Tickets Acquired

I make no secret of it. I am very interested in going to Japan, and almost studied abroad there while I was in college. I unfortunately did not have the funding to do so, nor had I taken the proper classes to be able to take the semester off. So? I was stuck stateside while dreaming of going abroad.

Fast-forward. It is currently 2011, and Hubby and I have been talking. We should go to Japan. But when? Let’s plan it for our 10-year anniversary year! Okay. 2014 it is! So, we planned, and thought, and decided. Spring 2014, before the weather gets really nice and Hubby has to work.

Sad fact: you cannot buy plane tickets more than 11 months in advance in most places… So we waited. This spring, we purchased the tickets. Yep, dates are decided, and we are going to Japan! I am calling on my friends that have lived there and those who have been frequently to give advice on places to go and things to do… but on a budget, of course. Come on, I am not a part of the 1%, here. I am lucky enough to be able to go on the trip!

I look forward to it, but am slightly overwhelmed with all the details: lodging, raising money, getting my passport, the fact I will be on a plane for 10hrs+ when I am afraid of flying… yeah, it would appear that there is a lot to do when going abroad, even if it is only for two weeks. Le sigh. But, tickets acquired. πŸ™‚

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Not-too-sweet Strawberry Biscuits

It is fresh strawberry season here in the Pacific Northwest. A local burger joint has their fresh strawberry shakes, shortcakes, and smoothies on special right now. My father-in-law purchased a half-flat (6 quarts) of strawberries recently, and needed them to be used up.

Solution? Experimental cooking ahoy! Originally, I wanted to make strawberry pancakes, but I had pancakes yesterday and it didn’t sound so good to have again. I decided, instead, to try my hand (again) at strawberry biscuits. This time, I had better results! πŸ™‚ I made a double-batch (large family), so I cut everything in half for the version posted below. I actually kept measurements this time! So you can recreate it. πŸ™‚

Not-too-sweet Strawberry biscuits
Yield – 8 large biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • 2c bisquick (or similar. I used a combo of bisquick and jiffy baking mix)
  • 1/2c sugar, plus some for sprinkling on top
  • 1/4c water -or- milk

Directions

1.Β  Preheat oven to 450 degrees (F).Β  Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray (or grease it)

2. Remove the strawberry stems and dice into desired size pieces. Varying sizes is better, since some will get smashed up and some will not, so I recommend a variety in the smallish range.

3. Put berries and bisquick in a large bowl and mix together. This will take a while, since the bisquick will draw moisture out of the berries and eventually stick together in clumps.

4. Add sugar and stir well. This will create an almost-dough consistency, but still a touch dry.

5. Add 1/4c water, or enough to make a dough of usual-biscuit-dough-consistency. Stir thoroughly.

6. Drop by large scoopful onto the greased baking sheet, sprinkle with desired amount of sugar.

7. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. There should be very faint browning on the edges and any particularly high ridges.

8. Scrape off the cookie sheet and enjoy!

strawberry biscuits on baking sheet

Finished strawberry biscuits on the baking sheet. As you see, they are big ones. πŸ™‚

 

I prefer to enjoy them fresh-outta-the-oven warm, but you can put them on a wire rack to cool and store in an airtight container for later. Make sure, if you store them, you let them cool completely first. Otherwise? The heat will make them soggy.  Soggy biscuits are no fun.  😦

 

If you want to make smaller biscuits, go for it! Just make sure you don’t over bake the biscuits, or they will be all dry and crumbly instead of moist and delicious. πŸ™‚

inside the biscuit

Fluffy, moist, warm, strawberry-rich inside of the biscuit! Doesn’t that look amazingly delicious.

