Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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I’m baaaaaaack!

Katie here! HEY! I’ve been gone a hundred million gazillion years people! And I’ve got stuff to say even though mama has been telling me to be quiet for four days! She must be delusional!

Me and my garden.

Anyway.

Mama took me to my park about a trillion weeks ago because she said she felt guilty. I didn’t know why she felt that way, I just noticed she was busy taking pictures of the clouds rolling in. They were making me a little nervous.

Maybe we better get home mama! Those clouds look dangerous!

Well, the very next day after our park walk mama took me on a ride and I figured it was to another park but I ended up at camp! She didn’t warn me or anything so to make her extra sad I pranced right in and tugged my way into the office and walked away with the nice lady there without looking back at her even once.

So there mama!

But then I realized maybe I shouldn’t have been so mean cause it was days and days and days until she came to spring me from the joint. I mean, it’s nice there, but nothing beats sleeping with my mama on her big soft bed!

Still, I needed to make her pay.

So every day since I got home I bug her until she takes me to a park. Every. Single. Day. Sunday she took me over to my park again.

It’s finally spring mama!

The dandelions were blooming! Mama was worried we’d missed our opportunity to take our annual photos with the pretty yellow flowers because the park people have mowed once already, but we got lucky and found some!

Mama says we got lots of rain here while she and dad were out of town. She was worried that she’d have to carry me through the puddles at the back of the park. Silly mama. I was so happy to be back at my park that I didn’t let a little puddle stop me!

I missed my park so much mama!

In fact mama had a hard time keeping up with me. I had to wait on her a whole bunch. She was so busy taking pictures. As usual. You’d think she’d have enough pictures of my park. But no, mama says it’s different every time we visit.

Come ON mama!

I guess she’s right. After all, I know that it smells different every time I visit, and mama lets me take all the time I want to read all the pee-mail that’s been left for me. So I guess I should be more patient with her and her stupid camera.

Still, it’s hard to hang around waiting on her when I just want to run run run!

Better get those treats ready mama!

We had a beautiful walk at my park. Just look at the crab trees! They were stunning, though not as stunning as me. Of course not.

Pink is one of my favorite colors.

I had so much fun that I was a very good girl when we got home and settled down for a nap. And then you know what mama did? She took me back to the park for another walk at the end of the day! Two walks in one day!!! And this time I got to show my friend Deuce and his mom all the pretty places.

Deuce and me hanging out at my park.

I even let him read my pee-mail, cause he’s a good guy and I’m nice like that.

Now that I’ve experienced the “two walks in one day” phenominon I’m demanding extra walks every day. Mama says I’m over the top and I need to settle down. I don’t think she understands that I’m the princess and she is just mama.

I’m not worried, I know I can wear her down.

Tomorrow I’m going to start at about 3 a.m. I find she’s most malleable at that time of the day. She’ll do just about anything to get me to stop bugging her. I think a walk in the park would be perfect.

What do you think?

Hey mama!


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Spring redux

Spring. It happens in waves across the country. When Katie and I were in the South we saw spring in all it’s glory. We reveled in the sun and warmth. We forgot that it wasn’t spring everywhere.

One reason to be in the South in the winter.

And then we drove home, north into the gray skies, leafless trees, muddy trails. Cold. It snowed this week.

Why is it snowing??

It was a shock, but all is not lost. As Katie and I explored the yard this past weekend we found traces of spring. Daffodils are popping up from the wet cold ground. So are some of the perennials. The bleeding heart is reaching for the sky.

Purple pink sprouts pushing up through last garden debris.

It will be in bloom sooner than you think. And the monkshood is peeking out too….

Monkshood, excited to see the sun.

..it will bloom next fall — which will also be sooner than we think.

Katie and I went for a walk in her park this weekend. The sun was out, the water was blue. It felt like spring had arrived.

Mama! Is it spring now??

We weren’t fooled. We know, here in Michigan, that winter will take at least one more swipe at us before April ends. But don’t tell that to the goldfinches, they’re already changing into their summer gold.

Hey lady! This feeder needs to be filled!!

Katie and I are very lucky this year. We get to watch spring arrive twice! The daffodils are all done down South. But here they will be arriving any day now.

That’s a very good thing.

You’re going to make me pose with our Michigan daffodils next week aren’t you mama!


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Healthy menu report

My husband and I have been exploring the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle this summer. It’s not an easy transition, and I’ve written about it before. This week we really made an attempt to eat more plant based food, so I thought I’d tell you how our experiments turned out.

I worked mostly from two sources, the China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook and the Thug Kitchen Cookbook*.

First up was wholewheat penne with fresh herbed tomato corn salsa.

Fresh corn and tomatoes.

Fresh corn and tomatoes.

Looks pretty doesn’t it! The salsa was made with fresh corn cut from the cob and tomatoes out of the garden. A perfect meal to make this time of year up here in Michigan.

The salsa was good on it’s own; tossed with the hot pasta it made a nice meal – but it wasn’t filling enough. I was hungry a couple of hours after we ate. I think this dish would be good cold and as a side, along with something else to make up a meal.

Then we tried quinoa for the first time. The recipe, also from the China Study Cookbook, included white beans and kalamata olives and lemon juice.

The recipe made a huge amount. Next time I’d halve it, and probably double the amount of navy beans. But it turns out this stuff is good cold the next day so I managed to make a dent in it. We both liked the quinoa and I’ll be looking for more recipes that use it.

