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July 17, 2009

Gratitude Friday

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Diana started it, Kim picked it up, and now here's my turn.
http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/2009/07/gratitude-friday.html

This Friday, I am grateful for:

In general--family, friends, health, opportunities. Hope on the horizon in spite of obstacles.

Specifically, right this minute:

Coffee

My son getting up to go to work at 6:00 am without my having to wake him. That my son has work to go to.

My paper is written, and I only have to poke at it a bit before e-mailing it off to my professor.

No annoying e-mails overnight.

The scale was kind.

The cat did not yak up a hairball.

That the weather forecast for the weekend is showing the rain moving out Saturday morning.

Last night Larry and I decided to escape to Wellfleet for Saturday night. Saturday afternoon planning on catching the warm afternoon tide at First Encounter beach, then a bottle of cool white wine and a lobster roll at Mac's Seafood on the Harbor. Doesn't get any better than sitting on a picnic table on the beach, watching the sun set on the harbor. Sunday morning breakfast at one of the Portuguese places in P-Town, then (if my knee allows it) a hike through the dunes. A few hours basting myself on the beach, and then home to reality.

July 24, 2009

Gratitude Fridays

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Started by Diana, the Grateful Friday Club.
http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/2009/07/gratitude-friday-club.html


Today I am grateful for:

It's Friday, so Larry's office closes at 2.

People who make me laugh. With delight and joy, not with sarcasm or irony or at another person's expense.

I can send Dan to the grocery store this morning. (Less grateful for the off-the-list goodies he also buys)

There's hope for universal health care coverage in this country, at long last.

I finished my homework and essay early this week.

Calculating that driving to Pittsburgh to drop Dan at college, plus the expense of hotels and food, would cost the same as just flying there and then back the next day. Grateful to not have to spend 18 hours in the car, thanks to JetBlue.

The lace tunic I've been knitting is almost done.

My knee has healed, so surgery not needed.

The enormous basket of nectarines I bought this week are like sunshine in my mouth.

My clothes are loose.

Shabbat begins tonight. Family dinner, blessings, candles, wine, sweet challah.

If it has to rain again, at least it means that I don't have to drag the hose around to water the garden.

July 31, 2009

Gratitude Fridays

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And once again, thanks to Diana, we're taking the time to be grateful. http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/2009/07/gratitude-friday-friends.html

There's a traditional Jewish prayer that is said right when waking. It's called Mo de Ani.

Mode ani - I offer thanks,
le’fanecha - to You,
melech chai v’kayom - living eternal king,
shehechezarta - for you have restored,
bi - within me,
nishmasi - my soul,
b’chemla - with mercy,
raba emunasecha - great is Your faithfulness.

Essentially, its a big thank-you for the gift of another day, spirit and body intact. And really, after that, its all gravy.

Here's a lovely video of a little girl and her mother singing Mo de Ani, with the ancient words set to a contemporary tune.

August 7, 2009

Gratitude Friday

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Another Gratitude Friday, started by the lovely Diana. http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/2009/08/gratitude-friday-club-too-many-to-count.html

Today I am grateful for:

Dan weathering his impacted wisdom teeth surgery like a trouper and with no complications.

Seeing my usually reserved and ironic son transformed by pre-op laughing gas to a giggling, goofy fruit loop.

Dental and health insurance. Daring to hope that others in this country will have access to good medical care.

My paper is halfway done.

Larry comes home energized and excited about work at his new job.

I had to lie down to zip them, but I'm wearing a size jeans I haven't seen in five years.

I'm grateful I have the financial ability to eat fresh, healthy foods and the leisure to exercise.

Still three weeks left of Summer. Even though I miss travel so much it aches, grateful to have this breathing time before the school year begins again.

Grateful that J. has such a strong will, tremendously supportive family and the best medical care around. If anyone can beat it, this team can.

Netflix. It makes sweating on the treadmill less of a chore and more of a pleasure.

Almost done with the last arm of Dan's sweater. 18,000 stitches.

Another day.


August 15, 2009

Gratitude Friday

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Oops. Well, better late than never.

Grateful my summer class is over. I learned a lot, but Man, this was a time sink.

Everyone in my life is either healthy or holding their own right now.

Dan is combing the Web and Pittsburgh used bookstores to get as many used and cheaper textbooks as he can. He's still shocked by the prices, but $80 for a Bio textbook is better than $160.

