Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Inspiring Story

A few weeks ago, I heard this story for the first time.

I've since shared it with as many people as I can.

It has really made me think; made me ponder my time on earth. 

I hope it does the same for you.



3900 Saturdays


The older I get the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.
A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time.
Let me tell you about it.
I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles.” I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say.
“Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It’s too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital” he continued. “Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.”
“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic.. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.”
“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I’m getting to the important part. It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear.”
“Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.”
“There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”
“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.”
“It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 Year old Man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!”
You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.
Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss… “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.” “What brought this on” she asked with a smile.” “Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spring Cleaning, Anyone?

Spring is just around the corner.
Do you have plans to do some cleaning? 
Some purging of the old; simplifying your home and life?

I love this quote by Henry David Thoreau:

"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.

Many of you are pros when it comes to organizing a home, but for those who immediately feel overwhelmed at the thought; here are a few SIMPLE tips to help you in your endeavors:

1. Begin with one room, one drawer, one corner.

  It can be a big project- but, like 'eating an elephant', if you do it one bite at a time, it will be easier and you will make progress.  

2. Try to see your belongings through another person's eyes.  

So often we are used to using, looking at and handling our personal belongings...and don't realize just how bad of shape they're in.   -Like my pink hair dryer that barely puffs out heated air, but I've kept as a back up or my chipped bowls that aren't fit for company- 
Decide if it's worth keeping (Is it useful, do you love it?)  and if  you can afford another to replace it.  

3. Ask yourself: Do I use this, love this, need this?   

I'm all for being frugal and sticking to the old adages: 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without' and 'Waste not, want not.'   But it doesn't serve me well to have three or six of the same kitchen appliance or utensil if I never use them.  
Because we have our home on the market, I've been combing over the house asking myself; "Do I really want to drag this across 4 states?"
Even if you are not in the envious position of preparing to move like I am (wink, wink)  you could pretend!   They say to think of those items you would grab in case of a fire.  Your most cherished possessions (aside from your family and purse, of course).  Begin there and carefully choose what is important to you.

4. Have a place for everything and everything in its place.
Be sure your belongings have a home and if that 'home' begins to overflow or become too crowded, its time to reorganize or get rid of some things.  
If you choose to use storage containers, clear is best- in order to see what's inside!- but be sure to label the contents....and apply number 3 above to your choice of contents.  

That's it for the basics.

Everyone has their own style of organization- you don't have to have an utterly stream-lined home.  You can choose if you want comfy and slightly cluttered or clean and bare enough for voices to echo.  Do what feels right for you and your family- but be sensitive to whether clutter is weighing you down.  
Life is complicated enough without being a slave to Things.

Henry David Thoreau said:
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler"
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone."

"However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts."

One more tip for those who want it:
To keep your sheets organized, neatly fold the sheet set and place sheets and pillow case inside of the other pillow case.   You'll never have to search for pillow cases again. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day Craft: Silhouette Portraits

In honor of President's Day, silhouette portraits can be a fun way to celebrate the traditions of yesteryear.  In fact, these are making a comeback in modern times and can be a beautiful addition to your home.

 Here are a few places to get you started- everything from the old-fashioned way to using digital cameras and Photoshop:
 HERE and

Quotes about Abraham Lincoln:

Abraham Lincoln needs no marble shaft to perpetuate his name; his words are the most enduring monument, and will forever live in the hearts of the people.  ~Osborn H. Oldroyd

If you look at his portraits they always give you an indelible impression of his great height.  So does his life.  Height of purpose, height of ideal, height of character, height of intelligence.  ~David Lloyd George

Lincoln was not a type.  He stands alone - no ancestors, no fellows, no successors.  ~Robert G. Ingersoll

A faith like Lincoln's would transform the world!  ~James Oppenheim

He showed that fame may be won and what services be rendered by a plain son of the people unaided by any gifts of fortune.  ~James Bryce

In him was vindicated the greatness of real goodness and the goodness of real greatness.  ~Phillips Brooks

Humble birth did not retard his genius, nor high place corrupt his soul.  ~Cass Gilbert

He was one of the few great rulers whose wisdom increased with his power, and whose spirit grew gentler and tenderer as his triumphs were multiplied.  ~James A. Garfield

His heart and his brain were utterly foreign to all vindictiveness or personal bitterness.  He declared himself hotly and strongly against wrong causes, but never against men.  ~London Spectator


Let him who looks for a monument to Washington look around the United States.  Your freedom, your independence, your national power, your prosperity, and your prodigious growth are a monument to him.  ~Louis Kossuth
George Washington is one of the beacons placed at intervals along the highroad of history.  ~Orestes Ferrara

More than all, and above all, Washington was master of himself.  ~Charles Francis Adams

His life was a hymn in praise of honor, uprightness, and patriotism.  ~Orestes Ferrara

Washington's is the mightiest name of earth - long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty; still mightiest in moral reformation.  On that name no eulogy is expected.  It cannot be.  To add brightness to the sun, or glory to the name of Washington, is alike impossible.  Let none attempt it.  In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its naked deathless splendor leave it shining on.  ~Abraham Lincoln

