Animal Friends Don’t Disappoint

There is one thing I must say about my animal friends…they never disappoint me, unlike their human counterparts.  They are always honest with their feelings and don’t hold grudges plus they allow me to be my silly self.

I have been taking care of my friend’s cats while she is away visiting her son for Thanksgiving weekend.  When I arrived there today, all of them were waiting up at the top of the stairs…Simba meowing, Maggie and Jackie rubbing against the stair posts and purring, and Olive peering through the railing.  When I got up to the kitchen, I realized why…their dry food bowl was totally empty.  I can’t remember that ever happening before…it’s been close to being empty but never totally.

I had my orders to give Simba a pill and 1/3 of a can of food for Olive and Spanky.  I put the food on the plates and left the tin with 1/3 left in it.  When I came back upstairs, the tin was on the floor…empty…don’t know who jumped up there but I am willing to bet it was Simba!

I filled their bowl of food and water and the necessary talking and petting.  There is a new cat there at the moment…a kitten by the name of Spanky.  Olive isn’t happy about it because Spanky has now taken over the downstairs bathroom(that has always been the “official” room for the “new” cat or “ill” cat. )   Spanky is about 10 weeks old, black and gray striped with lovely gray eyes.  He was attacked by something unknown and has multiple wounds on his abdomen and legs…gratefully they are healing.

When you lay Spanky on your lap so that you can tend to his wounds(has a special honey salve), he watches your face intently and if whatever you are doing hurts, he touches your face with his paw…as if to say…”be gentle with me. ”  What a little sweetheart…reminds me of my little Beastie.

I didn’t have my catnip treats along today though and they were not happy with me.

I also saw my dog friend Rocky today(he’s a Yorkie).  When I come to his house, he is always waiting right by the door as I come in…tail wagging and tongue in gear.

His family had gone out Black Friday shopping and I was there cleaning. Whenever I use the vacuum cleaner, he comes from wherever he had been napping and sits in front of me…”excuse me,  but you woke me up.”  This happened 4 times(he never used to do this).  When something exciting happens outside…whether it’s the mailman or someone walking their dog down the street…he comes running out and expects me to go into the room with him and look out the window.  I do and then tell him what it was…plus praise him.

I am grateful for my little animal friends…I always know where I stand with them and can always be myself.

til next time…Eva

Crockpot Bread

What is a baker’s kid supposed to do when her oven has been on the blink since early summer and she really, really has to have some homemade bread?

Sure, could use the bread machine that my neighbor gave me last year but I just am not happy with the results of it(and it just doesn’t seem to rise properly).

The one gadget I use almost daily is my crockpot.  A simple one with no fancy gizmos attached to it…actually the glass lid of it broke(shattered when I had a meal in it) two  years ago…so I have been using a double layer of foil on top ever since…works fine.

The crockpot it is…

Last week I made a loaf in the crockpot…didn’t realize I barely had enough flour and I had  already added the water/yeast mixture…so had to add instant potato flakes and oatmeal to make it the right consistency(actually that bread was pretty amazing…dense, moist and great tasting…especially toasted.)

I had gotten a new bag of flour and since I had a day off today(plus it was a miserable damp day…definitely a fresh bread kind of day), I experimented once again.

This makes one loaf.  Now, cosmetically, this is definitely not my father’s loaf of bread…the top of it will not be brown.  If you have an oven, you can put the bread in there under the broiler for a few minutes…but today I found another way..will explain that in the recipe.

I am definitely going to do this again…might do my father’s holiday bread recipe this way…I might actually make one up next week to take to my brother’s for when we go there for Thanksgiving.

(Note: this works if you want to just buy some frozen dough…just make sure the dough has been defrosted and do the rising of the dough in the microwave…same concept.)

