December 31, 2008
One of the very first posts that I wrote is one of my favorites because it is written from the depths of my soul. I choose to reprint it here as it is appropriate for the end of one year and the beginning hopes and dreams of another. Dear Readers, Enjoy!
I have always been a women able to envision the possibilities not only of life, but also of homes. And so every house that I have lived in has allowed me to make changes that created a warm loving home. My move to PDX is no different; and the house I purchased was bought with many changes in mind. This last six weeks found some of those changes actually being done! Renovations are never easy — of the house or of our hearts — but hopefully both are better after all the deconstruction and reconstruction! I will say that my house improvements provided an unexpected means to personal renovation, if you will, that was totally unexpected and unsought. It came gradually through the conversations with the contractor over the weeks. A strong, solid Christian man, he & I shared thoughts on where we are in our lives today. His observations caused me to look into past hurts deeper than I have wanted to for the last three years. I guess those bitter Midwest winters had changed this Sunny California girl into a stoic American Gothic farmwife who just didn’t want to face the aching pain any more. I preferred to just go on day to day, keep aloof and not deal with everything from the past. And actually not even moving on –just existing emotionally. Keeping only “safe” (family) loves in my heart…ones that couldn’t hurt me too much. Pushing away, avoiding the prospect of, and not even wanting to allow another man to get close enough to hurt me again. Unable in many ways to really get out of the deep depression of long stress even while putting up a very good front not only for others, but myself.
Anyway, as our conversations slowly evolved over the weeks, I began to realize specific qualities that I needed to see in a man. Prior to this, I had vague ideas of some of the desirable qualities I wanted to see, but mostly I knew what I didn’t want to see in a man. I was able to make the distinctions that crystallized things in my own mind. There is a big difference in knowing what you don’t want and knowing what you do want. The difference is staggering to me. And so, not only did the external house that I live in get changed, but my most personal house, inside my heart where my life is truly lived, was changed also.
Crystal is said to be stronger and clearer if it goes through fire, is cooled, then is fired again and so on. I am still going through the firing process and today nothing is “crystal clear” to me except that I have a long way to go.
December 29, 2008
After being house bound for over a week, we Portlanders were ready to get out when the snow and ice finally melted enough to make our roads safely passable.
Since I wanted some exercise as well, I choose to go dancing. It has been a long time since I smelled the unmistakeable fragrance of a man’s cologne, especially one that I found appealing. And I wasn’t really looking (or should I say smelling ?) for it. But it found me. He is not only a wonderful dancer, but he smelled so good to me. He exuded just a hint of a delicious fragrance that was not too overpowering. Just the right amount. Sometimes there, sometimes not. It reminded me of some of the things that I like about men and just made me miss the presence of a man and a family to care for in my life.
December 25, 2008
I just want to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and may you have all the Blessings and Joys of this Holiday Season.
December 24, 2008
This is another favorite homemade holiday cranberry relish. Easy and quick.
Take one package of cranberries (washed, culled, and drained), and place into a medium saucepan.
Add one or two washed and chopped up apples. I like to leave the skins on.
Add about 1/2 cup water & 1 cinnamon stick.
1 Tbs. Lemon juice
Barely bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the cranberries and apples are softened and the mixture starts to “gel” together. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to tell. The fun thing about this recipe is that you will hear the cranberrries “pop” open as they start to cook. You can also add some chopped pecans if you like. I like.
Add the zest of one lemon and one orange.
Allow to cool and store in refrigerator. Can also be frozen for several months. I like to garnish the top with zest when I serve this; it makes it more festive!
This is a very easy homemade recipe for a taste-acquiring cranberry- orange relish.
Take 1 package of fresh cranberries and wash, cull (that means toss out the bad ones), and drain. Take two nice juicy naval oranges and wash well and dry. Cut the oranges into quarters and then eighths. Be sure to leave the peel on the oranges as this adds a lot of flavor and vitamins.
Get out your little food chopper or your big food processor. Chop the cranberries and the orange eighths together until they are about the size of rice.
Remove the mixture of chopped cranberies and chopped oranges to a bowl and add sugar to taste. Probably about 1 Cup, but add it slowly and taste it as you add the sugar so you don’t make it tooo sweet.
Store for at least 24 hours before serving. The mixture will darken to a rich “cranberry red” as the sugar settles in. This can also be frozen for several months for later use.