He shaped and molded that office to the contours of his own heroic stature.  ~W.J. Cameron

Eternity alone can reveal to the human race its debt of gratitude to the peerless and immortal name of Washington.  ~James A. Garfield

He guided the passions of others, because he was master of his own.  ~Ebenezer Grant Marsh

QUOTATIONS BY George Washington and Abraham Lincoln:

I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.  ~George Washington

In executing the duties of my present important station, I can promise nothing but purity of intentions, and, in carrying these into effect, fidelity and diligence.  ~George Washington

I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.  ~George Washington

I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.  ~Abraham Lincoln

I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.  ~Abraham Lincoln

I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.  ~Abraham Lincoln

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Meringue Surprise Cookies

These delightful little numbers are one of my kids' favorite cookies.  We only make them about once a year- so they're sometimes fought over.  Yes, fought over. 
Not too filling and interesting enough to share with guests, I think you'll enjoy these!

Here's what you'll need:
6 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1  1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups mini M&Ms or mini chocolate chips (we use the M&M's)

Directions: (you can halve this recipe- I usually make around 4 dozen)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Grease cookie sheets.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
Gradually add the sugar, beating on high speed.  Add the vanilla and salt and continue to beat  until stiff peaks form and sugar is completely dissolved- about 5-8 minutes.  

With a metal spoon, fold in mini M&M's or chocolate chips.
(Optional- add 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts)

Drop by spoonful onto greased cookie sheet.  
Bake @ 300 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until light golden brown.

Cool thoroughly and store in an airtight container.
(Makes 4 dozen)


Monday, February 14, 2011

Fluffy Brown Rice

Brown Rice = Good Stuff.

I've always enjoyed brown rice- probably because my mother made it for us and I became accustomed to it at an early age.
My own children enjoy it as well, although typically they prefer white rice if given a choice.   I don't blame them- white rice is yummy.  However, since I've been cooking it a new way, everyone's enjoying it so much more!

The problem for most people is that brown rice can be heavy and very chewy in comparison to the white version.
But it doesn't have to be. 

I have a simple recipe for making light, fluffy, filling brown rice.
But first; a little about why brown rice is better:

Why Brown-But Not White-
Rice is One of the World's Healthiest Foods
The difference between brown rice and white rice is not just color! A whole grain of rice has several layers. Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed to produce what we call brown rice. This process is the least damaging to the nutritional value of the rice and avoids the unnecessary loss of nutrients that occurs with further processing. If brown rice is further milled to remove the bran and most of the germ layer, the result is a whiter rice, but also a rice that has lost many more nutrients. At this point, however, the rice is still unpolished, and it takes polishing to produce the white rice we are used to seeing. Polishing removes the aleurone layer of the grain-a layer filled with health-supportive, essential fats. Because these fats, once exposed to air by the refining process, are highly susceptible to oxidation, this layer is removed to extend the shelf life of the product. The resulting white rice is simply a refined starch that is largely bereft of its original nutrients. 
The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3 and iron. 
Read more of this great article here.

This recipe calls for soaking the rice before cooking.  Traditionally, whole grains were always soaked.  Even the original directions for Quaker Oats called for soaking overnight.  Soaking softens the outer layer of the grains and also reduces the phytic acid, which interferes with the absorption of vitamins and minerals .  This applies to other whole grains- wheat included.

Now for the basic recipe- adjust amounts for your family size.
In a bowl or pot add the following:
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon plain yogurt/buttermilk or Kefir

(If you don't have any of these, you can easily make mock buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk)

Stir and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Do not drain.  When ready to cook, add 3/4 tsp. salt and cook on stove top (in pot with tight-fitting lid), in a rice cooker or bake as you normally would. (about 45-50 minutes)

The rice will be fluffier, lighter in color and have a softer texture.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Murphy's Law

When I was a little girl, my mother had a poster hanging in our downstairs bathroom.  It was a Murphy's Law poster.
Mom joked that guests would spend extra time in that bathroom, reading it.

I remember being in awe of the wisdom it contained.  For example:
"You always find something in the last place you look"

Others I enjoyed were:
"Beauty is only skin deep.  Ugly goes to the bone"
"Never play leapfrog with a unicorn."
"A bird in hand is safer than one overhead."
"A shortcut is the longest distance between two points."
"The chance of a piece of bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet."

I've since realized, of course, that there are many more such laws.
I experienced one of them- probably my least favorite- yesterday.
It goes like this:
"Unexpected company will only arrive when your house is a mess."
I've found this to be all too true.

When my home is sparkling and humming with the joyful noises of dishwasher and dryer (I find them joyful, anyway), no one 'stops by.' 
When our day is lagging  or we've endured a week of snow and children are running around with uncombed hair, pajamas till noon and my kitchen smells like the refrigerator needs cleaned out...the doorbell rings.

Has anyone else had this happen?

Luckily, I'm learning to go with the flow and have realized that other women have days like this too.  

