Thursday, December 29, 2011

table talk

Just putting a few thoughts here in black and white. Time will tell if I actually write them in permanent marker - or not ;) 

I stumbled on this tablecloth decorated w/ a Sharpie the other day -  and now I just want to make one ... myself! :)


Actually I'm considering sanding down our coffee table, painting the base black & the top white to create a blank/permanent canvas -  and using our last name as the center/theme to build the word cloud around. I just think it would be a really fun project - and my mind is racing with other applications for this simple (key word here & one reason why I love this idea so much) and personalized (the other key word & reason I love this idea so much) idea.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

abc's of our 2011

The ABC’s of our 2011

A - "A" (17) is a high school senior!

B - Baby Grande Piano! - Blue Man Group  – Boston Harbor Dinner Cruise 

C - Camping on Cape Cod

D -  First dance (Homecoming)

E - EaRly morning sunrise at MA beach one Sunday morning.

F - FSU / Dual Enrollment - and - freshman in high school

G - Gardening - & - Gluten Free  

H - Haiti

I - Ice skating on Frog Pond -  & - Hurricane Irene

J - "J" (Spokes) was hired on full time where he had been interning.

K - Kayaking

L - The Lion King in NYC!  

M - Mary Poppins at the Boston Opera House – Marginal Way, Maine - & - Manta Rays at Maho Bay

N - NYC!

O - Odd October snowstorm!

P - Portsmouth, NH 

Q - Quilting

R - Razzzzzberrry pickin’ & Cliff walk in Rhode Island

S - Sunset Sail at St. John. Softball & SoccerShoveled snow off our rooftop. Snowshoeing 

T - 25th Anniversary! - & - Tanglewood 

U - U.S.V.I (Maho Bay, St. John) - celebrated our 25th Anniversary alone/together! 

V - Vermont 

W - Womens Hockey League – & - Snorkeling at Waterlemon Cay 

X - Cyclo X Racing 

Y - Year long 25th Anniversary celebration. Did something special almost, but not quite, every month 

Z - Zero wins for "A's" soccer team. Seriously! But she still had fun. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

have yourself a merry little Christmas

Playmaker's rendition ...

a cool (festive!) li'l gadget nobody needs

Spoke's boss gave him this techy little Christmas decoration. It plugs right into your pc via a USB cable - and slowly changes colors.  Pretty sure it was  made in China and it breaks all the rules for homegrown, homemade, organic, practical, PC gift giving - but I actually think this is a pretty cool li'l gadget. Spokes let me borrow it for a bit & I enjoyed the festive touch it added to "my space":)

Monday, December 26, 2011

glimpses of our Christmas celebration

glimpses of our Christmas...

Playmaker really enjoyed wrapping gifts this year. 

I commented in the grocery store about how pretty these were - and one day soon after they were delivered to me, personally! -- And the delivery guy....oh - SO - handsome!! :) I gave him a good tip ;)   ....Thank you, honey :) 

I adore this outfit :) 

hmmm..perhaps we have our Christmas card pic for next year - already?! For once I feel ahead of the curve! ... just kidding ;)

I dunno how he did it?! - but Santa managed to find another set of CuddlDuds/Fleecewear w/ Stretch for me - just my size too. Pretty sure they were the last pair left on the planet.

 Note.. in an attempt to get some more milage out of her Uggs, Playmaker dyed them purple - and Santa brought her some new Ugg/sheepskin insoles (only $15!). It was like getting new boots for a fraction of the cost. 

Playmaker was down to the wire trying to finish this up in the St. Nick of time! We were literally tying it thru' in the car on the way to deliver it to the recipient as his house on Christmas night!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

lol :)

There are four phases of life ...

You believe in Santa

You don't believe in Santa

You are Santa

You look like Santa

Monday, December 19, 2011

What do Mr. Spock, Dilbert, Linus, Yoda, Andy Griffith & I have in common?

