Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Being grateful for...
everyone under one roof
(a sturdy roof)
(more than enough, really)
Thanksgiving day will be full of...
Picking up where we left off as if time hasn't slipped by.
(it's my favorite...)
ps...A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is on tonight at 8pm!
I can't wait!
Monday, November 24, 2014
It's Monday...and I'm not at work. That is a glorious thing, isn't it? Have I ever mentioned how much I love working for the school district?
The weather has finally turned...the leaves are just about done falling from the liquid maple, but the pecan tree just keeps on giving. That darn thing...leaves, sticky sap, seed pod thingys that explode when they hit the ground and disintegrate into a chartreuse powder that gets e-ve-ry-where...oh, and of course, pecans. You name it, it drops it. All.year.long. It's a huge pain...but I'd miss it if it were gone. Isn't that so like a person...complain and complain about something or someone...but when it's gone, you miss it...
So I'm still in jammies (no surprise), sipping coffee (no surprise) and watching bad made-for-tv movies (no surprise). The only thing that must be done today is a doctor appointment...a teen and his knees, unfortunately I'm thinking he's getting that from me. Why must we pass on the bad stuff?
But there's good stuff, too...we'll focus on that instead. xo
Posted by Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig at 10:06 AM
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Thursday, November 20, 2014
|Homemade croutons to accompany French Onion soup. Yes.|
Do you ever wonder about the history of food? I do. Especially simple, delicious recipes. I think my fascination began years ago when I first started reading about the "simple life"...self-sufficiency, making food from scratch, growing your own, raising chickens, that kind of thing. It could get a bit overwhelming, I'll admit, but some of the info stuck with me.
I think what struck me most was the ability people had to make a little stretch a long way to feed a family. There is a video series I love, Great Depression Cooking. Clara is adorable, rest her soul. She had some great ways to make food stretch. This is another interesting video series, people really worked hard to feed their families. We've got it pretty good, I'd say.
Some of the foods that got me thinking recently were French toast and French onion soup. They are so simple and made with such few ingredients I can't help but think these were recipes born out of necessity...out of lack...someone used what they had in an effort to feed their hungry family and created something delicious. This utilizes two of my favorite things...good food and resourcefulness.
I decided to do a quick search and came across a site that lists the history of food... Food Timeline. I instantly knew I wanted to share it. I can't wait to really take some time to dig in and look around. I am intrigued with food history. A couple of summer's ago I read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder...partly because I hadn't read it since childhood and partly because I wanted to see if there was reference to how they cooked, what types of foods they prepared, what they ate during that time period. And she did...she wrote of making cheese and of making maple candy by freezing syrup in the snow, just two I can think of off the top of my head.
Feeding our families is a big job. And if we want to feed them good, healthy food, it's an even bigger job. I'm not gonna lie, working full-time puts a damper on the "make from scratch" ideal. I prepare my family convenience foods more often than I'd like to admit. But I try to balance it out...boxed mac and cheese with a fresh salad...or instant mashed potatoes (yes, you read that right!) with fresh steamed green beans and a seared steak. (I'm telling you, this meal can be ready in like 15 minutes!) I figure it's a good compromise. And my family's not complaining!
Posted by Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig at 7:46 PM
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
We've had our chickens for about 5 years now. And for the most part it has been easy. Feed them, give them fresh water, clean their coop now and then, let them out to free-range and forage from time to time. Simple, really. Not much to it. And in exchange they give us fresh, beautiful, brown eggs.
Sadly, last year we lost one of our girls. She got sick and we couldn't figure out why. We tried our hardest to save her...but after almost three weeks it was obvious that she wasn't going to get better. So we made the decision to let her go humanely. It broke my heart, but it was the right thing to do.
Other than that, keeping chickens has been good.
Well, at about 3am Sunday morning I was jerked out of a sound sleep by the sound of something screeching...an animal of some sort screaming almost. I was half asleep so I couldn't discern exactly what it was but I was hopped up out of bed before I had a second chance to think about it. I asked Chris if he heard it and he sleepily replied, "Yes. It's a cat."
But I knew it wasn't a cat. And then I heard it again...this loud screech screech screech screech...over and over again. This time I was just about sure it was the chickens. I put on my robe, slipped on my flip flops and grabbed the flash light. I shone it out the back door to the chicken coop and there I could see my two golden Buff Orpington's, Nellie and Sweetie, cowering in the corner of the chicken run. I knew right away something was terribly wrong.
Number one, the girls go into their cozy coop at night. So for them to be out in the run at 3am was extremely abnormal.
Number two, where was Betty? She wasn't with the others.
I ran back to the bedroom and frantically told Chris, "Honey! It's the chickens!" He hopped out of bed immediately and we ran out to the backyard, me in my robe and him in socks. Chris cautiously peeked inside the coop and there hissed a HUGE possum. (I'm not kidding, he was HUGE.)
We formulated a plan, pretty much looking like The Three Stooges, but in the end it worked. Chris grabbed a rake and got that ugly possum out of the coop and I grabbed the girls one by one and took them to safety in the garage.
Poor things, they were so terrified and so groggy...ya know, chickens go into a trance-like state at night while they sleep. That's why they're so easy to pick off. Fortunately, the possum didn't hurt any of them. It wasn't looking good for Betty, however, as she was still trapped in the coop with him. She's lucky her frantic sister squawked like crazy to call for help, and she's lucky we heard it! Who knows what we could have woken up to? Chances are the possum was just looking for some eggs. But he was big enough to eat a chicken if he felt like it, so it's possible we caught him in time.
