Thursday, May 29, 2014

King of the Row Crop and We Are Our Father's Daughters!

Our dad was King of the Row Crop. That man could grow anything! When I was just a baby we lived in Arizona where he farmed cotton and hay. Once we moved here to Kern County he farmed lettuce, bell pepper, potatoes, and tomatoes and those are just the things I knew about, I’m sure there were tons of other produce that he farmed that I didn't know about.

One year he had a crop of romaine lettuce that was legendary! All you saw as far as the eye could see was rows upon rows of beautiful, huge, green Romaine Lettuce! I'm not even kidding, just look at the picture! That's my dad and his romaine lettuce!

I remember going out there with my mom and siblings and our children to see them. He had been bragging and begging us to come out to the ranch. Mom took her video camera and we have some beautiful footage of my dad walking in his fields and talking to his workers. It’s something I will never forget. Just as I cherish this picture that I took that day. Dad loved farming!

None of us...his children...were born with as green a thumb as his. But we do try! Recently my sister and I remembered a flower that my mom used to grow when we lived in the Imperial Valley. In Spanish we knew it as Rayo de Sol, translated to Ray of Sunshine. The lady that lived next door to us there, Vicenta, cut a small clipping off of her existing plant and gave it to my mom. She planted it and it just grew like gangbusters!!! The official name of the plant is Portulaca, but it's called by many names.

What I loved at the time and remember now about the flower is that it bloomed best and most beautifully during the dog days of summer! The hotter it was the happier this flower was and the bigger it smiled. My sister Lisa and I recently went on a hunt for Portulaca and had to go to several different nursery's before finally finding it and buying a flat which we split in half. And then we got to planting!

The first picture are my flowers, the second are Lisa's flowers. Not bad right?

The one flat gave us enough plants to fill two big planters like the ones pictured here and then a smaller one. I think we did a pretty good job following in our father's footsteps or green thump print!

My dad fed the world with what he planted and grew and we are starting small here, but I think we're doing pretty good for rookies!

Have you ever heard of these flowers? What's your favorite flower? Do you have a green thumb?


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mini Baby Bell Peppers and What I did with Them and how to get out of a Funk after a Stressful Day!

There are so many memories that we leave behind to those that love us. My dad left a lot of them. Even when he was just going through his normal day he would say something random and not realize that it would stick in my mind forever. For example...I can never look at baby corn without thinking of my dad.

My dad loved salads! He actually loved all vegetables and fruits. I remember one time when we ate at a place that had a salad bar and he found these little baby corns and he filled his plate with them. Then when he got back to the table he showed them to me and tried to make me eat one by telling me, "Mira, los mataron chiquitos" translated he said, "Look, they killed them little". Well that made me want to eat them even less, but every time I see baby corn I remember my dad and it makes me smile. Remember, we are all making memories for others every day, so make them good ones!

My wonderful baby sister Lisa made a good memory for me today. Today was a super stressful day at work! I wasn't in the best of moods. I just wanted to come home and lock myself in my room and watch TV and probably eat something not very healthy for me. But hanging on my fence was this little bag.

Little baby bell peppers! Los mataron chiquitos! I had been wanting to buy these little peppers since forever, but a bag of them is about $4.79 and I wasn't sure I would like them or what I would do with them, but Lisa found them at our local grocery store for 99 cents! At least she told me they were 99 cents, but I wouldn't put it past her to pay $5 for them just to make me happy!

So what to do, what to do with them???

I remembered that I had some Pork Carnitas left over from a weekend breakfast. I had just shredded them and put them in a plastic container this morning. I also remembered I had some browned ground turkey make with taco seasoning. And then I remembered I had some cream cheese and that sounded really good so I went Cahrazy!

First I cleaned those little bad boys, which was easy because they weren't very big and didn't have a lot of seeds. Then I cut them in half. I warmed up the Carnitas and mixed them with some salsa that was left from the weekend and some shredded cheese and stuffed about six of them and topped them with some sliced black olives. I filled another six with the ground turkey, topped them with cheese and more olives and then the rest I filled with cream cheese and topped them with bacon bits and freshly ground black pepper.

Then I baked them at 350 for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Check these out! These are the ones made with Carnitas! They were so delicious! I was going to top them with Sour Cream but it wasn't necessary, they were perfect as they were!

Then I sampled one of the ground turkey peppers. I have to be honest and say I liked the turkey ones better, but then I love my ground turkey with taco seasoning!

Once the cream cheese ones were done I put a few of each on a plate, grabbed my glass of wine and sat down to munch away on my delicious...and LOW CARB...yummies!

My stressful day melted away with the help of memories of my daddy, loving thoughtfulness shown to me by my baby sister Lisa, beautiful bright colors of the baby peppers who died chiquitos just to please me and a lovely glass of wine. Plus some Pandora Music on my computer and lots of singing at the top of my lungs to the dismay of my kids and the doggies...but oh well! It got me out of my funk!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bittersweet Memories of my First Time Away from my Family

This post was inspired by the book Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, a novel that exposes the Gothic underbelly of an American Dynasty, and an outsider's hunger to belong. Join From Left to Write on May 20 as we discuss Bittersweet. As a member I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

In 1975 I was chosen by the American Legion to attend Girls State. Girls State is a leadership program designed by the American Legion to increase awareness and knowledge of governmental processes while learning about the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of citizenship. As a Girls State delegate I was chosen to go to Sacramento after writing an essay and going through multiple interviews by members of the American Legion. It was a huge honor for me and a great experience.

It was also my first time ever away from home, away from my parents, the first time ever of not sleeping in my own bed with my sister by my side. It was awesome!!! Bet you thought I was going to say it was scary right? Or that I got homesick? No Way! It was one of the best experiences of my life.

