Saturday, September 30, 2017

Make the Memories

Last year, Danu, a traditional Irish ensemble, played a concert at our local performing arts center. I entered a contest to win two tickets, and when I did, I asked my mom to come with me.

Mom loves learning about her ancestors: where they were from, what they were like, why they moved from place to place, and so on. We have Irish heritage, and I had many times heard Celtic music playing in our home. I was sure she would thoroughly enjoy the performance.

She did go with me, and the concert was incredible. I don't think I ever stopped smiling. I don't think either of us did.

When it was over, and we were talking about how wonderful the entire experience had been--how we had felt the music in our bones--Mom said something unexpected. She said, "This was a dream come true."

"Really?" I was taken aback. I knew she had had a good time. But a dream come true?

Mom answered that yes, it was. Although she appreciates the beauty of the world, she has little desire to travel far from her home. She had never expected to hear an authentic Irish band in person. And yet, here she had been, toe-tapping along with an incredible one, not 15 feet away, for nearly two hours.

In that moment, I was grateful that I had won the tickets, and that we had gone to the show. But I was also struck--hard--by the fact that I hadn't made plans to take my mom to the concert sooner. I hadn't planned to go otherwise. Which means I wouldn't have taken Mom to that show. And we wouldn't have heard that Irish folk music together without leaving our little city. And we would have missed this opportunity to fulfill one of her dreams, perhaps without even realizing it. All because I casually decided not to buy tickets which, in hindsight, weren't even very expensive.

I say all this to encourage you to take every opportunity you've got to make memories with the people you love.

You can learn more about the band that we both adored so much by visiting their website.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Baked September

Although today is the first day of autumn, and yesterday it was 100 degrees in our little patch of western Kentucky, our family has embraced the rhythm of fall for several weeks now. Spontaneous travel is done for at least a while, and Pip and I have found our way back to many school year activities. Chris is back in the studio full time, and we're starting to talk about Halloween and birthdays and the holidays beyond.

This dinner happened by accident. It was a concoction of reduced-price veggies and a manager's special kielbasa (read: items that better be used today). It turned out to be a balanced marriage of fresh summer flavors and comforting cool-weather foods. It was so easy. And inexpensive. And pretty. And all it left was a single dish plus a cutting board and knife to clean.


I layered the following ingredients in a 9x13 glass baking dish, covered with foil, and baked at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. 

2 large potatoes, cubed
3 small zucchinis, sliced
3 medium carrots, sliced
1 1/2 cups mushroom caps and stems
1 kielbasa, sliced
1/2 a purple onion, sliced in rings
drizzle of olive oil
generous sprinkle of Italian seasoning
light sprinkle of kosher salt

I called it "Baked September" because it felt like a bridge between summer and fall, much like our September seems to be. I offered a salad and some sliced tomatoes on the side, but no one took me up on it. We all just got second helpings of this instead.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Don't Toss Those Plastic Lids

Every day, I make efforts to throw away as little as possible. If something can be re-purposed or recycled, I'd much rather do that than send it to the landfill.

I have recently found a useful destination for plastic lids!


West Broadway Elementary School in Madisonville, Ky, collects plastic lids of all kinds. When they have enough of them, those lids are shipped to a company that turns them into fixtures of the students' choice for the school; I have visited recently and I've seen a bench and a trash can created from their efforts. 

You do not have to have a child in school there to contribute to their collection. They would appreciate your contribution. They take plastic lids from all kinds of bottles and jars, including but not limited to milk, juice, water, and peanut butter. Call the office at 270-825-6036 for details.

This leads me to think that other schools and organizations in other places do the same thing. No matter where you're located, please consider finding a place that will reuse those lids!