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While going over material for what I refer to as the ‘Wednesdays at the monastery’ group or Moth (monastery of the heart) group, I got to thinking about the difference between what is urgent and what is important.

Preparing a meal is important. The phone that rings while I’m preparing that meal is urgent, but not necessarily important.

Reading a book, or studying, being creative, playing, praying, is important. Constantly checking email or texting, rushing around to do more, acquire more, be more … all urgent.

There are times when things are both important and urgent. Stopping whatever you are doing to provide loving care, for the crying infant, the neighbor who comes knocking at your door with a need, the old blind dog confused because someone moved the furniture…

So how do I measure what is important and not just urgent? Beauty…

I’m reminded of a conversation with my 11 year old granddaughter regarding criteria for things we bring into our new home which is about 1/4 the size of our last home. We decided that something had to be beautiful. As a gardener and artist I often see beauty in a different way than others might, so something also has to serve some purpose to come into our small home and not just be another thing that we continue to pay for over and over again in terms of time and space. That purpose is sometimes just to remind us to smile and play.

It is easy for me to use beauty as a measure for what is important because it is something my Mom taught me early in life. We understood that she meant beauty to describe what we did, how something made us feel, would it be pleasing to God. She’d often remind us that… God doesn’t like ugly. And so I passed what Mom taught me on to my granddaughter so she would learn to see beauty in a different way. And have some way of measuring what is Important and what is Urgent.

Photo is of the Guava pastries and Tres Leches cakes served at the Sunday dinner during retreat weekend at Mt Saviour Monastery. Traditionally the monks and monastery guests join us for this meal. The theme for this year.. Cuban fiesta. Breaking bread with others… Important…


My friend Trish lives about an hour away and lately the only time we get to spend time together is at guild meetings, when she can come and where there is so much other stuff going on. She had a day off from teaching yesterday and so we planned for her to come for the day, a few friends who also haven’t seen her in a while joined us.

We had cherry and strawberry turnovers and coffee mid morning. Lunch was black bean and sweet potato enchiladas w/ rice, salad and homemade brownies.

Along with good things to eat, my friends brought their wheels and projects. We each use a different type of wheel, the window seat area you see was once part of my dining room, a room we rarely used, preferring to work and gather in the kitchen. When we redid the kitchen, I convinced Ruben to knock down the wall between the rooms and worked out a plan so that I would have a place where at least 6 visitors with spinning wheels would fit. I added the window seat so there would always be plenty of places for friends and family to gather and play.

You can see Rosie spinning on her wheel.. she is 14 years old and a gifted musician. She has been spinning for about 2 years now and earned the money for her wheel by playing her fiddle at festivals. Rose just soaks up everything we teach her.. If you look closely you can see how fast her bobbin is spinning and how fine her yarn is.

Trish’s Journey Wheel was the most interesting of the wheels.. when not in use, it folds up like a box and with the attached straps can be easily carried. I have one of those on my wish list… someday…

It was a good day… I feel blessed to have like minded friends that I can spend time with. I think of them as members of my ‘tribe’.

I slept for 8 hours last night instead of my usual 5 – 6.


FOR TODAY (February 2nd, 2009)…

Outside my window.

Dark, cold, but we will be having mild weather today as we did yesterday, a nice change from our frigid temps the last couple of weeks. We are over the coldest month and looking forward to spring.

I am thinking

All that we have going on today. Our daughter is having minor surgery and so we have the kids for the day. Gizzy has an appointment to be groomed … And so it goes… 


I am thankful for


                                       That Hubby and I are feeling better after a bout with the creeping crud.  That our dog Krystal is recovering from her limp. I think she did herself some damage when she decided to climb a snow hill rather than use the nicely shoveled walk, and then sank and struggled to free herself. She gave me a scare when she came in limping and then crashed flat out on her side at my feet. But, once she was up and around, she was her usual funny princess self, letting me know that she was not happy to be confined to the den. I’m now monitoring food and treats in order to get her back to around 15 pounds. She is a little heavier and it may be the cause of her not being so agile… that and her being a senior dog.


