"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
Mother Teresa

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Food for Thought

I'm not much of a sports fan.  On Sunday, while everyone else in Michigan was watching Michigan State win something....basketball??....I was watching Oprah's Soul Sunday.  She interviewed Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma.  His most recent book is Food Rules.
He has written several books about food and our connection ( or lack of connection) with the food we eat.
He made some interesting points.  We are only a generation removed from the days when almost everyone grew their food or knew the person who did.
This is mostly true of my childhood.  We had a large garden and Mom canned and froze a stockpile of food.  If we didn't grow it, we knew the farmer who did.  Heck, we often picked it ourselves.  I remember picking blueberries, cherries, apples, peaches, and even asparagus at local farms.  I grew up, and still live, in an area of many fruit orchards and farms.  My hometown claims to be the Asparagus Capital!  We have an asparagus festival and a Mrs. Asparagus is crowned.
The summer job I had all through high school was picking cherries.  We climbed ladders with buckets strapped around us and picked them by hand.  I remember the smell of ripe cherries, the weight of the heavy bucket on my shoulders, and the cherry juice dripping off my elbows.  I remember seeing cherries when I closed my eyes at night.  It was a hard way to earn $$ for school clothes.  It definitely made me see the value of an education.
Anyway, the point is that I was very connected to the food I ate.  The cherry pie tastes even sweeter when you worked to pick the cherries yourself.

Our society has changed so much.  Farming has become an industry and the family farms are becoming few and far between.  My grandchildrens' meals all come from a supermarket, processed and wrapped in plastic, or from a fast food restaurant.   And don't get me started on school lunches!
 Another point he made was that we now have a separate menu for children.  When did childrens' food become chicken nuggets, french fries, burgers, and pizza?
I see his point.  I don't remember eating any of those foods as a child.  Children ate what the family ate.  The only french fries I remember were made by Mom.  She didn't get them out of a bag.  She cut up real potatoes and fried them.  Potatoes that I helped dig out of our garden most likely.

We are seeing a movement back to fresh foods, farm to table.  He believes there is much to be gained by connecting to our food and being grateful for our food.
If we sit down and share a meal together it is a form of Communion that should be done mindfully.

And his advice on what we should eat....
"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."   ( He means real food of course).

Do you know where your food has been?  Who grew it?  How your meat was raised?

Definitely something to think about.

'Til next time..

Sunday, March 29, 2015

10 Things I Don't Do Anymore

Since I have reached the wise and mature age of sixty-something I have come to realize that there are some areas of life that are best avoided.  This is basically for my own comfort and health.....but some of them just aren't fun anymore.

1.  Ride roller coasters....I used to love roller coasters but I prefer to avoid the palpitations a ride could cause for my rather touchy ticker.  Merry-Go-Round and Ferris Wheel are a better bet.

2.  Wear mascara....I have always liked my eyes.  They are sort of blue-green.  I wore eye make-up daily until after cataract surgery.  Now it just seems irritating and I have to use drops for dry eyes.  It just doesn't work for me anymore.

3. Wear high heels....What can I say, I have my Grandma's feet.  

4.  Wear a 2 piece bathing suit....I think this is self-explanatory

5. Wear shorts.....I also have my Grandma's legs 

6.  Stay up all night....I should clarify.  I mean stay up all night for fun.  Remember those days?  It stopped being fun by the time my son was born.  He seemed to think it was a fine way to spend the night though.

7.  Roller skate....I think you can figure this one out (no time for a broken hip).

8.  Go barefoot outside ( the beach doesn't count).....Again,  my Grandma's feet need her orthotics.

9.  Watch CNN....Isn't it depressing to hear such horrible news day after day?  I can't stand it.  Coverage of a big event goes on and on.....it's just too much for me.
10.  Sit on the floor....I am still capable of sitting on the floor, and I can still get myself up, but a sofa chair is much more comfortable.

When I turned 50 I didn't believe I would become so "mature," shall we say.  And somehow it all crept up on me despite my efforts.  I've made peace with getting older.  I'm still working on getting thinner.

