Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Drinking Sunshine


When Mom brings home lemons, we make lemonade. -my kids

My son Indy discovered we had a juicer hidden in the depths of the pantry. Of course he wanted to make some juice right away. I brought home a bag of lemons for him to make us a batch of liquid sunshine. We added some sugar and water and it was tart and delicious and such fun. My husband and I joked about him being actually productive for us making nourishment for the family.
As 2009 comes to a close on this eve of New Year's Eve, I am in a reflective state of mind. I am feeling grateful for my family, friends, and warm home. Since we have been mostly in the house due to cold and snowy weather, I have felt overwhelmed at the huge responsibility of raising four kids. On this journey I need to figure out how to take care of myself and nurture my marriage as well. I know for sure that I am not alone in feeling that this is a tricky combination to excel in all areas.
My goals for this upcoming year include:
*Finding joy in each day
*Potty training my fourth and youngest child by his third birthday in May
*Clearing clutter in my home
*Exercising on a more regular basis
*Having a deeper relationship with my husband of fifteen years
*Eating and preparing healthier meals
*Sharing my joy and journey with others
Hop aboard this silly blog for a Journey of Joy.
Happy New Year and remember to shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hugs & Kisses for Santa

Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart...filled it too with melody that would last forever.
Bess Streeter Aldrich
It has been a festive Christmas Eve. I started the day by teaching a yoga class. Twelve students arrived seeking peace of mind and body and we shared the best gift to ourselves - an hour of yoga bliss.

As I was out, my mom came to help the kids transform the house and set the table for Christmas Day. After returning, I put little Scout down for a nap and Phoebe and I got to work in the kitchen preparing the Christmas Day feast. We also prepared some treats for Santa. We call them hugs and kisses for Santa. On a giant cookie sheet we placed tiny pretzels on wax paper. On half we topped the pretzel with a Hershey's Hug (white and milk chocolate kiss). On the other pretzels we topped them with a chocolate and caramel Rolo. We put them in the oven for three minutes at 200 degrees to melt. After taking them out we topped the hugs with a plain M&M. The Rolos were topped with a cashew. We then placed them in the freezer to firm. These are our hugs and kisses for Santa tonight.

Now we are waiting for my husband to arrive home with Blaze and Indy from some last minute shopping. We will spend an evening home by the fire reading Christmas stories and waiting to hear the reindeer hooves on the roof.

Merry Christmas,
Kathy

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

There's a certain Slant of light, Winter Afternoons - That oppresses, like the Heft of Cathedral Tunes.
Emily Dickinson

Today is Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year due to the sun's tilt. Tomorrow the days will begin to have more daylight. I have always felt a strong pull and fascination to the winter and summer solstice dates. From the beginning of time we humans have celebrated these changing of the seasons of darkness and light with many celebrations. Christmas "Christ's Mass" is on December 25th which is Winter Solstice on the Roman or Julian calendar. Ancient Sweden's Winter Solstice is Lucia, Feast of St. Lucy. The Germanic "Yule" is celebrated with midwinter feasts and gift giving. The celebrations around the world are vast and abundant. Wikipidia.org has great information.

On this cold winter's eve, light a fire in the fireplace or some candles on the table and create your own Winter Solstice celebration to welcome the coming light.

My friend Tammy gave me a bracelet today that says "Shine". The tag reads:
Drink up each ray of sunshine
Feel the promise of hope at dawn
And bask in the miracle of a new day.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gift of a Poem

It was one year ago today that I received my last hug from my friend Granny Lin. She came that snowy and cold evening so I could go to a PTO cookie exchange. When I came home the kids were all in bed and I was in good spirits after having cookies and strong eggnog with other moms. Lin and I cheerfully talked about upcoming Christmas festivities with our families and she promised to drop off her famous yeast rolls on Christmas. I walked her out to her car and gave her a big warm hug. That was the last time I saw Lin. She passed away due to pneumonia shortly after that day.

I found out a couple months later that she had gone home that night and written me a poem. Her husband recalled she was very intent on finishing this poem and stayed up late into the night. He found the poem on her computer desktop weeks after her passing and gave it to me.
It is truly a gift.