At one point, when we first got out to the backyard, we heard rustling in the trees and we thought for sure that whoever the intruder was had made off with Betty. We were SO relieved when we saw that she was still in the coop.
In the middle of all the craziness our phone began to ring. I didn't have time to answer it as I was running back and forth getting the chickens to safety and trying to keep an eye on Chris, making sure he wasn't attacked by a rabid possum. As it turned out it was our neighbor two houses down, "Michelle! Something's attacking your chickens! Wake up! Something is attacking them, bad!" That goes to show you how loud the squawks were.
In the end...all was well. The chickens were snug and safe and at peace in the garage. And Chris and I went back to bed...eventually. I gotta tell ya, that got our blood pumping!
Posted by Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig at 6:20 AM
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Could autumn finally actually be here?
The leaves are falling...that's a good sign.
The temperatures are cooling...that's another good sign.
Oh...and...it's raining today! My favorite sign ever.
We're getting there...slowly but surely. Welcome to California.
Posted by Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig at 7:02 AM
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
|making Malt-O-Meal with Noni's wooden spoon|
This was no simple task. Noni and Papa had a lot of stuff. Like, a lot a lot. It took months of sorting and organizing and remembering and crying and laughing and reminiscing. After the "valuable" items had been gone through and divvied up among the kids (the kids being my mom and her three siblings, and then on to us grandkids) it was time to hold an Estate Sale. As we were readying for it we had to go through all of their daily household items...kitchen gadgets, sewing notions, tools, paintings, linens, books...and decide what was to be sold and what was to be donated. Essentially, we were figuring out what held value, and what didn't. For me, this question turned out to be relative.
Value, as it turns out, holds different meaning for me. Some of my favorite treasures are everyday items from Noni's kitchen that I ended up taking on a whim...a set of Pyrex bowls, the yellow one that I use almost daily...an oval cutting board that serves as a backdrop to her old glass canisters that now sit on my countertop and hold sustenance for my family...and her dented aluminum salt and pepper shakers that I swear make food taste better when I use them. Especially soup.
But the items that are quite possibly my favorite are a handful of her wooden spoons. They were overlooked and in the donation pile. On a whim I grabbed them and took them home, adding them to my own crock of much used wooden utensils.
It wasn't until I pulled one out one day to use while cooking dinner that I noticed something. One edge of Noni's wooden spoon had been worn down to an angle...the exact angle I was holding it at to stir the food I was preparing. And it made me happy...to imagine Noni standing at her stove, as I was standing at mine, preparing food for her family, as I was mine, and stirring with that very spoon. We were connected.
Who knew something as simple and mundane as an old wooden spoon could be so special? Or that the sight of that yellow Pyrex bowl in my dish drainer would make me smile each time I see it. But every time I see that cheery yellow, or use the spoons, it's as if Noni is right there with me...in my kitchen, spending time, doing one of the many things that we had in common...taking good care of our families.
Value...it's a relative term, isn't it? What one person may see as old and useless could mean the world to someone else. To think I almost overlooked these everyday items of Noni's...and now they are some of my most treasured possessions.
Thank you, Noni...for everything. I miss you every day.
Posted by Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig at 9:43 AM
Monday, November 10, 2014
|taking the long way home...|
I don't want to make excuses...or apologize for not being here...because I decided a while back to keep my blog going, but to let it be a creative outlet, not an obligation.
I took the photo on Halloween. It had been a long day, after a long week, after a series of long weeks and I needed to take a drive before heading home to do yet another load of wash and cook yet another hodgepodge meal.
Sometimes I can get stuck in my own head...and that's not always a pleasant place to be. I'm sure someone out there can relate...we can be so hard on ourselves, can't we? Focusing on the negative, dwelling on what isn't instead of being grateful for what is. It's a constant battle for me...I can be a bit of a pessimist. (Not surprising? I know.)
I went to church again yesterday...the second time in two weeks. It's been a long time since I've gone. And while it was slightly uncomfortable, for the most part it felt pretty good. The church was small, the people were friendly and the pastor was down to earth. My cup of tea, for sure. There wasn't a lot of bells and whistles, the worship was humble and heartfelt, no big light shows or smoke machines. Just a few people with musical gifts and a heart to play for God. It was a good combination...
I don't want to make a big deal of going to church. And I don't want anyone else to, either. It is what it is. I've been away from church for some time. And now I'm working my way back. Amen.
I spent Saturday at a women's conference put on by my dear friends. I wasn't going to go initially but one of them sent me a text at 6:30 that morning saying, "Come. Be my guest." So, I did. And it was good. Good friends, good food, good words of encouragement, good worship music, good prayer...God was present and moving and healing and speaking.
"Others are waiting for you..." is a truth I can't shake.
"You're a mountain-mover..." keeps ringing in my ears.
The bottom line...it's not about me. It's about taking what God has done for me and sharing it to help others. I don't know exactly how it's going to look, but God does. So I'm waiting on Him...He'll let me know when it's time. And when He says "go", I'll go. But not before then. It has to be in His timing, not my own.
You know, there's more to life than just the daily grind. We've all been put on this earth for a reason and a purpose. What's yours? Do you know? Has God told you? Are you living it? Are you avoiding it? Wanna join me in following God's lead to do what He created us to do?
There's so much more to this life...it's so much bigger and has so much more to offer.
Let's be brave, shall we? Let's run after all that God has for us. Come on...we can do it together. xo
Posted by Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig at 9:05 AM