Monday, March 28, 2016

Today was absolutely a Monday

Today was one of those days that happen maybe twice a year. Work was so stressful and overwhelming that I was on the verge of tears all day. I only cried twice and I do not have PMS. I arrived home feeling like I couldn't do a darn thing more. The thought actually ran through my mind, "how am I going to let the dogs out and feed my kid? I'm not certain I can find the motivation to get off this chair now that I've sat down."

I did find the motivation to do both and I opened all the shades to let the another round of glorious warm sunshine pour in. I made myself a to-do list simply because not taking the garbage and recycle to the road, not doing a few loads of laundry, ect; really wasn't an option and none of these things would have gotten accomplished if I hadn't written them down on paper.

Today's lovely: as odd as it may sound, I've found joy and delight this evening in checking things off the to-do list at my own pace, in my own time. Work has been so go, go, go, push, push, push, that it feels really nice to just slowly and calmly cross off each task at home. Normally I push myself at home too. For some reason I generally feel rushed. I think it's my personality. Not tonight. I absolutely won't allow it. I truly thought I'd get nothing done this evening and instead I've managed to find joy in slow steady accomplishment.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

Today's lovely: Warmth, beautiful spring weather, festivities, time with family and great food... Today was one of those rare days when everything was just perfect.

Happy Easter

Saturday, March 26, 2016


I've blogged less this year then I ever have within the past five years. I don't think there's any sort of a real hiatus on the horizon. I really truly need this outlet. But between winter blues, a killer sinus infection, way too much work for the past three weeks; the combination of all these colliding factors has caused my absence from the blogosphere. I've been surviving but something I've blogged about for years has been sadly missing; I have not been stopping regularly to notice the lovely bits of life.

Today the sun is beaming radiantly through our blinds. It's that gorgeous fancy sort of sun that doesn't appear everyday but when it does you notice it. It makes the house look warmer, friendlier; things that you don't normally even notice glow with beauty. The radiant beams are making me happy and it is lovely.

I'm going to encourage myself to post a bit of lovely each day to the blog, like I used to do very regularly. It'll be good for me and well frankly I think its just the sort of medicine I need in life right now (and always).

A little lovely list to get me started:
  1. The Bidwell Casaba melon sprouts, currently basking in today's radiant, fancy sun beams.
  2. My sons fuzzy hair right now. He's growing out a buzz cut and I can't get enough of looking at his fuzzy brown noggin, despite his horrendous mood swings as of late.
  3. Spring.
  4. The way little Abe frantically dashes to put his shoes on lately every time I take the dogs out back so that he can chase around his best buddy Bozz.
  5. The chili cooking away on the stove top right now. Ahh, the smell of chili!
  6. The velvety perfection of fresh lemon custard (or lemon curd; I'm too novice to know the difference but custard sounds better). I used the last two of those gorgeous California lemons to make it yesterday and it's a lovely yellow smile in a jar.
  7. Friendship; even when separated by an ocean, a friendship that space and time can't touch, a friendship that adds tremendous joy to life and encourages me to be a better person... that's about as lovely as it gets.

lemon custard pinwheels

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Orange Sherbet Melon

I did get the Bidwell Casaba melon seeds that I blogged about earlier (of course). My little helper planted three of them for me last week Monday, March 14th. I've been keeping them in a juice container on the window sill that's too high for him to see into so he's been asking me everyday for a week if his seeds grew yet.

Today, one week and one day later we have two little green sprouts. Last year when the tomato seeds first sprouted I was so excited. Seeing that little green pop from the soil as the first tucked under leaf was trying to tip it's head towards the sun was extremely exhilarating for me. I was none the less excited today when I noticed the first sprout in the melon pot. Hooray for life! Hooray for spring! And Hooray for home grown food. This is so exciting!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I quickly grabbed a few things on the way out of work so that we could have a green dinner. It was simple but still a fun way for us to be semi-festive. Little Abe was thoroughly impressed. He thought it was so fun that our dinner had a theme. He is obsessed with Star Wars right now so I grabbed the green water bottle with Yoda on it while I was getting the pickles, kiwi, and turkey dogs. The bottle was on clearance for $3. I figured he'd love to have green water with his green dinner.

