December 31, 2015

Happy New Year's Eve!

Insanity.

The chaos of the holidays AND work is nothing short of insanity.  Hmmmm...I think there are books written about that.  Perhaps I should read one of them!?!

But tonight is something altogether different, an annual event not to be missed.  An evening with dear friends, eating, playing games, laughing, and laying on the couch (that would be me) is all good for the soul.  Sir Bradley has the honor of cleaning and prepping, so I'm free and clear!  Woohoo!

To all my blogging friends, enjoy tonight and stay safe and warm. 2016 promises to be a fine year!

December 21, 2015

Preserved Lemons

What a brilliant idea...preserved lemons!  Apparently they taste unbelievably wonderful in Moroccan food.  Which I don't cook.  But I know several who might be willing to try, and perhaps they will let me taste test??

It is really quite easy...salt, lemons, more salt, more salt, and some added lemon juice.  Just don't believe those Moroccan women when they tell you to quarter the lemons so they flower out. Cut them all the way, because they DO NOT fit in the jar like they do in those fancy internet pictures no matter how hard you pry and maneuver them.  There is no kitchen tool to make it work, and trust me, I tried all of them.

This Christmas, the wedge method rules!  


December 18, 2015

International Symposium - In the Sun!

The 26th ALS/MND Symposium was an incredible experience, learning and sharing together with researchers and practitioners from all over the world to try and solve the mysteries of ALS and other neurological diseases.  

As I shared with my friends on Facebook, after sitting through "Characterization of C9orf72 expression in pathological cohort uncovers new clinical associations with specific C9orf72 transcripts,"  a little pool therapy was in order!!  Nothing like a little sunshine to set things straight.

It was just a LITTLE weird to hear "White Christmas" streaming through the speakers...




December 16, 2015

The Circle of Life

It was a hard day going into work to learn a favorite patient passed away.  Because we are human, after all, it is sometimes hard for us to separate our emotions from our work, and patients squeeze their way into our hearts.  Today we lost a great man who will not be forgotten.  A newer team member called me and sobbed, asking me over and over how we do it, how we face death so much, especially with people we know and care about.  I did not have easy answers for her.

And just now I learned of a dear family member who is at the end of life, ready to go any day.

My heart is heavy and yet so thankful for these two who have allowed me to walk the journey with them. Christmas will be a quieter celebration this year, but still a celebration - as they both would have wanted.


December 8, 2015

Monday's Commute

Normally a day of rainstorms, flooding, detours, and a lengthy commute wouldn't belong on this blog...it's hard to come up with anything extraordinarily wonderful about being parked on the freeway!  (DO YOU SEE THAT SPEEDOMETER?) But my car time became a mental exercise in mindfulness.

I was thankful for a car with no leaks - no duct tape anywhere, and good tires.  And it's paid for - how good is that?! And Rain-X.  Love the stuff.

And I shot up a million prayers for friends who are struggling with kids, cancer, financial issues, life... my commute issues suddenly became smaller.  Funny how a little gratitude can change things!


December 7, 2015

New Neighbors

After many years, the house on the corner sold.  It looks like a nice family with young kids moved in. Treats are ready for delivery if I can catch them at home!

December 4, 2015

Pumpkin Pie

So I had to share this pumpkin pie with you - after breaking up the seasonal color scheme.  Too many days of brown.  =)

So this pie was made using the custard recipe, with the addition of 1 Tbsp. corn starch.  The pumpkin part was absolutely fabulous!!! The crust, however, was just pretty awful.  It promised to be light a flaky going into the oven, but came out kind of like leather.  Tough leather.

It's always neat to hear people exclaim, "How wonderful!" and then watch them every so quietly scrape all of the pumpkin off and leave the crust on their plates. I'm thinking it was the ultimate test of love... and  I won by continuing to smile and love them... and they LOST OUT on, well...something.  An opportunity to build character?? Ha!


December 3, 2015

More Color

Ah, more color!  A quick trip to the fields to try and find some rose hips lead us by this patch of red twig dogwood.


December 2, 2015

Downy Woodpecker

Ever wonder where the days go?  Our lives have been so busy it's been hard to catch our breath.

