Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween - Oh How I Love You

I'm throwing school out the window today. Ok. Not really. We never really stop learning, do we? Today we have transitioned to the next phase of the Middle Ages having finished Vikings on Friday. I like to start a new block with crafts and fun and decided we would have art day where we focus on creating illuminated books. You can only fill so much of your day with an ancient art form (we'll continue it tomorrow) so over a lunch of pizza (Mondays are pizza day) for the kids and sauteed veggies for me, I pulled out an old favorite at my house. Silver Ravenwolf's Halloween. I love this book. I mean I really love this book.

To be honest, it has been a very long time since this book was cracked open but it was exactly as I remembered it.  Ravenwolf not only walks the reader through the history of Halloween or Samhain (as much as can be pieced together), she gives sources!  Imagine that.  Someone writing who gives sources (seeing that less and less!)  She also gives recipes, traditions, crafts and spells for the adventurous.

If you are looking for a traditional book on Pagan holidays, this entire series is worth reading.  But this book, Halloween, is by far my favorite.   To print the Halloween art above click here. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tenn16 - Restaurant Review

 The Moon and I waiting to be seated at Tenn16.

It was a great weekend.   My in-laws came up for the play and a weekend fine dining at home, watching my daughter's play and a girl's day out in East Nashville.  After visiting the Shoppes on Fatherland and Woodland, we headed over to Tenn16 for a much recommended Cajun lunch.  Despite the crazy busy East Nashville crowd, we were seated fairly quickly for a late Sunday afternoon brunch.  Having arrived just before the switch from brunch to the regular menu, we ordered drinks and the Deviled Egg sampler.  The sweet tea was just right and the eggs were enough to keep three adult females and a child from starving after a hard day of shopping. We then placed our main course orders and that's when the review gets a little less than perfect.

We waited for our entrees and waited and waited.  We ran our of sweet tea and waited and waited for refills.  The restaurant had largely cleared out, so I doubt there were a lot of orders in front of ours.  Finally, our food came.  It was worth waiting for.  My MIL's Shrimp and Grits were delicious.  My daughter's hand-cut fries and BLT were tasty and substantial.  My SIL and I each ordered the Blackened Catfish with Jalepeno Grits.  Delicious but VERY spicy despite what the waitress said.  The spiciness required more sweet tea.  But, I waited and waited and waited for a refill.

My recommendation is a yes.  Try this restaurant.  Great vibe.  Great food.  Just be sure to let the waitress know up front that you like to keep your drink filled.  Thumbs up for Tenn16.  

Tenn16 on Urbanspoon

Great GF Biscuits

So, you know we began eating gluten free in our home about 8, maybe 9, years ago. Since then I have experimented with different gluten free biscuits and tried other folks' gf biscuit recipes. This morning I made Almond Flour Biscuits from Kelly over a The Nourishing Home. They were a hit. 

Note:   The recipe says they make 8 biscuits.  I had a house full of family so I doubled the recipe.  Hmmm....they must be 8 REALLY BIG BISCUITS.  I ended up with about 30 biscuits that were exactly the same size as our Applegate Farms Chicken and Maple sausage patties. 

In addition to the sausage, I served them with some fresh Bob's Red Mill Rolled Oatmeal, blueberries, Stonyfield Farms French Vanilla Yogurt and fresh dark raw honey.  A breakfast feast, to be sure.  I will definitely makes these biscuits again.  Thanks Kelly

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Old School Math

After finishing my space saving blackboard / bulletin board project, Arwyn and I got down to business with some old school addition with carrying.  She said it's much more fun to do her math on the blackboard! So glad I could accommodate her and make math fun.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I'm Not a Size 0 - But You Might Be

There are wars being waged every day. They are being waged not only by people in foreign countries whose leaders' names I cannot pronounce or on conservative talk radio against homosexuals or pro-choice cheerleaders. The wars are being raged by others who hope for peace and tolerance and do not even realize they have gone to war and could possibly be behaving the same way as those they criticize for hatred and intolerance. I've known this for some time and I bet you have, too. But, it hit me tonight as I sat with a glass of red wine, scrolling through my Facebook feed looking for a happy PSA to put on my feed tomorrow morning.

I was smacked in the face by two of the most hate-filled 
posts I have yet seen and they were both from friends 
who are sometimes so far to the left that I wonder if they 
can make a right-hand turn.  

Getting to my point, there were two posts, one I will not speak of here, but the second was by a lovely older friend (I mean that - she is usually filled with light and joy) who shared one of those fantastic ecards that float around through social media. I just happened to have saved it so you could look at it with me.

