Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~Philippians 4:8~

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010!

Could not let this eve go by without wishing everyone a Joyous and Happy New Year 2010! May the Lord bless us all! Some have said 'all we need is love' and even written songs about it, but I say "All we need is God" to get us through the year and beyond. May we know how to listen to his voice and his guidance, because I know we're going to need it- big time! Who knows what the year ahead holds? All we can do is pray for the Lord's blessing over us. And may I just add this: if you possibly can, please pray for our youth- starting from the infants being born to the young ones barely making their own way in life.  If you are reading this and you know about prayer 'in the Spirit' I hope you will truly do so.

May the Lord God of Israel hear our prayers and bless us in the year to come.

Love,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Comfort

Beautiful and cold and drizzly- my favorite type of weather. It makes you want to nestle up with a good book or a warm knitting project sitting next to a fire. And when you get hungry, you just want something simple and delicious- comfort food. We slept in this morning, so my day is rather lagging in things I must do, but I did get around to preparing some hearty beef stroganoff at my little one's request.

photo courtesy of Taste of Home

It turned out very good, as per his compliments. That indeed makes me happy.

Trying to tie up any loose ends before the year ends. I've got a book review to post next week about this book:




I am looking forward to fulfilling that commitment. I've also been trying to steal away some time to read this little booklet I purchased at the supermarket while I was grocery shopping



I glanced through it briefly and knew right away that this was truly a tool for any Parent, whether your children are infants or full grown adults. I think in this journey we make, it's sometimes difficult to know just how to carry out one of the most important responsibilities- that of knowing how to guide and teach our little ones as they embark on their own journey. Above all, even if your parenting skills are abysmal, the one thing that will cover all your shortcomings will be prayer. But knowing how or when to pray is also at the core of the matter. From looking at this book, I believe I will be empowered to know how. I thank the Lord for leading me to it. I truly wish I'd found it years ago, especially during my Sons' formative years. But it's never to late too pray for anyone. The prayers in the book are simple, very simple, but they cover exactly what I wish I'd known to pray about. I especially like that it includes Scriptures- the better to meditate on what you learned. I very heartily recommend it. And no, I'm not doing a review of it per se. It's just one of those little gems you discover along the way and feel you simply must share.

Well, now I'm off to enjoy a plate of the stroganoff. I was taking a rest while my Son enjoyed it. I actually had to make a trip to the store to get the sour cream and mushrooms. I had everything else, but when he said he wanted stroganoff, you can bet this Abuelita was going to get the ingredients, even if it meant a trip to the store in cold, drizzly weather. My Sweetie will be stopping by soon for some coffee and dinner, but then he goes back to work.

For New Year's, it will probably just be my Sweetie and I, so I don't plan on making anything elaborate. I want to keep it simple. Some sandwiches, chips and dips should carry us through nicely. We'll pop a bottle of bubbly, and toast the New Year sitting by the fire. Just like last year, listening to the firecrackers exploding all around. Those are the plans, if it's God's will that we should greet the New Year.

Love,

Monday, December 28, 2009

Staying Warm and Cozy



Photo courtesy of Sandra's blog

I've found so many delicious recipes over at Sandra's food blog Full Bellies, Happy Kids that today I just had to make one of them. Her Garlic Chicken Drummettes I just know will be a keeper. It's in the oven as I type--I know, I know, a very late lunch-- and since I wanted to have this typed up and posted, I 'borrowed' her photo of the dish. I will also make my usual herbed baked potato wedges and a side of steamed corn. I can tell you the whole house smells wonderful! I suspect there won't be any leftovers! That's fine, because I still have Chicken Mole and rice from yesterday's dinner. We can heat that up in a jiffy. My youngest Son is home, and he keeps me on my toes as far as cooking. He misses home cooked meals, so I'm only very happy to oblige. Last night he was mentioning some of his favorite meals, and trying to remember others. Think that's his way of dropping hints? Well, I've got a whole list of things I know I'll be cooking before he leaves. It's wonderful when your children motivate you.

And in other news, I received my order of green coffee beans.



