Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Inheritance

My parents were never wealthy. In fact, they were in dire poverty during the years of the Great Depression; I have never experienced anything near the desperation that they lived through during those years. Through their own hard work and values they were able to give me a middle class childhood and youth, a college education, and a priceless inheritance. My inheritance included:
1. A love of reading and learning
2. The knowledge of how to live a good life by making the best of what you have. Cooking, sewing, gardening
3. A spirit of perseverance and a work ethic
4. An example of debt free living
5. A spirit of independence, taking care of my family, not being dependent on others

As I get older, how I have come to appreciate my parents and the inheritance they gave me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Olympics

It seems like a waste of time and money to me. But then I've never been any good at sports and not interested in watching them either. I don't understand why someone would spend years and years of their lives on an activity that 3 people in the entire world every four years get a medal for. The rest of the competitors get nada; OK maybe they get to teach skiing or skating to a bunch of snotty kids for a living but really all that time and effort and money to teach at the local ice rink?? Then there are the injuries not just the injuries during the Olympics which are widely publicized but all the life altering injuries that don't get publicized in the years of training. Finally, I don't really admire people who are so totally focused on themselves which I suppose you would have to be to beat out everyone else in the world every fourth year. Not my cup of tea. Just my opinion, everyone else seems glued to their televisions.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Quilt Saga

Well, the world's slowest quilter has finished quilting the much modified Amish Cross quilt that was begun about a year ago. I have sworn off small piece patterns forever after this one. I need to trim and bind the edges and when I do I promise that I will take a picture of it and learn how to post it to the blog. I have had so much trouble with this quilt that while I am pretty pleased with it, my main feeling is one of relief. As always, there are several new quilts percolating in my mind but my next project will be to re-bind my Irish Chain quilt--the edges are quite frayed. Then there are the placemats and napkins that I bought fabric for last fall--no one need know that they were supposed to be for last fall instead of next autumn...

Thought for the day:
Old quilters never die, they just go to pieces.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Cats

One of these days, I'll get more computer literate and post pictures but in the meanwhile, I'll just tell you about my three furry friends.

LuckyDuck is the oldest (age 7) and biggest (weight much more than it should be). And while by rights as the eldest and biggest he should be Head Cat, he is the most mellow cat I have ever known. He is one big, black furry peacenik. He was dumped on my Aunt's back porch one cold, rainy November day when I just happened to be visiting. I brought the tiny thing inside and fed and warmed him; when we left I took him with me and named him Lucky because he would not have survived the night if I had not been there to bring him in. He loves to lie belly up in the sunshine and does not like to be too far separated from his Cat Chow bowl.

Bandit is Mr. Personality, Head Cat, and as far as he is concerned, ruler of the universe. He just moved in with us about 5 years ago telling us how very fortunate we were to have him move in. We, of course, concur. He pushes LuckyDuck around until LD has had enough; LD will bat him with a massive paw, fluff himself out to an enormous size, and hiss like a fury whereupon Bandit decides it is in his best interest to back off. The thing is Bandit loves LD and wants to snuggle up with him and 99 times out of 100, they co-exist most peaceably. Bandit is the mighty hunter and has brought us birds, mice, and small snakes; most generous, he wants us to share in the joy of his triumph and announces loudly and proudly his kill. He used to be a wanderer but since last year when he was gone for 8 days (We assume he was lost in the woods.), he has stuck close to home.

Our third cat is Missy who JMM snatched out of a tree when she was a tiny kitten. We think she was the only survivor of her litter. She was very frightened the first two years that we had her and lived in the attic, coming down only for food and the litter box. JMM wanted to close off the attic so that she would have to spend more time with us but I insisted that she needed a place where she felt safe and would join us when she was ready and she has. She rarely goes to the attic unless we have company. Missy is a retriever and loves for me to toss a little ponytail hair band which she will retrieve for me. She is a very finicky eater and has always been rather bony thin. She is one of those cats that have grown prettier as she has grown and filled out a bit.

So those are my three companions with whom I share my electic blanket on these cold winter nights.

The Shouldas

I get very put out with myself when I get a case of the shouldas. You know, you should have exercised more, saved more money, kept house better, eaten nothing but healthy food (whatever the current trend in what's healthy), been more active in church / community, etc. One of the nice things about getting older is that more often one just says, "Be Gone!" to the shouldas. But occassionally, I do get caught up in the shouldas. I find myself comparing myself to others who are more successful than I in various areas. Then I think about the price that is paid for that success and realize that I have succeeded in areas that I was willing to pay the price but not in others where I didn't think the result was worth the cost to me. I have to remind myself that I have limited time, limited energy, and a finite budget and I want to be selective with each of them. I have to balance a need for activity and community with a need for peace and rest. I need to balance kindness and generosity with frugality and thrift. There are always more good things to do and be part of than there are time and resources to do them. It is a matter of balance.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Color on a gray day

We are in the gray days of winter lately. Gray skies, gray landscape. But there are jewels of color outside too--we have a flock of 50+ goldfinches around the sunflower and thistle feeders. Occassionally there is a flash of red and a cardinal has landed. The little brown & rust colored sparows and the tiny titmouse add their colors. And once in a while a great squawking blue jay clears out everyone but himself while he loads up on sunflower seeds.
Inside I have a pastel pink cyclamen blooming and my Christmas cactus is loaded with buds to bloom in a week or so.
The gray days make a nice background for the bursts of color. I think it is important to see beauty; often we see only the gray but the color is there for the looking.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Running around in the rain

