the top.
Saute veggies to add. Frozen veggies are easy to store.
Make a pasta salad or a casserole that includes tuna.
Serve noodles with a peanut sauce; so simple, heat peanut butter with added water. Add soy sauce to taste.
Serve noodles with spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes.

Dried Oats for oatmeal
Add peanut butter & sliced banana. Both affordable and easy to store.

I'm sure by now, most visitors here have adapted to the current normal. Even within the stay safe  restrictions, most of us can eat healthy and remain within a budget that helps our finances stay healthy, too. If you situation makes that extremely difficult, please reach out for assistance in your community. We are all in this together!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Slow Projects

As someone who has a variety of artistic interests, I have often found myself wanting more time to spend pursuing an art or craft idea. Designing and making things is fulfilling. I have in some years, particularly while in the thick of homeschooling my kids, found it difficult to consistently block out time to focus on my art.

I always have a backlog of creative projects waiting for me. I enjoy creating designs for embroidery and stitching them. There is usually a hat, scarf or baby blanket on my knitting needles. I frequently have an idea for a drawing or painting floating around in my mind.

Our new lifestyle of an empty nest has opened up the prospect of bigger blocks of time for me to follow through on more of those ideas. Over the last several months, I have been developing the routines I need to really dig into my own creative pursuits again.

Now with the social distancing and shelter in place directives our home has suddenly returned to full and overflowing. Even with a full house, I have been able to utilize the forced time at home productively and creatively.

While it is currently a scary time in the world with social distancing and shelter in place orders in effect in Illinois, I can't say that I mind the slowing down aspect of it all. Even with the return again to a full house, I am have been able to utilize the forced at home time productively and creatively.

So far I have completed one, left from last year (lol) Christmas project, made progress on a pieced baby blanket and worked on more than one painting. I have also enjoyed getting out the watercolor paints for shared time creative experimentation time with my 18 year old daughter. Sharing the creative process with her is such a delight. We have been working on sewing some clothing items for her, as well.

For myself, an ongoing creative project can begin with a favorite image I've captured with my camera. I enjoy exploring a variety of ways to present an image. Using different mediums to create the same or similar composition allows me to emphasize different aspects that are interesting.

I am missing my forays out into the world with my camera but I  have plenty stored and ready for some editing. Many have been taken as a way for me to record an image idea for future inspiration and use as a catalyst for new ways to explore an image. Below are a few visuals from one of those adventures.

One thing leads to another...