Ok .... I don't like tests ... but -  I took it anyway. And I had my husband take it too. Bunny's post  roused my curiousity.  And what spiritual types are we??   Well according to this survey, my husband is a Mystic and I'm a Sage. But - after reading the descriptions of the two, I like to think I'm a combo of both a Sage & a Mystic (hmmm would that be a Mage? - or a Sagistic?? ;) ...but my husband seems to think I'm I "wanna be" Mystic. Maybe he's I've long wanted to be more like him!  Anyhow - I bolded the parts in both that I feel fit me pretty well & added my own notes in (italics):


You are a Sage, characterized by a thinking or head spirituality. You value responsibility, logic, and order. Maybe that's why you were voted "Most Dependable" by your high school classmates. Structure and organization are important to you. What would the world be like without you? Chaos, that's what! Your favorite words include should, ought, and be prepared. (Pretty sure my kids would agree!) What makes you feel warm and fuzzy? Like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof it's tradition! tradition! tradition!
Because you love words, written or spoken, you enjoy a good lecture, serious discussions, and theological reflection. Prayer for you usually is verbal (Just exactly how does one pray without words?  I wouldn't know where to start...but maybe that's my problem! ... I should listen more!)  You thrive on activity and gatherings of people, such as study groups. Sages on retreat likely would fill every day with planned activities, leaving little time for silence or solitude. (I like a little solitude...not too much. They know me too well in my own little world ;)
We need Sages for your clear thinking and orderly ways. You pay attention to details that others overlook (yah - perhaps to a fault!Sages make contributions to education, publishing, and theology. You often are the ones who feel a duty to serve, give, care, and share with the rest of us. ( I would like to reach a point where I give/serve, etc. more out of love and less out of "duty" - and I rarely feel like I do "enough" ... even when I try to) 
On the other hand, sometimes you seem unfeeling, too intellectual, or dry. (If it's possible for something to fit too well, this does...I wish I had a better sense of humor! )  Can you say "dogmatic"? You may need to experience the freedom of breaking a rule or two every now and then. ( hmmm... not sure I want to try this - I need my sleep! )   God's grace covers Sages too, you know! ( I need to remember this )

Learn about other types: Sage | Prophet | Lover | Mystic

Famous Sages:
Mr. Spock | Dilbert | Elrond
Dietrich Bonhoeffer | Maya Angelou | Linus (Peanuts)
Yoda (Star Wars) | Andy Griffith | Mr. Miyagi
The Buddha | Rodin's The Thinker | Moses
Ross Geller | Matthew (the Gospel writer) | Tiger Woods


You are a Mystic, known for your imaginative, intuitive spirituality. You value peace, harmony, and inner silence. Mystics are nurtured by walking alone in the woods (I love walking in the woods but not alone. I much prefer walking alone/together with my husband :) or sitting quietly with a trusted friend. You may also enjoy poetry (no - not really) , meditation (again -  not really) , wordless prayer (haven't quite figured this one out - but I'm pretty sure it involves listening more - which I know I should do), candles (love them) , art (practical art - yes! - which is why I most admire God's handiwork/nature.  I find His Works relatively easy to interpret as compared to a lot of what is found in modern art museums today), books (Yes - love them!) , and anything else that helps you connect with God - (Yep - that too...especially music) 

Mystics experience God best through rich images and symbols (hmmm... I had to think about this - but - I tend to think this fits because it seems the Bible is full of imagery/symbolism - and I love that). You are contemplative, introspective, intuitive, and focused on an inner world as real to you as the exterior one. Hearing from God is more important to you than speaking to God.(Oh what I would give to hear His voice and have Him just tell me what to do sometimes!) Others may attribute human characteristics to God, but you see God as ineffable, unnamable, and more vast than any known category. You are intrigued by God's mystery. (Yes. This is me :) 

Mystics want to inspire and persuade others, and need to live lives of significance. At times you push the envelope of spirituality, helping the rest of us imagine who we might become if we followed your lead.(I had to think about this too... Do I do this? Hmm...yah...I kinda think I do).

Sometimes you may feel a bit guilty about your need for solitude and silence. If so, you probably have bought into the American myth that says being alone and doing nothing is lazy, antisocial, and unproductive. Stop it -- now. Give yourself permission to retreat and be alone. It's essential for your well-being.

