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Where the heck do I come from?

I’m on a quest to find my roots.  Not so much for myself, but for my two daughters.  I’ve had a family life filled with divorces, disconnects, relocations. I really didn’t have much of

a connection to where I came from or how I got here.  Both of my daughters know quite a bit about the paternal side of their roots, the maternal side–frankly it’s a hot mess.  My oldest daughter, Shelly started to try to put things together on Ancestry.com. She connected there and was able to find a photo of my mother’s parents on their wedding day.  I remember my grandmother, she was always in the kitchen cooking.  My grandfather, I don’t remember much at all.  But the names were familiar and I encouraged my daughter to continue and even offered to pay for a gift membership for her to continue the research.  But she’s working full time and going to school part-time and her plate is pretty full.

I’m not sure what nudged me this week to pick up this task and continue on. Maybe it’s having a birthday, maybe it’s seeing friends dealing with medical issues and knowing that life can be short and can change in an instant.  This week I decided to do the DNA testing on Ancestry.com and I ordered the kit.  I am not sure how much information I will get from that.  But decided that one day I want to visit Denmark, where my family is from.  When I visit, I want to know where they lived and visit that part of the country.

My parents divorced when I was 12.  My mother’s mother disowned her for divorcing my dad, so ties with that part of the family were severed.  So I have to go back 45 to 50 years in my brain to try to remember names of aunts and uncles and cousins.  I have some fuzzy memories, and family lore to go by.

Like most projects it starts with that first step.  I filled in the blanks that I could remember. That wasn’t all that much.  I’m on the 14 day trial of Ancestry, but will probably continue on until I find some more pieces of the puzzle.

So far I have discovered:

  • My paternal grandparents did not come over from Denmark, they were both born here in the US.  Their parents did travel here and one of them was born in Lonstrup, Denmark
  • My maternal grandparents, who I always thought came from Germany actually had roots in Romania.
  • My older sister who I haven’t seen in years died in 2010.
  • I was able to track down information by looking at obituaries of favorite aunts that had died. It made me sad, but I know that all three of them would approve of this project that I’m working on.

It’s like a giant puzzle.  As you snap in a piece the little leaf lights up and you see more clues and more pieces to the puzzle. I’ll see familiar names and memories will pop into my head.  Most of the families were larger than I remembered.  It’s so much easier to do all of this online with the technology.  As a name comes to mind, I enter it in, or do a Google search and another layer of my family, my background appears.

I like to think that my legacy to my children will not be measured in dollars and cents, or large parcels of land.  I know that I’ve shown them some things by example.  They both have a creative streak, a giving spirit and are both strong independent women.  That’s a trait that was handed down to me by my mother.  It’s important to them, this family connection.  I’m realizing as I work on this it’s important to me too.

As time allows, I plan to take some time to upload photos and to share stories that I remember about my relatives.  You know I love to write… I think what is driving this is that so many of them are gone, and sadly their stories gone with them.  I want to be sure to leave a footprint when I am gone so one day if my great great great grandchildren decide that they want to find out more about me, it will be available.

Hey…it could happen.  🙂

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Do one thing every day that scares you…

That’s one of my favorite Eleanor Roosevelt quotes.  I have it on the front of a journal and on my refrigerator.  It’s a reminder to try new things, no matter how scary they may be.  Heaven knows I’ve done more than a few new things in the past 5 years.  🙂

In 2010 while taking dance lessons I heard about hangar dances.  There was talk of taking classes and being able to dress up and go there to dance, but that just didn’t happen.  My friend Margie and I went to the dance in October of 2010 just to check out what was happening. We stood at the edge of the dance floor with our mouths open like two little kids.  We both decided that NEXT year we would dress up and be there to dance.

Well my friends, it is next year, and I’m happy to report that we did take a few dance lessons, we did buy some vintage clothes to wear, and last night we were both out on the dance floor dancing.  It was a bit challenging at times, because you wanted to watch the other dancers and kinda sorta got distracted and off step. There were 9 of us around the table last night and I for one had the time of my life.

I knew from the moment I put on my 40’s clothes last night that I was going to have a fun time. We met for dinner at a local restaurant, great food, lots of laughter and we definitely stood out from the normal Saturday night out in Texas crowd.  We stood outside in the beautiful Texas weather and took photos and jumped into two cars and made the drive to Fort Worth for the dance.

The dance was held at the Vintage Flying Museum so there were all sorts of planes and WWII memorabilia decorating the building.  We were able to find a table together and added a few chairs as people came and went for the evening.  My friend Lindsay and I grabbed our cameras and started taking photos with the vintage automobile and the planes.  It was just an incredible atmosphere.

