Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm Glad

that I have feet and I can walk,

that we have lots of warm blankets,

that it is staying light now until 6 PM,

that we are safe,

that we have beds and nighttime,

that we can talk to each other,

that we have running water and electricity.

For all this and so much more, I am really glad.

And I'm glad I have you my blog family and friends.

Sometimes you just need to say it! Huh?

Are you glad?

Love, Rachel

Monday, January 25, 2010

What To Do? What To Do?

Should I just go ahead

and put all the decorations away
today? OR should I wait another month and
see if the invisible maid does it for me while I'm at work?
Hhmmm...what to do? What to do?
Valentine's Day is coming!
Love, Rachel

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hey! What Are You Waiting For?

Here they are, all 44 of them standing in a line waiting, yes waiting for the palace restroom!
Sometimes don't you feel like you are waiting too?
...waiting for Spring!
...waiting for a new job!
...waiting for the house to sell.
...waiting for a relationship to mend.
...waiting to go on a dream vacation.
...waiting, waiting, waiting...
and then missing out on life
the reality
the here and now.
Helen Keller penned a thought that went something like this:
(and I'm sorry for not getting it correct)
she wanted to be someone great and do great things, but she realized that greatness came from the small tasks and the ordinary accomplishments.
Can you imagine? Helen Keller! I admire her so much and she considered what she was doing to be so ordinary.
And so I remind myself to not be so focused on wishes that I can't enjoy the ordinary.
I frequently say that this is just a season.
It will soon pass.
Change is certain.
Things won't always be this way.
AND they won't!
I've lived long enough to realize that.
So I take a step back and look at the big picture. I remind myself of the goal, the end result and realize that it is all formed within the "small tasks and ordinary accomplishments".
And while I'm waiting...I'm not gonna miss a moment of life...I'm gonna breathe in this frosty and overcast January air and be thankful that I can!
Love, Rachel

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Tea Party!

" OK Momma, it's time for our tea party!" she said. My mind began to race. For starters I was exhausted, though I usually don't use that as an excuse to not do something. Second I still had dishes that I was washing from supper, it was time to start the bedtime routine AND I didn't have scones baked, raspberry tea all ready or crisp cucumber sandwiches in quick supply.
She sensed my hesitancy. Or could she hear those violins quietly playing in the background and the soft spring wind gently fluffing the edges of the tablecloth as the window boxes full of flowers swayed in the breeze...I mean isn't that what everyone pictures when they think of a tea party. Oh my, I just was not prepared...has fallen so so so far behind. Well AND it was cold and dark and snowy and oh so frosty frosty cold. Where could we set the fancy table?
"Come on," she said, "all we have to do is move the books on the window seat. If we work together, it will go fast!" We quickly moved our reading books and in a flash she had the table set with water for tea and "fake fruit" as she called it. She invited the two princes to dine with us. Mr. Mousey Prince and Mr. Leopard Prince, but she reminded me that we had to eat their food, "because you know they aren't real." So there we sat, right where she had sat and had tea with one of her aunts a few days earlier, laughing and giggling, eating our fake food and the two Princes' food too. We took silly pictures of ourselves and she reminded us to be much more ladylike.
For me this will always be a memory. It was such a quick and easy thing to do at the end of a tired busy day when the work is not done. But the work is never done, and one day she'll be gone and I'll still have dishes to wash and clients to satisfy. But that night I learned just how much fun an impromptu tea party with water for tea and "fake fruit" for food, can be!
I wonder if it will always be a memory for her too.
Just in case you were wondering, Prince Mousey is hiding behind a plate over there at the edge of the picture.
What impromptu things have you done lately?
Love, Rachel

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Porch For January 2010?