For a very long time I've been wanting to try home roasting, but with home roasting machines being very expensive, I had to settle for the whole roasted beans we buy and grind at home. But all along I knew there was much better coffee than what I was drinking. I became aware of it the day I had coffee at a coffee shop in San Antonio which roasted their coffee fresh. There are no words to describe how wonderful that cofffee tasted! And then I came across Jayme's blog Tales From The Coop and her post that I'm thinking will forever change my life as I know it. Jayme you see found a way to roast coffee using a very inexpensive contraption:



And once again I was inspired by someone's blog to try something different. So off I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond so I could use my 20% off coupon and purchased my very own Genuine Whirly Pop- a manual popcorn popper. The only thing left to do was select the type of coffee I wanted and that is easily done online. We like our coffee strong, so we always use a French Roast. The types of beans recommended for the French roast were these:






Isn't it amazing how different they look from the coffee we're so used to seeing? But these aren't the only kinds of beans you can use for a French roast. You can probably come up with your own flavor combinations. It's just a matter of finding what you like. That's why I ordered this sampler of three different green beans. Jayme, by the way, also lists a few other resources and web sites you can visit for more information on home roasting. Turns out you can also roast coffee using an electric popcorn air popper. In any case, roasting is best done outside, because a lot of smoke and debris is generated. I probably won't get around to the roasting until after New Year's Day. I would think there is a learning curve to this, and I need to be focused. I also still have more reading up on it to learn how to do it right. But I can hardly wait to give it a whirl- no pun intended. So until next time, I'm just trying to stay warm and cozy. We're supposed to get some colder weather with rain tomorrow. More great nesting weather!

Love,

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Plans

The more time I spend visiting blogs, the more I learn and am inspired. I visited FlowerLady's blog and just in sitting quietly looking at her photos, I had an impulse to just want to go back to the way I was before I injured my shoulder. For over a year I have used the excuse of the surgery to defend the neglect to which my garden has fallen. I have allowed so many of my potted plants to suffer, some even perishing. Even my beautiful expensive koi suffered, for they are all gone now. I was never outside on a daily basis looking to their needs. My Sweetie fed them and cleaned their filters, but perhaps had I been more hands on in checking them daily, I would have seen that something was wrong and could have prevented their demise. Whatever ailment struck them, took them ALL within a week.

So for the New Year, I had already purposed that the pond should be taken down, torn apart, the timbers used for garden beds. Yet I know in my heart of hearts that the fish had been a constant source of comfort and joy for the past ten years. Can I really say goodbye to keeping koi again? I'll have to think on that one a bit more. One of the reasons I had decided we should not get into keeping koi again was because my Sweetie is the one who did all the hard work, cleaning out the pond, the filters, and general maintenance. I didn't think it fair to have him doing that. But he always said he didn't mind and that he also enjoyed having the fish. The thing is, to ensure that any harmful pathogens are not lurking from the previous batch, it would mean buying everything new again, especially the liner and filters. I don't see that as being a viable option right now. So perhaps someday we can start fresh, but it will be a while. How's that for a New Year's resolution?

But what I can do is look to getting my gardens in tip top shape again. I've got a good compost pile and lots of good potting soil as well as clean pots. I can become more involved again. Plant new seedlings as well as cuttings. I feel so revved up, I feel I can do anything! LOL! If I can just keep my eye on the prize, which is to once again have a garden and take pictures like FlowerLady, I just might pull it off.

Love,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I Fancy This and That



WoolWinder's lifestyle- living near the beautiful ocean. Her new photography blog doesn't have a comments format, but if I could I would tell her how her photos positively make me fancy a life with the sound of the waves always constant- the better to drown out the worrisome noises of living. I would have the sand in my toes whenever I wished. I could feed the seagulls to my heart's content. I would learn to fish and in so doing I would eat healthier, with fish being our primary meat, and in the process lose weight without even trying.

I would live in the woods, in the Hill Country woods, enjoying the songbirds and rugged terrain marked by beautiful holey rocks. The rivers and streams would provide me with music-the better to drown out the sound of my thoughts. I could increase my rock collection, and very easily become a bona-fide bird watcher. Right now, you see, I only watch birds through my windows or when I step outside within the confines of my city.