December 23, 2008
December 22, 2008
These are the beautiful red longstem roses that I was going to cut for my Christmas bouquet this year. But….the snow got to them first. They are still pretty and I may cut them and bring them inside tomorrow. Hope everyone is keeping warm.
December 21, 2008
Butterflies, as fragile and as beautiful as they are, have very strong wings. Their gossamer wings have to be able to carry the weight of their bodies. A recent sermon reminded me why a butterfly has strong wings. It is worth pondering and applying to our own lives in times of hardship.
Before the caterpillar can emerge from the cocoon, it must first break open the cocoon. It does this by beating its gossamer wings against the insides of the cocoon until the cocoon breaks open. The Butterfly is then assured that her wings have the strength to carry her on her way in life. And so, the small trials in our lives, handled with grace and patience, give us the strength to gracefully handle the bigger trials that life brings to us. Therefore we need to embrace and learn from those trials so we can continue on with the joys of our life. I know it is easier said than done –been there, done that—-but worth the effort to achieve the metamorphosis.
December 20, 2008
Here in Portland we are having a tremendous storm.. or actually storms. We are on our 4th storm in about two weeks. Thankfully we have had a day or two off between storms in order to get essentials and frivolous items purchased. One item I did NOT purchase was a snow shovel. It would have been a worthwhile $7.00 purchase with what we have in store for us. In addition to the snow and ice that is already on the ground, we are expected to get at least 6 inches of new snow today and tonight.
There is already two inches on the ground here by noon on Saturday. So, about an hour ago, I did what I have always done during a Midwestern snow storm. I shoveled early. Well, actually, I “broomed”.
I discovered that it is much easier for me to brush the snow off the driveway than it was for me to shovel it with a snow shovel. I use a heavy duty push broom and broom “early and often”. It is much easier to clear an inch or two several times during a deep snow than it is to shovel 6 inches at one time when the storm is over. Besides, it is more fun to get all bundled up and go outside and get some exercise several times than it is to just sit inside waiting for the snow to end.
This is something that I started as a young California bride and mother who had been lovingly transplanted to a harsh Iowa city. Ever the safety conscious Flight Attendant with babies at home, I always wanted to be able to get my car to the Hospital should the need arise no matter the weather situation; so clearing the driveway was essential to me. I also did it out of love for my husband who I thought was working hard to support our family even though I contributed to the family’s income. I did not want him to have to come home to a snow-covered driveway after working all day. I did this out of love for him, yet never told him that. I wonder if he will read this?
I like to shovel the driveway in a diagonal pattern. I start at the garage door because once you walk on the snow, it doesn’t want to come up …it wants to stay on the ground where your foot smashed it.
I push in overlapping diagonals from the center of the drive to the outside edge. When a big snow is expected, it is best to push the snow a foot or so onto the grass the first time or two, so that you have some place to push the final bit of snow without blocking the driveway. I think it is essential to continue all the way past the driveway apron into the street because you need to think about getting back into the driveway when you decide it is finally safe to go out. You want to be able to get enough traction to get into your driveway safely. Since aesthetics is always important to me, I particularly like the pattern that the diagonal shoveling leaves. Here in Portland, a city where people are encouraged to walk, it is especially important to shovel or brush the sidewalk in front of your house, too.
8:00 pm Post Script: We now have over – it must be at least -10 inches of snow out there. I have shoveled the driveway several times and guess what…. I am so tired that I have given up on aesthetics…..I just wanted that snow off the drive . Ugh…there is a lot of it out there and they (the weather people) say we have yet to get the worst of it!
My fun-loving neighbors were snowboarding with their ATV’s -towing the snowboarder as though he were a water skiier! Fun!
December 19, 2008
I received a comment from Wanda who took Portland Firefly’s advice and purchased some Perugina Hot Chocolate from Tuesday Morning. Well, she wasn’t the only one who bought it and they are all gone. She asked if I knew where she could purchase some more.
I do not. But, I have another suggestion. Trader Joes’s has wonderful goodies, especially at this time of the year. I would suggest that you look for a dark cocoa – sweetened or unsweetened; the higher the cocoa content, the richer it will be. You should be able to make your own hot chocolate much like I did as a child.
I would use the dark cocoa and add an equal amount of sugar (this may vary depending on the type of cocoa). Then stir in just enough milk to help dissolve the cocoa and sugar into a thin paste. Do not skip this step as the cocoa is difficult to dissolve completely in a lot of liquid. Then slowly stir in either hot or cold milk being careful to not add too much milk. I would add a dash of cinnamon and cloves just because…. and add marshmallows as desired! This would also be delicious if you wanted to add mostly coffee and a small amount of milk. Coffee-coco!
