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I am looking to share my love of cooking, tips, recipes and remixes with others.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Memoirs Of A Special Woman Take Two

There are man important people in ones life, those who make a lasting impression, whether its one you choose to remeber or one you choose to forget. For me I choose to rember one very special, extradinary, exampluary woman; who I am proud to say I am like her in many ways.

Growing up in Middltown there was an icon not only in the town but in my life, my grandmother. From as early as I can rember she was a the center of everything. Our family nucleous, she was the pillar to all in good times and bad. Her strength; inuition and raw waitress demeanor allowed her to handle many situation with fluidity.

These traits were never more prevelant to me than the winter of 1972 when a sever storm hit our town, forcing my family out of our home and into a small efficentcy apartment in town to weather the storm. I being just eight years old worried how Santa would find us if we were not home for Christmas.  My grandmother assured me that all would be okay and that Santa would find us no matter where we were staying.  Most children at that young tender age would be skeptical of anyone stating that Santa would find you no matter what, I was not for I had come to have great faith in what ever my grandmother said. She had never said anyting that I did not find to be true or directional.

It was Christmas eve; I rember my granmother picking us up and on the car ride told us we were on our way home. She had held true to her word; tucking us in that night assured me that in the morning Santa would have had no problems finding me. I awoke the next morning to find a tree that was not there the night before; presents piled high and breakfast on the table.  I found out many years later as a teen the true story.

My grandmother had pulled her resources and my family together; aunts, uncles, extended family and friends to make sure that I and my sister would have the best Christmas ever.  She was Santa; putting gifts together, finding the largest tree ever, decorating, cooking and managing to get it all done in the few hours as Sugar Plums danced in my head.  I know it sounds like the pages of a Christmas Carol, but honestly true and very real.

As I started to write this essay I tried to find a moment; a story, a phrase, a blink in time to descrie this woman and there were dozens and dozens to choose from. I did however, keep coming to this memory or the woman I am so proud to say has made a lasting inpression forever in my life. Now I only hope to inspire my own daughter to have those memories of me or a special person that makes such an impression it leaves a permanent mark in her life and my grandmother did mine.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Work In Progress

I have always been interested in turning the simple into the outstanding.  This is certainly prevalent in my desire to have a wonderful yard without the high cost and effort of a professional landscaping company. I always have had a vision or an eye for the inner beauty. I see the potential of even a tree branch that has fallen in the yard, this desire is what prompted me to research and discover the use for many things left behind, thrown away or in need of recycling.

So where do I begin, not being an avid recycler or a landscaper/ yard smith by trade, I decided to begin my work in progress. I am somewhat computer knowledgable and because of the convenience, I jumped on the Internet and began to google away. Home Made Simple is a site that I have been using very regularly and have even subscribed to get regular updates and a newsletter,  http://www.homemadesimple.com/en-US/Garden/Pages/Home.aspx  Then one day last week while at my most favorite store in the world, The Dollar Tree, I cam across a do it yourself book, containing many ideas and suggestions on turning the every day item into something to enhance your garden, yard or outdoor living.

I moved into an apartment; second floor, with a simple 6x6 landing or deck, if you can call it that, which overlooks my small but interesting yard. Under the porch was a collection of what most would think of as trash, yes there certainly were items that I decided to through away, however; I set aside a handful of items that I felt I could reuse. There was parts of a crib; old planters, a wire bakers rack, several spiral metal posts and two bamboo tiki torches. What to do? I began simple creating a work in progress.

The crib pieces appeared to be the sides of the crib that slide up and down. I set the against the side of the house and stepped back a bit and gazed and began to wonder.  Then a thought came to mind and I jetted in the house to grab the lap top and started googling " how to use crib sides in landscaping" sure enough up pop the top five or so.  I begin to click and then find the perfect use, I turned the crib sides to a standing up right position and used them as a lattous in two different flower bed:). One this year will support my Morning Glory's that are located in the front yard, on each side there now are two rose bushes that will be supported by the metal twisted pieces.

