Wednesday, December 28, 2011

remembering our fur baby

we were with our sweet kitty when she took her final breaths. i put my face close to hers, stroked her head and told her how much i loved her. that night all i could think of was what she looked like after her soul left her body and how she seemed to be hurting before we brought her to the animal hospital. these thoughts brought me so much pain that my whole body was sore from crying.

knowing i had to do something before i sunk into a depression, i called my mom. she cried with me and reminded me of the funny things piggy used to do. (my mom and niece called her piggy. she had so many different nicknames.=). i found comfort in talking about her. then i started looking at her pictures and soon i was smiling through my tears. i'm so happy i took so many photos.


john and i cherished each and every moment we had with our fur baby. our friends and family would get a little annoyed with us when we'd cut our visits short to get back home to our cat. we'd miss her when we were away too long and worried that she may be hungry or in need of some love.

when john suggested we watch our videos of her, i hesitated. i thought it would be too painful but instead it had the opposite effect. we laughed and cried watching her during her healthier days. it feels like she's still with us, just in a different, more peaceful form.

as i mentioned before in a little biggie bio, i found biggles (or should i say she found me) on the porch of a friend's house when i was about 17 years old. she was the friendliest cat, coming up to us teens and rubbing against our legs. the boys in the neighborhood were smitten with her and called her mrs. bigglesworth.

she was a chub of a cat, which led us kids to believe she was pregnant. when my dad heard this he let me bring her home. we brought her to the vet and it turned out she wasn't pregnant - but she did have worms! it's funny to think that i loved her so much already that i had no problem picking rice-like worms off her little tush and my bedroom floor. there was nothing i wouldn't do for her.

 biggie and my sister, krista circa 2001

but biggles didn't like me too much in the beginning. in fact, she stayed away from me as much as possible! she would lay on my dad, brother, sister and friends, but not me. i'd say to her, it was me who saved you, you ungrateful little...! she definitely made up for it in her later years, laying with me every chance she got.=)

biggie loved her new home. we had a nice big backyard where she'd roam and play safely. when she wanted to come in she'd hop up on our screen door and meow. once my brother made her a bed out of a box and a blanket and labeled it biggie's bed. to say she was spoiled would be an understatement!

when i moved out i left biggie with my father so she could still enjoy the outdoors. when her kidneys started to fail a little over two years ago and she became very needy, my dad knew it would be best for us to take care of her. john was not happy when i said a cat was coming to live with us, but it was only a matter of days before he fell in love with her, too. 

our home was like a retirement village for her. she got 'round the clock care and attention. she was the queen, which is why we called her ms. madji and the madj (/mahzh/). she'd take little trips outdoors where she'd sunbathe and munch on some grass. her favorite treat was coconut oil and she had her own jar. she played with toys i crocheted for her and had many comfy places to lay.

madj didn't like it when the attention wasn't on her. she'd sit on the computer keyboard when i was typing, break up our scrabble games, and lay on books that i was trying to read. in her early years, she'd walk across the keys when i played the piano and sit on my hands. (ok, maybe she thought i wasn't very good and just wanted me to stop playing.=)

i'm so grateful for the years we had with our sweet madji and all the fond memories we have of her. she was a very special kitty that will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

a bittersweet farewell

just before midnight on christmas eve we had to put down our beloved baby grandma, miss madji (aka mrs. bigglesworth, biggie, biggles). her health started to decline last monday. she had chronic kidney disease and arthritis, and we did our best to keep her comfortable in her golden years.

madji was a happy, playful kitty. we noticed she wasn't going number two and thought she was just constipated, but it turned out to be a symptom of more serious issues. though most cats will go into hiding when they are ill, madj stayed by our side and even played a little and hopped up into bed with us on her final morning.

john and i thought she would get better, so it was a shock when the vet said there was nothing they could do to help her. although she was about 17 years old, we were devastated. we find comfort in knowing she is no longer suffering.

john never had a pet before and was never really fond of animals. that is until we took madji in two years ago, after my father could no longer give her the attention she needed. she would lay on john's chest each night before bed and wake us every morning. i would joke that he loved her more than me, but i was totally fine with that.=) they spent their days together and i believe this is why she held on so long. she was given so much love and attention, which proved to be her best medicine. we miss her terribly but feel so blessed to have had her in our lives.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

desserts in jars: choco-coco cream

this twisted treat is decadently sweet, smooth and super creamy. add some peppermint and goji berries for a festive delight!

