Monday, January 31, 2011

"One of my very favorite writings and one I try to remember and live by"




Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
-
Marianne Williamson

#5 of Ten Things "Snorkeling in Kauai"

I feel the most at peace, the most content, the most in awe and the most aware of God's presence and the incredible world of nature that we are surrounded by, when I am face down, fins on my feet, mask and snorkel on my face, floating in the beautiful turquoise, wonderfully warm waters of Tunnels Beach in Kauai...




For me, there is absolutely nothing like being alone, just you and the magical, colorful, underwater world of the Pacific Ocean...

So vast, so incredibly enormous, some of its waters frigidly cold, yet others as warm as bath water...it makes me small and as innocent as a child, for that is how I feel as I slowly move amongst the vastness and diversity of both sea creatures in all shapes and colors, but also, the infinite variations of plant life.  To merely float, as if you are totally alone, with the only sound you hear being that of your own breath and the only thing you see is this world you are not apart of, but for only a moment.

It is amazing to me how many fish of all shapes,sizes and beautiful colors swim about you with evidently little fear or concern.  You enter their world and it doesn't appear to be disturbing to them.  Maybe its because they are used to us humans invading their space, but I choose to believe that they are so aware of the incredible beauty of their homes, that they are more than delighted to share with graciousness.  

I envy them somewhat, for what seems to be such a simple life..oh I am completely aware it is a quite predatory world, but at the same time, their togetherness and synchronized swimming feels interestingly safe to me...

On our last visit to Hawaii, staying our entire trip on the North End of Kauai, I was able to not only view a sea turtle for the first time with my very own little eyes, but actually swim along beside one for a few very special, very incredible moments.  Words do not exist for me to be able to describe that experience.

What I do know for sure is that I feel most at one with myself and the world around me, when I am just floating along with my fishy friends beside and around me!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

#4 of Ten Things "Knitting"



It has been a dream of mine, sometime during my days on this ole earth, to learn to knit..

I am a very tactile person...deriving so much pleasure from the feel of things...quilting fabric, scrapbook paper, furry pillows and yarn, and too many other things to mention.  There are so many kinds now, not like when I was young and it was pretty much acrylic and rather scritchy feeling really..

I was in a local yarn shop recently...such a warm, wonderful, colorful place.  I haven't, admittedly, spent much time in yarn shops, but just standing there looking around at all the different textures and colors was such a feast for my eyes and my hands as well.

Beautiful wooden cubicles overflowing with yarns of all colors, yarns that were very organic in nature, yarns that were so soft I had to keep myself from caressing my face with them and beautiful things made with all these yarns.  

Socks, scarfs, sweaters, blankets, hats, purses, amazing little baby things...
I am sure the very gracious, friendly women who were working that day and witnessing my growing affection, quite possibly witness, on a daily basis, the affect it has on all the people who enter.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend your time in a place that brings others so much joy!

Well, needless to say I was hooked, enamored and more than ready to learn a new craft, right that moment...

Corey to the rescue...my son in-laws sister Corey is an incredibly talented woman..she has her own massage business and is one of those gifted people who can not only heal you with her mere presence and insights, but with her incredible touch as well.

She also is an amazing knitting woman..she made me a beautiful hat last year that she knitted and then felted.  I absolutely love it and it was so me!!! Every time I see her she is in the midst of a new most beautiful project and I find myself so envious of her ability to take a ball of yarn and two knitting needles, move her fingers in particular ways and create such beauty.

So, I asked her if she would consider teaching me again, as she attempted to do so in the past...and she said OF COURSE I WILL TEACH YOU AGAIN...thanks Corey...I can't wait!!!!

But first, can we make a little trip to that wonderful shop?..you know the one I'm talking about...love ya girl!!!




Saturday, January 29, 2011

#3 of Ten Things "Gotta Have My Fountain Pop"




I admit it...I love pop...!  
But not just any ole regular pop...!

To really perk me up, make me smile, tickle my toes, it has to be the one, the only....FOUNTAIN POP!!

I love it, almost to the annoyance of the people who know me best...I have been with my daughter on occasion, where I have asked her to stop somewhere so that I can get a fountain pop and it actually annoys her so much that she refuses!  Can you believe it?  After going through 20 hours of on and off labor as well as a C-Section, to bring this girl child of mine into the world, she would actually refuse me my fountain pop...! But on this one day in particular, on our way to visit her husbands family in the country, I finally was able to convince her to stop.  Much to her irritation I might add.  We pull over at one of those Quickie Mart stores, I get myself a great big one, full of ice, 3/4 diet 1/4 regular (thats a whole nother story) and I am happy as a snug little bug in a rug...

