Category Archives: Uncategorized

MosaicAHH.

Art is as different as the individual.

When we think of mosaics,  we think of  table tops, mirror frames.  Or at the opposite end of the spectrum, we think of the beautiful mosaics on the ceilings of the cathedrals in Europe.  I, of course, wouldn’t know anything about the cathedrals since I have never touched the soil of that wonderful continent.   But my curiosity is itching more by the day.   The art of mosaic is an art form  dating back to 3000 BC.   The materials used are widely varied but in the far-reaching history, tiles and glass were the most commonly used.

My fascination with mosaics began by studying the Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi.  He modernized mosaics in the late 19th- 1920’s.  He incorporated mosaic into many of his designs giving them a modern and funky twist.

todo gaudi principal grande

sagrada-familia-barcelona

Tallest church in the world designed and constructed by Gaudi until his death in 1926. It is still under construction. Mosaic is used in many areas of the church including the top of each spire.

Mosaics have become an important part of my work in the past 7 or 8 years.  I have attended the National Mosaic Conference 3 or 4 times in the last 10 years, with the last one being a few weeks ago.  There are mosaic artists from all over the world that attend and the work that is displayed is stunning.  Please enjoy the selected few from the exhibit.

JESSUP__316018-3-1024x713

Kate Jessup

DROUIN__316066-1-1024x843

Sophie Drouin

Rachel Sager-Lynch

Rachel Sager-Lynch

Ilana Shafir

Ilana Shafir

Yulia Hanansen

Yulia Hanansen

Eileen Gay

Eileen Gay

Marian Shapiro

Marian Shapiro

Jo Braun

Jo Braun

Gerry Lavery

Gerry Lavery

Lynn Chinn

Lynn Chinn

The sky is the limit in creative design AND materials used in mosaics.  It is a wonderful medium that anyone can find enjoyment in.

Glad you stopped by.

God bless,

Karen

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Please Accept My Apology

I had a discussion with someone the last few days about the comment I made on the last post about reflecting upon what my pastor had said comparing the Boston tragedy to  the number of souls lost to abortions.   This person felt that I had taken a hard left turn and it was wrong.   This person was right.  If I wanted to speak about the  number of babies lost to abortions, then I should have made  a separate post and not made a comparison or used the Boston bombing a platform to dive.  It diminished the magnitude of the tragedy at hand.    It came across as insensitive and  uncaring.  Which is totally not true.  I  care deeply and grieve heavily for the people involved in last weeks bombing.  Including the perpetrators.

The comment my pastor made  struck me and just stayed with me.  Right or wrong, I shared it.  I am not a political person.  I don’t understand politics as I should.  My comments weren’t targeted for pro-choicers, pro- lifers, rights or lefts.  My concern was the mere number of babies that we lose and no matter where we stand politically, no one wants to hear or have to feel the reality of it.  I was/ am feeling the reality of it.   It affects all of us no matter where we stand.

My heart feels heavy for not mourning the death and the injured  within the context of my blog appropriately.   A “hard left turn” is not ever my intention.  But it came out that way at least to one person.  And for that, I am greatly sorry.

God bless,

Karen

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What? Viva il Papa?

The Pope lives.  Ok.  The Pope lives.

What does that mean for us Catholics and really for the rest of the world.

Pops and I have talked a little bit, not too much,  about the  coming of the new pope.  We both were in agreement that it would be really great to see a pope from a different part of the world.  A part where  the passion for Catholicism might be greater?  A new perspective?  I have observed the Latin Americans and their devotion to their church and their Holy Mother, Jesus and the whole ball of wax.  I admit I have been envious at times of their sheer love and loyalty to the Holy Family.   I want to weezle my way in to the very core of it.   Eye to eye with our Holy Father.