Basic Bread Made in the Crockpot

Ingredients:   1 Tablespoon of dry yeast with 1 teaspoon of sugar)

1 cup of warm water

4 cups of flour(I just used basic white flour today…you can add other ingredients to this to make it up to the four cups…ex. 3 cups flour and 1 cup of something else like I did last week…the potato flakes and oatmeal…you could add whole wheat, some cornmeal, flaxmeal, experiment…

1 Tablespoon of oil/margarine/butter

salt(1/2 teaspoon or more if desired)

a. In a measuring cup, take the one cup of warm water, add the yeast and sugar mixture to it.  Let it sit until it is frothy.

b.  Warm your mixing bowl by putting hot water in it…dump the water out and place your flour, oil/margarine/butter, and salt in it.

c. Start the mixer with the dough hook and gradually add the yeast mixture to the flour until well incorporated.  Keep mixing it until it is as soft as a baby’s bottom.  If you have other ingredients in your mixture, it may require more water…if that’s the case, have some extra warm water and add to the flour mixture a little at a time.  (and vice-versa…if it’s a little watery, gradually add a little flour to it).

d. When you are satisfied with the texture, place the dough in a greased bowl and put it in the microwave until it rises double in size(I use the microwave because it is a small contained space and is amazing for raising your dough…you aren’t turning the microwave on…you are just letting your dough sit in there).  When it has risen to double size, it is ready for the crockpot.  Punch it down.

e. Prepare your crockpot by greasing it…the bottom and sides. Turn the crockpot on HIGH.   When the dough is ready,  and let the crockpot warm up a bit before putting the dough in.

f. Put your dough into the crockpot and rub a little oil on top of it.  Place the lid(or in my case, the foil) on top and  set your timer(whether a regular timer or if you have a timer on your crockpot) for an hour.  After the hour you are going to check if it is done(if it feels doughy when you put your finger on it, it  needs more time…set it for another 1/2 hour then).  When it feels done, you can do one of two things…take it out and put it under the broiler til the top is brown, or do what I did today…take your bread out and put it back in the crockpot top side down for 15 minutes.  Put the lid on again.  When the fifteen minutes are up, take it out of the crockpot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.  Do not cut the bread until it is cooled…

Enjoy…I hope you will try this…it really is good.

Let me know if you do.

til next time…Eva

 

 

To Make A Difference

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” Mother Teresa

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”             Mother Teresa

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I’ve  been thinking a lot about a conversation my daughter and I had a couple of weeks ago.  She made the comment about having a “dysfunctional” childhood – which made me laugh and respond, “Everyone had a dysfunctional childhood…no perfect lives out there.”  She laughed and said, “that’s probably true” and we dropped the topic.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, especially with Thanksgiving looming and then Christmas/Hanukkah/ New Years soon afterwards.  This next month and a half is one of expectations, aspirations, hopes ,despair, depression or panic.  (“it’s the most wonderful time of the year”).

I hear so many people focusing on the decorations, the gift buying, the cookie baking, the parties/dinners, various holiday activities, etc.  The magazines/tv/pinterest/facebook, catalogs all add fuel to this madness.  They bombard us with how to have the “perfect holiday”, the “perfect meal”, the “perfect party”…and you know, most often it falls short.  We are being subjected by media from all directions to buy, buy, buy…causing our children to become brainwashed to needing the most expensive new products.  The foods we tend to eat are over sweet or over rich and too much of it.

I have been questioning this madness for years…many years.  I started asking myself some serious questions and thought maybe you might like asking them of yourself as well:

a.” what do I really want and need from the holiday? ” (I found that I didn’t need to do many of the things I thought I “needed” from the holiday.  What I derived joy from were simple things…making the cemetary wreath and house wreath early in December …a solitary task that I learned from my Dad; realizing that I didn’t need to bake a storm…if I bake my Dad’s holiday bread recipe, I’m content.  My husband and daughter get one request each for what they “really, really  need to have in food”; the tree doesn’t have to be massive…it’s the special ornaments and the lights; candles; and music.)

b. “I know we’ve always done it this way but it no longer brings joy…what can be done to make it more joyful?”  Sit and think about your whole holiday routine…what parts of it are a real hassle/pain?  What areas just don’t make sense anymore?  What can you simplify?  What can you eliminate?

c. “How can I make someone else’s life better?”  (suggestions may be visit elderly who have no family close by, help out/give needed supplies to a local animal shelter, contact the homeless shelter and ask what they need, contact the local food bank and ask what they need, toy drives, coat drives, food drives.  Talk to others and ask them to join you in this venture.

