Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Mom's Thoughts on Survival

Originally, this was just a random post on my facebook page. I mean, it really did happen. I almost didn't post it, but I knew I had friends who were also survivors of breast cancer, and maybe they needed to know what other survivors go through.
I always had this fear- what about when my daughter finally asks about my scars? Will she be scared? Will she be afraid of having to go through the same thing? Do other mothers feel the same way?
Being a mother is the most awesome, most important thing I have ever done. It is also the hardest.
My thoughts:

I almost didn't share this, but for my friends who are also survivors I am. Yesterday Haley pointed to my scar (OK one of them...ok the worst many)and she asked what happened. I told her that a long time ago I got really sick and almost died and the dr. had to make that scar to get out what was making me sick and save me.She asked first (of course) did I get shots (HA!) so I said yes for many, many months I got a lot of them. She thought awhile and asked if she would get sick like me....So I thought a while and I said no- that doctors know a lot more now than they did back then so if she gets sick it won't be so bad. She was satisfied with that. I always wondered what I would say when she asked. We survivors know- you fight the battle always- every time you see the scars. And there are so many feelings- mostly bad. But that conversation was like a healing for my heart. It finally told my soul that I've moved on. I'm not who I used to be (not a bad thing). But those scars are a part of who I am now. It just is what it is. I can't explain it but I hope my survivor friends get it. I hope it lifts you up. I can't explain it, but it did me a lot of good to have that conversation with my child. It reminded me that those scars aren't who I am- they are a reminder of what I can overcome- but the real me-- her mama-- those scars can't touch that. I finally get that. Finally

I'd love to hear what other survivors have to say. What is this part of the journey like for you?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Scenes from a Sunday

We took a family walk this afternoon. It was so warm outside!! I'm so tired of winter!

I think the whole mountain is decorated in shades of green and purple!

My little rascal and her best buddy were having a ball. She is finally riding without training wheels.

This is the tulip tree in my aunt's front yard. Isn't it beautiful?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spring is Getting Closer.... (Scenes from a Sunday)

Spring is coming! (Thank Goodness!!)

Tiny signs of spring are popping up all over. (These pics aren't great, because they were taken with my iPhone.)

I had to re-pot some of my tomatoes and eggplants today. I still feel they are too small for this time of year. My husband reminded me that I usually plant too early (I get too excited!) and they get too leggy. I was right on schedule this year.

They look so tiny and short now that they are repotted! The tomatoes will grow roots all along that stem I covered up. By next week they should be taller and stronger.

It's been a long week. I'm still recovering from a nasty round of the flu. I feel much better, but still exhausted. I think I will be playing catch up from now on.

It's been a beautiful weekend! I visited the local flea market yesterday and found a guy selling old church and community cookbooks for a dollar each! (Those are the absolute BEST for real recipes!) I came home with a small stack to add to my collection. 

After church and my re-potting session I've tried to take some time to just write, read, and relax. I went through some old editions of Mother Earth News (I never EVER throw those away). As usual, I learned something new...until I broke my favorite pair of glasses. 

Oh there is a chicken casserole in the oven. My hubs turned the garden, my daughter is practicing her new skill of riding without training wheels. Life is good here on the mountain. I'm blessed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Berry's Eagle Cam

Berry College is has always been impressive to me.  Not only is it the world's largest college campus, it is definitely the most beautiful. Not just a place for the  students, it plays a large part in the life of the local community. Families visit to ride the bike trail, have picnics, view wildlife and learn about local history.

And now, Berry has added something that has got everyone talking- the Eagle Cam. The camera focuses on the nest of a pair of bald eagles. The female laid two eggs back in January. The first one hatched last Saturday. The entire Northwest Georgia area went wild! The other egg should hatch any day now. Everyone is watching and waiting... and talking. Students are watching and discussing it in class, families are watching at home. People are talking about it on Facebook and tweeting about it on Twitter.

My first graders sat in rapt attention and they watched the mother proudly feed her young tiny pieces of fish. Later, the father returned to the nest and fed the baby as well. It is fascinating to watch these beautiful creatures going about their daily lives.

To view the Eagle Cam, click here.  

Thank you, Berry, for sharing this wonderful part of your world!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Starting Tomato and Flower Seeds (Using Cupcake packages!)

