Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Inspiration

il 570xN.152241851 Goddess Allsorts: The Christmas Eve Edition
I just found this painting online and it made my heart sing! I just love it! The amazing artist is Lori Portka. Here are a couple more of her colorful happy paintings. I hope you smile too.
love is coming home to you
il 570xN.196387928 Goddess Allsorts: The Christmas Eve Edition
Shine your light,

Thoughts, Reflections & Winter on Wordle

Hi Friends, I found the coolest website called wordle. It takes a blog or post and makes a word collage. I used mine and this is what it made.
Seeing these words made me embrace this winter season.
A season for going within, reflecting on life. What is working? What can be improved? It's OK to slow down, curl up on the couch with a fluffy blanket, read a book, take a nap, rest, rejuvenate, reflect, refresh. Embrace life.

Wordle - Winter: "Wordle: Winter"
(click on the picture for a clear image)
If you are still reading this, I will share that we had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the magic through our kids' eyes. The week leading up to Christmas was difficult. We had a death in my husband's family. My husband then came down with a fever of 104 and was in bed for two days. He's well now but we are still feeling emotions about our loss. A fight we lost many years ago due to the disease of alcoholism. The loving intervention did not work but our counselor told us we should move on with our lives and find peace and happiness. Those words he gave us were a gift. We did move on to find peace and happiness in life, have four beautiful children, and a  warm and nurturing home. We did our best and that's all we could do. We could not save her. We hope she is a peace now.
Looking forward to new beginnings in 2011. I hope you are too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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. Today I will light a candle and celebrate this new season in nature.
A Time for Change
I envision and prepare for new beginnings. As winter makes its arrival, I notice changes on display in nature--leaves gone from the trees, birds flying south and the temperature turning cold. As we leave one season of our lives and transition to another, we may feel a sense of loss. Yet just as the trees use winter to prepare internally for eventual springtime, I know that a quiet time of reflection allows me to envision and prepare for new beginnings in my life.
I cannot hold on to the life that was, but I can fully live the life that is, right now. By embracing the present moment, I find peace in the midst of change. I find hope remembering that in due time, in the right season, my own spring--my rebirth--will burst forth.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter has arrived!

Beautiful Owl
Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~Bill Morgan, Jr.

Winter has definitely arrived here the the great Midwest. My husband and I have stacked wood and fired up the wood burning stove. The kids have been enjoying the powdery snow for sledding and snowboading fun. Here are some weekend photos I snapped to capture the winter fun.
Indy in action!
Fireball pulling Scout with dog Betty following

Blaze's mini snowman creation

Snowdog Buck

The racing trio

Fireball pulling Scout uphill

Warming up with popcorn and Battleship

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Comfort Food: Baked Ziti

Hi Friends - Here is a dish that my family gets excited about every time I make it. It's so easy and is extreme comfort food. Make this with a salad and crusty bread and I promise you will have smiles galore!
Here is what you need and it only takes 15 minutes to put together:

1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta or any tubular pasta of your choice
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 pound shredded Italian Five Cheese Blend (Mozzarella is fine too)
1 egg, beaten
1 (32 ounce) jar marinara sauce of your choice
1 pound cooked and drained ground beef , sausage or turkey (optional - I use it because I have 4 growing kids)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook and drain ground meat and add jar of marinara sauce. (Meat is optional)
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, don't overcook. Drain, rinse and set aside in bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, shredded cheese (set one cup aside), & egg.
4. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in 1 cup of marinara sauce, layer with half of ziti and then half of cheese mixture. Repeat and top with remaining spaghetti sauce.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, remove and top with remaining shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes or until bubbly.

Baked Ziti, salad with creamy balsamic dressing, and a glass of Chianti.
Note: This is a huge crowd pleaser. I have made two pans for larger groups. One pan I make a little spicier with a fancier Marinara sauce or added crushed red pepper. I always make the basic recipe for kids. You can also add spinach, mushrooms, or roasted veggies. Make it your own!