Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

As I'm getting settled and making friends, I'm finding even more things to be called some of my favorites.
First, my friend Carla is helping me make a quilt. Yes, it's quite an undertaking for a rookie but I'm making it as a surprise for someone so I can't give any more details. Carla is quite the homemaker. She sews, quilts, paints and crafts galore. Besides all that, she's an amazing cook and hostess, and she lives just a few houses down from me so we can spend lots of time together.
Last week, I spent the morning at Carla's so she could show me how to prepare my fabric for cutting and sewing. At one time during the morning we took a break and she made lemonade. She didn't squeeze lemons and dump sugar, she made it from a frozen concentrate... which is perfectly fine with me. But, when she brought my glass, it was so tasty and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was different about this lemonade. In a little while she asked if I could tell what extra flavor was going on there.. I said I could not. She said it was this:
Sugar free vanilla syrup you buy for your coffee. Let me just tell you, it makes your lemonade taste like a hint of vanilla ice cream. It's like lemonade ice cream goodness. I think I'm addicted. I've gone through a bottle and a half of this syrup and a whole container of Crystal Light Lemonade. Even Nick loves this and pours himself a glass or two every evening after work.

Another of my favorite things right now is the beautiful weather we're having in the Pacific northwest. I really can't capture the weather, so here is a shot of how I'm enjoying that weather. I love to sit out back at my little patio table with my lemonade. As you can see, I'm equipped with a magazine straight from the mailbox and the ever handy dog leash and poop bag. You just never know when you'll need those when you have these:

No fence in this yard so they spend a little time tied to a stake in the ground. They seem to be OK with it.

Here is my ghetto plant arrangement. Notice the makeshift table...another planter pot turned upside down. The smaller pot with the etching on it was marked 75% off because it has a chip on the other side. You can't even tell can you? Finding things for 75% off is definitely one of my favorite things.

I found this painted rock when I was going through some stuff I haven't seen in a while. One of my girls painted it for me years ago and forgive me, I can't remember which one. I think it was Callie, but I can't be sure. When I found it, I thought to myself, "Carla would have this in her garden"  Carla is an amazing gardener too. I forgot to mention that. She has the cutest stuff in her garden. Tea cups, painted rocks, chipped pottery. It's absolutely beautiful back in her yard. I aspire to have a yard like hers one day.

Even as ridiculous as Cleo looks with her ear all wrong side out, I kinda like her. I would say she's one of my favorite things, but she's a little stinky right now and needs a bath.
This bird feeder is something Nick and I found at a local art show last weekend. It's made simply from old dishes, a jar, and a little chicken feeder. I absolutely love it. However, I got it home and realized I don't have a tree in my backyard to hang it in. I must ask my other neighbor, Nellie what to do with it. She has a beautiful garden too and can make something out of nothing. She's the go to gal on ideas.
So, there you have it. A few of my favorite things right now.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Mother

I've always known my mother was a strong woman. She is also one of the most compassionate and carring people I know.
My mom is a nurse and has been for a very long time. She has made her life about caring for others.
I watched her, years ago, care for my dying grandfather, my dad's father. I realized then how good she is at it.
For the last several months, my mom and dad have been making frequent trips from Arkansas to Tennessee to care for my dad's sister who is dying from cancer.
First, they were trying to help find treatment and answers. Now, just a few short months later, they are helping keep her comfortable and at peace with her impending death.
My aunt has come to rely on my mom completely. When she awakens, she asks for her. When she sleeps, she wants my mom beside her. If that's not comfort, I don't know what is.
I spoke to my mom on the phone last night to check in on my beloved aunt's status. She told me she's very ill and may not make it through the night. She told me of the conversation she had with my aunt earlier in the day. She told me Aunt G asked how to "go home"  My mom told her to reach out and take it. My mother also spoke to my cousins and told them to tell their mother, "it's ok."  It's ok to go, we'll be fine.
First, let me say I just don't know if I could do that and keep it together. I'm crying just typing this. My mom did it with peace in her soul. I guess it's because she knows her sister-in-law will be painfree and happy again once she goes "home".
I'm so grateful to have had the chance to see this aunt twice in the last few years. She came with my parents to Hawaii three years ago and visisted us. She came last fall to Rhode Island to see us, but even then was starting to suffering from some "strange back pain"  and couldn't enjoy herself.
God bless my aunt and bless the precious woman taking care of her right now. I pray for my cousins so that they will have peace during this terrible time. They lost their father a few years ago and only one short year ago, their older brother.
Here is a photo of my aunt visiting us in Hawaii. I prefer to remember her like this. Smiling, partying, and showing Callie and me how to make her famous fried corn.
This is my mom, on the left, my auntie on the right. Smiling and having too much fun at a Luau in Hawaii.

