Wednesday, October 3, 2012

UPDog: Letting Go

Anyone who has a hobby that involves physical activity will understand how sometimes athletics, even for the casual participant, can be a metaphor for life. Pushing past the wall, climbing the hill, finishing what you start, overcoming hurdles, never giving up, getting up when you fall and the like.  I am certainly no athlete, but I am physically active and I do have a regular yoga practice and am a yoga instructor. Our life lesson today comes from yoga.

If you have ever been to a group yoga class and wondered what the instructor is doing during savasana then hold on to your seat, I am about to blow the lid wide off that long held secret. Ok, not really, because I have no idea what others do, but I usually lie quietly and think about the yoga. (This is not what we should be doing when we are in our own practice, but when I am in front of the class, that is not my practice, it is theirs). Today a thought came to me about a student of mine.

photo credit: deserthorseyoga
I usually offer several options for any posture, allowing each of us to listen to our own bodies without feeling like we have to push ourselves to do something we are not ready for, while still challenging ourselves if we would like to. I think that yoga can rise up to meet each of us wherever we are on any given day with our body or mind. And while it is true that some of the options offered may be easier or harder than others, the difficulty is not really where I want the class to focus. My desire is that everyone feel comfortable enough to both try new things that might be difficult, but also to back off when necessary. The student that I was thinking of today is always asking me, "Which way is harder?" when I offer modifications to poses. I refuse to tell him, not only because I do not want him to always push himself to choose the "hardest" option (which he will) but also, because there is no such thing. What might be harder for me, may be easier for you, and vice versa. And something that may feel easy on one day, may feel more difficult the next. One of the main focuses of regular yoga practice is to increase our ability to tune in to the needs of our body at any given moment and on any given day. Often that may mean giving ourselves permission to ease out of a posture.  The process of "letting go" is huge. We honor ourselves and others by letting go of competition, judgement and expectations. Everyday is different. Every body and everybody is different. Respecting that, and embracing that is a wonderful gift to give ourselves.

So in yoga practice, so in life. Sometimes it may be time to push ourselves, and to try new things that might be difficult. But sometimes it may be time to be gentle with ease off. This is not throwing in the towel, this is kindness. Remembering that what may be hard for one, may be easier for another and withholding judgement and competition, not only of others, but of ourselves. Being mindful that we are not required to run faster than we are able...but rejoicing that sometimes we are able to soar!

Quote of the Day: "Breathe."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

FessUP: Progress Is Slow & My Buts Are Still Big...

 I am not terribly adventurous. Too afraid of looking stupid or causing permanent bodily harm I suppose. I know. But I do have the desire for more fun and more adventure in my life and for the past couple of years have been blogging about that desire. Ok, five years, but who's counting. I am obviously a slow learner and much more adept at talk than action because little has changed since my first manifesto nearly three years ago and its follow-up all about my big buts! But I am working on it. I admire people who can jump in with both feet but I am more of a dip my toe in to test the water and then more than likely chicken out because it is too cold kinda gal.

So, in light of all that, I will not pretend and make some grandiose statement about how I have changed and am now jumping in with both feet, turning cartwheels in public and going bungee jumping next week because, let's face it, I am not going to follow through on that. BUT I did take a step (yes baby step) in the right direction.

I have long admired an old pal of mine for her adventurous spirit and spunk. She is an amazing gal and so much fun! This girl belongs to a group called Be Silly . Once a month her group and other spinoff groups gather for themed photo shoots. Their pix are so amazing. I just love them. And I love love love getting dressed up in costume. Always have. I dress for halloween every year much to the dismay of Hunky Hubby and the kiddos I am sure. I have wanted to get a group together for a long time but put it off. Until this month. The theme was "Decades" and I finally just put the word out and got some girls together and we had a blast! I think most of us were reluctant and a little self conscious at first, but after a bit we warmed up and let ourselves go some. It was like play. Grown up play and it was fun. I almost cry when I look at the pix because I see a glimpse of us reluctant ones relearning how to just let go and have fun. It is hard sometimes when our bodies don't look just as we would like, or age is starting to show on our faces, to feel comfortable in front of the camera. But I felt like we were not taking pix of wrinkles or imperfect bodies, we were taking pictures of women who have lived and loved and who are once again learning to have fun and to love themselves at every stage of life.

When all is said and done, my grandchildren and great grandchildren will look back at my life and photos of me and think...Man, that broad was fun! And no one will even care what size jeans I wore...

Quote of the Day: "May you build a ladder to the stars. And climb on every rung. May you stay forever young." --Bob Dylan 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eat UP: Quickie Crustless Quiche

As part of our effort to eat real food and to blog about it...recipe number one.

We have chickens, which equals delicious eggs that I am always trying to use up. Plus I love quiche. This is the best one we have ever made. Like I remember my mom making. So good! And easy...


4 slices bacon (preservative free is easy to find now...hooray)
Shredded Swiss cheese
4 eggs
Chopped onion
Sliced mushrooms
Chopped spinach
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream

I chopped and then sautéed the bacon until almost crisp then threw in the onion, mushrooms and spinach until they were soft and the bacon was crispy. That was put in the bottom of a greased quiche pan with the shredded cheese. Everything else was mixed together then poured over top of the veggies and cheese and baked at 350 for 25 minutes.

The kids actually asked how I got it so creamy! Even the picky eater who does not like eggs or veggies ate it. Succeeeeesss!

Quote of the day: "Eating rice cakes is like chewing on a foam coffee cup, only less filling." -Dave Barry

Monday, August 27, 2012

EatUp: What is Food?