Dear Kathy,
There is nothing more beautiful than the rainbow
There is nothing more uplifting than the raindrops glow
There is nothing more exhilarating than the gentle winds
There is nothing more blessed than the sun God sends.
Only a child of God is more marvelous
Walk tall, you're a daughter of God
Cling fast, fast to the iron rod
Recognize the beautiful rainbow that your are
Be aware that though the rain falls from afar,
If you will listen
You can almost hear it glisten.
Be aware that though the winds are gentle and sweet,
You can almost see them as the flowers move to its beat.
Be aware that though the sun makes no sounds
You can almost hear the joy it causes; it abounds.
LB Toney Dec. 18, 2008

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Grateful for Friends

The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.
H.D. Thoreau

Today I am feeling grateful for the friends in my life. As time goes by I am realizing how important friendships are yet how fragile they are too. Friendships need to be tended to and nurtured. In this season of giving the best gifts for friends are a little time and attention. A card, phone call, e-mail, or even text to just check in. Getting together is even better.

Last night my book club of nine years gathered for our annual holiday party and book exchange. We drank red sangria, ate homemade goodies including Shannon's holiday split pea, lentil, & cranberry soup, fresh salad with candied walnuts, asiago cheese bread, and Anna's creamy chocolate brownie trifle. We all chose a wrapped book and laughed because the books all happened to fit us so well. By the end of the evening we were gathered around the table just talking. After nine years I found out one friend has her black belt in Karate. They asked me to do a yoga Sun Salutation in my heels. We continue to learn and grow as friends.

We contemplated what has made our book club continue for nine years. None of us live in the same neighborhood and a few of us drive up to 45 minutes each month. Yes, we have proudly read 88 books but we have become more of a friend club than a book club. We decided that our commitment to showing up once a month is key. Making time for each other is not always easy to do but is always worth it. No matter how tired, busy, stressed, or crazy our schedules are we show up regularly to share two hours of fun each month. These two hours each month for nine years have gotten us through birthing numerous babies, new jobs, illness, layoffs, marital strife, divorce, and many other personal triumphs and tragedies.

So, friends this is for you. Thank you for sending those silly or heartfelt e-mails, cheering on the sidelines of our kids' sports games, carpooling, meeting for a quick lunch, showing up for book club, or talking on the phone from afar. You are cherished.

Shine your light,
Kathy

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stuff

You can't hitch a U-Haul to your coffin.
M. Toney

My neighbor Marc said these words to me almost a year ago shortly after he lost his beloved wife and my friend Granny Lin. Lin and I became friends over a loaf of bread. During our first Christmas living in the country I had a two year old and a newborn. My husband works long hours into the evening and I was a little lonely. Just before Christmas Lin drove up and sang me a Christmas carol with her grandson and gave me a warm loaf of bread. We were fast friends.

For six years she watched the kids while I ran to the grocery each week. In the short time I was gone she would do my dishes, bake something, and read books to the kids. She even taught Phoebe how to knit. She would bake me the best pineapple upside down cake for my birthday and she was the best hugger ever. Almost one year ago I received her last hug. She is still greatly missed.

Lin was a keeper of stuff, a pack rat of sorts. She had trunks and drawers full of things old and new. It has been difficult for her husband to sort through and deal with. His quote about not being able to hitch a U-Haul to your coffin has stayed with me. How much stuff do we really need to accumulate? How many dishes, cookbooks, shoes, clothes, and things do we need to keep? I feel that well organized family photos and a few keepsakes are all anyone would ever want from us when we are gone anyway. Lin's smile, warmth, hugs, and fresh baked goodies are what I miss the most from her.

These are just thoughts that are surfacing as I move and clear my stuff to bring more holiday stuff out from the basement to put out. Come January I am cleaning house!
Shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Coffee and a Daily Dose of Inspiration


There is a voice in the universe urging us to remember our purpose for being on this great Earth. This is the voice of inspiration which is in each and every one of us.
Dr. Wayne Dyer

As I begin another busy "sports Saturday" and like most mornings, I try and wake before the "Barbarian Horde" (as my husband affectionately refers to the kids). After making a strong vanilla soy coffee I like to go to my laptop in the kitchen for some morning inspiration.

