Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Art of Saturday (or Sunday) Morning

There is something magical about a weekend winter morning. I find that the early hours of the day are steeped in a particular slowness that doesn’t accompany the other seasons. I can sleep in, go for a long walk in the snow to build up some appetite and then move onto my favorite thing: an artful meal.

Our hurried lives don’t often allow us the time to eat “properly”. We tend to see it as another thing to check off the to-do list, instead of a privilege and an opportunity to nurture ourselves both physically and spiritually. And especially when we are cooking for ourselves, we will settle for a fast and pathetic meal of microwave popcorn (admit it, you’ve done it).
Eating is an art, and every meal can be a masterpiece. All it takes is a couple more minutes of dedication and the results are a truly astounding. When I allow myself the time to prepare food well and beautifully, it’s like I’ve just given myself a gift.

Meals that tempt the eyes are more likely to tempt the taste buds. That's why, as a health-conscious cook, it’s important to make nutritious foods look their best. When a meal is appealingly presented, you and your family are more likely to eat and enjoy it - making it easier to stick to a healthful diet.
Creating a beautiful meal doesn’t take a lot of work, just a little know-how. Here are some tips to taking that hum-drum dinner to restaurant worthy fare:

1. Pack as much colour on the plate as you can. There’s nothing inspiring about a plate of all one-colour food, so include a rainbow of vegetables, herbs and spices.

2. Pay attention to form. Experiment with cutting foods into a variety of shapes and sizes. You can cut peppers in elegant strips, festive rings or small triangles. Slice carrots, celery and zucchini on the diagonal for change. You can vary shapes and sizes within a dish as well. For instance, make a fruit salad with melon balls, pineapple chunks, kiwi slices and orange sections.

3. Texture matters. Use long stands of beets, or ribbons of cucumber for added crunch on salad or a swirl of high-quality olive oil for added smoothness in a soup.

4. Add a garnish. Herbs work well, just select one based on the dish’s ingredients. Some of my favorites are cilantro, Italian parsley, fresh basil and mint - these really perk up a meal with their fresh flavours, bright colours and nutritional goodness.

Pictured above is one of my favorite winter breakfasts, rolled oats with a buffet of toppings. I like to stir in wild, frozen blueberries about a minute before serving so they thaw, but don’t overcook. These turn the bland-coloured oats into a deep purple indulgence. Then I arrange sliced apples and chopped nuts on top. The apples are cool and crispy in contrast to the warm, soft oats and the nuts are rich and add crunch. I keep the extra garnishes on the side to add as I go – the whole experience makes me feel special.

Over the next few Saturdays or Sundays, give yourself the chance to create something beautiful with your food to enjoy alone or with friends and family. It may even become a priority…and suddenly life will be full of an unexplained richness that feels like you’ve just won the lottery and tastes like heaven only hopes

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"El Shaddai"

El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai [means "God Almighty, God Almighty"]
El-Elyon na Adonai [means "God in the highest, Oh, Lord"]
Age to age, You're still the same
By the power of the name.
El-Shaddai, El-Shaddai
Erkamka na Adonai [means "We will love You, Oh, Lord"]
We will praise and lift You high

Through Your love
And through the ram,
You saved the son
Of Abraham.
Through the power
Of Your hand,
Turned the sea
Into dry land.
To the outcast
On her knees,
You were the God
Who really sees.
And by Your might,
You set Your children free.

Through the years,
You made it clear,
That the time of Christ
Was near,
Though the people
Couldn't see
What Messiah ought to be.
Though Your Word
Contained the plan,
They just could not understand,
Your most awesome work was done
Though the frailty of Your son.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mary, Did You Know

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little boy
You've kissed the face of God

Mary, did you know?
The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rules the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding
Is the Great I Am

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ah, But They Were Very Good Years

When I was 5 years old everything was sugar and spice and everything nice.  Wrapped up in my parents love.  Not a care in the world.  Ah, but they were very good years.

When I was 10 it was endless summers floating into warm by the fire winters all wrapped around magical holidays.  Ah, but they were very good years.

When I was 16 I was learning what it was to be come a young lady.  Crushes to die for, heartaches that could be eased by mother's comforting words (and a dish of chocolate ice cream).  Ah, but they were very good years.

When I was 18 I learned about innocence lost and found, that childhood was left behind and a new journey about to begin.  Ah, but they were very good years.

When I was 21 life and the world were spread out before me, ready for me to discover all the secrets that they held.  Ah, but they were very good years.

When I was 25 I was fighting for my life.  Literally.  I looked death in the face and I survived.  It was a long battle.  A hard battle.  On me.  On my family.  There were a few times I was not suppose to make it.  But I did.  I survived cancer.  But in doing so I lost a big part of myself.  Of who I was in this battle.   Ah, but they were very good years.

When I was 31 I was beginning to figure out who I was again.  Where I fit in.  Ah, but they were very good years.  Ah, but they were very good years.

When I was 36 I was still figuring out why I survived.  I also was missing out on what everyone else had:  a home, husband, children.  I had to learn to live with the knowledge that this would never be a part of my life.
Ah, but they were very good years.

When I was 40 I was coming to terms with the notion that I would never marry.  Life was good.  Things were going well.  Ah, they were very good years.

When I was 44 I fell in love for the first time.  I got married.  I moved away.  I started a new life.  Scary but exciting.  Ah, they were very good years.

When I was 52 I fell in love for the second time in my life.  I also had my first real heartbreak. One I will never forget. And one heals with time (and chocolate ice cream). I also had the first major loss of my life.  My mother had recently passed.  Ah, but they were very good years.

When I was 53 two more devastating losses in my life.  My father passed away.  Then four months later my husband passed away.  Devastating year.  Ah, but they were very good years.

Now I am 54, the holidays are upon us.  I will be alone this Christmas.  It will be hard.  I do not look forward to having two days off (week-ends) for it the silence is deafening.  So I am really not looking forward to 4 days off.  But I will get through.  Just as I have in the past.  Just as I will in the future.
And as I reflect back on my life, I can only say, with tear filled eyes, but a joyful heart.......Ah, But They Were Very Good Years.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Anniversary to me......I miss that single carnation

Today would have been my 10th wedding anniversary.  I was married December 14 2001 in Savannah Missouri at the old courthouse. 

Today I am really feeling the loss of my husband.  His passing has been hard.  But with each day that goes by the pain eases, the tears don't flow as much.  But today, today is hard.

We have done the romantic rustic cabin getaways to celebrate.  We have gone out to dinner to celebrate.  We have done funny things to celebrate.  I miss the funny things most.   The little funny stuffed animals left for me in cupboards or closets.  Dressing the "kids" (kitties) up in funny hats with "happy anniversary" written on them.  So many things.  I miss it.  I miss him. 

The very first day we went out he brought me a single carnation.  Every Dec 14th he would bring me a single carnation.  He has given me roses before.  But that single carnation is what I miss.  Not really a good day today. 

I miss that single carnation.