On the other hand, don't get so carried away retreating that you become a recluse. (I need to be mindful of this...and I'm well aware that I also I tend to use "busy-ness" as a form of retreat ... which kinda defeats the purpose of spending time "with" others  - at least on this level).  That only deprives the world of your gifts and deprives you of the lessons that come from being with others. Some Mystics may have a true vocation for solitary prayer, but the rest of you need to alternate retreat time with involvement and interaction.

famous mystics listed:

Thomas Merton | Enya | John (the Gospel writer)
Brother Lawrence (Practicing the Presence of God)
Desert mothers and fathers | Charlie Brown
Sister Wendy | Phoebe Buffay | Julian of Norwich
Luke | Anthony de Mello | The Who

Hmmm...I find it odd -  how I feel two totally different descriptions both seem to fit me pretty well - but not just right. But -  considering that this is a spiritual "evaluation" of sorts -  and that we cannot fit God into a box or wrap words tightly around Him...well in that sense - it just seems fitting that in trying to do either one or both to one of His children, neither would/should quite "fit" perfectly either :)

You can take the test HERE if you want.

December 19 SWDB

Please join in with us over at....

It's a fun way to journal once a day, once a week - or once a month....whenever!


Outside my window...It is SO cold - but no snow.

I'm hearing - Playmaker playing the piano. 

I am thankful...for hot water, hot coffee, & heat 

I am looking forward to... having Strike's girlfriends over for a Christmas Party after school later this week.

I'm hoping... for a white Christmas. 

I am reading... this book around the dinner table with our family. 

I'm pondering...  a chapter in the book above that talks about the manger. A few things that struck & stuck .... Luke mentions the manger three times in a just a few verses. The manger points to Jesus' humble birth - but the author of "The Journey" believes Luke mentioned the manger three times to communicate the image of Jesus' first bed being the place where God's creatures come to eat. He explains that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (a town that means "House of Bread) & that John would later describe Jesus multiplying the loaves of bread and saying , "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry" (John 6:35). The author notes that Jesus was speaking of a spiritual sustenance the world would receive from Him and reminds readers that Matthew, Mark and Luke record Jesus taking bread at the Last Supper and saying, "This is my body, which is given for you." (See Luke 22:19) - And there's more....but, if you want to know - well, you'll just hafta read the book! :) 

I'm thinking...What a great idea (not sure who thought of it) it was to give a blind friend from church, who is moving away, a comforter from our congregation that every time she wraps it around her she will feel the warmth of her church family here who loves her. 

One of my favorite things...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

gingerbread play doh & tortilla snowflakes

Hmmm...I don't really have a good reason (no little ones around) to make gingerbread play-doh ... but does one really need a good reason to make gingerbread play-doh?? :)

These I think my big girls would enjoy making. Pretty sure that, 
unlike the real thing, these snowflakes taste best warm...straight from the frying pan
but that like the real thing ... they'll  melt in your mouth ;) 

And for a slightly different variation ...

Being a lover of children's stories ... well, wouldn't it be fun to prepare these in the company of a child after reading The Gingerbread Man and Snowflake Bentley together? ;) 

 Clever. Simple. Festive. Fun!

Click the pics for links to the recipes. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Monday, Dec 12 2011


Outside my window...Brrrr! It's dark and 24 degrees. 

I am thankful...for Romans 15:12–13, "And again Isaiah says, 'The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.' May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."

In the kitchen...I should bake something later to cozy up the place. 

From the learning rooms...I'm learning that Gluten Free living is not so bad or difficult....just different - and generally healthier overall. No more traditional Sunday morning cinnamon rolls :/  - but my daughter made some really yummy GF chocolate chip cookies last night! :) 

I am looking forward to... wrapping up our year long 25th Anniversary Celebration next weekend. Hint: Where we're going and what we're doing begins with the letter "Z" :) 

I am  wondering...Whose birthday is it that we're celebrating anyway?!  Well I know whose birthday we're celebrating - but - you may not know it if you didn't know it. This post caused me to (re)consider what I'm going to give Jesus for Christmas - and so - I'm creating a list (and checkin' it twice ;) .... of twelve unsuspecting people I want to bless in celebration of Advent and these, the Twelve Days of Christmas.

I'm hoping... for a snowday before Christmas. We like to celebrate them by doing anything other than what we normally do (Note:  The only rule - No TV!)  Could mean staying in our PJ's all day long - &/or working on a fun project - or bundling up and heading outdoors to build a jolly happy soul ...