Now I wondered what kind of suggestions could I research or find to utilize the wire bakers rack?  When in conversation with a neighbor she suggested I use it outside as well for a plant display. That is exactly what I did, it now is sitting in the side yard. I spray painted it purple to add color and make it stick out against the cedar siding.

I was amazed at how just taking some time and researching or surfing the net, how many solutions, suggestions, ideas flood the pathways.  I now wonder how come more people do not utilize researching or surfing the net to recycle and reuse. In today's world of the advacates of  'Go Green' why do they not use this thought process and make old new or purposeful.

So much like like this essay my yard has become a process, I have stepped back; looked, readjusted, moved, re-thought, researched, redesigned and with review have made changes and altered the out come or the look.  I continue now for my yard is still "a work in progress"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In Review

It has become the inspiration and template for the modern fantasy genre. And it is an adventure that is filled with wonder, magic, action and vividly memorable characters. These are impressive accomplishments for any story. But considering the fact that The Hobbit was originally intended to be a simple children’s tale, the success of the book is all the more pronounced.

Bilbo Baggins who professes to dislike adventures, but who secretly harbors a love for things like maps and stories of princesses and dragons. He’s a wonderfully simple, even innocent character. Bilbo’s love for simple things evokes a similar pull in many of us – that longing for a simpler time, when there wasn’t a care in our personal world. But of course, that’s not the way things are in the real world and it’s not the way things are even in Bilbo’s world.

Bilbo’s call to adventure comes from another classic; that of the wise old man, in the form of the wizard, Gandalf. The beginning of Bilbo’s quest with the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain, and guides the troop about halfway to their destination. But more important than the geographical journey across Middle Earth, Gandalf’s guidance brings Bilbo closer to reaching his full potential.

The quest itself is fairly straightforward. Bilbo will accompany thirteen Dwarves from his home in The Shire, through Rivendell, across the Misty Mountains, and through Mirkwood to the Lonely Mountain. There, Bilbo’s job, as burglar, will be to gain entrance to the mountain so that they may defeat the might dragon Smaug and reclaim the Dwarven treasure which Smaug stole many years before. The quest may sound unremarkable in today’s age, but that is simply because it has been replicated so many times since The Hobbit was first published. But even if you think you’ve heard this story before, Tolkien’s version is worth reading.

The further into Middle Earth he travels, the difficulty, and risk, of the challenges Bilbo faces increase. He begins with an abortive attempt to pickpocket a group of Trolls and eventually discovers the courage and strength to confront the great dragon Smaug, all alone, deep in Smaug’s lair. Of course, Bilbo’s journey has been guided by Gandalf, aided by the Dwarves, the Elves of Rivendell, the Eagles and a fateful encounter near the dark roots of the Misty Mountains.

First, the journey under the mountain symbolizes the descent into hell,the darkest places of our personal selves. Without confronting that, we will be unable to discover our true selves, and our quest would fail. Within the darkness of the mountain, Bilbo bravely presses on. He is rewarded for doing so by way of his discovery of a mysterious ring. But before he can claim this treasure as his own, he has one more archetype to confront: a dark shadow of himself. This shadow is represented by the miserable, pitiful creature Gollum.

Bilbo’s confrontation with Gollum is important because of its implications for the quest – as well as its implications for the Lord of the Rings saga that will soon follow. More importantly for Bilbo is the necessity that he must confront what he could become, if he were to be consumed by evil. Indeed, immediately after acquiring the ring, Bilbo’s innocence is lost. He bends the rules in a game of riddles against Gollum and later, he flat out lies to Gandalf. These are minor occurrences, but they would be harbingers of a great danger had Bilbo not defeated his shadow. The defeat itself doesn’t come during the riddle game, but rather a few moments later when Bilbo, made invisible by the ring, has an opportunity to murder Gollum. He doesn’t, however, and so he defeats the darkness within and his quest can continue.

