Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Love-Hate. Sometimes These Are Simultaneous Emotions.

Last week Lana of Two Teens and Their Mama wrote a post called Love and Hate. In it, she tagged me to write a post about ten things I love and ten things I hate, just as she had done. 

I've decided to follow Lana's example. Rather than strive for perfection - I wrote down the first 20 things that came to mind, and I'm sharing them as a list here with you. 

Strangely enough, almost all my choices reflect exactly what I blog about! I suspect this is because these really are the things about which I am most passionate!

love, hate, emotions
I saw the words love and hate written this way fairly recently, and unfortunately I don't remember where! I created the drawing in this photo from memory - but I'd love to know who first thought of this idea! 
Love and hate are often simultaneously occurring emotions.  I think it is pretty clever how

Saturday, June 27, 2015

NO! to a Flag and YES! to Love

Saturday Spotlight Series #25
Today my Saturday Spotlight shines strongly on two historically significant events of this week.

I do not tend to be a person of strong opinions. I can usually see both sides to any argument so clearly that it is often difficult for me to take a stand. 

There is no wiggle room, however, in how I feel about the following two topics that have been all over the media during this past week.

I know that my opinions will not be popular with every person who reads this article or follows this blog; however, I would be happy if this post leads to constructive conversation and an increase in understanding and tolerance. People are people, all are equal, and all of our lives will be improved if we all always remember that.    

No - the confederate flag should not be flown by the South Carolina Statehouse. 

The confederate flag's association with slavery has tainted any justifiable sentimental value it may have ever had. Its political history may be complicated, but it does not represent justice for all. I hope South Carolina takes it down - and I find it tragic that it took nine deaths to spark the debate to do so.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Week #3: My List of Fabulous Finds

It is rare that I publish twice in one day. Today is one of those exceptions! 

This morning I published the third segment of my fictional short story about Mindy, the delightfully quirky compulsive shopper with hoarding tendencies. And now, as promised for every Friday, here is the latest “My List of Fabulous Finds” post. My sincere apologies if you were expecting to find this list here earlier today! 

There is a LOT of really helpful, captivating, and entertaining information available on the Internet!  It can take a lot of time however, to sift through and find the articles that interest you. In this series, I share the links to some of the “fabulous finds" I have discovered on the Internet throughout the week. 

If you read this blog, I suspect we have similar passions. If I find something to be fascinating or useful, I think you might as well. 


Here is some of what I came across this week.

This Week's Fabulous Finds:

Fiction, Sangria, Roasted Red Pepper Spread, and a Picnic

The combination of fiction, photography, sangria, and a recipe for a roasted red pepper spread made this a really fun post for me to write!

This is Part 3 of my story about Mindy, a compulsive shopper and hoarder of cleaning products. Like the first two parts, this segment was also written using word prompts from Words for Wednesday writing challenge

The prompts for the Words for Wednesday writing challenge have long been provided by Delores at Under the Porch Light. She recently relinquished this task, however, and it is temporarily being continued by EC at Elephant's Child.  In future, volunteer bloggers will each take a turn for a month, and provide the prompts and host the challenge on their own blogs. 

It will be my turn to host Words for Wednesday in September! I am already thinking about what my words should be! It is a wonderful writing exercise and I highly recommend giving it a try!

To catch up with the story so far:

When you are ready, here is Part 3 ...


Sangria, Roasted Red Pepper Spread and a Picnic

Mindy checked her reflection in a storefront window. Her full-length mirror at home had

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Words for Wednesday - exactly one year ago this week!

Roses, Fiction, Words for WednesdayGlancing back in the archives of my blog, I realized it has been one whole year since I first participated in the weekly Words for Wednesday writing challenge provided by Delores of Under the Porch Light

Words for Wednesday participants are encouraged to write a piece of fiction from a provided word prompt.  Delores has recently been experiencing computer difficulties and is scaling back her blogging efforts somewhat, but the blogger (EC) from the blog Elephant's Child has graciously (at least temporarily) taken over providing the challenge.

In honor of the efforts of both Delores and EC to put this challenge together and keep it going, I am

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Montana Wildlife - Unusual Sightings

Living in a rural neighborhood in Montana, we see a variety of wildlife on and near our property. We share our land (and our plants!) with many types of birds, lots and lots of deer, migrating elk, an occasional fox, and even a shy moose calf was spotted once nearby. We have found bear scat on our front lawn, and I've chased free-range cattle off our driveway. One summer, while driving my daughter to her early morning swim practices, I crossed paths several times with a porcupine and had to wait for it to waddle across the road.  

This summer our wildlife sightings have been a little different from years past, however.  