I get all settled back into the car, smiling from ear to ear...of course she is still rather irritated, but starting to get over it...and....I don't know what happened, but out of nowhere the lid pops off, this huge plastic recepticle goes flying, spilling every little ounce of my refreshing, ice cold, cup of delight all over me and all over her car..

Do I really need to explain what happened next...? It wasn't pretty, and if you knew my daughter, you can just imagine..

Did I learn some kind of life lesson from this experience?  Was the universe trying to bestow upon me some kind of an important hint or message?

Possibly...but I'm afraid that yummy, ice cold, bubbly, caffeine infused, delightful glass of bliss seems to be speaking just a little bit louder...

There are, after all, worse things...or so I tell myself anyway!!!!

Now, lets see, its 10:08 am...do you think thats to early...? LOL

Blessings...
Val

   




Friday, January 28, 2011

"#2 of the Ten Things"

2.  I have been accused numerous times, by numerous people, of viewing the world through rose colored glasses...and the way in which it was expressed was insinuating it was a fault or if nothing else, a naive way of seeing things...
Little did they know, that on 2 counts they were actually very accurate!
  Both figuratively as well as literally...





Figuratively speaking, I find the world to be quite warm and inviting, easier to inhabit and frankly a kinder, gentler, friendlier place when the rose lenses are in place. At least, for me!  But then I tend to live quite nicely and happily in my own little world of my very own making...

Literally speaking, it takes just one look at me to know this is true, as I wear rose colored lensed sun glasses from sun-up until sundown everyday.  And if by chance I can't find them, or leave them elsewhere, I have to go get some more. I now have 3 pairs...just in case...I know, I know...bizarre!
I do find comfort however that Jack Nicholson, whom I happen to adore, can be seen in his sun specks all hours of the day as well...should I actually derive comfort from that? Hmm. 
Crazy?!! Yeah I admit it and acknowledge that one must wonder!
Its ok, I totally understand the puzzled looks that might be coming across your faces right now..
No excuses, no apologies, no detailed explanations...simply...that's just me!  I am a low light girl. I like the way things look in soft warm light, candle glow, the light at sunset, you get my drift ....no fluorescent tubes for me...eeeeeek, I truly feel like I turn into one of those freaky zombies when I enter a fluorescent space.. who invented those things anyway, they make us all look like ghosts or zombies, take your pick...!!!


See...I told you not to be scared of #2...admittedly bizarre, but not gross...


Too-dah-loo

Blessings
Val 

   

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me"

It all started with Christy Tomlinson,of Scarlet Lime, one of my favorite artists and people, besides the absolutely incredible Melody of Brave Girls Club...Christy had been told by others, that she needed to share more of herself in her blogs, so she came up with a post the other day entitled "Ten Things You Might Not Know About Me"..that same day, before I had a chance to read Christy's post, my husband had been kindly talking with me about sharing more of myself, more of my deeper thoughts, on my blog. Allude to my history, what has brought me to where I am now, less filler as he put it...well I have never been accused of not sharing enough words with others, in fact I have been accused of talking too much about myself, something I took to heart and have been working on...to  be asked then to do the opposite, feels very strange and off balance to me. Having worked so hard to come to terms with other's words, I honestly feel pretty insecure about it. But maybe all these years of being a motor mouth I was basically guilty of surface conversations, idle chit chat, you know the ones I'm referring to..or maybe others found me, at the time, or maybe still do, to appear to be selfish, self centered, self absorbed, not shutting up long enough about me to be interested in you...I get that, but I'm truly pretty confused by the whole thing... 

But my husband persisted, assuring me that I have a great deal to say, that people would actually want to hear me, get to know me, understand me...or maybe they won't..

Ugh, so many maybes...

One of the closest people to me said something the other day that resonates moment by moment with me since that day..."The only opinion of you that matters in this world is God's opinion of who you are and what is in your heart...past that, you cannot control what other peoples issues are, that get projected onto you, so don't even try.  Just aim to please and make proud, the only one that matters" !!!  Very wise lady!  And I think I'll stick with that.

So if you find that you would like to get to know me a little better, I invite you in...if you are not interested, I won't take it personal.

 I think its about time I move on with the 10 things, but just 1 day at a time..so beware, 10 days of 1 thing you might not know about me...or maybe you do...either way here goes....

