Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Tale of Three Trees

The Tale of Three Trees

      Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted. to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him. “I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!" The second little tree looked
out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean.. "I want to be a strong,sailing ship,” he said. I want to travel mighty waters and carry 'powerful kings. I .will be the strongest ship in the world!” The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and busy women worked in a busy town. “I don't want to leave this mountaintop at all,”she said: "I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they. will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world!” .       Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone, and. the little trees grew tall.
      One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.
The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop 'of
his shining ax, the first tree fell. 
     ''Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest,” thought the first tree. I shall hold wonderful treasure.”
The second wood
cutter looked at the second tree and said, This tree is strong. It is perfect for me.” With a
swoop of his ax, the second tree fell. 
     ''Now I shall sail mighty waters,” thought the second. tree, “I shall be a strong ship fit for kings!" r '
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed
bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up, “Any kind of tree will do for me,” he muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax, the third. tree fell.'
.     The first tree rejoiced when 'the woodcutter brought him; to a carpenter's shop, but the busy carpenter was not thinking about treasure chests. .Instead his work worn hands fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals.
The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold or filled with treasure. Hi was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry animals.
    The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took him to the shipyard, but no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead the once-strong tree hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. Too small and too weak to sail an ocean or river, he was taken to a little lake. Every day he brought in loads of dead, smelly fish.
    The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in the lumberyard.
What happened?” the once-tall tree wondered. “All I ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and
point to God.”
Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees Nearly forgot their dreams.
But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed
    I wish I could make a cradle for him,” her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful,” she said.
    And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.
One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake.
Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. He knew he did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and rain.
The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, “Peace.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. 
      And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the King of heaven and earth.
    One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry, jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her.
She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.
But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that
God's love had changed everything.
It had made the fist tree beautiful.
It had made the second tree strong.
And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.
That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Twas the week before Christmas

Twas the week before Christmas and all through my house
All the kitties are scrambling to undecorate the tree
The stockings are packed away in a sack
In hopes of surprising my kids on the road

We're taking the holiday to my daughter and friends
As Laura is working and cannot come home
So Will and I are driving to San Francisco or bust
In my Jeep sleigh packed tight with our holiday load

I'm leaving instructions for pet sitters to read
I'm hoping the kitties don't trash the whole house
If they can be good they'll get some new toys
For Minny, Penelope, Amy and Toad

So for all of the elves who are busy right now
Just remember it's Christmas and Joy's in the air
Enjoy every minute you spend with your kids
To all who are traveling may you have a safe flight! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Life's View Somedays!

"Mom, mom, mommy, ma, mom, mom, ma, ma, mommy, mommy... WHAT!!... hi!
 This picture says a lot to me. It is how my kids persist when they want my attention! It's how I must look when I am chasing raccoons away from the food I leave out for a few feral cats I feed outside or scaring squirrels out of my tomato plants. It's even the ring tone I use for my Mom so I know when she calls. There are so many little things I do to keep my days brighter and laughing must be a part of every day. I truely believe that humor is an important part of life and good health.
I came across this cartoon on my daughter's Facebook page and all I could think about was what a wonderful scenes of humor she has developed. I also see that developing in my son. I just had a great call from him and we were talking about cute and funny things that both of my kids did or said when they were little. I loved looking back at so many happy things that came to us in our conversation. It was the way they expressed themselves when they were small and it all fit into who they are now. I suppose they wouldn't want the world to know all of those things but some of them were very precious like my daughter at 2 or 3 asking if she could have a hingabanger and trench tries from McDonald's or wanting to watch "Snow White and the 7 Dorfs" for the 20th time. It made my son laugh and brought a big smile to me and a warm feeling about our closeness at that moment. Finding new ways to improve our connections to our kids is so important as they become teens and then adults. It is so enlightening when you stumble onto new ways to understand them and I think they must feel good when they know you are listening to their thoughts and ideas.
It all comes back to finding common ground and parenting teens in new ways. 
I would like to recommend a great book on communicating with teens. Parenting Teens With Love; Logic by Foster Cline MD & Jim Fay. This is a must read book. It guides you how to ask the right questions to get your children thinking and working out things for themselves. After all we all need to let them grow up and be independent. I have put a link to this book from Amazon and it is so worth reading.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Get Your Business On Line