Til next time

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Menus and Meatballs

I have been making a weekly dinner menu for many years.  I think I started doing it when I went back to work after a break to stay home with my young kids.  I love making lists and feeling organized.
I looked at store ads in those days but pretty much made the menu based on what sounded good to me, not what was on sale.  It worked pretty good....one trip to the store for all the ingredients.  Everyone knew what was for dinner and Hubby could start the prep (since he got home first).  My goal was organization more than savings.
These days, living on a fixed retirement income, I've been trying to shop smarter as well.  I still make a weekly menu list but I approach it a little differently.  I first look in my pantry and freezer to see what I have on hand to base meals on.  Then I make a list of any ingredients I need to complete the meals.  I also try hard not to waste food.  I used to buy a bag of potatoes and often threw away half because they went bad before they were used.  Now, if I have a bag of potatoes, you can be sure there will be lots of potatoes eaten that week.
Another thing I take into consideration is our schedule for the week.  Will Hubby be gone for dinner?  Will we have a grandchild to feed for a meal?  Once that is all sorted out I take a look at the store ads and finish my shopping list.  I look for the sale items that we will use and try to stock up on those.  If pork chops are on sale I will buy enough for several meals.  On my last shopping trip I found Kraft ranch dressing for $1 a bottle, and store brand spaghetti sauce for $1 also. That is about a 50% savings.  I bought 8 bottles of each. Once you develop a stockpile of these items you really start to see the savings.  I do limit myself to only buying sale items that I would buy anyway.
  This is one of my favorite recipes, perfect for a busy day.

                                                     PORCUPINE MEATBALLS
1 1/2 lb. Extra lean ground beef
1 Tbsp. Garlic powder
1 to 2 Tbsp. Dried minced onion
1/2 Tbsp. Salt...or to taste
1 cup uncooked rice (I use brown)
1 egg
1 15 oz. (425 g.) can Tomato sauce
1 cup water

Mix together meat, egg, rice, and seasonings.  Wash your hands and get right in there, like making meatloaf.  Smush it around until well mixed.  (I think there is something theraputic about it).
Form into balls about the size of a plum.  Add all meatballs to the crockpot.  Depending on crockpot size, make meatballs large enough (or small enough) to cover the bottom of the crockpot only (not piled on top of each other).
Pour cup of water between and around the meatballs.  The rice will absorb this.
Pour the can of tomato sauce over the top of each meatball.
Cook on high for about 4 hours.  Check at about 3 hours to make sure it hasn't absorbed all the moisture and starts to burn.  I often add another 1/2 cup of water.  You can cook up to about 6 hours but no longer or they will dry out.
Throw together a salad and warm up some garlic bread and dinner is ready.

They were so yummy I forgot to take a picture before we ate them!  Sorry.  I will try to do better next time.

No matter how hard I try I always leave the store feeling like I should be able to save more.  How do you save money at the grocery store?

I also want to welcome my new follower Betsy at The Simple Life of a Queen.  Thanks for your lovely comments Betsy.  I am looking forward to making many new friends in Blog Land.

'Til next time

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Knitting and Small Things

I have been knitting off and on for over 40 years.  There were probably a lot more off years than on.  I am by no means an expert knitter.  I knit more for the Zen of knitting than for an actual finished product.  I happily knit baby blankets, and scarves, an occasional hat, and a few simple baby sweaters for years.  If I never finished a project I would eventually frog it (rip it, rip it) and start something else.
After I retired I felt like it was time to challenge myself.  I took a knitting class and connected with a wonderful and welcoming knitting club.  My first goal was to learn to knit lace and use a chart.  It took awhile to really "see" the chart in my knitting but I conquered it.  I still prefer a written pattern, however.  The more I learn about knitting, the more I realize how much I still don't know.  I guess that could be said about quite a few things in life, huh?

This is what is on my needles right now.

The Time Turner Shawl by Elizabeth Saxton at Well-Read Knits.  You can find it on Ravelry HERE.  It is a free download.

           This is what it should look like.  Blocking will make a big difference (I hope it ends up looking like this).

I have also been doing some knitting for charity.  These baby thingss are for Taci at TACIstudio.  She will be taking them to Brazil this summer.  Looks like I need to do a few little girl things.

It's a small thing to knit a hat but we can make the world a better place just by doing small things.  After the recent tragedies in the news the world needs all the help it can get.  From murders in my local news, and a woman who shot into a McDonalds because they forgot the bacon on her burger (true), to the world news of terrorist attacks and the recent plane crash in France....it is hard to understand how human beings can hurt each other so much.
I would love to know what small things you do to make a difference in the world?

'Til next time,

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spending Less

Retirement has its perks, but $$$ isn't one of them.  It calls for some budgeting and frugality for us.
Hubby and I made a good income when we worked and we spent pretty freely. Retirement seemed like a far-off dream.  We really should have planned better.  We did put money into a 401k account, but we could have saved more.  We also used credit cards quite liberally.....why not, we could pay the bills...at least the minimum. It took us years to figure out that was a bad idea.  We spent the last 5 years before retirement getting out of credit card debt...Yay us!
And then guess what?  We turned right around and started charging again.  We have a new game plan now.  Pay cash!  Pretty radical, right?
It is really hard for Hubby.  He is more impulsive than me.  He seems to have more difficulty with the difference between a "want" and a "need".  That is my new mantra when I go shopping.
Today I stopped at Joann's for a size knitting needle that I need (um.. want?).  That's all, but OH!... the yarn was calling my name.  I fondled it, I even smelled it.  I walked away and walked back again.  But I was strong....I escaped from the store with only my knitting needles.
Then I stopped at the dollar store for a few things.  I picked things up, and I put them back down.  I stuck to my list.  I got the Easter napkins I needed and the artificial tears eye drops, and the shampoo I needed for a dollar each.  These could easily cost several times that amount at the supermarket.  These sound like such small things, but it all adds up.
Tomorrow I will take stock of the food I have in my pantry and plan a weekly menu. I have much to learn about cooking frugally but I am working on it.  That's a post for another time.

