Inspire. February.

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With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

Eleanor Roosevelt

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.

Ralph Marston
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Buffalo, NY
(c)2021
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Buffalo, NY
(c)2021

Despite the new year’s beginning in January much like the old year had ended, we got through it. We inaugurated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our President and Vice President, and they hit the ground running.

Using Executive Orders to reverse some of the most heinous Trump Admin policies, reorganizing the Covid relief response so that it works for the American people, the Press Secretary giving daily briefings, answering all questions without lies and hedging, avoiding talking points and giving out real information has been a wonderful change of pace.

See the previous post for many of the Biden Admin Twitter follows to keep up on their news!

I’m optimistic as we head into the shortest month.

Lent is early this year, at least it seems that way, and so I’m already thinking about those forty days in the desert. You don’t have to be Catholic to think about the things that Lent brings out in many of us. Choose a random day, and begin your own forty days.

Change a habit.

Start a hobby.

Write a journal.

Take a breath.

Be inspired.

National Tea Month – Fandom

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One of my favorite tea brands and companies is Adagio Teas. They have all the regular teas that you love plus accessories and gifts, but they have a special section on fandom teas.

I started my collection with gifts from friends, and not every tea has agreed with my palate, but they’ve opened me up to try new things.

I have two favorites in particular – The Walking Dead Daryl and Supernatural Survival Tea. I tried the sample tins, and reordered the bulk bags.

There is also an option to mix and create your own blend, which I have yet to try; it is definitely on my to-do list.

In recent days, I’ve been enjoying a morning cup of tea, and I hope to continue with my fandom favorites.

Fandom Sample from Adagio Teas. Represented are Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, Supernatural, and The Avengers: Civil War.
(c)2021
The Walking Dead Daryl sample tin with my tea strainer and favorite cup.
(c)2021

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris

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Welcome and Congratulations to the new President and Vice President.

It is a bright, sunshiney day where I am, and I’m looking forward to a morning of prayer and taking my kids out of school to witness the swearing in and the Inaugural Address of President Biden.

Pictures to begin your day as we begin a new era, with hope, optimism, and determination.

Art interpretation by me of then Pres.Elect Biden’s words from November after the election was officially called for him. (c)2021
Outside my house last night. This morning, It’s covered in snow, but still shining bright. (c)2021

Friday Food. December.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to create in the kitchen, but having quarantine foisting Thanksgiving on us let me make the entire Thanksgiving dinner which I hadn’t done in years. Although to be fair, I do a similar meal for Easter, Rosh Hashanah, and Christmas.

This year we did a few things differently. For several years my sweet potato pie became sweet potato casserole, so I went back to the pie version, and it was really good and brought me back in time. We ate it both as a side dish and a dessert (on different nights).

Another dish I made was a new take on my mother’s candied carrots.

Leeks and Carrots. (c)2020

Here are the basics, but use your imagination.

  • Wash the leeks thoroughly. They are like children in that they have dirt in all the spaces.
  • Melt a stick of butter in a pan. Add the leeks in and saute them for a little bit.
  • Pour in a bag of frozen baby carrots (or cut your own carrots into baby carrot size).
  • Once the carrots are defrosted, add some fresh ground pepper, and then add about 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1-2 cups of orange juice (the amount depends on the size of the pan.
  • Let it come to a boil, then lower to simmer, letting it simmer for about ten to twenty minutes. It can really stay on the low heat until the rest of dinner is ready.
  • Serve it with a slotted spoon so the plate doesn’t get too soupy.

The second dish I made just last week. We had cooked chicken tenders in the fridge and because my son cooked them, there was no spice whatsoever on the tenders.

I cut them each into threes or fours and threw them in a wok on medium, adding about half a small jar of Korean BBQ sauce.

I trimmed the ends off of fresh green beans and broke them in half, and added them to the wok, mixing the chicken and the beans until they were hot and incorporated with the sauce.

This was also a way to heat the cold chicken without the microwave. I spooned them over jasmine rice (although any type of rice that you like is the perfect rice).