This is my precious aunt at the Luau with the sunset over the ocean behind her. Beautiful.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Boy is Back

One week ago today, I picked Alex up from the airport. He had just spent a month with his mom out in North Dakota and was coming to Washington for the first time. It just so happens that his father was gone when he arrived. Nick is TDY for three weeks so it's me and the kid.
I have to admit, I was a little nervous about how we would spend our time and what in the world we would talk about.
This last week has been interesting and busy. I got him registered for school, he's attended his first few football training sessions, shopped for all the football equipment we'd need, and we've had a good look around the area. He's even met a couple of guys in the neighborhood to hang out with.
The challenge is getting him out more. He surely does love to sit in front of any kind of screen and play a game. Computer, Xbox, etc. My goal was to let him work on the balance needed between real life and the imaginary games he's involved in. Turns out he's not ready for that challenge. Yesterday, we had to set a few boundaries. It seems this boy works better with a more structured schedule. Left on his own, he will sit for the whole day and play. He proved this to me on Saturday.
Yesterday was spent washing a car, doing his laundry, going to the commissary to inquire about a job, and reading. No computer games at all yesterday.
Today he gets back into his workout routine..and he's making dinner for me. I decided to get him involved in the everyday chores of running a household. I told him to pick out two meals he'd like to make for dinner, make a list of ingredients and we'd pick them up.(surprisingly, he was excited about this and really got into it)
So, tonight it's a chicken dish he says he made up back with his mom. Chicken breasts, a jar of Alfredo sauce, so many little containers of dried herbs and seasonings it makes my head spin, and pasta. Hmmm... we'll see how it goes. I think I will have to help a bit on his technique or I'll be having rubbery pan fried chicken with over-seasoned jarred sauce.
Thursday night he's making a stir fry. He was so funny picking his ingredients.
Mandarin oranges
Baby Corn
Sugar Snap Peas
This is going to be a rich stir fry. He is serving it over rice for me.
His last culinary decision was what dessert he wants to make. He chose brownies and they are coming from a box.
My goal, when we started this, was to have him choose a dish he loves, research a recipe, and follow the recipe. So far, we've failed. He chose one dish he "made up"  and one dish that requires throwing stuff in a pan and stir frying it. Once again, we'll need to learn technique and some knife skills. Pray for me.

Last night I grilled rib-eye steaks, fresh corn on the cob and asparagus...all on the grill. It was DELICIOUS!
I stopped at the farm stand on Saturday and picked up the fresh corn, some beautiful tomatoes, blueberries and peaches. That evening I made two peach and blueberry cobblers. YUM. I took one next door to my neighbors who have a son the same age as Alex and I'm the diggety bomb with that kid now.
Wednesday, I'm meeting some old friends from Hawaii for lunch.  Nick's battalion Chaplain back in Hawaii is here and will be our Brigade chaplain again. We are thrilled. So, I'm having lunch with them and looking forward to catching up.
Have a fabulous Monday everyone. I'm off to the gym to see if I can burn off some peach and blueberry cobbler.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Slowly but Surely...

Slowly, I'm starting to find my niche.
I have a FABULOUS group of ladies in my neighborhood. They have taken me in and treated me like an old friend. We get together several times a week either for coffee, cocktails, or to walk. Actually, they walk every morning but I have been easing myself into it. These women are hard core and they kick my butt!
I'm having a blast with them and they have made me feel so welcome.
Alex flew in today after a month with his mother. The kid hasn't seen a barber shop or a razor since we left him there. First thing tomorrow, haircut.  We won't leave the house until he shaves that fuzzy face! Oy.
On another note, it appears I'm on the spouse's club board already. One of my fab neighbors was the membership chair, but really, really wanted to be the bazaar chair, so her assignment was to find some poor sucker,... um.. volunteer.. to take the membership position. Me, being the sucker I am, said, sure! I'll chair the membership committee!  (committee meaning just me)
So, exactly one month since the day we rolled into town, I will attend my first board meeting. Nothing like jumping right in!
I figure between the butt kicking walks in the morning and finding something to do with my time, I might lose a few of the pounds I've packed on during the last few years.
I'm loving being here and can't wait to really get involved and meet more of the wonderful people who work behind the scenes here.