1.  I will start with the gross one, sorry, lets just get this one out of the way!...but I must preface it by saying that there is very, very, very little that will make me gag in this world...BUT...the "picking of noses, without benefit of a tissue" will do it every time!  There I said it...and honestly I don't understand it..some things are truly mean't to be done in private..so all of you picking while driving people out there, beware, someone in the car next to you might just be losing their lunch...thank you very much!! LOL..




PLEASE!!!

Now I bet you are afraid of #2...well don't be, I got the worst out of my system first...

See ya, sleep tight and as always, blessings...
Val  

"It is said that a daughter is the fulfillment of a mother's dream..and SHE is"




I stopped by my daughter's house last night to deliver some Homemade Lentil Soup I had made the night before...evidently I need to figure out how to make things in smaller batches, as I have enough lentil soup for 6 dinners..kind of like planting way too much zucchini in your garden..if you have ever done that you know exactly what I mean..!!

Anyway, as I was saying, I was delivering the soup and we started to talk about my blog...when I told her how many page hits I have had, just since Jan 6th, she was flabbergasted and said, "you are kidding me, I need to get blogging"..to my delight, when I signed into Facebook late last night, there was the announcement for her new blog!!!

I was so excited, happy, proud, elated... well you know how long it took me to get there...it is absolutely wonderful and darling I must say, already..boy is she quick!!  She is such an incredibly talented woman with so much to say..so insightful, so creative,  a wonderful inventive writer, and an incredible photographer...!

I invite you with my whole heart to follow her thoughts, her journey, her ideas, her passion, and the way she sees the world through the lens of a camera..

Her name is Erika Walker, she is my beloved daughter, one of the loves of my life and one of the e's of 2 ee's Photography...
Just click on her name above and it will take you right to her blog..enjoy!

Blessings 
Val


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Emily Dickinson" incredible lady, incredible words!


Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all.

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm,
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Emily Dickinson


I wish for all the quiet stillness where thoughts prevail..

Blessings
Val

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Sometimes Music says it better than I can"

For you Babe...!! New song at the top of the list "Thank You"  Love you Always!
And Michael I finally remembered...its Dido!!  Thanks for trying to help me remember...

"New Pictures from my incredibly talented husband"

I have been attempting every weekend to post new photograph's taken either by my husband "Eric Johnson" or my daughter "Erika Walker" of 2 ee's Photography but I totally spaced yesterday...so here are the newest and if I do say so myself they are incredible...!!





All of these photo's are taken around the Spokane area..now was I kidding, how incredible are these? Amazing huh?  Any of the photograph's at 2 ee's Photography are always for sale..if you are interested, please visit their website and contact Eric or Erika.  They will be so happy to assist you with just the right size, as well as finish, to achieve your desired results...

Blessings
Val


Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Near Demise by Cookie Indulgence"

These are the best darn "Snickerdoodle Cookies" I ever ate and ate and ate...
I found it on Allrecipes.com, submitted by someone by the name of Juju Bee..she got it from an old recipe that her Great Grandma clipped out of a newspaper..and in her words "Grandma always knows best"...

One last note...they are addicting..had planned on cleaning up my mess today but decided to treat my hubby to cookies..but in all honesty I think I treated myself more and ate myself sick..consider yourself warned!! And I think I will take a nap now...

Ingredients

1 cup butter-room temperature (there is your first clue)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoon sugar (second clue)
3 teaspoons cinnamon (third clue)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix butter, sugar and eggs thoroughly in a large bowl
Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture
Chill dough for 1 hour or longer, rolled up in plastic wrap
Meanwhile, mix 3 Tablespoons sugar and 3 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Scoop globes the size of your choosing and roll in to balls.
Dip and roll balls in sugar/cinnamon mixture
Place on un-greased cookie sheet and bake for 14 mins
Remove from pan immediately and cool..

Get milk, gorge yourself and take a nap!!!

I really could have taken a picture for you, but who really needs a picture of white cookies with cinnamon sugar on them...something has to be left up to the imagination...hope you enjoyed and be sure to share,yes I said share...

LOL Too-dah-loo

"Now on to the Mess"

Yesterday I received 2 more orders for my "Anything You Want Them To Be Books" so that leaves me with the mess I left behind a couple of days ago, after a creating frenzy...

Just now stood in the doorway wondering where to begin...
I think I will have my husband blindfold me, hand me a dart, then spin me around like pin the tail on the donkey and then go for it...EEEEKKKK...I guess I am a bit of a messy girl after all... 