Our green dessert was about as simple as it gets and yet we both thoroughly enjoyed it. He kept saying throughout dinner, "I didn't know it was St. Pack-kricks day."

After dinner we headed to the great green outdoors so that he could try out one of his birthday presents for the first time. He had lots of fun and I could (can) hardly believe how big my baby boy is. We took a scooter break to search all over the yard see if we could find buds on all the different bushes and trees. He learned a bit about nature, spring, and "baby leaves," and I enjoyed seeing all the different colors and sizes of buds on the bushes and trees throughout our yard.

Despite the fact that I've been rather overworked these past two weeks (including today) we really enjoyed this 2016 St. Patrick's day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ah, the little things

Today I did yard work in a t-shirt!!!
I am king of the world!
Oh, and I had a really awesome little helper.
(he was showing me how he killed a grub in this photo)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Let the Gardening Begin!

This may be the point in time when I should change my blog title to: The Chronicles of my Yard (I'm not going to though).

It seems, being the incredibly novice gardener that I am, I underestimated those sunflower sprouts that I spotted through the snow in January. I'm 98% sure that they are sunflower sprouts coming up from seeds that fell from the giant sunflower I had growing last summer. And I hadn't realized they could winter over and withstand such cold.

I'm going to be watching these little buggers really closely, thinning them out, and hopefully they will result in one (or two or three) fabulous, wintered over, self planted giant red sunflower(s). If these are just a strange weed that completely mocks a sunflower sprout I am going to be rather crushed. Only time will tell.

: )

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.71

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's that time again

I am very proud of my Irish heritage. I can't get enough of Irish history. Ireland and Guatemala are tied for my favorite places on earth. I love the story of St. Patrick so much.

Every year for at least five years I've read St. Patrick of Ireland by Philip Freeman. It's a quick read and so far it hasn't gotten old. Reading this book every March brings me such joy. It's a really fun tradition I have. I spend the entire time imagining my ancestors living on the Island at that very time. I wonder where they were, what they looked like, what were there stories? 

I admire Patrick for continually following what he knew to be a call from the Lord. And what sacrifices he made for the call. We're one week out from St. Patrick's day thus it's time for me to pull the book off the shelf and start again! This is my life.

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.81

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.82

I've finally worked away from that $19.20 a day range.
I hope to stay away from it too.

That's all I've got for today.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Spending Update and a Game Plan

Average daily spending for 2016: $19.18

I've really been hugging that $19.20 a day range for awhile now. I really have not been able to shake it. I must admit that I haven't been trying that hard either. I've not necessarily been splurging but I have not been planning out my shopping trips very well at all.

There are a few very busy weeks coming up for work. My job is pretty labor intensive at times and I'm admittedly in the absolute worst shape of my life. In other words a few busy weeks at work REALLY saps my energy FAST!

Energy sapped = very poor planning, extra spending, lack of self control, and a grouchy Rivulet.

I need to just face this beast head on and, as I've just done, admit what I'm up against but then also put the boxing gloves on. I think, partially in keeping with my last post while facing what lies ahead I really need to stick to a game plan.

  1. Set time aside each day for me
  2. Start the morning with a devotional
  3. Cut out nonsense, brain overload stimulation (severely limit TV, radio, and facebook time)
  4. Work out at least five days a week for at least 20 minutes (I'd like to hit 30 min. each day but I'm being realistic)
  5. Stretch twice a day, everyday
  6. Water is my friend!!! Drink lots and lots of water (I should honestly have a sign somewhere in my house that says To-do List: Drink Water)
  7. Plan to make fun delicious treats at home so I don't feel the need to splurge on them while I'm working or when I get out of work
  8. I should meal plan this month too (I hate meal planning)
  9. Keep up a daily love list about my guys (to help keep me from turning into angry, nagging, snapping wife/mommy)

Okay, it's no longer the dreaded February. Yes, it's still cold. Yes, we're losing an hour of sleep next week. But spring is coming. Warmth is coming. Growth, and life, and fresh air will be soon upon us. I will get spending down and I will not let work get the best of me. On to a great March!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

March Goals

My husband was watching that show "Brain Games" the other day. The episode was focusing on decision making. It really is a neat show, it has a way of drawing you in. One of the "games" they showed involved two groups of people. A red team and a green team. There was a balloon placed on a box hooked up to a pump. The players were told that they would get something like $10 each pump for the first 5 pumps, $20 each pump for the next 5 pumps, $50 each pump for the next 5 pumps and so on. But if the balloon popped at anytime then they would get nothing. Then they made each team watch a short video clip before having a chance to pump up the balloon(s). None of the players watched each other take turns.