In the end, the confluence of events, including his daring rescue of the Dwarves, from a horde of larger-than-life spiders in Mirkwood, teaches Bilbo that he does indeed have strength within himself. Quite literally, Bilbo begins to know himself. And that confidence helps him in the final transformation which he must undergo – from a timid, simple, innocent person into a crafty, intuitive and brave adventurer. Bilbo finally faces the worst of his fears, conquers them, and confronts the deadly dragon Smaug, deep in the bowels of the Lonely Mountain. The moment when Bilbo overcomes his fear is the moment in which he, finally and completely, transforms from who he was into who he was always meant to be. Bilbo achieves his full potential and, as a result, gains treasures far greater than the gold he carries away from the Lonely Mountain.

Bilbo must make his return journey, back to his home where is transformation can provide benefits to himself and those around him. As he and Gandalf finally take their final steps toward The Shire, Gandalf says, quiet profoundly, “My dear Bilbo! Something has happened to you. You are not the Hobbit you once were.” even Gandalf has noticed the transformation

The classic adventure tales of creatures, and fantastical beings have survived the hands of time. Very much the premiss I believe for the spin off or trilogy or extensions of the version. I believe that everyone at heart truely wants to be able to transform themselves into a character and live vicarously through a writters expression and tale. The phenomenon of this tale and the following of the Lord of the Rings has allowed those of all ages to relate to the alternate world of fantasy, allowing an escape from the world of turmoil that we call ours to one of fantasy knowing when one closes the book so closes the adversity. However it also provides what I call " the light at the end" for if the hobbit a simple creature can have such an adventureous and cautic life and survive so can we.

It is my opinion that if one is looking for a good read, The Hobbit, I highly reccomend. It is a book that has survived the times as a true classic and basis, example for authors that have contined to create tales in the classic contents.  If there is any doubt that this would be a book to remember, just browse the first chapter and I feel you would be hooked. Tranporting yourself from the current life into the past of the hobbit you can experience a life of adventure.

Warm Summer Breeze Blows.....I slip into the world of The Hobbit

The warm summer breeze blows; with the rays shinning on my back, I begin to daydream as I turn the pages of my favorite book.  I look into the distance and see not only the view but the window to the shire so colorfully painted int he first pages of The Hobbit.

Bilbo describes the knoll in which he has built his home; surrounded by the roaming hills of the shire, with blooming wild flowers, the warm scented summer air and the bubbling brook that runs along in the near distance. He sits on a log at the end of the path, smoking his pipe, he begins to describe the adventure of his life.

I can picture myself there; for I have a similar background living downeast secluded from major towns and cities, I am certainly in a country setting such as he. My back yard is wooded, with a brook that runs along the edge, with great brook fish.  The side yard contains plush grash, just like the knoll of the shire; birds singing, the wildfowers growing in bunches, with an occasional passerby of horse and buggy or the neighbors coming bearing fresh bakes pies or a cassarole.

In the Hobbit, Bilbo also describes his neighbors, his friends and his experiences with the wizards and fantastical creatures with vididness. I often day dream as I read on that my family, friends and neighbors transform into the characters leaping from the pages of the book.

I read this book as a young teenager and to this day the story sticks with me like superglue.  I was not much of a reader, prefered to listen to the radio or conversation with my friends and family.  This book was a joy to experience and I made sure that I read each page with great attention and experience to make it last.

Even thought the tale has been told and re written and made into a series of movies nothing is more relevant in my opinion than the orginal, classic tale of The Hobbit.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Top Easy Bake Oven Chef:) (Expertise)

I opened the brightly colored wrapping paper; decorated with candy canes and Christmas candies, to reveal a box of familiarity from a trip to the department store weeks earlier with my dad. It was an Easy Bake Oven, overjoyed; full of excitement I broke into the box, empty the entire contents onto the floor, ignoring all the other gifts and fragmented wrapping paper that I had already tore through. Quickly organizing and searching for the instruction book, I could not wait to start my adventures baking and exploring the wonderful world of the light bulb.