In today's economy internet sales are booming. I am convinced that putting your own business on line can really boost sales or interest in it. Why not Create and Manage your own website! You can promote your business and link it to a Twitter account or Facebook and reach out to more people who are looking for businesses like yours.
We live in a vastly changing world that has embraced new technologies and made them accessible to everyone. Every where I go I see people with new phones that give them access to their email, play music, read books, find directions and even browse the internet. Our phones are not just for calling family and friends anymore. There are so many ways to stay connected.
Think about how you used to take pictures of important events or fun trips. You carried a big camera in a case, you snapped shots on film and then sent that film to be developed and printed. You probably waited a week to get it back and hoped everything came out. I know! I used to be a professional medical photographer. I will never forget the time I shot a roll of slides of a surgical procedure around Christmas time and sent the film to Kodak to process. When I picked up my slides at the photo shop to take back to the doctor who did the surgery I found the slides were of someones very beautiful Holiday party and several adorable children seeing Santa. All I could think of was what would the person who got my film would think and how freaked out they would be. I never did find out what happened to our film and the doctor was quite concerned. Now most people just pull out their phone and snap a digital shot that they can open on their computer or send to a friend right from their text messaging service.
Everything is close to instant. We share pictures and ideas with friends and family all the time. I like sharing my love of cooking and being creative with anyone who is interested. That is why I stared this blog. I feel like there is no point in being clever or creative if no one knows what you do or think of. When you share ideas and tell others how to do the same thing it can make our world a better place. It even may spark the imagination of someone else to make improvements on your idea. This is called progress! I choose to embrace it! Look around yourself and think about the things you enjoy the most. Ask yourself what you are most passionate about and where do you look when you want to know more about things you love. I for one have a passion about food and helping other people around me. I volunteer helping feed the hungry in my community, I look for ways to get kids to eat better by creating fun and healthy recipes, and I like to find ways to inspire other in the kitchen and teach them how simple and fun cooking can be. I even like to wow my friends with great food that catches your eyes before you even taste it. I run a small catering business and offer cooking lessons. I am trying to create my own website for my catering called Serve Yourself Right. Recently I found a free trial called Andy's Web Tools. Check it out at http://cli.gs/HMZWRZ

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Gift of Spending Thanksgiving with my Teans

As Thanksgiving sneaks up on me I have to start planning the feast I will prepare for my son, my daughter and her friends in San Francisco.This is the perfect opportunity for me to get to know my teens even better and practice what I learned from Love And Logic.  I figure I am helping out a large group of starving students who couldn't get home for the holiday. Last year there were 15 kids and I stayed close to a traditional meal but I want to step out of the box a bit. Of course I will have turkey, brined and juicy but this year I plan to take the sides up a notch. Here is my menu so far:

Thanksgiving 2010
  Shrimp Gazpacho Shooters
 Italian Style cold asparagus salad
Brined and Roasted Turkey
Stuffing extraordinaire
Green been bundles wrapped in bacon
Roasted potato fans
Broccoli Gratin
Home made dinner rolls
Individual molten chocolate mousse cups

 Now that ought to make some mouths drool. I found some white ceramic mini mugs that work for the desert at my local restaurant supply store. Most of the dinner can be made ahead ready to reheat at the last minute. I will have to get the shrimp when I get to SF so they are very fresh and that should be easy. I will do as much ahead of time as I can, pack it in coolers and drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco early in the pre dawn hours on Thanksgiving day. I plan to finish the brown the rolls and the gratin just before dinner and bake the desert after I serve dinner. That will give everyone a chance to digest the meal and relax before desert. I have added the recipe to my best recipes page.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Post Election Comfort Meal

As we all start to watch and listen to the results of a very challenging election I am thinking of what the ultimate comfort meal would be for tonight. My answer is a wonderful go to favorite of mine that was inspired by The Congressional Cookbook of 1970. This is A Meatloaf To Remember by Mrs. Lawrence H. Smith, wife of former Representative (Wisconsin). I have added this recipe to my best recipes page. I often make this in a muffin pan for individual servings and a big scoop of mashed potatoes and peas would be perfect.
This meatloaf is very moist and doesn't have the standard tomato sauce base of many recipes. I love meatloaf sandwiches as well and this works great for that too. Have it any way you like.

