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Posts Tagged ‘Family’

 

Today is Brother’s Day, so I wanted to send a shout out to my little brother Kyle. At the same time, I also wanted to celebrate my four terrific sons – Calvin, Dustin, Austin, and Holden … four amazing brothers.

There is nothing quite like having a brother. I’m sure the bond between brother and sister is different than it is between brother and brother, and even different when your brother is older or younger than you… but, in the end, having a brother is a wonderful thing. I know that I love my brother very, very much. I’ve enjoyed watching him grow and mature into the amazing young man that he is today. I’ve loved attending his sporting events, and I cannot wait to see him graduate high school in a few weeks. He has his whole life ahead of him, and much like I did (twenty odd years ago when I walked across that very same stage at that very same high school), I’m sure he is filled with excitement and a little trepidation about what the future might hold.

My own sons are close in age, to each other and to my little brother. In fact, my younger two even play football with my brother. They’ve all grown up together – as friends. It’s strange, but nice in a lot of ways to have them all be so close in age… with my brother being 18 and my sons being 22, 19, 17, and 16. My eldest son, now a father himself (and soon to be a husband), is looking at his own brothers and making decisions like who should be his own son’s Godfather and who should be the best man at his wedding. These are difficult decisions for a young man to make when he is so close to his siblings, while at the same time not wanting anyone to feel left out, slighted, or favored.

I wish everyone had the bond my boys share, and hope they always have it – no matter where they go in life, no matter how far apart they are from each other. I hope their own children grow to know the same bond as well.

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I’ve been MIA for a while. Life gets that way for all of us, doesn’t it?

 

The truth is, on top of everything else in life that can get in the way and slow us down – like kids, work, and everyday chores – I was in treatment for cancer too. It’s a little overwhelming a times, and it slows everything down. It can take priority over everything else, if you let it, and it definitely takes up a lot of space on your plate.

 

I don’t want this blog to be a dower. It’s just meant to be an explanation of why I haven’t been posting as frequently for so long.

 

The truth is, I’m much better now and I’m reprioritizing things in my life. Which means my writing is back in the forefront of things. I appreciate all of you who have hung on and stuck around, supporting me through the low times. It means a lot – even those of you who didn’t know why I wasn’t blogging or putting out as much new material.

 

All I can say now is, thank you. I appreciate it… every day. I sincerely hope you will like what comes next.

 

With love and appreciation,

~ Raven

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Autumn

Today is the first day of autumn, my favorite time of the year. I love everything about the season – the leaves changing color, the smells of home cooking (especially sweet treats), cool mornings and warm afternoons, picnics, apple picking, carving pumpkins, and baking pies.

This afternoon, my son carved a small pumpkin and cooked the seeds. Tonight, we put the little smiling pumpkin on the stairs to our front porch and placed a lit candle inside. Unfortunately, it is also raining tonight. I hope I’ll be able to take some pictures of it tomorrow night.

On Monday, I plan to do a little shopping for decorations. We’ve lived in our current home for two years now, and I plan to deck everything out for the season this year. I’m hoping to pick up some seasonal window dressings, and a few centerpieces or wall hangings. I’m also hoping to find seasonal scented candles or room fresheners.

Another thing to celebrate this season – a few birthdays and Thanksgiving.

So, in honor of the Autumnal Equinox, a brief, free verse poem.

 

Autumn by Raven Hawk

The world turns cold,

as it prepares for winter hibernation.

The leaves change color,

making the skyline aglow – as if on fire.

The nights turn colder,

but the days remain warm.

Rain begins to fall,

often chilling us to the bone.

We begin to bake in our crock-pots,

and the smells pleasure our senses.

We eat hearty stews and pumpkin pies,

enjoying the comfort they bring.

We switch out our wardrobes,

exchanging bathing suits for sweaters.

We start spending Sunday afternoons

curled up under blankets reading

– or watching tv.

Welcome to the end of harvesting.

Welcome to afternoon apple picking.

Welcome to Autumn,

the best season in the year.

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Today is the first day of September. I enjoy this time of year, but not simply because we have a long weekend for Labor Day. This is the time of year when the days are still warm and the nights are cool. It’s not quite fall yet, but the mornings still remind us that the change of season is very near.

September mornings are filled with an abundance of dew, and the nights are foggy and cloudy – making it difficult to view the moon and stars most of the time. The leaves aren’t really changing color yet, but we know we’ll soon be seeing the red, orange, and yellow foliage that makes the trees look all aglow (like firelight). With that comes the leaf-peepers and our tourist welcoming behavior.

Baking gears up at my home, and many others in the area. We’re making casseroles, soups, and stews for dinner, or to freeze for quick meals in the coming days ahead. My children and I have pot roast, cooked in the crock-pot, at least once a week. We have chicken potpie, chicken and dumplings, and meatloaf regularly too. I make BBQ Meatloaf topped with bacon – yum! It’s time for warm hearty dinners, and baking pies.

Soon, we’ll be picking apples for pies, sauce, and special treats because nothing says autumn like the smell of spiced apples and pumpkin pie, except maybe the colorful leaves all around. Soon, we’ll put up our lawnmowers and get our shovels and snow blowers out. We’re also starting to think about winter clothes, so we’ll be packing up our bathing suits and shorts as well.

