October 31, 2013

an ode to all things viney

Cinderella pumpkins?

Cutest things ever.

Unless you want to talk to me about these guys.

The wartier the better.

Warts and stripes?

Come to mama.

The love doesn't stop with pumpkins.

I'm officially a gourd-a-holic.

I've collected one of every single kind I can find and plan to save the seeds.

Plan is the key word here. I better get on it because a few of these fellas are already starting to mold.

I faithfully haul them inside every night it's going to freeze, as frozen gourds are not happy gourds.

I also love to throw a turban squash or four into the mix.

My neighbor gave me these darling minis.

We've had a couple wild windstorms so our fall color is almost all gone, but until this week, this is pretty much what greeted us every morning.

And this was our typical afternoon.

Absolutely dreamy.

Have a Happy Pumpkin Day!

October 28, 2013

pink thoughts

My planner says today is Breast Cancer Awareness Day (even though I couldn't find internet proof to back up that claim), so I thought I'd photograph a bunch of pretty pink things in my house, and say a few wise and inspiring things about breast cancer, and then wish you all a wonderful day and send you off to enjoy the week.

But, today is gloomy and windy and gross, and I don't feel like fighting with the horrible lighting to go the all pink route, so I am instead going the "I bought this painting for the frame, and behind the hideous bird picture I was thrilled beyond words to find this delightful paint-by-number" route.

(Has anyone besides me noticed that I have a tendency toward the run on sentence? I also talk in run on sentences, so let's just say we're going for authentic and pretend it's not annoying.)

So, even though there is not a trace of pink to be found in the photos, I'm still going to talk the pink talk.

First of all. Thank you.

Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. They have meant the world to me these last months.

Several times, I have gone back and re-read the comments on my original post and they just make my day.

I especially love it when you let me know that you've scheduled your mammogram or have spent some quality time checking in with the girls. And my very, very favorite was hearing that you were doing a self-exam whilst reading my post. Cracked me flat up and made me smile from ear to ear.

Keep it up, ladies. This is important stuff.

And if you haven't done a self-exam or scheduled that over due mammogram, isn't today the perfect day to get the job done?

As for me, I'm almost four weeks past my last chemo and I'm feeling better every single day.

I've got nine eyelashes left (two on one side and seven on the other - lopsided is the newest trend for fall), and check every day for the new babies to start growing.

(By the way, does anyone have any false eyelash advice? I've found some fairly natural looking eyelashes, but have never worn them before. I'd love to hear any newbie tricks or tips.)

I somehow kept a decent eyebrow count, so I'm quite happy about that.

I'm all about the new hair patrol. I make my family check my head for hair pretty much every time they walk into the room. My son says I've gone from one sprout per square inch to three, but I think that was just so I'd leave him alone for five minutes.

I can take my daily walk and make it home without wanting to take a nap in the ditch on the side of the road.

I'm sleeping better, to which I have to say a big ya-hoo, because sleep issues were probably the biggest thorn in my side during chemo.

I've gone from 468 prescription bottles on my night stand to three, and I'm hoping to get to zero asap.

I had a great chat with my oncologist last week, and while there are no guarantees that my cancer won't come back, I'm planning to live my life like it won't. When I get a little freaked about the eleven percent chance that my cancer will return, my hubby is quick to remind me that I have an eighty nine percent chance that it won't.

And that, my friends, is a glass that is much more than half-way full.

October 22, 2013

tomato blue cheese soup

My very least favorite part of blogging is the writing part.

Sometimes it comes fairly easy.



Right off the bat I'm stuck on easy vs. easily.

Sometimes, like today, it's a huge struggle to do the words putting into sentences part.

So, since I have recently acquired a recipe for tomato soup that just may change your life, and I really, really want to share the tomato soup love with you, I am simply going to go the bullet point route and leave you to make sense of it all.

But first, here's the picture. Hopefully that will hold you over until I actually get to the recipe part.

Ready? Here we go.

(Where is the bullet point key on my keyboard?)

(I guess we'll do asterisks instead.)

(Chemo brain. Love having that excuse in my back pocket.)

* I have a neighbor.

* My neighbor has an amazing garden - both flowers and veggies.

* My neighbor regularly hosts gatherings for some of the neighbor ladies, of which I am one.

* My neighbor did that very thing last week and served tomato soup as part of the delicious menu.

* My neighbor passed the recipe along to me.

* My neighbor also gave me a large bag full of delicious heirloom tomatoes.