From the kitchen 

Not much, still recovering from the crud.



I am wearing

Crazy hair. I washed my very curly hair and then stepped out on the deck while letting dogs out before my hair was dry. There was a strong breeze and it resulted in Very Big Hair. And no, I’m not going to post a photo.


I am creating 

I’m still working on my wine colored wool/alpaca sweater, knit in one piece. I finished the length up to the armholes, put the front sides stitches on stitch holders and am working on the back. I’ve spent a little more time this week spinning, dyeing. Right now I’m spinning a silver silk and will be plying it with a single of Jacob/Angora I spun from a blend from Amazing Grace Farm. I need to take some time soon to work on photos of things I’m working on and things to sell, hopefully my camera will cooperate!


I am going 

I have several places I need to go, mainly dropping off or picking up people.


I am reading

Still reading… Sabbath… Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest by Wayne Muller. I’m reading only a little bit at a time so that I can study each section and Exercise before moving on to the next.

I also just finished reading Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani.

I’ve started updating my book list on my Reading page, will be adding more books as I come across them. And I’ll be adding comments as I think of them also.



I am hoping

That Steph’s surgery goes well even though it is something minor, it can be painful.

The we survive the grandkids for the day *G*

That we recover from the crud.

That the weather improves so we can get back to working on the new studio/shed/nest.


I am hearing 

The crashing sound caused by the sudden change in temps and fast thaw of snow and ice on the roof, some falling through the downspouts, some just falling off the edge of the roof. Every so often the sound makes us jump and is making the dogs a little edgy.


Around the house 

Mixed media supplies have been moved back to the studio and seed catalogs and garden plans are getting some attention


One of my favorite

Tiny little trinket boxes that hold jewelry, special stitch markers, etc. Tiny little things just seem to  catch my eye.


A few plans for the rest of the week

Get some more studio work done.

Order new dyes for customers who want to do their own dyeing.

Work on items for a March art exhibit.

Get the banner and needle felting supplies ready for Saturday’s guild meeting.


A picture thought to share:


Jeweled Frog & Dragonfly Trinket Boxes

Jeweled Frog & Dragonfly Trinket Boxes

 To read more about The Simple Woman’s Day Book, visit her blog. 



 … freshly baked Sweet French Vegan Bread…

… baked to perfection on a baking stone, a method I’d never tried in all my years of bread baking

… in the new professional oven that actually allows me to adjust the temp so now things bake properly…

… made with the help of the Kitchen Aid mixer that was  a Christmas gift….

… that I can now use because I finally finished laying down and grouting the mossy colored granite tiles…

Is there anything better than home made beautiful bread?

And yes…. it is absolutely yummy!

In 1983 we purchased a home on a hill at the edge of a state forest in NY state.  After moving in, we realized there were several hundred raspberry bushes on the property.  I never really liked raspberries up till then, but I quickly learned to love them.  In that area,  red raspberries are red caps, black raspberries are black caps. Along with those we had blueberries, wild blueberries and blackberries. 

   We lived there for almost 10 years and the berries became the kids summer business.  They would pick the berries early in the morning, then set up a table at the end of the driveway, keeping the berries cool in a cooler.  Neighbors and small local markets quickly became regular customers, often putting in orders for large amounts, days or weeks ahead knowing we’d have ripe berries by July 4th each year and again in late summer or early fall.   I would often keep a lot of the late berries for our own use, stocking up the freezer and would take some to the nursing home for my residents. 

  When I realized we might be moving, I transplanted some of the berry bushes to mom’s yard and then the 3 years later moved them to our current home.  Only a small number survived, but enough that by July 4th each year, we can count on at least a pint to a quart of berries a day for almost a month.  