A couple of weeks ago while meandering the aisles of the grocery store, trying to decide what to bring home since I almost never make a list, I was struck by and odd notion that I am sure is not new. There was SO much food. I mean like SO. MUCH. As in quite literally a 100,000 square feet of it. From the floor to over my head. Aisle after aisle, shelf after shelf, and yet for all of these items, very little food. And by food I mean, you know, food. Stuff that grows. From the ground, and isn't in a package, or has very little packaging anyway. It made me sad and a little bit sick to my stomach. How are Kool-aid and Cheeze-its food? I saw a grocery store clerk taking what I can assume was her break as she walked toward the employee lounge with a bag of Cheetos and a bottle of iced coffee drink. That is lunch? For real?

Now, don't get me wrong. We all like the taste of junk food. I love, and I do mean LOVE, ice cream. Oh and Snickers. We bake cookies around here quite often. An occasional donut has crossed these lips, although I must admit that I never feel very good after one does. I do not want to get on a high horse and pretend that I am so amazing that I never succumb to temptation and convenience. I do. I have children. Sometimes convenience just takes priority. But I am really feeling the need to get away from that. Honestly. Just look around your own grocery and do some quick mental math on how much of what is for sale is actually food. One quarter? An eighth? It is sickening really. And sad, since I am well aware of the inextricable connection between diet and health.

So what to do? I don't know. I am hoping others have figured it out already, and I can just hop on the bandwagon. Until then, I am going to make an effort to eat food. I guess that means different things to different people. Vegetarians, vegans, raw foodies, 100 milers, whole fooders, and the list goes on...
School starts in another week and we will be back to the semblance of scheduled, organized lives. It seems like a good time to recommit ourselves to better living and to food. I think I will bloggity blog a bit more as to what I think "food" is, but for now, I am leaving it open to discussion. How do you feel about this. Is it possible to stay away from the processed food-like substances that surround us and feed our kids things that are both convenient (school lunch in particular) and real food? Go amongst yourselves, but comment afterward please, I want ideas!

Also, I am talking veggies over at TheRenegadeFarmer today...stop by.

Quote of the Day: "“The American poultry industry had made it possible to grow a fine-looking fryer in record time and sell it at a reasonable price, but no one mentioned that the result usually tasted like the stuffing inside of a teddy bear.”~ Julia Child, My Life in France

Friday, August 17, 2012

What Is UP? Needing To Live More Mindfully

I do not know where to start with this. I do not want to offend, and I do not want to treat lightly a rather grave subject. I also know full well that I am not a perfect parent. Just ask my kids! You will get the mostly honest truth with perhaps slight exaggeration as to the degree of my cruelty and incompetence. 

So, the trouble? The U.S. government is launching a new awareness campaign through the Departments of Transportation and Health and Human Services called, "Where's Baby? Look before you Lock." The initiative is intended to keep kids safe and make parents aware of the danger of leaving kids in a hot car. I honestly think that most parents are aware of the danger, but I also think the majority of the 23 child deaths this year, due to being left in hot cars, were accidental. This campaign is targeted at preventing those accidental deaths. 

Again, I do not want to make light of this. Twenty-three children gone is heartbreaking. No one would wish this on anyone, and I honestly hope it never happens to another family. I first became aware of this new campaign a few weeks ago when I saw an app designed to remind parents that they have a child in the back seat. I was a little annoyed because I assume that if you can remember to bring your phone with you from the car, you should be able to remember your child. On the other hand, if it prevents the senseless death of a baby, then please, get the app. 

I am not necessarily against this ad campaign either. (Although it is not really a governmental issue, but that is a post for another day.) People need to be aware of potential danger, although, as I have said, I think we all know it is dangerous, but we are so harried and hurried, that we are not living with our brains turned on or tuned in. The part that I think I am annoyed or irritated or cross with is the statement that the governmental agencies have released. I don't even know what I think. I am confused. And saddened and irritated I guess. They stated that they would like to involve the "departments of Head Start and also day care units across the country to distribute safety tips -- like when you leave your car, make sure you have something important in the backseat like your keys, cellphone or purse so you can't forget them or your child."

Read that carefully. Put something IMPORTANT, like your cell phone, in the backseat so that you do not forget your child. I am sorry if this offends, but the child IS the important thing that you put in the backseat. 

Now, I know myself well enough to know that if I continue discussing this, that it will escalate into a full blown rant, therefore, I will rest my case here. Confused and sad. I think there is a cure for this tragedy and a way to prevent it from happening again, but I do not think that it lies in governmental action, or cell phone apps. Any ideas?

Quote of the Day: "Slow down and enjoy life.  It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why." Eddie Cantor actor, comedian 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Speak UP: Where Is The Tolerance?

I use Facebook. I am sometimes embarrassed to admit it, because I know I could make better use of my time, but I enjoy keeping up with old friends in distant places and peeking into the lives of all my friends and family near and far. I often chuckle at quotes or cartoons that others post. I rarely pass those along, but I enjoy the laugh. But one that is going around today makes me sad. I am not going to post it, because I would rather not perpetuate it. But the gist of it is that a well know national fast food chain supports several "anti-gay" organizations. I use quotation marks there because those are their words not mine. I personally do not think that most people are anti things, they are usually pro something else and the other side uses that term to make them appear as haters. No one wants to be known as anti this or that. Notice how both sides of the abortion issue use "pro" to describe themselves. As soon as we label people as anti something, it is easy to make them seem like unreasonable, narrow-minded and discriminatory. Unfortunately this is often done in the name of tolerance. What I would like to know is, where is the tolerance for my point of view?

I guess that is why that cartoon made me so sad. It is pitting people against one another. If you asked most of my friends if I am a hateful person, I would hope most of them would say no. I, however, support marriage as a religious institution that should be reserved for heterosexual couples. I also support the rights of states like California to decide for themselves, through popular vote and legislation to define marriage as the majority of the citizens or legislators see fit at this time. I do not think that those beliefs make me a hater. I also believe that each citizen in this country has the right and the freedom to support the causes that they feel important with not only their vote or their voice, but also their wallet. If groups in support of gay marriage would like to boycott this fast food chain and speak out against their policies, then that is their right, but don't call me a hater for doing the same thing. I looked up some of the organizations that the company in question has donated to. There were quite a few, but as a sampling it included the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Christian Foundation and the Focus on the Family Foundation. I do not see "anti" anything in those names. It just makes me so sad.