Churches usually know of families who are struggling.  “Adopt” a family and bring food/toys/clothing.  It can be anonymous and your whole family can partake in this activity…involve your children early and make them a part of the entire process.

Elderly neighbors, homebound, lonely widows/widowers, someone with no family closeby…

If you belong to a group and you have a Holiday function where you normally buy a “token” gift, forego the gift and have everyone donate the money for one of the ideas above.

d. Rethink how much you spend for family members.  Have a family meeting early and discuss what you would like to do instead.

You can make a difference for someone else’s Christmas.  It’s still early enough to talk to your family, friends, organizations you belong to and direct your thoughts, ideas and money elsewhere.  You can still have the parties…just downsize it a bit and you will make someone else’s holiday a lot brighter.  You never know how great a difference you can make in someone’s life…the child who wouldn’t have had anything for Christmas, the individual who wouldn’t have had anything special to eat, the individual who didn’t have a warm coat, the animals who wouldn’t have had food or warmth and the individual who felt totally alone and unloved.

All I ask is that you think about this…if each of us just does something, what a difference it would make.

PS: please contribute any ideas you have…I know my list is by no means a complete one.  Thank you!

til next time…Eva

 

The Inner Nasty Voice

A friend and I were having coffee the other day and she was telling me about her latest visit with her therapist.

Between having had a somewhat abusive childhood and a verbally abusive ex, she asked her therapist…”how to still the nasty voices in my head?”

Well, yes…don’t we all have those little nasty voices…not necessarily from abusive individuals but just from life itself…nasty comments from classmates, hurtful comments from teachers and others we looked up to,  nasty comments from work colleagues and bosses… how DO we still those nasty voices?  I was all ears on this one.

Response from her therapist…

a. Give your “nasty voice” a name…it could be a real person’s name(the boss, the     teacher, the classmate, the ex…or a made up one that instills nasty to you…)

b. Every time you hear a comment from the nasty voice…”you never do anything right”,”You look fat in those pants,” “You are a lousy (insert whatever here)”, etc.

Stop the voice right then and there…using whatever you need to…say their name first and then your comment…if you are a gentle soul, stop, go away, to the comment my friend needed to use…”shut the f… up!”  She used her ex’s name as her nasty voice…”Sam, Shut the f… up!”

You know, I thought that was pretty clever…we all have someone who is the epitome of nastiness in our lifetime and mine was a former boss…so for the past two days I have been doing this technique every time something nasty comes up…and you know, I do believe it’s working!  It’s shutting that monkey brain off and it’s letting me focus on what I need to focus on.

I urge you to give it a try…it may work for you or someone you love…and please let me know!

til next time…Eva

 

 

 

Worth and Worry

A friend of mine had recently written the following on her Facebook wall…”You are not your bills, your butt or your bank account.”

Definitely food for thought.  Really.  How many times do we base our worth and our worry on those three things?

I am certain guilty.  I worry about money and paying of bills. a. lot.  It’s kind of embarrassing in a way because I pride myself towards being a positive person in many ways…but money has a way of crashing down my defenses.

I’m well aware of the adage…what you think about, persists.  I am not fond of the monkey brain continually coming back to the same topic…”uh…that bill is/was due…and you don’t have enough in your account to pay it…uh…what are you going to do about it?”…over and over and over again.

There are several methods used to steer away from the monkey  brain…sometimes they work quite well…sometimes not.

* Thinking back to the Dale Carnegie classes I’d taken years ago we were advised to think of the worst scenario that we could  handle and accept that…and most often it won’t reach that.(so, are you going to die from this? …no…, will you be put in  jail for this?…no…, get fined via a late charge?…maybe/yes.)