I would live at the foot of the mountains, always gazing in awe, at the beauty and splendor of the shadows they cast. I would look to the sky, and my heart would rejoice at the sight of the clouds being lower than the peaks. It would take my breath away, like the first time I ever saw a mountain in Monterrey, Mexico or the Ocean in Corpus Christi, Texas and later along the Pacific Highway in California. And Winters would be magical, because you know it always snows near the mountains.

I would live near the desert, the beautiful desert, which is able to provide a livelihood to so many creatures and plants, as sparse as it seems. But I would select a desert near an artist colony, where I could paint my house in bright fiesta colors, and no one would protest. I could also then learn more arts and crafts. This would keep my mind busy- the better to drown out that which is worthless real estate within my thoughts.

In thinking about changes and new beginnings, it's so nice that dreams are free and harm no one. Because you have to start with a plan somewhere, before you can make those dreams come true. Above all, I'm grateful to God that we do have options.

And because bloggie friend's MexicoBob comment somehow reminded me that no matter what, to just have fun, I added a video with a version of the musical score "Pass Me By" (well, he didn't actually say that, but it just reminded me of that).

Love,


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!



My soul rejoices! What a blessing to celebrate and remember Jesus' birth on this Christmas Eve. The one event that changed the course of mankind and gave us hope for life everlasting! In this time of celebration I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May the Spirit and Joy of of this glorious Season be with us all throughout the year. Happy Birthday to our Savior!

Love,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Keeping Busy

A couple of things I've been working on for family gifts. And since they don't read my blog, I thought it would be ok to share on here. These are just some golf towels for a nephew who is in the school golf team. I also placed some lavender sachets in the  little handmade box for a niece.















Handmade items for me are just so much more fun to do for gift giving than going to the store shopping. Too bad not everyone feels like that. To some people, store bought just means better quality. It's just a matter of personal preference.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

#52



Here we are near the end of another year and on this day I am grateful to be embarking on yet another year since the day of my birth. It's been a most interesting journey as far as I'm concerned. And 52 doesn't feel old at all. One thing I have noticed though, and that I find that even more interesting is that I don't laugh as much as I used to. I'm more serious now. I honestly don't think it is a reflection of my happiness, for I will tell you that I am the happiest I have ever felt in my life....well, except for the empty nest syndrome. I do miss being needed by my little ones- who by the way are not little any more-ha! No, I think this seriousness is more a result of aging. It's as if the carefree glee of youth which makes you burst out laughing at the most inane silly things becomes replaced by a serious composure that can be mistaken for crabbiness or even sadness. Is it perhaps the sign of wisdom? I suppose that the longer you live the more you experience loss, for inevitably along life's path death does present itself at the most inopportune times. And I would venture to say that loss does equate sadness and consternation. And then there are those health issues which suddenly become apparent as you age. Bones begin to creak...yes, they actually do creak sometimes! And you worry more, because now in all your newly found wisdom you become more keenly aware that you never really had any control over anything that happens. Which is a good thing. Because now you're genuinely glad you can really put your trust in God and toss all your cares upon him- which was what you should have done since day one and you were much younger. So why even bother to worry? Wisdom- oh yes. Elusive when I was young, but oh so tangible in the Autumn of my life.

Another celebration, another year, another blessing- what more can I ask for? I am grateful, yes I am. Praise God! And before I wax poetic and even more philosophical, I bid your farewell for now.

Love,

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Paisanos Travel

Living near the IH 35 corridor, we are witness to an interesting phenomena which is repeated each year around Christmas without fail. Long caravans of travelers, their cars but mostly trucks loaded to the gills with items which they take back to their homeland as gifts, inch their way along our nation's highways. This yearly exodus starts as early as Thanksgiving, but climaxes just days short of December 25. You can easily spot the 'Paisano' because their cars bear license plates from every state of the Union, and always bearing gifts such as bicycles, microwaves, tvs, furnishings, etc. Along their route, they spend money on food and lodging, an added boost to our weak economy.

