Sunday, December 26, 2010

12 Days of Christmas

Phew! We have survived the preparations for the holidays, and then sailed gracefully (although rather later than planned) into a glorious Christmas Eve & Day. I really couldn't ask for a more perfect couple of days, except perhaps to have our loved ones who are far away nearby. We spent Christmas Eve with my family, and it was just fun and lovely, the way family holidays should be. We were there way too late, stayed up even way too later to get the remaining (almost all!) gifts wrapped, and then slept later than I can remember sleeping in years, the small one too!

I was thinking about 12 Days of Christmas, also known as Christmastide,  which begin Dec 25th and culminates with 12th Night (Jan 5th), followed by the feast of Epiphany on Jan 6th. There's a great explanation of all of this at Wikipedia, if you want to further your understanding of all of this. 

Sometimes I think it would be great to extend the Christmas holiday for 12 days, but today I'm tired, peaceful, and just basking in the glow of the lovely 2 days, and it feels enough. 12 days off work to rest and just be home would be nice though....some companies do this. We have friends who work for Solar Turbines out in San Diego, and they go on holiday shut down from Christmas-New Years each year....that would be lovely, I'm thinking. 

Helena has fallen in love with the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and we have had  a blast singing it together this year, especially on tedious, tired car rides. I love listening to her sweet voice piping out all 12 verses. 

We also have a book featuring this song with pictures. She loves the story too, but wondered out load, why the true didn't just give his "true love," why all that stuff? She even added her own 13th day of Christmas verse, were the true love gives true love. That's my girl!

Happy, Happy New Year to us all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Soups for the Season, December 17th, 2010

Feeing well again, and back to the soup season...Here's a nice, simple, hearty one for a cold day. Leftover's freeze well too, great for quick, warm lunches.

Lentil Tomato Soup

2 1/2 cups uncooked lentils
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 yellow onions, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped celery
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
parsley, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic, onions, green pepper, and celery.
Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until garlic and onions begin to brown.
Add the vegetable broth, lentils, turmeric, and tomatoes.
Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer and cover.
Cook for about 40 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add some water or more vegetable broth if the soup is too thick.
Add salt and pepper to taste, cayenne pepper if you'd like a spicy soup, and sprinkle parsley over the top if desired.
Makes about 8 servings.

Found here

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Donate Your Unexpired, Unused Meds

My daughter recently reacted badly to a certain antibiotic, she just couldn't stomach it. This left us with a brand new, nearly full bottle of medication. I dug around and found that there's an organization, The Health Equity Project, that accepts these and other prescription meds and sends them to developing countries where medication is scarce. 

You can find the Health Equity Project HERE. The mailing address and list of accepted items are on that page. 

In my searching, many links directed me to the Starfish Project, which is now apparently defunct. It took some hunting to find this, so I thought I'd share.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finding True North....part 5

northern lights compete with big dipper
Photo Courtesy of Steve Wall

Distilling it all Down

What do you truly want in life? What do I want? Moreover, where is the intersection of our wants and needs?

These are big questions, without seemingly simple answers. This post, from Rosaria, has got me thinking (darn it!). That and other life seems we've reached another crossroads as a family, in terms of my husband's career. Which path do we take? So delicious and abundant, somehow, to have options, but so utterly overwhelming to me at times too.

Here are the items that matter to me, in this moment, as they roll off the top of my head.

- I want to be healthy, to have energy to meet life head on, whatever comes.

 - I want my life to be simpler, with fewer interruptions. I find our level of connectivity (email, cell phone, smart phone) somewhat exhausting. 

- I want to spend as much time as possible with people I love, or at least, like a lot.

- I want a home and the feeling that we can sustain this home without backbreaking effort. I think of my parents, who bought their first home in the early 1970s for $30,000, on a $30,000 income (and that was one income, thank you!). In 2009, according to the US census, the median home price was $216,700. The median income in 2009 was $49,777. Anyone else notice the disparity here? 

- I want to go to the doctor when I'm sick and not be afraid of the bills that come after ($803/month for high deductible insurance for a family of 3 is a bit much, perhaps?).

- I want above mentioned home to have the useful things we need, and for some of them to be pretty, and probably handmade, or at least well made. And I want them to have a place to be put away when not in use. And when they're all put away, I want a simple, uncluttered, but lived in and well loved feeling to this home.

- I want to work hard, and I mean this in all sincerity. I do not prefer to be idle. Quiet sometimes, but not idle, not much. But I don't like to feel like I'm on a treadmill. Work with a purpose feels good. Work without purpose, or with the purpose of consuming more, not so much. 

My parents gave me some amazing gifts, many of which I didn't appreciate at the time, some of which I probably still don't get. But many of them are coming home to me now, in a big way.

We didn't have cable TV. We had limits placed on how much network TV we did watch....albeit, that was a lot simpler in the days when kids programing was basically between 3-5 pm and on Saturday mornings, with a few little kiddie shows on PBS in the mornings.

We bought most things, clothing, housewares, furniture. This chafed me at times, especially in my teens when friends had new clothes, fancier houses, and just more stuff. I'm so grateful for this now...this part of my childhood prepared me to be a more thoughtful person as an adult, at a time in the world when consumption is at an all time high (or maybe ebbing a bit, hopefully). It taught me to use my resources wisely and thoughtfully, and think of the inherent costs involved in everything, not just the sticker price.

They taught me to treat others as I would like to be treated, and to widen this thinking beyond my own immediate circle, to the community of people who share this planet. It's not enough to be kind and thoughtful just to those I interact with directly. My actions affect people thousands of miles away, and it's time to get real about all of that.

As we move forward with our decision making process, keeping the bigger picture of what is important, what choices will enhance our quality of life and the lives of those around us need to be the key factors to consider.

As we rapidly approach the holidays and the shopping that usually entails, I find myself more and more ready to do this in a small, simple, thoughtful way. In the past holiday shopping has made me both anxious and tired. This year, I don't think I'll be doing much of it. Here's something to think about, if you haven't seen this already.