* Then there are the different phrases you can say when that worrying thought crops up…

– I don’t have to think about that right now.

-Things have a way of working out, one way or the other.

-I’ve seen things turn around on a dime.

 

* Journaling your thoughts on paper often enables an answer to appear out of nowhere.

* Expressing yourself physically…go for a walk, put music on and dance around in the living room.

*A habit coach suggested a challenge to push the particular worry back…depending on how  often your monkey brain keeps coming back to it…can you keep from worrying about it for an hour?  Then two hours?  and so on up to 48 hours and longer.

*And although I put meditation and prayer last on this list,  they are where I go first.  Meditation to still my mind at any time.  Prayer to guide me and still my fear. (Archangel Michael has helped me many times).

Worry is a thief.  Worrying about anything robs us of our joy and our energy…in essence, our life.

til next time…Eva

Olive…the little gray cat

I smile whenever I think of Olive.  My friend has been foster mom for Olive and whenever she goes away, I take care of her cat children.

Olive came to the shelter as a stray…a wee gray cat infested with fleas.  What makes Olive so special is that her back legs are unusual…the one is much longer than usual and curls backwards.  The other one is straight with no knee cap. She also has a crooked tail.

When Olive walks/runs, there is a flurry of action with her back legs(remember Pig Pen from Charlie Brown?)  Her favorite thing to do is use the scratching post…actually she has taken over the scratching post…none of the others are allowed to use it anymore, according to Olive!  When I first saw her using it, she reminded me of Mohammed Ali using his punching bag!  If any of the other cats come close to the scratching post when she is there, they will get a swat.

Whenever you sit down, she will crawl up into your lap…look straight into your eyes and then pat your cheek very softly with her one paw.  If that doesn’t melt your heart, nothing will.

A dear little cat and they are now looking for her forever home…hopefully one where she can be the only fur child.  Someone who needs her love as much as she needs theirs’.

Hope you enjoy this little video clip the local SPCA put up today:

til next time…Eva

 

Summer’s Last Rose

007photo by Eva

Autumn for me is a bitter-sweet time of year.

On the one hand it can be a lovely time of year…the leaves changing to vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange(and the not so vibrant browns).  Various berries and nuts which have the squirrels and chipmunks gathering at a feverish pace.

Farmers harvesting their final crops of corn, pumpkins, potatoes and apples.

People decorating their homes with corn stalks, pumpkins, colorful mums, bales of hay/straw and Indian corn.

The weather becoming cooler meaning we need warmer clothes and blankets at night.

The nights become darker earlier and the urge comes back  to light candles again for the ambiance it offers.

Baking the treats of the season…using apples and pumpkin.

On the other hand…many of my bird friends will soon be leaving.  The butterflies will be gone for the winter.  My garden will become bare and brown once again.

 

These past few days I had been feeling out of sorts for some unexplainable reason and searching for reasons why…

Read about the full moon and how this particular one was significant for making goals and spirituality.  Sounded good and definitely going to look more into it.  but don’t think that was why I was out of sorts.

Thinking about the change of seasons and life in general…upcoming election in the US, general dis-ease of those around me, various drama from family members and friends…not that I have to absorb any of that drama and dis-ease…and I try not to for the most part…meditation and reiki help a lot in that respect.

I decided to take a pre-dusk walk down in my small garden…the butterfly bushes still have their fragrant purple blooms and in the early evening they are especially fragrant.  Spending some time watching the various moths and bugs on the bushes and breathing in the scent always calms me down.  Walking further and in the one part of my garden, actually this is my pet cemetery, there was blooming my last rose of summer.  A perfect deep red bloom and totally unexpected.  The fragrance was strong and musky and I kept breathing it in.  Deep breaths…as if my life depended on it.  And in a way, it did.  This single gift of a rose saved my life today…it gave me back my peace of mind and soul.  It is presently in a vase next to me and continues to give me pleasure.

May you find your last rose of summer…whatever that may be.

til next time…Eva