Sunday, April 30, 2017


I sit here on April 30th, and May is just hours away. I don't know if you ever do this, but occasionally I stop and wonder what the month will bring. Clearly, it often brings more of the same as each day slips by so fast that you wonder where the month went. But sometimes it's fun to stop and bring a little more awareness to the day. If I let it just slip by, it will. If I take a moment to decide a few things, I can help guide pieces of it. I can't control it, but I can make some decision about the direction that I want to go. I can make it be something more than just another month.

The question is, what do I want to work towards this month? I have a couple of bike rides in mind. Neither actually in May, but May can be some of the much smaller rides to lead to the bigger ones. There's a 62-miler that I may be doing by myself, but I'm committed and I'm going to do it. It's an organized ride. I also want to do more climbing. I'm not sure that I have enough space to commit to that, given the time that I need to spend on the bike, so we'll see on that goal.

I also just participated in a work performance summit. It was a lot of days of watching a lot of online videos, but it was inspiring. I have a few takeaways that I really appreciated, some for work, some for life in general. But I want to strike while the iron is hot, so May is the perfect time to try to implement some of the things that I learned.

A couple of the things that we've all heard before, but that were interesting to hear from different perspectives, and sometimes with the neuroscience, etc., as to why these things are important:

- Focus on the positive. (Super simple sounding, perhaps, but our brains only have room for so much. More on the positive means less space for the negative.)
- Never complain. (Wish you could have heard all the rationale behind this one. I know it's not a great thing to do, but looking at all the downsides makes me want to commit more to this one. I can be whiny!)
- ABI (Assume best intention; if someone is doing something and we don't know why, most of the time it's not actually because they're a jerk.)
- Whatever it is that you want to change, track it. (This one came up over and over and over again.)
-Remember that our brains can only focus on so much, so 3-5 items on the to-do list is usually best. (More is easy enough to add if you get past that, but that's a great place to start.)

Many of the guests were also authors, so now my reading list is even more insanely long that it was, but that's a great problem to have!

Also, more snow this weekend, so maybe May will bring a touch of Spring? And also maybe a touch more winter. It likes to do both out here!

Have a wonderful week and a wonderful May!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beautiful Days

The last few days have been gorgeous. Perfect temperatures, sunshine. I think the world is celebrating Easter. How was your Easter?  Mine was quiet, but super nice. Of course I realized just after my last post that there would be no Adoration for me, because that is not available until Easter Vigil! But turning off my computer- and not just the computer, but the modem- was fantastic. It did give me time to take moments to spend with Him. I did spend a lot of my Thursday and Easter in the narthex (my allergies are much better this year, but I still can't handle the incense!), but it was fine. I still didn't go to Easter Vigil. Too much smoke and too little place to hide for the longest (and most amazing!) Mass of the year.

I have to say that I enjoyed the lack of social media so much that I didn't really return to it on Sunday. I'm not giving it up entirely (I still like it too much for that), but I did realize that my simple Easter Sunday is fine when I'm just focused on enjoying what is. The comparison of what is not in my life becomes all the more stark when wandering through all the pictures of everyone else's Easter. It isn't that I didn't feel the lack, but I didn't feed it, so it was more tolerable. It's funny, because in some ways I love all the Easter photos of everyone's families, and I'm so glad that they are there, filling up my feed with that joy, even if (as pathetic as it sounds) I can't actually look at them. I did get on long enough to see the photos of my niece and nephew, and that always makes my day. I sure wish those little boogers lived closer!

I had a fantastic dinner (bacon ranch potato salad may become a summer staple around here!) Also, I have to say that having the time away from all the distractions gave me some more reflection time, which may lead to a post or two. I know that I've seen that some of you had a good Easter; hope that was the case for all of you!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Into the Quiet

I'm kind of frustrated with myself. This Lent, like so many the last few years has not really been what I think it should be. Of course, there are those times where it is exactly what God thinks it should be, and nothing like what we have in mind. Yet, I don't think that that's the case either.

You know what I'm realizing, though? Lent is over. The Triduum has begun and I can't do Lent 2017 anymore. Not well, not poorly, not halfheartedly, not over-the-top and then crashing in frustration. I can't go to more Masses, more Stations, more Adoration (or ANY Stations and Adoration, as the case may be).  There will be no more Lenten fasting for me.

You know what I can do, though? I can enter into the quiet, the holiness of the next few days. I can go to Mass tonight, and when I leave I can turn off not only my computer, but my modem for the next few days. I can rejoice in the opportunity to fast tomorrow. I may not make it to Adoration tonight (after they fill the church with incense, my allergic, smoke-sensitive self will be running for the door!), but I can try to find some moment in the next few days to spend an hour with Him. Preferably at Adoration, but wherever I am. Perhaps if I have a moment, I can do some Stations on my own tomorrow. I want so badly to go to Holy Saturday Mass, but given intensity of the incense PLUS the length of the service, I don't think that's going to happen.

