Words To Live By:

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you finish the work."

Friday, October 7, 2016

Choosing to Be Humbly Grateful

I hate to admit this, but my gratitude attitude is hit and miss.  I'm basically happy for all the norm - roof over my head, food for our tummies, a bed to cuddle in... but it's not always a conscious thing.  Just is and while I appreciate things, it's easy to dismiss them when that roof has a leak, or my cupboard looks empty and I have to wait for payday, or that mattress is lumpy and someone keeps stealing the covers at night.  I feel a bit like Goldilocks - I could be satisfied, but sometimes it's easy to want everything "just right."

Life doesn't go that way though.  And as we approach Thanksgiving, I'm reminded that 1) I should be grateful all year round - counting my blessings on a daily basis... and 2) I need to step up this gratitude game and stop complaining so much.

So here is a list of some very specific things I'm grateful for in no order of importance:

- A child who treasures the importance of choosing friends wisely.  We spent a day at Wonderland last Sunday with Kaleb and 3 of his closest friends.  These kids are funny, respectful, supportive, and kind.  We were impressed with their attitudes and behaviour the entire day and I was amazed at how they protected each other and encouraged each other instead of needling each other when one or the other wasn't quite as brave. 

- Parents and parents-in-law who step in and lend a hand when it's needed or just because.  My in-laws are heading south for the winter again soon and my freezer was just filled with items they can't take with them.  It's not a big thing, but it's a huge thing - does that make sense?  They're quick to invite the boys to spend time with them over the summer, and stop by just because whenever they're in the area (and don't seem to judge my lack of housekeeping skills.)  My parents are very much the same - need a sitter?  Done.  Need a hand with this or that?  Done.  Need someone to vent to? Done.  And free wood... my dad gives me lumber for different signs.  Barnboard, live edge, etc.  That's a whole other blessing. 

- This amazing weather and the land we live on.  Our yard is far from perfect, but as the leaves begin to turn, or I bring in veggies from my garden, or I just go sit on the porch to relax, I'm always struck with how beautiful our property is.  The trees are tall and give us some privacy.  It's beautiful any season... and with this extended warmth, I've been able to tackle more projects out on the deck and let more wood dry.  Win-win. 

- Random blessings.  Fresh picked apples on my desk at work, a note of thanks in my mailbox, my ice cap being paid for at Tim's, a perfect cup of tea, a good book to read, a smile in the grocery store.
I could keep going, but today... that is what I'm grateful for.  Tomorrow, my list will be different I'm sure, but despite my more than occasional grumbles, I am blessed.  I am thankful. I need to remember that despite the hiccups in life, I am these things (thankful, blessed) and there is so, so much in my life to be grateful for.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Creamy Butternut & Tomato Soup - Thanks, Marg!

Hey...   Remember me?  I know you thought I disappeared into the nether (we have Minecraft geeks in our house!), but I promise, I just disappeared into real life.  I have reaffirmed two things about myself:  1) I have a very difficult saying no (or not feeling guilty when I do!) and, 2) I haven't improved my juggling skills.  I'm dropping balls left, right, and centre like it's the coolest thing to do.

Today was a day off and with the kids back to school, it means they're on the bus at the crack of way too early (7:30am but some of us appreciate an 8 a.m. wake up call - not because we were reading until the wee hours of the morning or anything.  Never that.)

Anyhow, once the boys were off, I tackled some Wisdom & Whimsy projects, tidied the kitchen, folded a bit of laundry, scrubbed the shower (oh how desparately that needed to be done!), washed off the paint & ModPodge, and hustled out the door by 9:30 a.m.  Woohoo, I'm a wonder!

Our church is hosting a big community dinner event tomorrow night. I was chosen to put together the centrepieces.  Fifteen centrepieces to be exact - "Easy!" I said, "Not a problem."  I lied.  I learned two brand new things today:  1) I am not a florist nor talented like a florist, and 2) 15 centrepieces take time to assemble - like hours.  Who knew?!?  The tables look a little more pulled together though, so I guess that's a win and I took time to chat with some of the other lovely ladies from the church who lent a hand dressing and setting the tables.

Can I stress e a point here?  Women friends are important.  The chit chat.  The advice.  I daresay even the gossip (not malicious rumour mongering, but just the catch up about what's going on.)  Also, age? Not an issue.  You can learn so much from other women, be strengthened and inspired.  That being said, if they're dragging you down, cut rope.  No need to drown yourself in negativity.

During our catch up I mentioned the overabundance of tomatoes from my garden.  We don't even eat tomatoes, people!  Alas, I have tons.  I mentioned I would probably make soup for dinner.  (You can guess who's going to complain about that, can't you?)  One respected friend mentioned that tomato & butternut squash soup is delicious (with lots of garlic and ginger.  Don't forget the garlic and ginger.  Her words.)  I claimed she's a genius... because guess what else I've had sitting on the counter waiting to be used?!

So dinner tonight was my attempt at a creamy butternut squash soup - my take on these two very different recipes {here} and {here}, all because I was inspired by Marg.

Creamy Butternut & Tomato Soup

1 butternut squash, halved & seeded
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Approx. 7 good sized tomatoes, stems removed and "chunked"  (that's a real technical cooking term)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder (original recipe calls for turmeric - I couldn't find mine!)
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp dried basil
1 can coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
black pepper, fresh ground to taste
Salt, to taste
Parmesan, fresh grated (optional)
bacon, crisp and crumbly (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut your squash in half, cut out the seeds, and brush the cut sides with oil.  Place on a baking tray cut sides down, tucking a clove of garlic into the bowl of each half. Bake for approx. 45 minutes or until tender.   Allow to cool.  Remove and discard skins.  Reserve squash and roasted garlic.

Wash your tomatoes and remove the core.  Cut them into random chunks (quarters, eighths, whatever you feel like - it's all going to be pureed later.)  Add to reserved squash and garlic.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a deep pot and saute your chopped onions until softened and translucent.  Stir in your ginger.  Add remaining ingredients.  Give it a stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmer for 20 minutes or so.  If you have an immersion blender, now is the time to put it to good use.  If you wish you had an immersion blender (but don't because your husband is trying to get you to spend smartly and doesn't agree that it's a necessity,) let the mixture cool a bit and then blend in small batches using a regular blender. Careful with hot soup and the blender.  It's dangerous and you've been warned.  Not that I've learned from experience.  Add pureed soup back to pot and reheat to desired temperature.  Season with salt & pepper as desired.  Top with fresh grated Parmesan (we only had Gouda) and crumbled bacon if you desire.

Serve with grilled cheese (because, you know, tomato soup!?!)  Ignore the complaints coming from your picky eater and enjoy the savoury wonder that you whipped up with fresh local produce - maybe even from your own backyard.  Dinner is served - thanks, Marg!

P.S.  This recipe was approved by 3 out of 4 mouths.  Our youngest has requested leftovers in his lunch tomorrow.