Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Writer's Block

I've been working on a book that I hope to finish along the same time I finish my third solo album. This book is fiction, based on one of the stories from the album, and is going to be so much fun! I've only written a little less than 6,000 words so far, but the story is already unfolding nicely.

However, sometimes when I sit down to write I get writer's block. I went through the ritual of making some hot tea - decaf Earl Grey, to which I added some lavender buds - and settled in front of my laptop, and proceeded to go blank. I stared at the of those inspirational Barnes and Noble mugs with the picture of books on flower stems, and a lady in a summer hat clipping the books like roses. If only I could just snip my book off of a flower stem and see it in its final glory!

My answer to this writer's block was to post my first blog for 2012. Here's hoping the ideas are flowing again soon!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Things I Will Never Regret

I just found out today that my hairdresser was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer, and very likely has about 6 months to live. In shock, I turned to God in prayer on his behalf, and then started thinking.

If I were to find out today that I was also terminally ill with a short time to live, would I have any regrets? Of course, like everyone, I would have a few from my past. But in my daily life today is there anything I would want to change or would regret? While thinking about these things I realized there are actually many things I would NOT regret.

I would not regret:

1. Kissing my father and telling him I love him when I say "goodbye", even if he finds it difficult to say the same thing.

2. Complimenting my mother on how beautiful she was (and is) while looking at old family slides, though the compliments make her very uncomfortable.

3. Driving with my husband one hour each way on Sundays to attend morning worship with my parents and friends/classmates that I grew up with.

4. Not skipping church on Wednesday night for a much needed band rehearsal before a big show, even when others just don't understand.

5. Telling friends "I love you" and "I appreciate your friendship", and sending my love to their families as well.

6. Singing against backing tracks so I can do shows for the elderly at assisted living facilities and nursing homes, even at the risk of being made fun of by "serious musicians".

7. Spending hours in the kitchen to cook wonderful meals for my husband, who is such a wonderful encourager. (The cooking happens in fits and spurts, when I have the time).

8. Using the talents that God gave me in his service, especially when being a Christian automatically makes you "a stupid sheeple" in the world's eyes. So glad God proves them wrong on a daily basis!

9. Giving God the glory when people compliment me on my talents...He is the giver of all good and perfect gifts!

10. Studying to improve myself, whether in language, music, computers, artistic or physical endeavors.

11. Going the extra mile for friends and relatives, even if it means listening to negativity on the phone for over an hour when someone needs to vent.

12. Taking a chance when I feel complacent or need to step outside my box.

13. Doing things for myself instead of depending on others to make it happen for me. (That doesn't mean not working with others, it means taking the initiative).

14. Going out of my way to visit the sick or elderly...really, the blessing works both ways.

15. Giving when I see someone in need. As a child I didn't quite get the "It is more blessed to give than to receive" - who wouldn't want to get something, especially for free?! But now I realize it is so much better to be able to give than to have to receive.

16. Being "brave" and bringing up God to others. From a simple conversation can come a life-transformation, and the possibility of salvation. If we are not ashamed of Him, He will not be ashamed of us when he presents us to His Father.

17. Laughing out loud when I read the funnies in the paper.

18. Crying when I feel something deeply. I believe it was Erma Bombeck who reflected back that if she had to do it all over again, she'd laugh and cry more in real life than she did at the movies.

19. Speaking out against wrong, and speaking up for right.

20. Playing mediator when people are in disagreement. It is important to be able to see situations from both sides.

There are so many more things we could each look back and say "I will never regret...". I hope this blog post helps you reflect on your life and how you live it daily. If we share love, kindness and truth, and put God above all else, we should have no regrets.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spiders That Have Crawled Into My Life

Anyone who really knows me knows that I am creeped out by most bugs, especially spiders. I have been known to shriek during certain encounters, particularly when I am caught off guard by sudden movements from these arachnids.

That being said, I have to admit to a morbid fascination with them that I believe stems from my love of macro photography and natural curiosity. I don't normally hunt them out, but when I happen to see something interesting I like to pull out my trusty point and shoot and take a few shots.