In the quiet, in the things that go according to plan and the things that don't, I can take the time to pray for those things that are near and dear to my heart right now. You and your intentions. For this wonderful couple I barely know, but wish I knew better (and especially that they may come to truly know the God who loves them so much). For forgiveness for all the ways that I've fallen short. For my family, for healing of wounds, ears to hear, and comfort especially for my mom after my grandma died early this Lent. In gratitude for what is. For this deep cry of my heart, that has never gone away.

May these holiest of Holy Days be truly blessed for you and your families!

Monday, April 10, 2017

In the Kitchen

There have been two meals that I have just been loving in the last week or two, so I'm going to share. It's true that one of them is more of a cold weather soup, but I was just using up the last of my ham from Christmas, and I'm loving it, even if it is a little warmer now. Those of you who love precise measurements, go ahead and look away. My cooking is a lot of, "meh, that looks good" and not a lot of measuring spoons and cups. I'll try to give an estimate of amounts, but they are only estimates! Sorry, no photos. I eat food, I don't photograph it.

Sort of Stroganoff

Potatoes (maybe a pound or so?), peeled and diced (I use yukon gold potatoes, so I don't always peel them)
Enough bone broth to cover the potatoes (or regular broth, if you're not into bone broth; either chicken or beef bone broth works great)
Salt and pepper to taste.
~1T. fresh rosemary
~1t. fresh thyme
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
Medium yellow onion, sliced
White wine vinegar (or better yet, white wine!)
1 can (15 oz) full fat coconut milk
1 lb. ground beef (or bison)

1) Dice the potatoes into large pan and cover with broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. When almost tender, add rosemary and thyme. When potatoes reach desired tenderness, remove from heat.

2) Brown ground meat until done and set aside.

3) In the same skillet (may need to add some ghee or other fat depending on how lean your meat was), sauté onions for 1-2 minutes, then add mushrooms.

4) When vegetables are done, combine meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Add coconut milk and 1-2 T of white wine vinegar OR 1/4-1/2 c. white wine. Return to heat until heated through. Warning; it will be kind of soupy, so you will probably want to use soup bowls to serve. Also be careful not to go too crazy when adding the liquids!

Ham and Potato Soup

1-2 T. ghee
1 lb. cooked ham, diced
1 medium to large onion, diced
~1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
4-5 carrots
Bone broth (usually chicken), maybe 4-6 cups?
1 can (15 oz) full fat coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, brown the ham in ghee. Remove the ham from the pan and set aside. Add onions to the same pan with more ghee if needed. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add carrots. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add the ham back in, along with the potatoes and broth. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until vegetables are at desired tenderness.  Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk.

Both of these recipes are probably in the 4-6 serving range. I love to make a batch and then have the leftovers for a few days. These recipes were good before, but went to a whole new level when I started making my own bone broth. SO. GOOD. When I served the potato soup to a friend, she wanted thirds mostly for the broth!  Have you ever tried your own bone broth? So good for you as well as being amazingly tasty. You want that recipe, too? (Though there are a million recipes for that on the internet.) But here's what I do.

Chicken Bone Broth

1 organic chicken, with giblets
2 T. apple cider vinegar
Whatever vegetables/vegetable scraps you want to use and that fit in the slow cooker with the chicken (I typically use 1-2 carrots- peels on!- 1-2 celery stalks- with leaves if they have them-, 1 small onion, and one head of garlic- both cut into halves or fourths, but with skins and all still on)
Whatever herbs I want to use- usually rosemary, sage, and thyme. Preferably the whole sprigs if I have them fresh.

Put it all in the slow cooker and cover with water. Once the chicken is about falling apart, (~6-8 hours) take it out with slotted spoons, careful to reserve all the liquid in the slow cooker. Let the chicken cool a bit, and then remove the meat from the bones. Skin and giblets can also be removed if you want to use them in your cooking (so good for you, but I admit that I can't always bring myself to use them), or they can be thrown back in the slow cooker. Once you have removed the meat, the bones, cartilage and all the rest go back into the slow cooker. The meat can now be used for any favorite chicken recipe, and the rest of the broth stays in for a total of 24-36 hours on low. Refill with water as needed. Once it's done, it looks terrible with all those bones and vegetables in it, but strain all that out, and soon you will be left with some of the most beautiful rich broth you've ever seen or tasted!

There you go. Possibly the only 3 recipes that I will ever post. Enjoy!