The phone call from the camp nurse that began with "first thing, Evan is fine..." was true. A day of running a low fever, a night in the infirmary enjoying electricity, and then back to the bunk.

I still have two weeks before I have to go back to work. Wish I could do something more exciting than clean off my desk and bug Dan into packing with the time, though.

Started to pick ripe tomatoes, yay.

August 21, 2009

Gratitude Friday

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On Wednesday, I took Dan to Target for some College shopping. Now, having a son, and a very independent one at that, means that mother-son shopping trips were an unusual experience for us. He's been buying his clothes and personal needs on his own for a while, and we've been amused to see his fussiness with athletic shoes displayed by constant exchanges through Zappos and Endless. (for the record, I think the black and red ones particularly snappy)

As we wheeled the cart around, I got quite sniffly somewhere between towels (one dark blue set, one bright green, he was careful to pick ones on sale--that's my son) and clothing. He let me help find his size in jeans, I approved his choice of washed black jeans, straight leg; agreed the loose-cut was too baggy on him; and was amused to see him suggest he needed polos and a pair of chinos. Yes, he's ready to leave home. Yes, he's been pushing away from us all summer in efforts to assert his independence and maturity. Yes, he needs to go to college, to be on his own, to learn about himself and the world. Yes, I'm looking forward to just being a couple again in three years. But still. He's leaving home.

Dan, I'm grateful you're becoming such an interesting, competent, resourceful young man; with an ironic sense of humor, strong sense of right and wrong, and openness to new experiences. I'm grateful you rose to the challenge of earning your own college spending money by sweating on the golf course all summer. I'm grateful you chose a college that seems a good fit for you, that we could afford, and that will allow you a huge range of academic and professional choice. I'm grateful that the only time we got a call from a teacher was when she was laughing about her A student participating in Senior Cut Day to go to the beach with his buddies. I'm grateful (although you might not be) that you got your grandmother's curly hair and your father's green eyes. I'm grateful that you hang out with other good kids, that you're usually kind to your younger brother.

I'm grateful to be your mother.

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For more of Gratitude Friday, check out Diana's Blog, http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/

August 28, 2009

Gratitude Friday

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Wow, where did the week go? Time for another Gratitude Friday, brought to us by Diana. http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/

Today I am grateful for:

Grateful that we had Ted looking out for us all. Rest well, Senator. Thank you.

Two days post college drop off, and my vague worry level (will he make friends? will he like classes? will he get sick? will he ask for help when he needs it?) is decreasing. He's OK.

It's Tomato Week in the garden. Gazpacho, here we come.

The friends and family who called or e-mailed.

I'm increasing my speed on the treadmill, and haven't fallen off in a tangle of sweaty limbs. Don"t laugh, I am just that uncoordinated in motion, especially when distracted by a DVD.

Grateful to have the mental and physical energy to deal with the enormous pile of yarn, books and assorted junk hiding behind the big chair in the family room. Hopeful that in exchange Larry will finish sanding and repainting the front door, so we can get the sander out of the front hallway.

Evan has a couple of friends also hanging out before school starts. Grateful that Evan hasn't considered getting a haircut like his friend T. (When did mohawks come back?) I don't think I could be that supportive a mother.

The cheap hotel in Wellfleet had availability for next weekend. Last gasp of summer on the Cape.

Larry's coming home Saturday night.

Friends to have dinner with. A Friday night roast chicken.

September 4, 2009

Gratitude Friday

Gratitude Friday, for which I am grateful to Diana at http://www.creativestructures.blogspot.com/

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Today, I am grateful for my job.

I was lucky enough to fall into a career path I adore, that nourishes my spirit and mind. I am also fortunate to work where I do, where teachers, children and parents are respected, where colleagues are honored, and we're challenged in the best of ways. I am grateful that our program gets the recognition for excellence it deserves. I am grateful to have my day measured in joy, kindness and learning instead of dollars and defeating others.

I am grateful that my employer is helping finance the cost of my further professional education, and has encouraged me every step of the way. I am grateful that teaching has allowed me most of the same vacation time as my children, and that I was able to race home from work to spend afternoons with them. Less grateful that Early Education is one of the most underpaid careers there is (itty bitty children, itty bitty paycheck), and many teachers have few benefits. I am grateful that I can use Larry's benefits package, and that others on my staff can take advantage of Massachusetts' low-cost health insurance plan.