Rushing headlong into fall, those of us who live here in New England are simply in love with Mother Nature and the glory she provides.

Cheers,

Raven

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Lasagna

Lasagna, an article by Raven Hawk

I have never had any formal cooking lessons, and I have never wanted to be a chef. I don’t cook anything particularly gourmet, but I do cook reasonably well. As a mother of four growing boys, I have to be able to put an edible finished product on the table each night (and reasonably fast). Meals have to taste good too. If I can’t do that, someone is going to chew my arm off.

When I was growing up, we ate traditional family meals; nothing extravagant or exceedingly fancy. We ate a lot of casseroles and simple meals that consisted of a vegetable, meat, and instant mashed potatoes (or very dry white rice). We didn’t eat a lot of deserts, but when we did we had home-made fruit pies. My mother was pretty famous, within our extended family, for her strawberry-rhubarb pie. She even grew her own strawberries and rhubarb in our back yard.

I always thought that my mother learned to cook, clean, and take care of her home and children from her mother. Growing up, I thought people taught their children trades and life skills so that when they were grown they would be able to pass those skills on to their own children, and theirs, and theirs, and theirs forever. I didn’t know if that was true or not, but I do know my mother was always too busy to teach me anything (even when I asked). So, I learned everything by trial and error – especially cooking.

In the beginning, I used cook books and I failed miserably. Nothing tasted like it should taste, and nothing looked like it should look. I didn’t understand the directions. I confused abbreviations for ingredients, such as teaspoon and tablespoon, and I didn’t know the difference between baking soda and baking powder. I didn’t know why recipes specified special vinegars or sugars, and I mixed up spices all the time. I should have given up, but my father taught me not to be a quitter.

Image that very first batch of chocolate chip cookies I made when I was ten. I distinctly recall, to this day, measuring out the Tablespoon of baking soda and coarse salt, instead of the teaspoon the recipe called for. Boy were they fluffy! I served them after dinner with huge glasses of milk thinking I’d made prize winning cookies. I was all smiles and full of pride at my wonderful accomplishment, and on my first try, only to be crushed to a sobbing wreck as my father spit his first bite back out declaring them, “the worst cookies he had EVER tasted.”

Over time, I got better at reading the instructions. I learned some tricks and I even learned how to adjust the recipes some. Then, one Christmas I was given a cookbook that actually explained things like basting and broiling, which helped more than I can ever give it credit (or the person who gave it to me). However, there is still one thing that I don’t cook, something that I refuse to cook. One thing, that after all this time, all these years of trial and error, I am still a complete failure at.

I don’t cook IT because I have never been able to get it right. Simply put, my attempts at lasagna have always come out either too soupy or way too dry. I’ve tried dozens of recipes and I’ve even tried doctoring them up. I simply can’t make a lasagna that you can cut into and pull out a beautiful square of saucy, meaty, cheesy noodle perfection, unless it’s cold and straight out of the refrigerator (which is cheating, by the way). So … I just don’t try at all anymore.

Instead … I improvise.

I don’t make lasagna, instead I make lasagna roll ups. I make stuffed noodle deliciousness filled with meats and cheeses and topped with sauce, and … It Is Perfection! I may not be able to make the perfect lasagna, but I can make something that tastes, smells, and has all of the same great ingredients as lasagna (and it’s better because it can be single serving size).

For those of you struggling in lasagna hell, like I have been for years. Throw away the recipes, the no-cook, no-boil noodles, and all of the tips and tricks from your family and friends that never work for you anyway. I have your solution. It’s Lasagna Roll-Ups, and now you can make lasagna too.

Recipe (makes 4)

Ingredients

1/4 lb extra lean ground beef

(or ground turkey, or a mix of pork, beef and/or turkey)

3 tablespoons chopped onion (optional)

(can also sauté diced bell pepper and/or garlic)

1 jar (14-oz.) tomato pasta sauce

1 egg white

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (3 oz)

4 (8×2 1/2-inch) frozen precooked lasagna noodles, thawed

(or cook 4 noodles, drain)

1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, washed, stems removed

Instructions

Heat oven to 350°F. In an 8-inch skillet, cook beef and onion over medium-high heat, until beef is thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently; drain. Stir in 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce. Remove from heat.

In bottom of ungreased 8-inch square (2-quart) glass baking dish, spread 3 tablespoons of the remaining pasta sauce.

In medium bowl, beat egg white. Stir in ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, oregano and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.

Spread 1/4 each of ricotta mixture, spinach leaves and beef mixture over each lasagna noodle. Starting with short side, gently and loosely roll each noodle; place seam side down over sauce in baking dish.

Top roll-ups with remaining sauce. Cover with foil. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove foil; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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Family Day

For Kyle and Jadyn, with love from Auntie M

Four years, seven months, and four days of insecurity

August 28, 2012: Adopted today

My family gains two siblings: Kyle and Jadyn

In my heart forever they will stay

Loved and adored forevermore

You’re safe now

Dan and Rose’s grandchildren

Another happy ending

You’re finally home

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CatTalk

Cat Talk by Raven Hawk

I like milk,

I like ham,

but most of all

I like hanging with the fam … ily.

I’m treated like a KING,

as well I should be,

and I roam the house

at night with ease.

Humans love me,

and for that reason

I am free.

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