All of the players on the green team pumped very cautiously and stopped fairly soon earning a pretty small amount of money each. I'm pretty sure that none them popped the balloon. But all of the players on the red team pumped vigorously and just kept going and going and going until the balloon popped. After the game was over they showed the clip that each team watched before they went to pump up the balloon(s).

The green team watched a calming clip of waves in the ocean, fields of wild flowers, ect; The red team watched a very fast paced clip: cars racing, wild animals fighting, ect; The Brain Games host then went on to explain that when our brains have high stimulant we make rash, rushed decisions. But when our brains are in a calm, relaxed environment we make well reasoned decisions.

I've seen a similar study done concerning the brains of children. The test took a group of elementary school children (I believe they were in fourth grade) and had half of them watch Sponge Bob Square pants before a test. The other half watched a very slow pace preschool age show, Caillou. All of the children who watched Sponge Bob did very poorly on the test. The children who watched Caillou did considerably better. The results were proving the same as this Brain Games episode, that high brain stimulation causes us to lose focus and think rashly.

This particular Brain Games episode really stuck out to me, and I've thought about it a lot since watching. For the past few years I've often felt a call to "silence." Whenever my brain gets crazy, or I get overwhelmed, or I just can't seem to focus I feel this call to "silence." What that looks like to me is the TV, radio (news radio for me), and computer being turned off (I don't have a cell phone or tablet but those would DEFINITELY be in that category). A break from facebook (or twitter if you tweet). It doesn't mean locking myself in my room or moving out doors it just means turning off a bunch of fast paced distractions for a little while; a few hours or a few days or a few weeks. I don't often heed the call. It's much easier to just keep the noise in the picture. I mean habit after all is called habit for a reason.

Watching that episode helped me to realize that silence is incredibly important and when I feel that call I really need to follow it. The Bible does encourage after all listening to that still small voice, and to be still and know... It's much more difficult to hear during the storm of distraction. Our brains are very interesting. Knowing that watching a fast paced clip or a slow video before a simple decision, like how much to pump up a balloon will completely effect how you react is pretty intense. Imagine how many times in our lives daily we answer a question or speak to a loved one or co-worker and our tone or answer to them is based off of the state our brain in that moment. There really is so much that could be expounded upon here. We live such fast paced lives now a days with SO many outside stimulants to our brains. Okay, I'm choosing to stop there.

I need to set down goals for this month. A good list of goals really helps me step outside of robotic, going through the motions, existing mode. I find that goals are an encouragement for me to live life not just go through it. As of right now I'm starting out with one goal and I'll try to use it as a guide for making all the other ones:

1. Silence

Friday, March 4, 2016

California Sunshine Bread

Every time I bake something new or especially delicious, every time I find delight in a simple moment with loved ones I realize that I measure joy by experience. I find joy while baking. I find joy when my eyes are wide open looking at now and sharing the moment with my loved ones. For me, I don't think there's much more to it than that.

A few days ago I received a package of sunshine in the mail. Really I did. It saw spectacular! I opened the fedex box and inside was a sudden burst of sunshine, of summer, of light and kindness and many many new moments of joy. A super sweet woman mailed the package to me specifically to remind me that spring is on the way. At times (especially during this political cycle) one may very easily find themselves looking around and seeing a world consumed by darkness (the cold dark winter certainly doesn't help). But certain people shine so bright, bring such warmth and sunshine into the lives of others that I dare say the darkness that is lurking about among us has no chance at reigning.

Today I was able to use a little of this glorious sunshine to bake one of my absolute favorite sweet breads, orange coconut bread. I've tweeked the original recipe quite a lot to suit my needs so I'll post the one I use and give you the original in parenthesis (yes, I have a parenthesis problem, I know).