  Photo of berries picked today… they are darker than they appear in the photos.  The ones in the bowl will be eaten fresh, the ones in the tray will be frozen for later use.   I like to freeze them in a single layer, using small trays that can be stacked, giving the trays a shake occasionally so the berries don’t clump together. Once frozen, I can pour them into a bag for loose packed, easy pour berries. They thaw out quickly this way, retaining their shape better.  My favorite way to use the berries is to make a simple raspberry sauce and drizzle it over ice cream, pound cake or other desserts and I also like them in pies.

  Grandson Connor has discovered the blackcaps and quickly learned the very dark ones are the sweet ones.  However, he hasn’t learned how to avoid the raspberry thorns and so we help him pick berries.  To him all the berries are simply ‘backberries’ and he would happily make an entire meal of them.  His parents are catering a wedding today and so I’m babysitting him.  Lunch was a simple sandwich as he’d been snacking a little while before lunch.  Actually the only reason he was eating lunch was to get him to sit still for a few minutes… *G*  When he only had 1/4 of his sandwich left, I gave him some berries, the sandwich was immediately abandoned. 

Today’s supper…  soup.   We like having this type of thing on Saturdays, but since we are usually working on a projects or catching up on errands, we sometimes don’t think about supper until our stomachs start to rumble and then want something quick. This is my quick soup.  My family likes it very much and so do friends.  For all those that have asked me how to it’s made.. here goes.   Not a recipe really.. but more or less how I make it.

Anything Goes Supper Soup…  also refered to as Italian supper soup because of the spaghetti sauce used for the soup…   For quick soup, use store bought sauce and frozen vegetables.  If you are a gardener, use a variety of your fresh, frozen or preserved veggies, anything goes!

If you are gasping because the quick version doesn’t use fresh ingredients.  Read labels, there are some pretty good prepared sauces out there, you can also use your own frozen sauce from when you had too many tomatos all at once in the garden.  *G*  Been there.  I don’t can veggies, but I used to freeze a lot of sauce.  The advantage to using spaghetti sauce or something similar is that you don’t have to add any extra seasonings, chop onions, etc.   Remember, the goal is fast food that is filling and tasty.


– 1 pound or so of sweet Italian Sausage (you can use turkey sausage, meatballs, or other types of meat)

– 1 jar of your favorite  spaghetti sauce,  the size that is less than a quart, whatever that is.

– 1 – 2 ( 16 ounce ) bags of your favorite frozen veggies. raw, cooked, leftover.. whatever. Canned is ok, but I’m not a fan of most store bought canned veggies.  I use fresh or frozen.

– 1 cup or more of Pasta ( something small enough that doesn’t take too long to cook ) I sometimes use rice and often throw in some quinoa.  

 Cut a pound of sweet Italian sausage into bite sized pieces.  Brown, drain off fat.   Add the jar of spaghetti sauce and a jar of water,  let simmer till about 1/2 hour before serving. Add vegetables and pasta and cook over medium heat till pasta is cooked.   

Today, TM (The Man) tossed in peas and carrots, I tossed in corn and beans.  Then in went the elbow macaroni.  TM kept throwing things in and so I added a little more liquid (vegetable stock) and then he decided there wasn’t enough pasta and since we were out of elbow macaroni… he broke up spaghetti and threw it in.  We ended up with a lot of soup!  It was terrific with garlic bread.  

For dinner today we are having shrimp scampi, which I like a lot.  But, I like it even more if roasted peppers are thrown in.  

I had more than I needed for dinner and usually I’ll slice extras into strips to toss on salads, use for stir fry or freeze for later use.  Today I roasted them all, very easy to do… normally. 

A tip …   don’t use tiny peppers.   Most of the peppers I had were little hot pepper shaped peppers.  And they were 3 times the work of large peppers.  I’ve done lots of large ones, never tiny ones and I doubt I’ll do them again.

 Another tip … after the skin on peppers are blistered on all sides, set them to cool covered with plastic wrap. They will sweat and the skin will slip off.  

As usual, I was doing 3 things at a time and simply pulled them out and set them to cool, uncovered… duh!  

Not only did I forget the wrap,  I let a couple of little peppers suffer a horrible death, burnt beyond saving. 

