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Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Rolicking Blast from the Past

Not the nostalgic stairwell. I was a little concerned about stopping and snapping pictures in the sea of people. And  I also didn't want to be the only grandma taken to the principal's office for snapping pictures outside of the kid's music program. 
 Yesterday was a kindergarten Christmas (holiday) program. 

Can I just say that there may not be one thing cuter than a gaggle of kindergarteners. Nor more energetic. 

The kids had choreography and dance partners. There was a little swing dancing, a little Hanukkah number and a nod to Kwanza. Santa and Rudolph got shout outs and even Jesus got a mention. All musical numbers were performed with enthusiasm unleashed. Our little guy has some sweet skillz. And apparently his little dance partner was quite gaga over him. 

The school was actually the elementary school I attended. I've been in it recently picking up kiddos. It has changed quite a bit. But as I walked down the stairwell from the gym where the program was and the exit I got slapped with a bit of nostalgia. The stair well had not changed. Same pebbled floor tile. I remembered trudging up and down those staircases with the herds of other children. Now I was trudging around with a sea of grandparents and parents. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Christmas Cheer

I love how God uses our own thoughts and the innocent words of others to give us periodic attitude checks. After all, we all see the world uniquely and the internal monologue/dialogue makes sense to our own brain. 

Case in point. I'm standing next to someone helping at a kids Christmas party booth. I'm aware that another volunteer swings by and grabs a ziploc bag from our table but have no concern for its intended purpose. A few minutes later my co-worker growls, "put it in the bag already!" I slowly (no sudden moves, right?) turn to her and whisper, "what?" She then went on to tell me about the plastic bag. Through the body language 3 tables down she had figured out the volunteer had taken one of our bags for a woman who needed to put something small in it. Said woman was hanging on to the small object while talking and gesturing while the volunteer held out the bag. Meanwhile my fellow volunteer became immersed in this bag, the item and the clueless woman with the "verbal diarrhea." I, on the other hand, couldn't have cared less. Two people, identical surroundings, same purpose and vastly different takes and takeaways. Yeah. Our brains are complicated and unique machines. 

So now back to the attitude check thing. A friend told me about a hilarious attitude check she got. She had a list of Christmas gifts for families in need. Two pairs of boots. She also needed candy canes for another couple of same type situation. She chose a store that she rarely shops in because of past experiences because boots were a couple bucks cheaper in the ad. While standing in line the cash register crashed. A second cashier came over to help, when that didn't work she went to another register and did a call out so all the people behind my friend rushed over. She followed, and said her frustration meter started to clang. The first register finally kicked back on and the gal called out, my friend made one more move, nearly a half an hour after getting in line. She was behind one person and saw light at the end of the tunnel. And then another hitch. The gal in front of her couldn't get her card to work, and then tried another, and my friend, in a spirit of Christmas selfishness just wanted out of the store, so she said, "Let me" and swiped her own card. The shocked woman thanked her and called her a Christmas angel. The cashier, likewise, couldn't stop wowing. My friend wisely (Isn't it lovely when wisdom teaches us that a mouth kept shut and comments silenced can be a true friend indeed?) said nothing and took her leave. Fuming, she arrived at her location and then just had to laugh at her own craziness. And also realized that her attempt to save a few bucks actually cost her a whole lot more. But at least she kept her thoughts to herself in the store and at least two people were touched by a Christmas angel. And my friend learned a few things in line.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ In Hind Sight...

 In hind sight, if I had known it would take two long years of fiddling around with my fiddle before I ever felt confident to play in church, I probably would've run the other direction. Okay. Walked real fast, like I was being pulled by super charged beagles, cuz I've pretty much decided I'm not a runner. K? 

When I thought I'd just pick up this wooden instrument and end up where I left off, I was WAY wrong. I've whined (or shared my insights, that sounds better, let's go with that) about the difficulty I'm having with coordinating my right hand, left hand and brain pathways. 

To be fair to any wannabes out there whom I do not want to discourage...I'm also not practicing an hour a day. So there's that. And there are days that are just too short to do any practicing, at all. Had I jumped fully into the white-capped waves and sank or swam, did or DOA, I'm sure my results would be different. Had I studied music theory separately, or immersed myself in all things rhythm maybe I'd have grasped it sooner. And I know if I followed everything my teacher taught me, I'd probably be playing regularly with others. (Plays well with others...ha ha, remember that from report cards?) 