Oh, how I love starting seeds!! It gets me all psyched up and ready for spring!! I finally started my tomatoes today. I had the coolest idea! I am a first grade teacher and we party a lot- birthdays, holidays...any excuse for a cupcake! I decided to put those cupcake boxes to a new use. I used a large thumb tack to put drainage holes in the bottom of each well. I then placed the container into an aluminum pan I bought at my local dollar discount store (2 for $1). I LOVE how that top just snaps right down over the container!

On my last post I was using organic seed starter mix, but this time I FINALLY found some pellets at a local hardware store for 19 cents each. After using HOT water to fluff the pellets I placed my tomato and pepper seeds inside. (Yes, I m starting more pepper and eggplant seeds. I just don't like the looks of the ones I started in the last post. Maybe they will surprise me, but better safe than sorry.)

*Before planting in your garden, remove that netting from those pellets. It's just too hard for those roots to spread out if you don't.

In the large cupcake container I started Aunt Ruby's Green German, Amish Paste, Pink Brandywine, and Bonnie's Best- all heirloom from Baker Creek.

The above pic is a mini cupcake box containing pellets and two plastic fruit cups (the kind mandarin oranges come in.) My daughter takes the oranges to school and I beg her to save the cups for me. I have her save her yogurt cups, too. (Bless her heart...) I covered the fruit cups with produce bags from the grocery store. (They are thin enough to let in some light, but still keeps in that humidity.)

In this one I started tomatillos, Jujube Cherry, more Brandywine, and Bonnie's Best.

In the last mini cupcake container I started more peppers (Orange Bell, Emerald Giant, Golden California Wonder, and Tam Jalapeno- also from Baker Creek). The round container (formerly a feta cheese container) contains eggplant.

I decided to start some cat grass for Phoebe, our cat. Supposedly it will keep her out of my other plants. Knowing Phoebe, there is no telling...

These (above) are tiny snapdragon seeds I saved a couple years ago. I'm not sure what the germination rate will be, since they are older. We'll just have to wait and see.

I also started more marigolds to guard my garden and basil to plant with my tomatoes. Basil is supposed to enhance the flavor of tomatoes. Marigolds are distasteful to many garden pests. (They add a nice splash of color, too.) Along with those, I started some large zinnias, bachelor buttons, and cosmos. Starting seeds is so much cheaper than buying flowers at the garden center. These were from saved seeds- either my own of those shared from friends.

Here are a few seedlings that have sprouted from that last planting.

The cosmos above are too leggy. My fault- I didn't catch them in time. I am trying to correct the issue with more mix, but I don't know that it will help. (They are in a sour cream container with drainage holes poked in the bottom, I used the lid as a tray.)

Above are tiny celery seedlings started in a styrofoam egg carton. I took off the lid and used it as a tray, covering it with a produce bag. It's a little late for these, but I'm going to try placing them in a cooler spot and see how they fare. You never know until you try. That's part of the fun.

These are dwarf marigolds, also in an egg carton. I agree with another blogger who said the cardboard egg containers are no good for this. They turn too mush way too soon for planting. They just can't hold up. I am NOT a fan of styrofoam, but if is making it's way through your door, you might as well make it work double duty.

I finally drug out my seed rack last night and my husband hooked up the lights. My rack is a metal shelf I purchased a few years ago from a local store. (To see how we made the rack, click here.) During the rest of the year, my seed rack doubles as a storage rack. (I am big on multi-tasking. Can ya tell?)

If you haven't started your own seeds, it isn't too late to start. It's easy and fun! Always buy from a reputable dealer and avoid those GMO's!! (Google that if you are unfamiliar.) You can find dealers who have signed the non-GMO pledge online.

Happy Planting!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Seed Starting and Hoping for Spring (Snowmageddon, Day 2)

I feel like my guineas, Hugh and Sadie up there in the tree- cold and none to impressed with mother nature.  Was it really just this past Sunday that I was starting some seeds and getting all excited about spring? Sure, the snow was beautiful, and I DO love snow. However, today it is starting to melt and that second wave of snow they called for has yet to prove itself to be more than a nasty rumor. What we have now is a combination of unmelted snow, yucky refreezing slush...and cold. Just plain cold. Southern folks don't do winter, y'all.

My seeds from Baker Creek arrived last week. I got all excited! (Forgive the glare on the photos- had to use my iPhone and the track lights in my kitchen are rather unforgiving at times.)

I've been ordering from Baker Creek since 2007 and have never been disappointed. I get high quality seeds with excellent germination rates- and, best of all, NO GMO's!!!! (If you are buying your seeds at a local store, you might wanna google GMO's and rethink that...)