So, we are grateful for their decision.  It brings hope in my heart that huge healing can take place not just among the Catholics who feel hurt and betrayal but also the  population of our world.  Any shift in the atmosphere can bring hope, cant it?  If we somehow can pry ourselves from the glue that keeps us stuck to the chair of negativity and cynicism?  From what I have heard in the short 24 hours since I have even heard of this man from Argentina, I am elated, and again, hopeful.   He appears to be a man of humility and a down to earth man who actually lives among the “little” people.  Took the bus to work everyday from his little apartment until just recently when he traveled to Italy to become the pope.  I think he was referred to something like the ” Cardinal on wheels” because people could always find him on the city bus where they could converse.   This morning he traveled to his hotel to pack his little bag by himself (well, as best  he can now) and paid his hotel bill himself with his own money.  This speaks to me.

BUT I couldn’t have been more pleased that he chose the name Francis for his title.  Let me see, do we like Francis of Assisi?

IMG_0440

I received this statue  from my aunt’s possessions who passed away this past year.

IMG_0441

We have a lovely St. Francis sculpture adorning our living space that brings me great pleasure.  Just a peaceful dude.

IMG_0204

St. Francis stands guard at our massive beech tree in the  woods.  In his life he had a huge sprawling beech tree where he frequently went for silent prayer.   And from what I hear that tree still stands in Italy.

IMG_0349 Our little Great Pyrenees that we got for Christmas to guard our goats was named Francis for the beloved saint.

IMG_3391 Our two-year old Great Pyr’s name is Clare for St. Clare of Assisi, who worked alongside St. Francis.

Pops and I have recited the St. Francis Prayer every night before closing our eyes for the last 6 or 7 years.  (see below)

Yeah.  We hold him in great esteem.  Why?

For us, he is a man of great love for the littleness of people and creatures of our world.   When I think of that man I see he is  the epitome of humility, gentleness and humanness.   I imagine he took great care that love was spread and felt by all.  Not just the haves.  But most importantly, the have nots.   I imagine he was much like Jesus in that way.  He took great care to love animals and I think he saw God in each and every creature.  We would like to be like him.   He’s a great role model.

Pope Francis, given his choice to live life in Argentina among the littlest of people, must hold some similar values in his pocket.   I rejoice in that.

If he can bring healing and love as the leader of the  Catholic church, then I believe  that can resonate through our world.  We are a hurting world,  both inside and outside the church.   All we want is love.  We want to feel  and be loved.

Now I must  run outside and tell my little Francis and Clare the good news.  They have a pope named after them.

ST. FRANCIS PRAYER

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love,

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Wehr there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master,  grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.  It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen. 

God bless,

Karen

Leave a comment

Filed under Spiritual, Uncategorized

Helloooo…

I went missing in action for a while.   I think I was overcome by smoke from the sugar shack.  Truly.   That whole thing was an experience that will probably be repeated (again and again).   It is just SO good.   Much like having a baby.  We forget the pain involved when it’s all over and we actually want to have another after the pain and agony of delivery.   It is very time-consuming and I’m not sure my physical health can withstand standing next to a wood fire for 10 hours at a time.  I have not felt great the last week and am quite positive the boiling had something to do with it.   The second day I had to resort to using a respirator.  We boiled for 7 days and got 30 or so bottles.

-2

We have some design issues  to contend with this year in planning for next year.   Note the canopy that is trashed on the side in photo.  I purchased the thing two weeks ago to save me and the fire from rain and two inches of snow destroyed it.   ugh.

Life can get a bit messy, cant it?

Which brings me to what is going on in my little pea brain.

We all have to make REALLY HARD decisions some times.  I have a friend who is in that process right now.   Sometimes our decisions make messes of our lives.  And other times, the decisions we make clean up those messes.  The rest of the decisions usually fall somewhere in the middle where we have to feel them and ride them and grow with and by them.

And as we stand by  others as they contemplate decisions,  we  want to  input and many times try to control their decision.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.   Please, help me accept other’s decisions.