Once the tables became totally stacked with stuff with absolutely no more room, I had to start throwing stuff on the floor..what a slob... :-)

This is usually totally clear with room to work, now see why the floor became another table...!!


Even the poor closet didn't escape..
This is another table in the room where I do cutting, stamping, painting, etc..well that is when all this stuff isn't all over it...

Now you totally get the whole Pin the Tale on the Donkey thing don't you???
However I do admit, when I take a gander at this, I remember with fondness all the coffee and fun I had making this disaster until 4:00 a.m....there is truly something special about those nights that lead into the wee hours of the morning!!!!
Off to tidy up...!!
A little peak at my first project from "Brave Girls Soul Restoration" Class..
"A Journal to Guide Me"

I love to write, as everyone might have concluded by now, as well as create! Understandably there couldn't have been a more perfect first project for me..the class provides you with a wide range of journaling prompts weekly. All you then need to do, is select those that most speak to your heart in that moment, cut them out, write, design and create your page or pages. However your little heart desires, and then continue on, as often as you feel with this project throughout the duration of the class...won't be showing the actual pages, as of course, simply said, journaling is a quite personal undertaking...but here are a couple of pictures I took of the book cover I made..I find the finished cover to be quite pretty yet simple, rather my style!!...it is difficult to notice in the picture that the background paper is a beautiful shade of Robin's Egg Blue with a grid pattern and some pale vintage grey and black patterns..the pictures do not do this paper justice...simply lovely, I will definitely be ordering more ..I handmade the flowers and attached together with metal and epoxy brads, which actually have a very 50's old fashioned feel about them...and of course B&W polka dot ribbon..gotta have the polka dots, well either that or white stitching lines!!



The journal project is one that you are continually working on, as I mentioned previously, but there are also additional art projects weekly, of which are in the making..will post some peaks at those as well sometime this week...

I am really just now entering the actual "soul restoration", soul exploration parts of the class and will soon begin sharing some of my thoughts as I find the words..

As Always, Blessings to all

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Anything you want them to Be Books" and Bookmarks

A few little things I've been making...







Totally loving both of these new creations...having so much fun using up scraps and random embellishments in my studio...but I must say I have left quite a mess behind...it appears someone has been ransacking through everything in search of something...I admit it, I am the culprit..but when an idea pops into your brain and you remember just the right paper and doodads that would be just the perfect thing, you have to do a little digging...!!!  However, I do now stand at the door and gaze upon what the human tornado left behind, me, with great affection...!
Unfortunately it now seems to be tidy time...hmm, she said with index finger on forehead, maybe I should leave it just like this and save myself the energy...I might be on to something...LOL!

In the words of Carie "Make it a Great Day"

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Walking the Path"


As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a simple thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we will walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
Henry David Thoreau

Picture taken by Erika Walker of  2 ee's Photography http://2eesphotography.com , of her brother Michael while hiking together with Dad in the Seattle area..


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cooking with Diane Phillips

I have discovered this incredible lady from her blog http://www.cucina.blogspot.com..she is the author of many cookbooks and her food looks beautiful...thought I would share one of her recipes that I can't wait to try this weekend..if I am cooking it for myself, I will go all the way with the sausage...for my husband "The Veggie Guy" I will omit of course...
Now doesn't this look incredibly yummy! 


Penne with Sweet Sausage and Kale



One pound penne pasta, cooked 3 minutes short of al dente---keep the pasta water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 Pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 sage leaves, finely sliced
3/4 cup dry white wine {Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Dry Vermouth}
1/4 cup chicken broth
One head Bok Choy, finely sliced, tough stalks discarded
Once head Black Kale, finely sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces Italian Fontina Cheese, shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large deep sided skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the sausage, stirring and braking up the meat with a spoon, until it loses its pink color. Transfer the sausage to a colander to drain and set aside.
2. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the pan and heat over medium high heat.
3 Saute the onion for 3 minutes, until softened.
4. Add the garlic and sage, and cook another 2 minutes.
5. Return the sausage to the pan, add the wine, broth and greens, and bring to a boil.
6. Turn the greens in the mixture, cover and braise the greens for 5 minutes until tender, turning the greens occasionally.
7. When the greens are tender uncover the pan and allow the liquid in the pan to reduce by 1/2, boiling for about 5 minutes.
8. Add the cream, and pepper, stirring to blend. Taste the sauce, and add salt or additional pepper if needed.
9. Add the pasta to the pan, and turn the pasta in the sauce to coat the pasta.
10. Stir in 1/2 of the cheese, and turn to melt the cheese. Serve the pasta with additional cheese on the side.
Enjoy..!!