I am grateful that every September I am excited to begin another year, with another group of children to learn from.

September 10, 2009

Gratitude Fridays--African Spicy Vegetable Stew with Chicken-

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Today, I am grateful for being able to explore the world through my tongue.

In my area, I can eat at restaurants that serve food from all corners of the globe--China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Taiwan, Pakistan, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Morocco, Ireland, Italy, France, Russia, Mexico, El Salvador, Somalia. And that's just the ones I know of offhand. Most are owned by first generation emigrants, their children or grandchildren. We are also lucky enough to be able to shop at grocery stores that carry products from around the world, and on several occasions I've gotten verbal recipes or tips from fellow shoppers who are happy to share information about their homeland's foods. Last night I went out of my usual flavor go-to's with an African dish, which was unusual, spicy and complex. A definite do-over.

I had a sweet potato and two boneless chicken breasts to use up, so was looking around the 'net for something different. I found several recipes for sweet potato-chicken stews with peanuts or peanut paste from various African nations, which looked pretty cool. From what I've read, there are lots of regional variations, and I apologize for not being knowledgeable enough to do more than lump them all under "African" instead of being country or culture specific. I settled on this one, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/AFRICAN-SWEET-POTATO-STEW-WITH-RED-BEANS-1251816 but added more vegetables to make the focus more on vegetable than chicken. I read that eggplant is often added to a groundnut stew in Ghana. The eggplant sort of "melted" into the sauce after the long cooking. My chili powder was very strong, but another might differ. I'd add one teaspoon to start, and taste and adjust after the stew has cooked for a while. Don't skip the chili, lime and peanut butter, which really enhance the layers of flavor. Reducing the peanut butter to just one tablespoon was plenty, giving the sauce richness and a great flavor with the zing of the lime. It looked like sludge, but was very tasty!

Continue reading "Gratitude Fridays--African Spicy Vegetable Stew with Chicken-" »

September 17, 2009

Gratitude Friday

Once again, sparked by Diana at: http://www.creativestructures.blogspot.com/

As a symbol of Rosh Hashanah, literally the "Head of the Year" one tradition is to cook a fish complete with the head. Here's my red snapper, stuffed with dates, onion, and almond, which will go into the oven tonight.

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Today, I am grateful for the Days of Awe, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The holidays of the New Year and the Day of Atonement are meant as a concentrated time of reflection and resolve. Not only must you own up to your shortcomings over the past year and ask forgiveness from God and any people you might have wronged knowingly and unknowingly; you must also find ways to not make those same mistakes. It's painful, but also energizing and positive. Something to aim for every day of the year. As we tell the kids in my classroom, don't just say "sorry", but do something to make it better.

So here's what I'd like to work on in the year 5770. To those I have offended, please, forgive me as I try to do better.

1. Patience. I seem to have enormous amounts for my students, most of their parents, but too often come short with those nearest and dearest.

2. Taking more time before making judgments of other's behavior. Remembering that it is more than possible that I am not seeing the full story.

3. Making the time, each and every day, of letting my husband, sons, parents, family and friends know how much I value and appreciate them.

And to break the Fast on Yom Kuppur, I offer my mother's Blintz Souffle recipe. Some atonement may be necessary afterward.

Continue reading "Gratitude Friday" »

September 26, 2009

Gratitude Friday

Whoops. Friday kind of got away from me yesterday!

I woke up at my usual 5:00 am, and checked my computer. There was an IM message from my son Dan timed from 2 in the morning with the cryptic message "I was outside, but I'm OK." Okay, not something that strikes confidence in the heart of a mother whose first-born is 800 miles away. Oh good, here's an e-mail from Dan, saying that he and some friends were outside watching on the plaza outside their dorm, and ran back inside when tear gas was thrown. Huh?

I checked my news feed, and saw a story about how the protests around the G-20 Summit had spread to the University of Pittsburgh campus. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090925/ts_nm/us_g20_protests_6

Oh, lovely.

So, here's what I'm grateful for,

*My son is OK.
*He got a personal example of the sometimes troublesome intersection between our freedoms of speech and assembly; and the responsibilities of officials when protesters turn to destroying property and disrupting people's places of work and residences.
*Instant communication.
*The protests didn't turn violent; although I am alarmed by the stories of police throwing tear gas at groups of students who were not wearing masks and carrying signs, just congregating to observe.
* There were more protests on campus last night, and Dan stayed inside this time.