How do we come to the decisions we make?  I’m not talking about what to have for dinner.  I’m talking about the biggies.  The ones that form us into who we are and who we have to live with.

Barnes and Noble is stocked full of books on how to’s and self-help.  I have spent years with my nose in books trying to get someONE or someTHING to give me a clue as to who I am supposed to be morally.

Do we know right from wrong innately?  Do we need to be taught right from wrong?

Who do we depend on to give us a moral guideline for right and wrong?  Our parents?  Our political officers?

Do we CARE what is right or wrong?  Do we make decisions in the wind and let them fly where they may?  Let someone else pick up the pieces?

Seriously, folks.  I am asking.  What are we doin’ here?

As I  navigate these questions that burn holes in my heart,  I am inclined to believe that …….do any of us know how to be right and wrong on our own?   Where can we go to check our moral decisions?  How can we be sure that what we are choosing to do, does not hurt ourselves and others?  Does it matter?

Somewhere,  there is a definitive guide to moral judgement.  Wisdom.  God, give. it. to. me. .

Prayer.  Grace.

Since I quit drinking, and began to really delve into these questions,  I have often said that Barnes and Noble can lay one book on the curb and shut their doors.  100 percent of the answers lie in one book.   The Bible.   The day that I decided that I cannot trust  the decisions that I make and I cannot trust the word of others and that the  moral compasses of all of us are spinning round and round wildly, was the day I decided that ANY decision that I make,  I will confer with my “self-help” Book first.   It is consistent, reliable, true and predictable.  I do not have to question the validity.  EVER.  And for that I am more grateful than I can tell you.

Very,  very sorry for my heavy today.  My heart is heavy.  Heavy.   If you are so inclined to pray, please pray for my friend today.

God bless,

Karen

1 Comment

Filed under Farm, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Dessert Always Before Your Veggies

You knew it was coming, right?   I couldn’t  make pure maple syrup and not share a scrumptuous syrup dessert, could I?

A sumptuous Maple  Walnut Cake.  And that it was.   If you can manage it, it is better to bake with pure maple syrup or honey than refined cane sugar.  Also UNrefined Coconut palm sugar is tons better for you than cane sugar.  Again, anything processed is going to be a foreign object entering your body.  Your body cannot use it’s nutrients as there are none.  I search the internet for desserts that are sweetened with better healthy options.  And I usually reduce the sweetener by sometimes half.

Maple Walnut Cake

Maple Walnut Cake

MAPLE WALNUT CAKE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour  (I used Gluten free flour mixture of 1/3 rice flour, 1/3 tapioca flour, and 1/3 Sweet sorghum flour and 1 3/4 of xanthum gum)
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup (I tried to knock it back by 1/4 cup. It was very good)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil  extra virgin
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the glaze

  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup gently packed confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons water, if needed (you be the judge based on how thick/thin you want the glaze)

Method

  1. First, preheat oven to 325°F. Then prepare your 10-inch springform pan by coating with cooking spray.
  2. Now place dates in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over them to soak. Let cool to room temperature. Set aside.
  3. Put whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup walnuts, baking soda and salt in a food processor (or blender) until the walnuts are completely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl, making a well in the center.
  4. Now puree the dates and soaking water in the food processor or blender until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add egg, 3/4 cup syrup, oil, butter, 2 teaspoons vinegar and vanilla and blend/process until smooth. With a spatula, scrape the date mixture into the well in the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake the cake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Then run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake and remove the sides of the pan.
  6. Now you are ready to glaze – BEST PART! Carefully lift the cake from the pan bottom and place on a cake stand or serving plate and set aside. Meanwhile, whisk maple syrup, vinegar and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary to make a spreadable consistency. (Licking fingers is encouraged). Spread the glaze evenly over the top of the cake, then decorate with remaining 1/3 cup walnuts.

THIS CAKE WAS FABULOUS

While I am at it.  I put together some vegetables that I had on hand for roasting the other night and it turned out to be a super combination.

ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH PESTO SAUCE

-Chopped little bite size potatoes about 8 new potatoes.  I used a mixture of lots of different ones.  Very colorful.  Dark purple included.

-broccolini 1 bunch

-cauliflower 1/2 head

-onions about 1/2 large

-10 sundried tomatoes

-about 1/2 cup of pesto sauce.

Sitr all together and drizzle olive oil over top.  Roast in oven 350 degrees for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

The sundried tomatoes and pesto sauce really throw this side into  the “excellent” category.

IMG_3477

Have yerself a super week.

God bless,

Karen

Leave a comment

Filed under Food/Recipes, Health/ Nutrition, Uncategorized

The Only Necessary Food Groups And Trees

Protein, Carbohydrates, Fats.  You got it.  All of them.  They are all necessary.

Folks.  We are what we eat.  And don’t eat.  If we decide that a food group is not healthy for us or necessary, we face serious consequences.  It’s like we play Russian roulette with our bodies.

This is a crazy example of  a –  b = c.

“……On the one hand is the story of Ashton Kutcher who ended up in the hospital with pancreas issues and severe pain following a fruitarian diet which was part of his efforts to “get into character” for his role as Steve Jobs in the soon to be released movie Jobs.  Steve Jobs, the visionary founder of Apple and a known fruitarian, died in October 2011 from complications of pancreatic cancer.”  –Healthy Home Economist (Outstanding blogger,  by the way, on health,  nutrition, traditional foods, food and drug industry)

That is pretty telling, don’t you think?

locarb

If we choose a low-fat diet, we will be a low oiled machine.  Our cells will not be well insulated and protected.  Poor vitamin absorption.   Depression. Increased cancer risk.   High cholesterol.  Imbalance of nutrients.

If we choose a low protein diet,  we will not get the oxygen carried properly through our bodies.  We will be deficient in antibodies.  Our hormones will not be fed to metabolize, digest, and absorb nutrients.  Water will not be distributed effectively.    Not to mention vitamin and  mineral deficient.

If we choose low carb diet, we can experience organ stress, kidney stones, gout or kidney failure.   Our brain doesn’t receive the  glucose needed for  proper brain function.

When you think about it, doesn’t it sound silly?  To cut out whole food groups… for what gain?  We are so eager to compromise our health for various reasons that clearly shouldn’t be more important than our health.  The older I get the more I am realizing, that without my health,  life is  downright difficult.

I know.  I know.   We have been fed so much information by “those people” out there.   The fads. The trends.  Who makes up that stuff?  Low fat this.  Low carb that.  High carb, low protein.  blah blah.  Where  did they get those ideas?  Really?  Why are we so gullible to believe them?  Who are them?

AND why do we believe “low-fat” is a solution rather than “low chemical” in our food?  If you notice, none of those “thems” ever talk about eating “low chemical” diets?   And I bet you can guess why.

If we eat the foods that we are designed to eat.  Good clean, uncontaminated food.  Wouldn’t it makes sense that we could prevent a lot of chronic diseases?  I wonder if Steve Jobs could have prevented pancreatic cancer that ultimately took his life?  I’m curious.

Fats are good and necessary.  Bad fats are not good.

Carbs are good and necessary.  Bad carbs are not good.

Proteins are good and necessary.  Bad proteins are not good.

  FARM NEWS

Very very sad.  We had to take trees in front yard down this past week.  Three very large trees that died as a result of our construction.  ugh.   We tried to be so careful and did not cut down trees to build the house.   Trees mean a great deal to my serenity.

DSCN0128

This is the building site 2011.  All the trees around the white trailer did not make it.   HEARTBREAKING.  My heart ached last Friday as I felt the trees shake the earth.

-1

-2

IMG_4192

This is the little Elm that we planted in place of the biggies.  Now, I am not a spring chicken anymore.  I pray that I will at least live to see this baby grow a big’ish shadow in the yard.