In order of my favorites section, I visit http://www.dailyword.com/ for a morning prayer.
I then click to http://www.dailyguidance.com/ for a quick positive quote.
Next, http://www.dr.waynedyer.com/daily-inspiration for another tidbit of good vibes.
Depending on time or later in the day I click on http://shaktigawain.com/ and some favorite blogs.
Two blogs are by my cousins. One is a doctor and a mother of baby triplets living in New York City. My other cousin lives in Chicago and is raising a daughter and devoting her blog to finding ways to give more of herself daily based on the book 29 Gifts.
My good friend Tiffany's blog http://stonersix.com/ documents her daily life as a Midwestern mother of four with a military husband, and she owns a photography business and works a corporate job.
Lastly, I have recently found http://psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-project.

A common thread these sites weave include focusing on joy, gratitude, faith, inner peace, and the quest for happiness in daily life. Take a peak and see if one gives you a spark of joy.
Shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dishes and Peace

If you do the small things in life well, the larger things will fall into place.

Now that we are in full swing of the holiday season my mind is swirling with a whirlwind of activities including school Christmas shows and parties, gifts to give, cards to send, Cub Scouts, basketball and indoor soccer games, a house to clean and decorate, heaping laundry baskets, and much more.

This morning peace was found in something I normally loathe. It was a sink full of dirty dishes. As I turned on the water I began to feel comfort and order as I slowly rinsed the dishes with the warm sudsy water. A calm feeling came to me that all is well. How grateful I am for the warm water....for my comfortable home and healthy family. All I have is all I need.

Finding time to embrace the sacred in the ordinary can do wonders. Doing the small daily things in a more mindful manner can pave the way for more peace throughout the day.
Shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Feeling Thankful














On this eve of Thanksgiving as my son and I stir the cranberries and I teach him how to zest an orange, I am feeling very thankful.

Tomorrow morning I will teach a yoga class and then zip home to get ready to have 15 family members for Thanksgiving Day. I am feeling surprisingly non-stressed now. The main reason is because of my Mom.

Today she drove almost an hour from her home and arrived with her car full of pressed table cloths, ironed napkins rolled and tied with raffia, a handmade centerpiece, a cherry jello dessert, and fresh pears, grapes, and cheese for a special appetizer.

We happily worked together all day to get the house clean and festive. My piles of papers and full laundry baskets are quietly hidden in the "no-no room". The extra-long table is set, the china and crystal rinsed and ready, and the scent of cranberry and orange fills the air.

The funny thing is...my Mom is not even coming tomorrow. Of course she is invited but Thanksgiving is typically my Dad's holiday and hers is Christmas. Even so she knew I needed the help and enthusiastically whisked in to save the day. For that I am so thankful.
I love you, Mom!
Kathy Anne

Monday, November 23, 2009

Can't wait for Thanksgiving Leftovers

As I am cleaning my house and clearing my kitchen table and shoe garden in preparation for Thanksgiving I can't help but get excited for the next day's leftover turkey and other dishes.

Before I was a stay at home mom, my sister, dad, and I owned a bustling gourmet sandwich shop in the city. One of the most popular sandwiches on the menu was the Turkey & Cranberry.

I always make it after Thanksgiving and it is so delicious!

Turkey & Cranberry Sandwich
Leftover Turkey pulled in strips
Cranberry sauce (Ocean Spray Whole Berry is good too)
Cream cheese
Crisp lettuce
Thick multi-grain bread or white rolls

Spread cream cheese on both sides of bread. Spoon cranberry sauce on top of cream cheese. Place turkey on cranberries. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Add crisp lettuce and top with bread. Slice in half for a beautiful and delicious sandwich.
Enjoy!
Turkey and wild rice soup recipe to come soon....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bitten by Twilight










I'm the world's best predator, aren't I? Everything about me invites you in- my voice, my face, and even my smell. As if I need any of that! -Edward Cullen, Twilight, Chapter 13, pg. 263.