JMM is taking 2 days of vacation with me this week while I am on vacation. Yesterday we had errands to do in spite of the rain. If there is one thing that sets me on edge, it is freeway driving in the rain in rather heavy traffic. No one seems to remember that you need to slow down and give yourself some extra room in case you need to come to a quick stop on rain slicked streets.
But we needed to take care of several items all in one trip.
First stop was the bank to get the back up hard drive out of the safe deposit box and then to Fry's to get a TurboTax CD on sale; this afternoon is income tax time. I am anticipating owing this year since we reduced our 403b contributions to finish paying off the house. (Yes, we have both reinstated our full 403b contributions.)
Next we drove to The Scooter Store to pick up my scooter. It is just like taking your car to a mechanic about that little odd noise the car is making and it won't make the noise when the mechanic is present. So, I am still ill at ease about my scooter just stopping on me and no one seems to know why. The battery is good, the wiring and connections are good, but the thing just stops every once in a while.
Lastly, the grocery store--$126--because I did some stocking up to replenish some depleted items. It was nice to have JMM with me; I just tore the grocery list in half and we each did half. And of course, it is nice to have help loading and unloading all the groceries.
Finally, safe and sound home!
For dinner I made Cajun Chicken Pasta which I found on PW's wonderful blog.
If you've never spent the day at her blog, well, give yourself a treat and mosey on over. Be sure to check out the cooking section for good recipes for those of us who cook for unadventurous eaters.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Applesauce Raisin Spice Cake

Applesauce Raisin Spice Cake

2 ½ cups sifted flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup oil
1 ¾ cups applesauce
3 eggs
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9X13 inch pan with non-stick spray.
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices into a large bowl.
Add applesauce, oil, and eggs beating at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Stir in raisins and nuts.
Turn into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cup butter
1 8 oz. cream cheese
1 lb box powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla

This and that

It is another cold, wet day and I am glad to able to stay home on vacation.

I took my electric scooter in to The Scooter Store Monday and they called today to say that they can't find what is causing it to stop abruptly. Great, just great. I told him to keep it another day and to carefully check all the connections because something is wrong.

About a year and a half ago I had Sirius radio installed in my car. What a waste of money!! It sounded like a good idea but turned out that there simply wasn't anything that I cared to listen to on at the times that I was commuting to work. Finally today I decided not to waste any more money on it and canceled it. Frankly with internet radio these days, Sirius days are numbered.

I made an Applesauce Raisin Spice Cake this afternoon and iced it with Powdered Sugar/ Cream Cheese icing. Yikes, is it ever seriously good!! I'll post the recipe.

Have you ever watched Foyle's War? If you haven't, you are in for a treat. It is set in Hastings, England during WWII where Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle solves crimes while dealing with the difficulties of a country facing invasion, bombing, and scarcity. Excellent series; be sure to start from the beginning. I'm on a Foyle's War marathon while on vacation.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Nice Day to Stay Home

I am on vacation this week. It is so nice to look outside and see all the cold rain coming down and just pull the electric blanket up, turn over, and go back to sleep. I love my job and feel very rewarded both personally and financially by it but time away from it is very appreciated too.

Today is devoted to quilting and listening to a new book on audio--Spooner by Peter Dexter. It came highly recommended so I am looking forward to it.

I received a politcal cartoon in an e-mail today that really annoyed me. It was titled The State of the Union Address and showed a picture of President Obama as a crying baby. I replied to the sender that we must have listened to two different State of the Union Addresses and left it at that. Our current administration did inherit a financial mess and two wars and what I see is that we are managing the financial mess and trying to extricate ourselves from at least one of the wars. I really don't like the political venom from either side and I realize that there is nothing that President Obama can do that will not be attacked from the Republicans. But I think it important that I was just as annoyed with the viciousness toward GWB even though I adamantly opposed the war in Iraq (and still do). I suppose that just shows how I am not cut out for politics--I want reasonable people discussing the pros and cons of issues and making reasonable decisions and what I get is assinine political cartoons.

OK, enough politics and back to a nice day to stay home.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Feeling much better

I am back in the land of the living (and out of the bathroom) today. Yesterday I was either in bed trying to get warm or in the bathroom; my sweet daughter came over and did household duty while I recouperated.
Today I feel back to normal. I have to take my scooter in for repair--there seems to be an electrical connection problem such that it simply stops and does not go. Not a good thing since that is the scooter that I use for work, grocery shopping, and general getting out and about. Since I am on vacation this week, this is a good time to take it in; I can use my little house scooter while it is in the shop.
For dinner today, I am making More Casserole and Salad which is what I'd planned for yesterday. I'll post the recipe later as it is a really good, inexpensive meal for a crowd or for the freezer.
I finished reading Paula Deen's autobiography It Ain't All about the Cookin'. She's made an amazing journey and I'm glad things turned out well for her. I've just started The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias; it looks like it is full of food for spiritual thought.

Thought for the day:
What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family. Mother Teresa