In consideration of the devastating earthquake that has ravaged Haiti, I will not feature a "Romantic Porch" for the month of January 2010.
My heart is broken for the people who have lost their lives and homes. I'm sure many of them wish for a romantic porch from which to come and go from home and comfort themselves and others.
Love, Rachel

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How To Cut An Onion Without Crying

At the very bottom of this blog post, 
 you will find the directions for cutting an onion without crying. 
 In my experience, if I vary from this at all,
I will cry...
so I do it the same way every time
Do not vary from the directions.
 If you want to read the story behind the method, then keep reading! 
 Thanks for stopping by!
 I'm not picky about the type of onion that I buy...sweet, Vidalia, white, etc.
 I buy what is on sale,
unless I need a red one to garnish a salad.
 I don't eat raw onions.
 Nope, just will not do it...don't care for the smell or taste!
 And I love vegetables, but is an onion really a vegetable?
 However I know they are extremely healthy,
 so I usually include them in meat dishes
 or stir fry
and when we have a meal
that I know my guests will enjoy them as a garnish.
 My onions are stored under our kitchen island in a large plastic bowl.
I always chop the whole onion.
 Any I don't use, goes straight into a Ziploc bag
 and promptly to the freezer,
ready for use in a cooked meal.
 That way my fridge doesn't smell like freshly chopped onion either...
just a few of my quirks revealed here!

I originally posted this on January 12, 2010,
 but have been asked how I cut an onion without crying,
so I am re posting it today.
 At Christmas one of my sisters was here for a few days.
We were having a large family meal with my husband's side of the family.
 A big bowl of chopped onions was part of the menu (chili...another post).
I plopped 3 very large onions down on the counter and told my sister,
 "Here, chop these."
 I went about my business with other "kitcheny things"
 like you do preparing a meal,
when suddenly I realized that I was crying,
 no actually bawling...
a full on 4 tissue cry!
 I thought, "What in the world?"
 Looking at my sister, saw that she was crying too.
 Her eyes were clamped tightly closed
 with her nose daintily tipped in the air.
 Her hands were stretched as far away from herself as possible
 and still be able to chop the onion.
 Tears were streaming down her face.
I apologized profusely through my tears for making her cry.
 Now, doesn't that sound silly?
 I had no idea that chopping onions
 would have that effect on her or myself for that matter!
 I said, "I never cry when I chop onions,
 I wouldn't have asked you to do it if I'd have known they made you cry."
She wanted to know how I chopped an onion,
so I grabbed a knife and an onion and started to show her.
 Then we began to laugh.
How could I possibly show her that my way of chopping an onion
 doesn't make you cry...we were both in a full on cry at the time! A few days later and hundreds of miles away she sent me a text message. She'd cut an onion for a meal,
 and she hadn't cried!
 It feels very egotistical to call cutting an onion MY WAY...
I didn't even really realize that I had "a way" until I started to show her,
 then Ah ha, it hit me...
I do this the same way
Ah the things learned from a Sis! I just wonder if this will work for anyone else.
Last night I chopped an onion
and I could feel the "onion juice" spray on my fingers
 and I did feel a slight burning sensation in my eyes and I thought,
"Oh no, I've put myself on the line here
 and now I'm truly gonna cry."
 But the sensation went away and I didn't cry.

I'm sorry these photos are blurry,
 but quite frankly I was a tad bit grossed out
 with the idea of getting onion juice on the camera,
so this is what I got.

And speaking of onion juice,
 when I'm finished chopping,
I put a tiny bit of dish detergent in my hands
 and hold a stainless steel spoon while I wash the soap off of my hands...
no stinky onion smell!
So well there,
 now I've told you all I know about chopping an onion in about 8.7 minutes. I'd love to know if this works for you too.
1. Cut the stem of the onion off first.
2. Peel down the papery skin and the first layer of the onion sorta like shucking corn. You know what that is right?
3. Cut off the root and the papery skin stuff and the first layer or two of the onion all a the same time...just cut right across all of it and separate it from the bottom of the onion.
4. Set the onion down on a cutting board,  stem top down on the board..
5. Make a slice through the onion with the root end up towards you...remember you put the stem end down on the cutting board.
6. Then lay both halves of the onion down on the plate cut side down.
7. Begin to make slices through 0ne half of the onion, starting at the stem side, cutting so the slices make little arches.
8. Turn the onion half that is sliced in little arches around,  and make another cut across the arches to make little onion pieces. You can make all of these slices as big or as little as your recipe demands. For stir fry I make big slices and for meat dishes, I try to make little tiny slices.
9. If you have a food processor, none of this matters anyway.
10. Hurry stop reading this and go chop an onion. Do a happy dance if you don't cry. Be sure to wash away the stinky onion juice holding a stainless steel spoon, and then rush right back to your computer and tell me if it works for you too.
If it does...I think I'll just set right down and have myself a good cry, a full on 4 tissue bawl my eyeballs out kind of cry!