October 8, 2009

Gratitude Fridays


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Gratitude Friday, for which I am grateful to Diana at http://www.creativestructures.blogspot.com/

Today I am grateful for:

Heading down to New York on my own, as Larry and Evan are doing the "Schlepathon" to bring my Mother in Law and assorted mysterious boxes from her house in the Catskills to her apartment in Manhattan. I'll get some solo museum time, and meet up with them Sunday night.

I am grateful for my free "hotel" in the city, my parent's lumpy sofabed on the Upper East Side. There may be dinner and puppy play time. If I am really lucky, puppy will sleep in my parent's room, and not whine at me all night.

The Chinatown Bus (Oh come on, it's not that bad--there haven't been any accidents this year, LOL) is stilll $15, and dumps me on Canal Street and the number 6 train uptown.

I started a new sweater, so I will have some bus knitting. A cardigan with a lace inset at the waist, in a heavy dark rose wool. pattern here (although mine will not be quite as tightly fitted) http://www.woollymammothknits.com/chunkyfudgelace.html

I can cheer on Kim on her Avon Breast Cancer Walk. East 77th Street and York, 3 pm.

There are exhibits I want to see at the Met on Sunday morrning. And a short walk will take me to the awesome cookbook store on Lexington. I may go downtown to find cheap jewelry from street vendors in Soho. Or I may just walk through Central Park.

Oh oh oh--My mother just e-mailed me that this weekend is the Manhattan Yarn Crawl! I think I know how my birthday money is going to be spent...

I have a Metro card in my bag that still has money on it.

Larry and I will go out to dinner Sunday night. Sushi!

I have Monday off.

Whee!

October 16, 2009

Gratitude Friday

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another Gratitude Friday, for which I am grateful to Diana in Piemonte. http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/

Today I am grateful that:

There are still old stone walls running all through the New England landscape. Where there once were farms, the woodlands have re-emerged. And towns are preserving their open and wild spaces instead of letting them fall to the bulldozer.

The people in my little corner of the universe are all holding their own.

It's Friday! OK, a rainy and cold Friday, and I need to spend all weekend writing developmental assessments, but hey.

My nose was bruised, not broken.(an occupational hazard of working with young children--when they jump up suddenly)

My Benny Goodman-wannabee is practicing music I like.

I can zip a pair of size 10 jeans. Breathing is overrated, right? I'll be wearing them in another two-three weeks, I think.

The oven isn't working, but at least I have the stovetop, some spicy chicken sausage, red peppers, mushrooms and onions, and whole-wheat spaghetti for dinner. And salad, leftover roasted veggies, and Costco raspberries.

October 31, 2009

Gratitude Friday

With gratitude to Diana, for beginning Gratitude Fridays. http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/

Yeah, the day slipped past me again. Here's something simple.

I am grateful for the loss of my double chin.

Continue reading "Gratitude Friday" »

November 6, 2009

Gratitude Friday

Another Gratitude Friday, with gratitude to Diana. http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/


A few items I have been very grateful for during the past six months I've been getting healthier:

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Exercise resistance bands. These are nifty little things. A set of handles connected by stretchy rubber tubing. They come in three different levels of resistance, to be used in various ways. As you stretch them your muscles are working, and as you release while still holding, the muscles are still working against the lessening resistance. They've done amazing things for my upper arms. They are light and portable, so you can throw them into a suitcase. It takes a bit of practice to learn how to use them, but there are plenty of DVDs, websites and books with clear instructions.

Trader Joe's 0% plain Greek Yogurt. Tastes great, non-chalky, and much cheaper than the Fage. I eat it every morning with fruit, a bit of Stevia, and cereal. I mix it with salsa for a dip. I marinate chicken breasts in it with spices and lime juice. And while we're talking about TJ's, I've also been grateful for their low sodium organic chicken broth, salsas, Kosher chicken, ground white meat turkey, Joe's O's cereal, and 21-Salute salt-free herb mix.

Stevia. This is a natural plant-based sweetener with very few calories. I've found that using more than just a bit gives a slightly bitter aftertaste; but its great to use in sweetening hot drinks and yogurt without chemicals.