So important has this event become, that the Mexican government has even set up a web page to help their countrymen make the return trip home safe. In addition to the basic services these weary travelers are offered, such as forms and documentation for their crossing into Mexico, they are also given helpful information for reporting the well known abuse and corruption to which they fall victim at the hands of Mexican officials. It is a sad thing to admit, but after many suffer discrimination and low wages here in our country, they then have to suffer more injustices at the hands of their own customs, police, and various other law enforcement agencies who try to extort money from them. Perhaps Mexico is trying to change that image that its government has long been known for- the infamous "mordida" or 'bite' that they inflict by demanding money in exchange for letting them go through without problems. The government endorsed web page plus various other messages advocating honesty and transparency have certainly helped with the tarnished image. In any case, it's a little awe inspiring to me to see how in spite of their travel woes, these people still look forward to the long journey home.

For me, the sight of these vehicles driving bumper to bumper along our expressway helps me see that the Christmas spirit is alive and well. Christmas trees being toted in trunks of cars, Holiday decorations all around, people bundled up warmly, their breathing visible in the cold air, the excitement in children's voices all remind me that the Holidays are a magical time. We may be suffering from a bad economy, job shortages, our troops fighting in foreign lands, and all the sadness that because this is Christmas we are more keenly aware of, yet in seeing that some things never change regardless, I am filled with hope. Because whether in times of abundance or times of lack, people have a way of looking beyond the difficulties and can hope for better days. So even if material gift giving is not possible, the gift of self goes a long way. That is also something positive these Paisanos remind me of. I love this time of year!

Love,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

40 Loaves Book review

Cover Art:



Book: 40 Loaves - Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day
Author: C.D. Baker

Author Bio:

C. David Baker founded an award-winning business before redirecting his career to write full-time from his small farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is the author of eight books, including six novels, one of which was nominated for a Christy Award. He has contributed articles to the Christian History Institute’s international publication Glimpses, and to Christian Singles magazine. Baker has a Master’s degree in theological studies from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Summary:

“Why don’t I have more faith?”


“Why am I so bored with Jesus?”

“Why are Christians so hard for me to like?”

There are many questions we’re not supposed to ask when playing by the religious rules. It makes people uncomfortable. So why is it that Jesus invited questions and even asked some of them himself? What is it that you’re afraid to ask God? It’s a risky prospect to begin asking–but far riskier to continue simply trying to get by without knowing. Author C. D. Baker asked himself 40 soul-searching questions which started a conversation in his heart and ultimately showed him more about God than He ever expected.

Can we become more honest with who we really are and find who God says He really is at the same time? Come indulge yourself in daily readings with an honest exploration of your secret fears and thoughts, and know that you will always be welcomed in God’s unconditional love.

Search me, O God … and know my anxious thoughts.

–Psalm 139:23 NIV

*******************************************
I'll be honest. When I received the book, I was somewhat skeptical about coming to enjoy reading it. I feared it would be another 'theological' or 'religious' book like the millions out there with just theories and people's personal opinions and/or perspectives. The book did look 'good', it has a nice 'feel' to it, like something that wouldn't be so time-consuming or that would make you lose interest quickly. But I knew that sometimes it's hard to stay focused on lengthy religious tomes. And although the book itself is not a huge novel, I wasn't really expecting to be impressed or blown away by the content.

After reading it, I must say, I found it refreshingly thought provoking. It is somewhat liberating to find that a theological expert would actually ask such deep intimate questions about faith and beliefs. And in doing so, he makes you want to delve deeper into your own values and belief system. The questions he brings out are basic: Why don't I know what I want in life? Why do I have such a complaining spirit? Why don't I seem to love myself more? The author doesn't pretend to supply the answers, but he does give you food for thought. But what I liked the most and what I came away with from reading his book: to look at and keep your sight focused on Jesus. Not in yourself or your own faith or in others, but in Christ. To me, that in itself is a multi-carat diamond to treasure!