Many of my friends and family stand on the opposite side of this issue from me. We believe different things. Why does that make me a hater? Several of my dear friends have posted the cartoon. I tried at first to just stay out of the conversation, but finally had to put my two cents in. In my head the tone of this comment was not at all rude or confrontational, so I hope it does not come off that way. I hope also that this post comes off the way I intend. I am not angry, just confused and hurt. This was my comment on Facebook. Let me know what you think. Please be kind if you have an opinion. We can disagree without name calling. We are grown ups and is supposed to be what we do best, but I think we may be losing that.
"I have seen this one quite a bit today and I don't even know how to approach this subject in a tactful, non-confrontational way. I do not like being labeled homophobic, prejudiced or as an intolerant hate monger for having a religious objection to certain behaviors, but I am not afraid of people who are gay, nor do I hate them. I object to adultery too, does that make me a hater as well? Why am I not allowed to have a religious belief? Why does having and opinion make me a hater? I do not understand how someone taking their personal earnings and putting them toward whatever causes they believe in is hatred? What happened to freedom in this country? I am not asking anyone to believe as I do, but I am asking for the freedom to believe it, and for the freedom to support that belief in a peaceful manner. The only hatred and name calling I see is coming from the other side of this. Perhaps this is not the place for my big mouth to be opened, but I honestly do not understand. I support the right of the people of California to make the decision on this, and they have. Twice. People supporting prop 8 is not hateful. They are speaking their mind with voice and with money. Anyone in support of gay marriage has the right to do so as well. And anyone offended by the way that this business uses their profits can and should boycott. That is using their voice and their money to support what they believe in. But please stop calling me a hater for what I believe..."
Quote of the Day: "I believe with all my heart that civilization has produced nothing finer than a man or woman who thinks and practices true tolerance."
 --Frank Knox writer and U.S. Secretary of the Navy

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Yeah, Well, UpYours...

Have you ever felt picked on? Yeah, we all have. It seems that once in a while a certain level-headed, kind-hearted, non-judmental, minding her own beeswax NatureGirl, becomes the brunt of family jokes. Not necessarily undeserved mind you, but my lifestyle choices are sometimes derided and scoffed at by certain members of my clan, who themselves adhere to some of the same values and principles as I, but nonetheless, find it humorous to point the finger at me and laugh.

I offer an an example as evidence...

MY RECENT ONLINE STATEMENTJust realized I may be as much of an embarrassment to my kids in the grocery checkout as my mother was to us...

BROTHER: What did you do? Coupons? Or being a chatty Cathy?

KID: BOTH. BOTH OF THOSE THINGS SHE DOES. (Caps were hers, but I do not know why she is talking like Yoda)

ME:  No coupons this time...but a nice conversation with the cashier Cindy, and the next lady in line. Also Cindy.

BROTHER: Oh, you were chatting up Cindy and Cindy? "How funny! How many Cindies are in this place? All at the same time? Are you buying bleach, too? Oh, me, too. Same brand? Ah, how funny. G'bye, Cindy. G'bye to you, too, Cindy!" No that's not embarrassing at all...

ME: Uh. Why would I buy bleach?

BROTHER:  Oh, I forgot who I was making fun of. "You're buying granola, too. Yep, and hummus. Mmmmm! I love hummus, Cindy!"

KID: I love hummus, Cindy! hahah. I was just going to be like. "Oh you buy the same vegan kosher gluten and fat free low calorie diabetic protein bars as me?? Cindy, you shouldn't you are already so thin Cindy it must be all those hot yoga classes, Cindy."

ME: Now you guys are just ridiculous. I would never buy anything fat free and I make my OWN granola! Sheesh!

KID: The bars are fat free is because between the being vegan and kosher and gluten free and diabetic there is only dust left as an ingredient, and as is so happens dust is low in fat.

Again, I say Sheesh!

Quote of the Day: "A man with a hump-backed uncle mustn't make fun of another man's cross-eyed aunt."~Mark Twain

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hang It UP!

I don't care for doing the laundry. Except durning the summer. I love hanging clothes on the line. Seriously. It is so great! The feeling of the cool, damp clothes against my warm skin. The cat winding in between my feet meowing for attention. I find it relaxing and quite enjoyable. Much more so than shuffling the lump of wet laundry from the washer to the dryer like some drowned corpse of the week's apparel. No one hangs out in the laundry room with me while I do the chore. But the kids and the animals will follow me out to the back yard, into the sunshine and fresh air, while I hang things on the line. Win win.

Also, I know that it may seem like it increases the amount of time and energy used to complete the task, but it is actually a time saver in addition to being more enjoyable. How you ask? Mostly by eliminating ironing. Plus on a nice warm day with a tiny breeze, clothes actually dry faster on the line than in the dryer. By the time the wash is done, the line is dry! Here are some hints to make it the best experience possible.