The following pictures are of spiders I've seen over the past few years. The original plan was to look up each species of spider, but after several hours of looking at images on the internet I couldn't take any more adrenaline rushes or feeling the goose bumps coming on. I can't believe what a primal reaction is stored in my body, but I guess that's self-preservation kicking in. Just be warned that these photos may cause extreme discomfort. If you can get past that, you may be able to appreciate the beauty in them. I've personally found myself referring to jumping spiders as "cute" recently, which is a giant leap for me. For some incredibly beautiful EXTREME closeups of some jumping "cuties", look up Thomas Shahan's photostream on Flickr. So, without further adieu...

Phidippus Putnami or Daring Jumping Spider?

This beautiful jumping spider was photographed at Reflection Riding a couple of years ago. I remember being really scared because it would rear up like it was going to leap at me, then jump around quickly. I've since seen video footage of these spiders jumping onto the camera...these guys are pretty bold! I've put out some inquiries on the species...I thought maybe it was a Daring Jumping Spider because they're known to have iridescent blue or green chelicerae (where the fangs are), but Glen from Spiderzrule says that it isn't because it would have to be either brown or black with a white spot. I've seen pictures of a sub-adult Phidippus Putnami in Thomas Shahan's photos that looks similar, but his spider didn't have the iridescent green chelicerae. Maybe because his is a young female, and this could be a mature male??? I just don't know.

crab spider

I found this alien looking spider guarding the lock to my driver's side car door. It's a crab spider, though I'm not sure which one. Crab spiders don't move very quickly, but ambush their prey while hiding inside flowers. (see more info)

This guy came in with one of my peonies from the garden. I don't know what it is, but it's very quick, likes to jump, and is extremely shy.

a very shy guy

Jumping Spider

This cutie is a very tiny jumping spider who is about to eat the bug that looks like a chunk of dirt beside him.

I found this one hiding in a rose outside...

This scary looking monster had built a web barely past the sidewalk outside our front door. It was hanging from really tall trees about face high...Yikes! It hid in the tree during the day, and descended its web at night. There was nothing little about this spider or its web.

Photographed at night from our front steps

Jumping Spider

Here's another little jumping spider I found on someone's car in a parking lot.

This one was found indoors.

Jumping Spider

This little guy was found on a bush, and he feasted on bugs while I was photographing him.

Trying to hide on the underside of a leaf

Enjoying a winged meal

Wolf Spiders really creep me out!

This Wolf Spider was hiding on the back fence in his darkened tunnel.

Granddaddy Long Legs

This Granddaddy Long Legs was hiding underneath a leaf. My husband says he is especially freaked out by these spiders.

I don't know what species this is but it reminds me of a recluse...[shudder]. It was found in the house.

This spider was so tiny I could hardly see it. It was sharing the same bush as the Granddaddy Long Legs, not very far away from him either.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Recipe: One Wild and Lucky Salad

One Wild and Lucky Salad...Beautiful!

This salad was inspired by posts from my FB friend Lana Sutton. She had been showing how people can eat from their yard..."weeds" that are edible and tasty, and she shared some ideas and pics of salads from her own yard.

I've been wanting to try this for a couple of days, so I ran outside this afternoon to pick some wild violets before my husband mows tomorrow. I got brave and sampled some yesterday (amazingly no tummy ache followed), and found the white ones seemed sweeter than the purple, so I picked more white blooms than purple.

Some people that know me know that I used to find 4 through 8 leaf clovers quite often while growing fact, I used to keep track of them by placing 2 per page opening in my last count I had over 969 of the 4's, and 30+ of the 5's, etc...(that's not counting the ones I gave away, didn't pick, or threw away because they wilted before I could press them). Unfortunately I misplaced that particular Bible while in college, so I've now got several scattered throughout different books I own. Clovers wilt very quickly once picked, and have to be pressed almost immediately.

The knack for finding them (especially 4 leaf clovers) has continued into my adulthood, so I wasn't too surprised when I went to pick some clover for my salad that I found these "lucky" special ones.

This 5 leaf clover is featured atop a piece of arugula,
my favorite salad green.

I didn't have all the ingredients in my yard - I had to get the spinach and tomatoes from the store, but it's still satisfying to know that most of the salad came from our very own back yard!