I set up shop at the end of the counter in the kitchen, placing the Easy Bake Oven at the end; in the draw beneath held the small pans and the baking packages that come with the starter set. I read each box in complete trance and followed the directions to the T without deviation.  The outcome each and every time was perfection, a tasty experience for all. However; after several days that came to an end when I opened my last box of cupcake mix, what to do now.  I was not willing to give up, not willing to except that this would be the end of my glorious adventure in light bulb baking:)

Reading the basic ingredients of the Easy Bake mixes, I realized that the contents incorporated the contents of our kitchen, with the exception of the fillers and big words I could not pronounce. I began to read the contents on the boxes in the pantry;things like the Bisquick, Jiffy box, staples in my mothers shopping trips. I found they contained the same or similar ingredients as the Easy Bake boxes.

I began to experiment with he contents of the pantry and formulated a recipe that to this day I still use as a staple to my baking forte. It is two cups of Bisquick mix, one cup Hersey baking chocolate powder, two eggs, one stick of butter and a 1/4 milk, blend till creamy and smooth. Take and divide batter into cup cake pans and bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes until you can poke with a tooth pick and remove dry. For the frosting you can take two cups of powdered sugar and one stick of room temp butter and blend to make butter cream frosting;) Have to admit that over a period of time, when I first began to experiment with the contents of the pantry,that all Easy Bake Oven experiences were not successful. I did not let this deter me from my passion to become an expert:) I did have times that I wondered if I would ever be able to get the burnt, charred, crusted mix off the pans. There were many times I wondered if I forgot an ingredient or used more of one item and not enough of another.

My experience with the Easy Bake Oven has educated me and I have now moved up to the Big Girl Oven, finding myself very proficient in its use. I have also graduated to recipes and ingredients not all under one label, moving away from the Bisquick Mixes. Now wondering if I could actually be competition on some of these shows on Food Network, baking with the best. Watch out Food Network, I am the next Star:)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Imagine this, could this be your daughter or son?

   Recently I took part in this discussion, feeling very strongly that offering my comments and view would give light that others would not imagine.  So the question is "Why would girls want to wrestle against boys?" "I am a strong supporter of athletics but this just seems obvious or does it?"

  The discussion covered a situation; a young man forfeited his chance at winning a wrestling competition, because he had to wrestle a girl. It received a great amount of publicity and controversy. I began to debate the true issue or the true reasoning behind what to me seemed to be such a simple situation.
  I offered my initial comment; I would look at it from a professional view, if they are trained correctly and truly are about the sport then it is the skill being tested not the gender. In most school settings from the beginning of sports interactions, both girls and boys have at one time played a sport of some kind on the same team.  Even in a leisure setting; the park, a family picnic, a summer day at the lake, I have witnessed a friendly game of tag foot ball, basket ball or some type of contact activity between boys and girls.

   I followed with; having a daughter who has joined our armed forces have thought of many avenues; settings, or circumstances, that would place her as a woman in a compromising situation, I only have faith that I as a parent have taught her and provided her with the mental capacity to make decisions and placement in situations that are based on the whole picture, but such is life and yes things do happen that we cannot plan or even imagine Now she goes as a woman to make the choices and to handle the situation fully armed not only to defend herself but women and our Nation.

  Others commented; “I would never let my daughter wrestle against males. The moves and holds they have to do are in no way appropriate for a male to do to a female. The male forfeiting showed a great deal of respect for her as a young woman. I totally agree with the previous comment. It was very sad to see that GENTLEMAN loses his championship shot due to the other team putting a female between him and his goal. He did the absolute right thing and let her win by forfeit. I feel sorry for him in a way as the other coach should never have allowed girls on a boy’s team.”

    So I think to myself; is it the thought that is inappropriate; have we become a society that reads into every physical situation that  sex is the motive; that a simple maneuver is considered groping and invasion of a females personal space?

  I wish I could have truly been the fly on that wall; did the families of the wrestling team get involved initially, allowing this young lady to be on the team, what was the schools position, what about the fellow team members, what about the girl herself, what if , what if,  how come?

  As a parent of two boys and one girl, I have tried throughout their lives to treat them and teach them equally.  I pride myself on the moral basics and the faith that each of them as individuals will make the correct choices and decisions.  In all honesty though; I feel, that life is changing and that every situation is just that an opportunity to make a choice at that time.  There is only so much planning ahead one can make but it takes just an instance for change to make a difference.   I still hold very strong to my belief that if this young lady was instructed and possessed the skill to wrestle in any situation then skill is the determining factor and not gender!

