April 24, 2013

Our dog had surgery...

Sunday afternoon, we were surprised to find that our dog, Lusy, was very ill.  She was have spasms in her abdominal area and couldn't walk.  Rob carried her in his arms and we brought her to MedVet's emergency room.  They took an x-ray and found that her intestines were looped tightly, and although they couldn't tell exactly what was going on, it didn't look good.  We opted for immediate surgery, the doctor there called us after, it was 11pm on Sunday...and told us that they'd found she had peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdominal cavity wall, due to a rupture in her uterus, which they had to take out.  They took a swab (and sent it to the lab, we will find the results in a few more days) and lavaged her insides, put in a drain, and stapled her up.
She was on IV antibiotics and pain medication, too.  She was there for almost 48 hours, spent 2 nights away, and they said she wouldn't eat ANYTHING.  Yesterday (Tuesday) we were able to take her home.  To get her to eat, I cooked a pound of ground beef and a cup of brown rice, I put 1/4 of it atop her dry dog food, and she ate it, with pleasure.  She is getting special treatment.  I had just cut off her arm bandage where the IV was and then snapped this picture below...looks like she is smiling!
She is now on oral antibiotics, pain medication and anti-nausea meds.  Lusy is doing well, I'm struggling to get the pills down her.  She is wearing an Elizabethan collar, so that she won't be able to lick her wound and open it up.
 P.S.  Yesterday was also my dear husband's 40th birthday!!!

April 19, 2013

Edible violets

Many violets are edible.  Not the houseplant, the African violet.  Wild violet jelly, candied violets on cupcakes for a little tea party.  I didn't take that picture, but thought it was inspiring.  Violets are a weed, to many, but so pretty and abundant in our backyard here in Ohio right now.
While Hannah was in dance class, Olivia helped me to pick these.  We got 2 cups of violets, then boiled 2 cups of water and poured it on top, this recipe I followed says to let it steep overnight.
Can you see how blue-green the water turned?  When you add the lemon juice, it turns to a pink-purple!  Then we added 2 cups of sugar and the 3 oz. packet of liquid fruit pectin.  My first time making jelly with violets.  We'll be doing this again!
Violet Jelly Recipe:
2 cups violet blossoms, no stems
2 cups boiling water
juice of one lemon
1 package pectin (I used Certo Sure-Jell liquid, it came in a package of 2 3oz. pouches for $4.59)
4 cups sugar
Steep blossoms in water overnight.  Strain.  Have 2 18 oz. jars ready.  Add lemon juice.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve.  Add sugar, return to rolling boil, and boil for one minute.  Pour into jars and put lit on.  We let ours cool overnight and in the morning, we were happy to find it set up nicely and ate it on toast!

April 13, 2013


I am a person who never liked writing much, but has always kept a diary or journal.  Now, I find myself NEEDING to write.   It’s a wonderful release.  I write personal things, about my family,  spiritual life, our garden and how we are growing...

I ♥ to read my old journal entries.  I take my journals on trips, too...from a couple years ago (I also draw a lot, I do not like lined books, but one with completely blank pages, just so I can draw & write).  I'm first an artist, I love to draw, but find that art is truly visible in writing down beautiful words, too, and in baking, in photography & watching things grow. 
After last week's adventure to meet one of my favorite fictional authors, I've been thinking a lot about the difference of fictional writing and non-fictional writing (which is mostly what I do), I really enjoy writing and documenting my life.  And a friend of mine, Jenny, just blogged about a book she is writing, which inspired me to blog about writing!  One of my favorite books is The Diary of Anne Frank.  My intention as I write is that it is not only therapeutic for me, but also something to pass on to my daughters and grandchildren one day, that they may read of our life together, the happiness and sadness.
I've been helping my dad write his memoirs.  I need to sit down with him on a regular basis and do this, but with Parkinson's disease, there are often bad days, where you just don't want to do much of anything.  Or you can't do anything.  God help him.  That is a portrait I drew of my dad in 1996.
Dad's dad (my grandfather is now 90) has written a few short memoirs, of his time in the Navy and sketched a picture of the view of Mt. Fuji from the top of his ship.  My grandfather's dad (my great-grandfather, who passed away when he was 101 years old, I keenly remember his 100th birthday party, I had a broken arm from a skiing accident and there were LOTs of people there) also write his life and all of his children and grandchildren and even great-grand children, like me, have a copy of his book:

April 8, 2013

Meeting the writer, Alexander McCall Smith!