Years ago, as a young mother, I was visiting a new friend.  I was impressed by the fact that her couch was covered in clean laundry- waiting to be folded, dishes in the sink and kids' toys everywhere.  Things I took great pains to clean or hide if company arrived.  ( I was even instructed by another friend to hide my dirty dishes in the oven.  Something I tried once or twice, but forgot them until later when I preheated the oven for dinner!) 
This friend's home made me feel relaxed.  
A few hours later, her husband arrived home from work.  As he walked in, I saw him looking around at the mess.  Without missing a beat and in all seriousness, my friend said, "Honey!  Did you hear about the tornado on the news?!"  He looked confused (we lived in Oregon) and replied that he hadn't.  She said, "You didn't hear about it?!  Why, it swept right through our home!"   We all laughed and I realized that her relaxed humor was something I desperately needed to incorporate in my life.  

I can't say that I've always taken that lesson to heart.  My husband and I both struggle to not be Type A personalities.   We just care TOO much.  I aspire to be the type of mom whose home is teeming with science projects, children's critters and artwork .  We do tend to have books on most flat surfaces as well as children's objects.  But, because we've had our house (s) on the market 21 months out of the past 4 years, I tend to slip back into the stressful habit of perfectionism. 
Not good....nor is it fun. 

But, I know that when our home sells and we are truly settled once more, I will embrace wholeheartedly the relaxed atmosphere that I crave. 
As a teen I once declared that when I was a mother, my kitchen floor would never crunch.  So stated by the oldest daughter of six children; with younger siblings who were careless with cereal on school mornings!
When settled again, I may just pour an entire box on the floor and, following the example of Sarah Wheaton in 'Skylark', write my name in it.

I'm sure there would be grins on the faces of my children, not to mention myself.  It's something I look forward to with relish.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The 5th of February

Today is my birthday.

The first photo below looks as if I'm not too thrilled at the prospect.

To be honest, I suppose in some ways I'm not.  I'm still at odds with the thought of growing old and would like to continue feeling young for a long, long time.
However, it's a good time to reflect on my life and the many blessings I've been given.  
So many, even on this very morning, that my heart is filled with gratitude!

In my reflections this morning, I've realized that I'm definitely growing older.

But that's okay.  It's part of life.
I heard a great quote yesterday:
"Aging is a privilege, not a birthright."~Paulina Porizkova

So true...but I hope I'm gaining wisdom alongside the wrinkles!

Now for the good stuff.  The birthday bliss my family provided (aside from the lovely calls and well-wishes from everyone):

First, we have raspberry cheesecake and fresh blackberries.
Raspberry cheesecake and fresh blackberries!
A little taste of Spring....just for me.
You can't get much more thoughtful than that, in the dead of winter.

My family brought me breakfast in bed this morning.
Egg scramble with sausage and peppers, a biscuit with jelly, hot cocoa and even a miniature birthday cake and carnation.  
I felt like a queen.

My littlest girl gave me a box full of gifts.
I even have numerous coupons I'll be cashing in for things like hugs, a free dinner and foot rubs. Can't wait!
( I especially love my pink Egyptian cat she created with paper mache.)

I also received a beautiful spring-colored blanket; hand-crafted and stapled together on three sides as the sewing machine was out of commission. 
Can you see the staples?    : )

Another fun treat was watching the Man of the House rush to grab a camera and head out to stealthily snap shots as bucks appeared all over our property while he was out feeding animals.  These are just two of maybe eight that we saw. They love getting into our alfalfa.

Then, just for me....a snow storm rolled in unannounced and began to show off.

And now, the piece de resistance:

 An amazing birthday cake, provided by my youngest son.
The same boy who detests cheesecake and insisted it wasn't a 'real' birthday tradition.

Along with his creation, a few fun photos from my special day:

"Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin' across your face." ~Dolly Parton, Steel Magnolias

Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.  ~Mark Twain

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.  ~Douglas MacArthur

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.  ~Mark Twain

Friday, February 4, 2011

Winter Weather

Colorado weather is, in a word, Crazy!

The other day we had weather so warm the kids were in shorts, tee shirts and were laying out in the sun, playing basketball and helping on the yard.

Then, just two days later...below zero temps!  It actually got down to about -17 here.  
Years ago, we lived in Wyoming.  We moved there in September and were excited for snow.  One day, after being cooped up for several gloomy, snowy days, the sun came out in all its glory. 
I bundled the children up and sent them out to get some fresh air.
Seconds later, my husband called to tell me in amazement that it was actually 20 below zero.  I ran to the door to call the kids in....only find them already coming back inside.  Thirty seconds outdoors and they knew it was too cold to play.
The sunshine in weather like that can be deceiving.   
I now know better than to send the kids outdoors- even if they beg.
(And they do sometimes)

So for those who, like us, are cozied up against cold weather- here's a great recipe for hot chocolate.   There's not much better than a warm fuzzy blanket, cuppa cocoa, kids lounging and something educational to watch.

There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.  ~Ruth Stout

Brew me a cup for a winter's night.
For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;
Spice it with love and stir it with care,
And I'll toast our bright eyes,
my sweetheart fair.
~Minna Thomas Antrim

Link Within

Related Posts with Thumbnails