  • Invest in sturdy clothespins. They are about a buck.
  • Place the line as conveniently as possible in the yard. Retractable is nice. So are the big roundabouts. But line between fenceposts works and I can prove it.
  • Shaking out wrinkles and then hang t-shirts upside down, trying not to stretch the bottoms too far apart, keeps everything in a nice shape.
  • Straightening out the insides of pockets and pulling or shaking out the wrinkles before hanging things, keeps that bunched-up, linty pocket thing from happening.
  • Follow me and you will never iron a button down shirt again for the whole summer! Finger press the button fronts and the bottom edge (that always curls up) by pulling them flat. Then use clothes pins to weight them down. Gravity and the slightest breeze will do the ironing for you. (Unless you are a freaking perfectionist who has to have a crease in the front of jeans and boxers. In that case, there is no hope for you.)
  • Turn graphic T's inside out before hanging. At my house all laundry is inside out anyway, so this is no big deal. Turning the graphics to the inside helps prevent fading, because let's face it, no one wants to don a charcoal gray Darth Vader Tee. Lame.
Quote of the Day: "My second favorite household chore is ironing.  My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.  ~Erma Bombeck

Monday, June 18, 2012

ListenUp: Sir Paul is 70!

I am pretty sure that we all remember our first solo experiences with music. Meaning, music that we listened to on our own. Solo, in our rooms with a small boombox or walkman. Or in my case, a hi-fi turntable with headphones bigger than the ones they use in the cockpit of a jumbo jet. But hey! It was 1980. And even though, technically this was not the music of my generation, but rather the music my of my parents' era, I was hooked! I nearly wore out a double album compilation, and the White Album. We watched the movies, and the grainy footage. It was more than just music. Those mischievous, mop-topped, wisecrackin' lads from Liverpool introduced me to Rock n' Roll and ushered in my teenage years in style. I was never burdened with having to listen to the nonsense pop music of my own generation (except for a somewhat misguided albeit very devoted Duran Duran phase in jr high.)  No doubt, growing up, it was the Beatles in my house and it still is. So today we honor the music and the legend that is The Beatles. WHY you ask?  Because today Sir Paul McCartney is 70....

(I wish he were with the other boys and not these guys, but Linda is on tambourine...)

Quote of the Day: "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."
--Paul McCartney adorable old guy and genius lefty 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

UpLift: Adoption Prayers

This may be a little bit different post than you are used to me dishing out, but I am nothing if not flexible. Ha! I want to introduce you to a sweet couple. This is Katie and Adam. I have known Katie since she was about 10 years old. Her parents live just down the road from us.

Katie and Adam are going through something that I cannot imagine. They want to raise a family, and as of yet have been unable to have children bless their home. They are now looking to adopt. Today, I am using this forum to get the word out as best I can. Read their story and get to know them. Pass it on if you feel so inclined. Perhaps someone knows of a child who is looking for a home, because this home is praying for a child...

Quote of The Day: "When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses."  ~Joyce Brothers

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Living It Up


I think I may be having a midlife crisis. Don't worry, the good kind. I have never really had one before. I am not even sure this is the middle of my life. I mean one can never really be sure of that sort of thing, you know, until you get to the end of the thing, then you can look back and that was the middle. So for now, we are just going to assume that I will live to be at least 84. And just in case any of you were wanting to get your own midlife crisis, I am passing along the informal rules and regulations.

How to have a midlife crisis in 7 easy steps...(can be done in any order)

  • Buying a convertible. I do not live in a climate that would allow me to use a convertible for any more than 2 months out of the year. So I cut my hair off instead. A minimum of 30 day waiting period should be implemented before making any drastic physical changes. You have been warned.
  • Realizing that now is the "glory days" not then. What was so freaking great about 16? Or 21? or even 29? Duhrama. No money. More zits. Absolutely NO clue. Ok, sure, maybe we had a better physique, or less wrinkles, but you know what they say about an ounce of wisdom and a pound of crows' feet.
  • Tearing up the bucket list. I guess it sounds nice in theory. But it also sounds like a list for the future when we ought to be living for the here and now. Reinvention is the name of this game and it is hard to ebb and flow with the winds of change when we are tied down to a list. If something strikes us now as new and exciting then by all means, if we have the means, we should make it happen now, not wait to check it off some list someday.
  • Letting go of fear. This is not a fearful time. This is a time of following that inner inspiration to make life better. The first half of life was hopefully spent establishing a foundation, now we have the opportunity to live the life we have created. 
  • Enjoying the hard work we have done. You know how it feels to look around a nice clean house, or a freshly mowed lawn and pat yourself on the back for a job well done? At mid-life, hopefully we have done a lot of the hard work. It is time to enjoy the kids. Spend time with the Hunky Hubby. Take pleasure in the things we have accomplished. 
  • Sheding the skin. Like a snake, every so often we may realize that we have outgrown where we are at this moment and notice that we may be doing the same old things just because we are used to them. It is ok to let go of habits that may no longer fulfill us as they used to. Finding new hobbies can be rewarding. Liberating even!
  • Stop reading someone else's ideas and go out and make your own way. Seriously. I mean it. Go. Now.
Quote of the Day: "It is sad to grow old, but nice to ripen!" 
--Brigitte Bardot

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ListenUp: The Dough Rollers...

I saw these kids a couple of years ago when they opened for Bob Dylan and they blew me away. More fun than an almost middle aged woman should have. The supporting cast changes every so often, but Malcolm and Jack are the heart and soul of this little band.

At said concert I was privileged with a close encounter with Harrison Ford. Mr. Ford is Malcolm's father and the concert was in his home town of Jackson Hole Wyoming. (More information than you wanted I am sure). But let's just say that in the rather small venue, standing so close to Harrison was good enough for me to check "Meet Han Solo" off my bucket list! Happy cleaning music Thursday!

Quote of the Day: "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." --Han Solo super cool guy

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

UPlifting: A Walk

I live in a rather harsh climate. The north country is often covered in snow. And ice. And darkness. But for a few months out of the year we are acutely aware of the splendor of sunshine and warmth. Now is one of those months. Sometimes it is just rainy and snowy and windy in May, but this year's start to spring has been glorious to say the least.

