‘Tis the Season for Homemade Soup!

With the Autumn change to cooler weather and shorter days, I always get a hankering to make soup.  No, not from the can that I usually eat most of the year, but good old-fashioned made-from-scratch soup.  I especially like the heartier bean and legume varieties.   There is just something so satisfying about the process of  washing and soaking the dried beans, then adding all the ingredients and letting it simmer on the stove for hours.

Yesterday was a good crisp soup-making kind of day, so I decided to make split pea soup.  It only took about an hour to cook, maybe because the peas are small.  Anyhow, I was totally amazed at how such a relatively small package of dried peas could make a huge vat of soup.  It turned out really well; even my picky teenage son thought it smelled good while cooking and devoured a huge bowlful!  This always warms my heart.

My tried and true handmade soup is the 15-Bean variety.  This incredible soup absolutely defies any law of physics.  It expands to an immense amount after soaking and cooking, and is the most filling soup you will ever want to eat.  The only problem is that it makes so much!  I end up eating it for weeks afterward and usually get very tired of eating it.  And really, 15 bean varieties?  To me, that is about 13 or 14 bean varieties too many!  I need to find a recipe for a delicious one or two bean soup.  A little bean goes a long way!

Homemade soups are hearty, wholesome, and cheap to make.  It  does take longer to cook, but nothing is more comfy than aromatic soup simmering on the stove on a cold day.  Soup’s on!

“Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.”  -Marge Kennedy


Sweater Season is Here!

It’s this time of year when the days shorten, the temperatures cool, and the leaves start to fall, that I start my whole routine of hauling out those good old sweaters.  I really, really love sweaters so this is always a bit of a joy for me; even if it means putting up with brisker weather and loss of sunlight.  Perhaps it is in my Finnish Lapland blood that I don’t mind it so much.  It must be inbred in me to at least somewhat tolerate Arctic Circle conditions.

The great thing about most sweaters is that they seem to last forever.  I am talking about natural fibers here.  Cashmere, wool, mohair, and angora  are my faves; not so much acrylics and cotton.  They will last a long time if you care for them (yes, you can gently hand wash all natural fibers).   Just don’t overdo the washing.  A sweater can be worn many times without it getting dirty, and it’s good for the fibers not to be washed so much.  And please, do NOT dry clean sweaters…no, no, no!

Another fab thing about sweaters is that they usually stay in fashion forever, year after year, if you choose a classic style.  I wear a lot of vintage sweaters and I love cashmere.  Vintage cashmere is super thick and soft, especially the sweaters made in Scotland.  I love wrapping myself up in a comfy cashmere sweater because it’s the only natural fiber that I can wear next to my skin.  Cashmere keeps me warm without much bulk which is always good for looking a bit sleeker.   I mean, I like heavy wool sweaters but I have to wear a layer underneath and I end up looking like a linebacker!

So out come my favorite cashmere sweaters, I’ve kind of missed them.  It is actually kind of sensuous and sexy to wear them; a bit of the old vintage sweater girl aura.   My heavy wool sweaters will come out eventually, when icy cold winter rolls around.   But I only save the big guns for the fiercest weather… girl’s gotta have her fashion priorities!

She wore a short skirt and a tight sweater and her figure described a set of parabolas that could cause a cardiac arrest in a yak.”  ~Woody Allen



Get it in Handwriting

These days, I do most of my writing via keyboard.  So much so that it feels weird to actually take pen in hand and write; I keep expecting spell check to occur!  Oh I do jot notes on sticky pads, write the occasional check, and make shopping lists, but the bulk of my writing is done on the computer.

But recently I have felt a yearning to actually put (literal) pen to (literal) paper and write out my thoughts in longhand.  I figure that everything shouldn’t be written on the computer, and I should get back to the time-honored method of putting down thoughts in an old-fashioned diary form.

One thing that I have been doing is writing out my thoughts of the day right before bed.  I have a pretty active mind that is always thinking, it seems, so it puts kind of a finality to the thoughts to get them down on paper.  I just go through my day and write down my ideas, inspirations, frustrations, and emotions that I dealt with.  The physical act of just letting the pen flow is really quite soothing.  And it calms my mind to let go, and get more restful sleep.

