Happy Father’s Day!

So far this year I have managed to spend Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day near my family!!! 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY PAPA!!!  AND MY MOM! 

I like to give my mom lots of Father’s Day kudos, since she was a single mom for some of my most terrible years!!

And my grandfather (Papa or Pops) gave me away at my wedding, and has always been around to help me out of jams.

Also, I like to say Happy Father’s Day to my handsome hubby… He’s the best pooch-pop I could ask for!!

The clan met up at my grandfather’s house for a picnic… Spiral ham (GF!), salad (GF!), and lost of other non-GF stuff I didn’t  partake in, including a whole table full of desserts!  My cousin D also brought his doggie Tucker, who I got to meet for the first time in 4 years!!!  I’m now covered in puppy hair, which feels good since I was missing my little Theron!!  My cousin Juliet took a few pictures of him, so I might see if she will share them!!

We’re off to swim if my mother can ever STOP WORKING LONG ENOUGH TO ENJOY HER TIME WITH HER DAUGHTERS! 🙂
We’re off for a swim! 

When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure. ~Author Unknown

You may have wondered where I disappeared to.  Hubs and I drove up to Vermont on Wednesday of last week, and returned Tuesday evening of this week.  That’s the simple answer…  The more complex answer is why we went.  My grandmother (more fondly referred to as Nammy) battled cancer for a year and a half…  and it was important for us to spend some of the last moments we could with her, so we raced up I-81.  We were lucky to be surrounded by my large extended family and loved ones during this time.  Our trip home during this sad and stressful time reminded me that my family is filled with people whose hearts are so big that you often wonder how their bodies can hold those hearts in!
I grew up with 7 houses between mine and my grandparents.  Later, I lived in a neighborhood across the street and three houses up the road from them.  They were a central force in my life.  When I moved to Virginia, saying goodbye to my family was the hardest part of the move… Especially saying goodbye to my grandparents.  They made 2-3 trips to Virginia to visit my husband and I.  We were so lucky to spend such quality time with them.  There are stories upon stories of how my grandparents, or even Nammy in specific impacted my life.  I think the biggest part of it was they always accepted me with open hearts and open arms.  My beloved Nammy passed away early in the morning on Wednesday, June 15th.  I miss her dearly, but she is in peace now. 
Nammy’s To-Be Published Obituary — Written by Ken Degree, Edited by Valory Degree
 GLADYS RUTH DEGREE
One of the greatest angels to walk the earth has gone to her maker. Born Gladys Ruth, the daughter of Allen and Orrena (Cavanaugh) Provost, on January 11, 1933, she served everyone she met as a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, and friend. Coming from a large family taught her the patience needed to manage her own family. Gladys attended Irish Settlement Grade School in Underhill, and she graduated from Mt. Saint Marys High School in Burlington in 1951.  She married her soulmate and love of her life, Harold Degree, on October 24, 1953 at St. Stephens Church in Winooski and they spent 57 wonderful years together.
Although she occasionally worked outside the home, ruling her brood was her chief occupation. She had six children of her own: Reggie, married to Valory, with children John and Anne, Kathleen, with daughters Lynsi and Melinda, married to Jon Grange, Kenneth, married to Lori, with daughter Juliet, Michael, married to Melinda, with sons Dustin, Ryan, and Aaron, married to Kristin with daughter Ella, Sharon, married to Mark Pakulski, with sons Joseph and Sam, and youngest son Robert.
          Gladys also took in children of others to care for and made a name for herself among the friends of her children during her rewarding life. Most importantly, people need to remember that no matter what the problem, Gladys and Harold (Mom and Dad) would always be there to help.
          She is survived by her husband Harold of Colchester and sisters Mary, married to Roger Boozan, and Eleanor Brown, and brothers Raymond, married to Marilyn, and Leon, married to Diane, and many nieces and nephews.
          She was predeceased by her parents, and her sisters Catherine Corse, Elizabeth Potvin, Dorothy Dyer and Mildred Smith, and her brothers Harold, Donald, Lawrence and James Provost.
        In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Gladys’ memory to the American Cancer Society, 121 Connor Way, Williston, or the American Heart Association, 434 Hurricane Lane, Williston.

Happy Monday!