Today I dropped the kids at school and parked my car near the river and walked. I walked for quite a long time, and just breathed in the smell of lilacs and the sound of birds and people and geese and ducks. So many of each that the walking path was crowded with them. Cyclists and walkers. Kids on skateboards and moms with strollers. Friendly "good morning"s were exchanged with passersby and all seemed well with the world. I stopped in a shady spot near the falls. The sound of the water drowning out the noise of traffic and activity.  Stretching body, and mind, and Spirit. Taking all of the side paths and twists and turns that I could find. Yes, I believe glorious was just the right word!

Quote of the day:
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
                                                        --Robert Frost 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

ListenUP: Subterranean Homesick Blues!

Cleaning day music...Mr. Robert A. Zimmerman! This is one of the best songs ever written. Ev. Er. And what that kid did with this video is brilliant, I say. Brill. Iant. You're Welcome...

Quote of the day: "You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"--Bob Dylan

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

GrowUP: Turning Flower Beds Into Edible Beds

I have a decorative flower bed in my backyard just off the kitchen and back patio. It gets great sun and is in close proximity to the actual vegetable and fruit garden, but it has mostly been home to flowers and bulbs and other decorative plants.

A couple of years ago I added strawberries to the bed because I did not want the strawberries to run amok  and take over the vegetable space. The flower bed is contained by a brick border and gravel path on all sides so I knew the berries would stay put. The next year I added a small container with a few herbs for the same reason. Many herbs spread like wildfire. Last year I decided to take full advantage of the sun that this spot gets and put my tomatoes in this flowerbed instead of their usual spot in the garden proper. I believe this was the beginning of the end. This year I thought to myself, "Why is this a flowerbed at all?"

I have an adorable neighbor with raised beds surrounding her front lawn. The previous owners of the house always had decorative shrubs and flowers in those beds, but not Miss D. She put in pumpkins and squash of various sorts. All summer long the beds are full of lovely green twisting vines and giant leaves that collect the morning dew. By Autumn it is more decorative than any summer annuals would have been with its collection of round fat pumpkins and the like.

And so I believe that a little at a time I have been converting this flower bed into and edible bed. I just need the final push to tell me it is ok. I do not know why I am so reluctant. Tradition, I guess, tells me that I am supposed to think that flowers and shrubs are pretty and that vegetables are utilitarian and must be shunned and put in the corner of the yard where no one well see them. Well bah on that! I think food can be pretty too. At least I am hoping I can make it pretty because right now that flowerbed looks pretty frightening. I am embarrassed to show it to you. I tore out a large bush and lots of the bulbs that are usually there. I am trying to get those pitiful looking strawberries to fill in now, and I put beans in the end to climb those supports in the back. But I still have a long way to grow. I am hoping that this is a "before" shot, or that if there is no "after" shot, you will have forgotten about this by that time.

So can a former flowerbed be edible and attractive? Time will tell....

Quote of the Day: "Gardening is not a rational act." Margaret Atwood poet

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CleanUp: Spot Free Bathroom Mirrors

Ok kids, time for a simple cleaning tip from the queen of lazy. Seriously. I love a clean house. I do. But I also love not spending all day cleaning said house.  Have you seen those commercials lately with the women cleaning house with some wonder product duster or mop or broom, and they are finished so quickly that they have time to read a book or take a bath or sit on the porch? Yeah. THIS is my goal. Because, let's face it, we would all rather read a book than clean the house, but the house must get clean.

Today's Lazy Trick: Bathroom mirrors. I have never witnessed this, but I am pretty sure that at least one of my children prefers to spit the toothpaste directly AT the mirror rather than in the sink. Maybe they like the pretty pictures, I don't know. And trust me when I say that I have tried all of the store bought products, and the homemade cleaners and have found the thing that works the best and the fastest. Water. Yes, moms and dads, just plain water. I have a sink in every bathroom, so it makes this job easy.

Step one: Run your hand under the water.
Step two: Splash the water on the offending areas of the mirror.
Step three: Wipe clean with a good quality microfibre cloth.
Step Four: There is no step four because you are done. Go read a book.

I promise that this works even for toothpaste that goes directly from the tube to the mirror without the benefit of dilution in the child's mouth. I have yet to figure out how or why this happens, but happen it does. This cleaning method can handle hair spray as well, but may take two tries. No more spray bottles or streaks or smelly cleansers. Just clean mirrors in about 20 seconds. You're Welcome.

Quote of the Day: "My second favorite household chore is ironing.  My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint."  ~Erma Bombeck

Monday, April 23, 2012

EatUp: Trail Mix Bars


I fall off the wagon on a regular basis. Lately I have not bothered to get back on. Which seems ridiculous because I know how much better I feel when I eat healthy, which for my body means real food, lots of it, and very little processed crap. It just seems that one little bit of crap turns into a bigger bit which turns into "hand over that pan of brownies and no one loses a limb." They know I am serious. The proof is in the fact that all of my children still have all of their limbs.  

In all seriousness, I do try to make snacks that will satisfy the munchies and the sweet tooth, but keep us all on track for good nutrition and fuel the bod with more than just empty calories and carbs.  Thus the Trail Mix bar was born. Be careful though. Not all trail mix is created equal. I am a nut and seed girl. You cannot go wrong with these in my opinion, but dried fruits pack a huge punch when it comes to sugars. Use those sparingly in your trial mix and don't add extras like candy. Candy next to a nut is still candy. Except peanut M n' M's. Those are a vegetable. I totally kid.


Mix together your choice of nuts and seeds and dried fruit to equal about 3 cups.
(I think I had peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, walnuts and some raisins)
Add in a cup of oats.
Heat slowly a cup of good quality peanut butter (no sugar please) and a 1/2 cup of honey in a saucepan. Let it get bubbly and gooey. Pour it over the trail mix and stir till it is all coated with the goo. Press that into a pan and allow to cool. Cut into bars and wrap individually for lunches or snacks on the go. Or do like I did and leave in on the counter and watch it disappear before you get a chance to wrap it up, which is why there are no pictures!

