‘I Will Be a Hummingbird’ – RIP Nobel Winner Wangari Maathai

Dr. Wangari Maathai died yesterday in her native Kenya. A Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2004 for her tireless efforts to re-forest Kenya, Maathai faced enormous odds as a female environmentalist in African society. But she persevered, helping establish an organization, the Green Belt Movement, which is responsible for replacing thirty million trees.

Thirty. Million. Trees.

Way back when she won the Peace Prize, I remember crying as I watched the footage, ridiculously moved by her story.  She withstood police beatings and fierce criticism, but most of all, she withstood and fought back against despair — something all environmentalists grapple with, day in and day out, worrying their efforts are pointless.

Now she’s gone, but she’s inspired millions. I hope she will be buried beneath one of her many precious trees, slowly and truly becoming part of them.

Twilight Glow of Home

Screened porch

Tonight, while I roasted a chicken and a whole slew of veggies, I stepped outside, and looked in at home.

My parents and brother just visited, catching the tailwinds of summer. Soon, my in-laws and sister-in-law will visit, at the height of autumn.

While I won’t miss the mosquitoes, I hope the frogs stick around to welcome them.

Kitchen

Sunset (enhanced a little....)

A Minor Kitchen Transformation

Along with the gorgeous new cabinet/closet my father built us, he also helped us make new kitchen shelves. Using some extra wood we had, and some little shelf pieces that go below the wood (yeah, I don’t know the proper jargon), we were able to create some sorely needed extra shelf space in our kitchen.

Before, the  under-utilized corner of our kitchen.

Meanwhile, our countertops and window sill were beyond cluttered, and driving us a little bonkers.

Voila!!!! We even hung an old chalkboard we bought at a yard sale. That’s a butcher block below the shelves.

Custom Cabinetry — By My Awesome Dad!

While my parents and brother were visiting us from Texas, we talked my Dad into busting out his magical carpentry skills and transforming an awkward empty space next to our fireplace into a functional shelving unit where we could store our clothes, sheets and other random stuff. We only have two small closets in our entire cabin, and no dresser, so our clothes were in piles,  strewn all over the place. After spending a few weeks trying to find an antique shelving unit narrow enough to squeeze into the place, and not having any luck, we moved to Plan B: Donald Victory.

He did not fail us! In fact, he blew our socks off.

Take a look:

The awkward little space. We emptied it out (note the mess of crap in front of fireplace). My Dad’s first task was to place foam over the missing trim at the bottom, to seal it up better.

His next task was to install oak posts on each side, to rest the shelves on. The oak posts were extra wood we had on hand, not being used. While strong, oak is such a dense hardwood that my Dad said it was easier to drill through the brick than the oak.

He then created the door using a Z-pattern “barn door” style. He found the wood at Lowe’s, taking his time to pick wood that matched our knotty pine walls. Once he finished the door (the measuring and sawing being the most labor intensive part of this process), we stained it. I had never stained wood before, and was thrilled to find out it’s practically impossible to mess up. My kind of task! He also spray painted the hinges and latch, to match all the other knobs/latches in our house.

The finished project! I love how it looks like it was here all along.

The mostly finished inside! I spent today sanding the shelves, and stuffing it full of our clothes, sheets and kindling.

Our adorable door knob. I picked this out. 🙂

Betty’s Muppet Babies Breakfast Sausage Balls

Moist, chewy, salty, sausagey, cheesy.

Earlier this week, Brendan asked me if there were any childhood recipes I should have my Mom prepare for the family while she, my Dad and my brother Erik were all up visiting us this week at our home in upstate New York. We all kind of looked at each other and uttered “sausage balls!”

After a conversation involving Muppet Babies (a favorite cartoon of Erik’s and mine), Mario Brothers and Saturday mornings, it was decided that Mom would make her infamous sausage balls for my Dad’s 65th birthday (today!). Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Ingredients:

2 cups Bisquick

1 lb breakfast sausage

12 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all three ingredients. Mix, mix, mix until ingredients are very well blended. Mush entire mixture together into one big ole ball. Then, grab a tablespoon or so of the mix and form into small ball with hand. Do this over and over until entire mixture has been formed into balls. It will probably make 3o to 40 or so balls.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place half of the balls on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the tops are browned. It’s OK if the bottoms get a little more crisp — that gives it a nice crunch. You can make other balls right away, or save for tomorrow.

(Not only are these delicious for breakfast, they are great finger food for a party.)

Jim Henson's Muppet Babies

Image via Wikipedia