the chocolate cream is made with avocado and honestly, you'd never know. non raw-foodies have tried it and loved it. let's not forget, avocado is a superfood! (one that's getting mighty pricey, have you noticed?)

there i am in the spoon=)

the coconut cream is made of cashews and young coconut meat. the addition of vanilla bean makes it taste like vanilla mousse. mmm, vanilla is my favorite.  

the recipes call for raw cacao (though any cocoa powder would do) and coconut butter or coconut oil. more and more are using coconut oil (for more than just cooking, wink wink).

non-gmo soy lecithin in this recipe is optional as a thickening agent. those who like to work with irish moss gel may use that, but neither are neccesary for this dessert. you may also sub vanilla extract for the vanilla bean. i've posted the recipes before but here they are again.

coconut cream
(adapted from sweet gratitude's coconut meringue)

3/4 C coconut milk*
2/3 C coconut meat from one young coconut
2/3 C cashews, soaked about 2 hours
2 T agave
1/2 a vanilla bean (scraped insides only)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt

blend all in a high speed blender until smooth and creamy, then add:

1 T non-gmo soy lecithin
2 T coconut oil or coconut butter

resume blending until fully incorporated. set in fridge until firm. 

*coconut milk can be made by mixing one part fresh or dried coconut with three parts water.

chocolate cream

one large ripe avocado
1/4 C agave
2 T water
1/2 a vanilla bean (scraped insides only)
pinch salt
1 T coconut oil, melted
5 heaping T cacao powder

in a high speed blender, blend first five ingredients well. add remaining ingredients, and continue to blend until smooth. chill for a few hours before serving. 

today i'll be making more gifts in jars. it just makes sense when you've got over 100 mason jars lying around!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

gifts in jars: homemade tea bags

these gift jars were inspired by a make your own tea-bag tutorial found at a beautiful mess. i made mine a little different and only had to spend five dollars (for the tea bags) to make all six jars!

this project would not have been possible without my wonderful friend, missy. despite being almost eight months pregnant, she sat for hours and sewed fifty tea bags for me without a complaint. she was also taking breaks to go upstairs and fix dinner. whatta mama!=)

missy also provided me fabric scraps for the lids. she makes the sweetest pillow case dresses and i love her choice of floral fabric. the green and turquoise is a vintage scrap my friend carol gave me. (you may recall i used a piece for a three little birds wing).

there are plenty of organic loose leaf tea jars in my pantry to share. the mint and dandelion came from my garden/backyard. the rest i purchase from bulk bins at the local health food store. i swear by herbal teas, especially since discovering plantain tea for my interstitial cystitis flare-ups.

what makes me most happy about these gifts is that they're not only functional and decorative, but so healing! each jar has a mix of:

chamomile tea: a relaxing, soothing tea. helps with sleep disorders, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, migraines, skin conditions, and stomach issues such as menstrual cramps, stomach flu, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. topically it reduces dark circles under the eyes.

green tea powder: super-rich in antioxidants that combat all types of cancer, bacterial or viral infections and cardiovascular disease. studies suggest that drinking green tea lowers risk of death due to all causes.

nettles: packed with vitamins (especially iron), nettles tea treats a slew of ailments such as anemia, arthritis, rheumatism, respiratory and urinary issues, asthma, and many more.

dandelion: aids digestion and detoxification of the liver. full of other benefits you can read here.

spearmint: a great-tasting tea that also aids digestion and helps to reduce flatulence. thwppp.=)

fyi - the mason jar lids were hot glue-gunned with circles of felt and fabric scraps. if you have any questions on how i made these gift jars, just ask - i'm happy to help!

Friday, December 9, 2011

handmade gift ideas

this adorable rainbow sorting game is great for toddler's motor skills.

reading blocks - the perfect phonetic tool for beginning readers!

more cute wooden toys from a super responsive seller. 

make your own tea bags with this tutorial from a beautiful mess 
(i'll be working on mine today.=)

Friday, December 2, 2011

a peek into my kitchen

 squash seeds, peach pits, "butters", herbs and olive oil

 baby and mama cactus

 thrifted picture frame with niece alaina

 view from the sink

 african violet

the fridge and bamboo on a shelf

(did anyone notice butters has the same eyes and smile as his late cousin edgar?=)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

thrift store score

at the end of a short thrifting trip, i reached into an iffy bin and struck gold! vintage gift wrap for just 50 cents! there were actually 10 sheets in the package, but i chose my two favorite to photograph.

