Words from a Raspberry Picking Ninja

Our raspberry patch is nothing to sneeze at (unless you’re allergic to raspberries) but it’s not massive. I couldn’t put out “U-Pick” signs and expect to satisfy the public dropping in for a berry picking extravaganza. I couldn’t even expect to satisfy the neighbors stopping by more than once or twice, but we get by and there’s plenty to share. I’ve gotten enough berries for freezer jam, smoothies, sorbet, raspberry lemonade, and several gallons frozen for who knows when. And, I got another huge colander full today, my umpteenth picking. Some people are amazed when I come in from yet another hour spent picking and, again, my colander is full. “Where did you get those?” They ask, joking that I have a secret raspberry patch hidden somewhere. They think I’m a raspberry picking ninja. The plants are healthy but not hopped up on Miracle Gro, so they’re putting out what … Continue reading…

Project 52.43 – Lists o’ Plenty!

To-Do List

I’m a list maker. Grocery lists, to-do lists, Christmas lists, life’s list of hopes and dreams, I’ve got them all going either on a sticky note on my desk, in my computer, or somewhat haphazardly written in my brain. I don’t even need a valid reason to start a list. Casually perusing an online article the other day, a suggestion by the author leaped off the page and grabbed my attention: “Make a list of your favorite foods.” I don’t actually need to make a list of my favorite foods. I know what they are, and yet I was inexplicably sucked in and immediately began listing my favorite foods in my mind, calling them out in a voice like Bubba in Forrest Gump naming off the myriad ways of preparing shrimp. Walnuts, Butternut Squash, Wild Rice, Sunflower Seeds, Popcorn… So why do I – or why do any of us … Continue reading…

Project 52.42 – Better Homes & Gardens

BHG New Cook Book 1965

Gingersnaps. It all started with gingersnaps. In a happy confluence of opportunity and means, I had a craving, the ingredients, and the time to make them. I haven’t made them in years, so I reached for my go-to manual, my cooking bible, the holiest of holies. I reached for my Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book. To be clear, I have three BHG New Cook Books. I have a fascination with them, in fact, and would read them like coffee table books if Mike would just let me leave them lying around. However, when it comes to cooking and baking for the love of food, there is just one: the worn and beaten edition that rises above the others, the one that was written when food was given sacred time and forethought instead of being eaten as a passing afterthought. There is my 1965 6th printing of the classic 1953 edition, given … Continue reading…

Project 52.37 – Fried Zucchini

Fried Zucchini Done

I’ve been known to gush about my momma’s fried zucchini from time to time, even to the point of saying that fried zucchini makes everything all better. I did stop short of saying it could bring about world peace, though. However; I’m not completely convinced it couldn’t. Here’s my take on Mom’s fantastic fried zucchini. People concerned about their hearts, arteries, or waistlines, look away now. You’ve been warned, the following is in no way healthy or wise. But it is delicious! What you’ll need to start: zucchini slices, beaten eggs, cracker crumbs (I like Ritz), salt, and pepper. The amount you will need will depend on how much zucchini is used. And, of course, a frying pan with a light oil such as canola (I find that olive tends to be too heavy and distracts from the taste of the zucchini, but that’s just me), a plate with a paper towel, … Continue reading…

Project 52.30 – Best Friends

“Give yourself permission to remember that you’re not only your body, and that others’ opinions about what you should or shouldn’t be doing probably aren’t taking into account your true, eternal being. Those other people are also not only their bodies, so seeking their approval doubles the illusion that the physical is all we are.” Dr. Wayne Dyer, “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao” Imagine you told your best friend how much you weighed and she said, “Lose 20 pounds or else we won’t be friends anymore. I’ll berate you, nag you, and make you feel like a complete loser and failure until you do.” What would be your reaction? Would you starve yourself, punish yourself, beat up on yourself, and struggle against all your desires and impulses in order to lose those 20 pounds and try to gain your friend’s approval? Or would … Continue reading…

Project 52.25 – The Little Things

I’ve been playing around a lot lately with the digital macro setting of my camera, which allows me to take sharp pictures of very small things such as flowers, bugs, and my bank account (haha). Truly, we are blessed to live amongst such grandeur as the rolling river, the towering mountains still capped with snow even in June, and the sentinel cottonwoods that stand guard over the valley. However, as easy as it is to take a photo of the scenery and say, “Look at this beautiful place,” are those mountains and fields made up only of green grass and trees? Of course not. They’re made of a tapestry of colors and textures that often get lost in the broad brush strokes and sweeping panorama of the landscape. Look closely the next time you are outside. This time of year I can examine the blanket of green and be rewarded … Continue reading…

Project 52.14 – Basketball and Sun Worshipping

Today there was a bright yellow orb in the sky that we have not seen here since 1984. Okay, that’s a small fib. 1985. We all remember it like it was two months ago, though, and we remember what a sense of joy and happiness it brings. With abandon, we threw off our winter jackets! We tossed aside our hats and gloves! With glee, we cast our cares onto the sun-warmed wind and we went outside to play, play, play. Our chosen game: basketball. In a snowy yard. Hey, I said it was warm, I never said anything about ideal playing conditions. Mike and Scout took the court and channeled their pent up winter energy into several sweet net shots (and a few that were pure air). We weren’t the only ones enjoying the change from wet, rainy weather to glorious sunshine. Misty and Moose showed off how happy they … Continue reading…

Project 52.13 – Kitchen Sink Cookies

One ritual at our house is making cookies every weekend, most often for Mike’s work lunches. We typically make what I call “kitchen sink cookies” for which there is no real recipe. We start with a standard base of butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, etc. and then use whatever we have handy to fill in the rest: chocolate chips, peanut butter, oatmeal, flax meal, wheat germ, coconut, butterscotch chips, trail mix, nuts, seeds, chopped up toffee bits, cocoa powder, you name it. Sometimes it seems like they end up with everything except the kitchen sink in them, so perhaps I should call them the “Everything but” cookies (except nobody wants to eat a cookie with the word “but” in the name). There have been days when I’ve rebelled against the ritual of the kitchen sink cookie. I’ve said to Mike, “I’m going to make something different this weekend, something basic … Continue reading…

Project 52.3 – Nameless Moments

My sister, Shannon Widgren Schulte, is brilliant. Beautiful, full of life and love, strength and courage, she is one of the most caring and kind people I have ever met. Even growing up, she had my back. Sure, she stabbed my brother in the foot with a pitch fork once, and she used to hold me down and threaten to spit on my face occasionally, but when it came to outsiders causing her siblings harm, she was quickest to defend and stand up for us. I recall one time in 1987, I was a sophomore and she a senior at Mead High School. Some of her circle started to make fun of me, the “punker chick” with the faux-hawk hairdo, black clothes, and general aversion to all the things society deemed acceptable. With a swift verbal one-two punch, the details of which I have long since forgotten, she not only … Continue reading…

Why Wait?

“I’ll start on the first.” “I’ll start after the holidays.” “Today is shot. I’ll start tomorrow.” We all tell ourselves the same types of things. Our lives are on constant repeat of resolve and regret. Personally, I start over at least 20 times a day. I resolve to try to do better the next time I have a choice to make, whether it be about what I put in my mouth or the words that come out of it. While there is something to be said for mental preparation and gearing yourself up to try to make a change in your life, I personally have met with defeat in that method as I stumbled time and again on those resolutions for change after just a couple of days (or couple of hours!). The bite was perhaps more than I could chew. I’m leaning now more away from “engage in mental … Continue reading…