The other day I was looking out the window for any color whatsoever.  Everything is a shade of brown it seems.  What a delight to see a downy woodpecker come to the suet feeder.  That little spot of red was the most beautiful thing ever!  He happily shared the feeder with a friendly chestnut-backed chickadee.  This brief brush with beauty spoke to my soul.

Without a telephoto lens, a digital close-up will have to do. =)


November 20, 2015

Camas Lily Fields

The lily fields are wet and cold.  Winter is upon us.  But I could hardly take it all in, distracted by the thrill of actually being able to hike up that hill.  The heart is still as good as new!


November 19, 2015

Rain...

After months and months of record-setting dry and warm weather, the rain is back.

Seems my raincoat is water repellant and not waterproof...nothing like coming back after a run feeling totally wet, which is a completely different feeling than dampish.  Time to buy some new rain gear!


November 4, 2015

Apple Crisp

My bad.  I should never tempt with two deserts in one week, but the holidays are approaching, right? Time to plan ahead!  

This little gem has been honed over the years and the unthinkable has finally been achieved: a near perfect balance between healthy and dessert.  It has tons more fruit and significantly less sugar and fat than the original recipe...but it's fabulous and doesn't make you feel like a horse chewing your oats. (Hmmm...I've made a few of those "desserts" before, always pondering, after the first bite, if feeding the body and not the soul is worth it.  If you know what I mean.)


Apple Crisp
4+ lbs apples, peeled and cut up into chunks - pile 'em as high as you can without the topping falling out
1-1/4 c. organic, extra thick old fashioned oats (Thanks, Bob's Red Mill!)
1 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. flour (whole wheat works fine)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cube unsalted butter, melted
(Good optionals:  A dash of flax meal or a cup of nuts )

Place apples in 9x13" glass dish.  Mix remaining ingredients and crumble over top.  Don't mash down flat.  Bake @ 375° x 55 mins.

November 3, 2015

Banana Squash Like You've Never Seen

We sure grow 'em big out here in the Wild West!!

It was a wet, dark, and windy night slogging through the corn maze, slipping through the mud and trying not to feel too soggy.  The thought did occur to me, only in America do we pay money to do this kind of thing...

The best part of the night was swinging by the farm market to find a 32-pound banana squash. Unbelievable!  It made a lovely gift today for a very special couple and we can't wait to see how many recipes it shows up in over the next couple of years.  Hahahahaha!

November 2, 2015

Pumpkin Custard

OK, so where has pumpkin custard been all my life????  Holy cow, this stuff is good.  Good plain, hot, cold, for breakfast, in the middle of the night, and especially on top of waffles.  You'll hear the angels sing.


Pumpkin Custard
15 oz canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix it all up.  Pour into individual custard cups or a large, shallow dish.  Place in larger dish partially filled with hot water.  (I'm still not convinced this actually does anything but apparently it protects the delicate custard and I'm not going to risk messing with anything so princess-like.)  Bake @ 350° x 50 mins until set.

October 13, 2015

Pumpkin On A Fence

It's that time of year.  The weather is way too warm still, but the pumpkins don't seem to mind.  I saw this one hanging from a fence on a recent walk.  I can't believe those vines didn't break!

October 12, 2015

Getting Healthy!!

Where have I been, you ask?

It's been 11 weeks since my heart problem was fixed and my, oh my, how things have changed!  As my new life unfolds, my more sedentary activities are dropping by the wayside. And those things I haven't been able to do are suddenly consuming big chunks of my time. Besides the roller skating adventure,  I've been walking, swimming, canoeing, skipping, skipping and laughing and chasing kids all at the same time, dancing, running, hauling and stacking wood, and playing tennis. (Important to note I've actually hit the ball a few times - no small miracle.) More often than not, I look like an old mother out there, but I don't care.  I'm up and feeling great, so let 'em laugh.  Ha! ;)

After living on two cardiac floors for a week, I decided that as much as it is within my power, I will never, ever be a cardiac patient ever again.  So I'm exercising 6 days a week and eating like a champion. The scale is dropping but that's not as important as the way I feel - terrific.