Now, remember I said they were big, right? If you look at the graphic on the right, you will see just how big! I am holding half of one in my hand. I wanted everyone to see how great they looked on the inside. Notice how the pieces visible vary in size, and the dough is tinted pink. This is normal. It is just the strawberry juice that was drawn out earlier. I think it makes it a really pretty food item. πŸ™‚

There you have it, another experiment-turned-success from my kitchen to yours. I hope you enjoy it! Feel free to make it sweeter if you wish. I was having it with scrambled-egg-super (eggs, peppers, sun dried tomato flavored roast turkey breast, a bit ‘o cheese). I didn’t want anything overly sweet with it. The 1/2 c sugar doesn’t actually make it really sweet, surprisingly. It adds just enough to compliment the berries, but doesn’t overwhelm. Yay! To make it into a dessert? Add a bit more sweet stuff and top with whipped cream and more fresh berries. πŸ™‚

Happy cooking!

~N

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It’s My Daddy’s Fault…

I blame my Mother for so many things, but some are really my Daddy’s fault. He has taught me so many things since he joined the family. I smile every day when I think how blessed I am that he chose my mother, my sisters, and me. I have learned the following, and more, from this wonderful man.

For the record: After my biological father left, my mother was single for a goodly time. My then-not-my-Daddy was dating my mother when my three sisters and I held a meeting about him (mind you, our ages were 8, 6, 5, and 4… I am the eldest). We decided to ask him if he would be our Daddy. He didn’t answer right away, and told our Mamma what we asked. Well, shortly thereafter, they were engaged. It has been a long road since, but he has been there the whole time. He loved us so much that he legally adopted us. He has also done everything in his power to remind my mother, always, how wonderful, beautiful, kind, caring, and amazing she is.

He really showed me how strong a parent-child relationship can be, despite not being a blood relation. He entered our family with open arms. He even does the Daddy things of lecturing us when we make poor choices, wiping our tears when we cry, hugging us when we need it, and being there no matter what. He walked me down the aisle, cried at my wedding, and is eagerly awaiting grandchildren from my husband and me. Your chosen family is just as important and close as your birth family, sometimes closer.

He showed my how important it is to be fully committed to your family, and to take relationships seriously. People’s hearts are not games. People who enter your family are your family. There is no such thing as discounting a child’s siblings just because they don’t share the same blood. Siblings are siblings, and family is family. My mother’s family is the same way: my auntie is till my auntie despite my uncle having crossed over to the heavens.

He has been very patient with my as I learn my own path. He took me to ice-cream as a child when he had to discuss something difficult: bad grades, poor choices, concerns about my then-boyfriend, etc. The ice cream did soften the blow, but I think it was more to have an important conversation just the two of us… away from other people’s ears, and in a more confidential manner. The strangers at Baskin Robbins didn’t count. I learned from these encounters that private matters should be discussed privately, with as few people involved as possible. It is important to make sure the person feels safe and comfortable when discussing difficult things.

He was also very patient in my “learning years,” i.e. 11 to… well… I am still in the midst of them, aren’t I? He dealt with my impossible know-everything-teens, my early-college my-life-is-my-own self, and now he puts up with me as I blaze my own trail forward. When I have children, I will have to take that deep breath that he took… and he is going to laugh at me as I go through all the steps of parenthood. At least, human-child parenthood. I have my two cats, but I hear that doesn’t count.

He showed me that a man is a man, and what he does is masculine. My amazing Daddy can cook, clean, sew, garden, do laundry, iron, bead, make jewelry, braid hair, have his toenails painted by his daughters. I don’t know very many dads who can/will do that. He taught me how important it is, whether you are male or female, to be able to do these things and take care of yourself.

He knows hit song lyrics before I have heard them, he tells funny stories. He makes sure I feel included and loved in any situation. He supports my in my endeavors (even if he thinks they are silly). He tells me what he thinks, and is honest with me. He colors with me. He never wished I was a son, or treated me like I can’t do things because I am female. He always expected the best from me, and acted like I single-handedly made the sun come up over the horizon whenever I accomplished something. He always believed in me. I hope someday to be a parent like him.

