Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back On Track

You'd think I'd learn; especially, after the first couple of times of messing up.  But, alas, it didn't happen.  I allowed myself to get so busy AGAIN I got off track!  Have you ever been there?  I have more times than I care to recount.  That's why I'm so glad I've got my "basket list" in writing.  From time to time I can come back and re-visit, refresh, and re-focus on what's important. 
So what's important?  Well, I know one thing's for sure....family is the most important.  I'm writing this post more for me; we all need reminders and you may not remember to remind me!    I am notoriously passionate about everything, but miserably inconsistent at maintaining passion for anything for an extended length of time.  Is that why we have the cliche "Women are flighty"?  

Amid all the many projects I'm involved in and the craziness in between, I finally had a moment of clarity.  "What Am I Doing?" Is all this activity worth my time and effort?  I am like that steamboat in my last post.  I just keeping pushing more water until I can't handle anymore and find I am totally exhausted from it all.   The wheels won't rotate one more time. Not a pretty picture, but you get the "impression" of the scene! 

Well, back to the story.  I got off track.  So here I am coming back.  Back to where it all started.  Back to a simpler existence, back to myself.  No outside interference and distraction. I'm back at the station and ready to start again.  Can I stay the course this time?  Someone once said, God allows us to be tested.  He will allow us to continue to re-take the tests if we fail.  Well, I've been here before and failed miserably.  This time I want to pass the test and stay on track.  While I've gotten to some of the items on my list (remember the basket?), I've reallocated too much time to things that don't really make a difference.  So, if painting my bedroom (you know it's on my list) is important, it's high time I get it right. 

By the way, I am hardly an artist in the painting, sketching, molding sense of the word. Indeed, I have never been blessed with that gift. In fact, in my mind it's too much work and I am a perfectionist. Talk about a frustrating effort. I would never be happy. But, I can play beautiful music and it is in times of joy and desperation when I play my best.  Notes on paper. Simply phrases that evoke emotion. I don't have to talk, I just play. That, I enjoy and that I need.   See you at the next stop!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Busy As A Bee

Summer is flying by!  I hope you have had a great season so far.  Up to this point, I have been on not one, but two vacations!  I am blessed. 

First, we went to New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  We had the opportunity to stay a week in a great condo right on the beach.  It was beautiful.  There is not a lot to do right on the beach, but it is near Orlando, so a day trip is absolutely necessary if your within driving distance. 

We went to downtown Disney and spent a few hours. 

Later we ate at Uno's pizza--
the best pizza I have EVER eaten!

Most recently, we went on a trip to Wilmington, North Carolina for a week of RV camping with my parents. 

We spent my birthday and their anniversary eating and sightseeing the North Carolina coast.  I really liked Wilmington.  One day we visited the retired USS North Carolina battleship. 

Wow, it was huge.  Double wow it was HOT!  The temperature the entire time we were on the coast hovered right at 100 degrees, so it was sweltering.  The battleship was very interesting, but something I would recommend seeing in the Fall as there is no A/C on board.  As the ship is at least four floors, you will get exercise and you will get hot!  lol  I really enjoyed looking at the snapshot of the past that the excursion provided.

Of course the beach was beautiful, but the campground was awesome too! 

We stayed at the KOA in Wilmington since they had a pool, bath house and ample area to go bike riding. 
I really enjoyed spending time with my parents.  I also reconnected by phone with my brother who currently lives in California.  

After camping, I spent a night at my parent's house and was able to visit with my sister.  So, I am now up to date on all of my family members! My parents and sister's family reside in Thomasville, NC...you know the place where they make a LOT of furniture.  At any rate, while visiting my sis, I asked if they had ever been to Old Salem near Winston-Salem. 

My mom and sister had never visited there, so off we went! 

Old Salem reminded me a lot of Williamsburg, VA and is well worth the trip. 

We also made a visit to Winkler's Bakery, a famous Moravian Bakery  while we were there. 

They make the best cookies!

I didn't know it but, there is also a very famous women's college, Salem College, in the same area. 
In early August, I had the awesome privilege of attending a quilt show here in Knoxville, TN.  What beautiful quilts people make!  I even purchased three projects to work on--we'll see how they turn out! 

I have had a great summer with my kids and I must say it has been one of the most relaxing times of my life.  Although I must confess, I do get "antsy" as I am so used to running all the time!
So, here's to catching up!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Tisket A Tasket

Well, what have you been up to?  I have been very busy the past few weeks.  Honestly, I had to get with it given my last blog.  If you've read it, you know my "Basket List" is a long one, so I have to manage my time wisely!  I received some great comments from my previous blog, and want to thank each of your for sharing your "Basket List" with me.   I even borrowed from your lists to add to my own!