I'm going to keep this little book near me- in my desk actually. It's not going to be stashed in my bookcases with all the other 'help' books. I really do consider it worth a reread or two. Do I recommend it? I actually thought before reading it that I might say no. However, my answer now is yes. I really do recommend this book. It would also make a good conversation piece at any gathering.

To learn more about or where to purchase this book visit Random House at http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307444905

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Things

So I found this wonderful Mexican cooking blog quite a while back, and had actually added it to my favorites list. But I'd never  mentioned it on my posts. And then what with I'm always updating my blog and changing the look, trying to streamline the look and all, I ended up deleting it. Anyway, recently I found it again, and boy am I excited to tell you about Ben's blog called What's Cooking. Particularly because for an eon of time I have been searching for a good Mexican concha recipe. I could never find one! Well, Ben has one on his blog! Boy, am I a happy camper! This young man has an amazing blog chock full of recipes from the homeland...boy I cannot tell you how great his blog is for finding that elusive recipe you might be searching for! His blog is where I found a really good recipe for empanadas, which are those flaky fruit filled or savory filled pastries quite a while back. And his food photography is A+ also. Love his blog! Now, he uses a lot of metric measurements, but he shared a nice conversion tool. I've added it to my sidebar as well. Good gracious, I have been finding so many neat sites and gadgets recently.




I'm also due to give my book review on a wonderful book "40 Loaves", and I'll be getting to that this week here on my blog. Plus, I'm working on some nifty kitchen towels, which I'm hoping to add to my shop. I also need to personalize some golf towels. In the shop I've also added some nicely fragrant lavender sachets. It was fun making those! My sewing room is redolent of lavender.....which is a good thing! So the days and weeks (2) leading up to Christmas will see me very busy. I need to make some time to go Christmas shopping! Good thing I've got the Christmas cards mailed out. This blogging thing has turned out to be a good way to visually get a sense of my to-do list and mentally check off items. And what's next? Food! Still gotta figure that one out.....maybe a turkey or ham.....wish I had time to do tamales. Maybe for New Year's Eve. That sounds within the realm of possibility.

Love,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tool For A Resolution


A couple of days ago I received a copy of "The One Day Way" by Chantel Hobbs. I've been so busy I had not even opened it to look at it. I perused it briefly today, and plan to tackle it in the days ahead. Basically, it's a diet book. Although the book cover distinctly says that it's by the author of "Never Say Diet", I have a strong suspicion that this is all about diet and exercise. No problem! We can use all the help we can get, and with the New Year fast approaching, I guess we can safely say this book is another 'timely arrival'.


Except I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions. I think they always set people up for disappointment. Of course there's always the rare success story. I'm still hopeful for a panacea for weight issues. I'm very hopeful this book will be a useful tool to help with that. We shall soon see.
Love,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Demo Cooking

When I went to the supermarket yesterday, I noticed a young man doing a cooking demonstration. The aroma emanating from the oven was heavenly. As it turns out he was also giving out samples of the dish. I had to try it, and confirmed that it was really good. So of course I asked for the recipe. Too bad he was out of the recipe cards, but he told me what items I needed to get and a general idea of how the dish went together. The problem is I didn't remember to ask for the name of the recipe. Basically it's a layered lasagna, only it uses chili instead of Italian tomato sauce. Part of the promotion of the cooking demo included the sale of a gourmet chili product as well as a gourmet pasta. The chili jar was about a 32 oz glass jar, but it cost a whopping $8.64! Well, to my tastebuds, it tasted like regular old chili from a can. And the lasagna tasted like regular pasta you buy from a box. So off I went in search of some Wolf chili and plain lasagna pasta.

Today's meal consisted of said demo recipe, with a couple of minor additions. If you know anything about me, it's that I always tweak a recipe, just because I love to add more layers of flavor. That's why I first chopped up some onions and celery and sauteed in just a very little bit of olive oil (this was not in his recipe).





