Monday, August 3, 2015

What Are Your Storing Up?

Did July really just happen?

In all of its sizzling 31 days or any of its bleary 744 hours or at least a few of the fast fading 44,640 minutes on this one reeling planet earth, –what even took place?  

There was definitely, the heartbreaking, the happy, and the mundane.

The one thing I do remember, is that we cleaned the garage.



It was the last day of JQ’s vacation. 

The temperatures had steadily climbed into the upper 90’s without even a whisper of breeze. 

And..... we began late in the morning, to do what could have easily been a three day project.

Every part of that was just wrong.

My idea was to empty the garage and only return the things we really, really, really wanted or maybe even needed. I'd seen it on a blog post complete with photos and it was darling. One rake, one basketball and two boxes of Christmas decorations. Hey! We don't even have a basketball!

Maybe. Completely. Unrealistic. 

His idea was to tidy up a bit. (As in, sweep around the edges of all the stuff that was keeping us from getting the car into the garage.)

We met somewhere in the middle of our mess. 

Once we got started, we had to keep going –just because. 

Because the smell of dead mice promised us, this was way past needing to be done. 

Because it didn't take long for a decade of dust to mix in with beads of sweat and cement our clothes to our skin and we knew this was not something we wanted to repeat for days.

So we went and borrowed our trailer back and began to carefully, thoughtfully, sort things. 

After another hour had passed, we were heaving things onto the flat bed as fast as we could move.  

The last place to tackle was the attic. We were both pretty sure –at least there– we would find some treasures.

Indeed there were mementos dating back over three decades. 

As if we had planted an odd time capsule of sorts, nestled in between the rafters and insulation we uncovered, long forgotten Christmas d├ęcor, with lights that only half lit up and 32 boxes of files, each representing a year of life lived. 

Seriously.  

There were cards offering congratulations when the oldest children were born. All I can say is, "Hallmark, you've come a long way." 

There was a bag of moth eaten items I thought one of the girls would certainly adore, a sampling of when she was an infant. She must have been our favorite since there were zero bags of half eaten clothing to offer the other two children. 

And the big find, a box of our wedding decorations. Too bad cake toppers with grey-ish fading lace and beads are no longer in style. And no, I don't want to put something mice have nested in on a cake for our anniversary.  

The elements of time, heat, and a few random mice were not kind to our stuff. They've all conspired to take a toll, on much of what we had counted important enough to store.

Without a doubt the saddest find was one cardboard box which contained newspaper articles, metals and awards, all representing my husbands younger years. A single hail storm resulted in one small hole in the roof. Even though the hole was quickly found and repaired, it allowed enough moisture to cause mold and mildew. 

So we dedicate a few moments of silent remorse and then began peeling away the pieces left of a scrap book and photo album. We talked about his hair, races he had run and record breaking times that marked an impressive athletic career. 

But even that has now faded with time. 


The hair. The mustache. In high school. My guy. 

Homemade wood items, cards, photos, ribbons from horse shows....... Just no.

So many more of these....what was I thinking..... I could deduct electric bills?

I think the children will love these in their homes.

I know....Awwwww! You can't see the bad parts. Trust me.

It was such a good reminder that this world and all that's in it….well.... it's perishing. 

All the stuff. All of it.    

Every single thing we spend our money, energy and time doing and buying, dusting, and storing up –it just won’t last. 


As a result of our massive garage cleaning day, the local landfill received another trailer full of trash that we had been storing as if it were valuable enough to take up square footage instead of our car.

The thrift store employee wasn’t even smiling as we unloaded boxes and boxes of stuff that had been safely stowed in plastic tubs for years. 

My own children were too polite to refuse the few things I dropped off to their homes. Possibly one of the few real treasures that was unearthed was a broken nylon rope. Our soon to be seven-year-old grandson, was thrilled we had hung on to it all these years. He probably plans on tying up his siblings.


The serious truth is, everything around us is fading, spoiling, diminishing and aging. 