I read the card a couple of times and then, I sort of got mad. Not really mad. Just a little mad. I wasn't mad at my friend, I promise! But, I was mad at a world who sees everyone on one side of a dividing line as cruel and filled with hate when those on the other side of the line behave in much the same way.

You see, I have two sisters. One sister, much like me, has a little extra meat on her bones. The other got some other gene and does not. Or at least, she did not until she developed a serious thyroid problem after the birth of her second child in her late twenties. Though my recollections could be a little skewed, when growing up I can remember she and I shopping together and both being extremely miserable. By age 10 I had full hips and C-cup breasts while she at age 15 was more like my peers, rail thin and flat-chested. I think there were days we would have happily swapped bodies.  I was outgrowing the "pre-teen" section due to my early puberty and she had not even made it into that section.  During that time size "0" was a rare find. 

You may not be able to tell from my graduation photo, but in 1990, while I (in the middle) was size 13, she (on the right) was a happy 22 year old in a size 5.   Oh, did I mention in this photo she was already a mother? My oldest sister (on the left) was also a mother of two and again, like me, never wondered what it was like to full-figured.   After thinking of my sister I began to think of my cousins, many of which also got the "skinny" gene.   Then, there was my friend growing up who probably never reached beyond 5 feet tall, had a natural gap between her thighs and to this day (age the age of 42) has the body of a 12-year old.

If I can think in five minutes of four women I know well that would possibly be hurt by these messages, how many more are there?  So....what's the point to this rant?  I suppose there are really two points, maybe even three, okay four if you count the last one. 

1.  Right or left.  It does not matter.  You are still capable of being INCORRECT, IGNORANT and HURTFUL.  Believe me, I know.  I have sat on the extreme of both sides and though now I find myself mostly in the middle, 

I have been and I am quite sure will 
once again be all three of these things.

2.  It's OKAY to be a size 0, 1, 2 or 3.  Don't let anyone tell you it's not.

3.  While some women are NATURALLY large, let's all be real.  Most of us who are truly overweight are NOT healthy.  I will NEVER be a size 0.  I am HOPEFUL to be back to a size 12 sometime in the near future.  However, my current size is not okay.  Not with me anyway.  Because it is NOT healthy.  Not because a fashion mag says its not okay.  Not because someone in Kroger or on the beach doesn't like how I look.  But, because I cannot be my best me and feel my best when I am unhealthy.  There.  I said it.  You can be mad at me.  We can normalize it or rationalize it ALL. DAY.  LONG.  But, that does not make it okay.

4.  Enough with the body comparisons.  So you aren't a zero.  It's okay if someone else is.  So you are not a Marilyn Monroe 12.  Guess, what.  Still okay of someone else is.  Are you a 6-foot tall 200 pound Amazon?  Guess what.  That's probably okay, too, though I'll say that I have two very close friends who are right at 6-feet tall and I bet neither of them are close to 200 pounds (see item number 3 above).  And, they have both given birth...naturally....4 times.

5.  If no one can dis on fat folks (I am in that category so I can say that) then we shouldn't dis on the skinny folks either.  Remember all of the craziness around Bethenny Frankel and her Twitter post where she was dressed in her four-year old's clothing?  I know women who can do that.   That's just naturally how they are.  Frankel made a bad joke in a time when tolerance is nil and was nailed for it.  But really, she's a tiny woman.   

So, take my suggestion, find your happy place, 
post only pictures of happy kittens on Facebook 
and  go exercise.  Pass it on.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are You Homeless? I'm Sorry to Hear It.

Each week after play practice and violin lessons and strings ensemble the kids and I head to a nearby restaurant for a late dinner.  Last night we had the added bonus of my husband joining us.  The Moon told him we were eating sushi and he decided to join us.  With the kids and I a sushi dinner bill would typically run about $30 with drinks and a tip.  Okay.  Maybe $40.  Add the hubby and we laid down a cool $75.00 on the table.  It was a splurge for us.  Sushi usually is and we only have it three or four times a year as a family.  I don't mean to mislead you.  We eat out.  In a normal week the kids and I find ourselves in a restaurant two to three times.  When I worked full-time it was much more.  Now that I am hope full-time again I am working on getting it down to no more than two. 

After dinner as we took the long stroll back to our car a man approached us.  He walked with purpose and made an effort to step to the right to allow our family of four to pass.  That is why I was so surprised when he asked us for money.  Living in a city with a huge economic boom and an ever-increasing homeless population, I am no stranger to being asked for money.  Normally I can spot them at fifty paces.  Suddenly we were all stopped on the street and being told by a complete stranger that he was hungry.  A veteran who served six years in the military.  Showing us his military id.  As usual, Nathan and I did not know immediately what to do.  The answer from me is typically "no."  But, something was different with this man. He wasn't mean or aggressive.  OK.  Don't get mad.  So many of the people I have been approached by in Nashville have been quite aggressive.  No, I don't think most were mentally ill.  Some are.  I can think of a couple.  But, some have been quite insistent.  Not this man.