Yes, this summer I was bitten by Twilight. Two of my intelligent good friends in our book club of nine years became flushed -faced giddy girls talking about this book. Also visiting Twilight websites and listening to the soundtrack on their ipods as they zipped around suburbia in their suvs.

I took it on our summer vacation and was hooked. I even read it to my kids (leaving some parts out). My husband even surprised me and bought me the movie and we all watched it together. I was trying to explain to him what it was about this book. He logically said to me, "It must just be a great story." YES!

Tomorrow a few Twilight-loving friends and I have tickets to the opening sold out showing of New Moon at 12:02 a.m. I have not been out of my house at that time in years. For this I will and can't wait!

Pictured is my son Indy giving Edward some competition on Halloween. I don't think Edward is into skateboarding though.
Shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Souper Lunches

Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish. -Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book, 1949

It is cool and the rain is falling today. This is a perfect soup day! Instead of taking time to slice veggies and put together a homemade soup, I decided to grab a favorite off the pantry shelf. Today we had Wolfgang Puck's Old Fashioned Potato. I toasted a bagel and buttered it with Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter (Trader Joe's).

Wolfgang Puck soups are my favorite. I usually find them at the grocery in the organic section. Other Puck favorites are tomato basil, in the picture (served with grilled cheese), tortilla, and chicken and wild rice.
Enjoy your soup!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Passion for Books


Gratitude keeps your heart open. -from the book 29 Gifts by Cami Walker

If I have an addiction it is books. I am a voracious reader. It started at six with Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. My mom kept the Seuss collection and are they are now on my kids shelves. I moved on to Nancy Drew, Judy Blume and by ten I was reading my first unforgettable Danielle Steele novel Palomino. After breezing through Steele's books I went on to the Clan of the Cave bear series by Jean M. Auel.

My passion for books is still burning. My heart pounds wildly when I walk into a Barnes and Noble bookstore. Half Price Books is like a giant treasure hunt especially the back clearance wall. I could ramble on for hours about my favorite books on different topics: Fiction, Non-fiction, Spirituality/self help, Children's and many many more. I will write more on these for sure.

Today I became immersed in 29 Gifts by Cami Walker. Walker vividly writes about having the disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and being given a message to heal her body, life, and spirit through giving 29 gifts in 29 days. It is a remarkable story. I am now on my 29 gifts in 29 days journey. Her website is 29gifts.org.
Shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Countdown to Thanksgiving

Exactly two weeks until Thanksgiving Day. My family will gather here at the ranch for a festive day with lots of delicious food. I love Thanksgiving. The focus is on being grateful for what we have and reaching out to those in need.
Today I dug out my "favorite recipes" folder. I will be posting some of the dishes that I will serve. When you plan your menu and grocery list make a note to make an extra pie or dish of sweet potatoes and send it over to a neighbor or a friend who could use a little help this Thanksgiving. You will be glad you did.
Shine your light,
Kathy Anne
For Starters:
My Dad's tradition is to bring Lancer's Wine. It is a sparkling blush wine in a unique crockery bottle. I will look forward to a glass with this dip.


Crab Melt Dip

1 8 oz container of sour cream (reduced fat is fine)
2 8 oz pkgs of cream cheese, softened (reduced fat is fine)
1/4 c. Mayonnaise
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. garlic salt
1 lb. fresh crab meat, drained (canned is fine)
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
Garnish with parsley and serve with crackers or crostini

Combine first 7 ingredients and fold in crab meat.
Pour into an 11 x 7 baking dish or round pie plate
Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 325 for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Munchkins

Above all watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. -Roald Dahl

I snapped this photo recently as the kids were having fun on our swing set "the monster castle" as they call it.
They just happen to be lined up by age (9, 7, 6, & 2).

My nicknames for them:
"Blaze " is my oldest at nine and is the trailblazer for the other three. He probably gets the harshest discipline like most firstborn but he helps keep the rest in line. He's my only left handed child which I have found that to mean structure is a good thing. He enjoys school, soccer, and anything having to do with race cars.