Enjoy! Linking up today with my friend Stephanie's amazing blog.

Quote of the Day: "“Do you know what breakfast cereal is made of? It's made of all those little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners!” --Roald Dahl

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SpeakUP: It Is Now Or Never

I thought that my first post of my new "Up Up And Away" Manifesto of last week would be something of an up beat, friendly nature. You know, sassy sarcasm and a bit of fun loving sap,  but I find that today, I am sad. And a little scared. And just a tiny bit pissed off.

As the mother of a boy who has had little but a future in aerospace in the works for 17 years, it breaks my heart to see the era of America's greatness in space exploration coming to an end for now. Not because I am doleful for this son and his future career (or lack of one), but because of what it means for America. The end of this era of greatness for the U.S. seems to me a metaphor for what my lie ahead. I hope it is not so, but it seems a harbinger for the decline of this great country into mediocrity.

This is not about partisanship. This is about saving this nation. OUR nation. It will take each of us, regardless of party politics and media vitriol, to stand up individually and collectively and say that mediocrity is not an option. If we as a people and as a nation are to be great again, we must desire greatness and then fight to achieve greatness. This will not be done by relying on other nations to transport our astronauts to the ISS, and it will not be done by relying on the government to create jobs or wealth or anything else. It will take Americans. Americans who care about America. Who want it to be great. Who themselves create wealth and prosperity. We will have to do it by going back. Back to basics. Back to the family. Back to God. Back to the founding principles prescribed in The Constitution. WE THE PEOPLE IN ORDER TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION. Perfect? No. More perfect? Hell Yes.

I am afraid that if we do not, and soon, that this is the beginning of the end. We will witness the decline of this nation as we know it. I for one do not want to see that happen. It is time to speak up.

      "There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?
      We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
      It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency." 
--John F. Kennedy 1962
The space race was not a matter of showboating or earning bragging rights. It was about achieving greatness and about freedom. A few weeks after this very famous speech in Houston, the president addressed a joint session of congress and, in a speech directed at defense and foreign policy, told congress and all Americans that "If we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take... Now it is time to take longer strides–time for a great new American enterprise–time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.

It is time folks. Time to speak up. It is now or never.

Quote of the Day: "Patriotism is easy to understand in America; it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country."-- Calvin Coolidge

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Up Up And Away

The letter U today is brought to you by NatureGirl, blogger most ordinary, in cooperation with Mrs. Matlock's school for the alphabetically inspired, under the direction of Off On My Tangent. Our word today is. UP. Before I recently changed the layout of this blog, I had a little sidebar with links and quotes to all kinds of things that I find interesting or that had to do with the blog. ReadUP, for instance had book recommendations. CookUp, a few recipes or links to good ones. UPDog featured some favorite quotes from yogis or perhaps an asana I might be working on. Stuff like that. But the truth of the matter is, that I am quite lazy and would often neglect to UPdate those little snippets often enough. I got bored with the layout, and the blog stagnated. This is a problem I often have. Go gung-ho until I get tired and then stagnate. Fizzle. But I actually really do love blogging. It is a great outlet for me and I have time for it in this stage of my life. I do not know how those of you with little kids do it. Hats off to you!

But I would like to get out of my rut. Therefore, I am thinking about a little revamp. Not that anyone out there cares, but I am hoping that it will help inspire me to focus on what I am doing. I am so scatterbrained sometimes, I feel like the blog has no direction. Is this a yoga blog? A food blog? Nutrition, gardening, health? What? What are you "about" blog?! But, here is the thing, like onions and ogres and parfait, I have layers. I have lots of things that I am interested in and feel passionately about and goodness knows I love to blab about all of the above, so why not a blog with layers?!

That is where UP comes back into play. My goal is to focus my posts around those things that I love but in a more organized, structured and orderly manner instead of the haphazardness that is usually me, and consequently the blog. All of those random sidebar thoughts could be turned into posts that might actually have meaning in some unplanned, accidental way. It is like rolling with the punches, but with a plan. Does that make sense? Probably not, but that is pretty normal around here! Up Up and AWAY!

Quote of the Day: "Progress always involves risks. You cannot steal second base and keep your foot on first!"--Frederick Wilcox

Thursday, March 22, 2012

ReadUp:The Three R's

You know that kid in class who is always kissing up to the teacher, doing extra work, and basically making everyone else ill with their transparent sycophancy? Yeah? Well that is me, cuz today I am posting 3 R's. That's right it and weep! Three 'R' words for Mrs. Matlock's AlphabeThursday.
Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. Yes, I know.

I love to read. I haven't always. My mother is a big reader. My dad says the only book he ever read all the way through was Hot Rod, and that was a magazine. I dabbled as a kid. I wanted to love reading. It seemed the sophisticated, cultured thing to do. You know, "I'm a reader?" "Hmmm. Yes, Read any good books lately?" Pretty sure their was a pipe clenched between my teeth there. But the fact was, that I was a tree climbing, fence climbing, dirt clod throwing, wholly unsophisticated tom-boy. But I learned to love reading. The first novel that caught (and Kept) my attention as a kid was Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Such a great read. It was the first time that I really fell into a story and became part of it. The first turning point in my reading career. Through jr high and high school, I read mostly what was assigned. I enjoyed some, hated others. Sometime in my early twenties I decided to read a few kids books that I had missed out on, and I picked up LM Montgomery and Anne came into my life. That sweet, spunky read-headed imp set me on the path of reading. Thank you Lucy Maude and Anne.