My dog and I walked right past this deer this week - and the dog had no idea the deer was there.

Diminished senses

A huge population of deer roam this area, and often sleep in the shade of our house. They have been

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saturday Spotlight: Father's Day (without kids - already?)

Saturday Spotlight #24
How did this already happen?

We'll celebrate Father's Day this year without our kids.

Father's Day is tomorrow and for the first time since they were born, neither of my kids will be with their dad and I. My son is halfway through his month-long backpacking trip in Wyoming, and my daughter will be back in Seattle after a brief three-day visit to Montana.

I feel like I have joined a club - one to which I'm not sure I am ready to belong.  My mom and my mother-in-law are already “members,” and this has always made me feel both grateful and a little guilty.  

The club to which I am referring is the "Wives Who Try to Make Father's Day Special, Because Their Children Are Not Home club." 

Family photo
My parents and I, when I visited them earlier this month. My mom will make sure that tomorrow is extra-special for my dad.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Week #2: My List of Fabulous Finds

Every Friday, in this post series “My List of Fabulous Finds” I share the links to some of the “fabulous finds" I have discovered on the Internet throughout the week.  

There is a LOT of really helpful, captivating, and entertaining information available on the Internet!  It can take a lot of time however, to sift through and find the articles that interest you. 

If you read this blog, I suspect we have similar passions. If I find something to be fascinating or useful, I think you might as well. 

Here is some of what I came across this week.

This Week's Fabulous Finds:

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Is There Something New on Twitter?

Is there something new on Twitter,  or has it been there all along?

Do you use Twitter? I do, but I am still trying to figure it out. I’m not sure if I’ve just been totally oblivious - or if perhaps a new feature has just been added - but I just made a huge discovery...

... I can now add photos to my tweets on Twitter!

When I first started using Twitter, it was my understanding that a tweet was limited to 140 characters, and did not include images.  I have been using Twitter for a while now this way, tweeting out my blog posts each day, and occasionally sharing other posts that I find interesting.  

Of all the forms of social media that I use, Twitter is the least intuitive for me. I sort of hate to admit it,

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Seattle Rock'n'Roll - Running, Walking, and Reuniting

Just about a year ago, after meeting a blogging friend in person for the first time, I wrote an article called Neither of Us was a Catfish! 

The term "catfish" refers to a person who pretends on a form of social media to be someone whom they are not. I had always cautioned my children about the dangers that lurk online - - and then found myself meeting Lana (who blogs at Two Teens and Their Mama) for lunch!

Seattle, Space Needle

Seattle is not too far from Lana's hometown, so when I was there for my son's soccer tournament a year ago, she and I agreed to meet at a restaurant for lunch. Before we met, the only thing I knew about Lana was what I had read about her on her blog; yet I was sure we would be friends. My instincts were right. We had a wonderful afternoon together, and have been good friends since.

I was so lucky that the 2015 Seattle Rock'nRoll Race provided an opportunity to meet up with Lana again this past Saturday.

friends, Seattle Rock'n'Roll, 8K
Lana and I,  just before we walked the 8K of the Seattle Rock'n'Roll Race last weekend.
We decided to walk the 8K of the Seattle Rock'n'Roll together, as her son and my daughter

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday Spotlight #23: Is Your Spice Drawer Dangerous?

Saturday Spotlight #23
I worry. A lot. 

Just when I think I worry about everything under the sun, I find out about something that I didn't even know I should be worrying about. Something that is commonly available and potentially fatal.

As parents, we try to protect our children from harm.  We tell them they can't do dangerous things, we caution them about things that could potentially put them at risk.  We talk to them about the risk of using drugs, the dangers of drunk driving. 

Yesterday I read an article about a substance that I never even knew could be dangerous.

When my son was about 12, he and his friends held a contest at another friend's house. Like the reality show "Fear Factor," they dared each other to ingest a bunch of gross concoctions; nothing poisonous but odd combinations flavored with hot sauce, soy sauce, etc.   When he got home and told me about it, I warned him that these sorts of activities are not wise. I gave him the example that soy sauce isn't meant to be drunk; it has a high sodium content and consuming an unusually large quantity could cause an electrolyte imbalance. 

Edible items, when ingested differently than intended, are not always harmless.  I have talked with my kids about the dangers of eating mushrooms in the wild, huffing from whipping cream canisters, and eating spoiled food.  But, I never knew that I should warn them about swallowing cinnamon.

