Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good-bye to 2013

2013 was one wild roller-coaster ride of a year. There were some good things, some bad things, and some terrible things.  All in all, I am glad this year is over, even though I know that the coming year is also going to be very challenging.

Pets – This was a very rough year for us in regards to our furry kids.  I had three of them go to the rainbow bridge.  They were all old and had health problems, but still my heart was broken over and over again. My border collie, Buddy, was 12. My terrier mix pound puppy, Duchess, was 14. My tuxedo cat, Sylvester, was my oldest. He was just a couple of months shy of 19 when he passed.  We did have one bright spot during the year. My shorty Jack Russell terrier, Piglet joined the family. She is feisty and rambunctious and has done my heart a world of good.

Work – Near the first of the year my hubby took a job that seemed perfect. It did entail him being out of town for training for an entire month, but it seemed like it would be worth the time apart. Unfortunately, the job was not at all what we were expecting, so that was a huge disappointment.   Also at the first of the year I was transferred to a new department at work. I was very nervous about it, but that wound up being one of the bright spots of my year.  My new team has been great and I have been able to take on lots of new responsibilities.

Family, part 1 – This has been the hardest part of the year. My father-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  His treatments did not help and the cancer has spread. My husband is obviously devastated. I adore my FIL, so I am devastated as well. We decided that we absolutely had to be nearer to him for whatever time he had left, so we sold our house and moved from Texas to Ohio. My FIL is still holding on and I will be eternally grateful that we have been able to be together as a family thru the holidays. 

Moving – Although the reason for the move is tragic, it was amazing how easily it all came together. We had an offer on our house the first day it was on the market, and were in Ohio less than a month later.  My amazing boss offered to let me transition to a contract position working from home, so I still get to work with the same great group of people.   

Family, part 2 – Less than 2 months after we moved to Ohio my father (who is in Texas) had a nasty fall and broke his femur. It was a bad break and required surgery. Luckily he didn’t have to stay in the hospital too long, but he will be at an inpatient physical therapy center for the foreseeable future.  It breaks my heart that I can’t be there to help him and my mom thru this. I honestly don’t know what to expect. The doctors seem to be saying hopeful things about him being able to walk with a walker after his therapy is complete, but given his history I will honestly be surprised if that comes to pass.  I hope that I am just being a pessimist.

That is nowhere near everything that happened this year, but it covers the highlights (and lowlights) fairly well.  I’m so glad that this tumultuous year is just about over. I know that 2014 is going to be a tough year as well, but at least we are going into this year with our eyes open.

Well, that is enough griping, moaning, and venting from me. I hope that all of you have a safe and fun New Year’s Eve and that your 2014 is full of wonderful things!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Farewell Mr. Mandela

When I first heard the name Nelson Mandela, apartheid was still the law of the land in South Africa and Mr. Mandela was in prison. I remember when he was released, when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and when he became president of South Africa. Has there ever been a more inspiring story? 

I’m not going to give you a history lesson. There are lots of news articles out today that will tell you all the details of this man’s amazing life.  Instead, I’ll just share a few of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

It always seems impossible until it is done.

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.
Rest in peace Mr. Mandela.  It was truly an honor to walk this earth at the same time as you. Thank you for showing us all that one person can always make a difference.

*Quotes sourced from http://www.brainyquote.com

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Secret Ingredient

I was always extremely close to my grandmother.  I was named after her and me & my mom even lived with her for a while when I was young. When she passed away I was heartbroken, but I resolved that I would find a way to keep her spirit alive.  

Grandma was an excellent cook. She was not formally trained and she never used cookbooks.  She learned out of necessity.  She had eight kids and lived on a ranch. There was never much money, so she had to be clever to find ways to keep everyone’s bellies full and satisfied. Regardless of how good the rest of her cooking was, she was always known for her pies. As long as she had some flour and some Crisco she could make a pie out of just about anything.  Her pies were always so delicious, but she swore there was no secret ingredient.

I decided that the best way to keep her spirit alive was to take over the mantle of “Barcy the pie-maker”. I knew better than to try and master everything she could do, so I decided that I would just concentrate on apple pie.  My first few efforts were pretty horrible.  I never did master her way of making crusts, but once I switched to a butter crust and started using my food processor I learned to make a pretty decent crust. I pride myself on never using canned apple pie filling.  I always use at least two varieties of real apples & lots of cinnamon.

However, the most important thing in my kitchen when I make a pie is a framed picture of Grandma. I always set her picture on the counter and have a nice little conversation while I’m peeling apples and rolling out dough. Maybe it is all in my head, but I swear I can feel her there.
Prepping for pie making with Grandma

My grandma will always live on in my heart. Through making pies with her memory, I have finally figured out the secret ingredient.  It should have been obvious the whole time. Grandma always added lots of love.

The finished product