I am excited to find I have 2 followers.  Thank you and welcome to Fourmi at Frugal in France, and Gillian at hookin' A yarn.  

'Til next time,

Sunday, March 22, 2015


My family is sad today.  My community is shocked.
  My son-in-law's best friend was murdered yesterday.  He was stabbed in the chest by his wife during a domestic dispute.  I have no details at this point.  I don't know the wife's side of the story.  When I hear news like this I always wonder WHY?  How could this have been prevented?  A young man in the prime of his life, by all accounts one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, tragically gone.

And I think about choices....life really boils down to choices.  So many choices we make every day, even seemingly insignificant choices, can impact our lives forever.  It is important to make good choices.  
I wonder if different choices could have been made in the lives of these 2 young people with so much ahead of them.  Choices that could have prevented this tragic end.  It is a tragedy for the wife and her family as well.  She is in custody, charged with murder.  Her life is forever changed too.

Hold your loved ones close, take nothing for granted, life can change in an instant.

Praying for a kinder, gentler, world today

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Best Day of the Week

Today was my knitting group.  We meet at a local book store/cafĂ©.  It is a day that I always look forward to.  It is so much fun to see the projects of others and to ask advice if needed.  Knitters understand each other.  No one understands the pain and frustration of frogging a project that just isn't working out the way another knitter does.  We always spend the time chatting up a storm too.  This group is so much fun it almost feels guilty!  2 uninterrupted hours to knit, a chai latte, and the company of friends....a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Hubby is away at a State bowling tournament today and tomorrow.  That left me to spend some quality time with granddaughter Marley.  She is 5 & 3/4 and she will be sure to tell you that.  My daughter and son-in-law were both working this evening so I picked Marley up about 4:30pm and we went to see the baby chicks at the local farm store. We live in a small town.....that's pretty exciting for us, lol.

Then home to make spaghetti, Marley's favorite meal.  She has had a rough week with a bad cough that has made it hard for her, and her mom, to get a good night's sleep.   Wednesday she spent the night vomiting and was home from school Thursday and Friday.  So we spent a quiet evening playing cards and dolls and watching a movie.  How many times can a 5 year old watch Frozen anyway?!

It looks like the snow is finally melting here in West Michigan.  Welcome Spring!
This is directly off the deck

and this is the rest of the yard that you see off to the right in the picture above
  That really worked! I can post pictures from my tablet.  Easy peasy!  The only problem is I had to use Hubby's phone.  I do not have data on my phone right now.  Our contract is up next month and we are going to make some changes.  I need a phone with a good camera and I need data.  I also want a large screen display.  I would love to hear your suggestions and experiences.....what kind of phone do you have?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Let's Get Started!

I planned to start this blog shortly after my 60th birthday.  I wasn't quite sure where to start and I think life got in the way.
So ....a few years later....here goes.

One of the most important things in my life is family.  I am blessed to have our son and daughter living nearby and get to spend lots of time with granddaughters Amber (10), Marley (5), and Hayley (2 1/2).  I like to think they are helping to keep Hubby and me young, but sometimes I think they just keep us tired.

Today we took Hayley with us to the Farm and Garden store to see the baby chicks and ducks.  She loved watching them.  Hello peep-peeps.  Hello quack-quacks!

We bought seeds for the garden. We plant a garden every year and it's never very productive.  We aren't good with the actual care of a garden.....we just want to plant it and harvest it.  We vowed again, as we do every year, to do better this time. Right now we have a vision (delusion) of a bountiful garden.   I'll let you know how that works out.

I retired in June 2013.  I am still trying to find the right balance between necessary chores, relaxation, fun, and making the world a better place in some way.  I worked for almost 20 years as an RN at a Federally Qualified Health Clinic.  It was more than a paycheck to me.  It was also a mission, and I know that I was able to make a difference.
Today I spent the afternoon (while Hayley was napping) doing some charity knitting. For now that seems to satisfy my need to make a positive contribution to the world.
I am also working on a shawl for myself and trying to knit my very first sock on DPNs.  I will post some pictures when/if I get them finished.
I'm looking forward to this new adventure into blog land!  I hope you will join me.