complete with ribbon and gift tags

i searched online a bit but can't seem to date this gift wrap. any guesses?

feeling gratitude for...

connections with family, friends, bloggers and complete strangers

kindness from complete strangers

kisses and love from our furry friends

the calm place inside that knows no matter what, we are always ok

the light that seems to shine brightest after our darkest moments

sunny days, chirping birds, brilliant sunsets, and garden flowers still thriving

 marigolds and pea blossom

 white allysum and petunia

"Today will be joyous, for the beauty slamming against my face is unwilling to be ignored."
Susan Mrosek

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

today's harvest

sunset lettuce, carrots, kale, parsley, arugula, plantain, peas and sage

our first fall garden has been a success, though i'm not sure the broccoli and cabbage will come to a nice-sized head in time. next year i'll plant those seeds earlier. i'm grateful to still be harvesting in temperatures that leave my hands numb! 

the cold and i don't get along - i'd go into hibernation 'til spring if i could! in fact, i've been under the covers reading for much of my free time. if you don't hear from me for a while, that's where i'll be!=)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

how to help an injured baby bird

last week i noticed oscar the cat playing with something small and furry. i rushed out to see what it was - it was a very young finch. it wasn't bleeding, but its legs looked mangled. my first instinct was to bring the bird inside and call animal control (via the local animal shelter) to come help.

after making the phone call, i sat with the bird in my hand, praying and waiting. it looked a fluffy mess, and every so often it would try to move its legs. eventually it was able to position its legs underneath itself, and its feathers went back to normal. the bird looked completely fine, and i was sure it was going to live. but then it stopped breathing, and by the time help arrived, it had died.

normally when i'm faced with an unfamiliar situation, i hop online and search what to do. i wish i had because i probably would have acted differently, and the bird may have survived.

we can't change the past, but we can learn from it. i'm posting this with hopes that the information may help save other baby birds.

how to help a baby bird

if the bird is a nestling, too young to have feathers, try to locate its nest. after gently warming the bird in your hands, place it back in the nest, if possible. contrary to popular belief, the parents will not reject it because you've touched it.

• if it's a fledgling, mature enough to have feathers, check to see if the bird is injured. if so, contact animal control or the nearest wildlife rehabilitator. if not, it may just be learning to fly, and it's best to leave it be. keep small children and pets away. watch the bird from a distance, and if it seems hurt or the parents don't come, call for assistance.

• for a nest-less nestling or an injured bird waiting for help, create a nest with small plastic tupperware or a berry container and shredded facial tissue. do not use cotton, cloth, shredded paper or grass as it may cause more injury. do not let the bird sprawl on the bottom of the nest - rest it in a semi-upright position so that the edges provide support for the body and head.

provide warmth and a dark, quiet place. sometimes a few hours of rest and recuperation is all that is needed. do not try to force food, water or milk as it may cause more harm.

• if the baby seems uninjured, try placing it in the homemade nest back in the location it was found. watch to see if the parents come for it, but from a distance, as birds will not feed their young with people around. if a parent doesn't come for more than half a day, call for assistance.

caution: some birds are very dangerous to handle. if it has a sharp beak or claws, it's best to leave it and call a wildlife rehabilitator or animal control for help.

emergency care for birds and FAQ
if you find a baby bird (also provides info for helping adult birds)
what to do: finding baby birds
locate a wildlife rehabilitator

Monday, November 7, 2011

squash gut smoothie and some garden shots

i've been seeing bloggers cleverly use their squash innards to make shakes and pumpkin lattes. since i like squash seeds for their taste and nutrition, i decided to try them in a green smoothie.

the verdict - very, very good.

my smoothie consisted of the guts from one butternut squash (the seeds and stringy stuff), two frozen bananas, two small carrots, a few leaves each kale and swiss chard, and enough water to blend until smooth in our vitamix. it served me and john, who also thought it was very good.

despite some frosty nights, our plots at the community garden are still producing the greens. i've exceeded my goal of two pints of green powder last night when i packed a third pint.

we're also picking sugar snap and shelling peas,

and 36 of 45 garlic cloves i planted mid-october have sprouted. i'd love this time of year if it weren't so chilly!

i leave you with some fiery flowers and wishes for a wonderful (and warm) week!

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