He taught my that knowing my roots and culture is very important. He encouraged Native American dance lessons, learning the language (which I have failed at), learning the ceremonies, and connecting with the community. He even did the sewing and beadwork for my Regalia. It has enriched my life so much.

And more! He is always teaching me new things and always helping me become a better person.

Thank you, Daddy. For all you have taught me.

It is your fault.

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I Blame My Mother…

I think, to better explain myself, I had better explain how I grew up. I will start by saying that my life, though influenced by many relatives, has been very strongly influenced by my mother. Therefore? I blame her.

First off, I am the eldest of six children, raised by the youngest of six children, who was raised by a Roman Catholic couple who survived through the depression. Both of my grandparents were also from big families. My grandmother was from a family with nine children. My grandfather was from a family with nine children, as well. They grew up in small-town-ish communities, which created a closeness that has transcended generations. As such, I have been raised by a community-based family that places a high premium on togetherness and caring for each other.

Mamma always made sure that her guests were fed, had a beverage, and were comfortable. If someone came into the household, the first things they hear after the initial greetings were “Are you hungry?” and “Would you like something to drink?” Sometimes, there was the “Can I get you anything/something?” question. I, now, cannot sit down and visit until I am sure that my guests are cared for. They have a beverage, if they wish, and are not hungry. They are comfortable (as best I can tell), and definitely feeling welcome. I blame my mother.

I learned early and well how to cook for a large number of people (and often on a small budget). I actually found I have trouble cooking just for my husband and myself… we often have many leftovers. I try and make sure that my guests eat their fill, or at least aren’t starving while they are there. My mother’s saying rings in my mind as I type this, “It’s not my fault if you leave hungry.” Yeah… I am really kinda like that, too. I blame my Mother.

My Mamma is a nurse. I grew up with her helping others, kissing boo-boos, bandaging injuries, and caring for all manner of hurts with all the compassion and care in the world. She would always remind me that it is best to help if you can, and sometimes just being present and reminding someone they are loved makes all the difference. I cannot shy away from someone who is injured. Four times in the last six months I have responded to car accidents, announcing myself as First Aid/CPR Certified and making sure everyone is OK until Emergency Personnel arrives. I can’t just walk away from it, and have to do all I can to help. This goes for at work, too… even if it is just a band-aid, or (for coworkers, only) an ibuprofen/acetaminophen/sodium naproxen for their pain. I blame my mother.

I also cannot turn away from someone in crisis. I am a natural Empath (more attuned to others’ emotions than the norm), and it definitely effects my behavior. This has been accentuated by the care my Mamma shows every human being in her life, which has served as an example of how to live. I have to wipe tears (or at least offer a tissue). I have to make sure they are okay, or have someone coming that can make them feel better/help them out. It is not out of a “White Knight Syndrome” of being the hero. It is not wanting to see them hurt, and using all the tools at my disposal to help them.Β  I blame my Mother.

I keep food, tea, and other supplies in my desk at work, in my bag, etc. I make sure coworkers and friends are fed, have had enough to drink, are feeling well, etc. Interestingly, they all come to me if they need food, tea, wellness supplies, etc. I think I am flattered? I blame my Mother.

I am not entirely good, yet, at treating everyone with the unconditional love they deserve. For this, I blame myself. My Mamma has been a wonderful example of how to care, live, and love. I learned, from her example, to treat everyone courteously and kindly. I learned to be polite, even when I am not 100%. I learned to make people feel included, to make them smile, and that laughter is really the best medicine. It is important for people to feel cared for. It is important to built cohesive teams with positive goals, reinforcements, and genuine positive connections.

For most ofΒ  my positive traits, and most of that which people find wonderful about me, I blame my mother.

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Happy Easter 2013

I will admit, I am a cradle-Catholic. What does that mean? Well, it is my Mamma’s religion, and therefore the religion in which she baptized and raised me.