"Indy" is seven and is the family spokesperson. He is my "Indiana Jones" free spirit adventurer. He will climb a tree and say, "Hey Mom - I can see the whole world from here!" He can talk to absolutely anybody and make you feel special. He likes basketball, computer games, and anything social.

"Phoebe Fireball" is my sweet and sassy six year old. She can keep up with her brothers and then some. She loves books, horses, tumbling, Hannah Montana, chocolate, and purple. I think she has an artistic streak.

"Scout" is our happy and lively green eyed two year old. The three bigs just adore him. Most of my time is now spent keeping his curious mind out of trouble. There is never a dull moment with our little Scout.

Shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pancakes Make People Happy

For Christmas a few years ago our friends Jan & Charlie gave us a set of white plates that say in bold red "Pancakes Make People Happy".

These plates have become family treasures and are only used when making pancakes on the weekends. I truly think they make the pancakes taste better and make the mornings more festive.

Last weekend I made three different kinds of pancakes using the Krusteaz Mix we buy at Sam's Club in a huge bag. I like sneaking a little nutrition into the mix like oats, cinnamon, fruit, etc.

Plain pancakes for Blaze: I added 1/2 cup oats and a little milk and cinnamon.

Chocolate chip for Phoebe, Indy, & Scout: Plain plus chocolate chips.

Mixed berry for my husband: Plain plus blueberries, raspberries, & blackberries (from frozen bag).
They like me to make extras and leave them piled on a plate so they can eat them like cookies for snacks throughout the day.

Shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Indian Summer Beef Stew

This is the season where I pull my crock pot off the shelf and start cooking. This past weekend was so beautiful that I wanted to spend time with my family outside instead of living in the kitchen. I created this stew recipe with most of the veggies in my fridge and a quick trip to the store for some fresh stew meat and rolls. My sister and her family and my 94 year old grandmother joined us for a wonderful Sunday on the ranch. We went hiking and creek stomping and then came inside for the stew and hot crusty rolls. I knew it was a hit when there were few leftovers and my sister asked for the recipe. So Libby and friends, here it is.
Indian Summer Beef Stew
This recipe will feed up to 12-15 and can be halved.
Ingredients
4 lbs. stew meat, browned
1 lb. baby carrots
4-6 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
4 celery ribs, sliced
2 onions, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 pkg onion soup mix
1 T. paprika
2 T. brown sugar
3 cups water
1 jar of tomato sauce - I use Ragu traditional old world
grated black pepper
fresh parsley to garnish

Brown stew meat in large skillet. I like to heat the pan and drizzle olive oil, a splash of red wine, and Worcestershire sauce and then add the meat to brown. While the meat is browning chop all veggies and place in slow cooker. Add bay leaves, water, spices, soup mix, tomato sauce, and black pepper. Add browned stew meat and put lid on. Heat 6-8 hours. Served with crusty rolls and butter and be ready for a delicious meal.

Shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Retreat Will Move You Forward

Retreat will move you forward.
quote from Wake-Up Calls by Joan Lunden

I am a collector of quotes. They can be so insightful and moving. This quote spoke to me. I am rarely alone. At any given moment I hear "Hey Mom!", "Mommy watch this!", "Mama I need help." Most times this is music to my ears. However, I feel everyone needs to retreat from their daily lives to rest and gain perspective. We can become exhausted and caught up in the small stuff of life. Make a little time to retreat. It can be a Sunday afternoon nap (my favorite), a quite morning walk, a drive in the country, a trip to the bookstore, or anything your heart desires. After retreating by yourself I promise you will return refreshed and grateful for the good things in life.
This makes me want to reread Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.


Shine your light,
Kathy Anne

Friday, November 6, 2009

Joy of living: Goodness, Beauty, & Truth


The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. Albert Einstein

It is late Friday evening at my home and I am enjoying the solitude as my children sleep. I am the mother of four beautiful children ages 9, 7, 5, and 2. I put my heart and soul into being a good wife and mother among many other things.
I would like to use these writings as a creative outlet that can help shine a light to a more joy filled life.
The nature pictures I post are taken on our walnut tree farm where we live. Every day I am inspired by the beauty that surrounds me.
Shine your light,
Kathy Anne