Friday, May 29, 2009

You Say It's Your Birthday!!

And so another year goes by!! And people I love helped me to recognize the occasion. Girlfriends took me to lunch and feted me with gifts and flowers, others dinner too. Dick and Eliot took me to dinner over the weekend. And the rest of my family got together on another occasion for a big family get together which included recognizing my day. Happy Birthday to me! It's fun to celebrate life!
Here is my favorite rendition of the Birthday song, by my preferred artist:

Here are some more beautiful flowers I received from my Aunt Elaine, thank you Aunt Elaine, your note especially touched me and was very timely:

Oh, by the way, my birthday was more than a week ago, I'm just really really late getting this post up. With Eliot home from school, well it's hard to say how that has changed the rhythm of the day. We never got used to him being away, and now that he's home we are trying to figure that rhythm out too. But we are glad he's home.
Dick took a snap of Eliot and me at my birthday dinner last weekend. Then we turned the flash off so as to not attract undue attention as I proceeded to photograph every course which came out, so the rest of the photos are a little dim:

The food at Nicola's (Cincinnati) is beyond divine, I recommend it.
Carpaccio of Bresaola with Mascarpone cheese, local gold rush apples, 15 years old balsamic vinegar and micro arugula. Bellissimo...

This is actually Dick's Entree, more photogenic than mine, Lobster and Ricotta Ravioli, yum...

Full Disclosure, this really isn't the Cappuccino from Nicola's. This is the one I had at a favorite restaurant in New Jersey from when we picked Eliot up from school. This picture turned out better than the one from birthday dinner night and both were excellent. And it is Decaf, are you kidding? I'd be up all night.

I wish had I thought to photo the bread basket. Truly the most creative and delightful combination of little breads we've sampled anywhere. Really. I've never seen an assortment this great and every one delicious. We had fun trying them all. Only problem, definitely no room for dessert after everything which came before!
But it was a great night, putting a cap on a great week. Thank you to all my friends and family who helped to make me feel special and remember my day and week without reminding me I'm %@ years old!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Family Dinner Finale

Three Generations! My sister Kathy, Eliot, My aunt Elaine!

Here’s a news flash: Being a Mom isn’t easy. Wow! Send that to the presses. And when you get something right and can get an 18 year old to say so, unsolicited, well savor that…. Because that’s a moment in time. And that’s what I’m doing this morning. I’m savoring the moments of our ‘Family Dinners’ from this past season.

You may recall.. .Shortly after the New Year we instituted…Family Dinners. My friend, Pastor Mike, was speaking about what Sundays are really supposed to be for and about: Family, Family time, unstructured time. So I immediately combined those and structured it to Sunday Family Dinners! Okay, so I got the ‘unstructured’ part wrong, but the sentiment right! These filled several needs for me as I LOVE to cook great food, love to be with my family, and was still feeling the effects of our son having gone off to college for the first time. It was pretty quiet around here.

Well, last night was the last of the dinners for this season. Next week we move family gatherings to my sister Terry’s house for Memorial Day, Father’s Day, summer birthday’s, etc. (8/11 of the males in our family have June birthdays.) And it’s just time to truly have unstructured Sundays again, the cooking a simple meal for 12-20 each week gets more difficult as the weather calls us to be outdoors.

Eliot is now home from college, so last night was the first he has been able to attend. He was here for the ‘prep’ time. He scooped out the tomatoes for a great new appetizer I was trying out on everyone. And he sampled the tomato sauce on the Lasagna, ‘just to be sure it was up to standards.’ He was out when I made the Vegetable Lasagna, so that was a new one to him when I served it last night. He helped Dick get the house ready a little bit, too. So he knows we prepare for the family to come over, it’s a big part of our week, but it’s very casual too. For the family it’s ‘come as you are.’ Whoever can make it. Not a big deal. We want this to be easy, no obligations, nobody has to bring anything, unless they want to.