My parents sent me off on a Greyhound bus with several others girls from local schools. It was a long bus ride from Brawley, CA to Sacramento, CA and the bus stopped in every single little town along the way, but I was  mesmerized! I had never been any further North than Anaheim! I loved seeing all the small towns and big cities.

Once we got there we had to handle all our own suitcases and deal with finding out what dorm room we had been assigned to and who our roommates were going to be. I wish I had thought to have a blog back in high school and that I had written about this experience because I have forgotten most of it. But what I do remember is the camaraderie and the feelings of being a part of something with the other girls. We would gather after dinner to hear a speaker and we would sing songs and stand, arm in arm, swaying and laughing and crying.

When we all had to leave each other it was heart breaking! We had all grown so close and we swore to always keep in touch. Well that didn't happen, unfortunately. But it was a great experience and it was great for someone as shy as I used to be to go through the process, the interviews and then being away from home and family and with complete strangers. But I did it and I grew and I am a better person for having had the experience. I'm glad my parents gave me wings and let me fly!

What was your first time away from home? College, military, marriage?


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Another Tales of the Bathroom and Multiple Uses for Foil

Foil Paper…it’s a multi-use wonder.

There are so many things that you can do with it. Such as:
  • Soften brown sugar. 
  • Keep food warm. 
  • Make a funnel. 
  • Protect pie crust. 
  • Oven Cleaner 
  • Scrubber 
  • Reheating 
  • Scare birds in the garden 
  • Cleaning your iron 
  • Sharpen Scissors
  • Polish Chrome 
  • Clean the grill 
  • Light reflector for photography 
  • Protect your brain waves from eavesdroppers and mind control…ok, that one is just a myth, but you never know right? 
I can remember my mom making burritos and wrapping them in foil to keep them warm during the summers when we would work in the tomato and cotton fields. Those were the best burritos we ever tasted!

So why my fascination with foil paper today? Well prepare yourselves for another round of strange things I find in the women's bathroom at work!!

I've done a few posts before about the strange things I find in the shared women's bathroom here in the building where I work. Once it was a Plastic Fork...right on the toilet paper dispenser. Another time I found a Peanut Husk ...right on the sanitary napkins dispenser. Well it's happened again, just look at this picture and tell me what you think!

It's a balled up piece of foil, sitting on the floor in the women's bathroom, in one of the stalls, right underneath the toilet.  Now remember the list of uses for foil above? Do any of those uses have anything to do with the bathroom? What could you possibly take into the bathroom that would require you to cover it in foil first? What could you possibly want to keep that fresh? Or that warm?

Or I guess you could use it as a scrubber? Maybe for someone toilet paper just isn't doing the job?

I shudder to think!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Does This Taste Funny to You? Why would you recommend something disturbing to someone else?

You know how sometimes someone will smell something and tell you “This smells awful!” and then they shove it under your nose for you to smell it?

Or they say, “does this taste funny to you?” and then try to make you taste something that may or may not be rotten or just bad tasting?

Why do we do that? Why do we want to gross out someone else?

I feel that way a little bit in writing this post about a book I just finished for my online book club, From Left to Write. The book is Ruby by Cynthia Bond.

I feel like I’m telling you to look while you drive by a train wreck. What you see will scare you and shake you up and possibly haunt you for the rest of your life, but yet I tell you to look; to slow down and take a good look.

Let me first say... I LOVED THE BOOK! It was a bit slow going in the beginning, I wasn't sure I wanted to continue but then all of a sudden the author reached her hand out of the book, grabbed me by the neck and dragged me into the story of Ruby and Ephram and never let me go.

Once the book was finished I felt drained and torn between being happy the book ended and wanting it to go on. At times while reading it I had to put it down because the story was weighing heavy on my heart and my mind, and I just didn't think I could handle reading any more. But I was always drawn back because I had to see how things would end with Ruby and Ephram!

Now my dilemma I recommend the book to my mom and my sister? I usually will recommend a book once I know that I liked it, but I'm hesitating on this one. I did like it, but is it for them? Am I asking them to taste something that's bad for them or to stop and gawk at a train wreck?

My mom and my sister are the type of people that only want to see the good and the pretty and the nice in life. They know the ugly is out there, but they want to avoid it at all cost!

Take television for example. They like to watch those channels that show TV programs like I Like Lucy, The Brady Bunch, The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie. All those sweet programs from my childhood where nothing worse happens than that Jan Brady has to wear glasses while Marcia, Marcia, Marcia gets all the boys!

My sister has told me several times that she prefers to watch those shows because life is hard enough. She likes to lose herself in pleasant programs where everything gets resolved in 30 minutes or less and no one ever kills someone or yells at them. She points out programs like The Real Housewives and Bridezilla as shows that are what is wrong with the world these days, there is no respect for each other, you just say what you feel without worrying you are going to hurt someone. It's all about the money and the ratings and the fame; morality and kindness doesn't come into play.

I have to say I agree with her somewhat, but I just can't stomach watching sappy TV shows from my past because I know life isn't always pretty and tied up with a big red bow. Couples do fight and divorce. Siblings aren't always nice to each other and in real life cops do get shot, they don't just wander the street with one bullet in their pocket, like Barney Fife!

So this I recommend it to my mom and sister? It saddened me. It hurt my heart for the characters and mainly because I realize that the trauma that Ruby suffered happens in real life. It happens every day to little girls, to teenage girls, to grown women!

I don't know. I'm going to have to think about this. Whether or not I will recommend it to the two people in my life with kind, gentle hearts.

Do you ever not recommend a book because it's too sad or too powerful or too whatever?

This post was inspired by the novel Ruby by Cynthia Bond. A gripping novel, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man's dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of over.  Join From Left to Write on May 8 when we discuss Ruby. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.