Scottish writer, Alexander McCall Smith has written many books, two of my favorites are The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, which takes place in Botswana, and La's Orchestra Saves the World.  He is a writer, truly an artist, in the way he writes, and he also plays the bassoon, in the "Really Terrible Orchestra."  As he spoke, I felt a connection to him, and a desire to paint or create art...  My husband felt it, too.  We met in a drawing class in college, but life has taken us on various routes, so art is on the back burner, right now.  Mr. Smith was actually born in Africa and grew up there, but he has lived most of his life in Scotland.
I was thrilled to see him in a kilt and knee socks.  I spent a month in Troon, Scotland when I was 10 with my little sister and grandma...saw Loch Ness, the Highlands, castles and met many kind people.
Mr. McCall spoke of the tactical practices of the bodyguards of crawling judges in Northern Ireland, issues of etiquette and when to wear white shoes in the United States, the suspension of Citroën cars (did you know it would take 2 and a half minutes for it to inflate before you could drive off?) and its impact on French bank robbers, and also the police, and Danish writer Karen Blixen and how important the first lines of a novel is...e.g. from Rose Macaulay's The Towers of Trebizond, "Take my camel, dear", said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass."  And that was only the first 5 minutes of his 45-minute talk.
Olivia got her copy of The Great Cake Mystery, that he wrote about a 9 year old (just like Olivia), signed!  I don't know how well you can see, but he wrote just below the red square a green pen.
Long line of people waiting for him to sign books.  There were about 700 people there to hear him.  He speaks as he writes, beautifully, and entertaining.  He spoke about how he wrote the next chapter for his book that morning in Cincinnati.  I ♥ the library there in downtown Cincinnati...the gold and yellow tiny tiles, stained glass windows and 4 floors that make the building special.
 Rob tilled up the backyard garden.  We planted row upon row of heirloom seeds:  Rocky Top lettuce mix, May Queen lettuce, spinach, yellow King of Siberia tomatoes, cabbage, beets, purple carrots, sweet peas, cilantro, chamomile, anise, lemon balm, Kentucky pole beans, watermelon, etc.
Sunday...a friend at church, Kristi (who is from the country of Georgia), took this picture...of the cross decorated with flowers.  Hannah picked the tiny yellow daffodils from our front yard and put them around. 

April 1, 2013

Almond milk...and sweets!

Did you notice the new tab atop?  It's a recipe index, a work-in-progress, as I sprinkle recipes that I have been making throughout my blog posts.  I will keep adding to it as I sift through old posts.

I made a batch of almond milk over the weekend.  I followed this recipe:
Almond milk
 (you'll get 2-3 cups)
1 cup almonds, soaked 8-12 hours beforehand
3 cups water
6 dates or 1/4 cup agave (I used 1/4 cup maple syrup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Rinse off your almonds and discard the soak water. Add the almonds and the other ingredients (water, sweetener, vanilla) to a regular blender or food processor. Blend them on high speed.  Then, simply put a cheesecloth or strainer over the top of a jar (and put a rubberband around it to make sure it stays) and scoop the milky pulpy almond over it and let it sit, give it a good 15 minutes.  I took out the almond pulp and put it in a bowl...
...and made cookies (SO many awesome recipes on this blog) with it!!!  By the way, the almond milk turned out wonderfully.  We poured it over homemade granola this morning.

Almond chocolate chip cookies

1 cup dried almond pulp “flour” (I didn't dry mine, so I added about 1/2 cup flour to the mixture)
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
6 tablespoons raw almond butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
dark chocolate chips, as needed

Mix all ingredients well, except chocolate chips.  Scoop onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  My daughter pressed 3 chocolate chips on each one.  Bake 8-10 minutes in an oven heated to 350'F.  Allow to cool (or eat warm, as we did, and the melted chocolate chips are gooey) and enjoy!
We also made bird's nests over the weekend.  We used:

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted in a pan
1 bag of marshmallows
6 cups crispy rice cereal
5 jelly beans in each one (we got a 15oz. bag of natural color and flavor ones at Trader Joe's for $3.99, made in Ireland, ironic, because on Saturday we old calendar Orthodox Christians celebrated St. Patrick's day!)
After the marshmallows melt, mix in the rice crispies well and form by pressing into bowls, using wax paper, then add jelly beans to look like eggs.  My girls wrapped them in bitty bags and wrote "Happy Easter" on them, put 6 in each of their baskets and passed them out to some of the residents at the nursing home where Rob's Grandma lives....
Doesn't she look cute in my purple sunglasses?  We stopped at Long John Silver's and got some lunch and rootbeer.
Rob played his mandolin at the cemetery, where we spent time at the Grandpa's graveside.  Playing and singing "Amazing Grace," as Grandma holds his music...