The Moon must have felt it too.  Just after Nathan handed the man a small bit of cash, she said to the Man, "Are you homeless?  I am sorry to hear that."  "Yes", he said "thank you for caring."  And then, "I hope your life gets better soon, sir".  Then we walked away.  As she began to sing whatever Disney song popped into her head at that moment the Sun said, "That's why I want to be rich Mama.  To help all the people in the world."  

As adults, we often do not know what to say or do when faced with someone in need.  But a child always knows.  And, to have a child who has known such loss in her own life who is capable of such compassion is a true gift. 

I cried the entire way home.  I cried for my children who will be faced throughout their lives with people in need and I pray they find ways to help.  I cried for the people in the world who are lacking.  We are not rich but we can splurge on occasion for something beyond potato soup or chili which is the bounty that frequently blesses our table.  I cried for myself and my own shortcomings as I  wondered if I do enough to help my fellow man.  I am crying now as I write this and think of that sweet face asking innocently, "Are you homeless?" 

As usual I do not have the answers to life but know that my children teach me in great ways each and every day.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

7 Things I Learned at the Beach

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, FB, in other words, if you cannot get enough of my very regular life, you know we spent last week at the beach. And, you may know that our beloved cat of 16 years passed beyond the veil while we were gone. This year has seen great change in our lives and I spent much of last week in great introspection when I wasn't hauling things to and from the beach, jumping the waves, eating or sightseeing. Maybe you'll find something here of use or maybe you'll just get a kick out of knowing how my mind works.

It is hard to explain, unless you come from a family like the one I grew up in, how you can have laughter among the tears when the bad parts of life interfere with the good.  There are times when I feel this is one of, if not THE greatest lesson I can give my children.  We stood huddled together on the beach on Sunday night saying goodbye to our sweet kitty and through the tears came the jokes and funny remembrances.  You see, life goes on and though bad things happen, it is the joy that keeps us going.

We are blessed to live on a perfect and beautiful planet where all of our needs are met by the environment around us.  I am sometimes distressed and saddened by the greed and over consumption that grips our world and brings destruction upon that which sustains us.  Whether your go-to place is the top of a mountain or at the beach, spending a week of time in nature reminds us what is beautiful and perfect and that we must protect it at all costs.  We lived very simply last week and this week I continue to evaluate how we can do this to an even greater degree.  Maybe you will too.

There were nights when we were down on the beach and though I could not see well I could hear the power of the waves crashing toward me.  There is something about hearing that sound but not seeing what is coming that is very powerful and humbling.  Even more powerful is looking up at the sky while hearing those sounds and seeing more stars than can ever be counted by the naked eye.  The Universe around me is immense and I know in that moment that I am only a particle of sand that makes up the whole.

As I watching the Sun and the Moon playing on the beach and in the surf I was reminded that I have been given a gift and that this gift is fleeting in the span of this lifetime.  How do I make their childhood and my time with them count?

There are days when I feel the years creeping up on me.  I have tried to forget as much of my life or move beyond it at any rate than I can remember.  But there have been great joys as well.  There are few things like picking up a board and running into the surf that teach you to truly enjoy life and be in the moment.  I'll spare you the photos (though Nathan took some) but in them you can see the joy we all had in those moments.


When you take a break from your "real" life (isn't all life real?) other words, when you take a step back from your day to day life, when you step out of your routine, you see a whole other world around you there for the taking.  Life moves quickly and I am still young.  Are there dreams I want to achieve that I have not yet accomplished?   A week at the beach had me seeing each of those distant stars as dreams that I can achieve in this life and I have many!

I have no idea how large our condo was last week.  1200 square feet?  1500?  Certainly no more.  It was an old hotel that has been renovated into single owner condos.  Each one was made up of four hotel rooms that have been gutted and put back together into amazing high end units.  Throughout the week I marveled that we had few toys (none other than beach toys), a small but well appointed kitchen combined with a dining and living room and two beautiful bedrooms.  It was all piled into three rooms plus two small bathrooms.  I did take our panini maker and Nutro-Bullet.  Otherwise, there was nothing we needed that we did not have the entire week.  I know it seems like numbers 2 and 7 are the same but there are different messages in each one.  And, these messages are important enough to say again and again.

Now that we are home I am listening to the messages from last week and working to apply them to our lives each day.  Maybe one of these messages will resonate with you or maybe you'll be inspired to take your own break from the mundane to see what messages the Universe holds for you.