Chicken, sauce, and green beans in the wok. Almost finished. (c)2020
Closeup of the serving. (c)2020

One thing I noticed in looking back, I didn’t cook either dish with oil. Oil has its place in the kitchen especially in sauteeing, but I just used the juice for the first one and the Korean sauce for the second.

As the year comes to a close, start the new year with experimenting with your food. In January, I’ll have some basics to share with you – resources that everyone can use and adapt to their own style and family.

Inspire. December.

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There are many ways to inspire this month. It starts somewhat in darkness as the nights get longer and the days shorter, but my birthday was last week, so there were birthday candles. Advent began a few days before that and the church has their advent wreath with two of the four candles lit now. In two days is the first night of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, and it also marks the anniversary of my mother’s death when I will light a Yartzeit candle for her, and then of course, Christmas two weeks after that.

There are many ways to bring light into our lives in this darkest season in what seems to be a very dark year. It may be that the older we get, the more we notice that our childhood heroes keep dying. I remember my mother making comment on that many years ago when she was in her fifties. I am noticing it now, but I don’t know if it’s my age or the year that 2020 has been.

In some ways, the year has stood still, or at least it’s seemed like that with how slowly it’s passing by, and it seems that every week is a new loss: Childhood heroes like Curly Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters, Chuck Yeager, Little Richard, actors that I enjoyed watching on my own and with my mother: Stan Kirsch, Kirk Douglas, Fred Willard, Phyllis George, James Lipton, Orson Bean, and Olivia de Havilland to name but a few.

And those that really hit me hard, whose deaths I still carry with me in some way or form: Jerry Stiller, Grant Imahara, Tomie de Paola, Chadwick Boseman, John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and so many others including a dear friend who died just last week.

And yet, we continue on, as we do.

I am attending a three week Advent program on Zoom that includes music, prayer, reflection, journaling, and breakout groups. It is affording me the time, the facilitator calls it the gift of time, the ability to sit still, in quiet, and reflect. Contemplate.

And so I will pass that on to you right now.

Take fifteen minutes. Set a timer if you need to, and just stop. You can come back to this post after the fifteen minutes are finished, but take the time and sit with yourself (and with G-d if you like, but you don’t have to).

– – Fifteen minutes of quiet – –

Did you light a candle? Listen to music? Pray? Think? Draw or color?

This morning, I did all of these things and I was inspired, even just a little, to finish this post.

Some things that inspired me this week:

“Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.”

— Grace Coddington
Advent Wreath art. (c)2020
Stained Glass Window. Immaculate Conception, Mary. (c)2020
The light shining on the Advent Wreath. (c)2020

Election Connection: ELECTION DAY! IT’S HERE! IT’S NOW!

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Today is Election Day; the last day of the 2020 Election to make your voice heard.

My Home Page is now temporarily an Election Resource Page. It includes voter protection hotlines including for the deaf and hard of hearing, some informative graphics from Vote Save America including how to volunteer and help people waiting in long lines.

When the polls close tonight, it will probably not be over. Here are a few resources to follow or get on email lists. It is also a good idea to support investigative journalism. I can’t afford a lot, but the two things I subscribed to in the last year or so are The Washington Post (on Kindle) and Cafe Insider, which features former US Attorney Preet Bharara and a few of his closest friends and associates who bring national security information to life on several podcasts with interviews on a variety of other subjects as well. These are both well worth the monthly subscription.

Others:

Vote Save America

Dan Pfeiffer’s Message Box

Pod Save America

Marc E. Elias

Ron Klain

Rachel Maddow

Preet Bharara

Connie Schultz

Andy Slavitt

Andy Slavitt’s Podcast: In The Bubble

Penzeys Spices – they have really stepped up in the last four years to help Americans know the issues and walk the walk on their values and ours.

Jesus on Twitter – I know, I know, but this Twitter feed has a way of distilling things into simple terms and reminders and adds a calming feeling in the midst of chaos. (And this Jesus Twitter specifically)

And of course, your own Representatives and Senators. Know who they are, know their online and phone information and continue to hold them accountable. They work for you.