   So I present to you the reader the following questions; "What would your opinion or decision be if your daughter was on a wrestling team of all boys, would you let her wrestle, does gender matter, who is responsible for the issues that arise, you as a parent, the school, the team, the coach?" The questions are endless as do I think the answers or comments will be

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Presence is it To Be or not To Be?

For forty-two days and nights, the sun rose and set and it seemed as if time was standing still. Most would gaze at the warmth of the sun and look to smell the flowers or for the bees that fly from each open bud gathering the nectar of life. To see the sun set and hope they hear that sound of sizzle as the heat of the sun meets the cool skyline and creates that vapor affect. Much like still life photography these moments, a still captured and should be revered as every precious moment should be.

There are many views in life that one would think inspiring and altering, but some experiences are somewhat faded or clouded by momentary judgements. This moment in time even though it was more than a calender month held both good and adverse experiences and tested the stamina and mental fortitude of many.

It was the day after the fourth of July, he and his friends had decided to take a hike up the path of  "Lovers Leap", a ledge at the edge of the Kenduskeague river here in town. The sun was up and shinning in all its luminous light, which caused hews raising from the water to the top of the ledge.  He wondered what a view and how it would look from just the edge of the ledge that over looks that entire area of the river. He stepped ever closer, as his friends continue on, one foot to far and down he falls. With the grasp of ever tree branch, trying to find a grip of ledge he still plummets to the bottom. He hits the base and like a rubber ball bounces into the middle of the river now trying to stay afloat and yelling for help.  His friends have now notice the absence and have heard his screams. A friend rushes to the path to slide down in hopes that he will be able to save his friend and the other quickly rushes and calls 911.

The real now flashes forward to the beginning of forty days and nights. The view not as scenic as he lays there in the hospital bed with tubes protruding from every possible part of  his body. The sound of the life support machines invade the room sounding like a marching band in rhythm almost hypnotic. The swarm of doctors and nurses that come in and out of the room are much like the colony of bees gathering nectar from the flowers in hopes to pollinate the answers or gain knowledge to help recovery. Sitting at the bed side hand in hand, speaking words of love and support in hopes that he hears you.

Each day now brings to light issues that were not there the day before, each test brings a result sometimes positive other times adding just another concern. Wondering what ever did one think as he stepped to the edge "What was he thinking?" "Why was he there?" and " Why not me instead of him?"  The cot that is now set up next to his, makes you wonder is he comfortable and is there anything that I can do to make sure his is, without his responding? As a mother one thinks that when a child is in danger or suffering, you would gladly exchange places.

The doctors inform, telling that each day on life support decreases his chances of survival. Did he learn or did he gain that inner motivation to overcome adversity? Its now thirty days in, he has begun to show signs towards a potential recovery. He has begun to open h is eyes and respond to your voice. The next day he now is pulling at the tubes in his airway and the doctor states they are going to remove the tubes to see if he will be able to breath on his own. Reluctantly the tubes are removed, he gasps and then turns to you and says "Hello". Have you ever heard anything more joyful, almost harp sounding as the strings of your heart are plucked. He turns to you and says " Knew you were here, could hear your voice and they become the wings around my heart that helped me survive" 
Within days he has now gone from a room full of machines, tubes, nurses and doctors to a semi private room with a shower and bathroom of his own. Not one person would ever imagine how a man, now reverted back to the need of having his mother help him with the simple things, almost infantile. Dressing, bathing and yes embarrassing as it may be but even assistance in the bathroom. Remarks remind him that this seems like old times and that it is a right of passage as a parent to take care of him in any way possible.

In July of 2005, my son fell from a 110 foot cliff, "Lovers Leap" and survived. Was I present at the time? Yes even though I was miles away the moment he fell I knew. I was there with him for the next forty-two days and nights, did not falter, did not leave his side and to this day I am still there for him no matter what.  There are those who have connection being a family member, but I can truly state that as a parent, the kind of parent I am I will always have that connection that presence and will always be bound to my children in a way no other can be.