December 16, 2008
This is just a reminder to my readers to “get those cards in the mail soon”! 1 week and 2 days to go!
While we are enduring the bitter cold that will be here until Sunday, I just want to pass on a little trick that my Dad did when it got cold.
He would always put a rolled up towel or a rolled up rug against the bottom of the outside doors. This will help to keep some of that cold air from creeping in under the door jamb.
When I lived in the midwest, which is known for it’s cold winters, I learned another trick. It is designed to help keep your pipes from freezing. You simply open up the cabinet doors (under the sink in the kitchen and baths)so that the room air tempurature can help keep your pipes from freezing. it is such an easy simple thing to do yet it really will work.
And keep your head covered. We lose 30% of our body heat through our heads. I guess that is why in “The Night Before Christmas”, the writer says “while Ma in her kerchief and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter’s nap”. It must have been cold that night, too and they were keeping their heads covered while they slept! Keep warm!
December 15, 2008
It is unusual to be able to see the moon during the day, but it does happen as it did this early morning in November. The painters were arriving and as I moved my car, I noticed the moon setting in the West just as the sun was rising in the East. Again, another case of hurrying to get the picture before it was no longer extraodinary.
Here is the picture that I promised to post of the Full moon on Dec 12, 2008 when the moon was closer to our Earth than it will be in 14 years.
This picture was taken through my skylight while it was raining. The spots on the moon are actually the rain drops on the skylight. I think it looks sort of cool!!!
December 13, 2008
Portland Firefly has been remiss in letting her readers know of this new development for the (I hope soon to be award winning )documentary “On The Wing”. This Portland produced film is now available for your purchase on DVD through the filmaker, Dan Viens for just $18.00. Portland Firefly, along with everyone else in the packed movie theatre, really enjoyed this movie.
Just type in “swifts” in my search box to read my other posts about this wonderful movie.
December 12, 2008
Winter is the time for colds and sniffles and just being chilly. Sometimes the only way to get a good nights sleep when you are suffering from one of these maladies is a nice warm hot toddy!
First of all –get your face washed, your teeth brushed and put on your nice warm jammies. Then turn down the bed covers and turn on your electric blanket (if you have one). Take care of all pets that require nighttime rituals.
Second — Make sure your house is locked up for the night.
Third — Make your Hot Toddy
Disclaimer – Once you drink your Hot Toddy you will understand the reason for doing steps 1 and 2 prior to making your Toddy (step Three). The reason??? Hah…one drink and you are so “relaxed” that you cannot do anything except put yourself into bed for a “long winter’s nap”. But I guarantee you that you will feel better when you wake up the next morning.
Here is my recipe for a Hot Toddy. Enjoy!!
6 oz of very hot water - almost, but not quite boiling
1-2 oz of desired alcohol * See note below.
Add Sugar or Honey and sweeten to taste if needed * See note below
Garnish with cinnamon stick, cloves, and/or lemon peel. I usually put these into my mug first, then pour the hot water over them, then add the alcohol last.
* Note: The alcohol you use is very important. I prefer something smooth and tasty like Amaretto, or a fine Brandy such as Courvasier. If you use a slightly sweet liquor, then you can omit the honey/sugar/ lemon. If you use a whiskey, then you will need to sweeten your beverage. It is only a matter of personal preferences.
You can also make a Non-alcoholic version for children. The non-alcoholic version contains Hot water, Honey or Sugar, Lemon, and Cinnamon and Cloves.
Enjoy and Sleep Well!!
The moon tonight will be full and if it seems larger to you than it ever has, you will be right! The reason is that the moon will be closer to the earth than it has been in 14 years.
The moon’s average distance from us is about 238,855 miles (384,400 km). Tonight it will be just 221,560 miles (356,567 km) away. It will be 14 percent bigger in our sky and 30 percent brighter than some other full moons during the year, according to NASA.
The moon always appears larger when it is closest to the horizion so to get the biggest WOW! be sure to go out and look at the moon when it first begins to rise. This will occur right at sunset. But since the moon also rises in the East, be sure to look to the East about the same time the sun is setting in the West.
December 11, 2008
I took this picture last Sunday when I went outside to hang my Christmas wreaths. This sunset was so spectacular and I was so lost in the majesty of it’s beauty that I didn’t even think to take a picture of it until it was almost monochromatic. I hope you enjoy looking at it.