Hubs and I worked our little tails off yesterday in the backyard.
You would have to have seen the forest we call a backyard in person to truly appreciate what we did yesterday.  We clear cut little (and a couple bigger) tree-lets.  We cleared out all sorts of brush, and bushy stuff and thorny vines.  We raked years of leaves.  We created a fire ring for our back yard fires.  We cut down low hanging branches.  We almost reclaimed our backyard from the wild.  We also exhausted ourselves before picking up the piles of debris.  And we still have some more raking and pulling to do.  And then there’s the Min-OCD side that wants to box out all the bushes and trees and make it all orderly.  But we are soooooooo close, so close. 
Once it’s all good and pretty, I’ll post some before and afters!
It also rained up a storm last night.  Great excuse to watch old The Office DVD’s! 🙂
This morning I will admit… I hit the snooze bar once… BUT ONLY ONCE.  Yayyyyy me!  And I even got up and dressed for working out.  I skipped the bike because I wanted to drink my coffee warm.  But I did some lower body weight training, and some MUCH needed stretching (See summary of hard work in backyard yesterday, above).  And it felt so good!
Hubs made a delicious omelet for breakfast… Eggs, peppers, feta. 🙂  We have been making sure to take time for breakfast, even if it makes us late to work, for about a year now.  I will tell you it makes a huge difference.  I love it. 
I’m hoping when we get home and start the rice cooker that we’ll have some time to pick up some of the brush piles out back.  I think if we can just plug away at it a few minutes each evening, it can be completed by end of next week. 🙂
T-Minus 5 days and counting to Hub’s Birthday!! (June 10, I did the math right, right???)
 

The Great Blueberry Pancake Show-down!!!



We’ve had a pint of blueberries in the fridge just waiting for the perfect opportunity to become pancake fodder.  Well, today was it’s lucky day!  We generally use Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix and I was certain we had some in the pantry… but alas, I couldn’t put my hands on it this morning.  I decided to try to use the GF Bisquick we had in there.  Just as I resigned to this, Hubs found the Pamela’s!!!  (MY HERO!)  I had a flash of inspiration… I would do a pancake-off!  See which mix is the best.  They both provided recipes on their sides that were almost identical.  To level it out I used almond milk for both, instead of water for one and milk for the other. 

The Pamela’s looked healthier, probably due to the flecks of almond meal in it.  They both started with the same consistency, but the Bisquick gelled up with waiting it’s turn on the griddle.  I had to add a 1/3 of a cup of water to make the consistency usable.

As you can see, they don’t LOOK that different.  Some of the Bisquick ones were a little fluffier, before I added the water, but they took FOREVER to cook through completely and are kind of cake-like. 
We did a side by side taste comparison.  We both agree that we heart Pamela’s!!!!  There is a nice warm, slightly sweet, real pancake taste to it.  The Bisquick had some odd undertone to it’s taste we couldn’t quite figure out how to describe.  I thought it was a little like plastic… Hubs rancid flour…  It was an aftertaste issue for him. 
PAMELA’S BAKING AND PANCAKE MIX WINS!!!
Theron was envious, so we had to hook him up with a blueberry and a blueberry treat. 🙂


Time to get some yard work done!!!  Wish us luck… we’re taking on the forest….

Fire in the Hole!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, realistically, it’s not a hole… just a spot we burned some stuff in the past.  Tonight we finally had enough time for a fire in the backyard!!!  But first… as you have all been waiting for… A recap of the day!!!

It started out with a walk around the hood while it was still cool.  And we had a wonderful surprise… One of our usual streets was closed for work, so we had to go a different route home.  And there we stumbled upon a patch of black raspberries… Thank goodness we always have extra (empty) poop bags!  One was filled with a delicious haul to make our morning oatmeal extra tasty!  Take oatmeal, add freshly picked berries, some sliced almonds and viola!!  Breakfast…  if you’re really decadent like yours truly… add some shredded coconut. 🙂  Also, we had cappuccinos this morning.  Those used to be a weekend morning staple, but had been taken out of rotation for some reason or another.. but they are back baby!!!