I may have got a slow start in my love of reading, but I have always loved to wRite. I wrote little poems and stories for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, I shared those sometimes, and my little sister set a very early poem to memory. I am pretty sure she is saving it to blackmail me with someday. I wrote a poem once for a college boyfriend. He read it silently and then looked at me and told me that I spelled "follow" wrong. Hmm. I wonder what ever happened to him? Oh yeah! I don't care!! The problem with writing and not reading is that it is impossible. You can't have one without the other. If you want to write. Read like there is no tomorrow. Don't just read books about writing (although some of those can be useful tools) but read good literature. I said Good literature. Join book clubs, discuss literature with friends and family. Hop on Goodreads. Get a library card! Let's get out there and read us some books so we can see and smell and hear the ins and outs of good writing. Notice what made it good. Dissect what made it work or what didn't. Read, then write.

I am not particularly good at mathematics in general, although I did kick some booty in high school geometry, but my arithmetic is better than this girl...
Let's not laugh at her. Let's not mock or sneer. But rather, gather our children around our knees this evening and explain to them the facts of life so that they don't wind up on YouTube someday.

Thank You Mrs. Matlock for being my favorite teacher. I think you are super duper and the best teacher out of all of the best teachers I have ever had. Some of the kids only put one R in their post, but I thought maybe you would like the three R's that I did. Me NatureGirl. With the three R's.

Monday, March 19, 2012

FessUp: Memoirs Of A One-Quarter Martian

This is exactly how I remember him
I was a little afraid of my grandfather. He died when I was 22 and pregnant with my first child. He was the first of my grandparents to go. I wanted to be sad and sorry. I felt like I should be sad. Everyone is sad when someone they love dies, but I just was aware of the information. I told my mother that I was sorry for her loss. She thanked me.

We called him Papa. My memories of him are fond, but there was something in his persona that said, "keep your distance." There was no lack of affection, no shortage of piggy-backed "horsey rides" or bounces on the knee. He was strong. Not what anyone would describe as tall, but wide, and strong. I thought he was handsome. He was. He looked like Johnny Cash.

From the time that my siblings and cousins and I each hit the age of 4 or 5, we all knew that Papa was born on Mars, and many a school-yard brawl was incited by our need to defend our grandfather's unusual heritage. I personally nearly lost a high-school boyfriend over it.  Ed, as he was called before he became a Papa, was purchased in the local hardware store in Colorado Springs, found hanging unceremoniously between the hammers and the nails. No mention was ever made of how he was transported to this planet. Once you pictured the little round, fat thing with a thick mop of curly black hair atop his head, dangling naked from a hook, placed who-knows where, how he got there was but a tiny fleeting thought. The only solid evidence of his foreign birth and lineage was his lack of a legal birth certificate. That was good enough for us. There was no question. We cousins were all one-quarter Martian. That is seriously cool information to a ten year old.

Earth's gravity had not nearly the effect on him as on us three-quaterers. So little even, that he was able to stand on his head at any given moment when called upon to perform by one of his grandchildren. Plus, he knew how to fly an airplane and ride a motorcycle so large that his feet did not touch the ground when he sat astride. Unfortunately, the three fingers he lost while building us a playhouse never grew back, despite our fervent belief that they would. Some things about earth life are just too hard to overcome.

For as long as I can remember, there was never a "Wait 'til your father gets home." threat uttered in my house. It was, "If you don't straighten up, when you turn 14 I am sending you to live with Papa!"  I remembered vividly the only time my grandfather had ever reprimanded me. I had made the mistake of sassing my mother in front of him, and enduring that look for any length of time would have been unbearable, so believe me when I say, that when he showed up at our house on my fourteenth birthday, I was not too big to hide under a bed and sob like a baby. I didn't really shape up until my late 30's, but my mother took pity on me and never made good on the threat. She probably should have.

He had a hearty laugh, a quick wit and always sang so many verses of "Happy Birthday" at every family party that we had to keep the ice cream in the freezer until he was done. We called him Papa and he was strong and handsome and looked like Johnny Cash. I was afraid of my grandfather, but I wish I had not been.

Friday, March 16, 2012

LinkUp: Lost Home

Thanks to Trifecta, I know exactly how hard it is to condense a thought into just 33 words. Hard, I tell you, very hard! But thanks for the challenge guys!

"A year since the divorce.  Living in a small apartment without Daddy.  Once called the “red apartments” disdainfully. Shabby outside, even shabbier inside. Nothing like the new two-story where they were a family."

Quote of the Day: "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
--Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Queue UP!

Today boys and girls, the letter is Q. As in Question. Why sure, I can use that in a sentence. "Q is for Question." As in,  I have some. About blogging. You would think that after being at this for 4 years, that I would actually know what I am doing? Not even close.

I got kinda tired of looking at the old thing (meaning the blog), so I changed the template around recently. I used one of the prefabbed doodahs in the template designer under "dynamic views." Ooh La La. I liked the little slidey down thingy on the side that listed a bunch of past posts by title, and I liked the little tweet option at the bottom even though I have never once twittered or tweeted anything. But I found that format a bit hard to read for some reason. Maybe because I refuse to wear my reading glasses. I don't know. It also does not have the little "sign in" thingamajig at the top right like most of the templates do. That bugged me, because getting to my dashboard was a bit of a pain, and how else am I supposed to read all of you lovelies!? I am pretty sure that some fancy google reader business I hear about is how, but c'mon, we all know I am not changing at this point. Also I noticed in the dynamic views that I picked up a lot of traffic for some reason, but no comments. I tried leaving a comment myself and it was just quirky and wouldn't do it sometimes. Blech. I don't get tons of comments, but if someone tries and is not able to, well that is just unacceptable in my book! Am I doing something wrong?

Needless to say, I went back to "simple" which, I know, is probably where I should have stayed in the first place, but changed the background and colors so I can hold my attention span longer. So my questions are not very specific, but for any of you who are blog savvy what is the best template in your opinion? Do you go only by looks or do you care about features and function? I notice a lot of people with the comment protection on so that we have to enter the crazy words, and a lot of people without it. Do you find you get a great deal of comment spam without the protection on or not?

