Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eight days old today

Piper Virginia came into the world and our hearts on November 13th, a few days before her expected arrival.  

A precious bundle of joy!

Mama, Daddy and Piper ready to go home.

Such a contented sleepy head.

Proud and happy Nana!

Papa holding Piper as she lays on the UV light for her jaundice.

Big sister, Gabriela, loving on Piper.

Beautiful Piper Virginia welcome!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin magic

Today we had our 4H club meeting at our house, only we aren't really a 4H club anymore, but for lack of a better name, we still say 4H.  We did a really fun and easy fall craft. 

I first saw this on the Better Homes and Garden site and then on Etsy.  All is needed is an  old paperback book and a xacto knife.  

Trace this shape onto the middle of the book and cut around it with the xacto knife.  Then glue the spine together and color the edges orange.

You end up with a lot of paper scraps. 

Cut our leaf shapes from green felt, twist wire around a pencil for curly vines, add a stick from the yard and voila--it's a pumpkin!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I made ghee...

I am following the Whole30 eating plan for the month of September.  
It is a very simple plan for me because I already eat close to that way, yet this challenges me to go further, and to get rid of all sugars, grains, legumes and dairy ( and even wine ).  It will clean up my diet and help reset my metabolism.

This cool pale yellow jar of deliciousness  is called Ghee. It a staple in India  and is very easy to make.

To prepare ghee, melt one pound of  unsalted butter in a pot over medium heat. The butter will melt, forming a white froth on top. Simmer it, stirring occasionally and the froth will reduce slowly and the color of the butter will change to pale yellow. 

Then  cook on low heat until it turns golden. The residue will settle ( and it makes nice crackling sounds) at the bottom and the ghee, which is now clear, golden, translucent and fragrant, is ready. Strain the ghee through cheesecloth or a small strainer to filter it. 

  Your ghee will solidifie when completely cool.  Ghee has a long shelf-life and needs no refrigeration if kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation.

Why use ghee?  

I found lots of reasons why people love it.  Here are a few:

*It is devoid of any solid milk particles or water.  Some even say that it is lactose-free.  I am     giving it to my dairy free daughter and she is able to digest it.

*It also has a high smoking point which is great for sauteing or pan frying food.

 *In India it is used for the whole body, including inflammation and it is also known to be good for one's digestive health.

To me it just taste good and one more healthy food  I can include on the Whole30.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The River

A favorite part of my summer spent at Aylen Lake is our trips to the river that runs into the lake.  My Canadian friend, Leslie, first took me to the river a few years ago.  We look forward to exploring its beauty every year.

We always take our dogs.  Clyde, our Australian Shepherd, and Max, Leslie's  black Lab and Aussie mix, love to run through the water.  Gigi, (the brown speck on the road in the pic) my Yorkie loves to go, but does not like to swim, so she walks in the shallow parts and I carry her through the rest:) 

Gigi and me.
Leslie, Nan and I were amazed at how low the water was this year.  This area had been in a drought.
Still the flowers were lovely.

Red Cardinal flowers grow along the river bank.

A purple beauty.

Nan and Clyde.

Ancient trees.

Cate taking a break.
Crayfish also resting in the crystal clear water.  But not near Cate!

There are no poisonous snakes in Canada, thank goodness!  Again the water is so clear that we could get a good picture of it while under the water.

Until next year...

First day of school

The big day is tomorrow, the first day of school.  
This is Cate's senior year and Nan is close behind as a junior.  
Maybe that is part of my dread at starting our school this year,  knowing it is about to come to a close in just two short years.  Also I know a part of me is mourning the easy carefree days of summertime.  I love having no set schedule, to do just what I please.  But whatever my  reasons, we will begin and they are excited, which is a blessing.  Am I completely prepared?  No but I have found that we will spend the first week or two reviewing the old  and previewing our new books.  So ready or not  here we go!

My lovely and wonderful students.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Busy Bothered Bees

I'm supposed to be on my way to my vacation destination, but due to unforeseen events, I am not leaving for a couple of more days. Which in reality is better, because we will not be rushed and I can leave my house sparkling clean, which I like to do.  

One of the chores my husband needed to do before we left was to check on the bees.  In this 102 degree weather, they looked mad and hot.  I guess even bee hives get hot and I imagine these bees are fanning each other, trying to stay cool.  Hart took a frame full of honey from the hive and replaced it with an empty one.  There is already about 30 pounds of honey.  Yummy!

Special moment

Congratulations to Dr. Jered Hull!

When Lauren and Jered moved to Atlanta five years ago to embark upon this journey of Chiropractic school at Life University, little did they know they'd finish with a degree, a toddler and another little girl on the way!
Such a joyous occasion all around!
And yes, Lauren deserves praise too, for grad school isn't hard just for the student!

I love these series of photos.  They are unedited and depict life with a toddler perfectly!
(Cate got some perfectly posed shots of Jered and the family later.)

Gabriela had had enough waiting for the ceremony to end.  It was a lovely graduation.  I loved the bagpiper leading the graduates  in and out of the auditorium.  Ela was a good girl while waiting for her daddy to graduate.  I am so proud of them all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mourning chickens

I'm really sad today.

 My little Blue Cochin chicks are gone, vanished overnight.  Gone.  No little chicks in the locked chicken coop this morning.
Siblings.  The white one is a rooster.

The chicken coop on the left.  

We introduced them slowly to the chickens and coop, letting them stay in their cage.  Monday, we let them out to wander around the chicken yard and closed them up in the chicken coop for the night.  Tuesday we let them sleep in the big coop, putting a small box in there so they could huddle together.  I locked the door to the coop, went out the gate into the fenced in garden and then locked that gate too.  When I went to let them out this morning they were gone.  The only sign of them was a pile of black feathers and a pile of white feathers--outside the locked chicken coop!  How it all happened and what happened I will never know.  All I know is that something got them and they are gone.

They were really cute.  They always walked in threes. They were gentle in that I could scoop all three of them up in my hands at once.  They were young and little.  I am so sad.

I know that they are just chickens. But we incubated two of them and watched them grow from the egg to being ready to be on their own.  We had to let them go , they had outgrown their small cage and needed to stretch their wings.  Poor chicks.

I admit I shed a few tears when I saw the pile of feathers. I know if I lived on a farm I'd see death like this
more often and I know that in the scheme of life, chicks aren't much.


But I really liked them. 

 I will miss my fine feathered friends.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

If the shoe fits

I was about to ask Cate and Nan for the upteenth time to clean out from under the bench in the kitchen, when I took a second look.  Just from looking at the different types of footwear I knew exactly what they had been up to.  Nan's old riding boots told me she had been to the farm today, while the stack of running shoes meant they had been out jogging that morning.  Flipflops mean its summer time and the rubber boots said that Nan had been to collect eggs from the chickens.  Glad I have an active family, but I do wish they were just a tad bit neater.


We do love to hike and walk.  It's one of the things we enjoy doing on the weekends and especially up at the lake in Canada.  So much to see, so much beauty in nature around us, so nice to stretch the legs.  In Paris we walked and walked, a great way to really see the city and to burn off the extra calories.  Even in our own neighborhood we live in such a lovely place for walks, we go every day. We usually see wild turkey, deer, Canada geese, the blue Heron, and of course sometimes other people and dogs.  All one needs is a sturdy pair of shoes.

                        Few people know how to take a walk.  

                           The qualifications are endurance,
                   plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for  nature,
  good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and                                                                                                           
                                                          nothing too much. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012


It's been a few weeks and even a couple of months since I've been tweaking my diet.  And the good news is I have  no more leg or hip pain!  I feel energetic and happy.  I am able to live life to its fullest and continue to be active.  Hart and I are running three miles a day, amazing, because just this winter I thought I would never run again.  I love it!  Cate, Nan and I are doing yoga at least four times a week.  I find the stretching to be so important.  As far as my diet, I am still GF and now dairy free.  I am still working with the nightshade vegetable group.  I have had no potatoes or tomatoes yet.  I can tolerate a few peppers, which is nice.  Also sugar is out, for the most part.  Nan and I eat alike now.  I now know God was telling me years ago to switch to her diet, I just didn't listen or want to.  And I see the difficult path I've gone down because I didn't.  I am a slow learner at times. But it is totally worth denying myself certain foods, to be pain free and healthy.  I just wish I hadn't waited so long.

To celebrate our anniversary Hart and I went on a day trip to nearby Roanoke, Va.  We spent the day roaming the farmer's market downtown, browsing Black Dog Salvage, eating lunch out, just being together.  A nice time to connect and enjoy each other's company.  We actually spread out our anniversary celebration this year, not by design but it just happened that way.

Last Friday, the girls spent the night with their friends and Hart and I had the opportunity to have an early anniversary dinner.  We cooked crab legs, shrimp, sweet potato fries and artichokes.   I had not attempted whole artichokes before but they turned out well, although it was quite a process to prepare them and cook them and to even eat them!  But we did enjoy them.  Find a recipe from an old, reliable cookbook and follow it to the letter and you will have no problems with yours.  I even made the Hollandaise sauce, which was very good.

Interesting vegetable.

Reminds me of a rose.


So on our actual anniversary, which is May 21st, we had a lentils and rice.

Recipe from the Internet.

The figurine that sat atop our wedding cake 29 years ago.

Yummy dessert Nan made from coconut milk.... chocolate mousse.

Here is a tribute in an email I wrote for Hart and as a way to share my thoughts with my family.

  Today is my 29th wedding anniversary!  Wow-that sums it up!
 So many years, so much time, so much joy, work and hard times behind us.  But there are so many years, so much time, joy, work and hard times ahead of us as well.  I'm blessed by the past and looking forward to the future!  I have a wonderful husband and I am so thankful for him!
So much has changed in our lives--- grown married children, grandchildren, Hart working from home, my job, two kids at home, a different way of eating and cooking, etc.  Even what we are having tonight reflects the change--lentils and rice, when a few years ago it would have been steak and baked potatoes!  (Actually if I had steak in my freezer, it would be on the grill!).  But I will still get out the white tablecloth and my wedding couple figurine that sat on top of my wedding cake that my Aunt Doris made, we will eat with Cate and Nan, telling them stories of our wedding day and early life together.  How he proposed, how Frank fainted, the reception, our time at Kiawah, our Victorian apartment on Chestnut St, just the two of us for just a little over a year.  The fun we had, how hard our first year was, how we've grown and changed and become better people, better together.  How God has blessed us with health and  happiness and life to the fullest.  We will lift our glass of champagne as we toast  our 29 years of marriage.  My cup overflows!  
Thanks for celebrating with me by letting me share my thoughts with you
Love, Nancy