Our garage looks nothing like the blog post photos I had envisioned our project resulting in. However
it has spurred us on in the process of decluttering and letting go of things that will not serve us well in this lifetime.

So, July may be gone, but at least we were able to see it rush out the door, along with some items that we no longer needed to hang onto.

There is just something freeing about less clutter and stuff that makes me think August is going to be amazing.

What are you storing up?

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Most Important Ingredient

I am not a saver. Not really. Our children used to run and hide things when I got into my cleaning mode. My husband has set limits on what I can make disappear while he is gone. As in, his whole garage is off limits. 

I get it.

I like to say: “If it doesn’t have a home, it’s going to live in someone else’s house.”

Never mind that I collect a few things myself.

Such as cookbooks.

I don’t know why since there are countless amazing blogs and chefs and of course internet search engines.

I suppose to me, old cookbooks are like treasure troves, where some long lost secret ingredient or combination of ingredients, may lie buried in their yellowing pages.

In a weak moment some time back, I hauled a trunk full of books including some cookbooks to the thrift store. I've hardly missed them.

Except for one.

Yes, one of those cookbooks was about using dates instead of processed sugar as a sweetener. Sugar has always had a very negative effect on how I feel after eating it. Hopefully we are all more aware than ever that food rich in nutrients and minimally processed is just better.

Have you ever used dates in recipes? If not, please don't run off yet.

Trust me on this, I'm not one to compromise taste, especially when I'm craving chocolate.

And since finding out just how amazing and tasty recipes with dates are, my fears are confirmed. That cookbook I tossed surely had some amazing recipes with ingredient combinations that are now gone  forever.

Fortunately it has pushed me to try a few things on my own and the outcome has been tasty.

Since writing about Table Life and Knowing Your Neighbors, I've been having people drop by to sit at the table! (Squeal!) It's been so much fun. It's also made me realize how I need to do a few things to be prepared, since I love to share food as well as face time.

So here is a recipe that is so easy, healthy, no cookingand best of all.... yummy!
They are kind of like fudge.

Kinda.

But I make them when I am wanting brownies.

There are only four ingredients.

And I keep them in the freezer. If I’m craving a treat they are there. If someone drops in they are there.  Unless I eat them all. Then I make some more because it really only takes a few minutes.

Don't we all need something simple and amazing in our lives? Well, this may be that thing.

You can thank me later.

- - - - - - -

Ingredients:

1 cup chocolate chips  -I prefer Ghirardelli 60% Cacao baking chips or your choice is fine!
1 cup nuts  -I use almonds or walnuts but pecans would be amazing as well
1 cup pitted dates -Start with the ones you can find in the dried fruit section. You may want to get fancy and find Medjool dates known as “King of the Dates.” Trader Joes is my friend for this. The dates should be moist. If they feel a little hard just soak them in warm water for a few minutes.
1 - 2 tbls almond butter

In food processor add dates and mix until fine consistency.
Add chocolate chips to date mixture and process again until well blended.
Add nuts and pulse until all ingredients are blended.
Finally add almond butter. This binds the ingredients. Mixture will pull away from sides and stick when pressed between fingers.

Press into an 8 x 8 pan

Score into small pieces

Enjoy now or cover and freeze for later.

If you are feeling fancy you could make them into balls and roll in coconut.

And if you don't already have these ingredients on hand, it's worth going to get them. I make these in small batches like this because of the size of my food processor. So, if I want a larger pan of them I simply repeat the process for a double batch.

My mom, she always said that people raved about her food, and she attributed it to her secret ingredient. She made everything with love.

I think that love really is the most important ingredient, as we seek to welcome people to our tables. However, dates may run a close second in the secret ingredients category.

So remember to add a teaspoon of love to everything you do and let me know what you think of these little gems.

Do you have  a super easy amazing recipe?

What tips do you have to help keep extending hospitality simple and fun!
 
© Rhonda Quaney