Mrs. Matlcok, I know this is a copout of a post, but I really did have some questions! Happy blogging everyone and thanks for stopping by to celebrate AlphabeThursday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

GrowingUp: Clunk

You know how a song, or a smell or a sound can bring us instantly into another time and place? Not just remembering it, but really feeling it. Being there again? There are deep emotions tied to such little things. I recently read a little bit of a book that mentioned this. Specifically the slam of our childhood home's screen door. How that sound can take us back instantly to our childhood. The problem? I lived in about 12 different homes by the time I was 18, and not one of them had to my recollection, a screen door. My house now does. Two of them. And the sound of the closing of the back door is unmistakable. This narrative is about that sound, and thinking of the sound brought tears to my eyes and a tightness to my chest.

When the back screen door is released usually by tiny hands running from the kitchen to the backyard, there is first the noticeable squeak of metal on metal followed by the click of the lock striking the metal plate on the jamb, followed by the final "chunk" as the door handle jumps back into place and the door hits the frame. The only background noise is the quiet squealing hiss of the hydraulic hinges.

The sound is really the sound of my children growing up. Old enough now to freely let themselves in and out of the yard to play. A job that was once mine alone. It is the sound of the relationships they are forming with each other. Relationships that will carry them into adulthood and old age, long after I am gone. It is the sound of the contentment of a mother's heart; of soft summer days; of open windows and lilac breezes and the shrill, fantastic screams of children at play. It is the familiar clang of the chains of a swing and of sticky skin on a plastic slide, followed by the snap of static electricity as the child reaches the bottom, gravel flying in all directions. This is the sound of my screen door closing.

What does yours sound like?

Quote of the Day: "The essence of childhood of course, is play, which my friends and I did endlessly on streets that we reluctantly shared with traffic."--Bill Cosby

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Simplicity Habit #5 Building Spiritual Habits

This may not, at first glance, seem like a simplicity habit, but it is. I promise. It may seem like adding more to-do's to our daily lives would make us even more busy. But the busyness of adding spirituality to our daily lives most certainly makes the rest of our busyness run more smoothly. So, Simplicity Habit #5 is to build some sort of spiritual habit into our daily routine.

I am about nothing if I am not about keeping things easy, and this is no different. Spiritual moments can make their way into our day as simply as signing up for an uplifting daily email or as involved as attending worship services, but looking after our spiritual needs everyday truly does buoy us and give us the strength to carry on with all of the many other things we are called upon to do and to deal with each day. This is by no means and exhaustive list, just some thoughts.

  • Meditate
  • Read Scripture
  • Join a scripture study group
  • Attend worship services 
  • Pray
  • Sing uplifting songs
  • Listen to uplifting music
  • Serve someone
  • Volunteer
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Unplug and enjoy some quiet communion
  • Take a nature walk
  • Read religious or spiritually enlightening literature
  • Record your personal testimony of beliefs
  • Pray again

I think you get the idea. Making spiritual habits a regular part of our lives helps keep us in a place of peace and allows us to surrender ourselves and our stresses to a higher power. Exercising our faith in God and allowing him to restore us on a daily basis can truly simplify our lives in a very meaningful way; every day, celebrating our spiritual selves and seeking God more.

Quote of the Day: "We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves."--Dalai Lama

Monday, March 12, 2012

SpeakUp: Getting The Daylights Knocked Out Of You

I have yet to meet anyone who thinks it is a good idea. No one. Really. So then I ask, why? Why do we continue, year after year, to subject ourselves to this torture?

The dreadful and abundantly appendaged, yet somehow lovable, Count Rugen laid it out for us, "As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. Really that's all this is except that instead of sucking water, I'm sucking life. I've just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don't know what that would do to you. So, let's just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest."

Ok, as usual, perhaps I am riding the threshold of hyperbole, but Daylight Savings does suck an entire HOUR of our lives away, although it sometimes feels like a year! And I know that I have discussed ok, fine, ranted about this before, but until something is done about it kids, I will continue. I think if we can just ban together and let our voices be heard, we can overcome this semi-anual scourging of all that is good and decent in the world. We shall overcome! 

Seriously, I woke up Saturday to a room filled with glorious sunshine and NatureGirl rose happy and carefree. Today? Dark. Black. It fouls me up. Messes bad with my clearly delicate circadian rhythm. (circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the biochemical, physiological, or behavioural processes of living entities on Earth, including plantsanimalsfungi and cyanobacteria. I have no idea what cyanobacteria are and I do not think I am a fungus, so it must be my natural animal instincts kicking in.)

I think I was supposed to be born before the advent of electric light (either that or my wolf parents gave me up to be raised by humans).  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the convenience, but I have found that I seem to operate better when my routine and schedule are dictated by natural forces rather than artificial. My mother used to tell me that I was a kid who hated schedules, but I think I just prefer the forces of nature over the forces of you know...moms and teachers and bosses. I like to rise with the sun and set with the sun.  I admit that poses a challenge here in South East Idaho when, during the winter, the sun sets at 4:30 in the afternoon and we do not see it again until 8 the next morning.  But I am willing to sleep for 15 hours if that's what it takes!  

It just seems like we as humans often try to control nature instead of allowing our lives to ebb and flow naturally around nature.  We ship food thousands of miles so we can eat it out of season.  We change the clock twice a year so that the hours of Sunlight better fit into our schedules.  We keep electric lights on well into what should be sleeping hours so that we can be "more productive" only to find that we are stressed out, worn out and out of balance. I say enough is enough! Stop the madness! Who's with me? And Who's Daylights are we trying to save anyway!? Thanks for listening.

Quote of the Day: "I rant, therefore I am."-- Dennis Miller