People have asked what "diet" I'm on.  My new lifestyle is a whole grain Mediterranean one, which research shows to be related to significantly lower total mortality rates, as well as lower rates of heart disease, peripheral artery disease, strokes, insulin resistance, cancer, depression, infections, obesity, memory loss, dementia, Parkinson's, type 2 diabetes...the list keeps going.

Holy. Cow.

If you're looking for a good resource, the best nutritional cookbook I've found professionally or personally is Good Food Great Medicine.  One of the best - and hardest - quotes:  "Cookie jars don't belong in the homes of responsible adults.  However, if you do make cookies now and then, don't lose sight of their mission, which is to brighten the eyes and delight the soul."

In:  Plentry of fish, whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, olive oil, and raw nuts; cultured dairy such as yogurt, kefir, and cheese; moderate amounts of meat, poultry, and eggs.

Out:  Refined grains, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors, additives, commercially fried foods, and sugar (ouch).  Even those whole grain, organic breakfast cereals, crackers, soft breads, and chips are out - too much processing creates problems.

Here are some typical lunches.  (There's salmon buried in those salads.)  If nothing else, they are certainly colorful!



September 29, 2015

A Convent

It was a rare opportunity to see the old dorm-style convent at the hospital before everything is to be torn down and renovated into offices.  The nuns who lived there over the course of six decades are aging and have been transferred to a place of care. Some of them taught at a local Catholic high school, but most worked in the hospital.

It felt barren, void of the smiles and labors of those who gave their lives to service.  The huge porcelain farm sink that was once used for washing their habits sat dry and perfectly polished white, and the Singer sewing machine that sewed those habits sat quietly. Such memories those walls hold!

Sister Margaret and her assistants more than pleased to show me around.




September 21, 2015

Honeybees

Fall is here - you can feel it in the air. And the honeybees are busy doing what they do best with the last of the flowers.

Ever wonder if they can taste the flavors?  Does peppermint make a delightful nectar?


September 18, 2015

Romance Quotient

It's called RQ around this house.  And it went up significantly over the weekend.

I came home from a run and was surprised with a picnic lunch in the Lower 40.  The menu consisted of water with peppermint leaves, toasted cheese breads with tomatoes, and fresh yogurt with pineapple chunks.

He's a keeper, he is.  =)

September 17, 2015

Real Men

I am convinced there is a certain subsection of men who are so confident they don't care about appearance, especially in the comfort of their own home.


(I love you, Sir Bradley.  Birks and all.)

September 9, 2015

Waffle Cookies

These little darlings are just sweet enough to make kids and adults alike believe they are cookies. And they are such a novelty no one will think twice!  I tried tossing in a few dried tart cherries, and they did well, so now it's time to try adding a few more healthy ingredients.  Nuts? Coconut? Raisins? Chocolate? The possibilities are endless.

Thanks, Mary Ellen, for sharing your real "Belgian wafel" recipe.  =)


The healthier version is listed here...the original recipe is noted in parentheses, and tastes more like a regular cookie.

Waffle Cookies 
2/3 c. butter, melted  (original:  1 c.)
2/3 c. sugar (original 1 c.)
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1-1/4 c. white flour + 1-1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour (original: 3-1/8 c. white flour) (Note:  I had to use up to 1/2 c. more flour as my eggs were larger than normal.  Should be able to roll into balls easily.)

Chill.  Shape into balls.  Bake 4 at a time in waffle iron.  Hide them.
Makes approx 3 dozen.

September 8, 2015

Wild Blackberries

We headed out to pick a bushel and came back with enough to toss into a peach crisp.  The year has been too dry and too hot, and most of the berries were either dried on the vine or too small and seedy. But we loved being in the woods, and oh, the smell of those blackberry bushes -- good for the soul!


September 7, 2015

Roller Skating

It was a blast from the past, back to the old roller skating rink we went to as kids.  Not a square inch of the place has changed! Amazingly enough, there is still a pipe organ player behind the glass, playing from the same old music book.  