Sadly, the death of a 4-year old boy named Matthew brought the risk to my attention.  Apparently, Matthew climbed up onto a counter, got some powdered cinnamon, began putting it in his mouth, started choking, appeared to be having a seizure, and died.  Any mother knows how quickly kids can climb and get into things - few of us have ever locked our spice cabinet.  But, perhaps that would be wise. 

An online dare called "The Cinnamon Challenge" has circulated among teenagers for a number of years, encouraged kids to try to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon in under 60 seconds. This seemingly harmless prank has led to some severe results. Unfortunately, cinnamon quickly dries up mouth saliva, causes a choking response, and can lead pneumonia, asphyxiation, and even death. 

Matthew's mother wants his death to be a warning to teenagers of how dangerous ingesting cinnamon can be. I am honoring his memory by sharing this information here with you.

spices, spice drawer, cinnamon and baking spices

Natural does not always mean safe.  We can't possibly warn our kids of every potential danger that lurks, but pointing out the danger of The Cinnamon Challenge seems like a conversation well worth having.  

Have a safe and happy weekend.

Do or did you keep your spice drawer locked to prevent access by small children? 

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Week #1: My List of Fabulous Finds

I am going to try offering something new on Fridays. 

I spend a lot of time reading other blogs. 

If you enjoy this blog, I suspect that we have similar passions.  If I find something to be interesting or useful, I think you might as well. 

Throughout the week, as I meander the Internet, I plan to develop a habit of keeping a list of links to the fabulous content that I come across. I think it will be fun to share these links of my “fabulous finds” with you. Hopefully, this will be sort of like having your own personal research assistant!

I will publish these links each Friday. I look forward to sharing all sorts of recipes, tips, ideas, and thought-provoking articles from other websites; introducing you to some fabulous other blogs; and helping you navigate the internet quickly to find many ideas of how to make the most of every one of your moments!

When I began my Saturday Spotlight Posts series, I sort of had this idea in mind. Those posts, however, have evolved to spotlighting just one or two topics in a different way.  “Fabulous Finds” on Fridays will be a weekly list of some things that have interested me, even if I haven't yet personally experienced or tried them. Readers are more than welcome to share their thoughts or knowledge regarding each link, and converse about them in the comment section below each post.

Curation of good content is something I appreciate on some of the other blogs I follow. I'd love it if you'd leave a comment and let me know your thoughts about this new post series. 

This Week's Fabulous Finds:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Our National Parks are Not Disneyland!

One advantage of living where we do is that we can drive to Yellowstone National Park in about three hours, and Glacier National Park in just under four.

These parks are quite different from each other, and both offer a lot of natural landscape to explore. We purchase an annual National Parks pass each year so we can pop in and out of them as we please, without paying the entrance fee each time.

East gate, entrance fees, Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park itself is very diverse, with all sorts of different terrain and topography within its borders. In addition to Old Faithful and numerous other geysers, there are magnificent mountains,

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I Asked My Son to Take Good Care of my Heart

I didn't spend much time on my computer during Sunday or Monday.  Instead, I traveled 954 miles in a car. 

road trip, Montana to Wyoming

It was a bitter-sweet trip.  My husband and I took my son down to Wyoming, and dropped him off for a month of backpacking, as part of a wilderness and leadership program. We will have no contact the entire time he is gone, and it was more than a little hard for this mom to say good-bye!  I am excited for him though, as he has looked forward to this trip for months, and I am very proud of him for being so adventurous.

family photo
We had to get a photo together before we set out for Wyoming.
This will be the longest I have ever gone without talking to either of my children.  My daughter is far away at college, but we talk or text as often as either of us desire.  When she was 13, she attended a horse camp - also out in the wilderness. We had no communication then either, and I remember that was hard for me too!

horses, Montana
My daughter during her week of horse camp in the wilderness of Montana
Part of good parenting is supporting our children's independence and encouraging them to fulfill their dreams.  My friend Lana, from Two Teens and Their Mama summed it up well when she published this quote on her blog, "To have a child is to decide forever to have your heart go wandering around outside of your body." I did remind my son that a part of my heart would be with him while he is gone, and asked him to please take very good care of it.  

I must admit, I will be counting the days until we are driving those miles again, and picking up instead of dropping off my son!

driving, the Western US
The weather was perfect and the scenery throughout our entire trip was absolutely stunning!

Have you ever driven through the western mountain states of the USA?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Saturday Spotlight Series #22: Graduation Milestones

My Saturday Spotlight Series shines today on graduation.  This milestone weaves in and out of our lives in so many different ways.


My parents got married just three days after my dad graduated from college. He was taking a challenging course load, and one of those classes was a prerequisite to earning his degree. He had informed my mother that if he did not pass his final exams the wedding would be off, because he would need to take another semester of classes and would not have a job.  I'm sure he felt fairly confident he would be fine - but imagine how stressful that must have been! (All went well, and they have been married 57 years this summer!)