One item in particular, is a trip to Ireland. I would love to go there.  Why are we so enchanted with that country?  From all the pictures I've seen, it looks very green and very clean.  I wonder if that's true.  Maybe we've all read one too many Irish romances or folklore stories.   Oh well, I'll add it to my list all the same and we'll see if I ever get there.

Aside from that, where should I begin?  Ok, how about with the cooking?  In that regard, I have a confession to make--I cheated.  Yep, I did.  Remember that I mentioned I collect cookbooks?  That's the truth.  Did I make my first "new" recipe from them?  Nope!  I confess (with all the humility I'm sure George Washington did in the "cherry tree" debacle--lol) my first recipe was from the back of the Jello pudding box!  Yes, ladies and gents, I made a "Watergate" salad using a simple recipe from the box.  Here's the recipe:

1 package (4-serving size) Jell-O Pistachio Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling  
1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple in juice, (not drained)
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped walnuts nuts
1 cup halved grapes (green or red, your choice) (my addition)
2 cups thawed Cool Whip Topping

Directions:  Stir the pudding mix, pineapple with juice, marshmallows, grapes, and nuts in large bowl until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve. Garnish as desired. Yield: Makes 8 servings

I remember that as a little girl, when our church hosted a "dinner on the grounds," someone would inevitably bring one of these green, delicious salads.  (There appears to be a "green" theme in this blog--puzzling)  If you've never attended one of these events, write me and I'll tell you all about them!  Nevertheless, as you can tell, I have a sweet tooth.  (Although the Fried Chicken in the pic on the left looks really good too!)

Thus, out of sheer necessity I have added Taking Care of Me to my Basket List.  I recently joined a health club and am trying to work out at least three times a week.  I'm not losing a lot of numbers on the scale yet, but I do feel better and have a little more energy.

Still along the lines of food and cookbooks, I have tried a couple of new recipes from my existing collection, including a spiral pasta salad, sweet and sour meatballs, and a pot roast.  I personally believe they were all good, but you would have to ask my husband if that's the truth!  My daughter has even gotten in on the act by preparing brownies and my son can bake a mean Pillsbury Crescent Roll!

Here's the recipe for the "Spiral Pasta Salad" I made from the Taste Of Home Picnics, potlucks & barbecues magazine (2008). 

3 cups cooked spiral pasta
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons ketchup
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:  In a large bowl, combine pasta, green pepper, celery, tomato and carrot. In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine dressing ingredients; shake well. Pour over salad and toss. Chill.  Yield: Makes 8 servings

I recently picked up a new cook book at the Lenoir City, TN Arts and Crafts Festival that I attended with my daughter last weekend.  It was so cool!  The fair was held at the Fort Loudon dam and we even took a 30 minute boat ride aboard the Watts Bar "Belle" Riverboat.  All I could think of was Mark Twain and Steamboat Willie!

Isn't it cool?!  So nostalgic.

One more thing.  I have decided to try my hat at sales, Avon, that is.  I know what you're thinking.  But I'm giving it a shot.  I really would like to make some new friends (I don't have many these days...I seem to be losing them by the basketful, lol) and what the heck, even make some money.  My mom sold Avon years ago to pay for my piano lessons.  What we do for our kids!  Besides, what have I got to lose?  So I'll keep you posted how that endeavor goes. So what are your latest adventures/accomplishments with your Basket List?  I'd love to hear!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Basket List

I love new adventures.  Now that I'm getting a little older, it seems like time is passing by at an alarming rate, and I haven't done so many things!  You know... the kind of things you see other people doing on reality TV, in magazines, brochures and advertisements that look just plain fun or interesting.  No, I'm not going the "Survivor" route.  I'm not that brave!  I'm taking the route more along the lines of Martha Stewart's "Good Things."

So after much deliberating and reading a ton of blogs (check out the blogs I'm following!), I have decided I am not going to just read about the fun and interesting things others are doing.  I am going to try some things for myself!  Not too long ago a movie called "The Bucket List" came out and the title became a buzz word for people who wanted to experience new things in life, but they had never taken the chance.    Now I haven't been diagnosed with a terminal disease or anything like that-- I've just started considering the fact that over the years since college, marriage, raising kids, and work have required so much of my attention (not complaining, just saying), I have let the adventurous side of me recede into the background.  With time flying by, I decided to get back to me.  

Over the last few weeks, I have spent some time looking at other cool blogs to see what others are up to, and I have been inspired.  While I like the name "Bucket List," I think it really sounds so cold and final.  So, I came up with the idea of a making a "Basket List" of those things I want to try.  Nothing way out there, but here's what I've come up with so far:

Learn to bake fresh Bread (I found a number of mouth-watering recipes in a book, "Bread Alone" written by Judith Ryan Hendricks--the story's good too!)
Finish my Tablecloth quilt (I have been working on it for at least 5 years!) (pictures and directions to follow soon!)