One Wild and Lucky Salad

Wild violets (white and purple)
Grape tomatoes
Wild onions
4 and 5 leaf clovers (may substitute 3 leaf clovers)

Wash, drain and place all the ingredients except the wild onions into a salad bowl. Remember, presentation is key - you want to be able to see the clover, flowers and tomatoes pretty well because the colors and images are spectacular. I started with the spinach, then arugula, tomatoes, flowers and clover in that order.

This salad is best served quickly before the flowers and clover wilt, but can be refrigerated for a few hours if it needs to be, with only slight wilting.

Wild Onion Vinaigrette

Equal parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Wild onions (the bulb w/o greens, washed and minced)
salt (to taste)

Just mix the ingredients well, and drizzle a little with a spoon onto your salad. I only used a tablespoon because it has a strong presence and I wanted the flavors of the vegetation to come through.

Wild Onion Vinaigrette

There are many wild "weeds" that can be used for a Wild and Lucky Salad, including dandelion flowers. I still need to research this more - hopefully I'll find other edible treasures in my backyard!

The day's bounty of 4 and 5 leaf clovers

Let me know if you get adventuresome and try your own yard salad...I'd love to hear all about it!

Close up of a 4 leaf clover with
wild violets, grape tomatoes
and arugula.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Recipe: Lavender Potatoes

Corey and I really crave these new baby potatoes
cooked with Lavender.

A lot of my recipes are inspired by foods I've had in the past, and this one is no exception. Growing up, my mother would make us very similar potatoes when they started coming on in the garden. However, my mother is a traditional Southern cook and would never consider putting lavender into any dish. Here's my version of "Mama's New Potatoes".

Lavender Potatoes


New Potatoes, washed (for me, the tinier the better)
Butter, melted
Lavender Buds
Garlic Powder

Parboil your washed potatoes with salt and 1 - 2 tbsp lavender buds until tender. Drain and place onto a baking sheet lined with foil.

Brush potatoes with melted butter, sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Place some lavender buds atop each potato, and bake at 350°F until the potato bottoms are browned (anywhere from 20 - 40 minutes, depending on how browned you like the skins).

These tiny potatoes turn out creamy and fragrant - perfect alone, or beside a nice roast. Oh, and the butter and seasonings left on the'll be hard pressed to keep yourself from cleaning up with a little bread or potato! ;-)

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Spring? Quick, Grab The Camera!

Finally - Spring is here!

Finally - Spring has pounced on our backyard, and for a few brief days we've had glorious blooms and blossoms that will disappear about as quickly as they arrived. Even my Moso bamboo has started to shoot, and it's very early for that (I'll save the bamboo for another posting).

I'm so glad that warmer weather has arrived, because this past winter was long and hard. I thought the low temperatures we had were supposed to kill of a lot of the bugs, but I've seen more insect activity recently than I've seen in quite a while.

The ants are busy as...bees!

My husband and I planted some really beautiful trees when we first bought our house about four years ago. We planted three Yoshino Cherry trees between our fence and drive behind our house. The blossoms are the palest pink, and only stand out as pink when you see them against the Callery Pear tree that was here when we moved in.
Close up of Yoshino Cherry blossoms with Callery Pear in the background

Yoshino Cherry blossoms with Callery Pear in the background

Another stand out in our back garden is the Japanese Weeping Cherry. We originally bought two, and planted one in full sun inside the fence, and the other just outside the fence in partial to mostly shade. The latter one died, and is now officially my "Nightmare Before Christmas" tree!

The one that survived has a couple of branches that reach up instead of weeping...I like to imagine it's saying "Haha! I survived! Victory is mine!" (Guess we should name it "Stewie-san")

Weeping Cherry Blossom

Callery Pear Blossoms

Callery Pear Blossoms

God, Karma, and Luck

Wow...some "karmic circle" that started 5 years ago just closed this morning with an accidental phone call I received. Wow. WOW. I'll be thinking about this one for years.

Lesson learned: God works in our lives even when we don't always see exactly what He's doing behind the scenes.

Romans 8:28
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Shortly after the phone call I found a "lucky" four leaf clover in the back yard (that's it scanned in the photo above). Today's blessings are already turning out to be much better than the challenges of yesterday.