That's about it for me today...a million things in the fire...I have a little school gathering tomorrow night at our local school, Jefferson Elementary.

Each year they host an evening called "Starry Night"..it is an evening of family fun centered on art.  Current Jefferson parents as well as parents of students who once attended are cordially invited to participate.  There are those who host tables teaching a variety of art from calligraphy, bottle cap jewelry, paper arts, to knitting and needle felting.  The artisan parents also are able to offer their goods for sale.  It is a wonderful family event and one that has been held annually since my oldest child was attending Jefferson 19 years ago...I am very excited and honored to be apart of "Starry Nights" this year..

So off to put the coffee on as it is going to be one of those wonderful late night creating marathons..will try to get some pictures taken tonight and if I am successful will post tomorrow. But don't hold your breath because my photographer husband is not here...

Thanks for dropping by...
Too-Dah-lou...
Val





Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When you are able today, do yourself a huge favor and click on the button to the right of my page "Praying for Joanne" and read the most beautiful words as written by her husband..
Trust me, you will be changed, humbled, enlightened and inspired..
Look for the post dated January 18th entitled "God Stuff"
Blessings always..Val

"A Veggie Recipe to Share"

I am always looking for tasty "Vegetarian" recipes for my husband and I remembered this wonderful, delicious, recipe that my sweet Mama gave me several years ago.  For some reason it popped into my head today, so I had to go in search of it this morning, as I am planning dinners for this weekend when he is back home again...low and behold I found it in the back of a recipe album she made for me quite a few years ago...thought I would share, although I don't have a picture of the making or the end product, as my photographer won't be home until Friday..
Note to self..My next goal:learning to use his camera and load the pictures on to the computer..

For your dining pleasure here it is and of course a picture of my Mama


Isn't she the cutest!!!

Savory Red Beans and Rice

1 cup chopped onion
2 cups vegetable stock of your choice
1/4 cup regular brown rice, although it is best with Lundberg Golden Rose Organic Brown Rice
1/4 cup celery
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce or more if you like
1/8 teaspoon pepper, although I dump in quite a bit more..I'm a pepper girl!
1 15 1/2-oz dark red kidney beans undrained, or you can use pinto, black or whatever your favorite is
1 small pepper..I love to use 1/2 of a red pepper and 1/2 green, cut into bite-size pieces

I usually double this recipe, because I could eat the whole batch myself..
Seriously it doesn't look like much, but it is full of flavor..

And if you are not a "Veggie" you can of course use chicken stock.

In a skillet or dutch oven drizzle a couple TBL's of oil, your choice, I use EVOO, add the chopped onion and cook until soft and yummy..
Add broth, uncooked rice, celery, salt, pepper sauce and pepper. 
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover and simmer for 40 mins.
Add the undrained beans and sweet pepper strips. Simmer covered for about 5 more mins or so. Serve..

The recipe says it makes 4 main dish servings or 6 side dish..but I guess that is a serving size for a bird because I could totally could eat 4 main dish servings myself..and I also can justify that because its low in fat and high in fiber!!

Hope you enjoy...and just a note...sometimes I saute up some crimini mushrooms or regular button mushrooms or both and some zucchini, adding a little more salt, while the rice is cooking
and add those at the same time I add the beans and peppers..

Hope you enjoy..and thanks Mom!




Monday, January 17, 2011

Last week in my blog I told the story of an incredible woman by the name of Joanne Heim..she is a very young woman who on the morning of January 11th @ 9am suffered a massive stroke and was found by her young daughter. If you happened to have missed her story, you will find it in my blog under the heading of "Sometimes you just know the Lord is at Work"..please take a moment to read her story..Joanne is a wonderful christian woman who has written several books and has a blog entitled "The Simple Wife", among many, many other things..

I have added a button on the right side of my page under "Things that inspire"..it is a picture of her with the saying "praying for Joanne"..if you click on that button it will take you directly to her page, you can read about her and it has current updates on her condition, or you can also link to her husbands Twitter account as he updates frequently.

Joanne is not doing well.. and has suffered some setbacks..

Thousands of people all over the world are praying for Joanne. Please do not cease in lifting Joanne up to the Lord. She needs a miracle. Psalm 46 is the scripture that the Heims are claiming over Joanne. Please read it as a prayer for her.

Many blessings and thank you..
Val