A Crafter Needs to Eat, Audiobooks and Podcasts

Soup’s On

Homemade chicken noodle soup, with homemade stock – this was my big accomplishment for the later part of this week.

I love cook and bake but my cooking and baking (until recently, see previous post Valentines) have been on hold since my husband suddenly died in December 2018.

For the past couple of months I’ve been living on what I could forage at Whole Foods (well at least it was a recently healthy diet). Many very kind and thoughtful friends and coworkers gave me Whole Foods gift cards after my husband died.

At first I would just get food at the Whole Foods hot food bar and sit in the supermarket dining area and eat so I would not have to dine alone every night. Luckily that got old after a while (plus the hot bar food is charged per pound and is rather “spendy” unless you only get really light food…) and I started buying groceries to take home.

But I was only buying groceries for quick prepare meals and it seemed like I lived on avocado toast, boiled eggs, Miso soup, and hummus with carrots for a couple weeks.

My diet was fairly vegetarian and the thought of meat turned my stomach, but earlier this week I was really craving some hard core protein. So armed with the remaining funds on the last of my Whole Food gift cards, I bought a whole cooked rotisserie chicken.

After a couple days of chicken, chicken, chicken, I was trying to decide what to do with the rest of the bird. I convinced myself to not only make homemade chicken noodle soup but to make my own from scratch chicken stock with the carcass, something I’ve never done before.

I found this wonderful recipe online: Easy Chicken Noodle Soup from Leftover Roasted Chicken on the chowhound.com cooking website.

Here is the stock simmering with the cut up and browned rotisserie chicken carcass:

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Here is the strained stock:

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The soup made with my homemade stock simmering (and the house smells so good):

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And finally a yummy bowl of my very own homemade chicken noodle soup!

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I’ve made homemade chicken noodle soup before but with store bought chicken stock or chicken bouillon base. Soup with my own homemade chicken stock tasted very different – It is pretty darn delicious!

One of the best things I learned from the Chowhound recipe is that you have to cook the noodles separately – do not try to cook them in the soup. You boil them per package instructions in their own pot and then add the cooked noodles to the soup. If you try to cook the noodles with the soup you will get what I’ve experienced in the past – a pasty mess of noodles!

Of course this recipe made a lot of soup so now my life is chicken soup, chicken soup, chicken soup – but it seems to be satisfying my soul (smile).


Postscript

I’m currently listening to an amazing audiobook – Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens. 

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image credit: amazon.com

I did not think I would be at the point now where I would be interested in reading any “Self-Improvement” books but this one caught my eye when I was browsing my local library’s audiobook loan offerings online.

Goodreads has a wonderful synopsis of the book:

You cannot bounce back from hardship. You can only move through it. There is a path through pain to wisdom, through suffering to strength, and through fear to courage if we have the virtue of resilience.

In 2012, Eric Greitens unexpectedly heard from a former SEAL comrade, a brother-in-arms he hadn’t seen in a decade. Zach Walker had been one of the toughest of the tough. But ever since he returned home from war to his young family in a small logging town, he d been struggling. Without a sense of purpose, plagued by PTSD, and masking his pain with heavy drinking, he needed help. Zach and Eric started writing and talking nearly every day, as Eric set down his thoughts on what it takes to build resilience in our lives.

Eric’s letters drawing on both his own experience and wisdom from ancient and modern thinkers are now gathered and edited into this timeless guidebook. Resilience explains how we can build purpose, confront pain, practice compassion, develop a vocation, find a mentor, create happiness, and much more. Eric s lessons are deep yet practical, and his advice leads to clear solutions.

We all face pain, difficulty, and doubt. But we also have the tools to take control of our lives. Resilience is an inspiring meditation for the warrior in each of us.

It is a pretty powerful book even if it took listening to a chapter or two to get me engaged. Although the book is based on letters from one Navy Seal to another Navy Seal suffering from PTSD who also recently lost his brother to an auto accident, the messages in this book are quite universal.

I’ll close this post with a quote from this powerful book:

Smiling and breathing. These are simple things. Exercising and serving. These are simple things. Being grateful and gracious. These are simple things. Acting with humility. Acting with courage. These are simple things. Some people try to make this business of living too complicated

Eric Greitens, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life

 

A Crafter's Life

Valentines

A little less than a week ago I began having quite a bit of anxiety over how I was going to face my first Valentine’s Day without my Valentine. In December 2018 my husband Terry suddenly passed away. I’ve been with Terry more than 1/2 my life and we’ve never been apart on Valentine’s Day.

I was anticipating a painful day on February 14th, completely stricken my grief, perhaps not even able to get out of bed.

In the middle of my anticipatory grieving anxiety, I suddenly realized that doing something for others might be the solution to dealing with Valentine’s Day.

For the past 5 weeks I’ve been in a difficult but awesome Spousal Loss Grief Support Group that meets weekly. It suddenly hit me that all the widows and widowers in the grief support group with me were facing the same dilemma of their first Valentine’s Day without their Valentines.

So why don’t I invite them all the be my Valentines?

And that is just what I did.

For My Valentines

For the men in my grief support group:

Terry’s favorite cookies were the Molasses Crinkle Cookies that I loved to make. I’ve done little cooking and no baking since he passed so it was a pretty big thing to open my cookbook and actually bake something.

I made a huge batch of these cookies and it felt good to bake again, so good that I actually experienced a sweet moment of joy as I assembled the ingredients.

