5 Things I Learned From the “Turtleman”

2 Aug

Photo credit http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Reptiles_And_Amphibi_g87-Aldabran_Tortoise_p11378.html

It was one of those days that I sat down in front of the TV for no other reason than to allow my brain to rest, veg out a little while.  When I am in this space it does not really matter what is on and I sometimes do not even make the effort to flip through the channels.  What I watch is less important than the fact that I am not doing a task, planning a task or worrying about the next six tasks on my never-ending to do list.

That is how I happened across the Turtleman.  If you do not know who the Turtleman is, the simplest explanation is to say that he is a critter wrangler.
The surprising thing about it was at the end of the day I found I learned a thing or two from watching him and none of them had anything to do with capturing a racoon, possum or a turtle.  I thought I would share them with you today.

1.  If you can name it you can tame it.

He always gives a name to the rascal he is attempting to capture and relocated.  He would give each creature a name based on the situation and what he could detect of its personality based on the reported behaviors and clues that it had left behind. It reminds me of something I ran across once while studying different cultural practices.  There was a recounting of a practice in a particular Native American tribe that a particular wise elder did the naming of all the children.  This was based on the belief that in order to properly name something you must have a real understanding of it.

When you think about any process of  self-improvement you see that you must first acknowledge and name the problem before you can begin the work of solving it.

2. You can decide to be happy.

The Turtleman seems very happy yet he has very little in the way of material possessions.  His home has no running water and he doesn’t even have a full set of teeth, yet he is happy.  Happiness really is a state of mind, not a destination.

3.  One path to happiness is through service to others.

It appears that the Turtleman’s standard fee for capturing and relocating a critter is $65.  That includes a house call, a crew of one or more helpers and no charge by the hour.  Often it seems that he is not paid in money but  in handmade goods from the hands of appreciative children or other non-monetary compensation such as the honor of waving the starting flag at the local speedway.

Much of  his payment is from his joy from alleviating  the suffering of others, both people and animals.

4.  If you follow your bliss you will be successful.

Success is relative so everyone’s success will look different but success is living a life doing what you love.

5.  Celebrate your victories.

The Turtleman loves to dance.  It is very difficult not to feel joy if you let yourself dance with abandon.  It is the body’s way of expressing joy.  Give yourself the gift of dancing  like no one is watching.

Intensely Blueberry, Blueberry Sorbet

28 Jul

This post is for my youngest kidlet, the granddaughter of  The Queen of Everything Money (my sister).  My sister just discovered that the baby LOVES blueberries.  She can not be trusted near a container of blueberries, so they must be hidden and doled out to her in less than lumberjack-sized portions.

(If anyone knows what that you call the granddaughter of your sister, great niece?, grand niece? Please let me know.)

This is a recipe for blueberry sorbet that has an intense blueberry flavor.  It does not take a lot of this to satisfy a craving for blueberries and it is, of course, naturally gluten-free with relatively low amount of added white sugar (more about that to come in a later post).

I found the recipe on Simply Recipes, here is the link to original recipe,  how I made it follows:

Ingredients:

5 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries, rinsed, stems removed

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

1 Tbsp (fluffy) lemon zest

2 teaspoons lemon juice (less than original recipe)

pinch of salt

Directions:

1.  Place the blueberries, sugar, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir to coat blueberries with the sugar.  Mash with a potato masher.

(I actually combine step 1 and 2 by using an immersion blender, much easier.)

2.  Put the mashed blueberries into a blender and blend for a couple of minutes until smooth.

(Be careful while processing the blueberries unless you just love the color purple.  They will stain your clothes, your countertop, your floor, or just about anything you allow them to stay in contact with for any length of time.)

3.   Place a sieve over a large bowl and working in batches, press the mixture through the sieve using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. This will catch the tougher and larger pieces fo lemon and blueberry peel.

Pour into sieve

$.  Chill the mixture for at least an hour in the fridge.  Then process following the directions of your ice cream maker.

(The colder the mixture is when putting it in the ice cream maker, the smoother the texture of the  sorbet.)

You can eat right away of put in freezer for a few hours to further firm the texture.

Makes a little less than a quart.

Another tip that came with this recipe was to add a tablespoon of two of corn syrup to the mix to prevent it from becoming too hard if stored in the freezer.  The longer its is in the freezer the harder it becomes.  Most others recommend the addition of a similar amount of alcohol maybe vodka or a complimentary liqueur, but because this is for family consumption, corn syrup, while not my favorite thing, sounds like a better choice.  I do not add either because it never hangs around long enough to need it.  (Here is where you will have to use your imagination because I was not fast enough to get a picture of the finished sorbet before it disappeared.)

For those of you who do not have an ice cream maker, good news, you can still make sorbet!  It involves freezing the mixture in a shallow baking dish in the freezer, then blending in a food processor or blender.  For the step- by-step process as well as more recipes and great tips click here to visit Busy in Brooklyn.

15 Jul

queenoffamilosity:

This post is about a dear friend’s son. I want to share it as I could not have expressed it better myself. I am asking for your prayers for Taron and his family and any other help (giraffe or otherwise) you may be able to share.
Thank you.

Originally posted on Ebsco Spring Company:

I have occasionally been known to hijack Ebsco’s Blog for personal reasons.  Most of the time I end up tying things back to Ebsco at the end, but today I will not.  Today I want to talk about giraffes.

Giraffes are one of the most beautiful and graceful animals.  They are the tallest living animal and come from Africa.  Males are typically 16 to 20 feet tall when fully grown and weight 3,500 pounds.  In a gallop the giraffe can reach 37 mph while appearing to glide effortlessly. Humans have been captivated by these majestic animals for millennia.  The bushmen from Africa perform a medicine dance named the giraffe which is performed to treat head injuries.  Humans hold a fondness for the giraffe, even to the point of the national toy store, Toys R Us using the giraffe as their mascot.

So what is the significance of giraffes that prompted…

View original 658 more words

Happy 4th of July!

3 Jul

Happy 4th of July!

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Eating_Drinking_g369-Child_Eating_Ice_Cream_p10052.html

I wish everyone a happy 4th of July.  I hope that you all have the opportunity to spend time with friends and family and enjoy the freedoms that we have been given as citizens of the good old United States of America.

When I think of the 4th of July there are a few things that always come to mind.  Fireworks, food on the grill, watermelon, and ice cream.  Because I am now the proud new owner of an ice cream freezer it seems that nothing is safe from becoming a frozen treat but for this holiday I thought I would share about the all-American favorite, vanilla ice cream.  This post will have something for everyone to enjoy as it includes a fun kids hands-on (or impatient adults) 10 minute version of the treat as well as a great grown-up 2 day custard-based version for more discerning palates.

First the fun. No ice cream maker required!

This was found on allrecipes.com.  Check it out to read the comments as many questions you may have will be answered there.

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Speedy-Ice-Cream/Detail.aspx?prop31=3

                   Ingredients 

  •                     1 cup half-and-half cream
  •                     1/4 cup sugar
  •                     1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •                     4 cups coarsely crushed ice cubes
  •                     3/4 cup salt

            Directions

In a small resealable plastic bag, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla.  Press out air and seal.  In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the ice and salt; add the sealed small bag.  Seal the large bag; place in another large resealable plastic bag and seal.  Shake and knead for 5-7 minutes or until cream mixture is thickened.  Serve immediately or freeze.

Note: many comments suggest that you rinse of the salt from the outside of the bag before opening and serving.

This is a perfect activity if you have a few kids at your holiday gathering.  It is something of a group activity, as everyone is making ice cream, but each can individualize their ice cream with a flavor addition like fruit, or chocolate chips, chopped candy or anything your imagination can create.

The ingredients listed are for the amount of one person so be sure to have enough on hand to make one for each kid.  3 kids = 3 times the ingredients list.

Now for the long version.

The basic recipe for this also came from allrecipes.com.  You can check it and all the comments out here http://allrecipes.com/recipe/creamy-vanilla-ice-cream/detail.aspx but I will share my version with you below.

            Ingredients

      •                     2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
      •                     1 cup sugar
      •                     1/4 teaspoon salt
      •                     2 1/2 cups whipping cream
      •                     2 cups half-and-half cream
      •                     1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

                    Directions

In a heavy saucepan, combine the first five ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon and reaches at least 178 degrees F.  Heat slowly being careful not to scorch.  Remove from the heat; cool quickly by setting pan in ice and stirring the mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to freeze, pour custard and vanilla into the cylinder of an ice cream freezer. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.

    Note: I have a 1 1/2 quart Cuisinart  ice cream freezer and although it looks like this amount will fit comfortably in the machine it does expand and will eventually overflow as it freezes.  Best to separate into two batches and freeze first one half, then the other to save yourself a mess.

Sorry, no pictures, but you can imagine the good parts and save yourself from the rest.

If you try either one of these please let me know how it went.

Happy 4th to all!

The Beautiful Day Song

1 Jul

Singing in the car ritual

Photo credit http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

“Family” rituals are very important and often come about in the most unplanned ways.   Our Beautiful Day song is a great example this.  It came to mind as I was writing the post Beautiful Blogger Award telling of the Navajo prayer about walking in beauty.  I filed that thought in the back of my mind but did nothing about it.

A few days ago, it came to mind again as I was reading a fabulous blog post at Help4YourFamily titled,  The Importance of Delight,  that talks about creating moments of joy (delight) with your children so that you both had something to draw on to help smooth life through the times of the mundane or times that are  less than ideal.  That post felt like a little light bulb going off for me and I suggest you check it out and see if it speaks to you also.  Still I did nothing.

Today, I read a blog post by Ken Lauher titled, Morning Sing-Along: Rituals To Make You Happy Right Now,  about a family whose ritual was a car sing-along on the way to school to Bohemian Rhapsody.  It has a fun video that really lets you feel how the energy you experience is lifted through singing.  It really is joyful to watch and you can do that by clicking on this link.  After you watch it I would ask you to take the time to scroll down to the comments because there is a wonderful exercise that is easy to do that will help you re-frame your thinking to allow you to be less reactive to negative behaviors (think kids specifically here) from others.   Please check these links out and let me know what you think.

Okay universe, I guess you win…today I am doing it.  I am sharing these great resources and I will add my story about the Beautiful Day Song.

I have the good fortune of having many children in my life and this story is about two who are dear to my heart.  When they were five years old, yes, they are twins, they decided that going to school was not what they wanted to do and the trip to school was a marathon of complaints, pouting and all round unpleasantness. Mornings were not a fun time at this stage of the game and to up the ante the trip to school took about 30 minutes on a good day.

One morning, as the protests from the back seat were escalating, I was wondering what I might do to shift the energy from unhappy to happy.  I found myself singing about the happy things that I  saw around me, making it up as I went.   It’s a beautiful day, it’s a beautiful day….the birds are singing and the butterflies are flying….It’s a beautiful day, It’s a beautiful day….. next verse….and so on.

The funny thing was that although my singing is not the best, it really is hard to feel unhappy when you are singing a happy song in an unrestrained way. The shift in my energy seemed to shift the feeling of the journey enough to get  the kids’ attention.  The mood lightened and the trip was more pleasant.

The next day as things escalated from the back seat, I broke out into the Beautiful Day Song and by the time I started in to the second verse I hear no, no, no, I want to sing it.  So from that point on they took turns singing their own verses of the song.  The trip to school had actually been fun.  Nice change.

The next day, it was raining.  We in Southern California do not respond well to rain so there was a bit of gloom floating around in the car that morning.   A short time  into the ride I decided to break out the Beautiful Day Song.  I hear from the back seat, what do you mean , it is not a beautiful day, it is raining!  I told them that yes, it was raining, but it could still be a beautiful day if we wanted to make it one.  They thought that was a good idea and took the idea further to use their imagination to sing about beautiful things that were not there at the present.  We got to school.  I enjoyed the ride home alone, with a happy song in my heart.

The next day, from the back seat I hear, let’s sing the Beautiful Day Song.  I started with the first verse and they took  it from there.  I guess you could think of this as the day the Beautiful Day Song became a ritual for us.