Life moves us, doesn’t it?

God bless,

Karen

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What Now, Brown Cow?

Happy New Year!

It became ver clear to me early on in this season that blogging was going to have to be place aside.  I just remembered yesterday that I had a Christmas stick sitting in my living room and gunk sitting on all my tables that really shouldn’t be sitting there anymore.  I think I have mentioned more than once that I am just coming around to the idea of this season, but I don’t know if I will ever understand the idea of redecorating my house for two weeks and then undecorating my house.  I like my 50 week things better than my 2 week things. It always makes me feel resentful that I have to put away stuff that I like.  I love putting up my manger scene and Christmas in the city that my kids gave me over the course of 25 years, which is stunning.  I want to live in that city.

IMG_3594

IMG_3603

IMG_3600

IMG_3612

The church reminds me of the tuppins song on Mary Poppins.  I even have a lady outside the church with her bird cages.  The whole city is a reflection of all  the childhood Christmas’ of my boys.  They were so excited for me to open up the piece they carefully selected for me.

So, that’s all over now.  Whew.  Not the childhood thing.  The Christmas stuff on my tables thing.

I do like to reflect as a new year begins.  But I also know that God gives us the opportunity to “begin again” each and every day.  Or really each and every moment.  I can make the decision each moment to make the next moment  different.  For the better, I hope.  Sometimes I start  wasting away my new years  resolution and think, oh well,  I will just start again in the new year.  It may be March when I say that.   Ooooookkkkkkk.  What happens between March and December?  The license to ignore my responsibility to myself, others and God?   Now, that’s what I call rational thinking.

I don’t believe making resolutions about weight loss, quitting a vice, exercising are bad things.  Or silly.  For me, my health is really important.  I can not perform the mission He has for me here if I am not taking good care.  He has intstilled in us gifts, skills, and talents that He expects us to take out into the world to share with others.  And to inspire each other to grow.  And to help us all grow closer to Him.  I like that.  I want to be a part of that.  I want to be part of solutions rather than be part of  problems.  In order to do that I must feel good enough to get my lazy rear out of bed in the morning.

But… the one thing that has become so very clear to me is I cannot make those resolutions without asking God to help me.  In my experience, when I have resolved to do something and I have not included Him in my plan, it is like blowing smoke into thin air.  That was the first 40 years of my life.  Man, my wheels were spinning.  Yeah, I was getting things accomplished, but was I growing?  Was I getting rich (figuratively)?  Was I getting HAPPIER?  Was I changing for the better, or was it always status quo?  I hear a collective NO.  I think we are here to get better  and better and BETTER AND……  I grew tired of myself.   We like when we are impressed by  others, right?  How ’bout gettin’ impressed with ourselves….but then give the credit to God.  Cause without him, well…..

When I was 40, I knew I needed to change for the better.  I needed to put down  alcohol.  I had tried for years.  Like 25.   It was new years.  I made a resolution.  The difference from years past?  I asked God for help.  It worked.  I haven’t drank, drunk, drinked alcohol for 12 years, Jan 7.    SOO glad.  So,  the next year rolled around.  I was a smoker.  I thought, “Wow, that was cool.  I think I’ll try this again.”  I haven’t smoked for 11 years, Jan. 7.  His presence became so evident to me because when I asked for help, He was there.  When I didn’t, He was not.  A relationship ensued and I haven’t looked back.

My whole point is,  we can make resolutions,  as many as we may try,  but bottom line we cannot sustain them without Him.  My story has such a before and after evidence of proof,  that in my life, I do not doubt and will not doubt.  Since I invited that Divine Power in my life, my life has been full to the brim with joy and my heart full.  For 12 years, this coming January 7th.

I am in love.

New Year's Day Sunset. A new beginning.

New Year’s Day Sunset. A new beginning.

God bless,

Karen

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized