Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Goodbye from Afar

We weren't able to make the trip from Vermont to Florida for Louie's memorial service.

Oh, we loved Louie, and it grieved me that we couldn't be there to honor him; to comfort our own Nic and Kristiina through their deep mourning; and to weep with his mom, dad and siblings.  We wanted to share the stories and memories, and of course, the laughs, with those that loved him.

Louie was silly and he was fun.  He was kind and he was charming. He was effervescent and he was engaging.  Everyone that met him wanted to know him better.  He was a genuine and true friend.  He was joy and laughter and mischief and intrigue.  And we wanted to remember.

Joe reminded me of a story this afternoon.  He and Louie were at our house, eight or so years ago, working on some projects, just the two of them.  We had just adopted our sweet Zeila, a rescue dog who was terrified of men, including Joe!  Joe is usually a "dog whisperer," they all love him, but not this one.  She wanted no part of anyone male.

Louie wanted to meet her, but Joe warned him about the timid, fearful, run-and-hide temperament she had with men.  "You can try, though," he told Louie.

So, Louie went outside in the backyard where she was, crouched down and extended his hands, "C'mon girl... c'mere.  Good girl..."  She eyed him warily, but shockingly started to approach him.  As soon as he started petting her she got all wiggly and jumpy and happy.  Joe was stunned as he watched Zeila lick Louie's face with her tail wagging.  She playfully showed him her belly and ran around him exuberantly; she even jumped on his back like a billy goat, licking and nibbling his ears.  Joe said it was amazing to watch, Louie had such a way with her.

She's a happy, carefree girl now, but it took Joe two years of patient, gentle, diligence for her to completely trust him.  Louie had her at, "C'mere, girl."  We were amazed, yet not surprised.  There's just something so special about Louie.  He was good.

Since I couldn't be there in person, I decided to head upstairs during the hours of the service for some quiet time and prayer.  I wanted to put myself there in spirit and lift up those whose hearts were breaking.

I prayed and prayed and prayed
Faithful God, be their peace that passes understanding and hold them up with your everlasting arms. Be the light in their darkness, the hope in their despair.  Be glorified.
I put on music that would bring praise and glory to our God and I worshiped and thanked him for his tender kindness and for being our hope in the worst of times

and I cried a river.

As tears were drenching my lap, I remembered a devotion that I read just this morning. Tear Bottle

So why does God keep our tears in a bottle? Because He sees and cares about every one of them. He takes note of our every tear. He hears our every sigh. And the Bible says that a day is coming when God will wipe away all of the tears from all of our years.

Goodbyes are the hardest thing, but by God's grace and goodness, this goodbye isn't forever, it's just for now.

Alleluia. Praise the One, risen Son of God.
~Shane and Shane

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Last Time I Saw Louie

was in Florida, April 2014.

He came over for a family gathering…

Louie loves the kids (my grandkids) and always enjoys quality, focused time with them.  They think he's pretty awesome, too.

Louie loves food and cooking (and is good at it), and is always inclined to hang out in the kitchen; whether to learn something new, to share a tid-bit of his own, to help out, or just to keep company.

Louie is a fun-loving kid at heart.  When Kingston wanted him to try out his bike, he was happy to oblige.

Louie is part of the family and is always happy to hang out even when it's just to gather 'round for Kingston's hair cut.

Louie freely offers his encouragement.

Louie has a heart for dogs (all animals) and offered tender care when Scabby-Scout* showed up at the DiOrios' unexpectedly (he was a stray, but now is a permanent resident).  *Louie dubbed him Scabby because he came with some skin issues.  While appropriate at the time, Scabby is not terribly endearing, so the family is now calling him Scout.

Louie continues to offer a steady, calming hand to Scabby-Scout and affirms Kingston's nurturing.

That was a great day.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Today, we're reeling with the news that this precious friend of our family passed away last night from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.

Our only comfort is knowing that Louie had an authentic belief and relationship with his savior, Jesus Christ, so we're confident in where he resides today.  Nevertheless, we're having a hard time reconciling God's timing.  We know what we believe; Psalm 139… and "all the days ordained and written in the book before one comes to be" … and God's plan being perfect.  We'll come back around to that, but today it's so hard to apply because it hits so personally and pertains to such a full-of-life young man.

My daughter took this shot of Louie a couple of years ago.  She said that he had just passed all of
his tests to be a hang gliding instructor.  He was so proud of himself.  It was a very happy day.

Here's another one of her shots of Louie, capturing him loving life.
They always had a good time together, and on this day were hiking in Vermont.
Its this beaming, slightly mischievous, expression that I'll remember always.

Louie has been a dear friend of my daughter's since high school, became a very close friend of my son-in-law during their dating days, and has been treasured in the hearts of my grandchildren all of their young lives.

He was a kind, loving, enthusiastic, fun-spirited man and our lives were enriched for having had him be an integral part.  His imprint will remain forever and we'll miss him beyond measure.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Making Whey and Yogurt Cheese

I want to share how to make whey.  Well, it's not really made so much as it's separated from yogurt.  

I have tried, without success, to make yogurt at home from raw milk.  It turns out too runny, though, likely because I'm trying to keep the temperature down so as not to reduce the healthful benefits of the raw milk.  I'll keep trying.

In the meantime, for me, the next best thing is Stonyfield yogurt.  It's organic and has beneficial live cultures.

I always purchase whole milk (full fat is much healthier for us than low-fat) and plain.  Sometimes, we like to have it with fresh fruit and a touch of honey or stevia.

Of course, for straining whey, we just want it to remain plain.

See that bowl and mesh strainer?  They're both 50+ years old.  The bowl was a wedding gift to my parents (it's the only survivor of the set) and the strainer belonged to my grandparents. I cherish the old hand-me-down items I have that are rich in pertinent-to-me history and family memories.

So, all you need to do is line a strainer with a basket-style coffee filter or cheese cloth. and place it over a bowl to catch the drips.

If you let it drip for 2 to 4 hours, you'll be left with a thicker yogurt (greek yogurt). But, if you let it drip 8 or more hours, it'll be spreadable-cheese consistency.  That's what I usually like to achieve.

Add a bit of salt, to taste, and it is magnificent used as a cream cheese.  I love it on bagels with a slice of tomato.

You can also flavor it with herbs, garlic and diced veggies for a savory veggie dip, or add diced fruit for a sweet spread on toast.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!

Then… with that beautiful whey - use it in your ferments like you would a starter culture.  It'll kick up the beneficial bacteria by lots!

Add it to smoothies, use it to soak your oats instead of apple cider vinegar.  I even add a tablespoon or two to my mashed potatoes.  You can use it anywhere you need to add liquid and don't have a lot of heat.

The cheese will keep for up to a month, and the whey will last for several months.

I only did a few spoonfuls this time, so ended up with about 1/3 cup each of cheese and whey.

Have you ever done this before?  How do you use your yogurt cheese and whey?  Or, if you decide to try it for the first time, what will you do with it?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Promises, promises...

Last time I was here, I promised I'd write about my April Florida trip in the next post.


That's not gonna happen.  Not only have I not edited those pics yet, but the kids have been here, meanwhile, for 3 weeks(!) and already gone... and I'm not gonna post about that either because guess where those pics are.  That's right. In the camera, unedited.


I'm not without something to post about, though.  It is peony season.  One of my favorites. 

Are you familiar with the fragrance of peonies?

They are heavenly.

As such, I had a brilliant idea to infuse the decadent scent of virgin coconut oil with the sweet scent of peonies, and then create a moisturizer with it.  Oooo.  Brilliant, indeed!

Yes.  Two firmly packed cups of fresh peony petals


Blended with one cup of melted coconut oil.
The plan was to strain the petals after the oil was infused and add a bit of shredded bees wax for texture and, voila... fragrant, nourishing, body moisturizer.
Looks promising, right?
Well.... [zerbert]  that didn't work!  It smells gross, actually.

[sigh]  I had such high hopes.

I strained it and set it aside for a future batch of deodorant.  I think it could be salvageable for that, at least.

Next, I'm thinking peony water [think, rosewater...]  I'll letcha know how that goes.

On the bright side, I do still have a bush full of beautiful peony blooms and buds.

Finding the blessings.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Spring Visit to a Vermont Horse Farm

Well, finally!  At least one post before May leaves us!  (And next month, I promise to post pics of the April Florida Trip.)

I visited a horse farm today with a friend who is quite the horse-woman.  Several decades ago, she and her husband were hired by John Denver to teach him a thing or two about horses.  Pretty cool, eh?

When we arrived, we were met by this fella.  He's a cashmere goat named Nudge.  He's a playful one and comes by his name honestly!  He's a good boy, though.  You just have to tell him no when you've had enough nudging, and he backs off.  It was totally adorable. :-)

And the view of pasture and mountains from the house.

It's stunning.

We were there on account of that pretty girl on the left.  She's due to foal anytime now and is showing the signs that it should be soon.  We were hoping to time it just right, but she didn't deliver while we were there - and as of now, still no baby.

I don't ever tire of the scenery here in Vermont.

This handsome boy is 35 years old!  Look at those eyes.

He was the sweetest, most affectionate horse!

When it was time to go, he watched us depart.  Loved him.