Going out onto that dance floor for the first time, big band music playing in the background was a wonderful moment.  I danced several times through the night and I had to giggle when I noticed people standing on the edge of the floor taking photos. This time I wasn’t just taking photos, I was the person in the photos.  My, how far my life has come in just a year.

The evening ended with the band playing In the Mood.  At that point there was only one guy left, and 4 women.  We all got up and danced 40’s style.  I showed Lindsay how to do the Charleston and at one point I was dancing around shaking one finger in the air 40’s style and laughing just as hard as I was dancing!

The photos are still coming in for the event.  We all had cameras and our phones with us snapping photos last night.  I am sure we will do this again next year, it was too fun not to!

Now, back to that journal with the Eleanor Roosevelt quote.  This morning while getting my thoughts together, I pulled out the journal to be sure that I had the quote right.  I opened up the journal and there were entries from 2004, 2006 and from one of the really low points in my life in 2007.

When I read the entries I cried.  I was so unhappy with my life.  I knew that I needed a change, but it took me 3 years to get up the courage to change my life.  I am surrounded by so many friends, people who didn’t know that woman who wrote in her journal desperate for her life to change.  That change took many many steps and people that I cared about were hurt along the way.  I can’t go back and change that, I can only move forward and be the best me that I can be.

The January 2007 entry had a list of 20 things I wanted to do that year.  I think I accomplished quite a few things on the list. ” I want to be more spontaneous and go with the flow when friends call with invitations and options.”   “I want to knit a sweater- DONE!!” “I want to do one thing every day that scares me.”

But the zinger, the one thing from the list that I think I have done the best job at is:

I want to laugh more..live more..love more, appreciate more and learn to enjoy my life, the paths that I choose.

That is a pretty big deal you know?  I’ve been feeling a bit down this week, and I’ve struggled to try to be upbeat and positive and to work my way past it.  It’s not been easy, but this morning, reading this journal from the past made me realize just how wonderful my life is.  I have a day, a week at the most here and there when I am down–but I never stay down for long.

I’m not sure that I am doing one thing every day that scares me. Maybe things don’t scare me these days as much as they did my 2004, 2006 and 2007 self?  I did try one new thing this week, I used the Dallas DART system–by myself and went to the Texas State fair.  I’ve traveled in foreign countries, and all across the US this year, the DART seemed a piece of cake compared to that.

He said I looked like Margaret Thatcher, I said he looked like Teddy Roosevelt..

A weekend filled with adventure…

My *firsts* in Dallas continued this weekend.  On Friday night I ventured to Arlington and attended my very first Texas Rangers game.  The weather had been threatening showers and storms all week, but magically there was a beautiful window of weather that opened up for the game.  It was a company sponsored event, and my ticket included all you can eat nachos, hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn and soft drinks.  I’ve been to a major league baseball game, but this was my first time to do it in Texas.  Detroit tied up the game in the final inning, and there was an exciting finish to the game and the Rangers won.  I got a kick out of the fireworks afterward, and filed another memory in my Texas book of firsts.

Saturday was Sandwiches for Soupmobile day.  While making a trip to the store to pick up my donation of bread, meat, cheese and sandwich bags I received a text message from Julie.  Julie is new to Texas as well, and she’s been joining me for the sandwich group.  She asked if I was up for dollar days at the racetrack.  Sure, I didn’t have any plans, why not?

I’ve been to the dog track a time or two, but have never been to the racetrack to see horses race.  Everything was a dollar, admission, hot dogs, beer and popcorn.  The place was packed and there were long lines to make bets.  We finally started using the electronic betting machines.  The lines moved much faster.  Our race picks seemed to win the races we did not bet on, and for the day I only had one winner.  I loved the name of the horse *Shesacougar*.  I took the wussy bet, and picked her to show, and of course she won.  My winnings $4.80.  I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon to bet on the ponies.  The weather was perfect, the company was fun, it was a great afternoon, and probably cheaper than movies and popcorn for fun.  I heard people complaining about the lines, saying that dollar days was a terrible day to go to the races.  I just enjoyed the moment, and the people watching was priceless.

After the races we decided to have dinner at an Argentinian restaurant.  The restaurant, La Carreta, was brand new and reminded me of a house with a patio on the front for dining. We were greeted at the door by a young girl of about 10, she was delightful, and kept our drink glasses filled.  Julie & Blake shared a pizza, I opted for the Caprese salad, a very refreshing warm weather type dish.  All three of us ordered empanadas.  I decided that the blue cheese and ham was just too hard to pass by.  I’ve never had an empanada before, but this one was pure heaven.  The crust was light and flaky, the balance of cheese and ham inside was wonderful.  It was a the perfect end to a great day.