I no longer take the kids to school, but even today, once in a while, they will break out singing the beautiful day song and flash me a wink and a great smile.

What joyful rituals do you and your family practice?  Maybe you will be moved to share them, I would love to hear about them.

The 15 Minute Solution

26 Jun

Photo credit http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

This is not about Sherlock Holmes but you might feel like you just solved a mystery when you apply this 15 minute solution technique consistently with your children.  Our generation had been told that it is critical for kids to have strong self -esteem.  That sounds like a simple enough thing to foster and as one thing led to another, it seemed that actually teaching skills took a back seat  to bolstering our children’s  oh so fragile self-esteem.  Unfortunately, these children are now stepping out of the cocoon of academia, some with degrees, some without, (but who needs a degree when you are so naturally awesome), and find themselves suddenly facing the hard realities of life in the real world with no real life tools. It has left them, and us, as the parents and grand parents of these kids, asking the question: How can you help children develop strong self-esteem without creating an entitlement monster?

Of course this question is bigger than a blog post, but if you break it down into its most basic components this little practice is a good way to start.

When the kids have been to school all day or out at an activity and are returning home I always give them my undivided attention for the first 15 minutes.  That means that Facebook, phone, email, TV, magazines, even cooking dinner (unless they are happy helping) is off-limits.  This is harder to do than it sounds but it is well worth the effort.  What this does is tells your kids, with your actions, that they are the most important thing in the world to you.  This is when they will share with you what is important to them in this snapshot in time.  It may be that they saw the coolest yellow caterpillar inching across the sidewalk this morning, or that they heard Johnny say a word and they were not sure what it means, (you can use your imagination here), or that they got an award for spelling today that they had struggled to earn.

After 15 minutes you tell them that you have some work to do so would they go play, or do their homework, or clean their room, so you can get your work done.   This practice of investing the first 15 minutes with genuine loving focus on the kids has served me and all my kidlets well and I invite you to try it and see what happens.  It is a great first building block to fostering healthy self-esteem.  The confidence that this gives them by letting them feel their importance to you,  and by being heard by you, will reduce their need to constantly vie for your attention by less pleasant means.

Do you have a favorite practice to help your kids develop a healthy sense of self, or acquire life skills.  If so, please share.  I would love to hear about it.

Beautiful Blogger! Thank you Laura

5 Jun

I am so delighted to receive a Beautiful Blogger Award nomination from Laura of Some KindofLovelyRide.com  She has a wonderful spirit about her blog.  You should definately check it out if you have not visited there already.

The thing that I love about these awards is that it is like getting a hug, or maybe a little like getting an invitation to an interesting cocktail party on blogosphere.

Of course there are a few tasks you must complete in return.  The hardest one is to choose others to share the award with.  It is always difficult to narrow down the list and always more you would include.

So, thank you Laura.

Here are tasks asked of those who choose to accept the nomination as  a Beautiful Blogger:

1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.

2. Tell one unknown fact about yourself.

3.Nominate five blogs.

4. Let your nominees know by leaving a comment on their sites.

5. Copy and paste the award image on your site.

A little known fact about me is that I have a love of textiles and once curated a museum exhibit of Navajo textiles.

The reason I mention this is because I want to dedicate this post to thoughts of beauty.  The most profound thoughts of beauty I have encountered are expressed in a Navajo Prayer.

Walking in Beauty:  Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony

In beauty I walk

With beauty before me I walk

With beauty behind me I walk

With beauty above me I walk

With beauty around me I walk

It has become beauty again

Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me

I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.

I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.

I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.

I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.

I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.

In beauty all day long may I walk.

Through the returning seasons, may I walk.

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.

With dew about my feet, may I walk.

With beauty before me may I walk.

With beauty behind me may I walk.

With beauty below me may I walk.

With beauty above me may I walk.

With beauty all around me may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.

My words will be beautiful…

Source:

http://talking-feather.com/2009/12/24/walking-in-beauty-a-navajo-prayer/

Finally, speaking of beautiful words…and the nominees are…

Help 4 Your Family

Susan Nye- Around the Table

One Inch of Grace

Awesomely Awake

Positive Parenting

http://oneinchofgrace.wordpress.com/

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