Whatever you like enjoy your evening of patriotism and God Bless America!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Fun

It's time to get haunting again! I have costume tips and scary food to share. Can't decide what to be this year? Look in your closet and see what's on hand first. I'm sure you have some odd hats or capes. Work around things you all ready have. Consider what's in the news lately or who is in the news, what movies are current, what's on TV, etc. Now imagine yourself imitating someone or something like an iron chef or the people you see in commercials for cereals or insurance or maybe a forensics investigator. With a little makeup and some odd clothing combinations and accessories your there.
I remember when my daughter was little she wanted to be a princess or a bride.I took a trip to the local thrift shop and found an old lacy wedding gown for $10 and a few brides maid dresses for $5 each. With a little snip here and a stitch there she was a beautiful bride, Bell or Cinderella. Those dresses lasted for 3 years and her friends always came here to play dress up. I even supplied her preschool with a trunk full of dress up clothes and accessories.
For my son an old wool blazer was easy to turn into a pirate captain by cuffing the sleeves or a military officer with the collar turned up and Velcro to add ribbons and applets.

It is also fun to create creepy food that is really healthy for kids to snack on so they won't just go for the candy. A plastic skull covered in ham and a plate of eyeballs (mini mozzarella balls, sliced cherry tomatoes, Sliced olives with pimentos, a little fresh basil and a bit of olive oil). They look great and taste good too. There are thousands of great ideas on the internet to spook up a Halloween gathering.

 See my favorite recipes page to inspire you with a rich creamy tomato soup to float your eyeballs in!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kindles and iPads for Reading and Travel

I just got a Kindle for a trip I was taking. It is awesome & fits in my purse. I wanted to take some books to read on the plane and when I had down time. I couldn't believe how easy it was to get books on it and save money on the cost of books. It also weighs so little and fit right in my purse. They hold a charge for a week. I found an offer to try one or an iPad 1 and keep it for free. Check it out here http://cli.gs/03JWH6
I think the iPad has touch screen technology for page turning but that didn't matter to me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Great BrunchTrick

I am planning to cater a brunch for 20 people and I was looking through my files for ideas when I came across something fun for all. This little recipe works like a charm and gets everyone involved.
Have your guests write their name on a quart size Ziploc freezer bag with a permanent marker.
Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2) shake to combine them, or use a whisk in a bowl before placing them in bag.,
Put out a variety of ingredients such as ham, sausage (pre-cooked), cheeses, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, hash browns, salsa, etc.
Each guest adds prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake.
Make sure to get the air out of the bag and zip it up.
Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of boiling water.
Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for everyone to be amazed.
Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved in the process and a great conversation piece.
To make it a bit easier I plan on beating eggs up ahead of time and will add eggs to each bag with a ladle. I have a small ladle that is about equal to 1 egg.
The ingredients will add a nice colorful touch to the buffet I will set up.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Get Kids Going Green For Lunch

For years I collected kids Bento Boxes to keep my kids interested in their school lunches. I used to cut sandwiches into shapes with cookie cutters and turn them into critters with raisin eyes or carrot noses. I didn't like all the trash most kids were generating at school and I thought it would make my kids smile when the opened things up.
I grew up with a Japanese woman I called my other Mom who taught me how to cook real Japanese food and introduced me to Sushi and Bentos. Over time I have found many fun ideas to serve in little compartments. Recently I planned a catered dinner for some friends presented in stacking Bento Boxes. It made it fun to set them all up ahead of time and stack them up to transport them. Best of all I just unstacked them and handed them out to everyone. Great WOW factor and easy to take home to clean up after.
The twist was they were filled with non Asian meals and pretty garnishes that caught everyone by surprise.
I combined things like scalloped potatoes that were cooked in ring forms, green beans that were wrapped in bacon and roasted in little bundles, small round slices of tenderloin and a small salad in a cucumber ring garnished with Dicon radish and carrot slices that were cut into small crab and horse shapes I had in a Japanese garnish cutter set. The colors popped and the details made them pretty. Just use your imagination and put your favorite recipes to the test. Lasagna works great if you roll them upright individually with a little kitchen twine tied in a bow around each one. Make your own croutons cut out with canape cutters.
I discovered a great site for ideas also: http://www.laptoplunches.com/lunchmenus.html