Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Birthday Dinner With a Touch of Pink

As I have been savoring every delicious meal plan, delighting in your shared wisdom for entertaining guests graciously and actually looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone, a small opportunity presented itself.

A special young lady (my son's girlfriend) was celebrating a birthday.
As she and Jeremy were going to be stopping by yesterday, it seemed a cake and some gifts were in order.  After checking to see if they could stay for dinner, I decided to make my son's most requested recipe (nicknamed "Mac & Ham"), broccoli & cauliflower and a nice fresh salad.  He'd been telling her about this recipe since they met and she was anxious to try it.  It's certainly not fancy, but it's the recipe both of my boys request when given a choice of what's on the menu for dinner.

And since her favorite color is pink, freshly picked pink dogwood branches became the obvious choice for an impromptu centerpiece. 

Dinner was on the table and eaten before the camera stood a chance.  I always enjoy watching college kids scarf down eat a home-cooked meal.

** Happy 20th Birthday to Amber **

Thank you all for your wonderful encouragment and menu suggestions.  My mouth was watering just reading them.  I'll keep you posted on the "stepping out of the comfort zone dinner".

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Gift of Today and A Request

The past few years have made me realize more than ever that each and every day is a gift.  A life lesson that I wish I'd learned when I was much younger, but better late than never.

Growing up painfully shy, I wasn't one to jump into life with both feet.  It was more like sticking one toe in and testing the water before feeling comfortable enough to embrace it. 

The outgoing people who jump in there and grab life by the horns and "just do it" have always fascinated and amazed me.  I can't imagine what that feels like, but it sure looks like fun.

Thankfully, over the years the painful part has fallen by the wayside, but it seems shy will always be a part of who I am.  Something I work to overcome each day. 

Shyness may be one of the obstacles in my life, but it doesn't steal my happiness and joy for life.  It also doesn't prevent me from appreciating each and every day.  It does, however, still make me stick with "safe and comfortable" more often than I'd like.

An example of safe and comfortable :
I've gotten in the safe habit of entertaining a couple of times per year.  It's pretty much the same people (family members) and the menu has gotten very comfortable.  In other words, make what I know they like and I'm safe.  No danger that they won't like it.

The problem is I really want to step out of my comfort zone and invite some new people over for dinner.  I've been talking about doing it for years and every time I get close I chicken out.  Although I own about a hundred cookbooks, I go blank when I think of what to serve that will go over well.  I think I need a nudge from all of you out there who seem to entertain so comfortably and easily. 

I honestly can't believe I'm typing this  and I'd better hit publish soon or I know it will be deleted.  It's just that I am determined to overcome this little obstacle and soon.  So, what I'd like to ask is if you have a recipe that you serve company and it's always a hit, would you consider telling me about it? 

Hope this wasn't TMI for you today.


I heard on the news this morning that several states received snow.  Although it is 81 degrees here right now, it's been snowing cherry blossoms all afternoon.

Stepping way out of my comfort zone to hit PUBLISH now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcoming Spring With A Happy Heart

We've been waiting for you.

But now the wait is over.
For you have arrived once again, carrying with you fresh air and gentle breezes . . .

The promise of new life. . .

Bright colors to refresh the winter weary landscape.

And the sweet, sweet smells that you do so well.

Now that you are here . . .

Please make yourself at home and stay awhile.

Happy, Happy First Day of Spring!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thoughts of Japan

My first job out of college was working for a company that sold Japanese machinery.  My days were filled with typing letters to men with names like Mr. Yoshikawa, Mr. Miyake, Mr. Nishijima & Mr. Tanaka.

I made many travel arrangements for my bosses to travel to Japan.

During the time I worked for this company, we had numerous Japanese visitors including a young man who came for a month for training purposes.  He brought with him several different types of Japanese food and shared them with us.  I remember my boss wanted to send him home with a gift from America and his choice was a pair of cowboy boots :).

At this job I became friends with a co-worker. 
He travelled to Japan often.
Our friendship turned to dating.
Not long after we began to date he went to Japan for a month.
It seemed like a loong month back then, but he returned bearing beautiful gifts from Japan and lots of pictures to share.

Seven months later he popped the question and we were married the following year.
When we were married we received beautiful gifts from many of the Japanese people we were associated with through work.
The Japanese people have a "gift" for gift giving. 

Throughout the years of our marriage my husband has travelled to Japan several times.  He was able to experience many different aspects of the Japanese culture. 

Like the rest of the world we have been watching the devastating news from Japan with such heaviness in our hearts.  We are reminded of the people from that country who have crossed our paths and send up prayers for their safety.

One final thought:
My old boss is now my father-in-law.  Now in his early 80s he still keeps in touch with Mr. Nishijima.  I recently got an e-mail from my father-in-law who told me that he & Mr. Nishijima spoke to each other on Skype and that while he felt the earthquake, he and his family are safe. 
The vision of these two elderly business associates making contact this way somehow warms my heart.

The pictures on this post were taken in my yard and neighborhood.  I found gardening and walking to be a good diversion from the heaviness of the news this weekend.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunny Touches On A Rainy Day

It's been a rainy weekend.
Went to bed last night to the sound of rain on the rooftop.
Woke up this morning to more rain on the rooftop.

While I'm loving this rain for the benefits it brings to the garden, it is making it a bit dark & dreary inside the house.

Since the sun doesn't want to shine outside, I'm going to do what I can to make it shine inside.  I'll start by lighting some little lamps here and there. A yellow candle with a lemon scent will surely add to the sunny atmosphere I'm trying to create. 

As my brownies are baking in the oven and my chicken dinner is bubbling away in the crock pot, I have a few minutes to set out a few touches of Spring cheer.  The sunny yellow forsythia wreath adds a bright spot to a corner of the family room on this gray day.

Cheery dishes and a yellow candleholder seem like a good idea for the dinner table tonight.  In fact I think I'll step outside and snip a few pansies.  Be right back . . .

When I began this post I wasn't planning to literally bring the sun in, but a funny thing happened when I brought the pansies in.  The sun came pouring through the window and it hasn't quit since.

Happy Sunny Sunday!!
If the sun isn't shining at your house, try making your own.  You never know it just might work.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Starting March on a Silly Note

After a long quiet winter, waking up to a birdie chorus makes me want to ...

Picking my first bouquet of these also makes me want to SING ...

'Cause no matter what the calendar says, I know that these two things can only mean one thing ...

Now doesn't that just have a nice . . .

:), ;-), =), :)

And to think the hubby rolled his eyes as he asked what I bought that bag of wooden blocks for.


Oops, I'm short an L.
Guess I'm going to keep my eyes open for some more blocks, honey. ;-).

Happy First Day of March to You!!!