Happy chopping.
Love, Rachel

I'm sorry for the blurry pictures.  I hope they helped a tiny bit.
As soon as I can, I will update the photos.
P.S. If you read to the very end of all of this, thank you thank you so much!
On a side note:
Last night as she sauntered into the kitchen our little girl said, "By the way, what's for supper mama? It's gotta be something romantic!" "Romantic!" I said, "Where'd ya get that idea?"
I wonder if chicken tacos qualifies as romantic?
She must have thought so because she scurried around to write menus and set up a restaurant!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Onions! How Weird!

I'm just curious. When you cut onions do you cry? I mean not because you are happy or sad, but because the odor burns your eyes. I rarely ever cry "over onions"!
One of my sisters and I have done an interesting experiment with onions. Well, at least we were amused with it. I'll tell you about it...later this week.
But first, please do tell...do you cry "over onions"?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Joys of January

I just heard the courthouse clock chime the distinct gong gong gong of another hour. Still it resonates purposefully in the crisply frigid morning air. It is dark and cold. However, I certainly don't question the time.
Two of my children came to me at separate times in the middle of the night to tell me something they thought was important or express a need. Then they were back to bed and sound asleep. There I was, wide awake, thinking. I'm so glad they could come to me. The years are passing quickly and I realize the time will come they won't wake me in the night.
I'm glad they have a warm bed and a roof over their heads. I hope they felt safe and loved. I remember waking my mother all those years ago. I never realized when I awakened her, it might be the last wink of sleep she would have for many many hours. Oh my, she worked so hard, so tirelessly. And I may have snipped away her only rest with one immature request.
And so wide awake in the darkness, I thought about the year that has passed.
I've heard gobs of people say what a hard year it was. I would agree, but it's history now.
I'm a list maker, a note taker, a schedule planner, a "thoughts writer". But as life has carried me along just like the crisp air carried the time from the courthouse clock, (well now that analogy made absolutely no sense whatsoever, but I continue) I realize that so many times the needs and wishes of others truly take precedent to what is on my list or my schedule and honestly I struggle to get everything done. Well, I don't get everything done. I remind myself that life is filled with phases and seasons.
The purpose of the courthouse clock beautifully displayed high on the clock tower is to inform the downtown citizens of the current time. I depend on the chiming gong gong gong of the new hour.
I reflect on my life's purpose. Is it simply to check off my list or keep my schedule? Those are important. But I am called by a purpose much larger than who I am or the lists I make. Can my husband and children and others depend on me?
So after going on and on about lists and schedules and purpose, I will tell you one my greatest joys in the month of January...seeing the daylight hours slowly grow just a little longer. It makes the long shadows of winter whisper ever so faintly of spring! Yay! Spring!
I hope your new year is already flickering with joy!
Love, Rachel

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I'm so excited. I feel like I could float on air!
Our family was "gifted" a used laptop! Oh my it is so nice. You know we never mind second hand treasures! I just hope anything I said about computer woes wasn't interpreted as whining!
Maybe I could allow myself to think for about 8.3 seconds that they missed my blog posts! But I won't allow any indulgences to my ego!
Oh I'm so very very grateful! AND now we can use our "elderly computer" (as one my dear blog readers called it) exclusively for the survey drawings. Yahoo! See my happy dance?...or is that sliding down a candle?
I trust you have found joy from second hand treasures today too!
Love, Rachel

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Does 2009 feel like it was all uphill? Are you at the top enjoying the view? Are you looking into 2010 with anticipation of a fresh start? I'm ready to pack away all the decor and lights but each time I start, the kids say, "Aw mama, not yet!" And I admit it is a bit comforting to sit with the candles lit and the lights twinkling. But if not now, then when? Believe in yourself. Believe in others. Believe that passion and purpose will propel you to accomplish more than you ever dreamed.
So as we kiss an old year good bye and a new year hello, hold onto this moment...for truly this is all we have.

Happy New Year!
xo rachel