Another good trick is to write out your prayers.  If you are like me, my praying tends to be all over the place!  My wise pastor and counselor advised me to do this when I was going through a particularly tumultuous time in my life, when I could not focus on anything, much less praying.  He said to write out a list of my prayers and concerns and then pray about it, and check them off the list as I prayed.  Simple, yet incredibly effective!  It really does work.

So I intend to actually hand write more.  It’s kind of interesting to see what my handwriting looks like now.  If only I could read it!

“Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.”  ~Carol Burnett


A Bit of Mystery is a Good Thing

I blog, I write, I am active on several discussion boards, and on Facebook.   I am relatively ‘out there’ on the internet, and feel it is important to do so.  For the most part, I really enjoy it.  But there is a part of me that guardedly remains secretive.  I have somewhat of a public persona and a (very) private persona.  I just don’t feel comfortable, for the most part, broadcasting things about my personal life, or my deepest thoughts and feelings for just anyone to hear.

Perhaps there is a bit of the Victorian in me.  Where being a bit mysterious and unwilling to easily yield secrets is appealing?  It’s not like I keep it all to myself.  If I have built up trust with a person, I am willing to share my thoughts more freely.  I just don’t like throwing stuff out there and not knowing what people are going to do with the information.

I think people with a bit of mystery are definitely more alluring.  Where you have to slowly uncover pieces to get to know them.  And it takes time and patience, which in this world of tweets and status updates is almost like living in the stone age.  But it gets you below the surface, and into a deeper level of intimacy.

So yes, I do reveal a good deal about myself publicly. But sorry…if you really want to know my innermost thoughts and feelings, you are just going to have to get to know me a little better.  Well, a LOT better.  This girl just doesn’t give up her secrets so easily!

“Secret thoughts and open countenance will go safely over the whole world.” ~ Scipione Alberti   (right on!)


My Summer of Letting Go

This summer has been quite an amazing one for me so far.  No exciting trips or adventures, but more a quiet change of mind-set and attitude.  I have just decided to “let go”.

Now this does not come easily for me.  I have a tendency to plan, scheme, worry and envision certain outcomes to things.  I feel “comfortable” carrying around these feelings because it makes it seem like I’m in control of my life.  I don’t spend too much time ruing the past, so that’s not the issue;  I just have not spent a whole lot of time just “being”  in the present and letting life reveal its secrets gradually.

It is kind of a Taoist approach to life: surrendering, letting go of resistance, and trusting Divinity.  This puts one in tune with the flow of life by being in the here and now – the only place and time where life is truly lived.  I am a work in progress, but so far the results have been rather remarkable, if only noticed by me.

I seem to be much calmer, patient, and feel more contented.  I am finding that by not doing, things get done.  Wonderful things that are meant to be in my life are really happening now because I am not putting up a big wall of resistance and fear.  It is very peaceful feeling knowing that whatever happens was meant to be.  I love this Chinese proverb:  “If there is nothing you can do about it, why worry?  If there is something you can do about it, why worry?”

This will be an ongoing process for me, I’m sure.  A girl doesn’t give up her bag of frets and scheming all that easily!  But it is calming, exciting, and hopeful all in one…and who can beat that?

“By letting go it all gets done.” ~Lao Tze


The Fifth of July

Ahhh, the Fifth of July, how sweet the sound!  Or silence, rather.

I managed to make it through yet another year of ear-blasting pyrotechnics in the neighborhood.  We live in an area where fireworks are still legal to shoot off, and man, does everyone around here take advantage of that.  Endless hours of  BOOM, CRACK, POWS! I steel myself every year and try to serenely ride it out.

I am not so exploding-things inclined.  I really do think it is an inbred guy thing;  I mean, do you ever see packs of women detonating fireworks?  I don’t.  My son looks forward to the Fourth of July every year; where he can go with his friends to the Indian Reservation, buy illegal fireworks, and spend the whole night blowing things up to their hearts content.  That’s fine and dandy, just don’t expect me to join in; to have to listen to it is quite enough!

Another great thing about the Fifth of July, at least in Seattle, is that it is the unofficial start of summer.  IT NEVER FAILS!  We usually have a cool, rainy June through the Fourth of July.  And yes, it was cool and raining yesterday.  And then miraculously on July 5th, the sun comes out, the clouds part and the rain disappears, like clockwork.  Just another one of the quirky occurrences of living in the Pacific Northwest.  But certainly glad summer is finally here – Happy Fifth of July!