Pretty yummy!

Pretty yummy!

For this meal I also made carrot fritters, from a recipe I’ve had for a few years, and fresh local corn. It was a great meal.

Midweek we noticed that our garden had produced one eggplant. We had one plant with multiple blossoms, but only one developed into a fruit. It was getting pretty big and I decided I needed to do something with it.

So I googled ‘eggplant recipes’ and found one for eggplant lasagna from Real Simple magazine. It looked a bit intimidating, using fresh tomatoes and broiling the sliced eggplant.

Eggplant in place of noodles.

Eggplant in place of noodles.

But I followed along and it turned out great. Next time I might double the recipe (though that would take a long time, to broil slices of two really big eggplants!) so I could make it in a 9×13 pan v.s. the 8×8 pan that only really made 4 small servings. Either way I’ll definitely make this one again even though I’ll have to buy the eggplant at the grocery store.

Tonight we had black lentil tacos with jicama slaw. That had to wait until I could find jicama. I had never heard of it before, though lots of people seem to enjoy it regularly. I finally found it at a local grocery store, one I don’t normally visit – I guess it pays to change up your habits.

Jicima slaw and herb salsa.

Jicima slaw and herb salsa.

Anyway…these tacos were somewhat complicated. The slaw, made up of jicama, carrots and cucumbers plus rice vinegar and lime juice, needed to be made ahead and refrigerated for a bit before dinner. And I made the herb salsa which had cilantro, green onions, basil, orange juice and rice vinegar, ahead too, just to be safe.

I couldn’t find black lentils…so I used green that I found at my local Kroger store. They seemed to be the same size as the ones in the photo that accompanies the recipe in the Thug Kitchen Cookbook, so I hoped they’d cook similarly, and they turned out fine. I think regular lentils would have worked too.

Looked kind of scary.  But it was good!

Looked kind of scary. But it was good!

The “meat” for the tacos is made up of the lentils, mushrooms, a little soy sauce, apple juice and sesame oil. Add a little cabbage, the jicima slaw, and the herb salsa, roll it all up and enjoy!

They were a bit messy eating, but really really good! There was a tang from the slaw and salsa that went well with the mushroom/lentil combination. I might add just a pinch of salt next time.

So….we had a good week. I’d make most of these dishes again. They weren’t really all that difficult, though I’m noticing I’m really slow at this type of cooking. It’s just a lot more chopping of fresh vegetables than I’m used to. Plus I stop to review the recipe more frequently than I would on things I’ve made for years.

And it takes a ton more planning. I need to know at the beginning of the week what we’re eating in order to make sure I have the ingredients here. I can’t just wander the grocery store and see what looks good if we eat this way. I did find it interesting that the last time I shopped I didn’t go near the meat counter, nor up and down most of the aisles. I was in produce and the aisle that has dried beans. I was in and out in what felt like moments.

At the moment, on days we’re eating plant-based, the meal seems to be the focus of my day as I plan and worry, chop and stir, check and recheck. Worry some more. I’m sure I’ll get better at this, and we’ll find our favorites that I’ll make more than once. Each time will be easier. Right?

Broil the egplant, puree the tomatoes.  Lick the spoon on the ricotta cheese.

Broil the egplant, puree the tomatoes. Lick the spoon on the ricotta cheese.

We’ll see how this all turns out. I don’t think we’ve totally converted to vegan. After all, that eggplant lasagna had loads of cheese. I love cheese. Still, those tacos tonight were pretty darn good…and there wasn’t a bit of cheese anywhere.

I think if we eat plant based a couple of times a week we’ll be improving our health. And moving forward maybe the number of vegetarian or vegan meals will increase. Either way, red meat has taken a vacation around our house.

Mostly anyway.

Garden goodness.

Garden goodness.

*Note: The language in the Thug Cookbook will probably be offensive to many. Just a warning.


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Monday

Happy flowering clematis.

Happy flowering clematis.

Not so long ago Saturday mornings were my favorite time of the week. The weekend stretched before me; hours and hours of time to spend however I wanted. But by Sunday morning I was already beginning to grieve.

Now that I’m retired I’ve noticed that my spirit picks up on Monday mornings. Early morning I settle into my chair to check the news and the weather, to contemplate life or to do nothing at all. Perhaps to fall back asleep. My choice.

Cheerful mikweed.

Cheerful mikweed.

The dog asks to go out, and I stand with her in my front yard and listen to the roar of the freeway a mile away. All those people headed back to work. It makes me smile.

I know that sounds smug. Possibly even evil. But with everyone back at work grocery shopping gets easier. Driving into town is less insane. Going to the park is more peaceful.

Joyful zinnia.

Joyful zinnia.

It seems like the sky is blue just for me. I notice the roses glowing, the birds singing. I have time to watch the light move across my back yard.

Mondays are special because they remind me again, every week, how lucky I am that I’m not jumping in the shower and then into the car, heading back into the fray.

Roses smell sweeter.

Roses smell sweeter.

Monday is my favorite day though the rest of the workweek isn’t bad either. And I’ve learned to tolerate all of you crowding up my weekend. I’ve learned to just hang on because Monday will roll around again soon.

Monday. It’s my favorite day.

What’s yours?

Makes me smile.

Makes me smile.