* Score!

* My neighbor is very pretty and sweet and giving.

* I have been on the hunt for a good creamy tomato basil soup for years.

* We used to have a restaurant in town that made the very best creamy tomato basil soup on the planet.

* Sadly, that restaurant closed.

* This recipe is even better than that recipe.

* Score!

* Here is that recipe, along with the changes I made.

Tomato Blue Cheese Soup from allrecipes.com

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced - I used a very small amount of garlic, as I'm not a huge fan
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper - didn't have a pepper on hand
1/4 large red onion, chopped - used a Walla Walla from my garden
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese - used Gorgonzola, and let's be honest - I used more than 1/4 cup
1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened - cream cheese makes everything better
1/4 cup heavy cream - used half and half
1/4 cup milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes - used the heirlooms
1 1/2 cups tomato juice - had V-8 on hand
2 teaspoons dried basil - I used fresh and lots of it
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granular no-calorie sucralose sweetener (such as Splenda®) - good old sugar for me


1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, bell pepper, and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the blue cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, and milk. Heat until the cheese is melted and the mixture is simmering, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato juice, basil, sweetener, and pepper. Continue to cook and stir until the soup is heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.

I doubled the recipe because I had so many tomatoes, and I added the Gorgonzola at the end because I didn't want it totally melted.

If you are a tomato soup fan, this recipe is a keeper. It is creamy and dreamy and delicious.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

October 16, 2013

molasses cookies

Have I mentioned that my middle son is back in the desert?

He's about half way through his deployment, and I can't wait for him to come home this spring.

In the meantime, I send him cookies!

We've discovered that his all time favorite chocolate chip cookies are a no-go. It can take anywhere from a week to a month for a package to make it into Junior's hands, and even vacuum packed, the chocolate chip cookies are not at their best when they arrive.

However, my sister's molasses cookies are another story. They are still soft and chewy even weeks after I send them off.

Spiced with lots of cinnamon, cloves and ginger, these cookies are a perfect fall treat.

I have big plans to fill them with pumpkin ice cream, as I think they'd be out of this world as ice cream sandwiches.

(Just to clarify, I would not be sending the ice cream sandwich version overseas.)

Molasses Cookies

1 and 1/2 cups melted butter - recipe calls for shortening, but I'm a butter believer
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses - I use the dark, full flavor version
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt

I usually soften my butter in the microwave to an almost, but not quite melted point.
Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs and beat until light and fluffy.
Add molasses and mix until blended.
I usually sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl and then add them to the mixer in batches and stir until everything is just combined.
But sometimes I'm not very Martha and don't sift anything but just dump all the dry ingredients into my mixer and then say bad words as the flour goes flying all over my kitchen.

Four cups of flour is a lot of flour to add all at once.

Either way, they always turn out perfect and delicious.

Except for the first time when I made them with no sugar. They were not delicious that time.

Chill the dough for a couple hours, and then roll the cookie dough into balls. Roll the cookie balls in granulated sugar and place on a ungreased cookie sheet. Do not press the cookie balls down. They will flatten out into perfectly round cookies as they bake.

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

I've made them from all different sized cookie scoops, as I'm always trying to maximize the amount of cookies I can fit in a flat rate postal box. The smaller cookies are usually done the eight minutes and the largest can take up to eleven minutes.

So are there any other cookie shippers out there? If you've got a recipe that travels well, I'd love to hear about it.

Have a happy Tuesday!

October 4, 2013

trust the journey

I've always loved the above quote, but I especially love it this year.

My spring was entirely taken over by my diagnosis, the hugely oppressive, chest crushing weight of the unknown, and then major surgery and recovery.

But having completed my final chemo treatment yesterday - yay! - the hardest part of my battle is over.

Even though I know I've got a couple more weeks of foggy chemo yuck ahead of me, at this very moment, I'm feeling light as a feather.

The black cloud I've had hovering over me is gone.

Our gross, rainy weather has cleared and the skies are a brilliant blue.

My beloved mountains are covered in a beautiful, fresh snow.

The leaves are turning.

Life is good.

That bears repeating, people.




Two very dear friends of mine sent me this gorgeous tote to use as my chemo bag.

It's imprinted with the words, "Trust the Journey".

Trust the journey.

While the journey is still far from over, taking it one step at a time with my faith, family and friends, I know I can face what still lies ahead.

I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

I know I'm going to.