All I want to say is, I think Eliot got it. As the last of family was leaving last night from the front porch we watched as Zane, the 5 year son of my niece (my Great Nephew?) was zig zagging out our driveway to his waiting car and parents, waving ‘Bye, see you next week.’ Eliot smiled. ‘This was good, Mom’ He wasn’t talking about Lasagna, and I knew what he meant. Newsflash! Amen!

One of the 4th generation, Zane:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Julie & Julia

OMG! It's not even out yet... I've only seen the trailer... And it's already my favorite movie. I love Amy Adams. I love Julia Childs. What a perfect movie.. Gosh, I hope I'm not setting myself up for a let down here. But it looks great! Oh.. Meryl Streep? She's pretty great too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

”We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present” ~~ Marianne Williamson

We had a ‘Celebrating Women’ event at our Church this past Friday evening. I chaired the event, but it only went off well because I had a great team of women around me. Mid stream we switched our theme and made these flowers our logo, and based all of our d├ęcor and design elements around it. This mainly occurred because these flowers make me happy.

One of my favorite days in preparation for the retreat was sitting in my office, all windows open, with a cup of coffee and a pair of scissors cutting around these flowers. We had decided at the last minute to make nametags with the flower motif as the background… pure bliss. I am not the least bit crafty, but even I could master this job, what a way to while away a morning, in my jammies yet! I’m not sure anyone else at the event was as happy with how darling those nametags looked, but I sure loved them.

As I said, this was a night to Celebrate Women… what about them? Our speaker touched on how women ‘Influence, Affirm, Inspire, and Sacrifice’ for others OFTEN. And encouraged us to think about who had done that for us in the past. I think I touched on that in a previous post.

What I hope came out of the event, is the consideration of the ‘pay it forward’ theme… who are you ‘influencing, affirming, inspiring, and sacrificing’ for now or who might you be in the near future? There is also the very real truth (that’s redundant, I know .. real truth) we are always INFLUENCING by our presence, but what is that influence? That Influence has the potential to have within it affirmation, inspiration, and sacrifice and the opportunity to inspire others to want to emulate same… or not… I try to be a positive Influence wherever I go, I Affirm whenever possible and it is possible, …. Extending love in the present.

What we did not touch on in the event is the Mother’s role in doing those four things or the Mothers role in general. You see, this was not a Mother’s Day event, it just happened to occur on Mother’s Day weekend. But certainly as these questions were put to the women in attendance some were thinking of their Mother. Maybe some attendees had the kind of Mom for whom all of those things (influence –the good kind, affirmation, inspiration, sacrifice) came from her. Even so, they probably thought of other people too, because no one person can be all that for a person. We get our needs and our inspiration met as we go through life from a variety of places and people …. And that is good… Because there were other women in that room… who didn’t think of their Mom when those questions came up or they did, but her name wasn’t the correct answer to the question. They thought of other women who stood in and provided same. … Again, for a variety of reasons. And maybe it made them sad, that they couldn’t name their Mom. Or maybe it made them so grateful..for the women who stood in…

That’s a photo of my parents, from a much earlier time. My Mom passed away when I was 18, but I really lost her much earlier than that. She became ill when I was in my early teens. I know she loved her family fiercely, including me, our timing was just a little off. She still had her opportunity to instill many lessons, memories, and much love into our family.

Happy Mother’s Day!!! Especially to my three older sisters who stood in and sometimes still stand in, Happy Mother’s Day ~ Kathy, Terry and Sue!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Breakfast Daily!!

This is what I eat. Every. Day. Daily. Each Day. All the time. In the morning. Consistently. Rarely do I deviate from this. The ingredients don't vary either. AND I LOVE IT!!!!

I'm not much of a morning person. Really. I AM thankful to wake each morning with the gift of a new day and I do appreciate the beautiful sky and trees out my bedroom window each morning, etc, etc. If it's warm enough we have coffee on our screened-in porch, and we eeeeaaaassseee into the day on those when we have that luxury of not having to rush off somewhere, and I am grateful. Ever so so grateful.
And I can say that a source of my daily poor eating habits started right there in the morning for many decades. I didn't want to think a lot about what I was going to eat and then fix that thing, whatever it was. So if it was wrapped and in the drawer, and all I had to do was unwrap it and it tasted good, so much the better. How about a twinkie, anyone? Poptart?
Well, that only works for so long. And about two years ago, I figured out it wasn't working anymore. (Read 'about me')
So now this is what I eat. It's one cup of Non-Fat PLAIN yogurt! I start out with frozen blueberries, I buy a big bag at one of our local wholesale type stores and I use about 3/4 cup. I put them in a microwave safe bowl zap them for a minute to let them soften, then add the cup of NFP yogurt. I cut up one banana (I refrigerate my bananas as soon as they get ripe, I like them cold) into it, I had a few almonds* and a few dried cranberries, sprinkled on top are two cereals, just a sprinkling of each. Right now I'm using two different Kashi cereals. Kashi Go-Lean Crunch and Kashi Sunshine. I mix it all together and it tastes great.
The important thing is I'm not hungry all morning long. It really fills me up with the dairy, fruit, the cereal, the almonds. I don't get mid-morning munchies. This is really key for me as a lot of times I'm working around my house dangerously close to my kitchen....
Or my former temptation when I'm out during the day was to stop at Starbucks. I'm still a fan of Starbucks. But you know that pastry case they used to have in every store? You used to have to stand in front of it to get to the Barista to place your order... It is GONE!!!!!! At least in my mind. (I know they didn't really remove the pastry cases from S-bucks, I'm pretending they did. In my mind, they do not exist) In my former life stopping at S-bucks meant visiting that case too. Having a nutritionally sound full breakfast causes me to not have the ups and downs which crave the sweets they used to keep in that case....
About those *almonds I mentioned, I keep a small dish of RAW almonds and dried cranberries on my countertop. It is another of my favorite strategies to fight off the 'hungries.' Raw almonds are not roasted in oil and salt, therefore are much healthier for you. They are easy to find in most markets, I believe. I have not been able to find dried cranberries which don't have a least a little sugar in them. I'm told they use the sugar partly as a preservative and without it the cranberries would be hard little pebbles. I don't know if that is the case. But I'm risking a small amount of sugar in the cranberries because the ratio of sugar to cranberry and almond, can't be that high, and it still works. When I feel I need a little snack, sometimes when I'm cooking dinner, esp. if it's running late, munching on a few of those will hold me over until mealtime. This is a huge improvement over previous alternatives and I keep it readily available for emergencies, always!! It's also the same mixture I put in my breakfast above.
Remember to eat breakfast, it IS the most important meal of the day to get your metabolism going and start you eating healthfully all day long!
Okay, so now I've shared a few more of my new life-survival tips with you. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Daisies were my Mom's favorite flower. I'm certain it's not a coincidence they are one of my favorites also! I'm thinking about Mothers Day early for several reasons. I'll be traveling on Mother's Day this year. My MD present is to be re-united with our son, as we pick him up from his first year of college on Mother's Day! That will be quite a gift. I wonder if I'll have to carry any of the boxes since it's 'my day?'
Another reason for contemplation of this annual event for women is a Women's Celebration dinner I'm hosting at our church prior to retrieving my son. While we aren't talking about Mother's Day specifically that evening, what we will talk about, and celebrate, are the women in our lives who have made an impact in one area or another.
Who has encouraged us? Affirmed us? Guided and supported us in tough and good times? And have you thanked them? Have you considered what a privilege it is that we get to do that for one another? And who do you do those things for? Or who might you be being nudged to guide, support, encourage, affirm.... It's probably many people. I think we do it every day. Encouragement, guidance, support, is not a role reserved only for Mothers, but rather something we do as women.
Thank you to those women who always stepped in to fill those roles for me and to those who continue to do so. There are many. Happy Mother’s Day! It might seem early, but I'm thinking about it (and YOU, the women who..) all week. And it seems a good time to say thanks...I couldn't have done it without ya! Love, B