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I put the cookies in a basket and included little sandwich bags for them to take as many as they wanted home.

For the women in my grief support group:

I gave them each little wallets. If you are new to my blog here is a post about the little wallets I made a zillion of since I first became obsessed with them – “Little Wallet Madness” . If you are not new to my blog then you know all about little wallets and some of you own some of my little wallets you won in my blog anniversary drawings!

For the group faciliator:

I gave her a set of my little heart pillows, as she has been helping us heal our hearts.

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I then made “Oregon Healing Hearts” valentines using my circle punch and heart punch from my card marking supplies with Oregon/outdoor themed colored papers:

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People had the option of an “Oregon Healing Heart” with a dog in the middle of the heart (as I consider dogs healing) or a plain heart:

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Here is the whole set up I surprised them with earlier this week at our weekly Spousal Loss Grief Support Group:

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I think it went over pretty well. The facilitator let me present them at the start of our support group meeting.

The men were willing to share their cookies and both the men and women got to take home some cookies if they wanted. There was laughter, smiles and hugs despite the difficult topics we discussed at that support group session.

Feeling at Peace

Today is Valentine’s Day and I feel at peace. I think it is because I stepped outside of myself and my grief and thought of others for a moment.

Day and night wallowing in my grief was not working for me, even if everyone expected and supported it. I had to try something else.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Crafter's Life

“The Guest House” Revisited

Grieving the loss of my husband whom I’ve been with more than 1/2 my life is a daily life-consuming experience.

It was like he was the “tether” that held me to this world, to this life.

Now friends and family attempt to try to reach up and grab “my string” to re-tether me as much as they can, but ultimately I have to learn to “tether” myself.

Recently I finished a powerful book that my grief counselor loaned me – Grieving Mindfully: A Compassionate and Spiritual Guide to Coping with Loss by Sameet M. Kumar PhD.

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Image credit: Amazon.com

After reading this book I’ve been thinking about one of my favorite poems by Rumi (Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī – a 13th century Persian poet and scholar) – The Guest House. 

I’ve shared it in previous posts but thought I would re-post it.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness
comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
-Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

Postscript

I attend a weekly Spousal Loss Grief Support Group. Prior to today’s weekly meeting I’ve not shared with the other group members my plans to move to Colorado (see my previous post Colorado Bound (Part II)).

However, before the start of today’s meeting, another group member randomly gave me this little pocket card below and I’ve taken as another reaffirmation that I am headed in the right direction with my move to Colorado:

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Feature Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

A Crafter's Life, Adventures in Paper Piecing

Back to Making Things and Lovely Surprises in the Mail

Hello My Blogging Community, thanks for all your support during the most challenging time in my life.

I wanted to share that I have finally returned to “making” after quite the hiatus after the loss of my husband.

But first, let me share the two wonderful surprises I got in the mail today.

Surprise #1

My blogging buddy in Dublin Ireland, Helen @crawcraftsbeasties.com sent me a hand painted card featuring a Beastie comforting another Beastie:

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To learn more about the amazing Beasties that Helen makes, check out her website – crawcraftsbeasties.com.

Surprise #2

My blogging buddy in the Netherlands, Emmely @infectiousstitches gave me an amazing stitched card:

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It was like a large fabric postcard with a wonderful handwritten note on back.

I so appreciate all the support from my blogging community including so many people who have never met me in person and only know me from my blog. I wish we could all get together for some tea and pastries at a nice cafe.

No Longer Dreading the Mail

I feel I turned a corner as I am no longer dreading sympathy/condolence cards in the mail. So many thoughtful people have sent their condolences over the loss of my husband but each card was like a gut wrenching stab reminding me of my profound loss. I dreaded getting the mail and making myself open the cards and their words of sympathy blurring before my tearing eyes. Perhaps in retrospect I should have put them aside and read them later. I felt compelled and obligated to open each card.

On Tuesday I began an 8 week Spousal Loss Grief Support Group. The first meeting was incredibly difficult especially at first but by the end of the meeting as we all started to share and connect it got so much better. The Grief Counselor facilitating the meeting is amazing. This support group is through our local hospice and is a free community service.

There is an educational component to each meeting and I learned a lot about grief and why I have struggled with some severe irritability. I am so happy to have a safe place to talk about complex feelings with others who have also experienced the profound loss of a life partner.

I now get the whole “support group” concept where people going through similar experiences can support each other and relate to each other struggles, especially with the help of an amazing group facilitator.

Back to Making

I knew I needed to return to sewing and the tactile experience of working with fabric as part of my healing. I was either struggling with low energy or lack of interest, but I kept trying to dive back in.

First I tried to return to the Tula in a Box quilt I was working on before Terry died (and Terry helped me lay out the blocks) – see post .Tula in a Box. I managed to get the quilt back up on the large design wall in the hallway (I had half of it sewn together) as I had removed it from the design wall after he died as it was upsetting me:

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But I have not done any work on it.

Then I tried to work on taking out the stitching of a quilt I made into a tablecloth. I decided to turn it into a quilt. I did get the stitching out but got stalled on getting it ironed out so I could sent it out for long-arm quilting:

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Finally I thought I would try some hand work – something I could sit in front of the TV (I’ve been watching endless Netflix in the evening) and work on – English Paper Piecing (EPP):

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That worked. I’ve been working on making EPP hexies in the evening. Occasionally making the hexies feels bittersweet at Terry punched out the paper piecing templates for me. But I like to think that we are making them together.