Special notes:
  • It's not as easy as I remembered, but just as fun!
  • You burn 500 calories just putting those dang things on.
  • You burn another 1500 calories trying to stand up and make your way to the edge of the rink. 
  • Everything is better with friends.  


August 31, 2015

Hot Days, Cool Trees

The girls headed right for the shade of the trees to find relief from the hot sun.  They were happy to stay there the entire afternoon.


August 24, 2015

The Love of a Dog

It was a fun drive up to Hood River and around the back side of Mt. Hood to Lost Lake.  What a great place to camp!  One of the best parts for Sir Bradley?  The loves on the way up.  The man and his hunting dog are quite attached.  =)




August 17, 2015

We've Been Away


Anyone care to venture why we were sleeping elsewhere last week?  Does anyone recognize this???


August 10, 2015

Plum Jam!

Come pick some plums.  That was music to our ears, and what we couldn't enjoy as tasty treats were thrown into the pot for plum jam.  Oh, the colors!  Holy cow, it tasted good.

And it's important to mention jam-making was preceded by FORTY MINUTES of dancing in the kitchen.  My heart held.  Does it get any better than this??


August 4, 2015

Chicken Baths

Where there is dirt, there are baths to be had...



August 3, 2015

View From A Bike

Oh, it feels amazing to be active!  Recovery has been slower than expected, but I'm gaining ground every day.  We enjoyed a week away for some much needed R&R and I got to ride a bike for the first time in many, many years!  I think I was crawling along at about 2mph but it felt like a joy ride!

July 28, 2015

Good to Be Home

Oh, there is so much color outside of hospital walls.  There is so much beauty!


July 27, 2015

Fixed, Cured, Healed!!

I've been gone for a bit, with some time spent in Houston.  I was worried about what to wear, but I discovered hospital gowns are all the rage.

We are overjoyed, ecstatic, and still in disbelief at the recent course of events.  One of the finest EP cardiologists in the world was able to fix my heart!!!!  This was a fourth and final attempt and we are thrilled beyond measure!!!!  I am cleared for a serious exercise program the beginning of August, and I'm out to find one of those cute running skirts and a heart monitor!!!

I am humbled and profoundly grateful.  God is good.



July 8, 2015

Welcome to the 21st Century

It was a neat, neat experience to walk into the credit union and be greeted by two tellers who were, oh, about fourteen years old.  (Seriously, have you noticed how everyone is getting younger and younger?  My dentist is probably only 22.) One of them kindly asked what I needed, and as soon as I said, "I'd like to deposit a check," all conversation stopped and eyes were on me.  Polite eyes, but eyes, nonetheless.  It was an awkward silence as they looked at me, trying to grasp why in the world I would come in to do this.  Finally, the young woman responded, "Have you ever considered doing this on your phone?"

Well, no I hadn't, thank you.  Just because I have an iPhone doesn't mean I really know how to use it.

Both youngsters walked around the counter, stood beside me, and slowly talked me through each step of the process.  I knew they wanted to bust out laughing, but their self-control was impressive.  I wanted to say, You know, if you got into a car accident or developed a wound or needed a feeding tube or had a terminal illness, I could help you.  Having any boy-girl problems? Need help navigating life? I actually know a lot.  I'm a nurse and a mom and sometimes teenagers think I'm kinda cool (OK, not often) and I'm pretty smart.  

But the mature woman in me decided in that moment to keep quiet, smile, master something new even if I had to look stupid in the process, and walk out with my head held high.

I am now a 21st Century Woman.  I can fix people up AND deposit a check from the comfort of my own couch.

I am woman.  Hear me roar.

July 7, 2015

Front Porch Yogurt

It was time to take advantage of all the free heat around here.  Holy cow, has it been HOT!  It was a lazy, fun afternoon of yogurt-making. I set up the jars of warm milk and cultures on the front porch in the sun, and wrapped them in a dark towel. It was at least 115° under there (meaning it was too stinkin' hot to sit out there and monitor the thermometer!) and they were done in less than 6 hours.  6 hours instead of 10.  Amazing.



They needed to be shared with 4 wonderful young moms who worked like crazy to make it a fun-filled Independence Day celebration.