On a whim I took a simple chord based piano class with a friend. She kinda talked me into it and I thought it might help to forge another avenue of music into my gray matter. I don't have a piano so I've gone over to my friend's to practice now and again. My violin teacher wanted me to jam with other musicians over the summer to help broaden my skills and I asked a friend here and there and got a "yeah, sure" response, but really, nothing happened. But naturally, through this music side class, a couple of us brought other instruments and we played along with some Christmas carols. And guess what I found out? There are magic things called key signatures, and when you understand them it's like the Rosetta Stone for music, or some such legendary stuff. My friend and I are also working out some songs together and she is struggling right along side of me. I guess this new epiphinus moment has made me bolder. My pastor has been asking for months when I'm ready to play. I finally told him I could play along with a Christmas carol. The worship team chose Silent Night. (BTW there are a LOT of variations, in every key I'm guessing, whew.) I got the official music from the pianist and then searched until I found the simplest version of it. Then I practiced. And practiced and learned more notes because there are a lot of notes on a violin and they are all about a flea shadow away from each other. Too high by a fraction of an inch and you are sharp, too low, flat, baby, flat. 

On Sunday, I played the three stanzas and didn't freeze, didn't get lost, didn't lag behind and I didn't embarrass myself. Granted, I was praying real hard as I picked up the violin that God would stop the shaking of my hands and keep the food in my stomach. I get to play again during Christmas Eve service and you know what, I'm okay with that. And now I think I can regularly start playing with others. The patient ones. And maybe one day I'll think what I play is beautiful. 

Two years. And had I looked at the song I eventually played in public I would have thought I could play it in lesson two. And doesn't that sum up a whole lot about human nature? 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ 1,000

Some of my photos from yesterday were cryptic. Okay, maybe not  cryptic, maybe just weird. But, honestly, you would expect what? 

I started one of my resolutions for 2015 early. Why wait till January 1? 

I flipped through a series of articles one random day and read about a woman who decided to purge clutter to the tune of 1,000 items. She was inspired by this blog.  She said it was freeing and between her four immediate family members they found 1,000 excess items and none of them missed a single one. 

I decided right then and there that losing 1,000 items seemed like a brilliant idea and my 2015 goal. 

But then, while doing some cleaning in my pantry I couldn't wait. I declared my resolution to begin December 1, 2014 and end November 30, 2015. Then I started tossing things into bags. 

Rob caught the bug, too. He didn't count his items and I did not count his in my total. I am the one who will personally purge 1,000 items of excess. (My rules = pairs count as 1 item.) My personal count?  I'm a 1/3 of the way to my goal. 339 things which includes useful items I don't want, need or use. The homeless shelter we donated to weighs the contributions. Rob and I removed 228 pounds out of our lives and boy does that feel great!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Weekend Highlights

Gertie Wanted What I Had, REAL BAD!!!

Magic Number...To Be Explained Later...

Weather = AMAZING. Sunday was lowkey after church. Leisure and snow boots.

Cool Ice Sculpture at Rob's Office Christmas Party

First Performance - To Be Continued

Proof that I don't kill every plant I touch. My Christmas Cactus Bloomed

New Ottomans = pup favorites. New slipcovers. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ Banana Bread (Best Ever Said My Co-Worker) Vegan/Dairy Free

Best Ever Banana Bread (Seriously, my co-worker, Iowa farm girl born and bred said this. So it must be true. Iowa farm girls know their banana bread. ) 

1/2 Cup coconut oil
1 Cup sugar
1 TBSP Ener-G egg replacer (instructions for homemade here)
2 TBSPs non-dairy milk
2 ripe bananas
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 Cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry) 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease bread pan, mini muffin pan or small loaf pans.

Melt the coconut oil and defrost* bananas (if using frozen ones) in preheating oven in medium glass or stainless steel bowl. Prepare the milk and egg replacer in small bowl. When the coconut oil is melted and bananas squishable remove from oven and add the sugar mixing well. Then add the cinnamon, salt and baking powder and mix until combined. Finally add the egg and vanilla and stir. 

If you want mix-ins add them now (chocolate chips, chopped nuts, dried fruit.) 

This will make one full loaf, 4 minis or about 60 mini muffins or little squares. You will bake the minis for about 40-45 minutes, the mini muffins for about 13-15 and the full sized about 50-60. 
Crumb topping: 
3/4 Cup flour
1/2 Cup sugar
3 TBSP coconut oil (solid)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
pulverized nuts (1/4 Cup or so) (optional)
Mix flour, sugar (and cinnamon and/or nuts) well, cut in the coconut oil with a fork, two knives a pastry blender. Sprinkle this over the top of the unbaked bread, muffins etc. 
* in case you don't do this. When bananas get too ripe, peel them and place them in a designated zipper bag or container in the freezer. Then use them for such a time as this. Peeling is important unless you want to dig banana membrane off a frozen banana later. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Scraps and Snippets ~ Spanish Quinoa

Super Easy Meal

1 Cup  uncooked quinoa (Rinsed if you don't have a pre rinsed one. )
1 1/2 Cup vegetable broth
2 - 14ish oz cans of  diced tomatoes
1 - 4 ounce can of diced jalapenos
1 Cup of hamburger substitute

Put all in a pan. Stir.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer and simmer about 20 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir as needed. Serve in tortilla shells, as a nacho topping with chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, avocado, sour cream etc.