I attended an American High School in Spain; the dress code for our graduation ceremony was formal attire, not caps and gowns.  My mom sewed the dresses my twin sister and I wore from the same pattern, but in a different color of fabric for each of us. We hadn't dressed alike since we were quite small, and we haven't intentionally done so since! For that occasion however, wearing the same dresses seemed a sort of final nod to all the experiences we had shared, before we parted ways and went off to universities in different parts of the United States.


My college graduation ceremony (when I received my diploma) was somewhat upstaged by the "pinning" ceremony for my nursing class that same weekend. It was a very beautiful ceremony, with lots of sentiment. After four years of classes and clinical experiences, we were all so excited to receive our nursing pins and finally become a full-fledged nurses!

Time passed. Graduations of friends and family were many, then seemed to taper off - replaced by weddings and baby showers! 

Before I knew it, my husband and I were celebrating our children's accomplishments.  A low-key recognition of kindergarten completion was called a "graduation".  A more elaborate celebration (with a party afterwards) marked their transitions from middle school to high school.  My daughter has graduated from high school, and my son will do so also in just a year. 

graduate, siblings

Saturday Spotlight Series #22

Graduation announcements from friends and family have been rolling in all month.  As I've been writing congratulatory cards, I have taken a moment to reflect upon my memory of each student. Some we have know since they were quite small. My wish for all of them is a bright and happy future.

Congratulations to all of the graduates of 2015!

How many graduations have been milestones in your life? 

Are you celebrating a graduate this year?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Nothing to Say

Sometimes words are better left unsaid. “If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all.” Like many parents, I have often told my children this.

Good Advice!

Remembering to think before we speak, and to always consider the impact of our words is a diplomatic skill to have. This quote is good advice, whether it refers to being kind or only speaking when one has something worthwhile to say.

Today, even though I generally post on Fridays, I don't have an article of any real value prepared to publish here. Instead, I will just encourage you to think about this advice ... and I will have something to say tomorrow!

Happy Friday!

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

An Easy and Flavorful Tomato Tart

I used to be hesitant to make a new recipe when I had guests coming for dinner. I was afraid that we would not like the meal, or it would not turn out. I have decided life is too short for that! Now, when we entertain, it is not unusual for the entire meal to be made from recipes I have never cooked from before.

puff pastry, tomatoes, tomato tart

I have always loved finding new recipes, and there are an endless number of them to try. Just spend fifteen minutes watching the food channel on TV, browsing through the cookbook section of a bookstore, or looking at Pinterest and you will see what I mean.  While it is nice to have a collection of tried-and-true recipes, it is really fun to experiment with new ones too!

For example, I recently found a recipe on Pinterest published by The Italian Dish in 2010 for a Cherry Tomato Puff Pastry Tart. After reading the directions and seeing the photos, I was pretty sure it would be  delicious!

tomato tart, cheese, tomatoes, puff pastry

I purchased the ingredients for this recipe, intending to make this for the party we had last week. However, I spent a little too long planting annuals that afternoon, and forgot to thaw the puff pastry! Fortunately, we had plenty of other food, so it didn't matter that I didn't make it..


Instead, I baked this tomato tart later in the week, just for my husband, son and I.  My son thought it tasted a lot like a homemade pizza (similar flavors, different crust).  I made it exactly according to the recipe - and it was perfect. I will definitely be baking more of these! 

puff pastry, tomato tart

The recipe is easy to follow, and quick to prepare (as long as you remember to thaw the puff pastry!) I was lucky enough to have some tri-colored heirloom grape tomatoes, and these added some beautiful jewel-tones to the tart! 

This tart is perfect as an appetizer or even as a light meal when served with a salad; just click here to visit The Italian Dish and see the recipe.  

Do you cook for guests from new recipes or only serve them dishes you have tried before?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm Making Hay

The origin of the phrase “Make Hay While the Sun Shines” apparently dates back all the way to the mid 1500's.   Farmers during that time lacked modern equipment, and did not have the three-day weather forecasts upon which we have all come to depend. The most reliable indicator of the necessary stretch of good weather to make hay was a sunny day. Over time, this expression became a proverb meaning “take advantage of a good opportunity.”

quote, proverb

During the past few days, the sun finally came out from behind heavy clouds, we (hopefully) put the danger of a frost behind us, and I was "making hay."  Not hay exactly - but planting my little garden and doing some weeding.

While I was planting, I was thinking. About growing pains, actually. My kids have grown up so quickly it