Costco. Yes, its a big box store. (But at least from what I've read, does well by its employees and sources locally from small producers as much as possible). What I think it excels in is produce. My weekly shopping list from them includes tiny green beans, spinach, lettuce, raspberries and strawberries in season, mini cucumbers, mushrooms, hydroponic tomatoes; and seasonal treats like chantrelle mushrooms, Tuscan melons, figs, persimmons. They also carry organic chicken, big tubs of Sabra hummus, their Kirkland brand of egg substitute is much cheaper than Eggbeaters, do a very decent store-made lime and chipotle marinated shrimp, and a huge roasted chicken for $5.00. It's interesting to compare our grocery cart to the others in line.

Kalyn's Kitchen. http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com/ This website, while focused on recipes for the South Beach Diet, has a lot of fantastic recipes, and links to many others. I've gotten so many great ideas and delicious meals from her site. Very strong on vegetable recipes.

Kirkland egg substitute. The Costco brand of eggbeaters. One cup is equal to 3-4 eggs, has 120 calories, and 24 grams of protein. Makes for a huge frittata with sauteed spinach and tomato, and is often my lunch.

FitDay. http://www.fitday.com.I use this website to track my diet and exercise, it has a pretty good calorie counter, and you can graph your weight loss.

The treadmill and DVD player, and my NetFlix account. I've caught up on years of movies as I've sweated.

Russo's Market, Watertown. This is a wonderful produce store, carrying all manner of the usuals plus lots of Asian, Latin, Middle Eastern, and Italian items. Where I go from everything from cauliflower and swiss chard to long lavendar Chinese eggplants, jicama, and Armenian lavash bread.

Spray cooking oil. I use this instead of pouring on the oil for sauteeing, for roasting vegetables, for making sure food doesn't stick to the grill.

Fiber Gourmet pasta. http://www.fibergourmet.com/default.aspx This is great stuff. A pasta that's loaded with extra fiber, which brings the calories count down. It certainly isn't as marvelous as an imported pasta, but it's really very decent. One cup is only 130 calories, with loads of fiber. It isn't carried in many stores, so I order directly from the website.

Humn. I'm sure there are more, but I'll do another post with them at some point. Hope this is useful to someone!

December 4, 2009

Gratitude Friday

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Today, I am grateful that we're planning a trip!

We've easily rented out our Sanibel Island timeshare weeks this year, so we've decided to take some of the money and some frequent flyer miles to do another Southwest Road Trip over April vacation. I love that area for the beauty of the landscape, the hiking, the local culture, the art, the food. You really need several weeks or even months to be able to explore fully, since distances are vast. We've also had to incorporate the requests of the three of us, which of course all lie 6-7 hours from each other. This won't be SlowTravel, but it'll be fun!

Larry has been burning to get to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. They're in Utah, and supposed to be stunning. Evan really wants to go back to the Grand Canyon. And I am set on Santa Fe and Taos. I've managed to get a hotel room inside the Grand Canyon park, no small feat since much is already booked there. Also found a 2-room suite outside Zion at a good price. I'm looking at vacation rentals in Sante Fe for our four days there.

The plan so far:

Fri 4/16: Fly to Las Vegas Friday afternoon April 16—overnight Las Vegas
Sat 17: Early drive to (3 hrs) Zion— have afternoon to hike Zion. stay 2 nights—Zion Park Motel (booked)
Sun 18: hike Zion or drive to Bryce if weather is good.
Mon 19: Short hike, then drive to Grand Canyon (7 hours)—arrive for sunset. Stay GC--Yavapai (booked 1 night, may extend to two)
Tuesday 20 Hike Grand Canyon rim trail, (Maybe late afternoon drive to Sedona (2 hrs)
Wednesday 21: morning Sedona, Drive to Santa Fe (6 hrs from Sedona--stop at Meteor Crator, Petrified Forest, Gallup to shop)
(21st to 25th nights in Santa Fe—4-day rental)
Thursday22: 23 Fri, 24 Sat, 25 Sun in Santa Fe—Museums, Taos, Tent Rocks hike, Bandelier hike, Pueblos, etc.
Drive to Albq Sunday 25 afternoon, stay near airport
26 Monday—fly home from Albq.


December 18, 2009

Gratitude Friday

Inspired by Diana. http://creativestructures.blogspot.com/

Today, I am grateful for my Lands End silk long underwear, ragg wool hiking socks, and polartec fleece shirt. Not to mention my hilariously expensive moisturizer, and the good graces of our ancient though still functioning heating systerm.

Yes, it's 10 degrees out there.

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