 I'm hopin' this fella will come back again someday soon! 

I am reading... this book around the dinner table with our family. 

Around the house...The kids finished decorating the Christmas tree last night. Good thing Big Mak doesn't have hands or he probably woulda un-decorated it :) ...or at least "adopted" any stuffed ornaments and searched them for squeakers!  No worries.. Winnie the Pooh is in a safe spot :) 

I am thinking... about how much fun each of the girls had shopping with their big brother this weekend. Spokes spent the weekend with us and took each of his sisters out Christmas shopping separately. 
One of my favorite things... Oooohhh - this is much too good not to share...

I am pondering...something I heard this past week ... to the effect that:

 beauty and seduction are nature's survival tools 
 because we protect that which we fall in love with.

Hmmm... well - it just seems so opposite of survival of the fittest if you ask me - and that this is yet another way that the nature of God is revealed in nature.

Let heaven and nature sing!

edit.  Well - I DID say I'm pondering this - and as I do, well - more thoughts:  in God's "upside down" kingdom and in His Word, love and beauty are defined quite differently than our society "defines" them.  And I'm reminded of 1 Samuel 16:7b ... The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  And from 1 Corinthians 13, among other things we know about love, we do see that that love always protects.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gardening & Nutrition

Just sharing a really interesting/informative article (my bold emphasis added). ...well - interesting to anyone interested in gardening &/or nutrition.

Farmer's vegetables have significantly higher nutritional value than average produce
By Alana Melanson,
Posted: 12/05/2011 06:29:34 AM EST

WESTMINSTER -- M.L. Altobelli's crops have a secret: The nutritional values of the vegetables she grows are significantly higher than those of average produce found at a traditional grocery store.
No, the land at her Woody End Farm does not have magical properties that cause it to create superbly efficient plants. The key is what Altobelli adds to the soil prior to planting, she said.
There isn't one specific ingredient that will ensure the plants will grow to their highest possible level of functionality, rather, it is a mix of several that are necessary, the amounts of which are highly dependent upon the soil composition and the desired outcome; measuring and balancing out what elements are already present in the soil and supplementing them with others, she said.
The major soil components that are needed in growing are calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; trace amounts of boron, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, aluminum, cobalt, molybdenum, selenium and silicon are also necessary and often greatly affect the plant's absorption of the major nutrients, she said.
"You need a whole lot of calcium. You only need a little boron," Altobelli said. "But without that boron, all that calcium will go nowhere. It will not move up into the plant, no matter how much calcium is in the soil."
Altobelli uses North Country Organics' Pro Gro fertilizer, a combination of several mineral-rich natural ingredients, mixed with alfalfa meal and azomite, a mineral she also feeds to her goats to regulate their stomach bacteria and keep them free of worms. The mixture of these ingredients has helped her plants to produce vegetables larger in size and yield, and she says they taste better and sweeter than any she has ever bought at a store. She has also done brix testing on them, a measurement of the quality of the sugars and proteins in the plant's sap, and found the levels to be very high.
"A healthy plant will taste sweet if it has all of the minerals it's supposed to have," Altobelli said. "Our taste buds are designed to find what is needed. We desire for sweet because, to the body, sugar is associated with having a high mineral content. These days, we dump sugar into everything, but cane sugar has no nutritional value. It tastes sweet, so we eat and eat and crave more, but our bodies aren't getting what they think they're getting."

The methods Altobelli uses are far from new, they are just relatively unknown to the general public. Altobelli owns an entire library of books related to the subject, most of which she says were written prior to World War II.

"We had a lot of chemical companies that came into being during the war," she said. "After, as a nation, we had this great capacity to produce chemicals, and we thought, what do we do with them?"
Ammonium nitrate, which had once been used to kill soil life in order to compact the ground to make it hard enough on which to land a plane, was slightly reformulated after the war to be used as fertilizer, Altobelli said.

"Constant use of synthetic fertilizers destroys soil life, burns off carbon and creates compaction, making it essentially dead soil," she said, noting it kills off microorganisms, fungi and bacteria which keep plants healthy and help them to soak up nutrients. "It's so compact that no oxygen can get through and the plants can't grow their roots. And then you end up with weak, sad plants liable to be attacked by insects and disease, so then you have to spray pesticides, adding more chemicals to the process and contributing to further loss of nutrients."

