Sunday, October 31, 2010

They keep me going...

I was never much of a gardener. I grew up around gardens, my father's vegetable garden and my mother's multitude of flower beds. To me, it was a chore. I had to weed. I had to pick green beans and zucchini. Heaven forbid. I was lucky enough to have access to fresh vegetables like those my father grew. He had an amazing vegetable garden. One that I wish I had. The carrots and beets in the picture above came from seed. Last February. Go figure. I planted them then, they got harvested today. And I have to tell you, I had wire domes covering the carrots to keep the bunnies out of them. I'd find bunny pellets surrounding the domes, any greens growing outside the domes sheared down. (I think the bunnies were practicing their telekenesis skills on those domes) These are the little carrots that could... I'm not a great gardener, but at least I'm trying.

Last year, the pastor of my church gave a sermon about how great it would be if we could use some of the property owned by the church to start a community garden that would help feed those in need. Some days I don't know what I was thinking, going to those first planning meetings, but I'm so proud of where we've come. To date, we've harvested almost 400 pounds of produce that was donated to a local food pantry and to the church's food share program. We're growing organic produce for the hungry and for our families, and that really makes it all worthwhile. And yes, organic, local, fresh produce is good for you and tastes like nothing other. Would I have stepped up, knowing what would be required of me to see this project come to fruition? I don't know. But I did. The garden, and all it stands for, helps keep me going.

This second picture is of another thing that helps keep me going. In the first few months of our first year here in TX we adopted a wonderful Puppygirl. She had a REALLY awful first few years of her life. She's slow to trust, spooks easily, and is very skittish around strangers and cameras. I can rarely get a decent picture of her. The only reason I got this picture of her today is because she was wondering what I was carrying in the colander (see above) when I came in from outside. I had the camera in one hand and *snap* I got a picture of her with a smile on her face. Her smile is something few people outside of her family and comfortable friends group will ever see. I have to be honest. She is one of the loves of my life. She is an amazing, sweet, loving girl. (So is Shortstuff, my Sous Chef, next to her, don't get me wrong. She's our meet and greet committee who loves nearly everyone.) I love my furry kids. They make my heart smile.

What makes your heart smile and keeps you going?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Way to go Rangers!

I don't actually follow baseball, but I'm very happy that the Rangers won the title last night. (I was never a Yankees fan when I lived/worked in NY. I prefered the Mets.) A lot of my friends are huge Rangers fans, and I'm sure there will be a few AL Champions shirts worn to church tomorrow. From what I've observed since moving to Texas, Texans take their religion and their sports very seriously.

In that light, the following prayer was written in the comments section on a FB friend's post last night after the win by a man named Tony Mc. I don't know where he read it, but I thought I'd pass it along to you.

Our Rangers, who art in Texas, winners be thy name. The Yanks will come, they will be done, in New York as they will be in Texas. Give us this week a series win, and forgive us our bullpen loss, as we cause losses upon their bullpen. Lead us not into the off-season, but deliver us a championship title. For the Rangers are the swingdom, the claw, and the antlers, forever and ever. Play ball.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My second 5K

What a great day! I did my second 5K tonight. Thank you to The Aussie for heading to Plano with me and sitting around while I played. Tonight's race was the Firefly Run, benefitting Children's Medical Center in Dallas. It was a night race, with participants wearing LEDs. I finished in 36:21:43. A five+ minute improvement over my first 5K in May. I was hoping for a sub 35 since my training runs have been going well, but stupid me forgot to bring her iPod. So I'm actually quite pleased that I did as well as I did with NO music.

This was the inaugural year for the Firefly Run. Some things, like starting 15 minutes late, could be better. But what was great? There was toilet paper in the port-a-potty.

It's the little things that count. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Soup is on... fall flavors edition

My Dad had an amazing vegetable garden, so I grew up eating lots and lots of vegetables. There are very few I don't like. (Sorry eggplant and lima beans) Winter squashes weren't part of the mix though, which is a shame. They're really good. I had a butternut squash sitting on my counter, begging to be turned into curried butternut squash soup. Who was I to tell it no?

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 T curry powder
1 T olive oil
4 cups of low sodium chicken stock
1 t garlic powder
salt to taste
yogurt to garnish (optional)

In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and stir. Since I'm going to use my stick blender to puree this, rough chop is fine for the onion. Cook until transluscent, about 3 minutes.

Add in the curry powder and stir. Cook for 1 minute to let the curry spices bloom.

Add in your butternut squash, garlic powder and chicken stock. You can make this soup with sweet potato too. My guess is that pumpkin would be fantastic as well, but I haven't made that yet.

Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft and the soup is hot. This is the soup after 30 minutes. If you don't have a stick blender, you could use a potato masher to mush the squash. Or if you want a chunky soup, you can serve as is.

Add salt to taste. I added a dollop (don't you just love that word?) of low fat sour cream to my soup. And lunch is served. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thankful, and other mixed thoughts

Often on Wednesdays I like to do Wordless Wednesday, but there are words today that need to be used. Thankful. Grateful. And Hateful.

I'll explain the Hateful first. Hateful is for the hackers that hacked three of my email accounts, including the email account linked to this blog, causing my blog to be suspended. I was in tears when I tried to access my blog Monday morning, only to be met with a screen saying that the blog has been removed and that the name is not available for use. I might not be a daily, big numbers blogger, but I love my blog.

Thankful and grateful is me, because I have access back to my accounts and my blog. And I'm very thankful and grateful for you, the people who stop by, read what I'm up to, and leave encouraging comments.