Sunday, was another beautiful day in Texas.  I had made plans in my head the night before to do a little spring cleaning, to open up the windows and rearrange furniture.  Oh, my plans were grandiose to be sure.  Then my friend Critt asked me how the azaleas were this year in Texas?  I took that as my nudge from the Universe to head to the Dallas Arboretum to enjoy the weather, and the flowers–especially the azaleas.  I made a trip to the arboretum last year on Halloween.  The place was packed, and I thought it was because of the Halloween event.  Today the parking lot was just as full, and the arboretum was filled with families, couples hand in hand, and people like me with camera in hand taking photos.

It’s funny how out of the blue emotions can sneak up on you.  One minute I was walking through the garden taking photos, and in another moment I had a wave of emotion that was so strong I started to cry.  It may have been a combination of the amazing flowers, the scent of all of those blooms, I’m not sure, but I was reminded of my mom.  She loved flowers, and no matter where she lived, always surrounded herself with a variety of blooming plants and bird feeders.  She would have loved the gardens at the arboretum.  More than once I buried my face in a bunch of flowers and just took a deep breath today, trying to take it all in, to press the scent into my memories.

I took time to walk through the gardens, and to be in the moment.  I stopped on a bench and just took in all that was happening around me.  I know that sooner rather than later, the Texas heat will arrive, but days like today, they are meant to be savored, not spent inside of an apartment cleaning and organizing.

I’ve always believed that I have two guardian angels, my mom, and my friend Maria.  Both of them loved flowers and I am sure that they were with me enjoying the day today.

I made a stop at the Farmers Market on the way home and bought new potatoes, fresh green beans, garlic and some apples for the week.  I decided to bake some chicken breasts and I diced up some onions, used some of the garlic and added the chicken stock and some white wine.  Paired with the new potatoes for dinner it was yummy.

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.  ~Hanna Rion

If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.  ~Terri Guillemets

Seriously? Green Stuff?

Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.  ~Jim Davis

My try something new adventure for April was a cooking class. Cooking for one is much different than cooking for a family of 4 in the cornfields.  I am terrible about eating junk because cooking for myself just seems to be more of a bother than anything.  The idea was that we would learn to cook and have enough to take home for two meals.  So far so good.

It was an overcast day in Texas, the perfect day to be inside.  The cooking class was held in the kitchen of a local recreation center.   I got there about 15 minutes early and the kitchen was set up and organized with a myriad of utensils and cutting boards.

….and there it all was on the table staring back at me….

GREEN STUFF!!!!

Anyone that has remotely crossed my path knows that I don’t eat green stuff.  Some green beans, some salad, but not much beyond that.  I kinda figured there would be green stuff to cook.  I made up my mind that I was going to try anything that I cooked today.  Today I didn’t cook a single thing that I had ever cooked before.  It was a jump way outside of my culinary comfort zone. On the menu today:

  • Lemon Dijon Salmon
  • Quick Lentil Salad
  • Sauteed Broccoli and Spinach
  • Lemon Lovers Asparagus

Note here, everything but the salmon was or had green stuff.

First up, preparing the dijon sauce for the salmon.  It was made with fresh lemons, olive oil and dijon mustard.  Really quite simple to whip together.  We then covered the salmon with the sauce and stuck it in the oven to bake for 10 minutes.  The kitchen was starting to smell quite yummy.

Next up, the asparagus.  Honestly how does one live this long in life and not have a clue how to prepare asparagus?  The cooking instructor really gave me an asparagus lesson and once again a very simple recipe.  We roasted the asparagus in the oven.

Next up broccoli 101.  The only way I have ever had broccoli was steamed…blech not a fan.  But today I learned how to cut up broccoli, and we sauteed it in a pan with some garlic and olive oil and tossed in some fresh spinach and cooked it down a bit.  The scent of garlic was filling the kitchen and most of the rec center by that point.  People were stopping by, poking their heads in to see what we were up to.

The last dish of the day was the lentil salad.  I’ve had lentils before, I’m not a big fan.  I’m still not a big fan, but I at least tried them, and will try them again.  The salmon did add some flavor, it’s supposed to be a cold salad, I’ll try them tomorrow just one more time.

All in all it was a good day of cooking.  We were there for about 90 minutes, and I came home with a GREEN folder with the recipes, a shopping list and some other great cooking tips.  I felt that it was $40 well spent, and I have a few new recipes that I am sure I will make again.  I’ll probably try the sauce on another type of fish, and add some red onions to the broccoli and spinach dish.

Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.  ~Harriet van Horne

Donna was great today…she converted a non-green stuff lover like me to healthy cooking.

http://www.healthyonthego.com/