Please add any of your own recommendations in the comments.

Below the cut are some graphics related to VP Biden’s policies including a comparison and timeline between his and Pres. Trump’s covid response/reactions.

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GISH Recap

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GISH is The Greatest Scavenger Hunt started and organized (if you could use that word to describe it) by Supernatural actor, Misha Collins. It is in its tenth year, and this will be my eighth participating. This year was a little different due to the pandemic, and Collins, his GISHGnomes, and the players really stepped up to provide food and water to those in need while also giving us a well-deserved respite from home isolation.

There were three GISH hunts held this year (and one more still coming up for Halloween); two mini hunts, one in April and one in May and our regular week long hunt in August. The mini hunts were unusual in that they were about twenty-four hours long and they were meant to be done while on home quarantine.

They were a break from the daily pandemic news, and let us take a breath and do more than fret and worry about what was happening. They included a kids’ menu with items especially for our stuck at home kids to do, either with us or on their own.

The big hunt in August was similar to past hunts but most items were meant to be done at home or on social media. No in-person gatherings according to local laws. There were also several tributes to John Lewis who had recently died, inspirational items, and items that were civic minded like protesting, prison reform, and voting including our rights and registration drives.

The registration monies went to No Kid Hungry, which you can still donate to individually.

I can only give you my August totals. I was not great about keeping track of the mini-hunts for points. I contributed to a total of fifteen items, seven of which were individual, the other eight being team items for a total of 214 individual points and 480 team points totalling 694 points.

I have to be honest, but I enjoyed these hunts more than I’ve enjoyed some of the previous years. I like the civic mindedness, the social justice aspects, the caring for neighbors, random acts of kindness and compassion.

I would encourage people who are curious to join the Halloween H(a)unt. Each registration donates money to UNICEF providing clean water for a person in need for six months. Registration ends on October 23rd, and the H(a)unt will go live Oct. 30 – Nov. 1.

The captions on the following photos will explain the items. For the spring mini-hunt, I have them listed as April/May although they may have been done for either:

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Signs of the Pandemic

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When our state went into lockdown, school was moved online and we converted to remote learning; church was cancelled, little by little restaurants closed, libraries closed, museums closed, playgrounds closed.

We stayed home for the most part.

We did go to the grocery store and to Target for our household supplies. We did this about once a week. My husband would go out between grocery shopping trips to get milk, which we always seemed to run out of. We began to buy two gallons at a time.

We also went for drives, sometimes grabbing lunch through a drive thru and parking in the park or near the river and ate our lunch. At least we were out of the house for a couple of hours.

I began to notice some things on our drives and our trips to the supermarket: Signs.

Here, there,  everywhere signs were popping up.

Signs for delivery, signs for take-out, signs for curbside pick-up, signs for new hours, signs for limits on purchasing necessities as toilet paper and soap ran out in our houses and on store shelves. Food and dry goods also. Everyone was home and everyone needed more of what they used while no one was leaving the house for work or school.

The signs popped up like dandelions in spring.

I said to my husband: I know one business that’s doing better during the lockdown. Sign makers.

They were literally everywhere.

As the rules changed and we adapted, more signs were brought out. One way and wrong way signs in the aisles. Limited capacity signs. Xs crossed in six feet spaces for shoppers to stand in and wait for their turn to enter the store. or to check out with their purchases.

Soon, there were mask signs, social distancing signs, and after awhile, all of the signs temporary closed signs were replaced with We’re Open signs. Single entrances and separate exits. We deliver signs were joined  by Dining Room Now Open and Dine In – Limited Capacity.

I began to document all the signs I came across. The photos below are only a small sampling of what I found. Once I started this project, I discovered signs in the strangest places and for the strangest things, and I drove my family a little batty pulling out my cell phone and taking photos of the signs everywhere.

Let me know if I’ve missed any.

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