Collect Vintage Aprons
 (maybe even make a few)

Get back into scrapbooking

Make a new recipe dish every week  (I collect cookbooks and have built up quite a collection)

Teach my son and daughter to cook

Take another Cake decorating class

Spend more time bike riding

Learn to speak Spanish

Learn to garden

Paint and  decorate our master bedroom!

And I know it's a little eccentric, but I want to buy the Partridge Family Lunch Box I have been admiring for so long!  lol

I have a ton of other ideas, but as one of my favorite movie characters once sang, "Let's start at the very beginning....a very good place to start!"  What's on your  "Basket List"?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pioneers Transformed

I wonder if there are other women who have walked the same path I'm on in the journey to happiness, contentment, and fulfillment. You see, I am really an adventurer and a pioneer at heart. I like the unknown and chase the unachievable.  So I have become a crusader of sorts for those I walk with now, and hopefully an inspiration for those who follow. Always looking for the next experience,  new discovery or a fight for a justifiable cause.  I also like the word revolutionary.  Just the sound is invigorating!  But instead of a shovel, a brush, or even a sword, my toolkit is a laptop and experience, growing years of it, in fact.

With toolkit in hand, a good cup of coffee, and the inner strength of a small army, I look back to press onward.   For instance, I would love to “telescope” into the past to view the lives of many before me. I want to understand the daily struggles they faced,  both personal and public, to make their mark on the community around them. What was enough for them to be really happy and fulfilled?

I guess for some, their struggle was simply a fight just to see another day. Life for the early pioneer woman, if you want to call it so, was often a troubled existence in deplorable conditions, amidst disease, and fraught with starvation.  However, I believe in their eyes those hardships were worth the price to be able to raise their children, and watch as future generations carried on the dream to conquer and prosper in the new land. Freedom was the goal.  Freedom from government and freedom to worship and live as they saw fit.  For the earliest pioneers, I suppose those ideals were enough. A lasting genealogical legacy. 

Did later pioneers possess a burning desire to achieve something greater?   I believe so.  For many, their desires led them on a journey to become more educated, gaining more awareness and a deeper understanding of the often tumultuous changes going on around them in their still savage land. With the continued exploration of their new homeland, the world was literally getting bigger by the day! If they were to continue to prosper, they had to keep forging ahead. Time never waits.

Many years after the major land exploration and conquest had taken place, and people settled into more day-to-day life, I believe the pioneers began to  yearn for more.  For many women, in particular, I suspect many questioned whether there was more to life than just being an everyday mom, a token plantation wife, a kept mistress, a backroom accountant, or a slave to another's dreams. 

If they were even remotely like me, these female pioneers whose ancestory was from vastly different countries and cultures had to be united by a central dilemma.  Whether spoken or not, I suspect many were afraid they would walk the hills of their new homeland, build families, attend functions, build a few friendships, but never really leave a lasting imprint for future generations. What, if any, were their enduring accomplishments?  Would anyone remember their name?   Am I alone in my wonderings?   I  really don't think so. 

Known as a savvy business pioneer  and acclaimed author, Martha Stewart, wrote in her book, “The Martha Rules…” that we should "bake the cake someone will want to eat," and "write the book that someone will want to read." Sounds simple, doesn’t it? I sincerely believe that many women want to pioneer a new course,  trying new things and really enjoying the sunrise to sunset of their lives. However, due to a lack of personal focus or encouragement, they find themselves paralyzed by their social or self-imposed to-do lists, forcing  personal dreams and life goals in the background while life passes them by.  I know--I've been there for a very long time.  So after lengthy soul searching and much heartache,  I've decided to get off the carousel and the horse that society told me I need to learn to ride to lead a content and fulfilled life.

I am going to take Martha's advice on this one.   I am going to get creative and whip up something new, write a new chapter in my life.   I am after all, a pioneer transformed by my choices minute by minute and year by passing year.  As I travel, I am going to write about my journey in this simple blog. 

 I hope that as I write, others might join me by reading, commenting, and growing right alongside with me.  We can try new things, consider new ideas, and build bigger dreams.  I don't want to undertake this journey for self-recognition, but for self-correction. We all need a "compass" to gain our bearings and set a course in a new or more determined direction, wherever our dreams lead.   Maybe this blog will serve as a compass of sorts for all of us. 

These days, we may not sail the open sea, wear corsets, or picket for the right to vote, but we are pioneers. We are transformed by those we know, read, or even dream about. The wilderness is now more figurative-- it is in our mind where we consider the obstacles and opportunities we can seize or ignore. 

What about you?  Are you desperate to forge a new path? Not a less curvy or bumpy version, mind you, because they are often the most scenic!  The most beautiful path is one which becomes a colorful tapestry of experience even through the muddy, dirty parts of it.  Forging a new path requires grit, strength, and pure determination.  There is a cost.  But with a rewarding journey and view in sight, I am determined that we can and must live more abundantly every day, in every way.   So then, are you in?