My little seed stash is a big ol' hot mess, but I love it! It holds spring!!! I had to do a quick inventory to see what I needed. I made my veggie order, but I need to re-order some flowers as well. I can't order it all at once, unfortunately.

I went over my notes in my garden planner. I used to use a blank journal, but I bought this one on Amazon a couple years ago and I love it! It is full of helpful hints and advice, as well as a timetable for garden chores. You just fill in your own last frost date and go from there.

Another helpful item is this handy little sliding table I bought from Baker Creek. It has spring dates on one side, fall on the other. It cost me lass than $3.00 a couple years ago.

I decided to save money on seed starting this year by recycling household items. I used quite a few egg cartons. I'm also using Styrofoam meat trays (which I have used in the past), plastic produce bags from the grocery (as covers) and various other odds and ends. (Seeds don't much care what you start them in- as long as it is warm and humid.)

There are so many benefits to starting your own seeds. (See my previous posts here,  here and here.) For one thing, when you purchase from a reputable company, you know what you are getting. GMO's are dangerous and, unless you enjoy being a guinea pig, you are better off buying heirloom seeds from a reliable source. Also, when you save your own seeds, you save tons of money and develop plants more suited to your own area. 

So, here I sit in my hoodie and sweats while the rest of the family is out sledding. Atlanta News is calling for about 6 more inches of snow before morning. (Of course, they called for an inch today and I have yet to see that happen.) Thankfully, we are safe and have power. I think I will get out my pen and paper and draw off some garden plans. 

Think spring.....

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Seed Ordering Time

I've said it before, and I will say it again. The only thing that gets me through the winter sometimes is making plans for spring. The snow has melted, but it is rainy and cold. I've spent part of the afternoon going through my seeds- taking inventory, making a wish list. The catalogs are rolling in, and I pore through each one like an addict. OK, I AM an addict. Ha!
Just making my list and adding to my order at has made me feel better. I feel hopeful. I feel happy. I can do this...Only 6 more weeks, right?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Surprised by Snow 2014

So we knew from about a week ago there would be snow. But should we worry? Nooooo!ONly a light dusting,  they said. Less than half an inch, they said.....

There has been a lot of laughter at the expense of the south this week, but please consider- we believed that the Weather Channel told us.....
When I arrived at work Tuesday morning I checked the National Weather Service, which said we'd get about 3 inches of snow. But then I checked the weather chaannel, and it said less than half an inch. Who did I believe? Who did most of the south beleive?

 Let's face it- We rarely get snow here, RARELY!! Of course we believe the source that says we will get very little accumulation....

the goldfish pond

the driveway

the main mountain road

 So, yes, we were unprepared. We put our trust in the wrong sources.
 After hitting a ditch, I left my car at the foot of the mountain.

ice on the pond

The Duck Pond

Going Sledding (with a pool float)

This is our road about 5:00 today..not much change. We will have freezing temps tonight as well. I can say that this is one girl who will listen to the National Weather Service from now on. Lesson Learned....

Monday, January 20, 2014

Chicken Alfredo Casserole

I was given the original version of this recipe from  my friend, Penny. Of course I had to tinker with it a little to make it my own. You know its a hit when your husband loves it. I like this recipe because it is simple- a great Sunday supper. It makes enough for Monday, too!

 Chicken Alfredo Casserole

  • 3 chicken breasts, boiled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 8 oz bowtie pasta, cooked according to directions
  • 2 jars Alfredo sauce (I use one home style and one artisan cheese) *If you prefer a thicker, less creamy casserole, use lass sauce.
  • 10 oz spinach, cooked and drained (remove as much liquid as possible)
  • 1 small jar marinated artichokes, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small jar sun dried tomatoes, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. dehydrated onion
  • 2 T minced garlic (from a jar)
  • 1 small container shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small bag shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 325.
While pasta is cooking, cut up the chicken and add to a large bowl.
Squeeze all the moisture out of the spinach, and add it to the chicken.
Add the alfredo sauces, artichokes, tomatoes,  dehydrated onion, garlic, and about half the parmesan and mozzarella (a large handful of each, anyway). Stir to combine, then add the drained pasta. Put this into a large baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Cover with foil and heat about 10 minutes. Uncover, add more parmesan and mozzarella, and heat uncovered until melted.

As always, I love your comments and appreciate all follows!

Blue Monday

Smiling Sally

View from Clingman's Dome, Great Smoky Mountains.
This was taken on the last day the park was open, on the day before the government shut-down.