Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back To Basics

A bouquet from my gentleman caller in my $2 vintage vase that I love!

I've been a bit preoccupied lately.  As a single mother working full-time, it happens - sometimes seemingly at the slightest change in wind.

But this thing that has come along is more than just a change in weather, and I feel like I am learning things all over again - maybe even for the first time. 

In short, I'm dating someone.  Now I've dated on and off for years, but nothing ever serious.  I've been single close to ten years.  So this thing - er, um, this man - has had quite the effect on my life, and even on seemingly unrelated things like my budget (I'll explain more on that below). 

Many positive things come with a boyfriend, but I've found it's a learning curve for me - there are all the internal questions, the anxiety, the wondering.  One thing that's required in love is certain, and there is no real way around it, there's always an element of risk involved.  Those are the big guns - the big heart questions, the dance of getting to know someone that comes with the territory of romantic relationships.

And yet, there's another thing I've noticed affected by being in a relationship, and that's my spending.  Now, I've found a man that enjoys paying for things.  He's old fashioned that way and while it's certainly not expected, it's really refreshing to know that he likes being generous in that way. I reciprocate at times, but he pays for most things we do together.  Where I tend to spend more in dating is buying clothes, paying for things out of convenience because of time constraints, and when I cook for him I don't hold back too much and if there is a special ingredient I want to get, I'll get it. Then there's things like buying lunches at work - which there is no real excuse for, I just happen to be doing it.

I don't want to be too hard on myself here, but I do want to become more aware and reign it back while still allowing for some fun.  I need to get back to the basics.

Does your attention to finance change when life changes?

Here's a poem I like about change.  I'm not going to claim I know exactly what it means, but I like the imagery and the way it sounds in my head as I read it.

The Beautiful Changes

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides   
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you   
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed   
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;   
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves   
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says   
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes   
In such kind ways,   
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose   
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Garden Delights and Wise Words from John Updike

My only potatoes of the season, some zucchini, purple beans, and the last of the snap peas.

The garden is full of delights this time of year.  Some things, like lettuce and snap peas which burst onto the scene with reckless abandon, have drifted off into a slumber in the summer heat.

Still growing like mad are zucchini, cucumbers, purslane, kale, tomatoes, carrots and pumpkins.  I've probably got at least 30 pumpkins growing at the moment and I'm hoping there will be enough for the neighborhood and family kids to all get one for Halloween this year.

Just three pumpkin seeds in a little mound of dirt is all it took this year,  The bees have been busy pollinating the large blossoms. 

I had not anticipated the success of the pumpkin patch this year!

While I can't always count on her help in the garden (except for the harvesting part!) my daughter loves to make "fairy houses."  She will spend considerable time on making these homes pleasant for the fairies of her dreams.  Sometimes the fairies leave little gifts.

It might be hard to see, but this has everything a fairy might need!

So much growth and so much wonder takes place in the garden.  Lessons are learned in both patience and acceptance.  What becomes merely a memory of hard work, gives so much in the growth of plants.  That is, until it is time to work again.  The time in the garden rarely does feel like actual work to me for some reason.  Even sore muscles and sweat translate into joy.

Here is a poem I love from John Updike about hoeing in the garden. 


I sometimes fear the younger generation will be deprived 

of the pleasures of hoeing;

there is no knowing

how many souls have been formed by this simple exercise. 

The dry earth like a great scab breaks,

revealing moist-dark loam--

the pea-root's home,

a fertile wound perpetually healing.

How neatly the green weeds go under!

The blade chops the earth new.

Ignorant the wise boy who

has never performed this simple, stupid, and useful wonder.

~John Updike

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Make It! Watermelon Shaved Ice

Nothing beats a cool slice of watermelon on a hot day...right?

Until last night I didn't think so, but that was before we tried a little experiment in the kitchen with frozen watermelon.

I had a bunch of watermelon leftover from a party that needed to be eaten up quickly.  I had heard you could freeze it, so I popped the cubed pieces into a tupperware and into the freezer.

My kiddo really liked how it tasted frozen, but I thought I'd try to improve on the fun and pop it in the food processor.

This may work with any number of blending tools, but I used a hand powered food processor a friend gave me for my birthday.

It turned out perfectly! So sweet and delicious and powdery, and free from all the typical nasty chemicals and colorings and artificial sweeteners that come with regular shaved ice.

I think this would be really yummy with frozen peaches and nectarines too!