What survived is yummy, cut into strips and drizzled with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, salt and fresh ground pepper.  I have enough to use for dinner and extra for the weekend!    If I remember to take a photo of the finished peppers, I’ll post it.


Adding to my post…  I’m forgetting everything today! 

The oregano I used for the peppers is from a friend… all the dried herbs in this basket are from her garden.  Vicki is a master gardener and so I’m thrilled to have met her and become friends.  I’m teaching Vicki how to spin for chiengora yarn and she’s been very generous with good advice and things from her garden..   There is  Thyme, Lemon Thyme,  Taragon, Parsley, Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Black Mint, Oregano, Hot Oregano, Bay Leaves, Chives, Mint,  Basil, Horseradish and even Stevia.  Some of these are old favorites, some I’ve never tried.  

I suspect we will be sitting and spinning in the garden this summer, while eating something wonderful.

Although…. I need to do less eating and more gardening… I’ve gain a bit of weight since last summer… things are getting a little tight around the waist!


I made a pot of pretty good spinach soup for lunch.

I chopped the onions, cooked them in olive oil, than added my stock and some rice and quinoa (pronunced keen-wah),  I let the rice and grain cook for a bit and then added the spinach, seasoned the soup and let it cook a  little more before putting small batches in the blender. 

My mistake was putting just a little too much in the blender in the last batch.  Not a good thing with a hot mixture, it needs lots of room.  And even with the cover closed, a bit of hot soup shot out, over my hand (owie), counter, cabinet, wall, counter, etc.  

I spent more time cleaning up soup than I did making it or eating it.   

spinach soup

Here I am!It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to post any blog updates on my blogs … It’s just a busy time of the year with a garden to put to bed for winter, studio work, etc.

This Saturday a group of 6 spinners (including myself) or wannabe spinners met at my house for the first time. We met for 3 hours and we didn’t cover any particular topic this time, mostly just getting to know each other, what we know and want to learn. I had mulled cider in the crockpot, Sue brought some shortbread bars and Vicki brought some brownies. I showed the spinners how I spin on a Great Wheel and using a quill attachment on an my Ashford Elizabeth wheel, Lynn showed them how to use hand cards and spinning on a Louet. We tweaked wheels and talked about various fibers, techniques, etc. Before everyone left, I gave them a quick studio tour. The 3 hours went very quickly. We plan to do this on a regular basis… And maybe I’ll remember to get photos next time.

Monday is when the knitting group meets at Sweet Read coffee shop/book store (Eat a book today!). I took a sock to work on and also my Louet wheel. We had a great turnout with everyone working on various projects. One of the ladies came in wearing political campaign buttons which almost sent me running in the other direction *G* I’ve been bombarded with calls, mail and solicitors lately… enough! I will be glad when today (election day) is over so my phone stops ringing at all hours.

When I got back from the knitting, I received a large envelope in the mail from Cary, my Feet To Prayers sock swap partner. Inside was a pattern for toe up socks. Cary made socks using this pattern with one of my yarns and I really liked it. Will I be able to resist trying the pattern before I finish the sock I’m working on?

Also inside was a pattern for a dog sweater. Now.. I’m not big on dog sweaters. I think very few dogs actually need them. And when a customer contacts me to ask if I can spin yarn from their dog’s hair, to make them a sweater, I have to shake my head. Wouldn’t it just be easier to leave the dog’s hair longer? But, it has happened that occasionally I’ve needed to sweater a dog, usually for a medical reason. And since my dogs have such thick coats, they get overheated wearing anything but light weight cotton. In the past my solution has been to buy a baby onesie in the appropriate size and then put it on them backwards so that their tail can poke out where the onesie snaps at the bottom. *G* Hey.. it works! But, if you forget to unsnap and roll up the onesie when they go out to potty, it is a problem. LOL
So Cary, I thank you and the Lhasas thank you… woof!
My pkg for my FTP swap partner should be in the mail soon. I wanted to include something special that I will be making tomorrow and then it will go in the mail.

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