Then I had to race off to work…  Not banking… Massage.  Three massages today.  🙂  That’s 5 for the week.  Not too shabby.  The clients today were absolutely awesome.  Super fun to work with.  And then for a bit of bad news.  I’ve been feeling stretched too thin… and I honestly LOVE to massage.  But more than that, I love to be able to pay my bills, provide insurance for Hubs and myself, and have money in the bank.  In light of that, and some other key, but too personal for the blog just yet, factors I had to give my notice at the day spa. 😦  Life’s not all joy, and mine was lacking.  I am working out the month, and then I have my weekends back. 

I timed my arrival home after that perfectly!  The handsome husband was just finishing up with making tuna sandwiches… he took the heel of the Pamela’s bread in the fridge, and let me have the last GF hamburger bun (also made from Pamela’s).  You can’t have tuna sandwiches without my mom’s relish (Eat your heart out Greg and Willie… it’s mine, alllllll mine).  We also threw together salads, because we let ourselves get super hungry!

Hubs finished painting some doors, and i puttered around a little.  Then he cleaned up his act, and we went to the Lebanese Festival.  I had a beef kabob and some grape leaves (which were ten times better than the Greek Festival’s, for the record).  Hubs had lamb kabob, rice (looked like rice-a-roni) and grape leaves.  Usually we hang out and watch the dancers, but no one was dancing… so we came home to make a fire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Obviously stopping at the store for marshmallows and mini chocolate bars… The easy GF way to almost Smores-it. 

Theron chilled with us guys, and we just enjoyed the fire…  Now I am sharing pictures with you, so you can enjoy too!!!

Fire Time Necessities!

Hubs at the woodpile, prepping for the fire.

He builds good fires!
Fire Preppd!

Yardgames are VITAL to a successful backyard fire.

  

Gettin this baby started!
Theron wondering what happened to his woodpile, and his friend the chipmunk’s house!
Happy guy with his fire!

Daily Cuteness:

Assisi – Italy 🙂

Now I’m off to bed…  Who has to get ready to run 4 miles by July 4th???? THIS GIRL! 😦

Giving and Taking…

This morning while we were working out we watched a documentary on PBS World (yes, yes, yes, I know… Nerd Alert!) about the San Francisco Bay and the protection/clean up of it.  After it ended Hubs and I both started talking about things we could do to be a little more eco-savvy…  In this conversation he said something that really resonated with me…  The gist of it was…  We love the outdoors, and we like enjoying it, but we don’t work at maintaining it.  It’s like we’re enjoying someone else’s hard work.  That point is so true, and doesn’t feel good.  It makes me feel like a “user”… and I hate that feeling.
That thought path evolved to me thinking about why I haven’t taken a greater interest in giving back with regards to the things I enjoy and take for granted.  In the past half a year, I have spent a lot of time feeling stretched too thin.  I know we all have the same number of hours in the day as everyone else.  I’m not sure why I feel like I have half what other people seem to.  Perhaps I’m less efficient lately. I am sure there are a lot of different variables at play.  However, the end result is that I don’t seem to “give”.  It seems I have more of an appetite to “take”.  While this might seem like it’s not a huge deal to some, to me it is.  One of my core beliefs revolves around giving and taking.  In my heart of hearts, I believe when you focus on giving, rather than taking… there’s less you need to take because in the big ol circle of life, you reap the rewards of giving first, taking second.  I don’t believe it’s linear, more of a “pay it forward” type of deal. 
Taking this a step further, and more personal, I like to think the inner Mindy, the “real” Mindy, gives.  But there is this other alter-ego Mindy that takes… She’s that same stressed, anxiety riddled, funk dwelling Mindy I have seen visiting more and more in the past year or two.  I miss and long for those days that I am alive and afire… and the “real” Mindy has come back.  The one who wants to help the world, rather than wants the world to help me.  I would like her to take up permanent residence. When that other Mindy comes to town…It doesn’t lend to being someone I am happy with, or content with, or proud of.  It makes me disappointed in myself.  I just want to run her out of town and tell her to go away and stay away… good riddance. 
I know this happens to everyone, we can’t all be our best self each and every moment.  There’s always the low points.  Those times when life just feels like it’s crapping all over you.  I wonder if I suck it up a little and create some small space within me to give, if that can grow… Like little seeds planted in the dirt growing into healthy joyful plants.  This weekend I’m going to make a real effort to give more and take less… see if I can sow some seeds.  It can’t hurt!