I have since strayed from the Catholic Church, though I do hold many of those beliefs close to my heart. I still say my rosary from time to time. I believe in a divinity from which all creation comes.

I also believe God can have many faces. I see the Creator as a sacred entity, understood in different ways. There are a number of beliefs and ceremonies that I take part in from different religions and faiths.

I also celebrate some of the holy-days that I had as a child. One of these holy-days is Easter, the day Christ rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind. Nowadays, I see it more as a day of family, forgiveness, caring, and love.

This year, we spent nearly the entire day at my parents’ house. I watched my dad mow the lawn (which he suddenly finds relaxing), helped chase my nephew, helped Mamma cook dinner, ate a bunch, played Star Fluxx with most of the family, helped clean up while Mamma did homework, baked lemon bars, and had myself a great time.

It was a wonderful and happy Easter. πŸ™‚ Aaand… you should play Fluxx sometime, if you haven’t already. It is a silly game with ever-changing rules and goals. It is fun.

I enjoyed more than the commercial aspect than the candies and gifts. I enjoyed family time, good food, and lots of love.

~N

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It has been tough lately

I will admit that I have been a poor blogger lately. I am still picking up extra shifts at work, but not as many as I have before. I have also been dealing with some tough things. I lost some loved ones over a month ago, and now one two weeks ago. (Hubby was nice and helped me do two ceremonies after the loss. It made me feel much better.) Coping with that, and with some of the other memories the loss dislodged, hearing two more may pass soon, and that my parent’s dog was hit by a car… it was all tough. The dog lives, by the way, and is mostly okay. One leg may be less useful, but she lives.

I will be posting more soon, I hope. I also need to work on new wares for my small business. I have an event coming up and am far from ready. Being in mourning kind of hinders it. Blegh.

How have you been, my friends? I notice that you guys have still been viewing, despite my lack of posting. It makes me feel loved.

In closing, lookie here, my friend is now a published artist! http://www.willamette.edu/scene/editions/2013/winter/departments/16/index.html

~N

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Holidays are tough this year…

Christmas approaches, and with it an anniversary of another sort. You see, my grandfather doesn’t celebrate Christmas anymore. My father does, but I think it is still hard on him. And he hates snow. The whole holiday season is hard on the family. The reason being: we have lost many family members during this season.

The hardest for me has to be Christmas. Years ago, I was home from college for the break and sleeping in the family room. It was turning out to be a great break.

Christmas morning. The phone rings and I grope for it in the dark. Look at the screen: Mamma. I answer with a Good Morning. Her voice us sad, sounded full of tears as she asks where Daddy is. I don’t know, I am in bed. Go look for him. Okay… What’s wrong? Grandma died last night. Crap. I take the phone to him and watch as he hears the news.

These were the hardest parts: 1) my daddy’s face as he heard the news his Mamma was gone, and 2) my baby sister wailing that Grandma would never get the special Elvis cookie she had decorated especially for the beloved matriarch. We left that evening to go to Grandpa’s house.

I don’t know if I could have stood strong had my now-husband hadn’t come with me. I was too distraught to realize I was likely ruining his Christmas when I asked, no, begged him to come with me. I am glad he did.

Card games like Pass the Ace (one of her favourites) make me tear up on occasion. Quarters make me smile because I remember the fun of that card game. I think of her every time I pass a Head Start, as she worked for them. So many fond memories!

Snow makes me sad, though. I hadn’t liked snow before she passed on Christmas Eve. Before the snow limited the ability of the emergency workers to get to my Grandmother. However, I don’t blame the snow. I don’t hate it like others in the family.

One day I will write a proper memorial piece for my grandmother. I just don’t have the words yet.

I didn’t mean to be a downer with this story. I felt that it needed to be told… with all the deaths during the holidays on both sides of the family, and just finding out about the other two this week, and those family members with lives near the end. I am babbling.

Hopefully the next post will be a more pleasant one. No more babbling.

~N

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