December 10, 2008
I started taking Tai Chi lessons about 12 years ago when I was diagnosed with an incurable condition. I don’t “practice my Tai Chi” regularly (even though I should), but I do practice the warm-up exercises somewhat regularly. They help to loosen up my tight muscles and improve my balance which is helpful for my dancing lessons!
December 7, 2008
Today is the anniversary date of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. It marked the entrance of the United States into World War II.
I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Alfred Preis whose Architect firm in Hawaii developed the design for Arizona Memorial which is the basis for one of the United States most sacred war memorials. You cannot go to this site without being moved to the core of your being for what it means to be an American Citizen; at least Portland Firefly cannot.
December 7th is also my Grandmother’s Birthday. She was a very beautiful woman and a precious oval portrait of her at age 18 is hanging in my entryway. Widowed at a young age with 7 children, I remember her as beautiful on the inside as her portrait shows her to be on the outside.
December 5, 2008
Your guests are about to arrive and you forgot to chill the wine, beer, or soda. Or perhaps you have limited refrigerator space and can’t fit all the beverages into the refrigerator. How do you solve this problem?
First of all you need a container of some sort. An insulated container such as an ice chest or the little cooler you keep in the trunk of the car for your trips to the wholesale house would work just fine; so would a big plastic bag inside of a CLEAN 5 gal bucket.
Put your items to be chlled inside the container and add lots of ice and enough water to almost cover the items. The water is the secret ingredient in this “recipe”. If you are in a hurry to chill your wine or bottle of beer or champagne, you can gently “twirl” the bottle in the slushy for a few minutes and it will chill faster…in fact it will chill in a matter of minutes.
A word of caution when you go to open your can of beer or soda…. Do what experienced Flight Attendants do when they open a can in-flight… and that is… gently tap the top of the can with your fingernail before pulling the pop top.
Cheers! A Salud!
December 3, 2008
One of the perks of being an international Flight Attendant is the opportunity to shop in foreign countries; and shopping in local foreign groceries was always on the must-do list on even the shortest of international layovers. Before the availablility of high quality international gormet goodies blossomed over the years, I would often clear Customs at Kennedy or Lambert with wonderful cheeses, chocolates, wines and breads not available here in the states. But one thing that I could never find was the rich, creamy dark hot chocolate that was served to us in London.
London. So many images come to mind. Trafalger Square, the Theatre District with their “Pearlies”, the pubs with their pints and Shepherd pies. But the one item that I was not able to duplicate was the hot chocolate served to our flight crews upon arrival. If you have flown international at all you know that most flights originate out of the US gateway city in the evening with arrival in your European city scheduled for early morning after the all night flight. Often we would arrive at our hotel in London (after staying awake all night working the flight over) way before the hotel housekeeping crews arrived for their days work of cleaning the rooms. That meant that our rooms were almost never ready for our occupancy upon our tired arrival and we had to sit in the lobby waiting for our rooms.
The hotel always sent beverages to warm us, my favorite being the hot chocolate. This is how it was served… the Crew was served three pots – One with the rich, creamy unsweetened dark hot coco; one with hot milk; and one with hot water — and of course, a bowl of sugar on a silver tray with the cups and saucers.
I love dark chocolate and always have and so, the rich creamy european dark hot chocolate is a treat that I have never forgotten and always kept an eye out for while shopping, yet never actively searched for it.
Until….one day in a fun store called Tuesday Morning I saw a box of Perugina Hot Chocolate packets. Hum-m-m… pretty expensive… and a really big box…what if I didn’t like it?…I would have spent all that money on something I would have to give away…. But the lure of remembering that taste from long ago won out over practicality and I purchased the box of Dark Hot Chocolate packets (not packaged for individual resale!).
I decided that the next morning would be the perfect time to try out my new treat. I was not disappointed. This is the hot chocolate I had remembered! I had found it! And now that I had discovered it, I wanted to share it with someone because it was just too delicious to keep for myself. And so I have given away several of the ambrosia containing packets to my dearest friends. Thank you Tuesday Morning!
December 2, 2008
If you like Neil Diamond, do not miss his show. One night only, January 8, 2009 at the Rose Garden. I saw him at the Hollywood Bowl in October and he is the consummate performer as far as Portland Firefly is concerned! You can read my post about his Hollywood Bowl performance by typing “Neil Diamond” in the “Search” box near the top right of my first blog page or searching Portland Firefly’s October archives.