July 3, 2015

Quail Eggs

Oh, what little treasures these are!  They were given to Sir Bradley as a gift at the end of the year. We do realize they're meant to be eaten, but they are almost too beautiful to crack open.

July 2, 2015

Last Strawberries

There are a few strawberries left, hidden here and there.  Like many little gems in life, one must be diligent to look for them.


July 1, 2015

Mr. Frog Is Back

He's back again this summer, sitting continently underneath the comfiest deck chair.

June 30, 2015

Feeling Like a Millionaire

Rich:  1/2 gallon of local honey.

June 29, 2015

Hot Days

The girls are feeling the heat and humidity like all the rest of us.  Their way of cooling off?  Heading under the trees in search of a good dirt bath.  =)




June 23, 2015

A Houseful of Flowers

We've been graced by friends who've retired, graduated, and hosted parties...and we are so happy to take the extra flowers off their hands!  Love them (the flowers and the people)!


June 22, 2015

29th Wedding Annivsersary

The day started waking up to a bouquet of 29 wild daisies, followed by breakfast in bed.  Now that's love!  Sir Bradley's RQ (Romance Quotient) shot way up!  It wasn't long however, before he collapsed into deep sleep, a familiar state in the weeks following the end of every school year.  He can sleep anywhere - the couch, the floor, the car, the deck, and even when standing. But I was hopeful our day could be salvaged, and sure enough, Prince Charming woke up adn started speakign in complete sentences again.

We headed out for a romantic drive up the gorge to Crown Point and were not disappointed with the beautiful scenery.  And as we meandered along the old highway, we also found a family fruit stand and a country store with some great smoked chicken. ;) All good.  29 years of good.




June 19, 2015

Gooseberries

Ours are not the large, green, sour variety I learned to enjoy in Britain so long ago.  These are tiny things, sweet and musky, and each berry requires topping and tailing.  (I just read online that by freezing the berries for two hours, the job goes much faster!)

But the jam it made was beautiful - worth all of the effort!

June 17, 2015

Biscuit Dilemmas

This definitely falls under the What was I thinking? category.

Hmmm...

Let's just say scooping very wet biscuit dough with an ice cream scoop and flattening them out all pretty-like is nothing short of Tom Foolery.  These little lovelies did not turn into real biscuits. Instead, they were mountains of crumbly messes, defying any type of handling or any sort of spread.

They did taste good, however.  I found it was best to just dump the homemade jam over the tops and use a fork.  Jam covers a multitude of sins.  =)


June 16, 2015

French Macarons

Knock.my.socks.off.

What an amazing surprise showed up!

I came home to find a lovely little package of French macarons waiting for me.  The real thing. Seems a friend's daughter, the pastry chef, up and went to France to learn how to make all kinds of wonderful things, and she's back.  Lucky for us!


June 15, 2015

Pie Cherries!

It may not look like much to you, but I see a fortune hanging on those trees.  The deer, squirrels, and birds left us nothing for so long I eventually gave up.  But this year - surprise!  Cherry cobbler! Woohoo!

June 12, 2015

Yeses and Nos

Spring, 1984.  I applied to 18 hospitals in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska.  The responses I received in the mail, in order:

No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
Yes.

I took the single job offered to me and had to trust this was a clear sign (one that even I couldn't miss) of where I needed to go.  It's a story that I will be sharing with my #1 daughter again, because she's in the middle of nos right now as she finds a job post graduation. Honestly?  It was easier to hear my own nos than to take those coming in for my sweet girl.  My mother's heartstrings are being pulled! 

June 8, 2015

Their First Parade

It was their first real parade.  The small boys had never seen one.  The young parents remember one in 2003, before the war in their home country, and it was a military march down the road.

The Rose Festival Parade is always quite the experience, and it was fun to introduce our refugee friends to this strange tradition of ours...bands, music, floats, flowers, firefighters, dancing, bagpipers, sister cities, horses, llamas, flags...



And the shade that we so welcomed?  It wreaked havoc on lighting for good pics, and in combination with all of the excitement and jumping, the good photos are etched well in my mind.  =)