To which I added some of my fiery homemade hot salsa. Then I added the rest of the ingredients: chili, hot if you please, a can of black beans, Mexican queso fresco, Velveeta cheese, and cilantro. I also decided a can of black olives would be nice. So I chopped them up a bit and added as well. Everything was simmered until the velveeta cheese melted into the chili. The mixture is then layered over the pasta. The assembled pan:



After a short stay in the oven, about 30 minutes at 400F, my chili lasagna came out looking and smelling quite edible! Which around here is usually all that's required.



I'll have to go back and thank the young chef for sharing his culinary demo. I am also glad I found a new source of cooking inspiration!
Love,

Friendship Gifts

My dear friend Gloria sent me a very nice 'friendship' parcel. It was very sweet of her to share of her talent with me. She sent me a lovely print of one of her paintings, which I happen to like very much. It is her rendition of Van Gogh's 'Mother of Artist' painting. I just think Gloria's looks nicer.



This would be a print of a lovely collage she put together of her Copper Lady painting.



And last, but not least, one of her beautiful bracelets that she sells in her shop.


Gloria, thank you for such a wonderful gesture! And thank you for being a friend!
Love,

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ode to My Dad or The Lonely Fields

Found a new blog I like. Ang's Chicken Coop is about a lot of the things I enjoy reading about. I found it through another blog I really enjoy: Suzanne McMinn's Chickens in the Road Blog.

Now why would a Mexican like myself enjoy reading farming and chicken blogs so much? Well, friends, there's always a reason for everything, isn't there? I grew up during the 1970's going to school in a little farming/agricultural area in North Texas. My Dad was a simple, uneducated farm laborer. He worked the land, tilling and planting crops, and being a 'vaquero' working with cattle and horses. He was an inordinately hard working man. And I do mean hard working. He always got up at dawn and didn't get home till very late in the day. During harvest season, he'd be working in those fields well into the night. You may often hear Farmers tell of the hard work they put in to be able to keep their farms going. Well, I will tell you this, they very often forget to mention the quiet laborer doing all the back breaking work, trodding through the snow in sub freezing weather to make sure the livestock get their feed and hay, and in blistering hot days bending over and over countless times to get the irrigation tubes 'going' from the ditches into the neatly planted rows of cotton or sunflowers, or wheat, or whatever the crop was supposed to produce that year. He'd lug a ton of 'tubos' or heavy, thick irrigation pipes to the truck, and then he'd have to unload them again in other fields. Then there were the various duties that had to be carried out. Applying pesticides and fertilizers, always exposing himself to harmful chemicals. He wasn't able to don 'protection' garb to carry out those jobs. It wasn't offered to him. Back then it was probably unheard of. But I suspect it contributed to his and Mom's health problems.

Of course, the work was not done for free. My Dad was paid, not handsomely, but he was paid enough to support his family. It was a good thing my Mom was a very thrifty saver, and could squeeze miracles out of every weekly $50 paycheck. But then things got better, because by the time I was out of High School, he had been promoted to $120 weekly paychecks. Cost of living increases during the 70's you see. But he didn't complain because the farm owner provided free housing with all utilities paid. A humble abode of course. And on very good years, he'd get a nice Christmas bonus of about $500. Sometimes the arrangement was for him to get the proceeds from the cotton crop of a few acres .... usually up to about $1000. I know my Dad earned every single penny. So yes, it was a mutual understanding and a mutual effort, only my Dad was the one who put in the hard labor. Period. That's just the way it was.

So I grew up looking at what to me then seemed like huge lonely fields as far as the eye could see. On windy days, you could hear the howl of the wind as though it were someone crying. It always made me want to cry. And I remember the fields of sunflowers. Those were a beautiful sight to behold. Each plant always turning towards the sun.....ahh, yes, the girasol.

So when I found Ang's Chicken Coop blog and saw pictures of lonely fields, I had to add it to my reading list. Turns out as sad as those things may have seemed to me then, now I truly enjoy reading about agriculture and chickens, and farms, and all the things I used to want to get away from. Maybe because those were the things my Mom and Dad lived. The things they loved. I was just standing at the edge looking in at the painful picture. Mom and Dad were living a reality that they must have loved, or else they wouldn't have endured it for so long. I try to draw comfort from that thought.
Love,

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