Friday, January 23, 2015

Chili first EVER!

Trying to live my life to the fullest, taking in new and fun things, I decided to participate in Two Saints Wineries, Chili Cookoff.  I've never done anything like this before, but no I'm a reasonably good cook, so, what the heck!  

Named, Nach"YO" Grandma's Chili...the name was a hit!
 Secondly, I think it's important to support our local businesses. We live in a nice area of Iowa that has several wineries.  So, if you want the "local" biz and a bit of culture close to home, you have to support a variety of ways.

Guess what, I came in third place out of eight entries.  Not too bad, huh?  I was thrilled with that and will participate again next year.  I've already thought about what I could do, what I'd like to try in the next months to prepare.  Well...I'm inspired to develop a new chili.  

To the left is the wine that I used in my recipe.  It's Two Saints VII.  A very dry wine using grapes from a neighboring vineyard.

To the right, I served cheddar cheese and nacho cheese doritos with the chili.  My recipe used chili powder, taco powder and a ranch flavored spice mix.  

A variety of beans and hominy, green chilies and diced tomatoes.  Hearty and good!

I used richly colored linens from my own collection and a primitive box for display.

I entered my first chili cookoff...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I had a chat with my cousin...

I chit chatted for a bit with a younger cousin of mine this morning.  It was a much needed "catching up" chat.  She's younger than me by several years; enough that I used to babysit her.  

She had just gotten done working out with a couple friends.  I had reached out to her, as I've noticed she's really be working on "her" for awhile and I just wanted to catch up and let her know that I had noticed and wanted to encourage her to keep on keeping on.

I think we all get to this stage in our life.  We take a look at ourselves and say, if it's going to be it's up to me.  As she pointed out, and I paraphrase, 'I do what I can and leave the rest up to God"  I liked hearing that.  

We all make mistakes, go sideways, back and then back and forth through life.  We also have many triumphs, happiness and forwards.  That is our journey.  That is what makes us who and what we are.  The main thing is that we come to the point that we recognize our life for what it is.  We make the move to change "us".  No more excuses, No more blame and lots and lots of gratitude for those who have carried the load when we weren't carry any..or at least our share.

We face our failures head on.  We get off the path we were on.  We forgive ourselves and ask those we've hurt to forgive us. We decide once and for all that if it's going to be, it's up to me (Oh, and the guy upstairs)!  And, if we take a step backwards, we recognize it as a step backwards and correct it right away, not make it a life blowing event.  We stay the course.

I told her as much...and, you know what she said to me, "It means a lot to me to hear you say that"  That made me feel great.  It meant that somewhere along the line, I was being watched and that what I did, how I conducted my life; the ups and downs, meant something to someone else and impressed upon them in a way that they found it okay and good.  

It also impresses upon me how important it is to conduct your life in a way that can be uplifting, encouraging, forward thinking and optimistic.  I'm not perfect nor has my life been.  I have chapters in my book of mistakes, offenses, heartache.  However, I do believe that I had my faith, all my life to rely on.  I kept moving forward, striving to do better and live in an optimistic and uplifting way.

Growing up, the song Jesus Loves Me carried me along life's bumps and bruises.  It still does.  Because of this song, I was able to hold my head high, shrug off the disappointments and humiliations that seemed to inhabit my psyche at times.  I had those that I looked up to and wanted to emulate.  Knew I could do, be, have, because of the way they conducted their lives; my Mom, my Grandma Grace, my Aunt Kay.  There are many others, but these three strong, loving, giving women graced my life. And, I saw their failures and missteps for what they were, missteps, not who or what they truly were.  It was in their getting up and having the do-overs that made the difference. 

A chat with a younger cousin today just lifted me higher.  She inspired in me to keep on doing what I do. To live my life a little bit better than I did yesterday.  To reach out to those I love a bit more.  To reach out to those that I don't know when an opportunity arises to lend a hand up.  To extend my resources, my experience, my life to those to inspire them, to be a friend, to hold them accountable, to let them become the best they can be.  

I had a chat with my cousin...thanks, Jenny...I love you!