Though she has practiced these methods to some extent for the last 27 years as she has run her fine garden landscaping business Greenery in Motion, Altobelli recently participated in a two-day class taught by Dan Kittredge, a North Brookfield organic farmer and director of the Real Food Campaign, a movement aimed at returning crops to a nutrient-dense state and educating people on the complex relationship between soil, food and health.

"We as animals have certain types of compounds that are most valuable and beneficial for our biosystems to function, such as antioxidants and phytonutrients," Kittredge said. "Plants create these compounds in high quantities when they're healthy. But because they are complex compounds, it takes a high level of functionality to create them. Most growing systems don't have that level of functionality."

"Really well grown food does not rot when you let it sit on a counter," Altobelli said. "It gently dehydrates."
Strong cell walls, aside from making the plants resistant to disease, also ward off insects, which would otherwise eat their way into the plants, he said. The combination of these resulting factors make the use of pesticides completely unnecessary in farming, provided that the crops are grown well to begin with, he said. Strong cell walls will also allow plants to withstand freezing as temperatures drop, at least for awhile, Altobelli said.

"Plants have the genetic potential to create these higher level compounds, they just need the right environmental factors to do so," Kittredge said. "Insects can't digest these compounds."

The relationship between these resulting factors also has a great economic advantage: Aside from removing the need for and cost of potentially harmful chemicals, it becomes much less likely that all or a portion of a crop will be lost to disease or pests, meaning a much lower chance of lost income for the farmer, Kittredge said.

The major reason Kittredge is interested in increasing the nutritional values of his crops is because, nationally, these numbers have decreased greatly across the produce board since 1975. Based on numbers provided by the USDA National Nutrient Database, in broccoli alone, measured per 100 grams of the raw edible portion, over the course of 1975 to 2010 the amount of calcium in the plant has decreased by 54.4 percent, iron by 33.6 percent, thiamin by 35 percent, riboflavin by 47.8 percent, niacin by 28.9 percent, vitamin C by 21.1 percent and vitamin A by a whopping 75.1 percent.

The database also shows the majority of cauliflower produced in the U.S. by major farms no longer contains vitamin A. The vitamin is also down by 58.8 percent in grapefruits, 75.5 percent in peaches and 80 percent in strawberries. Iron is down by 58 percent in onions, 59 percent in strawberries, 60 percent in apples, 61.8 percent in cauliflower, 62.9 percent in bananas (domestic and imported), 75 percent in oranges and 85 percent in grapefruits.

Essentially, in most cases, one has to eat about five times the amount of a fruit or vegetable today to obtain the same nutritional value one serving would have provided back then, but the vast majority of people do not realize this. Part of the problem, according to Alex Jack, one of the directors for Amber Waves based in Becket, an organization dedicated to preserving grains from genetic engineering, is that the USDA stopped publishing nutritional data in print form in the 1990s and switched to an online database; however, Jack says, most government agencies, medical associations, restaurants and other organizations still refer to nutritional data collected in 1975 or earlier, largely relying on the USDA's 1975 "Handbook #8" for such information.

"Our nutrients are disappearing," Kittredge said. "The minerals just aren't there in the soil anymore at the level the plants need to be healthy and that we need to be healthy. The good news is we've got everything we need to revitalize the soil."

Altobelli recommends small farmers and backyard gardeners get their soil tested in the fall, cover the area intended for planting with leaves or straw to allow for fungi and bacteria growth and make the major changes needed for their particular land first thing in the spring. Allowing the soil to sit a minimum of six weeks between any major mineral application and planting is important, she said, to stabilize the system and allow for the greatest absorption of nutrients.

Altobelli also warned against applying lime, especially the cheapest kinds available, without testing the soil first. New England soil is naturally high in magnesium and low in calcium, she said, so using cheap dolomite lime, which is very high in magnesium, can destroy a crop before it's even planted. Instead, for the soil here, she recommends lime made of calcite (calcium carbonate) or gypsum (calcium sulfate), which are both high in calcium and can safely be applied to the soil before testing.