California Sunshine Bread with a Hint of Hawaii (or Orange Coconut Bread)
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted (or canola oil)
1 egg
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or milk)
8 ounces of plain yogurt (or 8 ounces of orange yogurt if you're using milk and not orange juice)
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut plus 1 tablespoon to top
2 teaspoons of grated orange rind
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Mix together sugar, coconut oil, and egg.
Then stir in orange juice and yogurt.
Add remaining ingredients then pour into a greased and floured large loaf pan (sorry I do not know the size).
Top with 1 tablespoon of coconut and sprinkle with some sugar if you'd like.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. My oven cooks cooler so I always go at least 5 minutes longer.

This bread if fabulous! Whether I make it with orange flavored yogurt and milk or plain yogurt and fresh squeezed juice it always turns out super yummy. This is one of my very favorite recipes and I'm so glad I was able to use my wonderful gift for it. What joy! Hopefully it will last longer than a few hours, hehe.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gardening may be in my DNA

For my birthday I got a fabulous seed catalog. (I may have purchased it for myself with birthday money, eh hm) Its enormous and bursting with colorful, gorgeous fruits, vegetables, and flowers. I've looked through the entire thing several times. This last time looking through I saw something incredibly fascinating. In the melon section I noticed a seed named Bidwell Casaba. Bidwell is a family name that takes only four generations back to find, starting from my maternal Grandfather > his mom > her dad > his dad. > his mom was a Bidwell. The description reads for the Bidwell Casaba melon:

This melon was grown by general John Bidwell, who recieved his seed stock by the USDA in 1869. He was a soilder in the civil war and also became a US Senator. He grew this melon in Chico California. It produces massive fruits that weigh about 16 pounds each and are football shaped. The orange flesh is sweet and creamy. Dr. Amy Goldman says "tastes like heavenly orange sherbet," in her book Melons for the Passionate Grower.

My grandmother was a passionate gardener. I only began to grow food in my yard two years ago. But the activity is something that thrills me. I'm can't get enough of watching each little seed sprout, staring at the tiny plants as they grow on my window sill, watching them then flourish in the soil in my backyard, before too long they flower, and then by some sort of mystical magic these little seeds have been transformed into enormous plants bearing spectacular food. I couldn't ever fully describe the fascination and delight I've found in gardening.

When I saw the Bidwell Melon I had to wonder if this man was a relative of mine. Bidwell is a name I've rather enjoyed looking into in my family tree. The Bidwell's have a good part in American history. Although the Bidwell name in my family tree is flourishing with John's I was a little doubtful that this particular John Bidwell would match up to my line because he was growing that Bidwell Casaba Melon in California and my Bidwells hail from Connecticut.

I'll just cut the suspense, John Bidwell of the Casaba melon is in fact (at least from what I've been able to deduce) my first cousin 6x removed. He shares his name with my 9x Great Grandfather, John Bidwell of Hartford Connecticut, who is his 3x Great Grandpa.

The Bidwell family were apparently adventurers (and fighters). They originally came to America from England. They were in Connecticut for a while then at least some of my ancestors moved to New York, where John Bidwell (of the Bidwell Casaba Melon) was born. If you remember my POST almost one year ago about my 4x Great Grandpa Mishael Beadle who moved from New York to Michigan in 1833, Mishael was married to a Bidwell. My 4x Great Grandma Ruth Bidwell was John Bidwell's aunt.

According to wikipedia John Bidwell was not only a US Sentor that fought in the civil war and moved to California (where he grew heavenly orange sherbet flavored melons) he was also a pioneer. Like my Grandpa Mishael and Grandma Ruth Bidwell who moved to Michigan to homestead, John Bidwell "was known throughout California and across the nation as an important pioneer... He is famous for leading one of the first emigrant parties, known as the Bartleson–Bidwell Party, along the California Trail, and for founding Chico, California."

I love history. I LOVE family history and I love LOVE love gardening! What a wonderful find.

So, who votes that I NEED to purchase these melon seeds and see what bit of family history I might be able to grow in my yard? I'm afraid I live in a bit too northerly climate but I'm itching to try...